Top positive review
Book 4: Jade Crow versus Samir's Apprentices plus there are Unicorns!
Reviewed in the United States on June 25, 2022
After a rocky start, The Twenty-Sided Sorceress series by Annie Bellet really starts to build up some positive momentum in this, the fourth book in the series. ‘Hunting Season’ sees the audience introduced to a wider range of supernatural beings whilst also showcasing the deepening feelings that Jade and Alek, our titular sorceress and her Justice shifter beau, have for each other. We also get the other ‘Scooby’s’ playing a more engaged role in the action whilst introducing some more characters that will spice things up in books to come. My only note is that I really wish these books were more than novella’s. There is so much going on and they always seem to go way too fast. ‘Hunting Season’ is around the length of book 3, ‘Pack of Lies’, for some context. Slightly under 200 pages and took me around 2 hours to read.
We start with Jade dealing with the witches attempt to have her leave Wylde after her run in with their leader, Peggy Olsen (possibly a shout out to the Mad Men character?), at the end of the last book. Peggy and the witches had given Jade 30 days to leave Wylde and are trying to make her life as uncomfortable as possible. Setting off the sprinklers in Jade’s comic book shop, infesting it with bugs etc. Jade is reluctant to strike back at them in fear that they will use her actions as proof that she is the evil sorceress they accuse her of being.
‘“Hello, Peggy,” I said to the head of the Wylde coven, putting a bit of frosty power into my tone so that my breath literally puffed with chill. I wasn’t above theatrics, even if I couldn’t turn her into a toad. Not yet, anyway, not before I heard her out. It would be impolite.’
After cleaning up the witch’s latest hex, Jade and Alek are interrupted by the local vet, and wolf shifter, Vivian demanding that they come with her to help. They arrive at Harper’s Mum’s B&B – The Henhouse – to find an injured and dying unicorn. Jade manages to tap into her magic enough to save the unicorn and we get a flash of how she met her first adoptive family and how closely she treasures her memories of them. On a side note that I was so happy Ms Bellet included unicorns in the world she is building through these stories – plus all the references to the moves ‘The Last Unicorn’ and ‘Legend’ were fantastic
‘My friends were all busy with unicorn fever, taking turns watching over the recovering stallion. There was a minor argument over the name to give him, but common sense had prevailed and we all agreed on Lir, after the prince who had loved the last unicorn.’
This starts the main plotline of ‘Hunting Season’. Who would or could harm the Unicorn and why? We get to see the outcome of the teasing last chapter of ‘Pack of Lies’ and the ever-increasing machinations of Jade’s ex-lover and mentor Samir. Through the first four book’s, Samir has been depicted as the big bad of the series, but from a safe distance. In ‘Hunting Season’ it feels like he is only a step away and that he is continuing to move closer to his end game.
I found the pacing of this book to be a lot more consistent than previous entries and found Jade moving from one event to the next with purpose and direction. Even if it was the direction of a bed after she exhausts herself with her sorcery. Jade also continues to grow as a character and actively participates in the events of the book. I never found her to come off as being arrogant or presumptive, but she continues to step up as the quasi-leader for the group. The relationship between her and Alek also continues to evolve, and after having major issues with them in book 2, ‘Murder of Crows’, I have found myself falling in love with them as a couple. They compliment each other and are much better at communicating to one another and respecting the other’s abilities. Jade’s ‘Scooby’ gang is also back in the action and whilst we don’t get loads of information on them given the length of the book, I still enjoyed the glimpses and snatches of information we do get. Fingers crossed that one of these days we can get some stories from their perspective.
‘Hunting Season’ continues the solid story telling of Book 3, ‘Pack of Lies’, whilst continuing to expand on the world building. We get to meet Unicorns, Druids, Vampires, Demons, to name just a few. Ms Bellet also continues to pack in a plethora of nerd culture into each book which is always a delight. If you enjoyed the other books in the series, you will love ‘Hunting Season’. If you haven’t read the series before I recommend starting at Book 3, ‘Pack of Lies’ as Book 1, ‘Justice Calling’ and Book 2, ‘Murder of Crows’ are not strong entries in my opinion. They are all short though so you can usually power through them if you don’t like to skip books. The series continues with Book 5 ‘Heartache’.
A very solid 4 out of 5 stars!