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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Before the Witches by Karina Cooper

Before the Witches by Karina Cooper
Publisher: HarperCollins, Avon Impulse
Genre: Action/Adventure, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (95 pgs)
Heat Level: spicy
Rating: 4.5 books
Reviewed by Aloe

In America, they didn't care about witches. But all that was about to change.

Katya Zhuvova fled a country that feared her gifts, but her escape to Seattle left her at the mercy of a ruthless man. With no one left to turn to, Katya hatches a desperate escape plan. Undercover Detective Nigel Ferris is determined to bring down a prostitution ring, whatever the cost. In order to the get answers he needs, he attempts to win the trust of one of the prostitutes involved—but one look at the deceptively sultry Katya and the cool, objective cop disappears. Before either can put their plans into place, Mother Nature shrugs: a cataclysm rocks Seattle, and life is turned upside down.

Brought together by chance, Nigel and Katya are in the fight for their lives. Surrounded by death and fear, shattered by immeasurable loss, they have only a bond forged in fire to cling to as they struggle to survive in a world gone straight to hell.

He’s an undercover cop. She’s a prostitute. They couldn’t have anything in common, could they?

The author caught my attention with this novelette because of her subject matter. She set the story in Seattle and then added of the most catastrophic events that can be imagined for the west coast – an earthquake that would run up the San Andreas Fault and drop parts of the coastline into the sea. You’d have tsunamis, volcanoes blowing, and total chaos as people tried to escape. This is a very real fear if you live in the area. I grew up in Washington and they speak of it as “The Big One”. So her story premise caught my eye right away.

Then she added an undercover cop, a prostitute who isn’t exactly what she seems, human traffickers and more to the story. You get caught up in the story and can’t wait to see where it’s going next, who might escape the disaster, who doesn’t and what’s left when it’s over.

It’s not a happily ever after story, but it is one example of how things could happen. Nigel is trying to protect Katya and figure out just who and what she is. Katya has run because the people of her country called her a witch. Both characters are strong and willing to do what they need to survive, even if their personal losses hurt their hearts.

Survival stories fascinate me. Watching an author’s vision of how they think people will behave and how cut-throat survival can become can be enlightening. Ms. Cooper’s vision appears to be spot on. This is a fast paced story with lots of drama and hope for the future, even if the future might not look like the present. Grab a copy and then hang on to your seat -- it's a thrilling read.