I haven't read the SPECTRA files novels, to which Smoke and Dagger was a prequel, but I liked the cover so I wanted to give this book a try even though I had no clue what to expect.
It set immediately after WW2 and as such there is a lot of talk about communists and other un-American activities. The main character is the first woman allowed into some kind of Freemason organization and send to investigate a character from another organization, because he likes redheads. There is a lot of talk of the occult and an endless supply of arcane occult artifacts, be it daggers, mirrors or otherwise. Thrown into the mix also is a secret organization investigation the paranormal which is so secret, even its own members don't know what the acronym stands for.
While it was in fact an easy and not unpleasant read, I found the pacing a bit odd at times and I missed something that could give it that little bit extra. I only found out in the acknowledgements that this story is set some generations before the main series, but for now I'm undecided whether to continue with the main series.
Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!
Who am I: Prequel to the Semiramis series is exactly what it says. It is a short novella giving you an insight into the main character's childhood. It shows you just what Alex goes through and why she is the person she is at the beginning of Semiramis Awakened (book one in the series).
It is exceedingly well-written and packs a punch for all it is so short. You will feel for Alex before you even really know her, which is exactly how it should be. The writing is the usual high standard you would expect from a Maya Daniels book, and although there is no world-building per se, it still gives you enough to give you an inkling into Alex's world.
I have already read the three books in this series, and am waiting oh so patiently (!!!!) for the fourth book to arrive. Therefore I already know Alex and what she goes through. Did this impact my enjoyment of this story? Absolutely not. You don't have to read it in order to gain maximum enjoyment out of it. Absolutely recommended!
* A copy of this book was provided to me with no requirements for a review. I voluntarily read this book, and the comments here are my honest opinion. *
Archaeolibrarian - I Dig Good Books!
THE SPECTRA FILES books have all been a pleasure to read. Now with SMOKE & DAGGER, we get a peek behind the scenes at the beginning of it all. What fun!
In New York City, feeling far from her seaside home in Massachusetts, Catherine Littlefield haunts the local museums when she's not studying for her college courses. She especially likes to sit and gaze at a certain meteorite. It gives off some kind of...signal, a kind of...hum, which she can actually feel. She notices an elderly gentleman, often on the bench opposite from where she sits, and she wonders if he feels it too. Soon the two meet, one thing leads to another, and then she's working for the man and off to California to investigate! There are reports of black magic, sex magic, spells and singing-all with the intent of bringing through the Old Gods. Who are the people so devoted to doing this? What and who exactly, are the Old Gods? Lastly, will this group be successful? You'll have to read this to find out!
I loved the trilogy of SPECTRA FILES books, and thought the author was finished with those tales, until I saw the beautiful cover of this book on Twitter. Not only is the cover gorgeous, but there are a number of lovely illustrations inside, though many of them are of monsters and the Old Gods themselves. Some are renditions of ancient spells and chants from grimoires devoted to the black arts. These illustrations added another level of "cool" to this tale. (I'd love to see this book come out in a signed/limited edition including the drawings.)
I've come to expect a level of satisfaction from Douglas Wynne when it comes to his SPECTRA FILES books. They combine Lovecraftian type story telling, (dark, ominous and atmospheric), without the flowery language, racism and other distasteful portions of Lovecraft's actual writing. What I really love about Wynne's work though, is his characters. They are always so devoted to protecting the world from the Old Gods all while being unable to claim the credit for doing so. In this book, however, things are a little different. I wasn't sure about Catherine Littlefield's inner motivations, and it was her adventure that kept my eyes glued to the page. I'd love to read more about her in the future, and more about the Order to which she was initiated. In short, I just want more!
You do not need to have read the trilogy in order to appreciate SMOKE & DAGGER, though I recommend you do anyway, because...FUN. This volume can stand alone, tickling your sense of adventure and your curiosity. Combining those things with a brave, admirable heroine, and some Old Gods action, I just cannot see how you wouldn't have a good time!
Available everywhere August 20th; you can pre-order here: SMOKE & DAGGER
*Thanks to Douglas Wynne for the beautiful paperback ARC of this book in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*
**Also, thank you, sir, for the wonderful inscription that made me both blush and smile.**
A priestess, a dragon god - and a lie that threatens to destroy them all. Celia is about to break her vow.
As the head priestess of the most powerful dragon temple in the empire - Celia is a shining example of knowledge, purity, and unquestioning loyalty to the imperial couple, the legendary dragon gods themselves.
Sworn caretakers of their citizens, the priestesses must awaken the power of the spirit arts in others and guide the next generations.
But all is not what it seems. Everything they've been taught, everything Celia knows, is wrong.
Following Celia's disastrous visit to the capital, she is trapped amidst a chaotic scheme that spans over a thousand years beyond her lifetime... and is now faced with the ultimate betrayal.
Her Imperial Highness seeks to destroy Celia and her people - the very same people who serve her empire without question.
As the other dragon temple's refugees pour in, Celia is forced to decide where her loyalties lie.
Will she make a final stand against a dragon god and protect her family, or will her loyalty to the gods last until her final breath?
Perfect for fans of strong female leads, intricate magic, complex epic fantasy plots and of course, dragons. Be sure to scroll up and grab this prequel now! The Last Stand is a prequel epic fantasy novella to the Empire of the Dragon Gods Trilogy with Book One: The Dragon Princess coming soon. Sneek peek inside!