When I was contacted about reviewing book three of the Witch of Empire series, I wasn’t familiar with the story at all. I went back and started with book 1, The Year of the Knife.

I quickly found out a few things.

  • This is a story with a middle aged female protagonist. I’m always looking for that.
  • This world is alternative reality where magic is real, the Americas haven’t rebelled from England, the Mongolians totally won in China, and “the United Nations” refers to the confederacy of Native American tribes holding their own against invaders in the western part of North America.
  • It is just a stated fact that requires no explanation that the former Director of the agency has been turned into a Hyacinth Macaw. I do love a story with that level of absurdity.

I was all in for the series.

“Agent -Sully- Sullivan is one of the top cops in the Imperial Bureau of Investigation. A veteran witch of the British Empire who isn’t afraid to use her magical skills to crack a case. But Sully might need more than a good education and raw power to stop the string of grisly murders that have been springing up across the American Colonies. Every one of them marked by the same chilling calling card, a warning in the form of a legion of voices screaming out through the killers’ mouths: -It IS tHe YEAr oF the KNife.-

Sully’s investigation will drag her away from the comforts of home in New Amsterdam, the beautiful but useless hyacinth macaw that used to be her boss, and the loving arms of her undead girlfriend, in a thrilling race against time, demonic forces and a shadowy conspiracy that will do anything to keep its hold on power and ensure that Sully takes their secrets to her grave, as soon as possible.”

I moved quickly on to the second book in the series. These aren’t books that you can read out of sequence. You would be totally lost. The world building is complex but easily understandable.

“Demons and serial killers are Iona “Sully” Sullivan’s bread and butter, but nothing could have prepared her to face off against the full weight of the British Empire at the height of its power. With the War for American Independence in full swing, she finds even her prodigious talents pushed beyond their limits when citizens of the American Colonies begin vanishing amidst rumours of crop circles, hydra sightings and worse.

Through a wild and lethal adventure that will see her clashing with the Empire around the world and beyond, the only constants in Sully’s life are an undead girlfriend, a giant demon crow that seems to be trying to court her, regular assassination attempts by enemies on all sides and the cold certainty that nothing and nobody is going to make it out of this war in one piece.”

It is always hard to review a book that is far along in a series without spoiling anything in the books that come before it. Book two ended with Sully in a professionally triumphant but personally devastated place. Book three starts with her trying to bring herself back to the person she used to be, if she can. Her enemies don’t know that she isn’t the force that ended the war anymore and their fear of messing with her may be the only thing keeping her alive. What happens if they find out her secrets?

“In the aftermath of the war, Iona “Sully” Sullivan has lost everything; her job, her friends, her fiancé and even her magic. But when an old friend shows up on her doorstep, offering her the chance to undo one of her long litany of mistakes, there is still enough of the old Sully left to get her on the first boat to Hong Kong. A stranger in a strange land, Sully must navigate alien customs, werebear chefs, the blossoming criminal underworld, religious extremists, Mongol agents, vampire separatists, and every other freak, maniac or cosmic leftover with an iota of power as they all compete for a chance at the most valuable prize in all the world; a little sailor doll named Eugene, and the last wish on earth.”

I’d recommend this series to anyone who loves highly imaginative alternate history laced with magic and humor.