*I received free copies in exchange for an honest review.*
Ancient Magic Blurb:
Can a cursed relic be saved from the clutches of evil before it is used to wreak devastation?
Kukulkan’s Skull should never have existed; nothing more than a legendary relic with the death powers of a god. Deep in the ancient Mexican jungles, it has been found… and stolen.
Zoe Stark, witch and magical relic hunter, must discover who the true enemy is in time to save the skull from being used for great evil.
Time is running out, for the Day of the Dead fast approaches, when the skull will be at the zenith of its devastating power. Zoe finds much more is at stake as she chases a cold trail of murder and magic.
Her own life is in danger as the mastermind behind the theft silences those who get too close, but she cannot give up, for to fail, would be to doom millions of innocent lives.
If Zoe fails, the skull’s first victim will be her…
Rogue Magic Blurb:
Meet Jamie Oxford, wizard and magical relic hunter.
How much is the power to kill the world worth?
Jamie is sure that a magical relic in the hands of non-magical Ordinaries is not going to end well. When Pandora’s Box is discovered, he takes it upon himself to make sure it is protected as it ought to be – with magic.
His plan backfires spectacularly and Jamie finds himself on the run from the law, without the box, and completely isolated.
Pandora’s Box is gone, and Jamie can no longer be sure who is friend or enemy as he hunts for it before it falls into the wrong hands… hands that could open the box, unleash the powers within upon the world, and end humanity.
Can one rogue really stop that?
The marketing blurb on Amazon says of Ancient Magic: ‘Fans of Lara Croft and Indiana Jones will enjoy this fast-paced urban fantasy adventure series filled with magic, action, and kick-ass characters.’ For once you CAN believe the hype, because this is exactly what you are getting.
Just like Indiana Jones, the main character Zoe Stark is a relic hunter and her mission is to locate and retrieve ancient artefacts to preserve them for posterity, and from the hands of evildoers who will misuse them. The difference is that Zoe Stark is a ‘Magicai’ (she has magical powers), and the artefacts in question are powerfully magical (is that really a difference? Ark of the Covenant anyone?!) Still, Zoe is less bullwhip and pistol, and more magic shields and melting weapons with her mind.
It goes without saying (but I will) that it is great to see a female lead in an action/adventure role, and Zoe really does lead…her male sidekick is along for the ride, but Zoe is the driving force and decision-maker, and he trusts her expertise and judgement. There were hints of James Bond here too, with diplomatic incidents, interrupted beach holidays, and the possibility of more than one conquest falling at her feet (although unlike dear James, Zoe shows a modicum of self-control and focuses on the job at hand rather than diverting into romantic dalliances!).
The focus, as mentioned, being on the action means that the magic is almost incidental, and therefore there is more to uncover about how the Magicai society functions alongside but secret from ‘the Ordinaries’, and how the magic itself operates. We pick up during events that magic can be pulled from leylines and used or stored according to need, but I am interested to find out more about its limitations and inherent rules; information which I expect will develop over the course of the series.
Unfortunately I now need to note a major complaint about Rogue Magic, a short story set in the same world as Ancient Magic and bringing in Zoe as a minor character:
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?!
Rogue Magic would make a great first chapter of another Zoe adventure, with Jamie as a different and more feisty male sidekick, but as a short story it just wasn’t enough; I was left needing more. I was excited by the idea of Pandora’s Box and the potentially devastating problems it could cause in the wrong hands, and the character of Jamie is good fun; I could see how he’d pair nicely with the more businesslike Zoe for a traditional mismatched-buddy adventure. I refuse to accept that there is not more to come from this set up…it’s just too good!
Overall Ancient Magic was a great start to a promising series, and fans of Indie, Lara, magic and Meg Cowley / Victoria DeLuis are all advised to check it out. Watch out though! It ends with a teaser that will have you reaching straight for the next book…!
An altar of bones and Juan’s skeletal face taunted me from the shadows of my deepest fears. The skull held old magic, dark and powerful. As we neared its home, and as we neared the time it could be wielded with maximum deadly effect… I knew it would be a force to be reckoned with.
– Meg Cowley and Victoria DeLuis, Ancient Magic
Ancient Magic is released TODAY – find it on Amzon here.