(Baba Yaga #3)
Release: Feb. 2, 2016
Known as the wicked witch of Russian fairy tales, Baba Yaga is not one woman, but rather a title carried by a chosen few. They keep the balance of nature and guard the borders of our world, but don’t make the mistake of crossing one of them…Review:
The only thing more fiery than Bella Young’s red hair is her temper. She knows that a Baba Yaga’s power without strict control can leave the people she cares about burned, so to protect her heart—and everyone around her—the only company she keeps is her dragon-turned-Norwegian-Forest-cat, Koshka.
But when Bella is tasked with discovering who’s setting magical fires throughout Wyoming’s Black Hills, she finds herself working closely with former hotshots firefighter Sam Corbett—and falling hard for his quiet strength and charm.
Sam may bear the scars of his past, but Bella can see beyond them and would do anything to help him heal. Only before she can rescue her Prince Charming, she’ll have to overcome the mysterious foe setting the forest fires—a truly wicked witch who wields as much power and even more anger than Bella…
I’ve had a rocky relationship with the Baba Yaga series so far. Something about the prequel novella bothered me and I didn’t continue the series. But a few months ago I read Veiled Magic and enjoyed it, so I decided to give Deborah Blake another chance. There are things I would have done differently in each of the three novels, but I feel like the series is steadily improving.
One thing I really like about the series is that it deals with environmental issues in an interesting way. Each of the Baba Yagas – there are three in the U.S. – has an affinity for a different element and each faces a crisis involving that element. For example, in book two the water expert Baba dealt with toxic waste being dumped in the ocean. Bella, the heroine in Wickedly Powerful, has an affinity for fire and is called to investigate a series of forest fires.
What’s different about this book is that it focusses on the human impact of the disaster almost exclusively. The suffering of the trees and the forest creatures does play a role in the story, but not to the same extent as that of the hero. The villain even exploits his emotions to further her plot. Sam was a Hotshot firefighter who lost his entire team in a forest fire. Unable to work in the field because of his injuries, both physical and psycological, he now works as a fire spotter, alerting the firefighters from his post in the lookout tower. Knowing that Sam’s history was inspired by actual events made it even more meaningful.
While I liked both of the main characters, and individually I think they are the best-developed in the series, Sam and Bella’s romance felt a bit rushed. It’s not really an insta-love situation, but there’s a single sentence that tells me that they started spending more time together. I wanted the movie montage to show me that. I also thought the villain’s defeat came rather abruptly (blink and you’ll miss it) which diminished its impact for me. Given the history between the characters involved, I wanted it to be more.
I’m enjoying the Baba Yaga series now, even though the number of similar elements in the books makes it feel a bit formulaic. And I’m really excited about the main character for Wickedly Charming, the first book in a spin off series. I thought maybe there would only be three books in the series since there are only three Babas, but something interesting happened to my favorite supporting characters in this one. I think the chance to involve the Baba Yagas in the story, but not be constrained by their rules is really exciting.
Recommended for fans of: witchy magic and tortured heroes
ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley