Monday, February 20, 2012

Shadow City by Diana Pharaoh Francis

Shadow City is the third novel in the Horngate Witches series and is really two separate tales that eventually merge into one. Shadow City begins like the previous installments with trouble heading towards Horngate, but this time Max is away on a mission with Scooter, and it’s up to Alexander to pull out the resources necessary to prevent a cataclysm of epic proportions.

Alexander remains steadfast in his refusal to become Prime of Horngate’s Shadowblades until he finally has no choice in the matter. He firmly believes in Magpies prophecy that claims that if he does, Max will never come home again or she will die. Of course, he is the only one who knows about the prophecy which drives a temporary wedge between him, the angels, and the blades
Alexander still doesn’t have the backing of Giselle, the powerful witch of Horngate, who was responsible for changing Max into a Shadowblade. As for the rest of the Blades, they continue to demand that he step up and take charge since the world is a precipice of danger and there is evidence that a more powerful force has targeted Horngate for destruction.

This story could be a coming out of sorts for Alexander who has pretty much been a secondary character until now. Alex realizes that his feelings for Max are true and unbreakable but she drives him absolutely nuts in more ways than one.

Alex’s challenge remains a rough one; find a way to stop a Fury from rising and destroying Horngate, or die trying. Alex is more than a one dimensional character. He stands up to Giselle and has finally become comfortable being at Horngate with the rest of the surviving blades and witches.

*I can honestly say I was NOT surprised by a certain scene when Max decides she needs help and runs into Alexander in her bedroom. Key the hooozah chakala boom boom!


When we left Max in Crimson Winds, she was being spirited away by Scooter, the demigod after promising him she would help as well as the fact that Giselle pretty much gave her away in an effort to protect the Horngate homestead against further attacks by the Guardians.

After facing a brutal training regimen at the hands of Max and being on the brink of death numerous times, Max discovers Scooter’s reason for taking her away from Horngate in the first place.  Max needs to find a way to travel the abyss to Scooters home world of Chadare so that she can save him from dying as well as retrieving his missing body parts.

Upon arriving in Chadare, Max discovers a whole new world with various creatures she’s never seen before, let alone heard of. Max finds new and powerful enemies, as well as an ally named Ilanion who reminds her of the angels that protect Horngate Covenstead in his strength and determination.

Max realizes her mission is a serious one in that she must find Scooters (Nayan) missing horn, silk, and heart before he dies. Scooter has slowly become part of Max’s extended family even though he forced a lot of pain and suffering on her. In the meanwhile, time is ticking away, and Nayan’s enemies will do anything to get their hands on him.

Max ends up not only dealing with Scooters pending death and retrieving his body parts, but a painful loss of a person very close to her back at the Covenstead.  Several key and important characters fall by the wayside in this story; one of which is pretty close to Max.

Max really is an interesting and serious character that you can’t help but to cheer for. Ever since she was 21, and Giselle pretty much destroyed her life by turning her into a Shadowblade, she has been fighting the good fight while rebelling against Giselle and trying to find a way to break her bonds to the powerful witch.
Max has the ability to get through any locks, regardless of whether they are magically bound or not. Now, with her new ability to travel the abyss, it makes her even more of a formidable force.

The only real negative for me was the switching of character POV’s after pretty much each chapter for the first half or so of this book. Max and Alexander both had severe issues to deal with, and it wasn’t until Max realizes that she needs help, that the stories meld together.

I loved the darkness of this story, as well as the Urban Warfare meets Gladiator fight to the death towards the end of the book. I also was impressed by Giselle’s willingness to put herself on the line for Max, Scooter, and her Blades. We shall see if that lasts beyond this story.

The ending left me with more questions, than answers, but I guess that’s a good sign in that there will be a fourth novel in this series.

Title: Shadow City
Author: Pharaoh Francis
Release Date: December 27, 2011
Genres: Urban Fantasy


  1. Interesting Review! Adding to my TBR list!

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