“Murder, Mayhem, Magic, and Meteorology”: Rachel Caine’s Ill Wind

Cover art by David Seeley. Copyright © Roxanne Longstreet Conrad, 2003. All rights reserved.

You might think that controlling the weather isn’t as glamourous as, say, power over fire or the ability to turn invisible.  But in the case of a Weather Warden like Joanne Baldwin, it’s less about having power than it is about keeping the elements of nature from wiping out the human race.

Such is the world given to us in Ill Wind, the first novel in the Weather Warden series by Rachel Caine.

Our narrator and protagonist, Joanne, is on the run because of a false murder charge by the Wardens Association.  To make things worse, she’s trying to find salvation in the form of the world’s most powerful Warden, who has control over fire, earth, and weather–an unprecedented combination that also makes him a target of the Association.  Add in some Djinn that muddle up the whole situation and a vicious storm that seems to follow Joanne wherever she goes, and you have a tale of adventure, anguish, wit, and hard-earned wisdom.

If you’re wondering, the quote in the title for this review comes from Jim Butcher and what he thinks about Rachel Caine’s work.  For me, I found myself enjoying the first person narration of Caine’s Joanne Baldwin and was reminded of the first person smartass lines that Butcher’s Harry Dresden constantly spouts.  It’s a good staple of contemporary fantasy literature, particularly if done right.

At the risk of sounding like a chauvinist, I think it’s nice to see more material by female fantasy authors and to have believably-written female characters, and Joanne Baldwin does not disappoint.  You’ll share her frustrations, you’ll laugh and smile at her quiet victories, and you’ll eagerly follow her through a perilous journey across America as she goes in search of salvation.

Bibliography: Caine, Rachel.  Ill Wind.  New York: Roc Books, 2003.


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