Blood Engines (Marla Mason -1) by T.A. Pratt, Tim Pratt

Blood Engines (Marla Mason #1) by T.A. Pratt, Tim Pratt

Marla Mason series by T.A. Pratt, aka Tim Pratt 

Genres and Sub-GenresEdit

Urban Fantasy

Series Description or Overview Edit

This series follows the adventures of Marla Mason, an ass-kicking sorcerer who doesn’t wear a leather catsuit, doesn’t suffer from low self-esteem, doesn’t wallow in angst, and is almost always absolutely certain she’s right… even when she’s dead wrong. It’s got monsters. It’s got sarcasm. It’s got death, destruction, sex parties, ancient gods, wisecracks, artifacts, oracles, dark alleys, and magical daggers.

Each novel tells a complete standalone story—though consequences from the events of one book are often seen in the following volume, and it’s probably most satisfying to read them in order. ~ Marla Mason

Lead's Species Edit


Primary Supe Edit


What Sets it ApartEdit

No angsty heroine

Narrative Type and Narrators Edit

Books in Series Edit

Marla Mason series:

  1. Blood Engines (2007)
  2. Poison Sleep (2008)
  3. Dead Reign (2008)
  4. Spell Games (2009)
  5. Broken Mirrors (2010)
  6. Grim Tides (2011)
  7. Bride of Death (2013)
  8. Lady of Misrule (2015)
  9. Queen of Nothing (expected by end of 2015)

Marla Mason Prequels Edit

  • Prequel #1 Bone Shop (Marla Mason #0.1)
  • Prequel #2 Haruspex (Marla Mason #0.2)
  • Prequel #3 Pale Dog (Marla Mason #0.3)
  • Prequel #4 Mommy Issues of the Dead (Marla Mason #0.4)

Shorts, Novellas, Anthologies and Guides Edit

  • 1.5. Grander Than the Sea (2011)
  • 5.5. Shark's Teeth (2011)
  • 5.6. Little Better than a Beast (2011)
  • Down with the Lizards and the Bees (2011)
  • “Ill Met in Ulthar” in Witches, March 2012.

Marla Mason World short stories Edit

  • “Ghostreaper, or, Life After Revenge” in Nightmare, January 2014. (About the chaos witch Elsie Jarrow from Grim Tides)
  • “Happy Old Year” in audio at Drabblecast, December 2013. (More of Elsie)
  • “A Cloak of Many Worlds” [chapbook], September 2012. (About Bradley Bowman, former apprentice of Marla’s, who became… something more)
  • “Life in Stone” in audio at Escape Pod, August 2006. (About the assassin Mr. Zealand from novel Poison Sleep)

Marla Mason » Free Stories About Marla Mason

World Building Edit

Setting Edit

Home city of Felport

Other Places:

  • San Francisco, California
  • Golden Gate Park
  • Chinatown: location of the Celestial SF
  • Alcatraz: location of the most powerful oracle in San Francisco.
  • Tenderloin: a BART station. The location of Bethany, fourth in the chain of command in San Francisco's sorcerers.
  • Strawberry Hill: was a high, rounded lump of land in the middle of a small lake located in Golden Gate Park.
  • Blackwing Institute: located in Annemberg, just outside Felport city limits. Home to Felport's criminally insane.
  • Wolf Bay Café: a cafe with a Native American theme.
  • Underworld
  • Tenderloin Station: A secret subway stop underneath San Francisco.
  • Indiana: Marla's hometown
  • Hawai’ian islands
  • Fludd Park
  • Oregon's Malheur National Forest #4
  • Jericho #5
  • Maui #6

Supernatural Elements Edit

✥ Sorcerers, ancient gods, artifacts, oracles, witches, psychics, shapeshifter, werewolves, magical daggers, monsters, poisonous frogs, murderous hummingbirds, cannibals, king of nightmares, god of Death, precious artifact, trains to the underworld, mummy of John Wilkes Booth, chaos witch, fabric of reality, Brain-eating fungi, flesh-and-blood ghost, psychic vampires, Mad sorcerers, demons, apprentice oracle, mushroom god, vegetal magic, fungal apocalypse, magic cloak, werewolf hunter, goddess of Death, , ,

