Hexed: The Sisters of Witchdown by Michael Alan Nelson
Genre: Young adult urban fantasy
Publisher: Pyr Books
Release date: May 5 2015
Source: Finished paperback from publisher
The nitty-gritty: An unexpectedly awesome combination of urban fantasy, Buffy-like hijinks and cinematic action scenes, with a dollop of teen angst and emotion thrown in for good measure.
“So, how does this friend of yours know about me and what exactly did she say?”
“That you were familiar with situations like this. That you were a . . . ” He cleared his throat. “That you’re a witch.”
Lucifer couldn’t stop laughing. “A witch? Seriously? Wow, is your friend off the mark. I’m not a witch. Not even close.”
“Then what are you?” he asked.
Lucifer gave him a broad smile. “I’m a thief.”
“Don’t worry. I don’t rob banks or pick pockets. I specialize in stealing . . . other things.”
I was recently in a reading slump, trying to make my way through a slow book, and I decided to take a break and read something else. Hexed was sitting right by my computer, and since the release date was only days away, I picked it up and started reading. It sucked me in, people, and I barely came up for air and only put it down when my eyelids wouldn’t stay open. What fun I had with this book! Hexed is based on Nelson’s popular comic series of the same name, which I haven’t read, but you can bet I will now. It’s the first in a series about the magical misadventures of teen Luci Jenifer Inacio das Neves, or Lucifer for short. Lucifer may be a teen, but she’s anything but ordinary. She lives by herself, and she’s hired to steal dangerous magical artifacts so they won’t fall into the wrong hands. Her only “family” is a woman known as the Keeper of Secrets, or the Harlot, who Lucifer tried to steal from once, but was caught. Now she’s been literally branded by the Harlot and forced into taking over her job someday.
All Lucifer wants is to be a normal girl with a boyfriend, but instead she skulks around at night, breaking into buildings and stealing things, with her bag of magic spells over her shoulder to help her out. When a cop named Buck approaches Lucifer and asks her to help find his missing daughter Gina, who has been kidnapped by a witch, she has no idea what hell she’s about to get herself into. With Gina’s boyfriend David in tow, Lucifer sets out on a wild and circuitous trail in order to find a magical object that will help her rescue Gina.
There were so many things I loved about Hexed. First of all, the pacing was first-rate, and never for a moment was I bored. Nelson tells the story exclusively from Lucifer’s point of view, which was a nice change of pace from all the multi-POVs I’ve been reading lately. I can easily picture this book being made into a movie someday, it was that well done. Lucifer reminded me so much of Joss Whedon’s Buffy Summers, a tortured girl who just wants to be like everyone else, but is destined for something different. There was even a scene near the end that involved an evil corporation, and I couldn’t help but think of Wolfram & Hart from Whedon’s Angel.
Lucifer was a fantastic character, with just the right combination of bad-assery and vulnerability. She’s been in the magic world since she was little, after growing up poor in a favela in Brazil, having lost both her parents before she was brought to the United States. Now she gets by on her quick wits and extensive knowledge of the arcane. As she has to keep reminding David, she isn’t magic herself, but she can use magic. Lucifer never heaves home without her “trick bag,” which she fills with spells that help her in her job as a thief. She’s a wonderfully strong female character, but she doesn’t flaunt it. Her strength is just part of who she is. And she just wants to help others, which is how she justifies stealing dangerous objects that could potentially harm people.
Gina’s boyfriend David wasn’t nearly as strong or likable a character, but honestly, Lucifer made up for him. I was actually quite annoyed with him, since he starts to fall for Lucifer (yes, there is a romantic element to the story, but it doesn’t overwhelm it), and he’s supposed to be in love with Gina. Lucifer falls for him too, but I got the feeling that it was more his pretty-boy athletic looks she was interested in, rather than his personality.
But I loved most of the other characters, even the Harlot, who—as scary and dangerous as she is—always has a comfy sofa and a cup of hot tea waiting for Lucifer when she comes to visit. A character who appears near the end is most certainly going to feature in the next book of the series, a woman who ends up taking Lucifer under her wing and offering her a job. And I can’t wait to read more about her!
If you’re looking for a fast-paced urban fantasy that pushes all the right buttons, then look no further. Hexed is a quick but memorable read, and the next book in the series can’t come fast enough for me! Highly recommended.
Big thanks to Pyr Books for supplying a review copy.
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