Mind of the Phoenix by Jamie McLachlan My rating: 5 of 5 stars
It should come as no surprise that I really dig stories with telepathic characters. I love them. I love the idea of them and I love seeing how other authors use/deal with them. I was raised on Anne McCaffrey's telepathic dragons. So, I was giddy when I stumbled across Jamie McLachlan's Mind of the Phoenix.
This is the first book I've read purely for pleasure in a long time. I didn't agree to read it as part of a review group or as a favor to a friend. I picked this out just for me and I loved it! So, here's my review.
Moira is a haunted young woman. The path of her life was set when she was born into a society that hated and feared her ability to read their minds. A dark past stalks her and a dark act has finally caught up to her. But in the waning days of her life she’s plucked from her prison and given a second chance. To live, she must agree to help police detective Keenan Edwards solve a mysterious string of murders.
McLachlan does a wonderful job blending romance with fantasy, while also making the romance believable and relevant to the story. The writing is crisp and clean, not over burdened with details. At the same time, Moira’s world is a rich and complex version of the early 1900’s. The author’s explanations of her empaths are plausible and convincing. More importantly, their abilities remain consistent throughout the story. (Hint: this is really, really important to me because I've thought a lot about what it would mean to be able to read people's minds. Many times, it would suck.)
The book’s real strength lies in its characters. Both Moira and Keenan struggle with demons that haunt them and each has reason to mistrust the other. McLachlan feeds the reader details throughout the story and allows her players to grow in ways that feel authentic.
Though many of the author's characters are troubled or twisted, they reflect the world she built. Keenan does not rail against the unfair social structure that enslaved Moira, even as his attraction to her grows. He appears to accept, at least on some level, the way this society has chosen to deal with empaths. Moira does not try to make herself more acceptable to society even as she moves through it as the investigation progresses.
This was a very enjoyable read and I’m eagerly anticipating the sequel!
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