I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Dark Watcher by Lilith Saintcrow
Genres: Paranormal, Romance
Published by Imajinn Books on October 8, 2004
Also by this author: he Red Plague Affair, Trailer Park Fae, Roadside Magic, Wasteland King
Theodora Morgan knows she's a little strange. Her talent for healing has set her apart, marked her as different all her life—a life spent moving from town to town when too much notice is taken of her abilites. Unfortunately, her talent for healing has brought her to the attention of the Crusade—and the Dark. The Crusade wants her dead because she's psychic, the Dark wants to feed on her talent—and then there's Dante. Tall and grim and armed with black-bladed knives, guns and a sword, he says he's here to protect her. But what if Theo needs protection from him?
Dante is a Watcher, sworn by Circle Lightfall to protect the Lightbringers. His next assignment? Watch over Theo. She doesn't know she's a Lightbringer, she doesn't know she's surrounded by enemies—and she doesn't know she's been marked for death by a bunch of fanatics. Perfect. He can't protect her if she doesn't trust him, but how can she possibly trust a man scarred by murder and warfare—a man who smells like the same Darkness Theo has been running from all her life?
First in the urban-fantasy series, Watcher, revolving around four witches with a share in an occult shop.
I like the concept and I like Dante and Theo. I just wish Saintcrow had put some depth, passion, and tension into the story. And, no, Theo whining is not the passion or tension to which I’m referring. The last battle at the shop, Dante has gone out to fight the monsters while Hanson gets the women to safety. And Theo is whining. Again. Whimper, whimper, whine, doubt…it is irritating.
Another irritant is Theo’s hysteria over the icky monster that Dante kills. She keeps going on and on and on about “ewww, you killed that”. I mean, hey, it’s obviously a monster. It was trying to kill Dante. What was he supposed to do? Wave a hankie at it?
That whining over with, there’s a nice cozy feel to this story. It makes me want to own a magic shop! In truth, the ladies have a busy life: Theo haunts Pavement Paradise healing the homeless, junkies, and the dying; Mari is going to school; Elise is in a band and loves those bad boys; and, Suzanne writes songs.
As much as it bugged me that the ladies were questioning Dante and Hanson’s presence, it also dawned on me that I know both sides of the story. They don’t. And their reactions are perfectly normal. Even if it does bug me to hell and gone.
Dante is such a powerful man, and yet Saintcrow gives him such vulnerability. He’s so sweet in his wanting Theo. It makes me want to cry.
Well that bit about Cinderella and sex and fertility was most unexpected.
At one point, one of the girls notes that one reason for doing this massive spell is to provide a refuge for other Lightbringers, and yet, after they do the spell, the Circle Lightfall Lightbringer and her Watcher have to leave because they’re so uncomfortable. Now, if Circle Lightfall members are Lightbringers and they can’t come to the city, what was the point of saying this bit about a refuge?
I do like Saintcrow’s twist on witches and bonding in this. Then there’s her twist on witchhunting and the Church. Ooh, boy. Believable enough, although when it comes to zombie knights, I dunno. There’s a nasty mind in that woman’s head! A fascinating blend of cozy-comfy-homey with wicked-evil.
Theo Morgan has built a nice life for herself. She loves her occult shop, the Magick Cauldron, her partners, and her neighbors. It’s a nice change to settle in and not be running in fear. What she doesn’t know is that her nice, peaceful life is about to change, dramatically. For the Crusade has found her, and Dante is determined to Watch over her, protect her from them whether she allows it or not.
Theodora Morgan is an earth witch with healing powers who owns an occult shop called the Magick Cauldron. Powers she feels compelled to share, to heal others. Thorin is her cat. Her partners are also witches and include Suzanne who is an air elemental and a Teacher and Mari who is water and the scrappy Elise who is fire and good at offensive magicks.
Dante and Hanson are both Watchers working for the Circle Lightfall. Their task is to guard Lightbringers and persuade them to join the Circle. The Watchers are created from men who have grown to need to kill but are in anguish about the deed, so the Circle gives them new purpose even as they plant a bit of Dark inside them. Protecting feeds their souls but the hope of finding their witch keeps them going.
Other Watchers include Jack Gray, Piers, and Anna Sorenson is a witch with Circle Lightfall and Stone is her Watcher. I think a tanak is the little piece of Dark put inside the Watchers; it heals them, makes them stronger, and causes them tremendous pain.
Mark. Moira has cancer and Theo is working runespells to help. Hink and Billy seem to be a couple whom Theo is trying to help detox. Abe Francklin owns the Creation, an independent coffeehouse the ladies like to patronize. Sage (he’s working toward a law degree) is the barista who took over after Matt Dartmouth quit and opened up the Free Shelter; Daniel is another barista. Joffrey, Todd, and are some of the coffeehouse’s patrons. Joe Cool is seeing werewolves. Grody is another of the homeless whom Theo helps. Taz, Grody’s usual buddy; Terence the Nose; and, Guitar Joe are more homeless. Marla Browley is a cop — the homeless kids call her “Officer Browbeat”. Mary Locarno and Alexandra “Sandy” Lewis are nurses at the local hospital. Dr. Georges is moving to Alaska, thank god. Tina‘s cancer has returned; Yann is her devoted father. Tantan is a small pub; the Galaxie is a bar where Elise’s band plays.
Lightbringers are witches. They first banded together to try and escape the Church when it started up its Inquisition. Sir Gideon de Hauteville was rescued during a battle by Jeanne Tourenay, a healer Lightbringer. They married and his love for her resulted in three gifts, one of which is the bond all Watchers seek. Circle Lightfall is an organization that watches the witches, and they turn men who have fallen into the depths into Watchers, the combat arm of Circle Lightfall, who protect and bring the Lightbringers into the organization.
The Kine are shapeshifters.
The Crusade is a secret Church-sanctioned group originally assembled to destroy witches to retain the authority of the Church. Today, they simply want to kill anyone who is psychic. Masters are living Knights of the Crusade; the zombie Knights are former junkies and thugs who have been through an indoctrination that includes more drugs than even they could want. Bishops are referred to be color: White, Black, Red. They’re the worst because they chose to take this path. Kramer and Sprenger were part of the Malleus Malleficarium. Hammer of the Witches. Cardinal Givelli, the Gray Demon, found a way to turn men into zombie Knights. Seekers are their hell-dogs that hunt witches and live on psychics.
The Dark simply wants to eat their talent. Sliders are nocturnal opportunists. Gimmers are Grays, a semi-nocturnal demon. The Brotherhood. The Thains.
The Cover and the Title
This cover is all my favorite colors: greens, blues, and purples…with some naked man flesh in those lovely dusky, peachy tones. Yum. It’s a shirtless Dante, his muscled back toward us as he almost looks over his shoulder. There’s a sense of the rain-drenched in how the light shines off that dark and iridescent pavement while lightning forks down.
The title is certainly apt as there is a bit of Dark in every Watcher.