Review: Stained by Jessica McBrayer

By: Jessica McBrayer
Publisher: Mess of Geckos
Published: Oct. 14, 2011
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Source: Author

Barnes & Noble

Thorn works after dark. That’s when she combines her gifts as a tattoo artist and her powers as a natural born witch to weave magick into her ink. Her tattoo parlor, Stained, on Berkeley’s quirky Telegraph Avenue draws clients from all walks of life. Her work is in high demand from the supernatural community and the undead.

With her raven familiar, Thorn’s been on the run all her adult life. She won’t talk about why. She only wants to practice her art in peace. But when a murderer targets her clients, Sé, a tall, dark and Irish detective is assigned to investigate. They must trust each other and survive the cat and mouse game that ensues.

To the average person, Thorn appears to be your average tattoo artist. She does great work on tattoos and has a long waiting list of customers waiting to get their next ink fix. What people don’t know is that she is actually a witch. Not only that but some of her “special” customers want an enchanted talisman worked into their tattoo for protection, wealth etc. However, when her “special” customers start becoming targets of a serial killer whom cuts out these talisman, Thorn is not only in danger because it is clear that the killer is taunting her but she’s also a suspect in the local authorities eyes.

Thorn was a pretty interesting character. You would think with being a tattoo artist, riding a bike and being a witch that she would be this kick-ass character but she’s really not. She’s been on the run for quite some time and really doesn’t like trouble. There is even a scene where she gets the crap kicked out of her and just sort of takes the beating without using her spells for fear of revealing herself as a witch.

Then you have Se, the sexy Irish detective. I found his character to be really intriguing. He comes in when the murders pop up to ask Thorn a couple of questions. He instantly knows that she’s a witch since he has the “sight”, his grandmother was a witch so he grew up around it. He tries to stay as professional as he can when it comes to Thorn but when she becomes the #1 suspect, he warns Thorn that they are coming to arrest her to give her time to run. There was just something about his character that I really liked.

I thought for McBrayar’s debut novel, that she did a great job. I really liked the idea of the story and felt that as a whole it was pretty good. It held my attention the entire time and I found myself staying up at night just to get to the end of the story. However, there were a couple of problems I had with the book. One, there were grammar issues in the story and second, I found some of the dialogue to be a bit choppy in some spots. Some of the things the characters said just didn’t seem real to me either. However, that didn’t ruin the story for me but it did keep me from getting 100% engrossed in the story. I definitely enjoyed Stained and look forward to reading more from this author.


Thorn has a familiar whom is a Raven. The raven can talk into her mind and can speak and understand English. When Se and Scettico show up at Thorn’s apartment, Raven takes that opportunity to let Scettico know what he thinks of him while playing the “dumb bird” role.

Raven flew from his perch and Scettico suddenly had a foul streak down his suit. Se coughed, a sound that sounded suspiciously like laughter.
“Raven!” Thorn admonished
“Pretty bird, Pretty bird.” Raven sang.


2 Thoughts on “Review: Stained by Jessica McBrayer

  1. Thanks Kristin for the great review!

  2. Great review, sounds like a great read!

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