Title: Mark of the Witch (The Portal ~ Book One)
Author: Maggie Shayne
Publication Date: September 18 2012
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Length: 400 Pages
Link to Synopsis: Goodreads
Source: Direct from Publisher via NetGalley
Buy It: Amazon US / Amazon UK
My Rating: 4 Stars
Point of View: Alternating, 1st person with Indira and 3rd person with Tomas
This was an intense, action filled ride! I will be the first to admit that it took about 15% into the book for me to be hooked but once it happened I really didn't want to put it down. This is probably why it only took me a little of a day to finish it, despite it being 400 pages.
The story follows Indira who is a witch that has turned her back on her faith and religion. She has been having a recurring nightmare of being sacrificed along with two other women in an ancient Babylonian time. It wasn't until she starts waking up with cut marks and rope burns around her wrists that she starts to take the nightmares seriously. She turns to her friend and High Priestess, Rayne for help. Then enters the tall dark and sexy Tomas... only what is this? It's Father Tomas to be exact, from a secret Gnostic sect. However, we learn early on that Tomas has also been doubting his faith and calling as a priest. He has been told his entire life that his only duty is to stop one of three witches from releasing an evil demon from Hell, the only way to stop her is to kill her.
Indira and Tomas (Toe-mas) are drawn to each other. They know their feelings are forbidden but the more Indira starts to remember about her past the more they realize that they are meant to be together. Can their love overcome everything that is standing in their way?
This is my first Maggie Shayne novel and I have to say I am impressed with her writing style. She describes a scene beautifully and it was not at all difficult for me to imagine the surrounds. And the romance... it is HOT! Every time Indira and Tomas interacted there was electricity. The looks, their actions, every time they touched, brushed up against each other... it was all smouldering.
I also loved how the story unfolded, the twists and turns and revelations along the way. It reminded me a lot of a Dan Brown novel in the way the history, religion and relics all came together. As with the twists and turns, it really did have me guessing as to how it was all going to play out.
I would have to say for me the story was original, I myself have not read anything really like it which was nice. Since it is to do with witches one must class it is a paranormal but there are no vampires, werewolves, angels, etc... so that was a nice change. Most paranormal books nowadays include one of those so that was refreshing.
If I had to fault it at all I would have to say that I felt the ending was a little abrupt. As it appears this is the first of three books in Maggie Shayne's new Portal Series I was preparing myself for a cliffhanger. It was not until after I finished reading that I realized that the three books in the series are linked however each book follows one of the three witches. Not that I am not happy about the way it ended, it just seemed to end. I felt maybe another half chapter could have brought everything to a more fluid conclusion. Maybe this was just me not wanting it to end though...
All in all I did very much enjoy it and I will be reading the next two books in series. It appears we do not have very long to wait because Daughter of the Spellcaster is due out in November 2012 and Blood of the Sorceress will be out in January 2013. I have also recently found out that there is a prequel Novella, Legacy of the Witch. I did not know about it so I will be reading it just before book two is released but I would suggest picking it up before Mark of the Witch as I have been told it ties the three stories together quite nicely and will set the scene for the entire series.