It's been too long since I read the first book in Jaye's Sabina Kane series, Red-Headed Stepchild. That was the first time I purposely sought out an urban fantasy novel, after reading a couple rave reviews for it, and found it highly enjoyable. But while I've been acquainted myself over the last three years with other urban fantasy tales, I've neglected the one that introduced me to the genre. For shame. Well, I'm remedying that now, and back in the thick of things with The Mage in Black.
Despite the time away from Sabina and company, it took very little time to get warmed up to the story and have Sabina regale me with her snarky point of view as she slays vampires and makes nice with magicians.
After a falling out her grandmother, the leader of the L.A. chapter of vampires, Sabina moves to New York City with her demon sidekick Giguhl, magician pseudo-love interest Adam, and meets her long-lost sister Maisie. While in the Big Apple, Sabina sets out to learn the other side of her heritage. Born half-vampire/half-mage she's fully embraced her vamp side, and now that she's in the company of mage society it's time she finds out how the other half lives. There's a bit of culture shock though, not only from trying to navigate through an unfamiliar metropolis, but also a way of life as all sorts of paranormal beings intermingle, including vampires, mages, werewolves, faeries, and even a few demons like Giguhl. And when enemies start coming out of the woodwork to off Sabina, well, what's a girl to do?
I was really charmed by Red-Headed Stepchild and had big expectations for its followup, but I wasn't quite as wowed as I was with the first book. Oh, it's really fun and the introduction of mage society was intriguing as heck, especially with a New York City backdrop and the introduction of a new love interest. The big showdown at the end just lacked the same epic quality as in the first book, in my view, and it wound up being all of the buildup and subplots through the meat of the book that offered the most rewarding moments. Stalking prey in Central Park only to get into a fight with werewolves, managing Giguhl as he enters a demon Fight Club in the "Black Light District", and learning magic through trial and error in training sessions (and sneak attacks) were some of the most amusing and adrenline-soaked scenes in the book.
Like a lot of seconds in book series I've read, The Mage in Black feels a bit like a setup for the third book, Green-Eyed Demon. Thankfully, there is enough of a stand-alone story with its own resolution to let this sequel hold up more than other seconds out there. I'm definitely geared up for book three--as well as book four and five, for that matter.