Last week we reviewed Bitter Night, Book #1 in the Horngate Witches series by Diana Pharaoh Francis. If you haven’t read Bitter Night or the review, you can read that review here.
Spoiler Alert: Horngate Witches is a chronological series, so I recommend that you read Bitter Night before reading Crimson Wind. The review below does give serious spoilers for Bitter Night, so be forewarned!
When Crimson Wind opens, Max is working alongside the other Shadowblades, Sunshields, angels and witches to repair the Horngate Coven’s home and organic farm after the horrendous battles that devastated it. It’s hard work made even harder because Scooter won’t leave her alone at night. He keeps invading her dreams to steal her away.
“Max did not scream. She had done it just once, the first time Scooter had dragged her here. She wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction ever again. A force shoved her insistently toward the right. Scooter…She yanked away from the pressure, tumbling in the darkness and into a cloud of grey magic. It clung to her with tenacious eagerness.”
Because his nightmare-like visitations are draining her, her ability to heal herself and be on top of her game are greatly diminished. She’s greatly depleted physically and mentally, and she’s tortured by fears about the unknown bargain Giselle struck with Scooter. Although Max realizes this powerful being has every right to expect to get what he bargained for, she fears what their bargain means for her future, or lack thereof. On top of everything else, it’s become clear the Guardians are on the verge of enacting their plan to restore magical balance to the planet by eliminating most of humankind.
“’The Guardians must strike quickly or suffer great harm. For many years, the magic of your world has drained away into the web. The Guardians are drawing it all back and will release it into your world. You are in danger.’ [Scooter]He spoke quickly, his expression wooden…If she’d had a face [in his lair], Max would have scowled. Like she needed more bad news.”
Feeling desperate to rescue her family before it’s too late, Max strikes her own bargain with Scooter. If he will stay out of her dreams for one week, so she can function and bring her family from California to the safety of Horngate, she will voluntarily go with him despite her growing feelings for Alexander.
As Max and Alexander set off for Northern California to retrieve her family, they each have secrets they’re keeping from the other. Giselle has given Alexander two prophecies; one concerning Max’s future and one concerning his position at Horngate, and has sworn him to secrecy. He’s agreed for fear that disclosing the prophecies will cause them to come true. Max also has the secret of her bargain with Scooter. As they travel toward her family, Max continues to pick up underdogs and strays, further demonstrating what a softie she is underneath her tough and sometimes brittle exterior.
“[Max] ’We aren’t leaving them. Load them in the back.’ Alexander did not argue. It would only waste time, and the stubborn thrust of Max’s jaw told him she was not going to change her mind…Max gunned the motor before he shut his door, and they squealed up the freeway, back toward Weed.”
To say Crimson Wind revolves around retrieving Max’s family and trying to get them safely back to Horngate would do it a grave injustice, and make it sound predictable and boring. It is far from that! Crimson Wind is one twisty roller coaster ride and one hell of an adventure. I don’t want to give away much more of this novel because it will take the fun out of reading it. I was on the edge of my seat throughout and didn’t want to stop reading until I got to the end. Diana Pharaoh Francis really knows how to keep you enthralled!
Cryptic comments (cue the evil laugh): I loved how Mt. Shasta was used and how Diana captured the essence of those Northern California towns. I also loved the use of wild magical creatures that could make the Brothers Grimm jealous! How’s that for a few fun teasers?
Seriously, it’s rare for Book #2 in a series to be even better than Book #1 when Book #1 is excellent, but Crimson Wind definitely is! Now I can hardly wait to see what happens in Book #3! If you like fantasy and fast-paced action adventures, with a bit of romantic tension thrown in, you’re going to love this series!
If you’d like to buy Bitter Night or Crimson Wind, as either hard-copy books or e-books, you can link to any of the online booksellers in the upper right column.
If you’ve read Crimson Wind or Bitter Night, or any novels by Diana Pharaoh Francis, we’d love to get your comments. We’d also love to hear your comments about this review.
If you like our review, please +1 it and/or share it with your friends!