Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Review: Red-Headed Stepchild by Jaye Wells

I have not been reviewing much lately and I blame work for it. I usually do most of my blogging at work, but haven't had time... and there's been some events for work that has thrown me off my routine. Booo! I should try blogging at home, but I usually end up reading in bed :P

But let's try tonight :) I've really been into urban fantasy and fantasy books lately and have picked up some recommendations over at SciFiGuy - a really awesome source for everything urban fantasy and fantasy.

So here is one of them...

Red-Headed Stepchild by Jaye Wells
published by Orbit in April 2009

In a world where being of mixed-blood is a major liability, Sabina doesn’t really fit in. And being an assassin – the only profession fit for an outcast – doesn’t help matters. But she’s never brought her work home. Until now.

Her latest mission is uncomfortably complex, and threatens the fragile peace between the vampire and mage races. As Sabina scrambles to figure out which side she’s on, she uncovers a tangled political web, some nasty facts about her family and some unexpected new talents. Any of these things could be worryingly life-changing, but together, they could be fatal...

This time, it’s personal.
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Sabine Kane, book #1

The Story: Sabina is half-vampire, half-mage in a world where union between mage and vampire is forbidden. To say that her parentage has made her life difficult is putting it mildly... especially when you're the granddaughter of the vampire leader. As a result, Sabina has spent most of her life trying to win her grandmother's approval, even if it means becoming an assassin.

However, Sabina starts to wonder if her family approval is really worth everything... especially after killing one of her friends, a so-called traitor... and finding out that the Dominae, her vampire house, is hiding a lot from her. Then, of course, there's the hunky mage making noises about her mage family and her gifts...

My Opinion: I was attracted to this book for one reason - the heroine is an assassin. For some reasons, I like my main characters to be assassins, although it bodes badly for the romance most of the time ^_^;

What did I think of Red-Headed Stepchild? It was an enjoyable and fast read. I like the author's writing style. Easy to read and very fluid. Ms Wells doesn't go on and on. She's actually very straightforward in her style, which suits me well.

The world building is quite interesting so far. Ms Wells doesn't go much in details yet, so readers are spared the world building information dumping. I'm thinking that we'll get more information as we go along. So far, I enjoy the idea of mages and vampires feuding, although I'd like to know the extent of every race's powers. One thing that makes Ms Wells' vampires stand out and an idea that I really like is the hair. All vampires have red hair and their age is reflected by the shade of red. Quite original.

Where it gets a bit shaky is the heroine, Sabina Kane. She's a bit of a stereotype - tough assassin heroine, but with a vulnerable heart. She's blind to her family's action, because she seeks their approval, until the truth is revealed. A bit cliché right? and of course, she doesn't trust easily, but yeah, what did I expect? The thing is, her character seemed a bit inconsistent to me... a bit too vulnerable. She switched side too fast - actually, all the internal conflict about her character and her feelings for the Dominae evolved too fast. As a result, it was not very believable - readers are not convinced. Why would everything happen now, all at the same time, to open her eyes... a bit too convenient, right? Was she that loyal to her house to begin with? Also, I thought she could have been tougher. She came close to death quite a number of times in this book... While readers don't want an invincible heroine, we don't want a weakling who acts tough either.

I liked Adam's character, the mage sent to find Sabina. He's very likable and I hope something deeper will develop between Sabina and him. I'm looking forward to getting to know him better. I also liked Giguhl, the demon/cat side-kick, he was fun :)

The plot is also interesting. There were some nice twists and turns and it sets up the series quite well. I'm quite curious about the prophecy and I do wonder, who's more of a danger for Sabina - her grandmother or Lilith, the vampire goddess. I could have done without the "vampire" sect. In my opinion, it was a bit superfluous. The author could have found another more interesting way to link everything.

My Grade: B. Quite an enjoyable book, but not perfect. Sabina is interesting, but not totally likable. Still, I'm intrigued and hooked enough to get the second book, The Mage in Black, when it'll come out next April :)


  1. I know what you mean about work. I have got barely any reading done the past two weeks and haven't had any time for reviews. : (

    I can't wait for Christmas to be OVER (I know I know...where's the holiday spirit?) so I can get back on track and try to puta dent in my TBR pile!

    Great review by the way! I never heard of this book, but it has me intrigued!

  2. So nice to see you got your review mojo back, Nath. ;P Great review. It's a good premise.

  3. Jessica - I like the holidays only because it means we have a few days off. Otherwise, it's just the same as the rest of the year. My boss keeps saying he needs some results before Christmas, so hopefully, it'll calm down after the new year! :)

    Thanks :) The book is pretty good. Of course, it's a bit too soon to say about the series, but it looks promising :)

    Hilcia - We'll see if I got my mojo back, Hils :D it's a bit too early to say.

  4. Nice review nath, this one sounds interesting. I think I have it in the TBR pile. Oddly, I've had a hard time getting into UF lately. Couldn't even finish the latest Kresley Cole. *shrugs*

  5. Huh, I haven't ever heard of this book. I find myself really getting into UF more and more. Great review!

  6. Leslie - Thanks Leslie :D

    Bummer about not finishing the Kresley Cole. Perhaps, you just need to take a break from UF a little :) Also, if you've been having a hard time reading UF, you shouldn't start Red-Headed Stepchild just yet.

    Jill - Me too. Lately, that's all I've been reading :) By the way, she's going to be at RT!! :D

  7. So had you read this author before? If not then this qualifies for the RT Challenge!! Can I link it?

  8. Jill - No, I've never read her before. Actually, I think this is her debut novel. So go ahead :)