Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Review: To Kill A Warlock

TO KILL A WARLOCK (Book #1 in the Dulcie O'Neal Series)
H.P. Mallory
Urban Fantasy
Available now
Received from the author for review

Dulcie O'Neal is a Regulator and a pretty good one at that. It's her job to keep all types of supernatural creatures on the correct side of the law, and to make sure those creatures that are supposed to be in the Netherworld actually stay there.

As a fairy herself, Dulcie is well equipped to handle a rogue demon, warlock, or vampire, but something new is making it's presence known in a very violent but strangely bloodless way. Dulcie's always relied on her innate fairy ability to identify any and all supernatural creatures that cross her path, but this new killer defies explanation, as does the beautiful stranger she sees just hours before one of the murders takes place.

Turns out this beautiful, undefinable stranger is Knight Vander, sent from the Netherworld itself to find the creature wreaking havoc in Dulcie's town. He's infuriatingly arrogant, frustratingly knowledgeable, and undeniably charming, making it clear that Dulcie is in way over her head in more ways than one. She and Knight team up to search for the enigmatic creature and find themselves waist deep in dark magic, deviant behavior, and smoldering attraction.

This novel has all the necessary elements for a fun and interesting romantic mystery. The story is sound in it's creativity, the digital pages chock-full of humorous and entertaining preternatural creatures framed in a believable world ripe with intrigue and riddled with the occult. We are continually encouraged to flip to the next page just to quell our curiosity as to what antics, mischief, and overall mayhem Dulcie will incite next.

Dulcie starts out as a cute, quirky, heroine with a witty sense of humor and an easy-going attitude, making her instantly personable and someone to whom it's easy to relate. However, when the romantic element of the story comes into play, she becomes increasingly frustrating. There are three possible love interests vying for Dulcie's affections, each with his own unique and delicious appeal, and she enters into a physical (though chaste) relationship with each of them only to pull from their embrace quickly and inexplicably each time. As a result we, much like her potential suitors, are left with the ache of a promise unfulfilled, grinding our teeth in frustration at her continual shift from hot to cold. Now, this is not a romance, so a steamy scene is neither necessary nor expected, however the sexual tension between Dulcie, Quill, Knight, and Bram is a prominent part of the story that unfortunately leads nowhere. We are teased, titillated, and ultimately left wanting.

There are also one or two small secondary plotlines occupying valuable page time better dedicated to the continuation of the main storyline, one in particular dealing with Dulcie's distaste for her characteristic pointy-tipped ears. This side story is meant to illustrate a vulnerability on Dulcie's part, perhaps to help us relate to her on a more fundamental level, but aside from some mild irritation at their shape, she really isn't plagued by an overwhelming sense of insecurity and quickly abandons her pursuit altogether after very little consideration. To make room for this detour, some of the more engaging scenes seem to be cut short when their extension would have added some additional depth to promising characters, increasing our connection and response to their emotional and physical conflicts.

Overall, this is a story with a great deal of potential, one where the pieces are all on the board, they just need to be moved ever so slightly and more strategically to create a greater impact on us as readers.

Rating: 2.5/5

CONTEST: Right now HP is hosting a really fantastic contest on her blog, giving one lucky winner the opportunity to be forever immortalized in fiction by winning a role in the sequel to Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble. She's going to build a character based around the winner, including their name, personality traits and physical description. Visit the website below for more information and be sure and enter for a chance to be a character in Toil and Trouble!

HP Mallory Website


  1. Hrm, maybe it's one of those books that sets up the rest of the series?

    But I find myself getting very tired of the love triangles and the Who-Will-She-Choose aspects that are being thrown into lots of books, drawn out until you no longer care, and really don't do much for the story.

    That sounds a bit harsh, but I don't mean to be.

  2. Enjoyed the review! Sounds like a cute paranormal read indeed despite the storyline hiccups you mentioned. I sometimes wonder if an idea occurred to the author that sounded good in their minds but never quite fleshed itself out in written form...such as the ear issue (or lack there of) and the romantic leads that never make a connection. *ponders* Thanks for the look inside this book...and happy reading!

  3. Jennifer - Not harsh at all, I agree. I think if she had just shown a preference for one above the others I could have accepted that and been fine with the other two waiting in the wings, but she didn't seem to have real feelings for any of them, they were just there. Perhaps that will change in book 2!

    GMR - It was cute and I think the subsequent books will get better as they go, there were just a few hang ups in this one for me:)

  4. I've never heard of this author or series. I think it's increasingly hard to write a truly orginal supernatural story since the market is so saturated with vamps, weres, and all things that go bump in the night. Unfortunately it sounds like this doesn't stand out from the pack!

  5. Great review! I think that the cover looks fun and "halloweeny" if that is a word. I have not heard of this author or series before either.

    Hopefully some of the loose ends will be tied up in the 2nd book and she will pick herself a man!

  6. Hey Jenny! Very insightful review. I haven't read this one yet as I've been dragging my feet, but I can totally understand your frustration. I felt it too with FB&CB because there were three (possibly four) love interests!

    Thanks for your analysis.

  7. I loved reading your review. Strangely enough, despite the rating you give it, you've written it in such a way, that I'm still interested in reading it despite its flaws. I must say that I do sometimes get a tad bit tired of the more than one love interest angle seen in some novels, but still, I reckon I'd give this one a read!

  8. I have to read this one still, I already finished Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble.. and I really enjoyed it. Have you read it yet? Hopefully you will like that one more :)

  9. Mollie - You're right, it's hard to be completely unique and this one did have a good story, I just couldn't get past some of the boyfriend shuffling. I know a lot of people didn't have that problem, so it could be me:)

    Jen - Right? She needs to pick one and stick with him, she has 3 good ones to choose from!

    Missie - Thank you:) I'm a one or two love interest kind of girl, give me too many options and I get confused;)

    Tammy - Thank you! And I did enjoy this one, I just had some issues with a couple things.

    Sarah - I haven't read that one yet but I've read some positive reviews of it, so I might give it a try:)

  10. I heard lots about this book. I need to pick this one up. Thanks for the review!