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Wickedly Wonderful by Deborah Blake

Wickedly Wonderful

by Deborah Blake

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  Janicemo | Aug 16, 2017 |
Not bad. This is not going to become a series on my automatic purchase list, but it's not bad, if a bit formulaic from the first book.
The author is being very creative with the Baba Yaga folklore and updating it for the modern world. ( )
  acf151 | Jun 18, 2016 |
Not bad. This is not going to become a series on my automatic purchase list, but it's not bad, if a bit formulaic from the first book.
The author is being very creative with the Baba Yaga folklore and updating it for the modern world. ( )
  acf151 | Jun 18, 2016 |
Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales

Quick & Dirty: Beka is having some doubts about her future as a Baba Yaga, but she now has her first solo job and has to put those doubts aside in this much improved follow up to the first book in the Baba Yaga series.

Opening Sentence: Marcus Dermott watched the sunrise from the windswept deck of his father’s fishing boat and wondered if the sea had changed, or if it was him.

The Review:

Beka is one of three Baba Yagas in America. She’s relatively new to the job, not even thirty yet, and she feels every bit as green as her age would suggest. Her mentor Baba Yaga always made her feel as if she would never be good enough, and now she doubts her ability to do the job. At the height of her insecurities, she receives her first solo job: figuring out what is making the merpeople and selkies sick. The job comes with a strict timeline, and Beka feels the pressure mounting every day. Working on this job puts her in daily contact with Marcus, a grumpy human she can’t stop thinking about. But a relationship with a human could never work out, could it? Will Beka discover the answer to that question as well as the solution to the merpeople’s problem, or will she decide to give up being a Baba Yaga and become fully human again?

I was a little hesitant starting this one because my feelings towards the first book were mixed. While I still had issues with this installment, it was definitely an improvement over the first. I found myself greatly enjoying the plot, and the interactions between Marcus and Beka were wonderful. They certainly had chemistry, and I was on the edge of my seat waiting for them to get together.

I had a much easier time connecting to Beka than I did the heroine in the first book. She felt very real, albeit a tad naive for my tastes. That’s actually my biggest (and pretty much only) complaint about the book. We find out early on who’s behind the merpeople’s illness, and all the reader can do is watch as Beka forms a friendship with the guy with no clue as to what’s going on. Maybe it’s because so many of their scenes are from his point of view, but it just seems so obvious that he’s up to something,and it gets frustrating that that part of his personality sails right over Beka’s head until the last minute.

Despite my frustration with Beka’s naivete, I greatly enjoyed this book. It was fast paced, and I found time just speeding by as I read. It left me with high hopes for book three, which I plan on reading when I get the chance. I would say if readers felt that the first book had any promise whatsoever, they should definitely give this one a shot, as I felt it was a great improvement.

Notable Scene:

Through the gaps between the ropes, she could see the Merbaby clearly, swimming in desperate circles round and round the ever-shrinking space.

His tiny pale green face was splotched with crying, although any sound he made was lost in the metallic grinding of the winch as it pulled the purse seine in tighter and tighter. As he spotted her, he shot over to her side of the net, making soft eeping noises like a distressed dolphin.

Beka swam up to the choppy surface to gulp another breath, then down again; the trip was noticeably shorter on the way back, and she knew she was running out of time. It was tempting to use magic to blast through the net, but she was afraid that she might accidentally hurt the child, and magic often didn’t work well underwater, so in the end, she simply pulled out her knife and sawed away frantically at the tough fibers.

Twice more she had to dart above to take a breath, but after the last time, her efforts paid off; she had cut a ragged hole not much more than two feet long, but large enough for the small Merbaby to exit. The fish within were already bolting toward freedom, brushing her with their tickling fins as they flashed past.

She gestured for the Merbaby to come closer, only to realize that while she had been fighting with the robustly woven strands, the child’s tail had become entangled in a section of net, and he was trapped, unable to get loose from the seine’s unrelenting grasp.

Cursing soundlessly, Beka raced to get one more deep lungful of air, then threw herself toward the hole and eeled her way through the impossibly small opening. Frantically, she fought the sinuously twining ropes until the little one was free and she could shove him through the other side. Only to find herself trapped in the quickly contracting net and rapidly running out of time and oxygen.

