From New York Times
bestselling author Maggie Shayne comes the first novel in her thrilling
new trilogy, THE PORTAL She was born to save what he is sworn to
A lapsed Wiccan, Indira Simon doesn't believe in
magic anymore. But when strange dreams of being sacrificed to an ancient
Babylonian god have her waking up with real rope burns on her wrists,
she's forced to acknowledge that she may have been too hasty in her
rejection of the unknown. Then she meets mysterious and handsome Father
Tomas. Emerging from the secrecy of an obscure Gnostic sect, he arrives
with stories of a demon, a trio of warrior witches-and Indira's sacred
calling. Yet there's something even Tomas doesn't know, an inescapable
truth that will force him to choose between saving the life of the woman
he's come to love-and saving the world.
When magic failed her in the only real desire she has ever had, Indy turned her back on the Wiccan faith. Yet strange events have made her reconsider her disbelief. Each night she dreams of an ancient time where she is sacrificed. When she wakes the burn marks from the ropes are real, forcing her to seek out help from her old High Priestess. Through her, Indy meets Father Tomas, and learns of an ancient tale of three witches and their destiny to either permanently imprison or release an evil demon. Suddenly, Indy's life is turned completely upside down, especially since her instincts are telling her that there is more to the story than what she's being told. Fighting a fierce attraction to Tomas, Indy will have to keep every wit about her if she is to have any hope at surviving this quest intact.
I absolutely loved Indy's character. She is so torn and rather confused about her Faith. A former wiccan, she's lost sight of her beliefs and is rather lost. Granted her loss of faith stemmed from her repeated attempts and failure
in casting a spell to locate her soul mate due to an age old ache that
she couldn't escape. Little did she know the reason for that emptiness in her heart was something she could have never imagined. Yet, underneath all that doubt and loss, lies and iron core of strength, and that is what really endeared her to me. That, and the fact that when she was faced with blatant prove that her faith was real, she didn't hold on to denial, but rather decided to embrace it all. No minor feat that, considering everything that was going on. That inner will is evident when she stands firm in her decision to make sure she was making the correct choice before acting despite the head priest's best efforts to convince her that she is vile and evil, and must stop the demon at all costs to have any chance at redemption. She made up her own mind about what was right and wrong both with the demon and in her strong ties towards Tomas, and in my book, more than proved herself.
I really enjoyed the overall feel of the book and the way it centered both around witchcraft and the ancient past of the characters. There was just something about the mystical feel of it all that kept me entranced. Everything about the magical aspects felt real, probably due in large part to Maggie being a High Priestess of the craft herself. I almost felt like I was getting a rare look into a secret world. This may sound corny, but in all honesty I felt almost privileged to be reading it. Perhaps that is because I have always had a fascination with the spiritual aspect of Wicca. There is just something so magical about being one with the elements.
I loved how Mark of the Witch had a happy ending that left things with the couple well and settled, yet left plenty enough open for the rest of the trilogy to progress. As with all paranormal romances I expect my happy ending that will leave me satisfied and content. That being said, I still want enough of an overall arc in a series to really ties the books together, and Maggie Shayne really delivered on that in Mark of the Witch. Tie that in with the magical aspects, the mysterious past, and a love that has survived eons, and Mark of the Witch is one heck of a read. I cannot wait to get my hands on the next installment to see where things go!
(Received a copy from the publisher via Netgalley)