Saturday, June 07, 2014

Witches In Red - Barb Hendee

Witches In Red
A Novel Of The Mist-Torn Witches
Barb Hendee


After much turmoil, sisters Celine and Amelie are settling into their new home and apothecary shop.  Living in the midst of peace and prosperity is still a novelty to both, and neither truly trusts in it yet.  As Celine waits for the other shoe to drop, Amelie finds herself at loose ends.  In the past, her role was to protect and provide for her sister, the healer.  Now, there’s no need for that, and while Celine continues her role as healer and seer of the future, Amelie is coping with her feelings of restlessness in addition to her newfound ability to see the past.
Both sisters’ immediate problems seem to be solved when Lt. Jaromir, Prince Anton’s personal guard, comes to the sisters with a request.  Since the two (and Jaromir) were instrumental in solving a series of murders in the castle (THE MIST-TORN WITCHES) Prince Anton asks for their help again.  There is a silver mining camp far to the north, populated by the miners who toil, and the soldiers who guard and transport.  There are all the usual tensions between the two groups, but now men are dying.  The stories that reach Prince Lievan, father of Prince Anton, tell of men suddenly turning into huge beasts and turning on their fellows, tearing them apart.  And far worse: the silver has stopped flowing into Prince Lievan’s coffers.
If there is some sickness among the men, Celine and her healing arts may be able to stop it.  If there’s something more malevolent going on, then the two seer sisters will be invaluable in identifying the culprits.  Of course, Jaromir and several men will accompany them, presenting them as ladies of Anton’s court, come to practice their ‘seeing’ skills.  The knowledge that the handling of this situation is a test for Anton only puts more responsibility and stress on the shoulders of Celine and Amelie.  Should they fail, Anton fails in his father’s eyes as well.     
The author manages to mix fantasy and mystery to great effect.  The scenes are set perfectly; the world inhabited by the characters is quite solid and real.  There is a bit of a detour during the story, away from the central mystery, but it really serves to broaden our understanding of Celine and Amelie.  The motive behind things was a bit weak, I thought, but the story itself was so much fun it really didn’t much matter.  This is the second book in a very solid series. I always look forward to Ms. Hendee’s books.  I enjoy her fascinating method of constructing a story.
Rating: 7 ½
May 2014
ISBN# 978-0-451-41416-8 (paperback)


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