cover image Level Grind: The Twenty-Sided Sorceress, Vol. 1

Level Grind: The Twenty-Sided Sorceress, Vol. 1

Annie Bellet. Saga, $15.99 trade paper (480p) ISBN 978-1-4814-7939-4

This omnibus collects the first four novellas of Bellet’s series featuring Jade Crow, a comic and gaming shop owner and sorceress, into a lighthearted paranormal romance story that gradually becomes more serious. Jade once belonged to a group of crow shape-shifters drawn from various Native American tribes, but she’s been exiled. She hides from a dangerous former mentor, Samir, in a small Idaho college town that’s home to shape-shifters, witches, and a leprechaun. Threats mount as a warlock tries to draw power from captive shifters, a malignant spirit seeks vengeance on Jade’s grandfather, and the werewolves fight among themselves to name a new Alpha of Alphas. Meanwhile, Jade tries to define her relationship with Alek, a weretiger sworn to uphold shifter justice. Bellet infuses her prose with multiple shout-outs to geek and gamer culture, and the tone of her ensemble resembles Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s gung-ho Scooby Gang. But Jade gains power to face Samir by eating the hearts of sorcerers she defeats (with jarring references to the Catholic liturgy around Communion) and Alek is the one who must choose between duty and love. Fans of urban fantasy will be drawn to this intriguing series. (Oct.)