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Lucy A. Snyder
Del Rey, 368 pages

Lucy A. Snyder
Lucy A. Snyder was born in South Carolina but grew up in the cowboys-and-cactus part of Texas. She has a BS in biology and an MA in journalism and is a graduate of the 1995 Clarion Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers' Workshop; her classmates included authors Kelly Link and Nalo Hopkinson. She currently lives in Worthington, Ohio with her husband and occasional co-author Gary A. Braunbeck.

Lucy A. Snyder Website
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Past Feature Reviews
A review by Katherine Petersen

After reading the synopsis of Lucy A. Snyder's debut novel, Spellbent, it felt familiar. But after finishing the first chapter, I realized that while the premise compares with other novels of its sort, Spellbent definitely has some new twists. Jessie Shimmer lives with her magical mentor/lover, Cooper Marron and their respective familiars. Lately they've both had nightmares, but Cooper doesn't seem too worried. Unfortunately, during an uncomplicated spell to bring a storm to save the local farming community, Cooper opens a portal to hell instead, leaving Jessie alone with Palimpsest (Pal), her ferret familiar to pick up the pieces. Smoky, Cooper's terrier familiar tries to fight the demon that came through the portal, losing his life in the process. It seems the governing magical circle is afraid of what might happen so puts a cover over the whole mess, leaving everyone to die. Jessie manages to defeat the demon, losing an eye and half her arm in the process, and Pal manages to get his little paws on the re-dial to call her friend, Mother Karen for help.

For some reason, Benedict Jordan, the head of the governing circle, doesn't want Jessie to go after Cooper. He offers her all the healing and teaching she needs, if she signs a document saying she won't try to find him and threatening her with anything he can think of if she does, including being an outlaw. But Jessie is in love and stubborn to the core. With the help of Pal, Cooper's half brother and a few humans, she begins making plans to go after him, outlaw or no.

Snyder's book is a fun, action-packed adventure, and as long as you keep your expectations right there, you'll truly appreciate it. The magic practiced by Jessie and Cooper has an interesting twist, and the hell she has to visit is spooky and dark, which I liked. Jessie is loyal, has the guts to do what it takes and the creativity to make things work. She gets some help along the way, but for the most part, not many take her side.

I found the dialogue realistic for the most part although I'm not sure why a Canadian librarian is important. The ferret is at first a bit condescending, but he mellows out as the story progresses. Snyder adds a nice balance of comic relief to lighten the dark nightmarish scenes for an overall enjoyable read. Snyder ties up some loose ends but leaves enough dangling to keep readers interested in the second novel in the Shimmer series, Shotgun Sorceress, due out this summer.

Copyright © 2010 Katherine Petersen

Katherine Petersen started reading as a young child and hasn't stopped. She still thinks she can read all the books she wants, but might, at some point, realize the impossibility of this mission. While she enjoys other genres, she thrives on fantasy, science fiction and mysteries.

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