House of Rose (A Magic City Story Book 1) by T.J. Thorne

Reviewed by Ed Kelly

House of RoseHouse of Rose is a genre–bending novel–part police procedural, part romance, part mystery, and part witch/magic story. Sometimes it’s difficult to keep storylines straight, but for those who like multi dimensional tales, this book fits the bill.

As the plot is complicated, the characters seem less so, except for the main character, Rose. Rose is a new graduate of the Birmingham, Alabama Police Academy, a rookie cop. She has a lonely past: she was orphaned by the violent death of her entire family, mother, father, and sister. She alone escapes the deadly fire, which we come to find out was arson. Rose was placed in an orphanage and adopted by a loving family, but it was not her family.

While she is good looking, Rose does nothing to enhance her beauty; she constantly wears jeans and tee shirts to deflect attention from herself. She’s standoffish, not social, has no friends, and has little interest in men, at least up to the present time. Rose is a definite loner. Sometimes it is difficult to appreciate Rose as she treats people roughly, because of her lack of social grace and skill.

The first inkling that she is odd to others and to herself comes when she is on patrol with Paul, her rookie supervisor, now partner. She “sees” Paul getting shot by someone in an alley before the event actually occurs. As it unfolds, she sees someone take aim (she thinks) at Paul and shots the gunman in the back and kills him, but she saves Paul’s life. Procedure dictates that Rose be placed on leave while Internal Affairs investigates the shooting and killing. The function of Internal Affairs is to prove the killing was justified and happened as Rose said it happened.

Later and alone, she returns to the crime scene and finds a strange red stone on a chain and immediately puts it one and it feels as if she’s worn it all of her life.

Rose is forced to take some time off as the investigation proceeds. While walking to her home, she is nearly killed by an unknown driver in a big black car. Rose jumps just as the car is about to hit her, rolls up and over the windshield and off. Although she is badly injured, the jump probably saved her life.

There are other incidents where Rose’s life is seriously threatened. She is shot at while exploring and old iron mine–twice, each time with a high powered and accurate rifle. Rose now knows she is being pursued.

Enter Great Aunt Alice.

Alice finds her way into Rose’s life, and after a time, tells her that she is of the House of Rose and that she is a witch. Rose is grappling with all of these new tensions and issues in her life, so she hardly knows who she is anymore. a cop? being tracked by a potential murderer? a witch with magical powers? Alice is a great solace to Rose and life and the story gets more complicated.

Two other characters worthy of introducing are her police supervisor Paul, and Becca who wants to be Rose’s best friend. Paul makes Rose feel like a woman more at her own urging than Paul’s. He later proves to be less than a friend when he attempts at some fiendish antics. Betta is able to get Rose to unload some of her emotional luggage when Great Aunt Alice disappears. Rose tells Becca that she is a witch tells and about the House of Rose and the sinister House of Iron, which is Rose’s greatest enemy as they try repeatedly to kill her.

The House of Iron is as old as the House of Rose, back to an indeterminate time, long before historical chronicles. One member of the House of Iron thinks that all of the members of the House of Rose are trying to eliminate him as well as all members of the House; to ward off that possibility, he kills them all–except Rose and Great Aunt Helen.

Rose comes across as someone who is learning her powers as a witch: what they are, to what extent they can be used, and the costs of using those powers. In the last adventure in the novel, she finds she has powers greater than anyone in the House of Iron. Perhaps Rose is plumbing the depths of her expanding self slowly, but it is a confusing and powerful rite of passage for her.

There is a huge price that she pays for those powers and she finds exercising them has consequences she cannot reverse, despite how powerful she is.

There is an authenticity to the novel and much of it is derived from the lengthy experiences of the author, T. K. Thorne, who was a police officer in Birmingham, Alabama. But as great as that realistic detail is, the world of witchery is wild and untamed. If Rose is sure-stepped in the world of police work, she is not as sure-stepped in the magical world of witchcraft. She must learn that world so the reader can also learn.

I recommend this mystery to anyone who enjoys stories about the magic of witchcraft and the potential good of people (witches) who want to do well as Rose does.

From the end of this book comes the promise of another novel which just might see the magic and mystery of Rose’s world and sights of her balancing the reality of police work with that of the fantasy world she also inhabits.

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