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Diana Pharaoh Francis

Diana Pharaoh Francis fantasy authorDr. Diana Pharaoh Francis is a literature and writing professor at The University of Montana-Western. You’ll find excerpts, maps, and pronunciation guides at her website.

Horngate Witches

Horngate Witches — (2009-2012) Publisher: SOMETIMES YOU CHOOSE YOUR BATTLES. AND SOMETIMES, THEY CHOOSE YOU… Once, Max dreamed of a career, a home, a loving family. Now all she wants is freedom… and revenge. A witch named Giselle transformed Max into a warrior with extraordinary strength, speed, and endurance. Bound by spellcraft, Max has no choice but to fight as Giselle’s personal magic weapon — a Shadowblade — and she’s lethally good at it. But her skills are about to be put to the test as they never have before… The ancient Guardians of the earth are preparing to unleash widespread destruction on the mortal world, and they want the witches to help them. If the witches refuse, their covens will be destroyed, including Horngate, the place Max has grudgingly come to think of as home. Max thinks she can find a way to help Horngate stand against the Guardians, but doing so will mean forging dangerous alliances — including one with a rival witch’s Shadowblade, who is as drawn to Max as she is to him andstanding with the witch she despises. Max will have to choose between the old life she still dreams of and the warrior she has become, and take her place on the side of right — if she survives long enough to figure out which side that is…

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Bitter Night: An urban fantasy that takes a lot of risks

Bitter Night by Diana Pharaoh Francis

In Bitter Night, Diana Pharaoh Francis introduces an unusual urban-fantasy heroine. Max is a Shadowblade, a super-powered warrior bound to serve a witch and her coven. Enslaved against her will, Max has loathed Giselle, her witch, for decades. Yet she finds herself working alongside Giselle, and other unlikely allies, when the Guardians (gods) plan an attack on the human race and threaten to destroy any coven that won’t help them.

What I liked about Bitter Night: First of all, the concept of Shadowblades (and their day-dwelling counterparts, the Sunspears) is unique. Second, I liked the themes of honor, debt, and freedom that Francis explores. Max’s determination to help various characters escape their supernatural bindings reminds me a bit of the ending of Read More

Crimson Wind: A heck of a ride!

Crimson Wind by Diana Pharaoh Francis

Reading a Horngate Witches book is a bit like watching a big summer movie. Action! Explosions! Impossibly tough characters doing awesome things! It’s a heck of a ride. Crimson Wind, the second installment in the series, is better than the first and quite enjoyable.

Crimson Wind benefits, in part, from my having read Bitter Night and gotten an idea of what to expect from the series. These really aren’t much like the usual urban fantasies. Some of Diana Pharaoh Francis’s changes to the formula are excellent, but they can be jarring if you go in with the wrong expectations. The primary setting is neither a gritty city nor a quaint small town but an isolated mountain stronghold; the supernatural beings are unusual for the genre; Max i... Read More

Shadow City: Not as enjoyable as Crimson Wind

Shadow City by Diana Pharaoh Francis

At the end of Crimson Wind, Max gave herself up to the demigod Scooter to save Horngate. In Shadow City, the third HORNGATE WITCHES novel, we find out what Scooter needs Max for, and also what happens at Horngate while she’s gone. Diana Pharaoh Francis has split the narrative into two points of view from the beginning: Max’s and that of her maybe-lover, Alexander. This split enables her to show both storylines in alternating chapters. Unfortunately, one of these storylines is much more riveting than the other.

Alexander’s chapters deal with life at Horngate after Max’s disappearance. Alexander has some self-pity to overcome but is soon thrust into a leadership role when a Fury threatens the covenstead. This is a direct result of an atrocity that happened in Bitter ... Read More

More books by Diana Pharaoh Francis

The Path Series — (2003-2006) Publisher: In the land of Kodu Riik, it is an honor to be selected by the Lady to become an ahalad-kaaslane-to have your soul bonded with one of Her blessed animals, and roam the land serving Her will. But Riesil refuses to bow to fate-a decision that may have repercussions across the realm…

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Crosspointe — (2007-2010) Publisher: Distant member of the royal Rampling family, Lucy Trenton’s ability to detect majick has embroiled her in a dangerous intrigue that threatens her very life. Her only hope lies in her most persistent suitor, ship captain Marten Thorpe, but Lucy isn’t sure she can trust him…

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