Mariposa by C.L. McCullough
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I would like to begin this review by saying I loved this book. I liked it so much I am actually picking up an e-pub as soon as it is released. (I was fortunate enough to have an advance reader's copy courtesy of Lyrical.)
Mariposa is a headstrong woman in the 1930s with a God-fearing, rigid mother who tells her frequently she is the Devil's child and demands she rebuke the witchcraft of her grandmother. Once Mari is old enough, however, she stays with her Gran and learns herbs and medicines and, although she denies her powers, finally finds them with the aid of her Gran's journal, her Gran's cat Grey Malkin and her Gran's friend Willa.
Since she was little, Mari dreamed of a black horse that became a dragon who became a man. She held this vision as her "dream man" and all through a lonely childhood never really found a suitor.
(view spoiler)[Mari learns, upon her Gran's death, that a powerful force is seeking to destroy her. While working in her mother's store, a strange blonde man comes in, speaking of 'reaping what he sows' and taking what 'belongs' to him. Mari learns it is her and she sets an awkward, bumbling plot to try and destroy him.
During her discovery of this madman, Mari also learns that her dream man is real and he has come to protect her as much as he can until she can destroy this vile being who sucks the very life from those he touches. Mari also learns the being hunting her raped her mother and sired her. After learning this, she goes off to the mountains to do battle with her father. She is pursued by a traveling photographer who wishes to help her and later finds out this traveling photographer she feels such a connection with is really her dream man.
Mari leads her sire back to her dream man's realm where she destroys him. She then returns to her world for a year so she can help the people of her town and repair her relationship with her mother, especially after the heartbreaking scene when Mari visits her mother while she is in the spirit realm and learns her mother really does, in some way, love and care about her. (hide spoiler)]
I was drawn in by the peaceful beginnings of the first chapter. Mari is a very real character and, despite this being told in the first person, doesn't lose touch with the other characters in the story. I was compelled through the story to read and learn along with Mari and then when the action started to grow thick, I was drawn in. I couldn't put it down. I had to know what happened next. I caught the very early clues to the identities of the main characters and their importance and there were a few red herrings tossed in just enough to make you wonder. I was absolutely captivated.
The scene with Mari and her mother toward the end of the book made me tear up. I won't spoil it, but it's sad and sweet all the same time and, despite the conflict between the two of them, ends up being really sweet. There is a little romance and some suggestion, but no overly sexual wording. Very vanilla.
The very end of the book is, I think, the best part. I do so love happy endings.
Buy this book. Pick it up and read it. If you like a compelling story with a strong female lead and a little fantastical magic, you won't regret it.
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