The Source (Witching Savannah #2) by J.D. Horn
Genre: Adult Paranormal
Release date: June 3 2014
Source: e-ARC from publisher via NetGalley
The nitty-gritty: Witchy magic and grave danger, family secrets and lies, and enough action to satisfy any action-junkie.
My fear and anger bound themselves together and I poured my focus entirely into the blade in his hand. The knife glowed red and then blue, the metal losing shape and transforming into a molten glove that charred the flesh beneath it. He howled, and then grasped his wounded hand. Rage burned in his eyes. His jaw unhinged like a snake, and he vomited foul-smelling black orbs that fell to the floor. Unrolling, they revealed themselves to be horrible little creatures, rats with nearly human faces that scurried along the floor, surrounding me. Razor-sharp claws protruded from their very human fingers and ripped into the bar’s wooden floors.
I read the first book in Horn’s series, The Line, earlier this year and loved it. And while many of the same elements are present in book two, it didn’t have quite the same punch as the first book. Don’t get me wrong, I had a blast reading The Source and revisiting Horn’s family of southern witches, but I feel as if it suffered from Second Book Syndrome—it didn’t feel as tightly edited, as finely plotted, or as carefully focused as the first one. In many places I felt as if there was just too much story, and that Horn was trying to include every awesome idea he could think of in one book.
But what it did have were some pretty amazing characters and wonderfully developed relationships, and for me, this took precedent over the over-stuffed plot. I loved reacquainting myself with Mercy Taylor, young witch and newly appointed “anchor” of the line, a magical force that keeps bad things from crossing over into the human realm. I won’t give away too much of the plot (although it’s almost impossible not to include some spoilers if you haven’t read the first book), but I will briefly set the stage for you.
At the end of The Line, Mercy has discovered that she is pregnant with Peter’s child, and she now has something very important to protect, as her life is once again starting to spin out of control. When she runs into her presumed-dead mother Emily, Mercy’s world is turned upside down, and everything she’s been told by her aunt and uncle seems to have been nothing but lies. Emily says she wants to help and protect her daughter, but suddenly Mercy doesn’t know who to trust. A battle is about to be waged by those witches who uphold the sanctity of the line and those (like Emily) who want to destroy it—and Mercy and her unborn son are caught in the middle.
We are introduced to a whole slew of unsavory characters in The Source, many of whom mean to harm Mercy. First there is Emmet, an odd creature who was “made” from magic at the end of The Line, a man who has been tasked with protecting Mercy and teaching her how to use her magic abilities. On the surface he seems benign, but as the story progresses, I started to distrust him more and more. Plus there was the slight creep factor of his crush on Mercy (he’s one of those annoying men who just can’t take “no” for an answer.)
Then there’s Tucker, another creepy guy who stalked Mercy in the last book, and who is now dating Mercy’s Aunt Ellen (much to her disgust). I didn’t like Tucker then, and I still didn’t like him this time, although he surprised me (in a good way) and I ended up understanding him better by the end.
Once again, one of my favorite characters is Mother Jilo, an old woman who practices root magic and has become one of Mercy’s most trusted friends. She’s a tough old bat who seems mean and unpleasant on the outside, but who has a heart of gold buried underneath. Jilo and Mercy clearly love each other, and I loved that Jilo stands in as Mercy’s surrogate mother and becomes the one person in her life that she can trust.
Mercy herself is a wonderful character, and I thought Horn handled her pregnancy very well. She’s unmarried and not even sure how she feels about Peter, and despite everyone around her pushing for the two to get married, Mercy holds her ground and refuses. Even Peter’s mother Mrs. Tierney can’t persuade Mercy to do something she doesn’t want to do—and believe me, that woman was very opinionated on the subject!
In my review of The Line, I used the expression “soap opera on steroids,” and that’s exactly how I felt about The Source. The complex family relationships made my head spin at times, and they were even more confusing because I could never tell who was lying and who was telling the truth. Horn’s enormous cast of characters didn’t help with my confusion, and I think the story would have been tighter if he’d focused on fewer of these larger-than-life people.
But the author’s imagination is alive and well, and I loved many of the small details Horn brought to his story. He uses the color “haint blue” to great effect (click here to learn more) and incorporates many details about witchcraft, magic, and the fae. There is also a large house where some very unsettling but fascinating things take place—and the movie that came to mind as I was reading these sections was Eyes Wide Shut—I was alternately cringing and unable to look away.
This series isn’t over. The third and final (?) book, The Void, comes out this fall. I may not have loved this one as much as the first, but you can bet I want to finish this series to find out what happens to Mercy’s baby and the rest of the characters!
Big thanks to 47North for supplying a review copy. The above quote was taken from an uncorrected proof and may be different in the final version.
You can find The Source here: