The Bitter Seed of Magic
Published 2011 403 pages
The Summary (from the book jacket)
Genny’s an expert at cracking spells, but when it comes to cracking an eighty-year-old curse she knows she’s in trouble, the sort that could change her life for ever – or end it in an instant.
On the surface, Genny's life seems ripple-free right now. Finn, her sexy boss and… well, Genny’s not quite sure what else she wants him to be, but he isn’t pushing for a decision on their relationship; the seductive vampire Malik al-Khan has vanished back into the shadows; and the witches have declared her no longer a threat. But unless Genny can find a way to break the fertility curse afflicting London's fae, she knows this is just the lull before the magical storm.
Then a faeling - a teenage girl - is fished out of the River Thames, dead and bound with magic, and Genny is called into investigate the girl’s death. As she digs through the clues, her search takes a sinister and dangerous turn, exposing age-old secrets that might be better left buried. Then another faeling disappears, and Genny finds herself in a race against time to save the faeling and stop the curse from claiming its next victim – herself!
The Bitter Seed of Magic is the third book in British writer Suzanne McLeod’s Spellcrackers.com urban fantasy series. Events and characters from previous novels spill over into this story so it’s probably best to read these books in order starting with The Sweet Scent of Blood, rather than trying to jump straight into the story here.
The prologue of The Bitter Seed of Magic reprises what readers already know about the fertility curse that afflicts London’s fae population. The curse has been running for years and over that time the fae have been unable to conceive full-blooded children. The faelings (fae/human part-breeds who been born) have been dying and all of the supernatural beings are desperate to break the curse. Genny is a sidhe fae and although she has no magical ability of her own she is an expert at breaking (or “cracking”) other people’s magic. She’s convinced that the curse can be cracked but since the alternative is for her to bear a child to break the curse (something the fae population is very keen for her to do) it’s no wonder she finds the “cracking” option more attractive. Previous efforts to breed a child to break the curse have usually ending up badly for the child involved and Genny has no desire to sacrifice her own offspring.
The curse isn’t quite as simple as it would first seem. There are lots of hidden twists which when combined with divine machinations lead to one of the most complex storylines I’ve read in a UF novel in quite a while. Still, Genny aided by favourite series characters Malik al-Khan (sexy vampire) and Tavish (a powerful wylde fae kelpie) steadily picks away at the obscure clues and layers of mystery to get to the hidden heart of the matter. There is no shortage of danger and excitement along the way and even a touch of humour too – provided by the dryad Sylvia and Ricou, a fishy naiad who likes to dress in Johnny Depp glamour. This comedy pair are the most unlikely suitors that the fae have ever thrown Genny’s way, especially since Sylvia and Ricou are already romantically involved with each other…
In addition to Suzanne McLeod’s imaginative use of fae mythology, her writing gains extra strength from her well rounded characters. Genny isn’t one of those awful urban fantasy female protagonists who kicks, punches, bitches and screws her way through a story while trying to prove that she tougher than any male hero could be. Instead she comes off as a realistically strong heroine – one who knows she could get badly hurt but keeps fighting the good fight regardless. What I’m trying to say here is that she’s believable and likeable (good qualities for any story protagonist!) while supporting characters have satisfying complexities that make them interestingly multifaceted.
All in all The Bitter Seed of Magic is another satisfying instalment of the Spellcrackers series. If you love urban fantasy and are a fan of sexy, to die for vampires then I can’t imagine why Suzanne McLeod isn’t already on your list of must read authors.
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You can find out more about the Spellcrackers.com series and read the first chapter of this novel at the website for this series. Visit the Spellcrackers.com site.