Genre: Urban Fantasy

Sunday Spotlight: Soul Taken by Patricia Briggs

Posted August 21, 2022 by Holly in Features, Giveaways | 7 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

We took a break from Sunday Spotlight, but we’re bringing it back on a limited basis. I’m excited that our first SS in a while is a novel I loved from an author I adore. Soul Taken is the next installment of the Mercy Thompson series, and it doesn’t disappoint.

Sunday Spotlight: Soul Taken by Patricia BriggsSoul Taken by Patricia Briggs
Series: Mercy Thompson #13
Also in this series: Frost Burned , Night Broken, Shifting Shadows, Blood Bound, Fire Touched, Silence Fallen , Moon Called, Blood Bound , Iron Kissed, Bone Crossed , River Marked , Frost Burned, Storm Cursed , Night Broken, Fire Touched, Storm Cursed, Smoke Bitten
Publisher: Penguin, Ace
Publication Date: August 23, 2022
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 352
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: four-stars

Mercy Thompson, car mechanic and shapeshifter, must face her greatest fears in this chilling entry in the #1 New York Times bestselling series.
The vampire Wulfe is missing. Since he’s deadly, possibly insane, and his current idea of “fun” is stalking me, some may see it as no great loss. But, warned that his disappearance might bring down the carefully constructed alliances that keep our pack safe, my mate and I must find Wulfe—and hope he’s still alive. As alive as a vampire can be, anyway.
But Wulfe isn’t the only one who has disappeared. And now there are bodies, too. Has the Harvester returned to the Tri-Cities, reaping souls with his cursed sickle? Or is he just a character from a B horror movie and our enemy is someone else?
The farther I follow Wulfe’s trail, the more twisted—and darker—the path becomes. I need to figure out what’s going on before the next body on the ground is mine.

Excerpt

1

“Mercy.”

Adam peered down at me. His feral, golden eyes held my gaze. Only a few bits of darkness lingered in the bright depths, like bitter chocolate melting in butter. Icy rain dripped from his forehead onto my face, causing me to blink.

The gold was worrisome, I thought muzzily, wiping my cheek with a clumsy hand. I should pay attention to the dangerous gold in his eyes.

“Pretty,” I said.

Someone stifled a laugh, but it wasn’t Adam. His frown deepened.

I had just been . . . well, I couldn’t remember exactly, but it had definitely not been lying on the wet ground, icy rain-or possibly very wet snow-sluicing down on my face as I stared up into Adam’s wild eyes. I reached up with a hand that didn’t want to obey and closed my fist on the collar of his shirt.

Though my brain still wasn’t tracking quite right, it didn’t take much thought to make a connection between the splendid headache that seemed to be centered around my temple and my position on the ground. Something must have hit me hard. I figured I’d be-cold water dripped on my cheek-right as rain in just a minute, but judging by Adam’s expression, it might not be soon enough to prevent an explosion.

That could be bad. Worse than if Adam merely lost out to his wolf. His usual wolf. The flash memory of the twisted version of a David Cronenberg-inspired movie werewolf worrying at my throat with huge, already bloodstained teeth served to wake me more effectively than the cold water splashing my face from the skies above us had.

I sucked in a breath with a sudden surge of adrenaline that seemed to extinguish the last few dark bits of humanity in Adam’s eyes even as it left me thinking more clearly. Neither he nor I knew if the vicious monster the witch Elizaveta had cursed him to become when she died was gone or merely biding its time.

Adam had warned the pack about the possibility that he could turn into something more dangerous, a monster that he couldn’t always control. But in true werewolf fashion, they seemed to look upon it as a new superpower Adam had achieved rather than the terrifying threat it was. They hadn’t witnessed it firsthand.

After the full moon had come and only Adam’s usual wolf form had answered that call, Adam had been relieved. His temper, already easily roused, had continued to be on an even-shorter-than-usual fuse, but I thought that could be attributed to the unusual strain of the past few months. And yet . . .

