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Ill Wind: Weather Warden Book 1    by Rachel Caine order for
Ill Wind
by Rachel Caine
Order:  USA  Can
Roc, 2004 (2004)
* *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Joanne Baldwin is a Weather Warden, with the unique talent of being able to control the elements - earth, wind, fire or water. When a senior Weather Warden reveals that he's dying and needs Joanne's body (not to mention her strength) to feed the demon within him, Joanne balks at his insane scheme. Their ensuing battle kills the senior Warden, accidentally releases his Djinn (genie) and bestows on Joanne a dreaded 'Demon Mark'. Now she's on the run from the Wardens Association whose members believe she's a cold-blooded murderer. Her only hope is to find Lewis, an old friend and one of the most powerful Wardens alive. Unfortunately he's in even stormier waters than she is -- the World Council is a little annoyed that he's made off with not one but three Djinn.

Joanne is desperate to find Lewis before the Council stops her and strips her of her powers, and more importantly, before the Demon Mark takes over her soul and destroys her. She knows there's another alternative; forcing a Djinn to take the Demon Mark but she refuses to consign even these superior beings to an eternity of torment. Her wild race takes her on the road to Colorado to rendezvous with an old friend and fellow Warden who may well know where to find Lewis. Along the way she teams up with a mysterious hitchhiker who arouses Joanne's suspicions at every turn but whose timely intervention saves her life on more than one occasion. Every bend in the road brings new obstacles, be it the Wardens or their powerful Djinn, all determined to stop Joanne before she locates Lewis.

Ill Wind is the first in what promises to be a sharp and unique new fantasy series. Joanne Baldwin is a smart, savvy, modern lead whose no-holds-barred attitude grabs you from page one. Great writing, fine pacing and an equally interesting cast of secondaries enhance the story. The addition of the Djinn is a refreshing touch, although at times their mysterious nature comes close to overshadowing that of the Weather Wardens. Let's hope that Ms. Caine explores them more fully in future episodes - Heat Stroke and Chill Factor, books two and three of the Weather Wardens, are both due out later this year.

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