In the BloodDo you remember the scene towards the end of The Empire Strikes Back, second episode in the original Star Wars trilogy, when the charismatic mercenary Han Solo is frozen in suspended animation in a block of carbonite?

And realisation dawns that you’ve got to wait for the sequel to find out whether he’s dead or alive?

Thanks to the magic of the DVD player I can watch the next episode anytime I want.

Unfortunately, I’ve got at least 12 months, if not longer, before I can hope to read the follow-up to In the Blood, the debut novel of Robin L. Martinez.

It seems an impossibly long wait.

I want to know NOW what happens next to the Dominax twins, Ottilde and Oriabel.

Will they find…?

But, no, I don’t want to spoil the multiple cliffhangers that close this stunning opener to The Witchbreed series, a YA fantasy adventure set in the aftermath of war between the kingdoms of Roanaan and Deauxerr.

Ottilde, the elder twin by one minute, is a prisoner-of-war, while her sister, keeps her healing magic secret as she cares for the family’s struggling estate.

And then, in a dream, Ottilde ‘sees’ her sister hanging from the Witch’s Tree.

Martinez marries the scope and imagination of Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights saga with the storytelling verve of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series.

The magic stays just on the right side of believable, the plot is soundly character-driven and the writing carries the story at a cracking pace.

It’s not perfect.

In the early chapters Ottilde is almost too good a warrior to be true and Oriabel nauseatingly saintly.

Fortunately, she quickly stops being a goody two-shoes and her sister loses a skirmish or two.

And that’s the point at which I began to care about them and the book became un-put-down-able.

Counting the days until the next instalment.

Review by Sue Featherstone.

Available to buy from Amazon.