Glossary: Edit

  • Cornerstone: magical artifact hidden somewhere in San Francisco—Marla's only chance of survival. There are four known Cornerstones. They’re good for binding spells, for making things last, for making improbable things likely, for anchoring things. It is a large chunk of blue-gray rock, easily two feet to a side, cut into a weathered cube, with a magical density great enoough to bend the light surrounding it.
  • haruspexy: divination by the inspection of the entrails of animals
  • Pornomancer: Marla's colloquialism for a sexual magician.
  • Teyolia: in Aztec myth, the life force that feeds the gods and controls the universe. It’s stronger when the sacrifice is afraid.
  • Reweaver: can change the face of the physical world and could even change people's memories.
  • Lovetalker: a person with supernatural charisma, capable of seducing anyone—a person with the supernatural power that could make other people fall in love with them. Their power is more potent to a person that has sexual intercourse with them. —
  • Charismatics: previous term for lovetalkers, however changed after the 1950's when the 'Charismatics' had too many religious connotations.
  • Psychometry: art of accessing the memories of objects #4
  • Ganconer:
  • Ativan Reality:
  • Borrichius spores:
  • Vegetal Magic:
  • Anti-Magic:
  • Consiglieri:
  • Vermomancer: A sorcerer of vermin: rats and roaches but also pigeons
  • Dee’s Peerage: The great compendium of notable magic users didn’t include every sorcerer in the world.

Groups & Organizations:Edit

  • Blackwing Institute #2: mentally ill sorcerers—for those dangerous to themselves, others, and the fabric of reality
  • Four Tree Gang: a magical street gang in Felport.
  • Honeyed Knots: a magical street gang in Felport.
  • Slow Assassins: assassins that take long contracts, psychologically stalking their victims before killing them.

World Edit

Protagonist Edit

Sidekick Edit

Name: Rondeau — What: spirit-in-a-bottle — Sidekick-to: Marla Mason — About: assist Marla in magic — Book First Seen In: Blood Engines (2007)

Characters Chart Edit

more Characters: Blood Engines (Marla Mason 1) by T. A. Pratt — Marla Mason Series ~ Shelfari

Characters What About
Marla Mason sorcerer, occult detective small-time guardian of the city of Felport; later: goddess of Death;
Rondeau spirit-in-a-bottle her companion; psychic, hedonistic; assists Marla;
Jason #4 con man Marla’s brother; charismatic con man with a major scam in mind; needs Marla to do him a little favor
The Mason #5 Marla's double her counterpart from a parallel universe: an implacable tyrant, corrupted by a cursed magical cloak and devoted to the elimination of all life… and Marla;
Elsie Jarrow #6 chaos witch hired by a group out to kill Marla;
Nicolette #6 witch one-armed witch
Crapsey psychopath

To expand the table, right-press on a row of the table or (Control-press on a Mac)—choose add row.

Author Edit

T.A. Pratt

  • Website: Tim Pratt
  • Genres: UF, Fantasy, SciFi 

Bio: Tim Pratt lives in Oakland, California, with his wife, Heather Shaw and their son River. His fiction and poetry have appeared in The Best American Short Stories: 2005, The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, Strange Horizons, Realms of Fantasy, Asimov's, Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, and Year's Best Fantasy, among many others. ~


Cover ArtistEdit

~ Source: Marla Mason - Series Bibliography ~ ISFdb ~ Source: Fantastic Fiction

Other Contributors:Edit

  • Narrator (audio book):  Jessica Almasy — Grim Tides (confirmed)

Publishing InformationEdit

  • Publisher: Spectra
  • Author Page:
  • Bk-1:Paperback, 368 pages, Pub Sept 25th 2007—ISBN: 0553589989

Author's Synopsis for Each book Edit

(Be advised: the descriptions below inevitably contain minor spoilers. If you wish to have your mind entirely unsullied by foreknowledge, don’t read.)

1. Blood Engines introduces Marla as she travels to San Francisco in search of powerful magic necessary to save her home city of Felport, which she’s sworn to protect. When she arrives, she discovers an old friend has been murdered in Golden Gate Park. She decides to investigate (and/or seek vengeance), and uncovers a dark plot to raise an ancient god in a ritual fueled by the blood of San Francisco’s greatest sorcerers. Also, there are lots and lots of poisonous frogs.

2. Poison Sleep begins when a dangerous psychic escapes from the Blackwing Institute for mentally ill sorcerers — people who are dangers to themselves, others, and the fabric of reality — and threatens Marla’s beloved Felport. Marla has to face off against a king of nightmares… and contend with the romantic interest of a man who is supernaturally attractive and not necessarily to be trusted.

3. Dead Reign pits Marla against her greatest foe yet: the god of Death. Marla owns a precious artifact that Death wants for himself, and he’s not above holding her entire city hostage until Marla agrees to hand it over. Anyone sensible would just give in… but Marla’s got a stubborn streak and a fundamental refusal to quit. The book features trains to the underworld and the revivified mummy of John Wilkes Booth, among other things.

