Sometime during the pandemic (I think), I picked up this book called Three Mages and a Margarita. I’m not entirely sure why. Maybe because I’m a sucker for a good marg. Or maybe because the description of a take no shit female lead tickled my fancy, but I got this book via Amazon Kindle Unlimited and I plowed through it in less than a day. Then I binged the rest of the series that had been written.
The Guild Codex: Spellbound series (currently 8 books, not sure if it’ll be more. Felt wrapped up, but who knows?) follows human girl Tori. She lives in Vancouver, BC and she’s a little bit of a screw up. She’s got a temper and it’s cost her a few jobs. Jobs she needs, because she doesn’t exactly have an education to fall back on. If you can’t tell, she had a shitty childhood (mom left, dad abusive – standard issue backstory).
Desperate to find a job, she stumbles upon a pub called the Crow & Hammer. Normally, a human wouldn’t be able to find it, as it’s hidden from a straight human’s eyes. Tori just bullheaded her way through the enchantment, served up some quality cocktails and found herself with a job. Initially, people tried to keep the weirdness on the DL, but as Tori isn’t stupid, she noticed. And confronted people. And then immediately wanted in because magic is cool.
The Spellbound books follow her through her travails of getting a hold of magical objects that she can use, convincing MagiPol (the police of the arcane using humans) that she’s really a low-level witch, having a strange love triangle with two of her good friends at the bar (actually a Guild of magic users) and trying to save one of those two in particular. The books are, admittedly, a little formulaic and Tori isn’t the most complex character I’ve read, but the world building is really, really fun.
There are three other Guild Codex series (Demonized, Warped and Unveiled), each following a different character. Warped follows unlikely MPD agent Kit Morris, who was essentially blackmailed into becoming an agent. Kit has the ability to make people see and even feel (like a physical sensation, not an emotional sensation) things with just his mind. Demonized follows a mousy kind of girl named Robin who accidentally binds herself to a demon to rescue him from her horrible family members (all of whom are demon summoners). Robin and her demon are very interesting characters and I kind of identify with her most because she’s a shy, bookish sort of girl.
Unveiled follows the unlikely named Saber Rose, a very young witch who was convicted of murdering her aunt and now is in magical rehab somewhere east of Vancouver. She’s possibly the most interesting character Annette Marie has written. She’d damaged, through no fault of her own. She comes to us having already committed murder and isn’t at all sorry about it (Aunt was abusive, duh). She believes herself a low powered witch, but is in reality a very high powered mage. She has amnesia of the events surrounding the murder, so she’s forgotten that she knew a young boy who turned out to be the rogue Crystal Druid (from the Spellbound series). Her series is on-going, and I’ve already pre-ordered the 3rd book.
These books are seriously fun and feature strong female leads. None of them are perfect, which makes them interesting. And even though Robin (Demonized) is kind of a damsel, they don’t generally default to that ‘big strong man save me!’ cliche. I look forward to future books and to checking out her other series. Rating: A+. Check it out if you’re looking for some fun, quick reads.