Nine of Stars by Laura Bickle (Dark Alchemy #3)
Published by Harper Voyager on Dec. 27th, 2016
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Western Fantasy
Page Length: 384 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
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Winter is the most deadly season in Temperance. And it’s not just because of the fierce cold. Evil is stalking the backcountry of Yellowstone, killing wolves and leaving only their skins behind.
As the snow deepens, Geologist Petra Dee is staring her own death in the face, while former Hanged Man Gabriel struggles with his abrupt transition back to mortality. The ravens and the rest of the Hanged Men are gone, and there are no magical solutions to Petra’s illness or Gabriel’s longing for what he’s lost…and what he stands to lose now.
Meanwhile, there’s a new sheriff in town. Sheriff Owen Rutherford has inherited the Rutherford ranch and the remnants of the Alchemical Tree of Life. He’s also a dangerously haunted man, and his investigation of Sal’s death is leading him right to Gabriel.
It’s up to Petra, her coyote sidekick Sig, and Gabriel to get ahead of both Owen and the unnatural being stalking them all – before the trail turns deathly cold.
Note: I received an advanced copy of Nine of Stars from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.
- I’m a huge fan of Weird West and therefore was instantly intrigued by the description of this book when it showed up as a surprise in my mail. Since this is the modern day west, Nine of Stars has a cool blend of western themes with the urban fantasy issue of hiding the truth from the modern day public.
- While this is a third book technically, the press material claimed it was also a fine place to start, so I gave that a whirl. It definitely is! I had no trouble catching up with previous events and Nine of Stars starts at a point in time when A LOT of problems suddenly arise for poor Petra, so things were immediately exciting.
- Petra is diagnosed with leukemia at the very beginning of this book and while nothing has started in terms of treatment yet, I have very high hopes that this will be a series that brings long term illness into a genre that generally has supernaturally healthy heroines. Further, Petra’s father is in a mental care ward because he has dementia, but he still has lucid moments and plays a huge role in helping Petra solve the mystery. It was a great example of how the elderly still have a lot to contribute to the younger generations.
- The romance is sweet and solid. Since we’re jumping in to the middle of things with this book, the romance is already established and this is a time of growth for Petra and Gabriel. Maybe it’s that I’m in my first few years of marriage, but I really like reading stories with couples in a similar situation of ‘this is serious and long term but we’re still working out the kinks’.
- There are chapters from the perspective of wolves! There are so many interwoven elements in this book, but I especially loved how Bickle portrayed the thoughts of a wolf (even a supernatural wolf that has apparently lived for hundreds of years).
- Magic! Alchemy! Hanged Men! There are so many cool supernatural things going on and Nine of Stars barely scratches the surface. We get glimpses of the alchemy that Petra’s father practices. Gabriel apparently used to have cool raven magic. There is a spooky ghost. So much cool stuff!
- This book was really nearly perfect. My one hangup is a pretty big one though. Nine of Stars is completely dependent on the myth of the skinwalker from Navajo mythology. Because as far as I can tell the author is not Navajo and because I’ve read many times that the Navajo do not want non-Navajo to talk about or tell stories about skinwalkers, I wish that this book hadn’t used that culture’s mythology for entertainment. I’m hoping that other books in this series avoid taking advantage of taboo myths from marginalized cultures.
Have you read this one? What did you think? Are you excited for it if you haven’t gotten to it yet?
Nine of Stars by Laura Bickle
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