Hairdressers, demonic creatures and magic come to clash.
The never-ending fight between good and evil takes place even in the most unexpected battlefields and seeing it happen in a world of hairdressers and witches was something I didn’t quite expect – and what a pleasant surprise.
[WARNING: No spoilers ahead]
However, first thing first: I became familiar with the author – Raven Darkly, who perhaps has the most fitting pen name I’ve ever encountered – inside Twitter’s #WritingCommunity, and the decision to make her book the first one to be reviewed here came out of admiration.
Just go read her blog and you’ll know what I’m talking about: her style is about as compelling as her courage, and her strength as an individual is a clear presence between every line of her posts.
But back to the book now.
“A String of Fate” takes place in Austin, Texas, where Cherri‘s – a dyslexic, fascinating woman who practices witchcraft – lucky balance at her workplace Impossible Expectations is disrupted by a newcomer in Eden, a strange woman whose influence seems to loom over everything around them.
The story beings with a weird, perhaps disorienting dream-like scene that will keep you wanting for more as things get suddenly back to a somewhat normal daily life description that doesn’t escape the tone that Raven is able to set right off the bat: mysterious, decadent, somber.
Cherri’s fascinating personality is something you can feel right away as if her magic came out of the book to charm you just like she does with the other characters around her: her fellow witch Arlyn, her best friend Matthew and Randall, a cheesy guy who’s madly in love with her but is too average to really catch her attention. Despite the book’s length – I finished it in a few hours – Raven shows good characterization skills by giving the reader all they need to know about these characters and goes on to intertwine their relationships and behaviors in a convincing way.
Throughout A String of Fate, which is part of a series called “The Hairdressers of Horror“, Raven reflects a couple of times on social media and their role in today’s absurd expectations people have from reality, as well as on interpersonal relationships and the role they play in our life.
These elements give a strong sense of realism that makes the presence of magic an appreciated one even when it gets more pervasive, giving space to the historical war between the good and evil forces of this world and the other.
A String of Fate is an original take on usual witchcraft-related stories and horror, and my only complaint about it is that I wanted the story to last more.
The book flows pretty well and Raven Darkly’s sense of rhythm is constant throughout the whole story – she takes you higher and higher in the climax scale, forcing you to turn the pages and pulling the floor from beneath your feet with solid “holy fuck” moments of things you didn’t see coming.
A String of Fate doesn’t even lack a sense of humor, showing off the author’s uncommon ability to make the people laugh – for real.
I’m on high expectations when it comes to the second installment of The Hairdressers of Horror: where does that magic come from? How will Cherri deal with what she learns at the and, and will she get some help when push comes to shove again?