4. Spell Games introduces Marla’s brother Jason, a charismatic con man with a major scam in mind. He just needs Marla to do him a little favor, and he’ll be set for life. How can a sister refuse? Includes weird mushroom magic.

5. In Broken Mirrors (free to read at the link) Marla takes desperate steps to bring a beloved friend back from the dead. As a consequence, she fractures the structure of half life of ativan reality itself, and is forced to confront her counterpart from a parallel universe: an implacable tyrant known as The Mason, corrupted by a cursed magical cloak and devoted to the elimination of all life in general… and Marla in particular.

6. In Grim Tides (free to read at the link), Marla is on a vacation of sorts in the Hawai’ian islands, recovering from her ordeal in the previous volume. But her enemies have been waiting for a moment of weakness, and they assemble a team of assassins and villains led by the notorious chaos witch Elsie Jarrow to get rid of Marla once and for all.

7. In Bride of Death Marla comes to grips with some major changes in her life, and decides to go on a road trip and kill a lot of monsters. Except nothing’s ever quite that simple.

8. "Bone Shop" (free to read at the link) is a prequel short novel about Marla’s origins and her rise to power in Felport. While it can be read any time, it is particularly effective when read after Dead Reign, as it sheds new light on some events in that novel. ~ Marla Mason

Book Cover Blurbs Edit

BOOK ONE BLURB—Blood Engines (2007): Meet Marla Mason - smart, saucy, slightly wicked witch of the East Coast.… Sorcerer Marla Mason, small-time guardian of the city of Felport, has a big problem. A rival is preparing a powerful spell that could end Marla's life - and, even worse, wreck her city. Marla's only chance of survival is to boost her powers with the Cornerstone, a magical artifact hidden somewhere in San Francisco. But when she arrives there, Marla finds that the quest isn't going to be quite as cut-and-dried as she expected…and that some of the people she needs to talk to are dead. It seems that San Francisco's top sorcerers are having troubles of their own - a mysterious assailant has the city's magical community in a panic, and the local talent is being (gruesomely) picked off one by one. With her partner-in-crime, Rondeau, Marla is soon racing against time through San Francisco's alien streets, dodging poisonous frogs, murderous hummingbirds, cannibals, and a nasty vibe from the local witchery, who suspect that Marla herself may be behind the recent murders. And if Marla doesn't figure out who is killing the city's finest in time, she'll be in danger of becoming a magical statistic herself. ~ Blood Engines (Marla Mason, book 1) by T A Pratt

BOOK TWO BLURB—Poison Sleep (2008): The bad girl of the magical underworld is back and badder than ever. Someone wants Marla Mason dead. Usually that's not news. As chief sorcerer of Felport, someone always wants her dead. But this time she's the target of a renegade assassin who specializes in killing his victims over days, months, or even years. Not to mention a mysterious knife-wielding killer in black who pops up in the most unexpected places. To make matters worse, an inmate has broken out of the Blackwing Institute for criminally insane sorcerers—a troubled psychic who can literally reweave the fabric of reality to match her own traumatic past. With her wisecracking partner Rondeau reluctantly in tow, Marla teams up with a “love-talker” whose dangerous erotic spells not even she can resist. Together they're searching the rapidly transforming streets of Felport for a woman who's become the Typhoid Mary of nightmares, infecting everything—and everyone—she touches with a chaos worse than death itself. ~ Fantastic Fiction

BOOK THREE BLURB—Dead Reign (2008): Death has come calling, and one woman has what he wants most of all... As chief sorcerer of Felport, Marla Mason thought she'd faced every kind of evil the magical world had to offer. But she's never faced a killer like this. He's dark, glib, handsome as the devil - and exactly who he says he is. Death - in the flesh. He's arrived in Felport with a posse composed of a half-insane necromancer and the reanimated corpse of John Wilkes Booth, and he isn't leaving until he gets what he came for. Only Marla is crazy enough to tell Death to go back to Hell. With the Founders' Ball just around the bend, drawing together the brightest, meanest, and most dangerous of Felport's magical elite, the last thing Marla needs is all-out war with the King of the Underworld, but that's exactly what she's got. As the battle lines are drawn, she can count on her hedonistic, body-hopping partner Rondeau.but how many of her old allies will stand by her side when facing the ultimate adversary? To save her city, Marla will have to find a way to cheat Death.literally. ~ Fantastic Fiction

BOOK FOUR BLURB—Spell Games (2009): Brain-eating fungi, wannabe sorcerers, long-lost relations-does even a hard-core witch stand a chance?

