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Poison Sleep (Marla Mason, Book 2) by T.A. Pratt
Review by Beth Slater
Spectra Mass Market  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780553589993
Date: 25 March 2008 List Price $6.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

We return to Felport to follow Marla Mason, mage, as she tries to track down Genevieve Kelley before she destroys the city. Gen was accidentally – or not – awakened from the Blackwing Institute (for the insane sorcerers) and is now loose and roaming about the city and her own world – or, well, reality – reweaving the real world and taking people and things with her. Orange trees and snow flakes are appearing where high rises used to be, and this is disconcerting to the people nearby, to say the least. Marla decides that she must return Gen to Blackwing at the very least – but as incidents seem to be increasing, will Marla have to resort to murder to save her city and herself?

Marla has more on her hands than simply finding an escaped psycho dreamer – she's got a slow assassin in her city and she needs a personal assistant. Ted, a street bum she finds on someone else's heat grate, works out perfectly for her assistant but the slow assassin thwarts her original efforts. Marla's taken on something of an apprentice – a "lovetalker" -– a dangerous person to have around but extremely useful in uptight situations because of their ability to diffuse emotions and distract attention –- but has he managed to work his wiles on his own master? If so, has this affected her ability to do her job?

So while Gen is reweaving Felport in her attempts to escape her own nightmares, Marla is trying to follow her, find the assassin, and train her apprentice Joshua, but falls in love with him, while her new personal assistant Ted is arranging the meetings, transportation, phone calls, and meals for all of the above. Amidst this her loyal friend and cohort Rondeau is at her side with his switchblade and Curses, managing the nightclub where Marla held her offices.

Pratt doesn't stop, from chapter one, you're hooked. This may be a fantasy novel, but the action just goes and goes. Poor Marla just takes the hits and keeps on going like a little pink bunny. But add in humor, too. There is plenty of character development with many of the characters, but the humor provides relief from a lot of the violence. A vivid imagination is a necessity, as well. Well written for an alternate universe. Reading Blood Engines will help, but is not necessary to follow along in this novel.

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