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Review: The Watcher Series by Lilith Saintcrow

Mindhealer (Watcher, Book 5) Mind­heal­er by Lilith Saint­crow

My review


rat­ing: 3 of 5 stars
I’m actu­al­ly review­ing all five of the Watch­er books. They’re quite short—novella length, really—and very much inter­re­lat­ed (espe­cial­ly the first four). I read all of them in about a day and a half, despite doing oth­er things. I do advise tak­ing them all in row, which is the equiv­a­lent of read­ing one “nor­mal” nov­el.

Dark Watch­er opens in San­ti­a­go City (aka Saint City), with a quar­tet of witch­es. Mind­heal­er is the only book that takes place out­side of San­ti­a­go City, which seems to be the pri­ma­ry set­ting for all of Saint­crow’s nov­els (from what I’ve read in their descrip­tions).

Theodo­ra, earth witch and heal­er, runs the Caul­dron, an occult book and sup­ply store. Mari­amne Niege (water witch, prog­nos­ti­ca­tor) and Elise Nichol­son (fire witch) work for her in addi­tion to being, respec­tive­ly, a grad­u­ate stu­dent and a musi­cian. Suzanne (air witch, I don’t believe we ever learn her last name) is Elise’s fos­ter moth­er and their teacher, some­thing of a high priest­ess to the lit­tle group.

The four women know that they’re psy­chic and that “mag­ick” is real. They don’t know that they are “Light­bringers,” that there are groups and crea­tures in the world that hunt them, or that a group called Cir­cle Light­fall trains and sends out “Watch­ers” to pro­tect (and recruit) Light­bringers in order to coun­ter­bal­ance the dark­ness in the world.

Watch­ers are for­mer­ly wicked men with some psy­chic tal­ents who have been giv­en a chance to redeem them­selves. They are bond­ed with a tanak, a dark sym­biote that gives them super­nat­ur­al speed, strength, heal­ing pow­er, and longevi­ty. The tanak also makes it pos­si­ble for them to sense dark­ness, but it caus­es the Watch­ers to expe­ri­ence pain when­ev­er they’re around Light­bringers.

The catch is that for every Watch­er, there is one Witch whose pres­ence and touch will be intense­ly plea­sur­able instead of tor­tur­ous. The hope of find­ing that one witch is what keeps each Watch­er going, fight­ing and sur­viv­ing hor­rif­ic wounds for one chance at hap­pi­ness.

The use of the tired soul­mate meme (though that spe­cif­ic word is nev­er used) is annoy­ing, and it detracts from what is oth­er­wise a fair­ly orig­i­nal con­cept. The fact that there are only male Watch­ers, though there are a few (most­ly queer) male light­bringers, is a big­ger dis­ap­point­ment. The rea­son­ing giv­en is that women do not have the vicious­ness to kill with­out hes­i­ta­tion. That’s sim­plis­tic, at best. Male light­bringers are also paint­ed as weak­er than females, and that, in com­bi­na­tion with the pedestal upon which Watch­ers place Light­bringers, unbal­ances the nov­els.

Theodo­ra is the main sub­ject of the first book. Mari­amne is the focus of Storm Watch­er. Fire Watch­er, of course, is pri­mar­i­ly about Elise. We meet a new air witch, Anya Har­ris, in Cloud Watch­er. And final­ly, Mind­heal­er is about Caro Rob­bins, whose broth­er plays a small part in Fire Watch­er.

The books should cer­tain­ly be clas­si­fied as romances first, although they do have very strong para­nor­mal themes. Every book fol­lows the clas­sic romance nov­el for­mu­la. The fact that I kept read­ing despite my dis­like of romances is a tes­ta­ment to Saint­crow’s tal­ent.

I sus­pect that the author either is pagan, or is very famil­iar with pagan prac­tices. The rit­u­als in each nov­el are nice­ly done, and I would­n’t be sur­prised to hear peo­ple using some of the invo­ca­tions used in Cir­cle.

I do have to pro­pose the Watch­er drink­ing game. Take a shot every time there’s any men­tion of treat­ing a Watch­er “dread­ful­ly,” and every time a Watch­er moans about how unwor­thy he is to be in the pres­ence of a Light­bringer. You’ll be past notic­ing any for­mu­lae in no time!

View all my reviews.

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