Friday, April 29, 2011

Frost Moon

Frost Moon by Anthony Francis

Set in an Atlanta teeming with paranormal subcultures, Frost Moon is the first in an intriguing urban fantasy and not-so-cozy mystery series.

The novel's protagonist, Dakota Frost, is the self-proclaimed "best magical tattooist in the Southeast" and a skindancer, someone who can harness the magical energy stored in her tattooed skin. As a member of the Edgeworld, Dakota eschews the traditional secrecy surrounding magic, encourages collaboration between practitioners, and is committed to "dragging magic kicking and screaming into the light" (28).

The novel opens with Dakota being brought to the police station. The Atlanta PD are working with the Federal Department of Extraordinary Investigations because there's a serial killer on the loose who is targeting individuals with magical tattoos. They need her expertise and her client list. They also want her to be careful since she fits the victim profile. Dakota doesn't have time to be careful, though. She's just been invited to have her skill challenged by a world-famous debunker on national television, but before she can prepare for that Dakota has to get an arcane control-charm checked out for her antsy new werewolf client.

Frost Moon is author Anthony Francis' debut novel and it reads like a first novel. It seems like the author tried to pack far too much into one book. The world he creates is genuinely interesting and rich, but much momentum is lost in his need to showcase and explain every subculture. Additionally situations and characters are often overcomplicated. For example, Dakota's ex-girlfriend is a vampirologist who had herself turned into a vampire for academic reasons. But, in addition to being a lesbian and a vampire, she's the ruler of the vampires in Dakota's neighborhood (despite the fact that she's very young) and into bondage and a devout Christian.

Dakota is a well-developed and for the most part sympathetic character, but her nearly universal sex-appeal is not believable. She may be stunning and large-breasted, but Dakota is also 6'2" with a deathhawk and covered in tattoos (author's rendition of Dakota). With that strong and distinctive a look she can't possibly be to everyone's taste, yet it seems that almost every man (and woman) who meets Dakota wants to have their way with her.

All that being said, the story itself was compelling and the world Francis has created is rich enough to support any number of sequels.

You can read an excerpt from Frost Moon on the publisher's website.
ETA disclosure: I received a review copy of Frost Moon from Bell Bridge Books via NetGalley.

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