Fatal Circle: Unusually rich family relationships

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy book review Linda Robertson 3. Fatal CircleFatal Circle by Linda Robertson

Persephone Alcmedi stirred up a whole cauldron of trouble when she killed an irate fairy at the end of Hallowed Circle. Now, the fairies want Seph dead, and Xerxadrea thinks there’s a traitor in the ranks of the witches. So, in order to protect Seph and her family, Menessos will name Seph his court witch so that it looks like she acted on his orders, thereby bringing the fairies’ wrath down on him instead. Meanwhile, Xerxadrea will use this as a pretext to exile Seph from the witches (also for Seph’s protection), while she, Xerxadrea, tries to sniff out the traitor.

All of this is a little confusing but what it amounts to is that Seph goes to live in Menessos’ underground domain and is cut off from her support system. All except Johnny, that is, since a vampire’s court witch is traditionally allowed a “pet.” Johnny bristles at being thought of as a pet, obviously, while Menessos bristles about the fact that Seph is closer to Johnny than to himself. And several of the women in the vampire court bristle at Seph’s installation. So, the early chapters of Fatal Circle include a lot of Menessos sulking about Johnny, Johnny sulking about Menessos, and various catty women sulking about Seph.

I’ve just realized something. I’m not reading the CIRCLE series for the heroine-vampire-werewolf love triangle. It’s well-written as they go, but it’s not what makes this series unique, and it’s not why I’m here. What I love about Linda Robertson’s books are the unusually rich family and family-of-choice relationships; the beautiful, spiritual descriptions of magic and ritual; and, in Hallowed Circle in particular, the originality of the plotting. So, the first half of this book didn’t quite grab me, though it may grab you if you’re more fond of supernatural love triangles than I am.

The second half really sunk its teeth in, though, and wouldn’t let go. The central characters face deep losses and the need to step up and claim more power and responsibility. Plus, there’s lots of magic — and when Robertson’s writing magic, that means lovely writing and high emotion set into a well-researched framework. The plot builds up to a gripping climactic battle. The only gripe I have about the latter chapters of Fatal Circle is that a huge plot point is left hanging at the end. It’s not a cliffhanger precisely — the battle itself is resolved — but readers will have to wait for Arcane Circle to learn one crucial piece of information. And we may all just die of suspense in the meantime!

This isn’t my favorite of the CIRCLE books (Hallowed Circle still holds that distinction) but it’s a worthy installment in the series, and I look forward to future adventures with Persephone.

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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