Jumble Your Genres Reading Challenge – Urban Fantasy: The Line by J.D. Horn

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The Jumble Your Genres Reading Challenge continues in March with Urban Fantasy! AH and Christal chose the debut novel The Line as their monthly read and they both thought it was fantastic!  Read on to see what they have to say about this book.

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(7) The LineThe Line by J.D. Horn
Book #1 in Witching Savannah
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publication Date: February 1st 2014
ARC Provided by Netgalley and 47North

Synopsis from Goodreads: Move over, Sookie Stackhouse—the witches of Savannah are the new talk of the South. Bold, flirty, and with a touch of darkness, debut author J.D. Horn spins a mesmerizing tale of a family of witches . . . and the problem that can arise from being so powerful. As Charlaine Harris’ series winds down—and as Deborah Harkness’ series heats up—Witching Savannah is new contemporary fantasy that will be sure to enchant new readers.

Mercy Taylor, the youngest member of Savannah’s preeminent witching family, was born without the gift of magic. She is accustomed to coming in a distant second to the minutes older, exquisite and gifted twin she adores. Hopelessly in love with her sister’s boyfriend, she goes to a Hoodoo root doctor for a love spell. A spell that will turn her heart to another man, the best friend who has loved her since childhood.

Aunt Ginny, the family’s matriarch, would not approve. But Mercy has more to worry about than a love triangle when Aunt Ginny is brutally murdered. Ginny was the Taylor family’s high commander in the defense of the bewitched line that separates humankind from the demons who once ruled our realm.

A demon invasion looms now that the line is compromised. Worse yet, some within the witching world stand to gain from a demon takeover. Mercy, entangled in the dark magic of her love spell, fighting for her sister’s trust, and hopelessly without magic, must tap the strength born from being an outcast to protect the line she doesn’t feel a part of…

In this riveting contemporary fantasy, Horn delivers the full betrayal, blood, and familial discord of the best of Southern gothic.

AH and Christal’s Review

We both loved this book and thought it was a wonderful introduction into a new Urban Fantasy world.  As long-time UF readers, AH and I are always looking for something fresh and unique.  The Line provided just that!  Read on to see our thoughts.

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savannah statueThe Line starts out with main character Mercy Taylor leading a group of tourists around Savannah, GA on what she calls a Liar’s Tour.  She takes them to historical sites, but tells them stories that are completely made-up lies.  She does this as a counter point to all the typical ghost tours around the town.

AH: I liked how this story began. Mercy is such a cool character. Who would have thought that a Liar’s Tour of Savannah would be so intriguing. I mean, when you think about it, history is really a collection of stories. It is conceivable that some of the stories would be embellished, depending on the point of view.

Christal: I really liked the Liar’s Tour twist. I wasn’t sure how it would play out but it was definitely an entertaining start. I’m kind of sad we didn’t see more of it.

AH: I liked how she played off the men on her tour, it was kind of like she was giving them way more than a tour, yet it remained casual and businesslike.

Christal: I agree, it was a nice back and forth. I liked how they jumped to her aid when that jerk was harassing her too. Them visiting the cemetery also gave us a nice segue into meeting Mother Jilo without it feeling like too much telling vs showing.

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Mother Jilo was a hoodoo practitioner in The Line.  She didn’t like the Taylor family very much but she seemed to have a soft spot for Mercy herself.

eartha kittAH: Jilo kind of freaked me out at first. I kept picturing Eartha Kitt (from Holes). I came to really like her spunkiness by the end of the book.

Christal: I’m not really sure who she reminded me of, but she freaked me out a bit at the beginning too – all that talk of blood and bodies buried in the ground. She definitely is an unlikely ally for Mercy, but it was true that she was more honest to her than her family.

AH: Agreed.

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After Ginny is murdered, the Taylor family comes together to try to figure out who killed her and also to decide who would be next in line as the leader. Mercy’s sister, Maisie, was the obvious choice because she was the most powerful and had been personally groomed by Aunt Ginny. Each witch in the family has their own specialization but Maisie and Ginny were the most powerful overall.  Oliver had the power to make people do what he wanted, call it charm or persuasion.  Ellen was a powerful healer and Iris had a talent for finding things.

Christal: What did you think about the story between Jilo’s daughter and Mercy’s Uncle Oliver? Was he unforgivable or was Mercy right in her belief that it wasn’t truly his intention to do harm?

AH: Oh, scary Grace. Hmmm….I think that Oliver made a few mistakes as a young man and Grace was one of them.

Christal: Could you even imagine having his “talent”? It would be easy to go bad with power like that.

AH: Actually, I kind of liked that all of the “talents” were spread out among Mercy’s family so that no one would be super strong except Aunt Ginny.

Christal: Oh, and Maisie… man, did that part make me sad… but I agree, it was nice to see that everyone had their own little power niche. I really liked Ellen’s healing ability. I was wondering if she wasn’t a little bit of a banshee the way she was floating and wailing towards the end when a certain nasty character died.

AH: I didn’t really like Maisie. Because the story was told from Mercy’s POV, it seemed like Maisie was the entitled golden child with all the powers. Freaky.

Christal: I didn’t like her either, but I did feel a little sorry for her at first. It seemed like she didn’t get to live a life. She was just always training instead.

AH: But you could easily argue that Mercy didn’t get much of a life as well, always sitting and waiting for Maisie’s training, etc.

