Tor, Dec 29 2009, $6.99
London Master Conjurer Grey Carteret awakens in a nasty mood as everyone of his 206 bones feel like they were part of the battlefield between heaven and hell. As he slowly regains a semblance of his environs, he has no idea how he ended up in a gutter or who the street urchin holding his stick and hat is. Parkin protected him through the night and asks to become his apprentice. Grey normally does not train anyone so he suggests magic school; but Parkin explains magic school refuses female students. Parkin is Miss Pearl Parkin who used magic to disguise her gender. Reluctantly partly because he admires his grit, make that her grit, but mostly because he needs her help as he has been arrested for murder by magic of a woman, he accepts Miss Pearl Parkin as his apprentice.
When another homicide occurs, Grey realizes that someone is doing the forbidden; using murder of the innocent to raise a demon from hell. Grey with his student investigates prepared to prevent hell on earth although some would say this team has brought the demon forward by allowing the forbidden, a woman to practice magic.
This is a terrific historical urban fantasy starring two wonderful lead protagonists and a strong support cast as demons attack nineteenth century London in an era in which women are banned from practicing magic. The story line is fast-paced and filled with plenty of action as the Conjurer and the apprentice fall in love while battling a rogue magician and his demon. Setting up the next book with a clever related coda to Heart’s Blood, fans will relish Gail Dayton’s strong paranormal romantic suspense thriller as females make a case that New Blood is needed to save the world and prevent the spread of the dead zones.