Although Mirage is a skilled Hunter, she has often been mistaken for a witch due to her red hair, something that has always made her angry. So when she gets a job to investigate the murder of a prominent witch, she is hesitant at first but cannot turn down the thrill of a challenge and eventually accepts. Before she realizes it, she finds herself deep in a mystery that goes beyond one simple assassination. Meanwhile, Miryo is about to face the most important day of her young life, her test to become a witch. When something goes wrong during the test, it's revealed that she has one last task to complete before she can work magic, she must murder her doppelganger.
Although Doppelganger is the second book of Marie Brennan that I have read (the first being Midnight Never Come) it is actually her debut novel. Unlike Midnight Never Come, which was a historical fantasy that took place in the times of Queen Elizabeth, Doppelganger is a straightforward sword and sorcery fantasy, one of my favorite types of books. I found myself quite impressed with Brennan's creation. The world of witches and hunters is very interesting and the author never has to rely on pages of infodump to get across this complex world. I found myself particularly fascinated in highly structured world of the witches. The two leads of Mirage and Miryo are well developed and likeable, as is the secondary character Eclipse. One of the things that surprised me the most is the fact that there is zero romance in this book, something that is rather rare in fantasy written by women. Although I enjoy a good romantic storyline, I felt that this was actually a nice change. So much time is spent developing the platonic relationship between Mirage and Miryo that it didn't feel as if anything was missing with the lack of a romantic plot. As far as the story goes, I found that I saw the “twist” at the end coming long before we got there, but it didn't really diminish my enjoyment of the novel.
Doppelganger is a solid fantasy offering by Marie Brennan. I plan on digging into the sequel, Warrior and Witch, next. I am very curious to see where she takes the story, and there are many aspects of the world (especially the Cousins, who serve the witches) that I am interested in exploring more.
Rating: four and a half stars
Length: 422 pages
Challenge: This book is not part of any challenges
Similar Books: For a similar fantasy book with a female lead that's light on the romance, check out Green Rider by Kristen Britain (my review). The importance of religion reminded me of Fires of the Faithful by Naomi Kritzer. For another fantasy novel starring witches, look into Pillars of the World by Anne Bishop (my review). Lynn Flewelling's Tamir Triad (beginning with The Bone Doll's Twin) is also quite similar.
Other books I've read by this author: Midnight Never Come
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