BookMusings: (Re)Discovering Pagan Literature

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Series Review: Eve Williams


Series: Eve Williams

Titles: Bramble and Blood (Book One), Birdsong and Bone (Book Two)
Publisher: Chirping Bird Publications
Author: Ashley Beasley
Price: $2.99 each

Eve Williams is a necromancer. She is also a pariah in St. Louis' magical community. Once the beloved adopted daughter and apprentice of the Speaker (one of the most powerful members of Sanctuary), her magic withered and turned dark in her late teens. While Druidic magic is focused on life and the elements, her magic came to center around death and ghosts. One of her eyes even turned red. Confined to St. Louis by order of the ArchDruid, she ekes out a living consulting with ghosts on behalf of grieving and greedy relatives. ... But then someone starts murdering necromancers, and the local goblin King hires her to find out who is plotting against his throne .... With the reluctant assistance of her best witchy friend, Wist; a shadow being in cat form named Charon; a whole bunch of ghosts; and the Sanctuary's mysterious and frightening Enforcer, James; Eve sets out to solve the murders ... unless the murderer gets to her first ....

Every now and then, FaceBook's algorithms are right. An ad for Bramble and Blood appeared in my newsfeed. I was immediately intrigued: I love urban fantasy, and stories that feature an African-American woman in the lead are exceedingly rare. After downloading the sample, I purchased the first book, read through it in only a couple of days, and then purchased the second book.

The Eve Williams books are fun and engaging. The main character is smart and fierce, but not infallible or invulnerable; too many female leads in urban fantasy stories are kickass, badass, leather-girdled warrior women. Eve makes mistakes, relies on her friends for help, gets hurt, and is (rightly) afraid; she knows what is really out there, and that there are bad things which are much more powerful than her. Nonetheless, she perseveres. She pushes through her fear, and gets the job done, because someone has to, and it's the right thing to do.

Eve has a large supporting cast, and her relations with them are ... complicated. Wist may be her friend, but she is also a witch, and is bound by various oaths to her coven; plus, magic is never free, and Eve always ends up owing Wist some sort of favor every time she asks for help. Harlen, the Speaker for Sanctuary who adopted Eve as a child, still loves her and trying to protect her in his own backwards way. Will and Ben, two shapeshifting Druids with whom Eve grew up, still care for her, but can't make their friendship too obvious without risking the ArchDruid's wrath. And then, of course, there is James, Sanctuary's terrifying and ancient sword-wielding Enforcer; there is much, much more to him than Eve realizes and he may just be the ally she needs. 

The world that Beasley has created for Eve is fascinating, and its complexity is only hinted at in these two books. Magic is openly and widely practiced. Druids are at the top of the magical hierarchy, able to cast spells, teleport, and even shapeshift into a variety of animals. All of that thanks to their connection to The Wild, the primal, untamed power of creation. Necromancers like Eve are tolerated, but not well-liked, and plenty of mundanes (non-magical humans) actively hate necromancers. There are also witches (part of secretive covens led by even more secretive Mothers), warlocks (practitioners of dark magic), Harpies (witches who are more bird than human), Arachnae (spider-like oracular beings), dryads, goblins, trolls, fae, and many more supernatural species which only get passing reference, but which I hope we see more of in the future. 

My only complaint about the series centers around the copy editing. The second book, in particular, feels rushed; the story is fine, but there were quite a few grammatical and typographical errors. Hopefully Beasley will have time to put it through another round of copy editing, or at least send the next book to a professional editor before it is released.

Overall, these are fun and fast reads with compelling characters and a richly-realized, engaging world. 

Recommended to fans of Tomi Adeyemi, Clara Coulson, P. Djeli Clark, Helen Harper, NK Jemisin, Shannon Mayer, and Dan Willis. 



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Rebecca Buchanan is the editor of the Pagan literary ezine Eternal Haunted Summer. She is also the editor-in-chief of Bibliotheca Alexandrina. She thinks it is incredibly unfair that she must work for a living rather than being able to read all day. In her next life, she would like to be a library cat.


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