Friday, 2 September 2016

Book Review: Sorceress Awakening by Lisa Blackwood (Gargoyle & Sorceress #1)

As a child, a near-drowning accident stole Lillian’s old life. Her new life began the moment she awoke at the foot of a brooding, stone gargoyle.

Years later, Lillian still finds comfort in Gregory, her gargoyle, never guessing he is more than cold stone until demonic creatures called the Riven attack. Gregory senses her terror and wakes from his healing sleep.

After the battle, Lillian learns the humans she thought were her family are a powerful coven of witches at war with the Riven. Lillian is something more than human, a powerful worker of magic, an Avatar to the gods. Gregory has been her protector for many lifetimes, but troubles in their homeland forced him to flee with her to the human world. And it wasn’t an accident which stole her memories—it was Gregory. He suspects Lillian is host to an infant demon, one capable of evil greater than the Riven.

Despite everything, Lillian fears she’s falling in love with her guardian. While she might be able to defeat the Riven with Gregory’s help, she doesn’t know if her fragile new love can survive the evil growing in her own soul...

My Review: 
I had seen a lot of reviews about this book and I was pretty sure I wasn't going to like it. I'm not a massive fan of fantasy magic and I hate romance so it wasn't looking great. But I LOVE the book cover and I liked the short prequel I read to the series and decided to give it a try anyway.

Gregory is a gargoyle who can take human form and is sworn to protect his sorceress. They have been reborn to different forms over the many years together and always unite in a partnership to defeat evil. This time, the sorceress has been born in the kingdom of and brought up by the evil Lady of Battles and Gregory fears his mistress may have been tainted by evil when he rescued her and left her as a child in the protection of a witch coven. Now Lillian is a young women with no memory of her magic or who she really is, and is under attack by supernatural enemies and Gregory must awaken from his healing sleep to come to her aid.

I liked the plot of the book. Lillian and Gregory are trying to deal with the complex emotional relationship that they have which is made difficult by Gregory trying to prevent her from discovering the truth and her real memories and magical power. The Coven and the Clan, allied supernatural creatures in the area, are banding together to help Gregory fight the monsters and protect their land, but some are wary of whether to trust Lillian, especially when her true nature is revealed. Lillian herself is unsure if all of their allies can be trusted, and she doesn't even know if she can trust herself.

What really works for me in this series are the characters. I love Gregory, especially in his gargoyle protector form. He stole Lillian's memories when she was rescued as he was unsure what the Lady of Battles had done to her. If she could remember nothing of magic and her past lives, she would be safe from whatever evil may be hidden inside her, until Gregory can determine what it is and how to cure it. It does mean that Lillian is not aware of being his Sorceress and Mistress and struggles to accept what is happening around her. Gregory is a proper hero-brave, dedicated and willing to die for Lillian. He also loves her, knowing that mating is forbidden and punishable by death, which causes him great anguish.

Lillian is discovering that her whole life has been based on lies and that the family she grew up in are protecting her from evil and are not related to her in blood. She knows that Gregory is keeping secrets from all of them, and she feels magic and rage stirring within her that both excites and scares her. What I liked about her is that she is not a whiny brat who lashes out at them over the secrets. She quickly accepts her situation and tries to deal with it the best she can. I prefer that to chapters of 'life is unfair' stroppy kid angst! It was interesting to see Lillian developing her dryad and demon magic, and fighting not to lose control of herself.

The other characters are decent but I'd like to see them fleshed out a bit more. We only see flashes of Lillian's 'brother' Jason so I don't really have any thoughts about them. Her Gran is a great character-a powerful witch who loves Lillian as if she was her own blood, and she will fight to protect her. I want to see more of the amusing conflict between the unicorn and the pooka as I feel a bit more humour would add to the book. We also have dire wolves, dryads, evil vampires, fae, evil hounds and The Wild Hunt featuring in the battle scenes. There are no shortages of interesting creatures and different types of magic to enjoy through the book.

There are several action scenes spaced out throughout the book. The first is used to set the scene and introduce us to the characters , and it certainly gets the book off to an exciting start. We then delve into Lillian's changing world, whether or not the other Coven and Clan members will accept her and her confusing relationship with Gregory. The big battle occurs in the middle of the book and I very much enjoyed the way it was written. It leads to some of the secrets starting to be revealed to Lillian. There is more action towards the end of the book where we get a decent resolution to this part of the story without a terrible cliffhanger. There are also flashes of humour and the endearing relationship between Gregory and Lillian.

There are no sex scenes in the book as that is forbidden in their relationship but we explore their love in several lustful scenes, but mostly through their emotional connection to each other. I think that is why I was so invested in their relationship, despite my aversion to paranormal romance in general. Their agony over not being able to be together was almost heartbreaking at times and I hope they can find a solution where they can be happy together in a later book. Their hurt feelings over a thought in the other's head was very endearing at times and the urge to protect each other at their own expense was bittersweet.

I got quite involved in the emotional aspects of the book and despite it being slower paced than my normal reads, I found myself wanting to know what happens next. I liked the way the author put the story together, the way she developed the characters, and I certainly want to read more in the series. I recommend this for fans of fantasy and paranormal romance, yet those like me not heavily into the genres might enjoy it as well.
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