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Bitter Night (Horngate Witches #1)

3.81  ·  Rating Details ·  4,261 Ratings  ·  306 Reviews

Once, Max dreamed of a career, a home, a loving family. Now all she wants is freedom...and revenge. A witch named Giselle transformed Max into a warrior with extraordinary strength, speed, and endurance. Bound by spellcraft, Max has no choice but to fight as Giselle's personal magic weapon—a Shadowblade—
Paperback, 387 pages
Published October 27th 2009 by Pocket Books (first published October 17th 2009)
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(showing 1-30)
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Lynsey   • The Demon Librarian
What an outstanding start to a series. There have not been many books that I have read that have left me with a look of pure, stupefied awe on my face over its sheer awesomeness. But this is definitely one of them. I've actually just finished reading it for the second time and thought I'd come back and add to my review since first time around I could only manage a few lines of small words due to the whole stupefaction thing.

So what was so good about it? Well, first of all let me let you into my
Nov 06, 2009 Kelly rated it liked it
In Bitter Night, Diana Pharaoh Francis introduces an unusual urban-fantasy heroine. Max is a Shadowblade, a super-powered warrior bound to serve a witch and her coven. Enslaved against her will, Max has loathed Giselle, her witch, for decades. Yet she finds herself working alongside Giselle, and other unlikely allies, when the Guardians (gods) plan an attack on the human race and threaten to destroy any coven that won’t help them.

What I liked about Bitter Night: First of all, the concept of Shad
Kelly H. (Maybedog)

On the surface, there was a lot wrong here. For example, there were a lot of little things that irritated me, like a character being able to see the expression of a person he or she wasn't facing or being able to tell not just eye color but exact shade and tone in the dark from afar. There were also a number of ridiculous cliches such as a character seeing another for the first time while hidden from sight and knowing that the man was the perfect match for her, the one who would understand her,
Douglas Meeks
Sep 26, 2012 Douglas Meeks rated it it was amazing
I received the first 3 books in this series as a gift to see if I wanted to review them and since I had not heard of them I was in the "sure whatever" mode. I can't put my finger on it but I was hooked on the story within the first few chapters and did a marathon reading session for the next few days and read the whole series. The first thing that should be noted here for the first book is that it is almost totally action driven with enough character involvement to make you angry beyond words ...more
Jun 26, 2014 ★ʜɑʋɘɳ★ rated it liked it
First half: Awesome! Second half: Meh.

I hated Alexander. It's nothing that he did, it's just everything he didn't do. Such a flat character. Following, the romance was equally disappointing. Also, what were Max & Alexander's pointless conversations about? You didn't get to know shit, because every second sentence they either asked each other whether they were okay, or continued on their endless, retarded "trust" talk. Blaaaaaaaa.

I want loads of Oz (he seems fun!), or loads of angels (they se
Literary Ames {Against GR Censorship}
I found it hard to get my head around the world created here. The Shadowblades and Sunspears were great but some things didn't quite fit, like the angels - I couldn't see them being in that world. I was also a bit unsure of the Guardians and their place, but I think that will be rectified later.

Switching between narrators was a good way of introducing us to the two characters that are to become an item, though more effort was made to flesh out main character Max than Alexander, who seemed pretty
CJ - It's only a Paper Moon
I was really hoping that I would love this book. Not only was it recommended by Patricia Briggs (an author I really like) but it was about witches and a kick ass woman!

And yet, with all of that promise, all of those things to reel me in - it fell flat for me.

First of all, Max as a character was great. Giselle was interesting and so were Max's Shadowblades. The history between Max and Giselle and the tension between the two was palpable and deep.

Yet - despite that.

The book didn't really start pi
Jan 03, 2013 Soo rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
3.5 Stars

The world isn't exactly the way you think it is. There's magic, witches, and warriors that used to be human but changed into something more by magic and sacrifice. One of those warriors is Max. She used to be a normal college girl with a normal life and a broken heart by a normal guy. In a drunken girls' night out, Max made inconsequential affirmation to be something stronger than average and living forever young. In a heartbeat, an eternity of agony or what was really a month of time,
Aug 13, 2013 Ian rated it liked it
Recommends it for: lovers of cheeseburgers.
August Group Read True Love 101

Max is a Shadowblade. Once human, she was recreated by Giselle with superhuman abilities and endurance. Carved into her soul are spells which bind her and compel her to protect Giselle and her coven home, Horngate.
Now powerful beings, the Guardians are stirring and what they want isn't entirely clear. But whatever it is it can't be good for humans...the only question is, will Horngate be able to survive or will they be swept up in the maelstrom.

Bitter Night doesn
Wow, wow, wow, why I spend so much time to not read Bitter Night asap, I have no idea. In my urban fantasy spree, I love that there's an urban fantasy series that make me hooked! Like it title, Bitter Night have a bitter heroine called Max who plan to revenge to her best friend. For her, immortality suck. Add it with betrayal and trust issue, since Giselle, the witch Max served as Shadowblade, an immortal warrior, a defender for witch/wizard, change Max without her permission. What start as a ...more
Nov 04, 2012 Sunny rated it really liked it
4.5 stars. This book made me happy. It had just what I wanted and needed - a tough-as-nails heroine and plenty of hot alphas in the mix. More review to come...but don't wait for me, pick it up and read it yourself.
For a fuller review, visit: http://loveaffairwithanereader.blogsp...

