Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Review of This Wicked Game by Michelle Zink

This Wicked Game
by Michelle Zink
4 Scribbles
Dial Books/Penguin Group

Claire Kincaid is a direct descendent of the notorious New Orleans voodoo queen, Marie Laveau--so you would think that she'd be a follower of voodoo like her parents. The truth is, even though she works in their shop, she has no real interest in the craft. She's quite different from the other teens, or "firstborns" in the historically powerful New Orleans "Guild" or voodoo families. Unlike the other firstborns, she doesn't work on spells or practice the "recipes" inhereted by her family; in fact, she's pretty normal. However, one day while working in the shop, strangers arrive asking for ingredients known to be used in very dark spells. Claire becomes suspicious and soon discovers a plot to destroy the Guild, and she may be the only one who can stop it.

The setting of the novel adds to it's dark, mysterious flavor; those who've heard of New Orleans know about the city's rich history and magical voodoo roots. Zink merges this history with the present day, creating a novel that is naturally filled with tension and intrigue. Adding to the tension is Claire's secretive relationship with Alex, one she keeps secret because she doesn't think his family will accept her--after all, she's virtually rejected her heritage. Claire simply doesn't believe she has any real talent or the power needed for the craft. Yet, when the Guild elders turn their heads after Claire's warning about the sinister strangers who visit the shop, she feels the need to take a stand. It's a new day in New Orleans, and clearly the firstborns are going to have to protect their own. Teens will connect to Claire as she seeks to find a bond with the other teen Guild members, always before so foriegn to her. Who hasn't felt like the black sheep at one point or another? And as the tension mounts and the deadly plot to destroy the Guild is uncovered by the firstborns, Claire's insecurity comes to a head. As the last descendent of Marie Laveau, she may be the only one with the necessary resources to save them all--but can she overcome her doubts? Fans of paranormal mysteries will enjoy this highly accessible work, and those who aren't big fans of historical fiction won't be put off by the reference to Marie Laveau, since the novel is set in the present. I'm hard pressed to find a read alike--perhaps the closest offering might be Garcia & Stohl's The Caster Chronicles.

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