The bare bones of this story will be familiar to urban-fantasy devotees: Werewolves, vampires, faeries, and witches all exist and have become public knowledge in recent years. Girl, tough and feisty, takes it upon herself to dispense justice in a supernatural murder case. Girl is chosen against her will to play a major role in paranormal affairs. Girl is wooed by attractive werewolf and attractive vampire. I was worried Vicious Circle would be just like a hundred other novels with a similar premise, but Linda Robertson does some really interesting things to make her story stand out.
First, she realistically explores what might happen if supernatural races existed and came out of the closet. Vampires are well-regarded in society due to the glamorous image they have cultivated; faeries have gained acceptance by pretending to be harmless. Weres, however, are treated as second-class citizens. Persephone Alcmedi does her best to fight these attitudes, writing a pro-were newspaper column and renting out her basement to weres as a full-moon shelter. Anti-were prejudice hampers Persephone’s mission at every turn. No cop wants to touch a were-related case, and no hospital wants to treat a were patient.
I was also impressed by the unusually accurate Wicca in Vicious Circle. (OK, so real Wiccans don’t shoot visible bolts of brightly colored energy when they cast spells, but that’s creative license!) The belief system, the ethical code, and the structure of Persephone’s rituals are clearly well-researched.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Persephone is not the misanthropic heroine you might expect. She has a lot of emotional boundaries that keep her from being a social butterfly, but at the same time, she has a powerful protective streak when it comes to those she cares about. “Do you always take care of people?” asks a young girl whom Persephone has just taken under her wing. The answer is yes. In the early pages of Vicious Circle, Persephone finds herself sheltering her grandmother, a Great Dane puppy, a severely injured werewolf, and the aforementioned little girl, along with her usual canine visitors. As the plot unfolds, trying to protect everyone is a full-time job. I found this aspect of Persephone’s character refreshing and unusual.
I enjoyed Vicious Circle, and I’m interested in seeing where this series goes. I think it has a lot of potential.