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  • In Graves Below

    I received a free copy of this book from the author and voluntarily reviewed it. After two 3 star reads and a DNF book I was afraid I was going to tumble into one of a reading slumps. I couldn't figure out which book I wanted to read, until I scrolled past this one. It was exactly the type of book I was in the mood for and picking up a book by a favorite author is always a good idea. I love the way Carol Van Natta crafts her stories and how realistic and relatable the main characters are. As this book was exactly the right type of story I was in the mood for I feel like I enjoyed it even more than I usually would have, which was great. In Graves Below follows the story of Riya and Idrián, after a chance encounter in the dreamwalk Idrián is determined to find her again in the real world as she's his dreampartner. Once they meet in real life they have the same instant connection as in the dreamworld, but there's no time to get to know each other slowly as a demon is trying to wreak havoc in the human world and Riya and Idrián are the only ones who can stop them. Just like all of Carol Van Natta's main character I immediately took a liking to both Riya and Idrián. Riya is a dancer and composer. She's open minded and creative and I liked her. She has some minor, but awesome, door magic. She has some struggles at the company she currently works at. Idrián is a veteran who lost his lower leg in a bomb accident in Afghanistan and has burn wounds all over his face. He is the sole heir of his family's ranch and has to find his dreampartner and train new dreamwarriors to keep everything his ancestors build intact. He has some earth magic, can dreamwalk and see the spirits of his ancestors. And together these two are awesome. They have this instant chemistry, but also take time to get to know each other and spend time together before they move things further. While the romance is pretty fast paced, I liked that they only have sex till later in the book and that their connection and love for each other was clear. I loved how Riya only saw the man and not the scars and wounds Idrián had. I enjoyed reading about these two and how they fight the demon(s). There is also some cool dance magic and the dreamwalk thing was pretty interesting too. And some of Idrián's ancestors who stop by in their spirit form and offer sometimes unwelcome advice. At first I was afraid I would feel like I was missing pieces as I haven't read any other books in the Magic, New Mexico world created by SE Smith. But In Graves Below can perfectly be read as a standalone. I never felt like I was missing anything and I wasn't even able to tell whether any of the side characters we met have their own story or are just side characters. The world building was explained well enough like what I would expect from a first book in a series, enough to follow the story, but leaves me curious to discover more. I liked the world building and it has a bit of a similar feel to Carol Van Natta's Ice Age Shifter's series. There is a magical town called Magic, but Idrián actually lives outside it's borders, so we only get to see a bit of it. It's clear there is a variety of magic types and creatures out there, but the book only focuses on the magic the main characters have and a bit about the people they meet. Which worked well and also makes me curious to learn more about this world, so I might check out more books set in this world. To summarize: I really enjoyed In Graves Below. Riya and Idrián felt realistic and believable as main character and they both had their own struggles. They were awesome together and I liked how they had this instant connection, but still took some time to get to know each other before jumping in bed together. I really could feel the love and connection between these two. I liked how Riya didn't even see Idrián's scars and only saw the man he was and never thought less of him because of it. While part of the Magic, new Mexico world this story can easily be read as a standalone and I never felt like I was missing anything. It did make me curious to see more of this world. The world building was done well and focused on the parts and magic related to the main characters. It was a great read and I liked spending time with these characters.

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  • Well written gravy train

    Magic, New Mexico is the gravy train here. The book itself is well written, if a little long and convoluted, but besides mentioning Magic, New Mexico and being at the Diner, none of the relevant characters who make Magic magic, are involved.

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