Tour’s Books Blog

January 10, 2010

Book Review: Hallowed Circle by Linda Robertson

  • Title:  Hallowed Circle
  • Author:  Linda Robertson
  • Type: Paranormal
  • Genre: Witches, vamps and weres in modern society
  • Sub-genre:  Semi-romantic paranormal mystery/thriller
  • My Grade: B+ to A- (4.5*)
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Length and price:  Full novel to Plus novel, over 100,000 words for $7.99
  • Where Available: Where ever books are sold
  • FTC Disclosure:  Purchased from online book seller

I read Vicious Circle last fall and was hooked by Linda Robertson, so her newest book, Hallowed Circle was a MUST BUY for me.  Ms Robertson has penned another winner here carrying on the story of Persephone Alcmedi, her Nana, Demeter Alcmedi, her sort-of boyfriend, werewolf rocker Johnny, and the master vampire-sorcerer  Menessos.  In Vicious Circle, Seph became instrumental in bringing down the High Priestess of the Cleveland Coven.  Now there will be a competition for the job and Seph has been nominated to be the local competitor.  She is well aware she can’t compete – she bares a vampire’s mark (stain) and she is Lustrata.  Only a witch marked by a vampire can be Lustrata, so she is automatically disqualified as a High Priestess – a position where the witch must be pure and unmarked.

Seph goes to the Covenstead to officially turn down the nomination and meets Hunter Hallowell, another witch vying for High Priestess.  Hunter pulls the high school level ‘handshake shock’ trick, but Seph sees it coming and responds with a jolt of her own and the two nullify each other.   Hunter now knows Seph is her strongest competition.  And shrewd old Lydia, the Elder who nominated Seph and made sure she and Hunter met, leaving Hunter in a snit as she waits her turn to interview with Lydia, has set the scene in hopes of changing Seph’s mind about participating in the Eximium – the process/competition by which the High Priestess is selected.  Even knowing full well she’s been set up, hearing Hunter jolt one witch after another makes her decide to participate until she can knock Hunter out of the running.

Nana is less than happy about Seph’s decision.  Johnny even more so.  Seph goes out to cut more corn stalks as Halloween decorations when the ley lines spoke to her.  She follows them to find a mermaid – well, actually a water fairy.  The fey have been separated from the human world and it is against the Concordat for a witch to summon one.  But Aquula has come to ask Seph to warn Menessos that the 4 fey he has bound 4 fey to his wishes and now that he has stepped back in the circle, three of the fey still bound to him resent him enough that they are plotting against him.  Great, another problem on top of her now national column, her cantankerous Nana, Beverly, the young werewolf she’s fostering, and the Eximium, she already has enough to do.

Menessos’ presence in Seph’s life is an issue with Johnny, but after pumpkin carving the next night, Septh and Johnny finally get together.  The following night Johnny and his band get the opportunity of a lifetime.  A band scheduled to play at the Cleveland Rock and Roll Hall of Fame had to cancel and his band is offered the spot.  With all the record labels there, it’s an opportunity he can’t pass up.  Knowing she has to get up early to go to the Covenstead Eximium, Steph heads to bed early, but changes her mind, gets dressed and goes to the performance, where she sees Goliath, Menessos’ right hand man.  Her suspicions are immediately aroused about just why Johnny’s band was given the chance here, when the band takes the stage.  She’s amazed at just how good they are.  When he pulls two beautiful women up on stage at the end and kisses than, she leaves without speaking to him, but not without being seen.

The morning brings the Eximium and Steph has more on her mind than Johnny and Menessos.  Getting through the various stages on the tests isn’t easy and Seph learns just how unprepared she is for some facets of being a High Priestess she is.  But no one prepared any of the witches for murder.  Cops show up and everyone is on edge when things get worse for Seph.  The Eximium must continue and the witches call in vampires to help in the testing – and Menessos is suddenly there as well, though he was not one of the vamps summoned.  The Eximium is very interesting, possibly the best part of the book.   Did Seph hide what she really is from the all too shrewd and insightful examining witches?

What wasn’t so good?  Well, Seph’s schoolgirl reaction to seeing Johnny with females at the rock show.  She even ignored the need to tell him of her suspicion that Menessos is behind this sudden opportunity for Johnny and his band to hit the big time.  It just didn’t ring true to all her other character traits.  Yes, even heroines get petty at times, but Seph has known Johnny too long and knows how much sway a master vampire-sorcerer can have, yet she stills believes what she sees.  It felt wrong on several levels.  Seph realizes Johnny is more than he seems and somehow linked to her and what she is becoming.   And Johnny, always suspicious of things, should have discerned the hand of Menessos in this sudden rush to make his band a hit – and the unnatural reactions of the audience to what is essentially a local club band.  How two shrewd and insightful people can miss these signals – and more importantly, not think it through,  was too shallow to be believable.  Yes, it’s a small part of the overall story, but thanks to Janet Evanovich and her Stephanie Plum character, I’ve gotten more than a little tired of grown women and men behaving like angst ridden teens, so my threshold for this kind of thing in books is very low.   It annoyed me.  I was very grateful when Seph and Johnny talked it all out like sensible adults, but I came within a heartbeat of setting the book aside when it happened.  Yes, I really do respond that negatively to that kind of nonsense.

That personal issue aside, Hallowed Circle was a really good read and a first rate followup to Vicious Circle.  The complex story of Seph, Menessos, Johnny and the ancient prophecies around the Lustrata make for some terrific reading.  The story is layered and nuanced well beyond the usual shallow paranormal.  The evolution of Seph to Lustrata while still being Seph, the columnist, granddaughter, and new guardian to a orphaned tween daughter of a friend, makes for a rich and textured read.  Hallowed Circle is highly recommended and well worth the $7.99 asking price!

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