Review- Red-Headed Stepchild

Jaye Wells
Urban Fantasy
325 pages
Sabina Kane #1
Chapter 1
Orbit Books

In a world where being of mixed blood is a major liability, Sabina doesn't really fit in. And being an assassin - the only profession fit for an outcast - doesn't help matters.  But she's never brought her work home. Until now.

Her latest mission is uncomfortably complex and threatens the fragile peace between the vampire and mage races.  As Sabina scrambles to figure out which side she's on, she uncovers a tangled political web, some nasty facts about her family, and some unexpected new talents.  Any of these things could be worryingly life changing, but together they could be fatal...

I am not going to admit how long Red-Headed Stepchild has been hanging out in the infamous TBR pile, I've always loved how fierce the woman on the cover looks.  So, when my good friend Kristin, physically mailed me a copy because of her love for the series I finally cracked it open, and I'm so glad I did.

Sabina Kane is a unique new voice among UF heroines.  She has a very conflicting personality, which made it easy for me to become attached to her. {I like puzzles}  She's strong, confident and takes no shit from noone, but on the other hand she's blind and a little desperate, doing what she's told to do {even if she thinks she shouldn't} just so she can feel like she has a place among her people.  See, Sabina is half mage and half vampire and the two species despise each other. So the vampire grandmother who raised her, never lets her forget that she thinks Sabina is an abomination.  Can you understand why I say readers will quickly have a place in their heart for her?  

Wait until you meet Giguhl, Sabina's demon side-kick. I mean come on, his name can be pronounced "GIGGLE" for crying out loud. They strike up an easy bond and their personalities are great compliments. He adds a different kind of comic relief, and I really really hope he's staying on for the rest of the series!
When I got home that night, I found Giguhl lying on my couch in my hot pink kimono.
"Nice robe," I said by way of greeting.  He ignored me and continued watching Jerry Springer.  I dropped my stuff on the kitchen table and plopped into the armchair.
"Mortals are silly," he said finally. "What's a 'baby daddy' anyway?"
On the screen, a woman with serious dental hygiene issues was beating a man upside the head. "I guess you don't get to watch much TV in Irkalla."
He propped his head on one scaly bicep and turned to look at me. "Nah. We stayed busy torturing the souls of the damned and playing hide the hot poker. You know, the usual."
The story is slightly predictable, but the fast pace Wells sets pushes the reader to "have-to-know" status pretty quickly.  Mostly, I appreciated Wells' new take on the supernatural species of magicians, vampires, and more.  There are a few new vampire traits such as, vampires all having red hair, which UF readers will appreciate. But the most unique spin in Wells' world is the fact that none of the races get along, which makes a lot more sense to me.  Immortality {or even living 1000 years like Wells' mages} can bring with it, major superiority complexes. So I easily believed that each cast, believed they were the top dog. Even though we dont get the full history on any one species, the racism between them adds it's own unique drama to the story and forces the reader and it's heroine to choose a side. 

Bottom Line: An entertaining series opener with a complex heroine, quick plot, and rich secondary characters {one of whom may or may not be a hunky mage} I'm proud to be a new fan.

3.5 stars


  1. This is on my amazon wishlist...I just haven't convinced myself to buy it yet...

  2. Oh this sounds interesting! Nice review Jess.

  3. Carrie: Very quick and entertaining. Shall be add it to the Jess pile, next time I see you :P

    Julie: I think this might be another series you should look at

  4. I enjoy this series. I wasn't in love with this debut, the 2nd and 3rd books I enjoyed even more! Giguhl starts stealing the show as the series progresses. heeheehee

  5. That book sounds really interesting. I'm sure it can start getting a little tough for writers to come up with unique plots when so many people are delving into UF right now but I like the fact that ALL the races don't like each other instead of just a few with everyone else standing on the side lines...I also like the thought of all vampires having red hair!

  6. Kristin: :)

    Pam: Yay! More Giguhl

    Deanna: Feuding paranormal races is all win

  7. Agreed! Always makes for crazy drama that you just cant' help but eat up! :-P