This is just my cup of tea. I love Max. She is strong, focused, loyal, and caring despite herself. She is a take-no-prisoners kinda gal. She thinks she is so hard-ass when in
(Tori-Smexybooks) smexys_sidekick
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
William Bentrim
Nov 11, 2009 William Bentrim rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fantasy and urban fantasy fans
Bitter Night by Diana Pharaoh Francis

A young woman is given extraordinary powers by her friend, a witch. In exchange for these powers she must serve the witch for eternity. Her struggle with her identity and her ethics while immersed in a violence prone culture defines the story. A war among immortals plays second chair to Max’s search for self.

Frankly when I requested this book for review I did it with skepticism. I wasn’t sure it was my cup of java. Once again I am glad I pushed aside my cyn
Dec 04, 2010 Stacy rated it it was amazing
Reviewed at http://urbanfantasyinvestigations.blo...

Max is what they call a Shadowblade, she protects her witch with her life. She didn't choose to be a Shadowblade, her best friend and room mate in collage Giselle turned her one night after they went out for drinks. Max has resented and hated Giselle ever since but is bound by Giselle's magic and can not harm nor leave Giselle. Max happens to be the prime shadowblade and is unique as she treats everyone under her super well and all the shadowbl
Apr 12, 2012 Felicia rated it really liked it
Shelves: urban-paranormal
I dunno, it's not 100% original, but I really enjoyed this book. The world building, that part I didn't love as much. What I did like is that the lead character is pretty acerbic and unlikable (and the author was VERY clear in this, overly clear sometimes hahha) and the love interest is not a bully alpha male, he's a dude who's ok with the lady being in charge. Cliffhanger set up well for the next one, and secondary characters drew me in. So anyway, i was really drawn into this book, it read ...more
All Things Urban Fantasy
Review Courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy

Like my favorite urban fantasy author Patricia Briggs (who just happened to have blurbed for this book), Diana Pharaoh Francis has a background as an established fantasy writer, and that background is certainly evident in Bitter Night.

“Max’s phone rang. It was set to a high-pitched tone that most humans couldn’t hear. But being human hadn’t been Max’s problem since 1979.” –Bitter Night

First up, the good: Diana’s fantasy background was a strength that s
Casey Evans
Jan 20, 2013 Casey Evans rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
There are two parts of this, my thoughts on the series and those on this particular book. This is a good series, it could have been a great series. That it's not I put a lot of blame on the editor for. There are a lot of loose ends and a double pile of logical inconsistencies that keep this from being a great series, which is something a good editor should have caught. The author takes some of the blame too, but it is harder to see it when it's your baby. It is somewhat frustrating because the ...more
Feb 02, 2011 Kelly rated it it was amazing
I think I'm going through a serious Urban Fantasy phase because the last few I've read have really, really hit the spot. Ridiculously so. It's like I either need bloody battles, dirty sex or teen angst in my books. And let's face it, those three don't really go together (well, maybe the battles and sex, but not alongside the teen angst. Most of the time.) and yet that's what I've been stuck on for the past few days. Then it starts getting all mixed up in my head and I start wondering why those ...more
Sharon ∞❥ is an angst book junkie ❥∞
Bitter Night is a very unique story in that it doesn't deal with the witches but more with the witch's fighters, specifically Max. Max is a Shadowblade Prime and what that means is she leads the fighters that can go out in the night. There are also fighters that can go out in the daylight and they are called the Sunspears. Something is happening with the Guardians (ancient beings) and the witches have been called to the Conclave (a gathering). Unfortunately, Max gets told to make a side trip and ...more
Jaime Huff
Nov 10, 2009 Jaime Huff rated it liked it
The first book of the "Horngate Witches" series, Bitter Night is full of bloody, gruesome, and high flying adventure. I can almost say, this isn't for those with weak constitutions. Some of the injuries Shadowblades and Sunspears endure are pretty gruesome and the author is very sadistic.. in a good way! LOL. For the first book right out the gate of this series, I have to say, not bad. Not bad at all. I definitely wouldn't say fantastic or anything but not bad. There were a few nuances with the ...more
Carol Berg
Oct 13, 2011 Carol Berg rated it really liked it
Max is the very angry, very capable heroine of the first in Diana Francis's Horngate Witches urban fantasy series. Francis is a fine writer-clean, clear prose, beautifullly suited to her genre. And I've got to say, an interesting world set-up - the role of witches and the attributes of Shadowblades and Sunspears in particular - and non-stop action carried me through this book. I wasn't so sure of the cast in the beginning. I'm a hero/ine geek,so my opinions of the main character and the ...more
Jan 15, 2010 Darcy rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010, uf, witches, magic
I really liked this book but was worried at first because there was a lot of info in the first 20 pages, then they introduced one of the main characters and the story flew by from there and it is different from so much that is out there.

