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Maria writes cozy mysteries, fantasy, paranormal mysteries and has just completed a ghost story.
Visit Maria at her blog: www.BearMountainBooks.com.
on Nov. 22, 2011 :
Maria Schneider's urban fantasy novel, Under Witch Moon, is one of those rare, wonderful books that transports the reader into an entirely different reality.
Adriel knows that being a witch is hard. It's not only the difficulty in finding just the right spell for just the right job, it's also the troubling clientele. The humans demand perfection, the weres are hunting for a good time, and don't even get her started on the vamps. Add a smoking-hot man, a murder mystery, and a truly evil witch into the mixture, and it's no wonder why being a witch is nothing but trouble.
One of the biggest reasons I enjoyed this story so much is that the author makes magic appear so realistic. After reading the book, I swear that I could work magic providing I had the right herbs and enough silver. The supernatural beings are also very real, especially the weres. Their human sides take on some of their animal characteristics, and their animals sides are, well, very animal. After dealing with idealized versions of these creatures in other stories, it was a relief to read something so grounded.
I also loved the southwest setting. Having visited Sante Fe, NM, myself a few years ago, I could really relate to the book. But even if I had never been to the American southwest, the author describes the places so wonderfully that the reader would feel as if she's been there before. The mix of Hispanic, Native American, and Anglo-American characters was also a nice reprieve from the typical vanilla cast in so many urban fantasy novels.
The book centers on a mystery, and it was that mystery that kept me turning the pages. There aren't any detailed subplots, but there are enough distinct threads running through the story to give it depth and make it interesting.
One thing that I wanted to read more of, however, was the interplay between characters. I love reading about emotional entanglements, and while there was some of this, I wanted more. Adriel, a rather paranoid young lady, has maternal feelings towards a stray teen named Lynx, and mixed feelings for her yuppie sister. I found these relationships very interesting and wanted to read more about them. Also, at times, the descriptions of the magic become too detailed so that the world-building overshadowed what I would consider the more interesting parts of the story.
Overall, Under Witch Moon, is a fun urban fantasy populated with interesting characters.
(reviewed 9 months after purchase)
on June 16, 2011 :
Loved it, loved it, loved it. I do hope that there will be more to come.
(reviewed 85 days after purchase)
on May 15, 2011 :
Really enjoyed this. Definately kept me guessing and the heroine was plucky while being vulnerable at time.
Definately looking forward to this becoming a series.
(reviewed 4 days after purchase)
on April 15, 2011 :
Under Witch Moon was a very enjoyable read. The characters were likable, the mystery was intriguing, and the magic was well crafted. I look forward to reading the next book in the series.
(reviewed 23 days after purchase)
on March 24, 2011 :
When a giggly, nervous woman comes to Adriel asking for protection from a werewolf, Adriel thinks nothing of it. After all, she makes her living selling spells to the public. Sewing silver protection into a blouse isn't such a difficult job. But Adriel realizes it may not be so simple after all when that woman ends up dead, ripped apart by the very werewolf now staring straight at Adriel. Even worse, it turns out this isn't the first woman to have played with a werewolf and lost. As she tries to uncover the secret of these deaths, Adriel quickly realizes she may be playing with much more powerful magic than she ever imagined. She may be good at spells, but is she good enough to stop an evil witch with an evil plan and friends in high places?
A first installment in the Moon Shadow series by Maria E. Schneider, this paranormal mystery is an engaging, quick read. Wonderfully lighthearted, but solid in its structure, this story contains an interesting cast of characters. Adriel herself is a fun character- she's got some good skills and ideas, but needs a little boost sometimes to make them work. That boost comes in the form of Lynx and White Feather. Lynx, a young shapeshifter, is Adriel's link to new customers, and to information that helps Adriel do her job. White Feather is a mysterious connection who uses Adriel for information, but he's got a few secrets of his own. The main characters in this story have some nice characterization, but in the length of the novel, it could have gone a few steps further to help flesh out some of these characters. White Feather, in particular, could have used some additional meat to his story. He seems to have such a fascinating history and some more secrets to share. I really wanted to get to know him a bit more. Lynx and Adriel have some nice development, but I hope to find out more about their backstories as well in the next installment.
One of the things I loved about this novel was the explanation of all things "witchy." This world of spells has clear rules and structure, and the author does a delightful job of weaving that information into the storyline. The story flows along pretty well, with very few bumps along the way. There were a few times I took a quick look back to confirm an action or a character, or reread a passage to be sure I could visualize what just happened, but that was the exception rather than the rule. For the most part, the story flows along smoothly. I only noticed a few typos (two come to mind immediately: the first being a word that didn't quite make sense--"train" when I thought maybe "gain" would be more fitting, and the second was an apostrophe on a plural).
Overall, a fun read and a great start to a new series!
@ MotherLode blogt
(reviewed 4 months after purchase)
on Nov. 29, 2010 :
3.5 Stars - Good Start to New Series
I enjoyed this one. It was a short, quick read, and it flowed very well. The main character is very likable - strong, capable, but not foolhardy. She has power of her own, but isn't out searching for trouble. She is definitely not a Mary Sue, nor is she a warrior woman.