I examined my mate’s face for a hint of the monster and saw . . . Adam. He carried the experiences of this past year, and despite the werewolf-bestowed youth, his eyes looked older. There was a tightness to his features due to the bite of Elizaveta’s curse and the various horrors of the past few months. He still had the confident air that was so much a part of him, but now it looked as though it was riding a war-weary soldier.

I tugged a little harder on the collar of his shirt.

He blinked and a ring of darkness solidified around the outside of his irises. Reassured, I tugged hard enough to choke him, ignoring the soreness this spawned in the newly healed muscle of my right arm where an assassin had shot me shortly before Adam’s monster had eaten her.

I couldn’t have pulled Adam down to me if he hadn’t wanted to come. He was a werewolf and I wasn’t. I could have levered myself to him, but I didn’t have to make the effort. He bent down and brushed my lips lightly, with a wry tilt of one eyebrow that told me he knew what I was up to but he was willing to play my game.

He sat all the way down on the ground, ignoring the slushy mud, and hauled me into his lap. It was like sitting on a furnace. My whole body softened into him, into his warmth and the rich smell of home. For a half second there was another scent, a more rank scent-or maybe that was just my imagination, because when I inhaled again, I smelled only Adam.

I leaned my head into his shoulder, which was as hard as stone. That wasn’t just because he was tense with anger; he was just in that kind of shape. What little softness there had been was worn away, leaving only muscle and bone behind. There was no give to him, but if I’d wanted soft, I would have had to look for someone who wasn’t the Alpha of a werewolf pack. Someone who wasn’t Adam.

When my temple touched his collarbone, I hissed, and he went rigid. I’d almost forgotten. This had all begun when something had hit me in the temple and dropped me.

“Was it Bonarata?” I asked. That didn’t seem right. The Lord of Night, vampire ruler of all he could survey, was in Italy. But we’d killed all the witches, hadn’t we? Even Elizaveta was dead. And the fae-ish smoke dragon was gone to wherever fae-ish smoke dragons go.

There were a few more smothered laughs. If there were enemies around, there wouldn’t have been people laughing-and Adam wouldn’t have sat down on the ground.

Someone said, in a whisper that was not quite quiet enough, “Dang, she’s going to have another black eye.” Honey, I thought. She usually had better sense.

Adam tightened his arms and growled, a sound that no completely human throat could have made. He was very and continually unhappy about the damage I took as his mate-a position more usually filled by a human, who would have been kept out of events whenever possible, or a werewolf, who could hold her own. I wasn’t either of those things; I was a coyote shapeshifter, a member of the pack in my own right, with all the privileges and the duties that entailed. I didn’t let them-or Adam-coddle me. It wouldn’t have been good for any of us, no matter how hard it was on him.

“Hey, boss,” said Warren’s casual voice, the one he used when he thought he wasn’t talking to a rational being.

I glanced over to see that the tall, lanky cowboy had taken a deliberately relaxed stance about ten feet away. It would have been more convincing if his eyes hadn’t been showing a hint of gold. A couple of yards behind him, the pack hovered in a mud-spattered, silent aggregate.

Adam looked, too.

Under the impact of Adam’s attention, the pack backed away. Warren turned his head so he wasn’t even looking in our direction.

But his voice was still calm and steady as he continued, “You sure you should be moving her around? Mary Jo should maybe see if she has a concussion.”

Mary Jo was a firefighter, and she had EMT training.

Again, Adam didn’t answer, and the tension grew. Which was exactly the opposite effect our outing to the pumpkin patch was supposed to engender.

Our pack, the Columbia Basin Pack, was unaffiliated with any other werewolves, the only one on the North or South American continent that did not belong to Bran Cornick, the Marrok. His goal was the survival of the werewolves, and he was ruthless in that pursuit-which was why weÕd ended up on our own.

A wise pack, bereft of the Marrok’s protection, needed to keep its collective head down if it wanted to survive. Unfortunately, that wasn’t an option for us.

