Frost Moon by Anthony Francis is the absolutely marvelous opening book in his Skindancer series featuring magical tattooist Dakota Frost. The first full moon in November is also called the “frost moon”. In Anthony Francis’ alternate version of Atlanta, that’s important.
Dakota Frost is the best magical tattooist in the Southeast. Just ask her. She works out of the Rogue Unicorn, which is located in Little Five Points, in a part of Atlanta known to the cognoscenti as the Edgeworld. And Dakota is definitely one of those in the know.
I said she was a magical tattooist. I didn’t just mean that her tats were magically beautiful, I meant that they were literally magic. The vines inked on her arms can reach out and trip pull her enemies down, never mind about that dragon inked on her back.
But Dakota’s magical ink makes her both a police expert consultant and a potential next victim when someone starts murdering people in order to “harvest” their magical tattoos. And Dakota’s not just the only potential victim. Every person with a magical tat is sudden a target. There are a lot of those in Dakota’s Atlanta, including the entire werewolf community and everyone who has ever requested a magical ward or even just a moving butterfly.
Meanwhile, there’s a magician in town (the other kind, a stage magician) who believes that all magic is bunk. He’s challenged Dakota to prove that her not faked, and will pay her a million bucks if she can prove her stuff is the real thing.
And on the other side of town, or should I say the under side of town, there’s a lone werewolf who wants Dakota to give him an extra special ward, one that will control his beast, before the full moon in ten days time. Trying to get this new tat verified with the local head werewolf and her witch friend to make sure that the tat is not black magic brings down even more trouble on her head.
And gets her ex-girlfriend involved. Her ex-girlfriend is now the head of the Vampire Consulate. They broke over the whole vampire thing. Dakota didn’t want her to turn, but well, Savannah did it anyway.
Dakota makes a lot of her own trouble by rushing in where both fools and angels would fear to tread. Nothing is as it seems. This one will keep you guessing until the end.
Escape Rating A: Dakota Frost is a terrific character. She makes mistakes, she screws up, but she keeps on going. She’s someone I’d like to have a drink with, or several. Her Atlanta is a place I might want to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there. It’s geography is so close to the Atlanta I live in, it’s eerie. The way she weaves in and out of the real Atlanta reminds me of the way Simon R. Green works with London in the Nightside, and that’s a high compliment. I love his Nightside series.
This was awesome. I would never have read Frost Moon or Blood Rock if Bell Bridge hadn’t put both books of this series back on NetGalley, so thank you, thank you for a couple of well spent but very late nights reading.
Any time the “Men in Black” turn out to be the “good guys” you know the story is turned inside-out-sideways but you’re in for a load of fun. Spend some quality time with Dakota Frost, you’ll be glad you did.