I liked the scientific method that was used to approach magic. Everything has a consequence, and to do anything (like fly/levitate) there are many things that need to be in balance. The villain is very bad. I wouldn't want to meet her. I also liked how the different threads tied together. It was a satisfying ending that left room for more.
And that is what I wanted: more. My favorite part of books is the relationships between characters. Adriel starts out as a loner, so it takes a little while to get there. I did really like the supporting characters, especially Lynx. The first book always sets the stage, so I'm hoping that the next book can more fully explore these characters and how they work together.
Disclaimer: I met the author on an Urban Fantasy forum and was given a review copy, but I can truthfully say that I would have been a satisfied customer if I had bought it.
(reviewed 31 days after purchase)
on Nov. 19, 2010 :
Adriel is a witch for hire. Doing odd jobs here and there, she mainly provides healing aromatherapy, potions, and the occasional protection spell. Life is just fine until one of her clients, Delores, uses a protection spell not as defense against a were-wolf, but as a way to trap him. When her client turns up dead, things really start to get weird.
Adriel's world gets turned upside-down in short order. First, she finds out Delores' murder wasn't just a fluke, but was instead part of a series of killings. Just in case that wasn't enough, a handsome police detective, White Feather, wants to question her, a vampire is looking for her, and an evil witch is trying to kill her. To top things off her friend, Lynx, just turned up missing. Life just keeps getting better and better.
Adriel is a great heroine. She's spunky, she's got a code of honor, and she's got a heart of gold. The supporting cast is equally well done. Adriel's friend, Lynx, is a smart-mouthed, street-tough kid and White Feather, Adriel's contact with law enforcement, is sexy and mysterious.
Ms. Schneider's world of magic is very realistic feeling. She takes you through the process of Adriel's spell-crafting in a way that lets you know what it is possible for her to do, and also explains why she doesn't just wave a wand and "zap" the bad guy. Another reason it felt realistic is because it dove-tails pretty well with how actual pagans work magic. The method is realistic, even though the results are fantasy. It's laid out in such a way that it doesn't become boring but is, instead, pretty fascinating.
The story is exciting, with a fast-paced plot and plenty of villains. The only problem I really had with the book is that in a couple of places the dialog got a bit stilted, but overall it was a tightly woven tale with lots of action. A hint of future romance with White Feather also added to the appeal. I think fans of Mercy Thompson and Kate Daniels will enjoy this newcomer on the the Urban Fantasy scene.
Official review for TheRomanceReviews.com
(reviewed the day of purchase)
on Nov. 11, 2010 :
Adriel is a witch providing different types of spells to anyone who needs them. She provides one of her clients with a spell to protect her from a werewolf, but what Adriel doesn’t know is her customer intends to use it to trap the werewolf. When the woman is found dead, the first person the authorities turn to is Adriel.
Adriel quickly learns that her customer isn’t the only woman to be killed. The local police detective, White Feather, insists upon questioning her. This isn’t a hardship since he’s quite a sexy man.
With the help of her teenage assistant, Lynx, they set off to find who is responsible for the murders and to clear any suspicion from Adriel.
This story has it all – witches, warlocks, shape shifters, werewolves and vampires. They are all mixed into one exciting story with some explosive scenes to captivate readers. This is the beginning of a new series “Moon Shadow Series” and it’s an excellent beginning. We meet all the characters and immediately fall in love with Adriel, White Feather and Linx – not to mention the rest of this crazy cast. It’s a fast-paced book you won’t want to put down.
I haven’t been into the paranormal genre has much has I used to be and this one has re-hooked me and now I want more!
(reviewed 36 days after purchase)
on Oct. 10, 2010 :
I “met” Maria Schneider on the popular Kindleboards website and, as a fan of her previous books, was thrilled when she offered me an advance review copy of Under Witch Moon to read on my Kindle, so of course I said yes! I am happy to inform ya’ll that while Under Witch Moon contains a darker premise - and the humor is more subtle - than Catch an Honest Thief, Executive Lunch, and Executive Retention, Maria’s venture into the paranormal realm is as quickly engaging as ever, as well as vivid and fun!
This isn’t the “kick-butt heroine involved in demon/troll/goblin/vampire battles" themed urban fantasy – instead, I found an imaginative, off-the-beaten-path paranormal which includes some charming and not-so-charming witches, werewolves, a vampire, a few murders, a little romance, a bit of Santa Fe folklore/history, some enlivening action, and a few surprises. The pacing was perfect and kept me very interested in seeing how the story would unfold.
This book has a satisfying conclusion and is easily a stand alone. Still, having been introduced to the unique group of normals and non-normals Maria has created in Under Witch Moon, I am hoping to be visiting this cast of characters (and their relatives) once again in the not so distant future… Do you hear that, Maria?
(reviewed 8 days after purchase)
on Oct. 10, 2010 :
I've liked it a lot. You feel that it's a normal world, only with some "special" inhabitants. The main character is very real for me, and it has a very good plot.
(reviewed 7 days after purchase)