Arcane Circle: Contains Robertson’s best writing yet

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy book review Linda Robertson 4. Arcane CircleArcane Circle by Linda Robertson

Fatal Circle ended on a cliffhanger, with Menessos’ fate uncertain after a sacrifice he made during the battle with the fairies. In Arcane Circle, the fourth in Linda Robertson’s Circle series, we learn what has become of Menessos and see some of the battle’s repercussions in vampire politics. We also briefly revisit witch politics, as the lucusi react to a revered crone’s death, and encounter a new Homeland Security agency devoted specifically to dealing with the paranormal. Then, too, there’s the exotic menagerie that has taken up residence on Seph’s land, and by “exotic” I mean dragons, unicorns, phoenixes…

It’s the werewolf politics, however, that take center stage in Arcane Circle. The Rege, a werewolf ruler described by one were as “Pope-Czarzilla,” is coming to town to investigate Johnny’s claim to be the prophesied Domn Lup. Johnny wants to be at full power when he meets the Rege, so he and Persephone begin a search for the mysterious tattoo artist who bound Johnny’s memories and power in his elaborate ink.

Arcane Circle is a good book from the beginning — though it has a few slow spots — but it’s in the last 80 pages or so that it becomes fantastic. The plotline concerning Johnny’s tattoos turns out to be inextricably entwined with another unresolved piece of the characters’ history. What follows is an intense several chapters that blend the two best aspects of this series — the magic and the family relationships — and lead to a heart-tugging conclusion in which Seph’s inner strength is tested in a way she never anticipated.

I’m unabashedly Team Johnny, so for me it was great to spend this book focusing more on him than on Menessos, plus Johnny gets several chances to show just how strongly he feels about Seph and how willing he is to fight for her. We also get to spend time with Nana, Beverly, and Ares, which is nice after their near-absence from Fatal Circle.

Overall, Arcane Circle is a good addition to the series and should please Johnny fans in particular. To my mind, it’s not quite the best in the series (Hallowed Circle still comes out on top — a turn of phrase I’m sure Johnny could make an innuendo about), but the last 80 pages are Robertson’s best writing yet.

Persephone Alcmedi — (2009-2012) Publisher: A girl’s got to do what a girl’s got to do… Being a witch doesn’t pay the bills, but  Persephone Alcmedi gets by between reading Tarot cards, writing her syndicated  newspaper column, and kenneling werewolves in the basement when the moon is full — even if witches aren’t supposed to mingle with werewolves. She really reaches the end of her leash, though, when her grandmother gets kicked out of the nursing home and Seph finds herself in the doghouse about some things she’s written. Then her werewolf friend Lorrie is murdered… and the high priestess of an important coven offers Seph big money to destroy the killer, a powerful vampire named Goliath Kline. Seph is a tough girl, but this time she bites off more than she can chew. She needs a little help from her friends — werewolf friends. One of those friends, Johnny, the motorcycle-riding lead singer for the techno-metal-goth band Lycanthropia, has a crush on her. And while Seph has always been on edge around this 6’2″ leather-clad hunk, she’s starting to realize that although their attraction may be dangerous, nothing could be as lethal as the showdown that awaits them.

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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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