Title: Deadline, Bloodbath, Flytrap
Series: Harrietta Lee: Books One, Two, and Three
Author: Stephanie Ahn
Lengths: 121 Pages, 397 Pages, 293 Pages
Category: Urban Fantasy
Rating: 5 Stars
At a Glance: The binge-worthiness of this series is top tier. I couldn’t put it down until I devoured every word, thanks in large part to Harrietta herself and the impeccable skill with which Stephanie Ahn tells a story that made me need to keep turning pages to see what would happen next.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: Deadline: Disgraced witch Harrietta Lee has made a lot of mistakes in her life; there’s a reason she’s got a sizable burn scar slapped across the side of her neck and a formal letter of excommunication from the international underground magical community. But who has time to dwell on the past when you’re trying to make rent in New York?
Things are mostly clean and simple, until her next odd job is brought to her by the representative of a powerful corporate family—a family she once had close personal ties to. As she unwillingly digs through six years’ worth of personal baggage, she’s also got to contend with an inhuman admirer shadowing her in the street.
But hey, maybe it’ll be worth it for the beautiful women she gets to kiss…
Bloodbath: Harrietta Lee has a friend who can see the future, and she’s just gone missing.
She’s not the only one. There are too many disappearances to count, and Harry can’t be everywhere at once–which is why she’s enlisting the help of a fumbling, fedora-clad detective, a programmer who moonlights as a DJ, and your friendly neighborhood demon, Lilith.
Well, “help” is a relative term…
Flytrap: Harrietta Lee’s demons have come back to haunt her. Two demons, to be exact: one who tried to buy her ex-girlfriend’s soul, and another who invaded her dreams for six months.
To make matters worse, Harry’s falling in love.
Review: Harrietta “Harry” Lee isn’t a licensed PI, but she’s leagues away from being an amateur sleuth too. Harry has plenty of experience under her suit and tie as the excommunicated blood witch folks call on when life comes at them hard and they don’t know where else to turn. She has earned her reputation for solving problems, but Harry also has a tendency to be impulsive and reckless, meaning sometimes she creates those problems herself. This does not do her any favors in the let’s-not-die-now-okay? department, but it does go some way towards helping her solve a case. Harry doesn’t have a death wish; it’s just that when it comes down to her fight or flight response, the flight option is often off the table because the fight part is already beating her to a violent, bloody pulp. I must say Harrietta Lee does know how to break the rules with flair, and she’s got the scar on her neck to prove it.
Harry is, of course, now my new favorite antihero.
The Harrietta Lee series is some outstanding Urban Fantasy filled with monsters and mystery and all things metaphysical. New York City provides the backdrop to a world where witches, vampires, the occasional demon, etc., dwell among the regular citizens, and there is never a moment when Harry’s past isn’t affecting her and her surroundings. When we talk about the past coming back to haunt a character, it’s often in the figurative sense. For Harry it’s literal, and it’s used to reveal her as a person as much as it is to deliver all the danger and mayhem to her doorstep.
Author Stephanie Ahn introduces Harrietta in the short novel Deadline, which served me more than enough cunning and intrigue and action to thoroughly hook me when Harry is offered a rather generous sum of money to search for a prominent family’s most valuable possession. This missing asset carries some dire consequences for the family if not found and returned, and the investigation takes Harry on a journey into the underbelly of NYC, where she encounters some . . . interesting things.
The story has plenty of curious twists and curiouser turns, and gives Harry a few unexpected adversaries to get past if she’s going to succeed in solving her case. This book is also where we learn that masochism is Harry’s kink, never one to turn down a good flogging and grateful to the domme delivering it. Readers learn why she was excommunicated too, and I have a feeling there’s still much to learn about this utterly compelling witch.
Bloodbath, book two in the series, plunges readers into a gripping story. The danger is no less intense than in Deadline, but this book’s emotion is decidedly sharper and its desperation more acute. It’s also one of the most literally titled books ever, so let me offer a caution here, which applies throughout the series: if you get squeamish about blood, guts, gore, and detailed depictions of characters being stabbed, shot, skinned, beheaded—you get the picture—please be aware that Ahn does not hold back on the slightest details of the violence inherent in Harry’s world. Rather than gratuitous, however, these scenes serve as a stark contradiction to Harry’s vulnerability and honor and humanity and the way she cares about her family and friends and complete strangers in a harsh and often unforgiving world.
When Harry is hired by a woman to find her missing teenage son, the case becomes much more complex and complicated than a single missing person. It turns out someone is luring and kidnapping magical beings and mundanes alike, and one of Harry’s friends, Joy, is among them. Harry’s intense need to find and rescue these people commingles with the sense of despair that she may not succeed when she is pitted against a powerful adversary. This is a story of wins and losses, the losses being of the sort that compound Harry’s grief and challenge her resolve. Her grief is persistent, her guilt is a torment, and they both present in ways that linger, sometimes cruelly.
Flytrap is the most recent installment and offers readers something different but no less intense. I haven’t mentioned Lilith yet, the demon with whom Harry has not only cut a deal for ownership of her soul, but Lilith and Harry also have some pretty intense and kinky sex (hello, Bloodbath). That is, until Lilith cuts and runs because she knows Harry’s life is far too dangerous for this demon to get involved in. Lilith does eventually become something of a friend and confidante, though, as Harry struggles with that past I mentioned before and the nightmares that threaten her very sanity as well as her safety. A demon of some reputation, a demon Harry used and embarrassed, a demon she thought dead, is back (maybe never went away) and has vowed to exact his revenge on her and destroy her and everything she holds dear. Including her sister, Luce, and the new woman in her life, Kate, with whom Harry is falling into deep, deep like. Maybe even love.
This book delves further into Harry’s past and how she came to be who she is in this moment, how she got from Seoul to New York City, what she sacrificed when she left South Korea behind. Once again, the storyline gives readers a different emotional pitch but is no less gruesome than the books before as we watch Harry witness the return of her enemy while struggling to hold herself together and depriving herself of sleep in order to avoid him. It’s a bit of agony to watch her want to have something like a normal life when her circumstance are about as abnormal as they can get.
Harry’s allies have been forced to distance themselves from her out of self-preservation, and she has been forced to distance herself from family and friends in an effort to keep them safe. Even her relationship with Kate stalls before it barely gets going. Until, that is, Harry’s nemesis decides to use Kate as a means of getting to Harry. Then all bets are off, and Harry does what she does best—nearly gets herself killed while being the hero of her story.
The binge-worthiness of this series is top tier. I couldn’t put it down until I devoured every word, thanks in large part to Harrietta herself and the impeccable skill with which Stephanie Ahn tells a story that made me need to keep turning pages to see what would happen next. Which was usually Harrietta getting the crap beat out of her and surviving to fight again another day.
You can buy Deadline here:
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You can buy Bloodbath here:
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You can buy Flytrap here:
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