It wouldn’t be vanity to say there wasn’t another pack as well-known as ours anywhere, at least in the eyes of the mundane world. Adam, our Alpha, my mate, was recognizable on any street corner in the US. That had begun as an accident of his contacts in the military, his willingness to talk to news agencies, and the good looks that had been the bane of his life long before he’d become a werewolf.

But it was my fault that the whole pack suffered along with him.

A few years ago, the worst thing most of the people (and other sentient beings) living in the Tri-Cities of Washington State had to worry about on an epic scale was the possibility of one of the Hanford nuclear waste tanks-filled with the caustic sludge by-products of the early, experimental years of nuclear science-leaking its goop into the Columbia River. Or possibly exploding.

There were nearly two hundred of the aging tanks, some holding as much as a million gallons. Each tank contained a unique mix of very bad radioactive soup, and worse, due to the secretive nature of nuclear weapons development, no one really knew exactly what was in any of them.

There really were scarier things than monsters.

Anyway.

The Tri-Cities, in addition to being right next to a Superfund cleanup site, were about an hour’s drive from the Ronald Wilson Reagan Fae Reservation, which the fae had turned into their own seat of power in their (mostly) cold war with the US government.

Because it suited them and because I claimed the Tri-Cities to be under our pack’s protection (it was a stupid heat-of-the-moment thing), the fae let it be known that they acknowledged and respected the Columbia Basin Pack’s right to protect our territory and the people, mundane and supernatural alike, who lived within it. We had signed a bargain with them that we would do that-and, more significantly, they would not harm anyone under our protection.

We hadn’t had a choice, and neither, I am pretty sure, had they. But bargains with the fae, even when both parties entered into the agreement with the best of intentions, tended to end badly, which was why the Marrok had cut us loose.

No one wanted a war between the fae and the werewolves. If our pack stood alone, whatever happened between us and the fae-or the vampires, other werewolf packs, ancient gods, or demons-werewolfkind would not be forced into that conflict. Our pack’s demise would not start a war between the supernatural world and the human, so long as we stood alone.

Or so everyone hoped.

The bargain with the fae made the Tri-Cities a neutral zone where humans could rub shoulder to shoulder with the magical world because they were protected. We had suddenly become a point of interest in national, international, and supernatural politics-and there were consequences.

Weaker supernatural beings flocked to a place of (perceived) safety, causing, among other things, a housing shortage. Hotels were booked solid and the Airbnb market went through the roof, because there was now a “safe” place to go see fae mingling with regular folks.

More quietly, predators came here, too, creatures who did not think they had to worry about a mere pack of werewolves interfering in their plundering of the rich hunting ground the Tri-Cities had become. We’d killed two of those predators in the past week alone.

Our pack was fierce. Adam was awe-inspiringly awesome. We had support from the fae-though admittedly that was nearly as dangerous as it was useful. The local vampire seethe helped us for their own reasons. Our pack, all twenty-six of us, bore the brunt of protecting our territory, and because we were not affiliated with the Marrok, we weren’t going to get any more wolves very easily.

Adam had responded to the situation by turning us into a finely tuned fighting unit. Some of that meant training in fighting techniques. Some of it meant becoming a more tightly knit pack.

Which was why Adam had rented a giant pumpkin patch and corn maze on a Tuesday night in October so that our pack could play together.

Who knew that a pumpkin patch could be dangerous?

From SOUL TAKEN published by arrangement with Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright 2022 by Patricia Briggs.

Mercy Thompson

Giveaway Alert

We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

Sunday Spotlight: August 2022

Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About Patricia Briggs

Patricia is the #1 New York Times best selling author of the Mercy Thompson series and has written twenty four novels to date; she is currently writing novel number twenty five. She has short stories in several anthologies, as well as a series of comic books and graphic novels based on her Mercy Thompson and Alpha and Omega series. Patty began her career writing traditional high fantasy novels in 1993, and shifted gears in 2006 to write urban fantasy. Moon Called was the first of her signature series about Mercy; the non-stop adventure left readers wanting more and word of this exciting new urban fantasy series about a shape-shifting mechanic spread quickly. The series has continued to grow in popularity with the release of each book. Patty also writes the Alpha and Omega series, which are set in the same world as the Mercy Thompson novels; what began as a novella expanded into a full new series, all of which debuted on the NY Times bestsellers list as well.


