Reviews of the Living Dead: Bitter Night

Bitter Night (Diana Pharaoh Francis)

  • Mass Market Paperback: 387 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket; Original edition (October 27, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416598146
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416598145

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Once, Max dreamed of a career, a home, a loving family. Now all she wants is freedom…and revenge. A witch named Giselle transformed Max into a warrior with extraordinary strength, speed, and endurance. Bound by spellcraft, Max has no choice but to fight as Giselle’s personal magic weapon — a Shadowblade — and she’s lethally good at it. But her skills are about to be put to the test as they never have before…

The ancient Guardians of the earth are preparing to unleash widespread destruction on the mortal world, and they want the witches to help them. If the witches refuse, their covens will be destroyed, including Horngate, the place Max has grudgingly come to think of as home. Max thinks she can find a way to help Horngate stand against the Guardians, but doing so will mean forging dangerous alliances — including one with a rival witch’s Shadowblade, who is as drawn to Max as she is to him — and standing with the witch she despises. Max will have to choose between the old life she still dreams of and the warrior she has become, and take her place on the side of right — if she survives long enough to figure out which side that is…


It seems I have been reading a few end of the world books lately. This one has been on the shelf for a while now and was in need of some attention. I love the idea of the Shadowblades and the Sunspears. Also the concept behind what fuels their powers holds a bit of logic that is often not seen in supernatural books. Overall I think it led to enough of a tie to the natural to make it seem even more feasible. Not that I have a problem with the suspension of disbelief, mind you.

In the beginning of the book I was thinking there was a chance that the soldiers of the witches would become as interchangeable as the clones in Clone Wars. The same clone soldier just with a different weapon slung on his shoulder. I was concerned there would be the one who as into cars, the one who was a movie buff – going down the line using a trait to identify each as being different when they were really the same cookie cutter. That was the furthest thing from the truth. The more time you spent with each of them, the more they came out of the thickened shells they had built up and you saw more personality. Even Giselle, Max’s “witch-bitch” in the story had a depth to her that allowed you to empathize with her in the end.

The plot itself was a strong one with enough turns and reveals in it to let you know that this book is only the beginning. It also sets up the seeds for several plot points in the coming sequels. It also shows the promise of evolution for the characters in those entries as well. Add this plot to the cliffhanger hooks throughout and the emotional attachment to the characters and you have a real page turner.

In addition to the quality of the writing and the story, Max and her fellow soldiers can kick some serious ass. If you are into bad-ass super-soldiers and like the tough as nails woman that would put the likes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer to shame, then Max is your lady! She is strong, focused and used to things that would put down a normal Shadowblade. And your normal Shadowblade is used to things that would put down a normal human by far.

My only complaint was that my style of reading (during morning coffee, at lunch, before bed) fits in with shorter chapters. Although really the size of the chapters in this book just kept me reading more instead of less chapters. I will shoot this book a definite 4.5 out of 5. I cannot wait to see the second installment from Horngate.


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