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Review – Spiral Path (Night Calls #3) by Katharine Kimbriel

Spiral Path cover image

Publisher: Book View Cafe
Publish Date: Out now
Reviewed by: E
How I got this book: ARC from the author

“The world is woven of secrets.”

Ritual magic mixes dangerously with wild magic. Yet Alfreda Sorensson’s talent has grown until she becomes a target for worldly and unworldly powers. Now, to save her soul, she must leave her pioneer home in the Michigan Territory to take refuge at an elite New York school, where her wild magic places her in direct conflict with the ritual taught to young Americans and Europeans.

Alfreda suspects that half the professors may not be human at Windward Academy. It’s a curious place, a last chance for students who can’t control their powers, and a place where everything is a test, in one way or another.

At first Alfreda thinks her greatest challenge will be mastering ritual. Then she learns that traitors have infiltrated the school–and the new nation. War looms between the United States and England, and Alfreda answers the call. Only after she spies her way into an enemy magician’s estate does she learn the true challenge of her own power–

Because when dark magic finds her, she’s utterly on her own.
This blurb came from Book View Café.

Earlier this year I discovered Kimbriel when Book View Café re-released the first of her Night Calls series and an auto-buy author/editor did a blog post on it. I decided to buy Night Calls and give it a try. I enjoyed the first one so much I had to squeeze in a review here. Then I started trying to see what else I could discover by Kimbriel and not too much later Book View Café released her second Night Calls story Kindred Rites which I also really enjoyed. So when I heard she was working on the third, Spiral Path, a new release I was really excited. Happily, the magic present so many years ago when the first two were initially released is still present. Once I started reading I think I looked up when I was finished, realized I was starving and then discovered it was after 8 at night and I hadn’t had dinner yet. Nothing was able to pull me out of Alfreda’s latest adventure.

After the traumatic events in Kindred Rites Alfreda and her aunt thought they would be able to rest a bit in Alfreda’s home while helping her mother through the final stages of her confinement. However, Alfreda had come to the attention of some of the wild powers and they decided it was time to give her a little nudge. As a result of participating in two births of those with unusual powers Alfreda’s aunt decided it was time for Alfreda to become formally trained in one of the other disciplines so they headed East to school.

I really enjoyed Alfreda’s recounting of the school, the people, and a series of minor escapades. I thought it was great they were flexible enough to allow Alfreda to both teach and learn as she set their usual student and instructor pecking order awry. I am very curious to find out more regarding some of the instructors and who/what they really are not to mention wondering if/where/what the other maids who assist the female students are and if the male students have similar helpers. One of the trademarks I love in this series is how every action happens for a reason so Alfreda learned something from every encounter and every discovery regardless of how innocent or benign appearing was another building block into who and what she will become.

Not that the school and its surroundings were completely safe because she was an unknown who didn’t quite fit the expected in ability, knowledge, behavior, or even awareness of social strata. As a result she was tested in unexpected ways – sometimes by those who should have been supporting her. Yet she had fun and found herself almost belonging. However, I have some concerns for one or two of her classes in particular because I am not sure her instructors have her best interests in mind. Yet Alfreda had protectors. Some from before her trip to school and others she gained while at school which is a very good thing because I think she has also made some dangerous enemies who are physically closer than her family.

Alfreda also seems to have a very slow growing romance I first caught the seeds of in Night Calls. I am hoping it continues to grow because it has such a sweet innocent feel which appears to counter some of the ugliness Alfreda encounters and provide some grounding. Not to mention the fact Shaw brought his own surprises and power to their encounters. I loved the addition of new supporting characters human and otherwise. I found myself very interested in them and I can’t wait to see what additional roles they play in Alfreda’s life.

In the Night Calls series Kimbriel has developed a very complex world and populated it with intriguing memorable characters. As much as Alfreda learned along the way she was constantly forced to innovate and put those tools to use in a different manner than perhaps intended. In addition to Alfreda’s changes those around her change and grow as does the world. Not all of the changes are for the positive and I think based on some events in Spiral Path Kimbriel is working her way up to a rather major confrontation of sorts. I am seriously hooked on this series and I can’t wait for the next installment. I also need to make it a priority to investigate the rest of Kimbriel’s backlist (I have one moving up the TBR pile).

I give Spiral Path an A

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By E_booklover

E is addicted to books. She discovered at an early age that not only were they her transport to far off worlds, adventures, and exotic cultures, but that she ran into far fewer objects if she walked while reading then if she wasn't reading. She reads across several genres, such as: romance, western,mystery, SF/F and its derivatives. She isn't too picky except for good characterization, settings she can imagine, and a story that flows logically... umm so ok -- she wants a good story. Have any to recommend?

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