Book Review: Harley Merlin and the Broken Spell

Title: Harley Merlin and the Broken Spell
Author: Bella Forrest
Genre: Fiction

What’s it about: Harley is suffering with the pain resulting from the broken Suppressor within her, and is unable to control her Chaos. Levi, one of the California Mage Council members, takes over the San Diego Coven as interim director and begins running it like a military base camp. He refuses Harley’s request to travel to New Orleans, believing that she’s making up her pain, and that she is a danger to everyone around her.

The team rallies around her, and along with the help of Isadora and Jacob, they hatch a plan to get Harley to New Orleans. Tatyana and Wade come with Harley and they visit Dominic Etye, a magical who is serving Papa Legba, who is Marie Laveau’s husband, but he needs Harley to leave behind her soul in order to give her the directions to Marie Laveau’s tomb. Harley agrees, believing that she doesn’t have any other choice, and they head to the Church that holds the entrance to Marie’s Tomb, where they find Garrett. They get attacked by Naima and some cultists, until Marie Laveau steps into Tatyana’s body and kicks out the cultists. She agrees to help Harley with aligning her affinities, giving Harley a peek at the true spell in Marie’s own Grimoire and telling her where she can find the blood she needs to realign her affinities. She also tells them that Odette, the Librarian, has escaped Katherine’s grasp.

Garrett, Wade, Tatyana, and Harley leave and head back to Dominic’s house, which they find trashed. They get into a brawl with Papa Legba, but Tatyana kicks him out of her body, and Harley and Garrett get their souls back, before they return to the coven. That leaves them with the problem of figuring out how to get to Purgatory in order to get Giverny Le Fay’s blood, but they do it through the San Francisco Coven using Remington as a cover. Harley gets Giverny to agree to give her the blood, when suddenly Kenneth Willow attacks, and it all goes south. Harley and Wade manage to get it back under control just before officers arrive, and then one of the officers informs Harley that Finch had been attacked by Kenneth. He also mentions that Finch had been asking everyone if he could talk to Harley, so Harley asks to be informed as soon as he wakes up.

Upon their return to the SDC with Tatyana, they speak with Tobe about getting Echinda off ice, when the information comes in that the Librarian is in the Paris Coven. So the following day, Wade, Harley and Jacob go to the Paris Coven, only to find that Garrett has shapeshifted into a nurse in order to get closer to Odette, who had suffered considerable trauma. She’s not able to be much help except to tell them that the second ritual involves killing the father of magicals in the land of Gaia. When Harley and Wade return to the SDC, Levi is onto them, and starts demanding answers. Wade’s mom, Felicity, comes into their unexpected rescue, schooling Levi into submission. While Wade and his mom talk about him and the family reputation in his office, Harley goes to the Rag Team with all of the information, but they’re unable to figure out who is the Father of Magicals. Later on, she and Wade end up kissing.

The next day, Harley goes to Nomura for training on Euphoria, which turns out to be a trap as Katherine captured Nomura’s son, Shinsuke, and used him as leverage against Nomura in exchange for Harley. He locks Harley out in Astral Projection, and as a result, Harley gets in touch with Gaia, who tells her how to defeat Echinda, the mother of Monsters. In the meantime, Wade wakes up and when he can’t get in touch with Harley, he has her tracked. He and Santana find Nomura acting strange and take him down when they see an unconscious Harley, but he refuses to bring her back. Instead, Gaia sends Harley back into her own body, while Santana calls for O’Halloran to contain Nomura. Then they get the information that Odette is dead, and Alton is unable to resurrect her.

Harley’s suppressor cracks even further, and they have no time, so Wade takes her to Echidna’s box. Echidna wakes up and attacks Harley, but Harley evades her and then appeals to Echidna’s motherly instincts. Echidna reveals that she is a Purge from a Primus Angelicus of the Shipton Bloodline, and that she is one of the five rituals, so she agrees to assist Harley in exchange for naming Harley’s first-born child. Echidna gives Harley the blood and then presses her hand against Harley’s forehead, snapping the suppressor in two. As a result, Harley hurries to do the spell, falling unconscious.

In the meantime, Levi arrives with security Magicals and they attempt to stop Harley, leading to a stand off between Levi and the Rag Team, after a mini-scuffle. Tobe yells at and threatens everyone if anyone so much as touches the box.

Harley wakes up, and her powers are more intense than previously. Her Espirit had changed too. After she leaves the box and faces the standoff, Levi tries to have her thrown in a cell, but she blasts one of the security magicals away. She then tells Levi to send the security magicals out, after which she tells them the five rituals that she learned from Echidna. At that point, they figure out that the President of the United Covens of America, Steven Price, could be the “father.” Levi agrees to help, but says that Harley has to be watched.

The next day, the Rag Team gets a warning that Levi is about to freeze them out of the action to protect the President, so they all Portal out to the assembly at the Washington Coven. Harley’s able to overcome the hexes on them, and they infiltrate the crowd with Garrett’s help. They speak to the President about the threat on his life, but he says that he will not cower. As he’s making his speech, Katherine breaks out of the Security Guard line behind the president and takes him through a portal. The team follows, but they’re unable to save Steven Price, who sacrifices himself in order so that they could ahead.

On their way back through the portal from the otherworld, Gaia pulls Harley into her own otherworld, and puts the Light and Dark affinities inside Harley into a better equilibrium, revealing that the Sanguine Spell didn’t work so well. She then tells Harley that if she doesn’t stop Katherine during the Rituals, she will have to stop Katherine as a Child of Chaos. When she finally makes it back to the Washington Coven, Levi demands answers.

A few days later, the whole Rag team is under watch, and the Death of the President has everyone scared. Harley gets a phone call from Purgatory that Finch is awake, and together with Wade she goes to visit. After the assassination attempt by Kenneth on his life at the behest of Katherine, who believed that Adley made Finch weak, Finch decides to help Harley. He reveals the third ritual, which is to consume the spirit of your greatest enemy in the land of Erebus on All Hallows’ Eve, and tells Harley that he knows where Katherine is keeping Hester’s spirit. But to get to it, he needs to get out of Purgatory and sneak into the Cult of Eris.

My Verdict: This one is a complete mind twist. So far my favorite character in this book is 100% Marie Laveau. I love the twist on her legend, and the fact that the author provided the nod not only to the believed location of Marie Laveau in the St. Louis No 1 Cemetery in New Orleans, but also to some theories that Marie Laveau is not even buried there. The character is such a hoot, and I love how she just steps in.

Secondly, Finch now wants to help?! Maybe the seeds of doubt that Harley planted as well as the fact that Katherine killed Adley and almost assassinated him is enough to make him turn on Katherine, but to me that is just shocking considering how long he had been under Katherine’s influence. Breaking out of that kind of cycle is not easy, and it takes a while to happen, plus, I’m not sure that Harley or Wade can trust him. I guess we shall see what happens next with Finch, if they will actually assist him in breaking out of Purgatory.

Very entertaining book.

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