Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Quick Looks: The Third Circle

The Third Circle
By Amanda Quick

Paranormal/Historical Romance

The Premise: The aurora stone, an old and valuable crystal capable of generating incredibly powerful psychic effects when worked by someone attuned to it, is rumored to be in the collection of the eccentric Lord Delbridge. On the night of one of Lord Delbridge’s infamous private parties, two people show up to steal it. Thaddeus Ware, a mesmerist who is also a private investigator, is there on behalf of the Arcane Society. According to him, the crystal once belonged to Sylvester Jones, the Society’s founder, and the current leadership believes that such a powerful relic should not be floating around loose. Leona Hewitt is a talented crystal worker and direct descendent of Sybil the Sorceress, Sylvester’s contemporary, one time student, and eventual rival alchemist. Leona claims he stole the stone from Sybil, and that it has been in and out of her family’s possession ever since. Thaddeus is willing to believe her, but he is more concerned with the third party that seems to be after the stone, and is willing to kill repeatedly to get it. Once the two of them have (barely) escaped from Delbridge’s home with the crystal, the chase is on, leaving a trail of robberies, kidnappings, and murders.

What I liked: I really enjoy the paranormal framework of the Arcane Society novels. The historical entries in the series are set toward the end of Queen Victoria’s reign, when interest in all things psychic was at its height in England, and this is a good background for the story of the resurgence of the Arcane Society. Details of dress and lifestyle add a great deal of atmosphere without taking over the story. The plot is well paced, and the chemistry between the hero and heroine is good. The arc of their relationship makes sense as well; the various plot twists don’t feel as though they are designed for the express purpose of throwing the lovers together. The secondary characters were vividly drawn, something that is very important to me and that I think really makes or breaks the story.

What I didn’t like: This is nitpicky, but I didn’t think that the death of Lord Delbridge was properly explained, and there could have been more tension in the chase scene between Ware and Lancing. Neither of these things, however, detracted from my enjoyment of the book.

Overall: Another fine entry into the Arcane Society series. So far I have enjoyed both the historical and contemporary titles in the series, and I am looking forward to Running Hot, due to be released in December. The library owns Second Sight, the first of the historical entries, and White Lies and Sizzle and Burn, the two contemporaries. They can be read in any order, but I would start with Second Sight; it provides historical context for the rest of the series.

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