Monday, July 19, 2010

Marla Mason Books - A Review

I love to read. I always try and read a bit every day, from the bus to and from work, in a nice hot bath, cuddling with my sweetie on the couch or tucked in bed before I go to sleep.
Because I'm such an avid reader, I have a tendency to run out of books by the authors that I like. I wait patiently for the next installment to come out, and unless it's Wheel of Time, for it to come out in paperback. So in the mean time, I'm constantly looking for new authors to fill the void with.
Some times, nay, most times I end up very disappointed when picking up new books, but every once and awhile, I come across a reading gem and discover a new author that captivates me completely.

This was the case with T.A. Pratt.

I first was introduced to him, via one of my favorite websites Geek Orthodox. He was doing a review on the latest book and I was immediately captured by the cover image.
A few weeks later when I was at The Worlds Biggest Bookstore with my best friend Eric, I saw the cover again and immediately picked it up, only to discover that it was the forth book in the series.
I've been weary about series as of late, due to forcing myself to read a few crappy ones, but after reading the back of Blood Engines (book 1), I found myself intrigued.

Meet Marla Mason-smart, saucy, slightly wicked witch of the East Coast.…
Sorcerer Marla Mason, small-time guardian of the city of Felport, has a big problem. A rival is preparing a powerful spell that could end Marla's life-and, even worse, wreck her city. Marla's only chance of survival is to boost her powers with the Cornerstone, a magical artifact hidden somewhere in San Francisco. But when she arrives there, Marla finds that the quest isn't going to be quite as cut-and-dried as she expected…and that some of the people she needs to talk to are dead. It seems that San Francisco's top sorcerers are having troubles of their own-a mysterious assailant has the city's magical community in a panic, and the local talent is being (gruesomely) picked off one by one.
With her partner-in-crime, Rondeau, Marla is soon racing against time through San Francisco's alien streets, dodging poisonous frogs, murderous hummingbirds, cannibals, and a nasty vibe from the local witchery, who suspect that Marla herself may be behind the recent murders. And if Marla doesn't figure out who is killing the city's finest in time, she'll be in danger of becoming a magical statistic herself.…

Hello Marla, nice to meet you. Wow, you get yourself into some pretty crazy situation!

This series follows the adventures of Marla Mason, an ass-kicking sorcerer who doesn’t wear a leather catsuit, doesn’t suffer from low self-esteem, doesn’t wallow in angst, and is almost always absolutely certain she’s right… even when she’s dead wrong.
It’s got monsters. It’s got sarcasm. It’s got death, destruction, sex parties, ancient gods, wisecracks, artifacts, oracles, dark alleys, and magical daggers. Come and see. - T.A. Pratt

Once I picked it up I couldn't put it down. The suspense and intrigue, the crazy characters, things I just would've never thought of, are all portrayed so well you just want to keep reading.
I read it in 3 days! I then had to scrounge up some money so I could go and buy Poison Sleep (book 2)!

The bad girl of the magical underworld is back and badder than ever.
Someone wants Marla Mason dead. Usually that's not news. As chief sorcerer of Felport, someone always wants her dead. But this time she's the target of a renegade assassin who specializes in killing his victims over days, months, or even years. Not to mention a mysterious knife-wielding killer in black who pops up in the most unexpected places. To make matters worse, an inmate has broken out of the Blackwing Institute for criminally insane sorcerers-a troubled psychic who can literally reweave the fabric of reality to match her own traumatic past.
With her wisecracking partner Rondeau reluctantly in tow, Marla teams up with a "love-talker" whose dangerous erotic spells not even she can resist. Together they're searching the rapidly transforming streets of Felport for a woman who's become the Typhoid Mary of nightmares, infecting everything-and everyone-she touches with a chaos worse than death itself.
I was so excited that this book was even better than the first one. I actually think that this is my favorite out of all of them. The concepts in it are just flooring. The melding of the real world, magical world and dream world are flawlessly done. Good guys are bad guys, bad guys are good guys, sometimes the characters are so in depth that you can really feel where they're coming from. People that were only briefly mentioned in the first book actually turn into real characters. I love when books do that.
I read this book in 2 days!!
Now this time I was prepared. I went out the next day and bought the next 2 books.
As soon as I got home I picked up Dead Reign (book 3) and started reading away.

