All Emma wanted was to sell her enchanted teas in peace; instead, she's caught up in the chase for a killer who's stalking the streets of London. He's targeting half-bloods, people with limited magical ability. People just like Emma. The police are baffled by the long string of deaths, but they're not willing to put in the legwork to make an arrest. After all, magic users can take care of themselves, right? Except, those with real power don't give a damn about half-bloods. So, when Emma wakes from a strange dream that nearly gets her killed in the waking world, she knows she has to deal with it herself. With only her boggart shop-assistant and the two strange men who have offered to help, can she thwart the killer and make the city safe again?
Five half-blood Talents are dead in five months, the latest a young witch who sold curse stones. Emma is concerned about the situation but concentrates on keeping her shop stock of healing teas up to date, with help from boggart assistant Gibble, and her beloved dog Lenny. But one night she wakes up from a dream to find herself holding a bloodsucking knife and trying to kill herself. Emma is lucky to survive and suspects that this is what happened to the other victims. But why was she able to survive the attack and who would want to kill her? Gibble has the answer of an evil Talent who needs the knife to steal the life force and Talent from victims, making him very powerful and very dangerous...
I like Emma. She is just a normal woman trying to make a living from her tea, someone who wants to be left alone. She is a half-blood, meaning half human and half Talent, a talent she uses to help people. When she is mentally attacked in her sleep, she becomes afraid for her safety but curious about why she did not die. Gibble believes that Emma has some kind of Talent that can block the powers of others, enabling her to fight back and save herself. With the help of Gibble, a few spells and two men offering to help, she now has a chance to fight back. Gibble is a great sidekick character, loyal to Emma but grumpy and rude to others! He also has a wicked streak and an interesting friend...
Behind the nearby city walls the full-blood Talents all live in peace and security, not caring for the half-bloods and humans who live outside their protection and who are viewed as inferior. When half-bloods start to die, nobody really cares except full-blood Talent Harrod and his human brother Martin. Leaving the city, they are investigating the murders when they meet Emma and offer to help. I liked the brothers. Harrod has the family power and prestige but he was unwilling to turn his back on his brother who was born without magical genes, sort of like a squib in the world of Harry Potter. The brothers are very close friends and loyal to each other, and both care about those ignored by the city people. I have to point out here that there is NOT a love triangle between Emma and the brothers, thankfully.
The plot has a bit of a Victorian feel to it with London being a walled city with the protected upper class living in a nice secure environment and not caring about the lower classes outside the wall. Emma's quaint little tea shop fits into it along with the other magical shops around her. I liked the sense of community amongst the half-bloods and humans, which is the only protection they have with the police showing little interest in the murders. I liked the magic elements to the story, with the witch Deirdre as a good supporting character. It mixes magic, mystery and paranormal nicely with just enough of each one.
This was a well written story with good characters that you care about. It is nicely paced with no waffle, and while it isn't action packed, you do want to read to find out what happens. There is a hint of romance but it fits in well to the plot rather than dominate it, and it isn't a dreadful insta-luv creation so I was happy with it. I'm likely to look at the next book in the series at some point.
Read July 2017.