Series: Black Blade # 1
Publisher: Kensington Teen
Release Date: April 28, 2015
Format: E-Book, 368 pages
Genre: YA / Urban Fantasy
There Be Monsters Here. . .
It's not as great as you'd think, living in a tourist town that's known as "the most magical place in America." Same boring high school, just twice as many monsters under the bridges and rival Families killing each other for power.
I try to keep out of it. I've got my mom's bloodiron sword and my slightly illegal home in the basement of the municipal library. And a couple of Talents I try to keep quiet, including very light fingers and a way with a lock pick.
But then some nasty characters bring their Family feud into my friend's pawn shop, and I have to make a call--get involved, or watch a cute guy die because I didn't. I guess I made the wrong choice, because now I'm stuck putting everything on the line for Devon Sinclair. My mom was murdered because of the Families, and it looks like I'm going to end up just like her. .
Welcome to the first installment of Jennifer Estep's new Young Adult Urban Fantasy series called Black Blade. Estep's heroine and narrator is 17-year old Lila Merriweather. Lila is a thief who lives in Cloudburst Falls, West Virginia where many of the town's residents have magical talents. Cloudburst Falls has been called “the most magical place in America.” Tourists come from around the world to tour all the magic-themed shops and attractions, as well as see monsters like tree trolls, copper crushers, and lochness in their natural habitats. But make sure you pay the tolls, or else you will find yourself up the creek with no paddles.
Lila has a Talent for sight, along with transference magic. Her transference magic actually makes her makes her stronger. To survive, she does odd jobs for her pawnbroker friend Mo Kaminsky while going to a rube high school, and living in the library's basement. Lila does her best to stay off the grid and avoid the Families — or mobs — who control Cloudburst Falls and who killed her mother 4 years ago. But when she saves a member of the powerful Sinclair Family, Devon Sinclair, Lila finds herself caught in the middle of a brewing war between the Sinclair's and the Draconi's, the most powerful Family in town.
After finishing Cold Burn of Magic, I found myself in a comparison mode which I normally chide myself for doing. However, I can't stop myself in this instance. I love that Estep's three female leads all have unique abilities. Lila has her sight and transference; Gin has her Ice and Stone elemental magics; while Gwen Frost has her psychometric abilities. I have to say that Lila is more like Gin Blanco, than Gwen Frost in many ways. Gwen was luckier than Gin and Lila in that she had her Grandmother who sent her to Mythos Academy.
All (3) characters have kickass weapons (knives for Gin, swords for Lila and Gwen). Gin and Lila live in towns (Ashland v Cloudburst Falls) that are controlled by nefarious elements. Both characters found themselves orphaned by the main villains of the story (Draconi's vs Mab Monroe). Both found mentors (Mo v Fletcher) to take them in, and help guide them. Both have lived outside of the law (thief v assassin). Both found themselves on the streets trying to survive.
So many different storylines to get through in this first installment of a brand new series. There's the megalomaniac villain who reminds me of Mab Monroe. There's the drunken Pixie (Oscar) who also knows how to cook and listens to country music. There are magical mob-type families who barely tolerate each other. Then there are the monsters straight out of fairy tales, and a setting that is pure fantasy that lures tourists in by the bus loads.
The one staple of any Estep writing is the gobs of food that is mentioned over the course of the book. Holy crap, folks! If you are hungry, wait until you have eaten before starting to read this book or you will be drooling all over your poor book. I personally don't remember a story, or a character that loved to eat as much bacon as Lila does. Gin could perhaps give her a run for her money in the fact that she can actually cook her own food.
Let's talk about the romance, shall we? .........nothing to see here! Move along please! No, seriously, there's no real romance in Cold Burn and that is absolutely perfectly acceptable to me. Gin went through a trial and error period before finding Owen, and Gwen had the same ups and down before ending up with Logan. So, why can't Lila have a slow burn relationship instead of a love at first sight moment? Why can't Lila have some fun first before settling for one flavor of chocolate?
