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by Alex Gordon
Harper Voyager, $14.99 TPB, 380pp
Published: April 2016

This is a sort-of sequel to Gideon, the debut book from this author.  Click here for that review.  It’s not a direct sequel as the main character, Lauren Reardon, is the same but the story and location are completely different.

Lauren is still recovering from the events in Gideon, and coming to terms with her new powers and position as Mistress to the town of Gideon.  But she still doesn’t have a paying job and there are bills to be paid. She’s invited to a ‘witches retreat’ by a suave gentleman, Kaster, who knows exactly who she is and what she can do.  The implication is that he is from or connected with the Witches Council and it occurs to Lauren that it might be an opportunity to network and find a job.  And the fact that it’s in the Northwest is also a plus as Lauren had a nasty vision of something truly evil somewhere in Oregon; and it is her responsibility to investigate such occurrences.  She also thinks it might be nice to find others to befriend and learn more about her new-found powers. 

But the ‘retreat’ is anything but as advertised.  Lauren discovers she was brought there under false pretenses – the owner of the home, Carmody, who is also Kaster’s boss, has a troubled daughter with witchy powers.  He expects Lauren to counsel her.  Carmody’s wife disappeared several years earlier under strange circumstances and the daughter is self-destructive.  Lauren doesn’t feel competent to such a charge but is sympathetic towards the girl.  Lauren’s real purpose is to investigate the source of the evil vision she had and she traces it to an abandoned logging camp on Carmody’s property.  Further investigation by Lauren and the other witches uncovers a connection to Carmody and his family.  Lauren starts to experience visions of past events that occurred within the camp; she also has several encounters with what might be the shade of Carmody’s long-lost wife.  The other witches assisting in the investigation are attacked and Lauren has to defend herself from some very strange and sinister creatures.  And all of the events are starting to point very strongly towards Carmody’s daughter.  To discover the truth, Lauren has to risk not only her body but, quite probably, her soul. She also has to decide whether or not to trust Kaster, who isn’t who or what he appears to be.

This was way more enjoyable than Gideon, which was, as a debut book, quite good but too brooding and dark for my tastes.  This one has plenty of dark nasties but it didn’t seem to overwhelm as the first book did.  The plot was well-engineered but I thought the characters could have used a bit more depth.  Even though Lauren was quite busy I would have like to have gotten a bit more background on the Council and their role in witchy business.  Perhaps in the next book.  ~~ Catherine Book

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