Blood and Ash

Title: Blood and Ash (The Jezebel Files Book One)

Publisher: Te Da Media

Author: Deborah Wilde

Pages: 318pp

Price: $11.99 / $3.99

Three hundred years ago, a group of ten Kabbalists gathered together and cast a spell to bring them closer to the Divine. Instead, it activated the latent magical abilities of every descendant of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, long since scattered throughout the world …. In modern day Vancouver, Ashira Cohen (known as Ash to her one and only true friend) is a private investigator. She is also a Mundane, which means that any magic-related case is completely off the table — unless she wants to attract the attention of the local House. Never mind that the House Head is her childhood nemesis, Levi Montefiore; getting on anyone’s magical radar is a bad idea. Unfortunately for Ash, she is not as Mundane as she has always believed: when a head injury breaks the Star of David ward that had been tattooed onto her scalp, powers that she does not understand and can barely control begin to manifest. Even worse, the case she had been working takes a dangerous turn when she learns that teens are being kidnapped off the streets and drained of their magic. Looks like she’ll have to talk to Levi Montefiore, after all … and maybe do more than talk ….

Blood and Ash is another recommendation that popped up on a list based on my previous ebook purchases. I liked the description and the sample, so I downloaded the rest of the book.

Over all, I quite enjoyed it. Ash is a likable, if acerbic, protagonist. That is a fine line to walk, and Wilde does it well. Ash is intelligent, clever, and empathetic; having been abandoned by her father at age thirteen, she understands how painful life can be, especially when it is our own loved ones doing the harm. Plus, she has an uneasy relationship with her mother, who is high up in the xenophobic, anti-magic Untainted Party.

Even better, Ash is a woman who fully embraces her sexuality. She may not do relationships well, but she loves and misses sex. She is a woman of the modern world, and misogynists had best stay out of her way.

That, in turn, ties into her new-found magical abilities. In the world of Blood and Ash, magic is amophorous; almost pure potentiality. While people must be born with magic, it doesn’t manifest until their early teens, and than it takes the form is something the individual desires or feels particularly strongly about. In Ash’s case: blood. At age thirteen, she was in a terrible car accident, which required multiple blood transfusions and surgeries. Ash isn’t just any magic-user; she’s a Jezebel. And Ash herself is named for none other than Asherah, the Goddess honored by Jezebel so long ago.

While the characters and the magic of Ash and Blood were quite entertaining, I had a few problems with the structure of the narrative. There were a lot of run-on scenes; almost like Wilde didn’t want to include a section break, so she just kept writing. There were a few times that I had to go back and re-read a page to make sure that I had not missed a connecting sentence or paragraph.

There were also scenes which felt weirdly abbreviated; almost like sentences describing characters’ reactions or inner thoughts had been deleted to keep the narrative flowing, but doing so just made it jumpy and disjointed.

Despite those issues, Ash and Blood was a lot of fun. The characters are well-defined, the mysteries are engaging, and I particularly like the chemistry between Ash and Priya, and between Ash and Levi. It is also one of a very few urban fantasy novels which feature Jewish protagonists and which are centered around a Jewish cosmology. (Triple bonus points for working in the Goddess Asherah.) For that reason, I recommend Blood and Ash, especially to fans of Annette Marie’s The Guild Codex, Dan Willis’ Arcane Casebook series, the Eve Williams series by Ashley Beasley, Undercover Gorgon by RL Naquin, and The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Magic by Helen Harper.

[Rebecca Buchanan is the editor of the Pagan literary ezine, Eternal Haunted Summer. A complete list of her published works can be found there.]