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Review: Vampires Will Be Vampires by Isla Frost

Posted August 17, 2022 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Vampires Will Be Vampires by Isla FrostReviewer: Holly
Vampires Will Be Vampires by Isla Frost
Series: Fangs and Feathers #3
Also in this series: Dragons Are a Girl’s Best Friend
Publisher: Self-PublishedFormat: eBook
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
dnf
Series Rating: one-star

The supernaturals banished the gods from earth.They should have done a better job.
My life, as I knew it, is over.
My beloved career, my purpose, my very identity has been ripped from me. Because I now possess the devil's magic. And no one around me is safe.
Oh, and my dragon ex-partner-in-action wants my help saving the world. Again.
But this time the enemy is no mere magically-gifted human. I'm facing a vampire who's been around for a millennium, maybe two, and who has more money, experience, and influence than I can possibly imagine. A vampire who's somehow murdering the last remaining immortals. And if that's not enough, he's backed by a goddess.
I thought my new devil's magic was too much power for anyone to possess.
But I'm terrified it won't be enough to stop what's coming.
Warning: This urban fantasy series contains danger, mayhem, humor, and heart, with characters you'll fall for—including a vampire with an unbeating heart of gold, a book-hoarding dragon who eats criminals for breakfast, a mysterious faerie who's as hot as the desert he slunk out of, and a human heroine who'll fight to save them all.
Fans of Ilona Andrews, Kim Harrison, Annette Marie, K.F. Breene, Hailey Edwards, or Patricia Briggs, dive into this thrilling new world for a feel-good, action-packed adventure with a dash of slow burn romance.

Vampires Will Be Vampires is the third book in the Fangs and Feathers series by Isla Frost. I DNF’d this around the 25% mark.

Lyra is still on paid leave from work when her partner, Aurelis, says she needs help. Something big is happening and Aurelis needs Lyra to help her prevent the world from ending.

View Spoiler »

Not my cuppa.

DNF.

Fangs and Feathers

dnf


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Review: All is Faerie in Love and War by Isla Frost

Posted August 15, 2022 by Holly in Features | 0 Comments

Review: All is Faerie in Love and War by Isla FrostReviewer: Holly
All Is Faerie in Love and War by Isla Frost
Series: Fangs and Feathers #2
Also in this series: Dragons Are a Girl’s Best Friend , Vampires Will Be Vampires
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: November 12, 2021
Format: Audiobook, eBook
Source: Kindle Unlimited, Purchased
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 248
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
two-stars
Series Rating: one-star

If the devil is knocking at your door, don't open it.A simple enough rule to follow... or so you'd think.

When a criminal has magic too dangerous to merely lock up, we send them to a blackout prison.

Hell would've been a better destination for this guy.

As a lowly cop in the LVMPD's Rapid Response unit, I'm used to dealing with all kinds of dumpster-fire scenarios. From drunk salamanders on a building-melting bender and angry manticore landlords threatening to eat tenants' gallbladders in lieu of payment, to human summoners calling up monsters from the deep to impress their girlfriends—to name a few.

But learning about the magic I shouldn't have while facing off against a psychopath who's worked me into his infernal plans for worldwide torment? That's decidedly outside my wheelhouse.

Oh, and my one and only fae friend is acting really strange.

I have to stop this devil from bringing hell to earth.

But I'm petrified I'm going to help him pull it off instead.

