ARC Review – THE LINE by J.D. Horn

March 26, 2014 2 Star Reviews, General, Reviews 7 ★★½

**I received this book for free from the publisher or author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**

ARC Review – THE LINE by J.D. HornThe Line by J.D. Horn
Series: Witching Savannah #1
Published by 47North on February 1, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Witches
Pages: 296
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Move over, Sookie Stackhouse—the witches of Savannah are the new talk of the South. Bold, flirty, and with a touch of darkness, debut author J.D. Horn spins a mesmerizing tale of a family of witches . . . and the problem that can arise from being so powerful. As Charlaine Harris’ series winds down—and as Deborah Harkness’ series heats up—Witching Savannah is new contemporary fantasy that will be sure to enchant new readers.

Mercy Taylor, the youngest member of Savannah’s preeminent witching family, was born without the gift of magic. She is accustomed to coming in a distant second to the minutes older, exquisite and gifted twin she adores. Hopelessly in love with her sister’s boyfriend, she goes to a Hoodoo root doctor for a love spell. A spell that will turn her heart to another man, the best friend who has loved her since childhood.

Aunt Ginny, the family’s matriarch, would not approve. But Mercy has more to worry about than a love triangle when Aunt Ginny is brutally murdered. Ginny was the Taylor family’s high commander in the defense of the bewitched line that separates humankind from the demons who once ruled our realm. 

A demon invasion looms now that the line is compromised. Worse yet, some within the witching world stand to gain from a demon takeover. Mercy, entangled in the dark magic of her love spell, fighting for her sister’s trust, and hopelessly without magic, must tap the strength born from being an outcast to protect the line she doesn’t feel a part of... 

In this riveting contemporary fantasy, Horn delivers the full betrayal, blood, and familial discord of the best of Southern gothic.

THE LINE by JD Horn has all the elements that attract me to a book – southern gothic setting, witches, and dark family secrets that keep you guessing.  I really enjoyed the story’s premise and the details of its powerful world but there were certain elements that didn’t quite work for me.

What I like about THE LINE has everything to do with its Savannah setting — hot sultry and southern – and its powerful world of witches.  In fact, the worldbuilding is really quite interesting.  Tucked underneath the southern gentility of Savannah’s historic setting, which Horn details wonderfully, is a world of witches that is literally maintaining the line that divides our world from that of the demons who once ruled it.  It’s this powerful line, a “safety net of energy,” that protects us humans from being ruled by our previous demon masters.  And it requires the talent of powerful witches who serve as anchors to maintain the line to protect the world.  Couple this with the actual powers of witches – telepathy, psychometry, etc – and THE LINE introduces the readers to a very compelling world filled with power, bickering witches, and a powerful witch family fighting to maintain control. Good stuff, right?

What didn’t work so much for me are the characters themselves.  I found myself not really caring about any of them.  Take our heroine, Mercy.  She’s the only member born into the magically lustrous and powerful Taylor family who has no magic whatsoever.  She is referred to as “the disappointment.”  But Mercy is a kind soul.  She believes the best in people even if shown evidence to the contrary.  I just didn’t buy it.  Mercy is duped several times by people who are so obviously not who they seem that I could not understand her utter naivete.  Mercy is also inexplicably in love with her twin sister’s fiancée.  Other than the fact that he’s hot, there seemed to be no solid reason behind this love other than the physical.  It seemed more of a plot device to add more tension and provide rationale for certain aspects of the story.  In the end, the infatuation felt superficial and wholly unbelievable.  Finally, the entire Taylor family came across as entitled, magically powerful snobs.  Don’t get me wrong. I don’t have to like a character to think a book is good.  Not everyone is likeable.  But I found myself oddly uncaring about the fates of any of these characters. 

The one character I was interested in was Mother Jilo.  But I felt she was firmly placed in the stereotypical, mystical African American hoodoo woman — evil and untrustworthy, with stolen magic and an amateur knowledge of it.  She proves to be not what she seems which redeems her characterization, to certain degree, though this shift in how we view her is told to us and not shown.  I hope in future books more nuance is given to her character.

There was a nice build up to solving a murder mystery and identifying the next Taylor witch to become an anchor.  But the end felt a bit anticlimactic.  A ceremony happens, stuff goes down, there’s a twist I see a mile away (yet, unsurprisingly, Mercy doesn’t) and then it’s over.  Though an interesting set-up for the next book, I wish the nice tension of a murder and the power grab for the anchor position, had been translated into an equally tense ending.

THE LINE has a fantastic world and a solid premise.  Had the characters been equally as compelling, this could have been one of my favorite reads.  I see a lot of promise in this new series but I’m split on this one…2.5 Howls!  


About J.D. Horn

JD Horn was raised in rural Tennessee, and has since carried a bit of its red clay in him while travelling the world, from Hollywood, to Paris, to Tokyo. He studied comparative literature as an undergrad, focusing on French and Russian in particular. He also holds an MBA in international business and worked as a financial analyst before becoming a novelist. When not writing he is likely running, and he has race bibs from two full marathons and about thirty half marathons. He and his spouse, Rich, and their three pets split their time between Portland, Oregon and San Francisco.

7 Responses to “ARC Review – THE LINE by J.D. Horn”

  1. Jessica @ Rabid Reads

    Yep. Bad characters can ruin a book, no matter how wonderful the premise. And I recall someone else saying something about the MCs unbelievable naivety, AND the preoccupation with her sister’s fiance . . . just ugh. I’m glad you did find a few elements to enjoy, but I don’t think this is for me.
    Jessica @ Rabid Reads recently posted..Review: Dead Until Dark by Charlaine HarrisMy Profile

  2. Mogsy

    I’ve actually seen this one being talked about a lot, made me curious to check it out. I’m sorry you didn’t like it though! It’s hard for me to get into a book too, when I don’t feel anything for the characters.
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  3. fishgirl182

    I had not heard of this one and the synopsis sounded intriguing. However, I am right with you. If I can’t care about the characters then it’s really hard for me to get into the story. I may still give this one a try but might library it.

  4. Tabitha the Pabkins

    You know I’ll bet there probably are those people out there like that…that insist there is something good in everyone. Hey maybe there is but ehhh. So yeah I don’t buy it either – don’t you think people like that sometimes just work your nerves?
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