Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Balefire: The Complete Series by Cate Tiernan

(Bound edition of Balefire Books #s1-4: A Chalice of Wind, A Circle of Ashes, A Feather of Stone, A Necklace of Water)
Pages: 974
Published: December 2010 by Speak
Recommended for: fans of Cate Tiernan's other books and the Sweep series

The whole Balefire series by Cate Tiernan is now in one edition.
After seventeen-year-old Thais Allard loses her widowed father in a tragic car accident, she is forced to leave the only home she's ever known to live with a total stranger in New Orleans. New Orleans greets Thais with many secrets and mysteries, but none as unbelievable as the moment she comes face to face with the impossible — an identical twin, Clio.

Thais soon learns that she and the twin she never knew comes from a family of witches, that she possesses astonishing powers, and that she, along with Clio, has a key role in Balefire, the coven she was born into.
Fiery Clio is less than thrilled to have to share the spotlight, but the twins must learn to combine their powers in order to complete a rite that will transform their lives and the coven forever. 

My Take: 

Cate Tiernan's books all seem to be endowed with this incredible addictive factor-- they're the kind of stories that make you want to turn through the pages as quickly as possible and give you withdrawal whenever you're inconveniently separated from them.  The Balefire series is no exception.  These books were first published a few years ago, and now are all bound in one pretty little (correction: pretty big) volume, so it's four fairly awesome books and 974 pages for the price of a paperback.  A pretty sweet deal.

The series is set in New Orleans and delves into the city's deep historical French roots.  Clio has spent her whole life learning a form of peaceful French witchcraft as an apprentice to her beloved grandmother.  She's a hot-headed society darling who just happens to know the magickal uses of pepper and mugwort and studies the principles of magick in her spare time.  It's always been just Clio and her grandmother, but suddenly witches are streaming into New Orleans from all parts of the world.  Enter Thais, Clio's twin sister, who never dreamed she might run into her Southern clone after she was forced to move to New Orleans with her bizarre new guardian, Axelle.  Another thing Thais never knew: she, like Clio, is a witch.  And a fairly powerful one, if only she could learn to control her latent magick.  Together and separately, the twins must harness their magic to head off the mysterious disasters threatening to kill their newly-formed family.  Not to mention a two-timing heartbreaker, Luc, whose treachery-- and  enigmatic affections-- threaten to turn the sisters against each other for good.

Balefire has a huge cast of important characters-- I can count about twenty off on my fingers right now.  It takes a book or two to get the various members of the Balefire coven-- most of whom have been roaming the earth for about two hundred years, seeing as they're immortal-- all straight in your mind, but once you do, it's worth it.  The characterization is as awesome and elaborate as the pacing is fast and the romance hot.  Cate Tiernan knows her magick and Balefire picks up where Sweep left off in terms of enchantments, covens, and betrayal.  Overall, I loved this series, especially being able to read it straight through.  The ending of the fourth book seems wide-open, making me wonder whether Cate Tiernan ever planned to continue the series.

Cover: 5/5 
Premise: 4/5 
Characters: 5/5 
Plot: 4/5 
Overall: 4.5/5

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