Warning: This urban fantasy series contains danger, mayhem, humor, and heart, with characters you'll fall for—including a vampire with an unbeating heart of gold, a book-hoarding dragon who eats criminals for breakfast, a mysterious faerie who's as hot as the desert he slunk out of, and a human heroine who'll fight to save them all.
Fans of Kim Harrison, Annette Marie, Ilona Andrews, K.F. Breene, Hailey Edwards, or Patricia Briggs, dive into this thrilling new world for a feel-good, action-packed adventure with a dash of slow burn romance.

All is Faerie in Love and War is the second book in Isla Frost’s Fangs and Feathers series. I got the ebook from Kindle Unlimited and purchased the audio add-on so I could read and listen. These books are well written, but I did not the plot of this book. I almost DNF’d it several times. I pushed through because I was curious to see how things would end.

Lyra is a cop with the Las Vegas Magical Police Department. She’s just come back from a two week suspension and she finds out an escaped psychopathic criminal with mind control magic is targeting her. She sends her family away and tries to get back to her life, until the worst happens.

The issue I had with this book comes down to the mind control. View Spoiler »

I am curious enough about what happens in the future to try the next book, but I hope the theme is different.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Fangs and Feathers

two-stars


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Review: Dragons are a Girl’s Best Friend by Isla Frost

Posted August 10, 2022 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Dragons are a Girl’s Best Friend by Isla FrostReviewer: Holly
Dragons Are a Girl’s Best Friend by Isla Frost
Narrator: Tess Irondale
Series: Fangs and Feathers #1
Also in this series: Vampires Will Be Vampires
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: October 6, 2021
Format: Audiobook, eBook
Source: Kindle Unlimited, Purchased
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 326
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: one-star

Why did the dragon cross the road? To eat the stupid human, probably.
Welcome to post-revolution Las Vegas. Now a haven for gambling, debauchery, and supernaturals.
Of course, it's the idiot humans with new magics of their own that cause the most trouble. That's where I come in.
My job as a rookie cop in the Rapid Response unit is to deal with the ongoing teething problems of the magic revolution. Teething problems which often involve actual fangs, among other things. But as one of the idiot humans myself, and saddled with an oddball magic that's frequently more hazard than help, that's easier said than done.
Oh, and the ill-tempered dragon? She's my police partner. (Ditto on the more hazard than help thing.)
So when some jackass comes up with the bright idea to take the entire city hostage? Yeah, I'm in way over my head. But my adoptive family is right in the crosshairs, and I didn't become a cop to sit on my hands while others suffer.
You'd better wish me luck.
Warning: This urban fantasy series contains danger, mayhem, humor, and heart, with characters you'll fall for—including a vampire with an unbeating heart of gold, a book-hoarding dragon who eats criminals for breakfast, a mysterious supernatural who's as hot as the desert he slunk out of, and a human heroine who'll fight to save them all.
Fans of Kim Harrison, Annette Marie, Ilona Andrews, K.F. Breene, Hailey Edwards, or Patricia Briggs, dive into this thrilling new world for a feel-good, action-packed adventure with a dash of slow burn romance.

Dragons are a Girl’s Best Friend by Isla Frost is the first book in the Fangs and Feathers Urban Fantasy series. I got the ebook from Kindle Unlimited and purchased the audible add-on so I could switch between reading and listening. I liked the narrator a lot.

Lyra works for the Las Vegas Magical Police Department Rapid Response Team, so basically she’s a magical rookie beat cop. Since the Supernaturals of the world gave humans magical abilities, the type and amount of magic you have matters. Since Lyra’s only magical ability is to “borrow” someone else’s power through touch, she’s considered mostly a dud. That doesn’t stop her from jumping headfirst into a new case when the entire magical part of the city is taken hostage.

Based on the cover and description I thought this was going to be a light-hearted, fun Urban Fantasy. Though there are shades of snark and humor, the content is darker than I expected. I enjoyed Lyra, the Main Character, and her partner, Aurelis, the dragon. I thought this was a very engaging read and I zipped right through it. There is a hint of romance to come, but nothing really on page.

