Face-stealing monsters, intergenerational drama, and squabbling witches

The King of Bones and Ashes (Witches of New Orleans) - J.D. Horn

Disclaimer: reviewing uncorrected digital proof via NetGalley

 

I'm not quite sure how to categorize this. There are pretty strong contemporary fiction leanings, what with the complicated, extraordinarily messy and interwoven multi-generational family dynamics. There's the paranormal/fantasy content, with witches, shapeshifters, and monsters lurking around the edges. Things skew from drama to thriller and right on into the realm of horror as the story progresses.

 

I found the first quarter really slow going. Like, I kept double checking to make sure this wasn't a companion series to an earlier series because there is so much worldbuilding detail and so many different points of view and webs of interrelational drama to wade through. Despite the deep, rich worldbuilding, or really, probably because of it, the book didn't draw me in at first. I felt like I just didn't care about the characters, the witchy goings-on, or the New Orleans southern setting. But by the end of the first third of the book, all that detail starts to settle in and the shape of the story emerges. Well worth the extra effort to get there.

 

The investment in backstory and getting to know so many different threads at the beginning starts to really pay off heading into the latter portions of the book. Various mysteries start to unravel and a race for the finish line tangles against late-in-the-game twists for an unexpectedly high stakes, surprising wrap up that provides some closure while setting up the series for further drama.

 

One caveat for squeamish readers; the family drama and dynamics get about as sordid as you can imagine. There's no explicit sexual content, and abuse isn't lingered over (though things get pretty violent in the paranormal/horror scenes), but there's plenty of cheating and backstabbing (and front stabbing), plus a little mixing of the generations that may turn off some.

 

Verdict: detailed, engaging start to what's sure to be an impressive new Urban Fantasy series. Good read for readers who enjoy a dense, richly imagined story world.