Review: Blood of the Wicked (Dark Missions, #1) by Karina Cooper

Author: Karina Cooper
Others In Dark Mission series: Before The Witches (prequel novella), Lure of the Wicked (#2)
Format: MM Paperback, ebook
Pages: 348
Original Release Date: May 31, 2001
ISBN #: 978-0062046857
FTC Disclaimer: Received this ARC from the publicist for the purpose of an honest review.

One earthquake. One disaster changed the world, and created a divide not only in Seattle, but in society itself. The gritty, decaying underground city plays as big a role as the people who dare to venture through it’s dark streets. The danger and desperation found in layer after layer of the forsaken remnants of a sunken Seattle make it an incredible, tangible background for this story.

“Normal” citizens blamed the witch population for the near-apocalyptic natural disaster that swallowed up the city of Seattle. New buildings and a new way of life were built on it’s remains, and the labyrinth below became both santuary and battleground for those who didn’t fit into the “new order”.

Jessica and Caleb Leigh were born into a culture of hate and persecution. Brother and sister witches, forced to hide their gifts and raise themselves in the scarred remains of “old Seattle”. Jessie tried to use the shadows and empty spaces of the city to keep herself and her younger brother safe after their mother’s murder. After years surviving together, Caleb’s ability to see bits of the future convinced him to leave Jessie to protect her from the fate he envisioned.

Jessie’s been living from paycheck to paycheck, temp job to temp job, trying to stay under the radar in the bright, shiny rebuilt city. This all comes crashing to a hault when she’s tracked and found by a member of the “Holy Order of St. Dominic”, a group sworn to find and eliminate witches from society. Silas Smith is called back into the Order after some self imposed time away. He’s given the task of finding Jessie, believing her to simply be the sister of a powerful witch, not realizing she is a witch as well, and using her to find her brother.

The story is filled with half truths and deception from the very beginning. Both Jessie and Silas are sharing only parts of their true intentions with the other, and understandably so. Forced by their life experiences to be enemies, you could say they have some “trust issues”.  Both believe they’re doing what’s best, and both needing the other to accomplish their mission. One thing they can’t help but share, however, is their attraction for each other. The intensity of the situations they find themselves in, both of their own making, and against outside forces, is a catalyst for very raw emotion. The relationship between these two isn’t the lovey dovey sweet thing of fairytales, it’s just as gritty and hard as their surroundings. They’re the opposite of what they should want, but exactly what they can’t stop themselves from wanting. The harshness that embodies the bulk of the story makes the times that they, almost accidentally, have sweet moments that much better.

Throughout the story, we come to find that Silas and Jessie aren’t the only ones with secrets. It seems like everyone in this world is wearing a mask of some sort. Caleb isn’t the little brother Jessie remembers, the “team” Silas works for has their own agenda, and everywhere the pair turns, SOMEONE is out to get them. It’s a non-stop-explosion-filled-car-crashing-tied-and-bound ride that just never lets up. Except, wait… there’s that one time in the “Sexy Times Sanctuary” (Karina’s words, not mine, lol) that was slow and sweet, but it took a near death experience to get them there.

I really enjoyed this book. There were many times where it was a bit darker than what I normally read. And there was a particular scene towards the end when I really, REALLY wanted to stop reading because I was crying like a baby and hated EVERYONE. But there’s a reason for those things to happen, and if you’re not a marshmallow like me, I’m sure you’ll survive it just fine. (Karina still owes me for a half a box of tissues!) The imagery and worldbuilding in this story are really interesting and the characters just feed off of each other.

Luckily, the publisher is fast-tracking the release of the second book in the series, Lure of the Wicked, which will be available on June 28th. I really can’t wait to see what happens in THAT book. It features a character I didn’t care for in this story. Normally that would be a put-off, but I have a feeling, Karina’s going to make it worth my while. And while she brings closure to most plot points in this part of the story, I’m looking forward to finding out how the unfinished storylines develop. Right now, I’m going to read the novella that goes back 50 years to the occurance of the earthquake, Before The Witches.

Karina Cooper has given us a fascinating debut. If you’re looking for something a little different, that will keep you on your toes, and give you a couple to root for, this is the story for you.

You can find out what’s making Karina happy these days in our author feature HERE! One commenter/question asker will win a free digital copy of Before The Witches 🙂

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