My friend Braine from Talk Supe Blog, made a great point when reviewing this book. She stated that Lila could be Gin's daughter, in that she has the same attitude with the way she carries herself, the way she goes about her business, and the way she doesn't take crap from no one. I have to agree. Lila IS more alike with Gin, than with Gwen Frost. I think when you get down to the apples and oranges, you will agree with B and me that Lila is definitely a character that has a whole lot of potential, and I can't wait to see what Lila is up to next.
Per Jennifer's web page, there will be three books in the Black Blade series -- COLD BURN OF MAGIC on April 28; DARK HEART OF MAGIC on Oct. 27; and then book #3 probably sometime in spring/summer 2016.
**I received this book for free from (Kensington Teen) via (NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!! This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**
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Today, I get to do an interview with one of my favorite authors, Jennifer Estep!
Jennifer, as many of you may know, is the author of the Urban Fantasy Elemental Assassin series featuring Gin Blanco, as well as the Mythos Academy YA series featuring Gwen Frost. This month, Jennifer releases yet another YA series called Black Blade!
GR) Are there any
other genres that you would love to give a try? IE Science Fiction,
Dystopian, Historical, Steampunk
JE: There are several
different genres I’d like to try. I’d like to write a romantic suspense one
day, a spy thriller, a heist book, and even a western. I always have more ideas
for more genres than I will ever have time to write.
GR) You are famous for
having characters who love to cook, and eat a variety of amazing delicacies, is Lila like Gin and Gwen in that she can't turn down food?
JE: Well, my heroine Lila
doesn’t like to cook, but she likes to eat—especially bacon. Bacon is her
favorite food, so there are a lot of descriptions of bacon and bacon dishes in
the series. But I always enjoy writing about food, whether my heroines are
cooking or eating.
GR) Would you say that
your heroine in Cold Burn is similair or different from Gwen Frost or Gin
heroine of Cold Burn of Magic is Lila Merriweather, a 17-year-old thief who
lives in Cloudburst Falls, West Virginia, a town dubbed “the most magical place
in America.” Tourists come from around the world to tour all the magic-themed
shops and attractions, as well as see monsters like tree trolls, copper
crushers, and more in their natural habitats.
Lila does her best to stay off the grid and avoid the Families — or mobs —
who control much of the town. But when she saves a member of the Sinclair
Family during an attack, Lila finds herself caught in the middle of a brewing
war between the Sinclairs and the Draconis, the two most powerful Families in
town. I would say that Lila is
similar to Gwen and Gin in some ways – she’s smart, sassy, and much tougher and
stronger than she realizes.
But Lila is definitely a
little more mature, grown up, and street smart than Gwen Frost was in my Mythos
Academy series. The overall tone and world building in Cold Burn of Magic is
also a little darker and grittier than in my Mythos Academy series. But I hope
that folks enjoy getting to know Lila and the world of Cloudburst Falls.
GR) Thinking back, what
are the most important influences to you as a writer?
JE: One of my biggest
influences is my mom, who took me to the library just about every week when I
was a kid. That’s how I fell in love with books and reading in the first place,
and I’m probably a writer because of all those library trips.
GR) What are your favorite
and least favorite parts of putting together a story?
JE: One of my least favorite parts is just getting started
and writing that first rough draft. It’s always a little daunting when you sit
down at your computer with a blank page and a zero word count in front of you.
But writing is a job like any other, so I just make myself start working on my
next project. My favorite part is finally finishing a book and knowing
that it’s been released for people to hopefully read and enjoy.
My name is Jennifer Estep, and I’m the New York Times bestselling author of the Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series; the Black Blade young adult urban fantasy; the Mythos Academy young adult urban fantasy series; and the Bigtime paranormal romance series.
You can follow her on Facebook, Goodreads, and Twitter. I hope that you will take a few minutes to look around my website and learn more about my books. Happy reading!