In an alternate Atlanta where magic is practiced openly, where witches sip coffee at local cafes, shapeshifters party at urban clubs, vampires rule the southern night like gangsters, and mysterious creatures command dark caverns beneath the city, Dakota Frost’s talents are coveted by all. She’s the best magical tattooist in the southeast, a Skindancer, able to bring her amazing tats to life. When a serial killer begins stalking Atlanta’s tattooed elite, the police and the Feds seek Dakota’s help. Can she find the killer on the dark fringe of the city’s Edgeworld? Among its powerful outcasts and tortured loners, what kind of enemies and allies will she attract? Will they see her as an invader, as a seducer, as an unexpected champion … or as delicious prey? FROST MOON is Book One of the SKINDANCER fantasy series by debut author Anthony Francis. Filled with unforgettable characters, spine-tingling action, kinky rebellion and edgy love, FROST MOON is classic storytelling at its best, and Dakota Frost is an irresistible new star of fantasy fiction. Anthony Francis is a computer scientist who works at the ‘Search Engine That Starts With A G’. By day he studies human and other minds to design intelligent machines and emotional robots; by night he writes fiction and draws comic books. He received his Ph.D. in Artificial Intelligence from Georgia Tech. He lives in San Jose with his wife and cats but his heart will always belong in Atlanta.
Frost Moon takes place in an different Atlanta, Georgia two thousand six. Vampires, weres, witches, and other paras make up Atlanta’s Edgeworlder population that is slow, but surely making itself known to it’s more human world. Edgeworlder Dakota Frost, magical inker, is the best magical tattooist in the Southeast, but that’s not the only reason she stands out. Who could miss the 6’2″ beautiful women with a death-hawk? Not to mention, her entire body is a billboard for her work and her tattoos aren’t just your every day two denominational designs, but living- no really living– works of art. Dakota herself is a Skindancer and is able to create designs filled with runes and magic, fed by mana to not only make her tattoos move, but come to life.
So when a serial killer who likes to skin his victims alive for their magical tattoos comes to Atlanta, police turn to Dakota for her expertise. Special Agent Philip Davidson of the DEI (Department of Extraordinary Investigations) needs Dakota’s help in magical inking to better understand just what it is he’s dealing with. Except, with Dakota’s own magical ink, she’s just as likely to be his next victim.
Meanwhile, Dakota is commissioned to ink a tat for the extremely nervous werewolf Wulf. He needs her to ink him before the next full moon. His flash is of Nazi paraphernalia that is suppose to help his control. However, Dakota takes her job seriously and refuses to do the job, no matter the price he’s paying, until she let’s her graphomancer, Jinx, take a look at it. She doesn’t like inking what she doesn’t know and doesn’t want the design to end up hurting him. The process of finding out just what the tattoo is, though, takes her on bizarre trip further into Edgewater territory and face to face with even more interesting characters.
I’m completely on the fence with Frost Moon and I’m also well aware of how contradictory some of my thoughts are, hence my issue. While Anthony Francis’ created a brilliant and imaginative world, I didn’t click with his heroine Dakota Frost. There was actually no reason for me not to, so I don’t really quite understand it. She’s strong, perhaps a little naive, but still all around kick-ass. Except, most of her personality is bravado and even she herself admits it. She’s really awesome at her art and gives off the “don’t fuck with me” attitude, but it’s really all for show. However, towards the end, when Dakota admits this to herself and the readers, she actually starts making plans to rectify her situation and starts living up to reputation (thus giving her my kick-ass vote).
Frost Moon‘s and Francis’s idea on magical tattoos is really fascinating. Having two tattoos of my own, I can say that if I had a chance at getting one of these, I’d probably be one of the first in line. Though, some of his other para lore just had me rolling my eyes. Pretty much every cliche you’ve seen in para-world is used in Frost Moon, but why is that I couldn’t stop reading it? I had one of those speed read-a-thons where I couldn’t put it down.
I’m disappointed in Frost Moon after all the wonderful reviews for it, but most likely I’ll still get Blood Rock when it releases. Maybe I’m just a glutton for punishment and it’s just me or maybe Frost Moon was just victim to being the first in the trilogy.
Frost Moon-March 2, 2010
Visit Anthony Francis’ blog for Dakota Frost.