Stripped is the prequel to Marcia Colette’s Half Breed, an “urban fantasy [that] challenges the subgenre’s norm to present the reader with an unlikely heroine. Alexa is a lethal killer… and a member of two cultures that see her as an anomaly.” In the first novel, which was published in 2006, Marcia introduced a half human half werewolf who didn’t trust anyone but herself. In Stripped we find the source of Alexa’s suspicious nature.
I already knew Alexa was a kickass heroine from reading Half Breed, but Stripped sent my jaw straight to the floor by giving me a nice glimpse into the rest of her resume. I’ve read about many amazing women in urban fantasy, but this is the first time I meet a stripper-bouncer-half werewolf-witch-friendly-crossbow sniper who is experiencing some serious memory issues. Impressive, isn’t she? But Alexa wasn’t the only super heroine in this novel; the author did some significant ass kicking too—with her writing of course.
Marcia Colette did something that has secured me as one of her readers. She did enough research to give her fiction a healthy reality kick. This realization made me laugh at times. Fine, I was roaring with tears running down my cheeks when I thought of Marcia practicing stripper moves, just to make sure that Alexa’s bootie shaking felt real to the reader. No, Marcia has never told me about doing such thing, but I write too. I have twisted my body into strange positions, in order to keep myself from writing about something that was physically impossible. So I couldn’t help, but imagine…
This paranormal author’s alleged exotic dancing research made reading Stripped super fun, but it was not what gained my respect for her writing. What gripped me was her approached to Witchcraft. Marcia Colette is a non-Pagan author, but her use of Pagan elements was gratifyingly accurate. Her urban fantasy featured REAL magic, so you know that my Eclectic Pagan’s heart was dancing through the pages. Stripped served paranormal fiction with a purpose; not the usual ridiculous spells that would leave anyone who knows a bit about magic wondering what in the gods’ names was the author thinking?
I won’t give you details because I despise spoilers. Nevertheless, I will say that Marcia’s novel portrayed some real Witches; some good ones and a few evil as hell, but all very real in their practices. The readers of Stripped will even get to witness some of the disagreements between Witchcraft traditions… I know, I know, I said I wasn’t going to say anything else, but the novel left me charmed *dorky grin*. Of course, not enough to pretend that the Stripped was perfect; there were some things distracting enough to break the reading spell every now and then.
I practiced my eye rolling technique every time characters and settings were described, in their entirety, as soon as they appeared. I love to see things through a character's eyes, but the idea that Alexa would survey every person and location immediately, even when in peril, left me a bit disconcerted. Then I thought about Alexa’s especial qualifications, and figured that she thought like a soldier, so maybe she felt the need to search and assess her surroundings in order to feel safe. Still, it annoyed me a bit. In the end the novel was great as a whole, so I just ignored the distractions and enjoyed a succulent urban fantasy treat.
If you like your “writing dark, sexy, bloody and paranormal” like I do, then you must get your hands on Stripped. Marcia Colette has served a second course of magical shapeshifting delight!