FTC Advisory: Penguin/Berkley provided me with a copy of Wickedly Wonderful. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review. ( )
  DarkFaerieTales | Dec 16, 2015 |
Beka Yancy is the youngest of the three North American Baba Yagas. Her mentor has recently retired to the Otherworld and Beka finds herself dealing with an environmental disaster that leaves her mystified. Not only are the selkies and merpeople dying but the fish have disappeared from the ocean leaving the local fishermen all struggling. Beka has vowed that she will solve this problem but despite a number of dives, she has absolutely no clue what is happening. If that were not enough, Kesh, the prince of the selkies and a local fisherman named Marcus are both vying for her attention. Beka doesn't know which way to turn and even starts to wonder whether or not she is cut out to be a Baba Yaga.

I originally picked up this series because while the Baba Yaga is a very old myth, she has not appeared in many fantasy novels. I was very excited to see what Blake would do with this awesome witch. Unfortunately, in Blake's Baba Yaga series, the Baba Yaga, is simply a name for a powerful witch and many of the things that make the Baba Yaga, the Baba Yaga are missing from this series. No longer is the Baba Yaga an old crone, no longer does she fly in a mortar and pestle and no longer does she live in a cabin which is made mobile by chicken legs. Even the dragon chudo yudo has been turned into a Newfoundland dog.

Wickedly Wonderful is essentially a paranormal romance; however, while the romance between Marcus and Beka features largely in the story, it never overwhelms the mystery of why the ocean has become polluted. Beka is steadfast in her search and never stops working towards her end goal, even though she is constantly battling with the taciturn Marcus, who is not found of hippie people. Because of the way that Wickedly Wonderful is written, we know from the beginning who is responsible for the pollution and his motivation and simply wait for Beka to figure it out.

Beka is very different from Barbara, the protagonist in Wickedly Magical and Wickedly Dangerous. Barbara, being older than Beka, is very confidant and sure of her magical powers. Beka spends much of Wickedly Wonderful doubting her abilities despite constant assurance from Chudo Yudo. Beka is supposedly so insecure because she was raised without any positive reinforcement from the retiring Baba. My issue with this is that Beka is almost a 30 year old woman and while she might reasonably have some doubt in her abilities, I think it went a touch too far. There is also the issue of Beka's naiveté. Everyone who interacts with Kesh for instance, almost immediately says that they don't trust him, yet Beka has several meals with him and even makes excuses for his behaviour. Beka only questions Kesh's behaviour when he gets into a testosterone pissing match with Marcus over her. I like that Beka declared that she is not a commodity to be owned but I would have liked her to question Kesh's motives more, particularly after learning that Kesh was on the outs with his family. Beka just seems to keep making the same moves though it is not progressing the case that she is investigating and I found that to be extremely frustrating.

Read More ( )
  FangsfortheFantasy | Aug 17, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0425272931, Mass Market Paperback)

Known as the wicked witch of Russian fairy tales, Baba Yaga is not one woman, but rather a title carried by a chosen few. They keep the balance of nature and guard the borders of our world, but don’t make the mistake of crossing one of them…

Though she looks like a typical California surfer girl, Beka Yancy is in fact a powerful yet inexperienced witch who’s struggling with her duties as a Baba Yaga. Luckily she has her faithful dragon-turned-dog for moral support, especially when faced with her biggest job yet…

A mysterious toxin is driving the Selkie and Mer from their homes deep in the trenches of Monterey Bay. To investigate, Beka buys her way onto the boat of Marcus Dermott, a battle-scarred former U.S. Marine, and his ailing fisherman father.

While diving for clues, Beka drives Marcus crazy with her flaky New Age ideas and dazzling blue eyes. She thinks he’s rigid and cranky (and way too attractive). Meanwhile, a charming Selkie prince has plans that include Beka. Only by trusting her powers can Beka save the underwater races, pick the right man, and choose the path she’ll follow for the rest of her life…


(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:10 -0400)

While investigating a mysterious toxin in Monteray Bay that is driving the Selkie and Mer from their homes, Beka Yancy, a powerful yet inexperienced witch, buys her way onto the boat of a battle-scarred former Marine who doesn't believe in magic.

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