The Mage In Black
Published 2010 326 pages
Summary (from the book jacket)
Sabina Kane doesn't have the best track record when it comes to family. After all, her own grandmother, leader of the vampire race, wants her dead. But when she arrives in New York to meet her mage relatives, at least they put the fun in dysfunctional. Not only is mage culture completely bizarre, but everyone seems to think she's some kind of 'Chosen' who'll unite the dark races. Sabina doesn't care who chose her, she's not into destiny.
But the mages aren't Sabina's only problem. In New York's Black Light District, she has run-ins with fighting demons, hostile werewolves and an opportunistic old flame. Sabina thought she'd take a bite out of the Big Apple - but it looks like it wants to bite back.
The Mage In Black is the second book in the urban fantasy Sabina Kane trilogy by Jaye Wells. The story follows the adventures of Sabina Kane, a mage/vampire hybrid in a world where interspecies breeding is highly discouraged. Two books into the series and the premise for the trilogy seems to be following a traditional urban fantasy format that shows little signs of deviating from the usual genre conventions.
The opening scenes in The Mage In Black see Sabina travelling to New York to meet up with the mage side of her family. Sabina knows little about mages and even less about her twin sister, since she was raised as a vampire and told that she was an only child. Readers familiar with Red-Headed Stepchild, the first book in the trilogy, will remember that events in that book concluded with Sabina being left an outcast from her fellow vampires.
So we are left with a protagonist who is/has:
- An outsider heroine
- A secret inheritance of magical powers
- Possibly been chosen as the new incarnation of “Lilith” on Earth
- A humorous inability to use her new found magical powers
- Enemies throughout the vampire, mage and fae world
- Two stud muffins to choose between – Slade the vampire, or Adam the mage
- An amusing demon side-kick
- A mission to start a war between the supernatural races, or maybe that was to avert a war between the supernatural races. At this point I’m not too sure.
As you can see from points 1 to 7 on the above list there is nothing new to the urban fantasy genre here. At which point I feel obliged to point out that there are two ways of looking at this. Firstly, a reader could say, this is the same as every other urban fantasy novel they’ve ever read. Or alternatively, they could say this is the perfect urban fantasy novel since it meets all the expectations of the genre. A reader’s individual preference is probably going to take precedence over any opinion I have, so make up your own mind on this one.
However, by the time we get to point 8 on the list, the storyline for The Mage In Black starts to fall apart. After reading the book I’m still not sure if Sabina wanted to start a war and save countless lives or avert a war and save countless lives. The two options appeared to be the same, but I’m sure that there should be some clear difference between the two outcomes. There is some incoherency to the story that no amount of witty banter and no-holds barred fights can cure.
Ultimately The Mage In Black seemed to be a difficult story to engage with. At times could feel myself locked outside the story – I was a reader but not a participant in Sabina’s latest adventure and this made the book slow going in places. However, the final 40 or so pages of The Mage In Black did pick-up the pace, nicely setting up readers for Green-Eyed Demon (book 3.)
Red-Headed Stepchild got the Sabina Kane trilogy off to a good start and while The Mage In Black didn’t seem to live up to earlier promise only time will tell whether the next instalment of this series turns the story around again. In summary, The Mage In Black isn’t brilliant but its not bad either. Just average…
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