Beneath the SkinOne of my stand-out cinematic memories is the death of Bambi’s mother in Disney’s wonderful 1942 animation.

The hunter raises his rifle and every child in the movie theatre, and quite a few adults, me included, wails in anguish.

It’s one of cinema’s most heart-breaking OMG! moments.

There are two such blood-thumping, sharp-intake-of-breath, stop-the-clock plot twists in Beneath the Skin, RL Martinez’s stunning sequel to In the Blood, the equally memorable opener to her Witchbreed fantasy series.

The first almost made me weep and the second sent my imagination into over-drive wondering just what Martinez would do next.

And both left me itching with impatience for the next instalment of this wonderful saga.

It’s 18 months-or-so since I read book one which introduced the Dominax twins, Oriabel and Ottilde.

In the Blood 2I said then that Martinez married the scope of Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights trilogy with the storytelling verve of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series.

Nothing has changed: once again, 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.

Beneath the Skin opens with the sisters on the run.

Abandoned, betrayed, and wanted for murder, the deadly magic inside Oriabel is hungry and it is all Oriabel can do to control it.

With no choice but to trust strangers, she quickly discovers not everyone is who they say they are.

Certain death

And, terrifyingly, her only weapon to protect those she loves is the magic she now fears.

Since rescuing her sister from certain death, Ottilde’s only goal is to keep Oriabel safe and alive.

Not an easy task when both the enemy and their so-called allies are hunting them.


Placing all her trust in the man who once held her prisoner, Ottilde must open her heart and mind to a future she could never have predicted.

And then something totally unexpected happens…

The Bambi moment.

Quickly followed by a second.

Shame I can’t tell you more about either but it would be too much of a spoiler.

Just buy the book and find out for yourself.

Review by Sue Featherstone.

Available to buy on Amazon.

In the Blood is also available to buy on Amazon.