“Of Fear and Faith” is the first installment in what promises to be a very fun, readable paranormal romance/romantic thriller series with a twist. I have the slash because it combines elements of both genres: Sanura, the female lead, is a child psychologist brought in to help with a serial killer case by the male lead, FBI agent Assefa. Only Sanura is also a witch, descended from a line of powerful Nigerian witches, and Assefa is a shifter, descended from a line of powerful Sudanese shifters. When they come together, sparks fly…
I enjoy both the paranormal and the thriller subgenres of romances, and they are combined effectively here. Because there’s a lot going on, the narrative jumps around, but for the most part it’s easy to follow. The characters themselves have a lot of the elements you’d expect from the genres indicated–Sanura is smart, educated, and feisty but also delicate and dealing with emotional pain from her past; she’s also, as befits any decent heroine of a paranormal romance, the Chosen One; Assefa is the strong silent type with a secret past and a heart of gold–but are also compelling and sympathetic individuals, so that the plot and the relationship between them feels fresh and engaging, even though fans of the genre will have a pretty good idea where things are going. Which is in no way a critique: this is solid romance novel plotting and characterization and is very enjoyable as such. The twist is that both the main characters have close ties to Africa and the use of African mythology to create the system of magic that underlies the paranormal element of the story.
This was probably my favorite aspect of the novel: the author skillfully combines elements of European-based witchcraft–witches have covens and familiars–with African mythology and legends, so that the characters pray to Egyptian deities and the witches’ familiars are men who can shift into large cats in order to protect them. The result is a rich magical system that is both familiar enough for a Western reader to understand it easily, but different enough to stand out. The total result is very readable but also unique.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.