I’m looking forward to the next book.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

Fangs and Feathers


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Review: Storm Echo by Nalini Singh

Posted August 8, 2022 by Casee in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Storm Echo by Nalini SinghReviewer: Casee
Storm Echo by Nalini Singh
Narrator: Angela Dawe
Series: Psy-Changeling Trinity #6, Psy-Changeling #21
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: August 9, 2022
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 384
Length: 11 hours and 14 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
five-stars


NYT bestselling author Nalini Singh takes us into the hearts of two fractured people in a world on the brink of a psychic Armageddon . . .

Silence has fallen. The Psy are free to feel emotion. Free to love. But Silence was never a prison for Ivan Mercant. The biggest threat to his future lies dormant in his brain—a psychic monster that wants only to feed. And now, the brutal leash he’s kept on that monster is slipping. He prepared for this day, for the end of Ivan Mercant . . . but that was before he met Lei.
As primal as she is human, this wild changeling brings color into his life, laughter to his soul. Then the dream shatters in a rain of blood, in silent bodies in the snow. Lei is gone. Vanished without a trace . . . until he meets strangely familiar eyes across a busy San Francisco street.
Soleil Bijoux Garcia is a healer who has lost everything. She exists in a world of desolate aloneness . . . till the day she finds herself face-to-face with a lethal stranger. The animal who is her other half knows this man, but her memories are tattered fragments. Sorrow and a need for vengeance are all that drive her. Her mission? To kill the alpha of the DarkRiver leopard pack.
But fate has other plans. Soon, a deadly soldier who believes himself a monster and a broken healer might be all that stand between life and death for the entire Psy race.

Ivan Merchant has always known he was different. Not in just his abilities, but different on a level that can’t be explained.

As a security specialist for the Merchant empire, Ivan often travels to changeling packs to continue his education. While training with a pack in Texas (??), Ivan finds himself injured in the forest. That’s when he meets Lei, a changeling healer that fascinates him. While Ivan has never been fully Silent, he abides by the backbone that is Silence. To do so would unleash something in Ivan that even he can’t control. Everything he believed in up to that point is changed when Lei walks into his life. Night after night, Lei & Ivan meet, bonding in a way that Ivan would never have expected.

After weeks of meeting & Ivan telling Lei all his secrets, they agree to meet the following day where Lei will tell him all her secrets. Except she doesn’t show up. Ivan is crushed, though he will never admit it. At that point he accepts who he is; someone that could never hold onto someone like Lei.

When a local changeling back is brutally attacked by the Psy, a twist of fate puts Ivan at the scene. Every changeling is dead except for one. Ivan’s Lei. Brutally injured, Lei is taken to the local hospital where she disappears. Ivan spends fifteen months looking for Lei, not willing to give up. Then he sees someone that looks and doesn’t look like Lei.

Soleil is in San Francisco for one reason. To kill the alpha of DarkRiver. It was Lucas Hunter that executed her pack, including her grandmother and the cubs. When Soleil realizes everything she thought she knew wasn’t true, she is crushed. Even though she soon realized that she could never hope to kill Lucas Hunter, she had a mission. Now she has nothing and no one. Until she catches an elusive scent that can only mean one thing. Not only that, she’s found a Psy that her cat knows belongs to her.

Watching Ivan fall for Lei strictly in his POV was magical. It was a slow burn and so emotional to read. When he believes that the one chance at happiness slipped away, he’s crushed. It was so moving and heartbreaking to read. When he finds her again, he’s convinced that his chance of happiness has passed. The feelings that the two have for each other are not to be denied. All Soleil has to do is convince Ivan to take a chance on her. Of course nothing is ever easy in this series & Soleil has her work cut out for her. Reading about the sacrifices these two made for each other was extraordinary. Nalini has grown so much as a writer. She has a talent that few authors match. It’s not just the individuals, it’s about Pack. It’s about family. It’s about togetherness. It’s quite literally spellbinding.

Rating: 4.75 out of 5.

Psy-Changeling

Psy-Changeling Trinity

five-stars


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