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‘Frost Moon’ – Anthony Francis

17 March, 2010

Not a lot to report here – I’ve been reading a lot, poking around with various writing projects and generally stuffing my brain full of inspiration. As part of all that reading though, I thought I’d put up another review. This one was originally written for the LibraryThing Early Reviewers programme (you can find my profile here if you’re interested).

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Dakota Frost is a magical tattoo artist living in an alternate Atlanta, a city where vampires, werebeasts and witches live openly alongside the non-magical population. Not only that, but she’s a Skindancer, able to bring her own magical tattoos to life. Within the first handful of pages of the book, Dakota has been pulled into a police case involving the grisly find of a magical tattoo no longer attached to its owner, but, as the best magical tattooist in the southeast, it quickly becomes clear that the police aren’t the only ones with an interest in Dakota.

Frost Moon gets off to a swift start and the pace barely lets up throughout the entire book, as numerous plotlines and characters first appear and then begin to converge. The characters around Dakota are a fascinating bunch and all very much outsiders in ‘mainstream’ society – they all have their role to play in the story, without being there for the story’s sake, and are all interesting in their own right.

At the heart of the book though is Dakota herself, a strong, sometimes masculine, woman who still isn’t afraid to admit when she’s scared or in pain. It’s her unique and compelling voice that drives the story, injecting both moments of humour and of emotion into the narrative.

I only had two real niggles with Frost Moon, both of them minor. Firstly, the end of the book feels rushed and could have done with a few more pages to make the denouement more powerful for the reader. Secondly, the majority of the male characters Dakota meets are both strong and attractive – so attractive that Dakota never seems able to decide which one she likes most. By the end of the book, something of a romantic relationship has developed, but it doesn’t grow much within this book and feels like it’s being held back for a sequel.

That said though, Frost Moon is a book that I’m eagerly awaiting the sequel to. The tight writing style, swift pace and Dakota’s compelling narration make this one of the best debut urban fantasies I’ve read in a long time.

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