Mad sorcerers, psychic vampires, an army of vengeful demons, Marla Mason would rather face them all than a flesh-and-blood ghost from her dysfunctional family past: her con artist brother, Jason. As Felport's chief sorcerer, Marla would ordinarily consider it her duty to protect her town from such an unscrupulous ne'er-do-well. As his sister, things are a lot.trickier. Now, as Marla attempts to train an apprentice oracle whose magical wires have gotten crossed, Jason is setting up an elaborate sting and drawing her ever-so-corruptible partner Rondeau into the ruse.

Their patsy is a filthy-rich wannabe mage and their bait is something so valuable, so dangerous, so sought after, it probably doesn't exist. But now word's gotten out that the Borrichius spores do exist and instead of a sucker Jason and Rondeau have a much bigger-and much deadlier-fish on their line: a reclusive sorcerer whose devotion to the mushroom god and command of vegetal magic could bring a fungal apocalypse to Felport. It'll be the mother of all bad trips unless Marla can pull off the ultimate magical switcheroo.and somehow live to tell about it. ~ Fantastic Fiction

BOOK FIVE BLURB—Broken Mirrors (2010): A Marla Mason novel! She's an ass-kicking sorcerer who doesn't wear a leather catsuit, doesn't suffer from low self-esteem, doesn't wallow in angst, and is almost always absolutely certain she's right...even when she's dead wrong. What about Broken Mirrors? It's got monsters. It's got sarcasm. It's got death, betrayal, ancient gods, dark doppelgangers, mirror worlds, wisecracks, artifacts, oracles, and magical daggers. Oh...and a cloak. ~ Fantastic Fiction

BOOK SIX BLURB—Bride of Death (2013): Marla Mason, ousted chief sorcerer for the city of Felport, is languishing in exile on the island of Maui with her best friend, the psychic (and rather hedonistic) Rondeau. Driven from the city she loves, Marla is adrift, nearly friendless, and stripped of almost all her power and resources. It's the perfect time for old enemies to try and kill her. A group of sorcerers, all with their own reasons to want Marla dead, assemble and prepare to attack her while she's at her most vulnerable. The members of this Marla Mason Revenge Squad include the one-armed witch Nicolette, the cheerfully murderous psychopath Crapsey, a criminally insane shapeshifter, a man who hunts werewolves for fun, and a master of anti-magic, among others. But they aren't taking chances with an enemy as formidable as Marla. They hire the world's most notorious--and deadly--chaos witch, Elsie Jarrow, to lead their assault. But Elsie is impossible to predict and may well have an agenda of her own. But Marla isn't as helpless as they think. ~ Fantastic Fiction

BOOK SEVEN BLURB—: Marla Mason has been a mercenary, chief sorcerer and protector of an entire city, and an occult detective, and now she's a goddess of Death... but only part-time. She gets to spend six months a year living as a mortal woman on Earth, and she's decided to devote those months to hunting monsters for fun and personal redemption. Armed with axe and dagger, with the living severed head of her worst enemy in a birdcage for a traveling companion, she sets off by motorcycle into the American Southwest on a journey of self-discovery and other-destruction. With cover art by Lindsey Look and interior illustrations by Zack Stella. ~ Source: Fantastic Fiction

First Sentences Edit

  1. Blood Engines (2007) — Marla Mason crouched in the alley beside the City Lights bookstore and threw her runes.
  2. Poison Sleep (2008) — The Bentley squealed to a halt at the top of the icy horseshoe driveway before the looming brick face of the Blackwing Institute.
  3. Dead Reign (2008) — Marla Mason sat in the branches of an ancient oak on a ridge, spying on the moonlit cemetery below.
  4. Spell Games (2009) — "Marlita,” the man said again, standing just inside the door to her office.
  5. Broken Mirrors (2010) — Marla Mason – called by some the Witch Queen of Felport, though she preferred the more traditional, less sexist, and decidedly lowercase title “chief sorcerer” – stood with her back against a stone wall in a five-by-nine-foot jail cell three thousand miles away from the city she defended and called home.
  6. Grim Tides (2011) — Thanks ever so much for seeing me.
  7. Bride of Death (2013) — Dear me, Marla Mason here, fresh from the grave.
  8. Lady of Misrule (2015) —
  9. Queen of Nothing (end of 2015) —

Quotes Edit

Tim Pratt Quotes (Author of The Strange Adventures of Rangergirl) ~ Goodreads

Trivia Edit

Special lists:

Awards Edit

Read Alikes (suggestions) Edit

— If you like these, you may like this:

Notes Edit

See Also Edit

External References Edit


Excerpts and Freebies:

World, Characters, etc:






Community, Fan Sites:

See Also Edit

Gallery of Book Covers Edit

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