Monday, March 12, 2018

Witch Creek (A Wildlands Novel #4), by Laura Bickle

Harper Voyager, ISBN 9780062567314, February 2018

Petra Dee is fighting cancer, and looking for her missing husband, Gabriel.  This is even more complicated and difficult than it might appear. There's considerable backstory here, this being Book 4, but Gabriel is a former Hanged Man, once tied to the Tree of Life that grows in this little town near Yellowstone. He's now the prisoner of Owen Rutherford, local sheriff, and new heir to the Rutherford Ranch, where the Tree of Life is. He wants Gabe to teach him all he knows about the Tree of Life and the magic of the Rutherford Ranch.

He's also talking to Murienn, a flesh-devouring mermaid whom Gabe helped imprison, and whom Owen has unwisely freed. She's determined to have vengeance on Gabe, the last of the Hanged Men still around.

Petra decides chemo isn't doing her any good, and what pass for local law enforcement authorities, even aside from Owen, think Gabe just took off and aren't making much effort to find him. So she check out of the hospital, goes to her friends Maria and Nine, and with their help and the help of her coyote, Sig, starts a search that takes into account the magical aspects both of Gabe, and of the town of Temperance.

Nine, it seems, is a former coyote, now in human form, for reasons no doubt elaborated on in previous books. It gives her a different perspective on things.

Meanwhile, the local bar, the Compostella, is run by Lev, another kind of magical creature, a guardian of hearth and home. The family he tended for centuries was wiped out in one of the 20th century's wars, and after a period of wandering, he settled in Temperance, buying an abandoned church, and making a home with two ghosts there. He's going to get his own shock in the course of the book, and the plot lines come together, as he and Petra clash and then have to make common cause.

Life, death, and magic are all a bit fluid here, but it all makes its own kind of sense. I want to know more about all these characters, both their backstories, and what happens next.

Recommended.

I received a free electronic galley of this book from the publisher, and am reviewing it voluntarily.