Smoke and Mirrors by Jess Haines

Blackhollow Academy, Book 1

Synopsis: A girl who uses her illusions to fool the world into thinking she’s just like all the other magi.

A dragon who sees through her lies.

Together they just might survive a world that wants to control or destroy them both.

Kimberly may wield ultimate cosmic power, but even a mage has to pay the rent. No one will hire her for her magic talents until she’s got the credentials, so she’s stuck in a crappy rent controlled apartment with her mother, yearning for treats she can’t afford at her part time job in a café, counting down the days until she graduates the secret Blackhollow Academy school for magi. Only then will she have the certificate she needs to land her dream job in a coven.

The problem? She needs a familiar to graduate.

As an illusionist, she doesn’t have the ability to summon or create a familiar of her own. Her only option is to convince a supernatural creature to let her bind it instead. Since having a powerful Other at her beck and call would guarantee her a place in a coven after she graduates—and legendary treasure hoards are an added bonus—she thinks binding a dragon as her familiar will solve all her problems…

Because sometimes a girl needs a dragon, not a knight….

Review: Jess Haines had wrapped me with her vampire series and it was a real pleasure to read it but it is true that it has been a long time since she had not released a new book. So when I was contacted to read the first volume of her new series, I could not but be intrigued. How not to be? Do you see this synopsis? Dragons, wizards … what more can we ask for?

I admit that by starting the novel, I did not expect to have a story in the same world as her H & W Investigations series, though it is not necessary to read it as the two series are completely independent. It’s just that it’s pretty funny to have winks like the mention of Alex Royce in the story. I admit that this is something that made me smile when I saw it. But as I said the two series are different and we are focusing here on the Magi and wizards. Thus we discover Kimberly, a girl who evolves hidden in an universe that is not hers and she knows that if her identity was revealed, her life would be threatened. But then, differences begin to be felt and the only solution is to get her degree, which would finally help her find a job worthy and so to get out of poverty. To help achieve her goal, and so have her exam, Kim must find a supernatural being to bind him/her to her and thus make him his familiar. However, she knows that it’s something important to do, and especially to protect her family once her secret will be released. That’s why she must find a powerful creature like a dragon. Alas, it’s not so simple to find a dragon and even less one who agrees to be bound to a magi who takes generally them as slaves. For this, Kim will go to Cormac, a man recommended by her teacher to help her find the correct person. Yet nothing will happen as planned.

It’s quite sad to see all that our heroine must endure here between the little money she earns to pay the rent or the disparaging remarks of her comrades but fortunately for her, not everyone is like that. Despite everything she endures, Kim is a young very strong girl who does not hesitate to act as she wishes to follow her principles even if it doesn’t end well for her. I really enjoyed her character and liked her a lot. We can only fall under her spell and hope that everything will be better. And then there’s … Cormac. Ah Cormac … it is difficult to identify this man and to understand what he really wants. Moreover, we totally understand the feelings of the young woman for him whatever his actions. In any case, I did not necessarily expect the revelations offered by the author and I had a great time with the story. It was perhaps a bit difficult to get into the story but once done, I could not get out until finishing it. It really is a very good book and I can not wait to see what we will have now, hoping that it will happen soon.




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