Christal: True, but at least it seems like Mercy made friends and was able to go out and be a kid some time. I don’t see Maisie getting to do anything as creative as the Liar’s Tour.

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In The Line, the Taylor family stands with the other witch families against the demons.  They help hold “the line” which separates our dimensions.  As the most powerful witch family in Savannah, a new family member must be chosen to take Ginny’s place and continue to hold the strength of “the line.”

AH:  What did you think of the world building?  I loved the atmosphere – hot, steamy, southern…. Can you tell that it was frigging cold here when I read the book?

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Christal: Haha, poor AH! I loved the Savannah setting; it’s such a beautiful, old town and a perfect setting for ghosts and magic. Plus, there ain’t no summer like a deep south summer cuz a deep south summer don’t stop.

AH: Tell me about it. We had a heat wave today… 0°F. I think I was ready to get my shorts on.

Christal: Oh my! We miss the heat around here when it’s down in the 40s but then complain when August comes around. Now, I know you loved the mythos of this world and how the witches maintained the lines between our world and the world of the demons. Why do you think three of the witch families regretted helping separate our world from the demon world. Was it truly a “better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven” situation?

AH: OK, I don’t remember that part. They regretted separating the worlds?

Christal: Yeah, three of the twelve pulled away so there were only nine witch families left. Ellen’s husband was from one of those families and he turned his back on them completely when he married Ellen.

AH: Oh, OK. Didn’t pay attention to that part as much. I did like collective witch entity, aka Emmet the Golem.

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golemWhen the Taylors come together to choose the next family member to hold “the line,” representatives from the other witch families create a golem to send to Savannah. The golem is a combination of each representative’s consciousness and they use this avatar to supervise what’s going on.

Christal: That was very interesting. I thought it was especially interesting that the different psyches seemed to start to fuse more and more closely into one cohesive consciousness.

AH: That was a cool way of bringing in the other witch families into the narrative.

Christal:  Yes, and it didn’t overload us with miscellaneous characters

AH: OK, I had to chuckle at the golem’s name, Emmett Clay. What a fun play on words. In golem lore, the Hebrew word emmet or truth is written on the golem’s forehead to give him power. It kind of “activates” the golem. Then to render the golem useless, all you have to do is erase on letter and the golem becomes “mett” or the Hebrew word for dead.

Christal: I didn’t know that about emmet. That is very cool and now seems to tie in with the other runes Mercy and her family use later in the book.

AH: Too bad those golems weren’t real. They could have used them during WWII.

Christal: Right?!?  I keep thinking there was another book with those similar rune names and a golem… was it one of the Kate Daniels books?

AH: I’m pretty sure that they used it in either the Kate Daniels books or the Mercy Thompson series. Probably Ilona Andrews since she’s from Russia/Eastern Europe where the golems originate.  I’ve also seen one on Supernatural.

Christal: Ah, that makes sense. One thing about Emmett being around was that he sure put Ginny’s bad behavior on blast.

AH: Agreed, we learn just how much of a tyrant and control freak Ginny was. Was she warranted in acting that way? Or did she cripple her family by her actions?

Christal: I think the family would have been much better off without Ginny’s meddling – Mercy at the foremost.  I liked that the golem recognized the problems and started setting things right.

AH: Agreed, she definitely crippled her family, especially with her hatred towards Mercy. She tended to dampen everyone’s powers so Ellen probably could have saved her son, and the others would have been better off.

Christal: I think the thing with Ellen’ son was the worst, aside from what she did to Mercy. I just don’t understand how someone could do those things to their own family.

AH: Power, glory, have everyone fawn at you.

Christal: Except her family, lol. It seemed like they all hated her – with good reason.

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There was a dash of romantic confusion mixed in with all the power and family dynamics going on in The Line.  Mercy was conflicted between good guy Peter, who she couldn’t quite convince herself to love, and off-limits Jackson, her sister’s boyfriend that she was ashamed of having feelings for.  Throw in a dangerous love spell and Mercy sure had her hands full in the love department.

Christal: As much as Mercy hated Ginny, it seemed like she had nice feelings for one too many guys. There was a lot of love confusion going around.

 AH: A love square and a love potion!  I can see why she was attracted to Jackson, not to mention that he did not seem to be the most faithful. Peter seemed to be the better pick. I didn’t really see the Jackson attraction at first, but in the end it made sense. I was really disappointed in Peter but I am glad they are trying to work through things now.

Christal: I agree, I am eager to see how things between them progress in the next book with Mercy’s unexpected… surprise.  The Line was a very unique take on witches and it was filled with delicious drama. I will most definitely be picking up the next book. How about you?

AH: Agreed. I loved the atmosphere and the mix of hoodoo & other forms of witchcraft. I can’t wait to get my hands on the next book. Looks like we’ve found a new UF author to love.

Christal: Absolutely!

Thank you to Netgalley and 47North for providing an ARC copy of this book!  Be sure to join us next month for a discussion of the middle grade novel, Breadcrumbs by Anna Ursu.

Our Rating: ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  + ½

Best of UF

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Jumble Your Genres Reading Challenge Schedule:

January – Young Adult checkmark
February – Contemporary checkmark
March – Urban Fantasy checkmark
April – Middle Grade
May – Dystopian
June – High Fantasy
July – Adult
August – Paranormal
September – Romance
October – Sci-Fi
November – Historical Fiction
December – New Adult

 

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