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REVIEW: Before the Witches by Karina Cooper

Dear Ms. Cooper:

When I first received the ARC to Blood of the Wicked, I set it aside. The title and cover looked clearly like a vampire novel and well, I just wasn’t in the mood for YAVR (yet another vampire romance). Then I received a promotional email that said something something “steampunk” and I ran to get the book. This book was a sexy steampunk romance???? Alas, no, the something something steampunk was a note that you, the author, were into steampunk. The book was not about vampires, I was told, but about witches. Witches? Meh. Witches and their woo woo spells really aren’t my thing. I packed up the book and sent it to Shuzluva.

karina cooper before the witchesThen I received an email with an ARC of Before the Witches. Again, with the Witches! But it was one of the Avon Impulse titles and I wanted to see what they were putting out there as original digital fiction.

I could tell by the first page that these were not my mama’s witch stories. Katya Zhuvova is cast out or runs away because she has the gift of knowing, a witch’s gift. She ends up part of a Russian prostitution ring but servicing men on her back or her knees is better than being dead. Katya also doesn’t intend to stay in the whorehouse. She is working on a plan to free herself and the other girls (girls being the key word here). Vice detective Nigel Ferris intends to bring down the prostitution ring and poses as a dirty cop enjoying the pleasures of the prostitution house.

Before either Nigel or Katya can put their plans in motion, the world literally begins to fall down around them. He and Katya have an immediate and believable attraction. Through the course of the short, the two bond in a way that only survivors can. The writing is strong and the characters are vivid and the loss of life is high, making their bond all the more precious.

The setup and the length worked perfectly for this novella. In an apocalyptic setting, I think a longer story would have been hard to read and wouldn’t have ended on such a note of hopefulness. Additionally, I think the reader would have expected more exploration of the emotional losses both Nick and Katya suffered. However, it did provide a whole story with great action and a believable romance in about 90 pages and at $1.99, I think readers are really getting their money’s worth.

This novella was totally unexpected and in a good way. I flailed around my house looking for Blood of the Wicked before I remembered I had sent it off to Shuzluva. Avon, however, came to my rescue and sent novel to me. I’m a new witch fan, who knew?


Best regards,


Book Link | Kindle | nook
| Sony| KoboBooks

P.S. The cover is kind of a disappointment. Not the fault of the author, of course, but … hope the covers get better, Avon Impulse.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Vanessa Jaye
    May 18, 2011 @ 21:02:45

    Both books sound interesting. I just downloaded the novella on Kindle, but it’s $3.99 on Amazon ($1.99 @ Sony) and added the novel to my wish list. Btw, the Nook link goes to the wrong book.

  2. Vanessa Jaye
    May 18, 2011 @ 21:13:39

    Both books sound interesting. I just downloaded the novella on Kindle, but it’s $3.99 on Amazon ($1.99 at Sony). Also added the novel to my wish list. Btw, the Nook link goes to the wrong book.

  3. Let’s Talk About Things That Matter | Karina Cooper
    May 22, 2011 @ 19:51:59

    […] So, to everyone who purchased my novella, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. For those of you who haven’t jumped on the end of the world bandwagon, check it out! For $1.99, you can’t really go wrong. Dear Author says so. […]

  4. Thanking our June Advertisers | Dear Author
    Jun 11, 2011 @ 19:59:09

    […] Avon Impulse, novella length stories. I recommend Before the Witches. […]

  5. BOOK REVIEW: Blood of the Wicked by Karina Cooper - Dear Author
    Jul 09, 2011 @ 12:00:50

    […] who follows you, me or Jane on twitter or who read this probably caught the tempest in a teacup over the disappearing book. For those who haven’t a […]

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