The Cold Kiss of Death: Has sold me on Spellcrackers

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy book reviews Suzanne McLeod The Cold Kiss of DeathThe Cold Kiss of Death by Suzanne McLeod

Sidhe fae Genevieve Taylor is in trouble again. Hannah Ashby, whom Genny met in the last book, has shown up again — this time wielding powerful magic and demanding the priceless Fabergé egg Genny received from the Earl. Genny’s also being haunted by the ghost of a young girl. Worst of all, she finds a friend murdered and is framed for the crime. Now she needs the help of the manipulative vampire Malik al-Khan, which never comes for free.

Much like the first Spellcrackers book, The Sweet Scent of Blood, the plot of The Cold Kiss of Death is intensely convoluted. Plot points that seem at first to be central turn out to be peripheral and vice versa, as Genny discovers a complex web of schemes underlying what she thought was going on. Events that seem unconnected — aren’t. People turn out to be double-crossing each other. People turn out to be secretly related.

Suzanne McLeod does a better job this time of pulling it all together, though. While The Cold Kiss of Death is sometimes confusing while you’re in the middle of it, it’s all pulled together really well in the end and makes sense when it does come together. There’s one thread that looms huge at first and then is given a disappointingly simple resolution, but I wonder if that’s a situation whose real import will become clear in a later book.

In addition, we get answers to many of the questions raised in the first book. We learn more about Genny’s past, about Malik, about Rosa, about the other fae in London. Genny learns a new, powerful use for her spellcracking ability.

The writing itself is particularly good for this subgenre, and then the epilogue packs a terrible punch. We’re led to believe McLeod has forgotten a particular loose end — and there are plenty of writers who really have forgotten something like this — but then we learn in poignant fashion that no, she didn’t forget it at all.

The Sweet Scent of Blood was somewhat frustrating to me, but The Cold Kiss of Death has sold me on Spellcrackers; I’ll eagerly read the next book and see what new revelations McLeod has in store for Genny.


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KELLY LASITER, with us since July 2008, is a mild-mannered academic administrative assistant by day, but at night she rules over a private empire of tottering bookshelves. Kelly is most fond of fantasy set in a historical setting (a la Jo Graham) or in a setting that echoes a real historical period (a la George RR Martin and Jacqueline Carey). She also enjoys urban fantasy and its close cousin, paranormal romance, though she believes these subgenres’ recent burst in popularity has resulted in an excess of dreck. She is a sucker for pretty prose (she majored in English, after all) and mythological themes.

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