Monday, February 15, 2010

Immortals: The Haunting by Robin T. Popp

Mai Groves is a wood nymph who also holds down a job as an investigative reporter. But after a horrible incident with a demon, she's been suffering PTSD and seeing a psychologist. The PTSD is playing hell with her career, and her boss let her go because if she wasn't writing, he couldn't keep paying her. So when her former boss calls to tell her that her therapist has been killed, she's shocked, but she stopped seeing him a few weeks ago.

Soon afterwards, she experiences a vivid hallucination of being beaten and then being saved by a dark man whose face she cannot see. When she comes back to herself- everything is back to normal, and she shows no evidence of being beaten or mauled- which seriously makes her wonder if she is over her PTSD. All that's missing after her personal brown-out is a series of notes she took at a meeting with her informant- because she is working on another story.

Alone in her apartment that she used to share with her roommate Lexi (who is now married to Darius, the Immortal, Mai takes a shower and is freaked out by a message that appears on her steamy bathroom mirror, so she immediately moves to a new apartment, too freaked out to ever return to her old one.

But the new apartment has problems, too. The building's super stands entirely too close for her liking, and keeps making suggestive comments indicating he'd like to take her to bed, which freak Mai out, but not enough that she wants to move. She meets a pair of sisters living in an adjacent apartment, Sarah and Rachel, and quickly bonds with them over her former job and the freaky super.

But unbeknownst to them, the freaky super is actually some kind of magician, who inherited a genie that lives inside a mirror, and who can look into any mirror inside the apartment building. Forever on the make, he wants to have sex with every pretty girl in the building, but he's an indifferent mage who keeps messing up with his spells because of his poor wording when making his wishes.

When he tells the spirit to kidnap Mai, instead, the spirit grabs Sarah, who resembles Mai. Meanwhile, Mai has contacted a shifter with skills at dream healing and interpreting visions, John Blackhawk, to come and help her. But when he first meets her, she has hardly unpacked any of her clothes, and can only find the ones she goes clubbing in, so when he meets her, he thinks she's a stripper or a whore, and a present from his friend, Dave. Because Dave always sends him that kind of present on his birthday.

Once Mai gets over being offended, she and John return to her building, because since she's talked to him, the mirror in the building seemed to open up when she reached out to touch it. But when she did it again later, it was solid once more, and she thinks it was a dream- or hallucination. John protects her from Super by pretending to be her boyfriend, but he gets a bad feeling from the man also.

But when John gets Will, the handyman, to admit that his spirit kidnapped Sarah, it will be up to all of them to get her back. But when the spirit in the mirror takes Sarah's form, will they be able to get the real Sarah back and banish the spirit of the "genie" that took her in the first place? And can Jack, who has discovered that Mai is his destined mate, convince her of that, and that he didn't reject her when he thought another woman was his mate, and that he does sincerely want her?

But who and what sent Mai fleeing from her original apartment, and can John protect her from a man who wants her dead?

I liked this book. The characters and story were very enjoyable, and coming off the book of short stories, Immortal, the Reckoning, which ended with a story by Robin T. Popp, made this one easy to get into. And even though I really read them in the wrong order and knew the outcome of what happened with Sarah, it was still an engrossing and engaging read.

I liked the interplay of the characters of Mai and John, and Will came across as a very real kind of person. Lots of women have met someone like him, someone who tries to come across as helpful, but he creeps you out because you can just sense he has an ulterior motive for "helping". That motive being, he wants to get in your pants. So that made him authentically creepy in my book.

As for the other characters, well, Mai may be part wood nymph, but we never get any idea of her powers. She could be just another human for how much her powers come into the book. Would I recommend this book? Yes, I would. It was an interesting and entertaining mystery with characters that were interesting to read.

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