Today we’re going to do something different and talk about a whole series, since I just finished reading all eight books of Annie Bellet’s The Twenty-Sided Sorceress series in two omnibus volumes from the library. A couple of months ago we were talking about escapist literature, and I tend to read a lot of urban fantasy for the same reason that I read cozy mysteries: To immerse myself in a different world away from everyday worries and cares. Again, what’s important is the story, not the particular genre or setting.
That being said, I’m also enough of a geek that I harbor a particular fondness for urban fantasy because of its ability to inject magic and wonder into our everyday world. If this is a new genre to you, urban fantasy is defined as a work that, although it contains fantasy or paranormal elements, takes place primarily in a real world setting — the fantasy elements are layered on top of real life, and the story often involves the main character’s struggle to find her place and the balance between both worlds.
In The Twenty-Sided Sorceress series, our Native American protagonist Jade Crow is on the run from her former mentor/boyfriend Samir, a powerful sorcerer who wants to take her powers as his own by (ew) eating her heart. She tries to avoid using her own powers to avoid detection and settles into a (relatively) normal life running her comic book store, Pwned, in the fictional town of Wylde, Idaho, which is itself full of shifters and other paranormal type folk. Of course, Jade repeatedly finds she can’t outrun or hide from her past and must eventually confront it — and her nemesis — or die trying. Throughout the series we follow her adventures as she grows as both a sorceress and a person, building the web of relationships and allies that will allow her to face the challenges of her past head on.
The Twenty-Sided Sorceress series successfully blends traditional paranormal elements (sexy shifter romantic subplot? check!) with gamer culture in an entirely entertaining example of escapist urban fantasy. Why twenty-sided? Because Jade always carries a twenty-sided die with her, of course — and there are plenty of game, movie, comic, and other geek culture references scattered throughout. Consider this either a warning or an invitation, depending on your own tolerance for that sort of thing. 🙂
If you enjoy authors like Faith Hunter, Kate Daniels, Patricia Briggs, or Simon R. Green, you’ll probably quite like The Twenty-Sided Sorceress series. And even better: The Kindle versions of all eight books are fairly affordable, and the first book in the series, Justice Calling, is currently free for Kindle! Try it out and see if you’re intrigued enough to continue on with the rest of the series.
Warning, however: The individual books are fairly short — more novella than novel-length — so reading them together in two omnibus volumes really helped bring the story together into a cohesive whole. I think if I’d just read one without seeing the series all together I may have been disappointed, so if you do start reading, try to view The Twenty-Sided Sorceress as a series rather than one book at a time and commit to reading them all. You can find the two-volume series that collects all eight books together in Level Grind and Boss Fight.
What are you reading this week?
What have you been reading lately? Tell us about it! 🙂 — and, you can browse all the What’s Rachel Reading? book reviews here.