Keys to the Coven


The entertaining start of an epic supernatural series.

A witty urban-fantasy debut.

Demonic Enforcement Agent Max, along with his Personal Spiritual Assistant, Kate, works in the demonic-intervention industry: They find and destroy dangerous supernatural artifacts, for which they’re paid in karma. Kate is known as a demi—a half demon indentured to Max, a full demon, as punishment for her sins against him before she died. Luckily for Kate, Max is as ethical and kind as demons come, and after more than 300 years, he’s managed to adjust to their partnership. Max has been tasked with finding and destroying another important icon—the Minsk Homunculus—that for generations has bound the Woodsen witches to the evil archdemon Roxashael. Now that Roxashael’s consort, Rose Woodsen, has died, her legacy will pass on to her daughter, Felicity. But, as with all the Woodsen women before Felicity, Roxashael has been waiting for the day he can claim her and the Minsk Homunculus for himself. Now the only question is who will get there first. Despite the author’s straightforward writing style, a few of the plot twists are a bit too twisty, occasionally causing some confusion. Loebel’s reliance on dialogue can be distracting at times, and it can be difficult to keep track of the myriad of spells, curses, rules and double crossings as well as the complex demon hierarchy. Though Felicity Woodsen is at the novel’s center, the vile archdemon Roxashael shines brightest, especially when his villainy goes a bit overboard due to his abhorrent habit of having sex with toddlers. Despite Loebel’s tendency to hover too long in one place, which bogs down the plot’s tempo, she commendably weaves together an engaging urban fantasy.

The entertaining start of an epic supernatural series.

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 2012

ISBN: 978-1479308361

Page Count: 360

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 12, 2013


Warm and wonderful.

A prequel to the popular cozy fantasy Legends & Lattes (2022).

Viv is a fighter. It’s not just what she does, it’s who she is. So when she gets wounded during a battle with a necromancer’s skeletal wights, and her crew dumps her in a small seaside town to recover while they continue on after the necromancer, she is not happy about it. But soon enough, against her will, she’s drawn into the life of the town. There’s Fern, the unsuccessful bookseller, who has a knack for recommending exactly the right book. And there’s Maylee, the baker, who not only makes the world’s best baked goods, she actually winks at Viv. Before Viv knows what’s happening, she’s helping Fern out here and there, she’s reading—she’s involved. Meanwhile, there’s a pesky young gnome asking for an introduction to her mercenary crew, and a mysterious man in gray who looks like trouble. But Viv is leaving when her crew comes back through town. No matter what. This prequel gives readers a glimpse of Viv as a young orc, still committed to the fighter’s life, just taking an enforced break in a charming town populated by compelling, richly drawn characters, and the slightest hint of danger in the wind. Despite the lurking necromancer, the vibes are decidedly warm and cozy, and the plot is just as much about saving the bookstore and building relationships as it is about protecting the town from the man in gray. As a prequel, it can stand alone, but will certainly satisfy fans as well.

Warm and wonderful.

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9781250886101

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Sept. 22, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023


A wonderfully enjoyable series opener.

YA giant Clare makes her adult debut with a whirlwind epic fantasy featuring secret plots, ancient magic, and hidden identities.

The nobility of Castellane know Kel only as Prince Conor’s aristocratic cousin and closest confidant, but a select few know the truth: Kel is an orphan plucked from obscurity because he bears a passing resemblance to Conor and proved able to handle being trained as Conor’s “Sword Catcher.” A Sword Catcher has all the typical duties of a bodyguard, but Kel’s responsibilities also include wearing a magical amulet that makes people think he’s Conor, allowing him to take the prince’s place at public events when the palace head of security deems it too risky for the prince himself. But when Conor becomes old enough to consider marriage, Kel learns that it will take more than hidden daggers to protect his charge. On the other side of Castellane society is Lin, a young woman who is a member of the Ashkar, a small community that's forbidden from living outside their walled community. The Ashkar are the only people who can still use magic, and even though using or even learning about most kinds of magic is banned, they are still feared and discriminated against by the rest of the world. Lin has worked hard to be allowed to study medicine even though she's a woman, but when her medical talents aren’t enough to help heal her best friend, she wonders if the answer lies in the study of forbidden magic. The tangle of political disputes and shadowy plots that leads to Kel and Lin crossing paths is not only thick enough to make the several hundred pages fly by, it will leave readers eager for a series full of twists and turns. Clare expertly balances the needs of a satisfying plot with dropping tantalizing hints of what’s to come in future installments. Her worldbuilding is instantly immersive, and the many characters are all detailed and memorable, so swapping between storylines flows easily for the reader.

A wonderfully enjoyable series opener.

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2023

ISBN: 9780525619994

Page Count: 624

Publisher: Del Rey

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023

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