Death has come calling, and one woman has what he wants most of all...
As chief sorcerer of Felport, Marla Mason thought she'd faced every kind of evil the magical world had to offer. But she's never faced a killer like this. He's dark, glib, handsome as the devil-and exactly who he says he is. Death-in the flesh. He's arrived in Felport with a posse composed of a half-insane necromancer and the reanimated corpse of John Wilkes Booth, and he isn't leaving until he gets what he came for. Only Marla is crazy enough to tell Death to go back to Hell.
With the Founders' Ball just around the bend, drawing together the brightest, meanest, and most dangerous of Felport's magical elite, the last thing Marla needs is all-out war with the King of the Underworld, but that's exactly what she's got. As the battle lines are drawn, she can count on her hedonistic, body-hopping partner Rondeau…but how many of her old allies will stand by her side when facing the ultimate adversary? To save her city, Marla will have to find a way to cheat Death…literally.

Also a great book. I mean how many books can you think of where the main character actually has to travel to Hell, confront her own demons, and find a way to take back what is rightfully hers. This book gives a lot of depth to Marla, as you finally find out more about her mysterious past that has been hinted about through the last two books. Also, the discovery of what is really hidden inside her magical cloak and the mystery behind her Dagger of Office. Also, there are lots of appearances from old friends and enemies who have been waiting to get back in touch with Marla Mason.

I think this one took me about a week to read. But as soon as it was finished, I couldn't wait to pick up the final book.
I had been waiting to read Spell Games (book 4) since the beginning. Would it be up to my now high expectations?

Brain-eating fungi, wannabe sorcerers, long-lost relations-does even a hard-core witch stand a chance?

Mad sorcerers, psychic vampires, an army of vengeful demons, Marla Mason would rather face them all than a flesh-and-blood ghost from her dysfunctional family past: her con artist brother, Jason. As Felport's chief sorcerer, Marla would ordinarily consider it her duty to protect her town from such an unscrupulous ne'er-do-well. As his sister, things are a lot…trickier. Now, as Marla attempts to train an apprentice oracle whose magical wires have gotten crossed, Jason is setting up an elaborate sting and drawing her ever-so-corruptible partner Rondeau into the ruse.
Their patsy is a filthy-rich wannabe mage and their bait is something so valuable, so dangerous, so sought after, it probably doesn't exist. But now word's gotten out that the Borrichius spores do exist and instead of a sucker Jason and Rondeau have a much bigger-and much deadlier-fish on their line: a reclusive sorcerer whose devotion to the mushroom god and command of vegetal magic could bring a fungal apocalypse to Felport. It'll be the mother of all bad trips unless Marla can pull off the ultimate magical switcheroo…and somehow live to tell about it.

I hate to say that I was a little disappointed in this book. I guess it's only to be expected after loving the other ones so much and my expectations being so high. On it's own, I'm sure I would've enjoyed it more, but compared to the others, it barley holds a candle to them. The characters are still good, but the story is missing something vital. I was glad to have Bradley back, but he was greatly overshadowed by Marla's brother Jason, who I really could've cared less about. The villains were kinda lame and the side characters weren't any better. Also, this book left off on an unresolved note, which had there been another book for me to go out and buy, wouldn't have bothered me so much.
So hurry up T.A. Pratt and write me more books*

Overall rating: 5 out of 5 stars

* I look forward to more books, but please take your time. As a writer, I know what it's liked to feel rushed and I don't wish that on you.


  1. Glad you like the books! I've been serializing the fifth Marla novel, Broken Mirrors, online. In fact, the last chapter goes up next Monday, so you can read the whole thing in one gulp. (A print edition and e-book versions are forthcoming.)

    TA Pratt

  2. I can't wait to read it! Thanks for commenting on my blog! I can honestly say that I never expected you to read it! Wow! I'm honoured!