Title: The Magistrate
Author: Keira Michelle Telford
Publisher: Venatic Press
Title: The Magistrate
The only thing that frightens shapeshifter Selene Rhodes more than the full moon is the idea of falling in love.
Selene Rhodes has lived her whole life with a terrible secret: not only can she take the form of any animal at will, but once a month the full moon transforms her into a fierce wolf-creature without a human conscience. Managing her condition means living by a strict routine, and more importantly, abstaining from intimate relationships with human beings. Selene is convinced that love and friendship can only bring her pain.
Forensic pathologist Eve Thomas is well-acquainted with the pain of romantic love. Swearing off relationships after having her heart broken by a cheating ex, Eve throws herself into her work: catching murderers. When Selene comes to her aid after an attack by a masked man in Golden Gate Park, Eve is shocked by how powerfully she is drawn to her mysterious savior.
Shaken by her own feelings for Eve, Selene is even more terrified to realize she isn’t even close to being the scariest monster stalking San Francisco. There is someone out in the city who is killing for pleasure, and his next target is the one woman he thinks might be able to stop him: Eve.
This is the fifth of Meghan O’Brien’s standalone books (she’s contributed to compilations, as well), and her first paranormal. To my delight, she seems to be trying out (and succeeding with) different aspects of the romance genre.
As with her other novels, O’Brien jumps in wholeheartedly with vivid character descriptions. We may not know the details or extent of Selene’s condition, but by the time we do, we are already attached to her strong character. Selene is sometimes surprised by her own condition. But she bears (and wears) it well, and we are witness to a very interesting person who happens to shapeshift. While Eve is not 2D by any means, Selene is by far the most interesting character, even if her protective instincts border on stalking. She’s also clearly the cutest character: “This was definitely the drawback of being a dog. Everyone wanted to rescue her.”
O’Brien doesn’t limit her rich character development to the two protagonists. While we neither pity the killer in any way nor know the genesis of his motives, he is not a stock villain. We get a clear idea of who he is, even if we don’t know why he is. Jac (the cheating ex) could have been a caricature, too. Jac starts out somewhat flat, but becomes more fully formed—even interesting—as the story progresses. And, while the change in her attitude toward Selene seems sudden, the circumstances warrant such a quick transformation.
For me, though, the most interesting technical aspect of the novel was the switches into the killer’s mind and actions. Too few authors shift successfully between multiple major characters: they write one with more detail or care than they do the other character(s). Each of O’Brien’s characters has a clear voice, and she does an admirable job of seamlessly jumping between three characters.
This novel is well written, well edited, very enjoyable, and pretty darned hot—it’s a keeper. And maybe, if we’re lucky, we’ll see more of Selene, Eve, and Jac.
Author: Meghan O’Brien
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books