Max seems to be a person that draws people to her not knowing that she is doing it and when faced with the results she is stunned that such a thing has happened. Through the book she is like the pied piper and people you wouldn't expect follow her because of who
3.5 stars. As fast paced urban fantasy, I liked the book quite a lot. It had a lot of original elements, a kick-ass heroine who was strong without being whiny or overly sarcastic, and a lot of action. But the romance novel aspect of the book was too trite and predictable to be at all enjoyable. For example, by page 30, "without even speaking a word to each other, she knew that he already understood her better than anybody else in her life." Why that was necessary instead of just developing a ...more
Aug 22, 2016 NyxShadow rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: numérique
Je ne vous remercie pas du conseil, j'en ressors avec une insomnie tellement j'ai lu pour le terminer XD

The first of a four book saga. A magic universe with witches and their servants (or slaves if you think like Max).
I really like this universe and all the magic interactions. I think the author could write many, many books with her characters!
Max is cool, but a little obsessed by her revenge, so it was cool to see her through other characters (even if it was a man who like her).
She is loyal, s
May 08, 2012 Pam rated it it was amazing
Shelves: witches
Loved this book, buzzed right thru it because I could not put it down. Synopsis elsewhere, but what drew me in was the strength/vulnerabilities of the characters, the nuanced (and shifting!)loyalties and the non-stop action.

Don't be looking for romance in Book #1, but there's lots of lovely sexual tension. I'm on to Book 2 to see how it plays out.
Dec 19, 2011 Lisarenee rated it it was amazing
What would you do to live forever? What would you give to stay eternally young? What would you do to have your senses heightened and your body strengthened to the point of being supernatural? What would you give up for all of those things combined? Think about it. Would you give up your free will and, in effect, become a slave to someone else's wishes? To be unable to say, "No"? Would you be willing to give up all your hopes and dreams? How about your family? Would you be willing to kill others? ...more
Kristin  (MyBookishWays Reviews)
You may also read my review here:

Bitter Night has been on my shelf for a while. Staring at me. Beckoning to me. So, over the holiday, I picked it up and could have kicked myself for waiting this long to start this series. Max is a Shadowblade Prime, in service to her witch, Giselle. The problem is, Max didn’t choose this job, Giselle tricked her into it 30 years ago when they were best friends in college. One minute Giselle was asking her a series of what

This is the first time I have read Diana Pharaoh Francis, as well as her first time writing Urban Fantasy. Seems appropriate that I come to her with something fresh, now doesn't it?

Bitter Night has a bit of a complicated mythos to it. I'll try to simplify. There are these powerful witches who maintain covensteads for their own protection. They build up armies of warrior guardians called Sunspears and Shadowblades. To keep them loyal and ensure that they do their duty the witches instill compulsi
Krista D.
Mar 16, 2011 Krista D. rated it really liked it
(originally appeared on

I'm a huge fan of DPF's traditional fantasy works, especially her Crosspointe series. Her literary tone really suits the sub-genre. So, I was hesitant to try the urban fantasy. I'm glad I did.

I confess that the first quarter of the book had me confused. To be fair, I think that was more about me not being well read in urban fantasy, as opposed to it being the author's fault. I'm a newbie reader to the genre and I found that I had a
Apr 10, 2013 Melissa rated it it was amazing
I know this is a strange way to say I'm catching up on my series reading with book 1, but it's true. I actually started with Crimson Wind which is the second book in the series. I was not lost and became quickly enthralled with the series, but I had to read Shadow City (#3) before I read anything else because the second one ended with a cliffie. So, now I'm catching up and read that first book.

Oh I'm glad I did. I didn't feel like I was missing anything, but I did get a much better feel for some
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Girls, Guns and G...: Bitter Night (Spoiler Free) Nov 2012 BOM 1 7 Oct 26, 2012 09:11AM  
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I was raised on a cattle ranch in Northern California (outside a town called Lincoln which is now part of an enormous sprawl). I taught myself to ride a horse at the age of six, as no one had the time to teach me—they were all busy learning how to irrigate, how to cajole an angry bull into another field, how to pull a calf… Afraid of heights, and absolutely sure I was going to die, I managed to ...more
More about Diana Pharaoh Francis...

Other Books in the Series

Horngate Witches (4 books)
  • Crimson Wind (Horngate Witches, #2)
  • Shadow City (Horngate Witches, #3)
  • Blood Winter (Horngate Witches, #4)

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“I don't mess around with the men in the coven, especially my Shadowblades," she said with quiet finality. Flirting was one thing but anything more, it was a mistake of epic proportions.

His eyes narrowed and he gave a slow shake of his head. "That is all right then. Because I want so much more than just to mess around.”
“You got a problem?"
"Aside from the fact that we are about to die? No. But I want to say thank you before it is too late.”
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