Iris and Estella are best friends whose relationship doesn’t end with Estella’s death. Iris’ feelings of shock, guilt, and repentance are exacerbated...moreIris and Estella are best friends whose relationship doesn’t end with Estella’s death. Iris’ feelings of shock, guilt, and repentance are exacerbated by Estella’s voice whispering in her head; chiding her every thought and action. Brutal murders, strange packages, and even stranger occurrences begin to accumulate around Iris like iron filings around a magnet. Estella’s voice evolves into full-blown arguments as Iris becomes convinced that first one person, then another is at the root of her problems.
Blood Echo has a dark feel throughout, because everything is filtered through Iris’ increasingly tenuous grasp on reality. Simonson is very good at subtly drawing the reader, step by step, down the blind alley to psychosis. It’s a little uncomfortable, but you just have to see what’s behind the next dumpster. There’s always a surprise there, but none of them compare to the wall at the end of the alley.
The cast of characters here is interesting. With a couple of exceptions, it’s almost impossible to be sure whether any of them is truly likeable. Being the ultimate unreliable narrator, even Iris is hard to pin down in this regard. For the most part, this is a group of people you might like…until you get to know them.
There’s a vampire element to the story that may be “real” or may be part of Iris’ psychosis. Either way, leaving it out wouldn’t have hurt the story and would likely have intensified the aspects that make it such a good psychological thriller.
Blood Echo may leave you uncertain of what’s real and with questions for which you don’t really want the answers.(less)
Carrie was born with the ability to hear the thoughts of those around her. The immortality is the result of a deal someone else made with a demon…abou...moreCarrie was born with the ability to hear the thoughts of those around her. The immortality is the result of a deal someone else made with a demon…about eight thousand years ago. For the time being, she owns a diner in Philadelphia, where she dispenses advice to those who are able to track her down. She avoids other people as much as possible, but has managed, over the centuries, to develop relationships with an angel, Gabriel, and a demon, Bedlam. When her latest supplicant, Sebastian, asks if she can get him out of a deal – his soul for his sister’s life – he’s made with a demon, she decides to break her personal rule and try to help him. Finding the demon who holds Sebastian’s contract, involves increasingly dangerous trips into Hell and the care of her friends on each return.
Much of this story is flashbacks related to how Carrie reached the current phase of her eternal life and to how she met the various archdemons she must deal with to fulfill her commitment to Sebastian. After a while I began to wonder if that was all the story would hold. About two thirds of the way through, Sebastian returns to the story in a very touching way that sets the stage for its true resolution.
Oracle of Philadelphia is interesting for its depiction of the angelic realm, but the real message of the story is the value of true friendship. Carrie spends a lot of time looking for things that she doesn’t realize she already has, as if her ability to see into others’ lives hinders her in knowing her own.
For those who want more than just angels and demons in their supernatural fantasy, this is a must read.(less)
The Burning Bush picks up the story of Lanore Vesta about a month after the end of her first adventure in Fire Baptized. It starts with a bang – liter...moreThe Burning Bush picks up the story of Lanore Vesta about a month after the end of her first adventure in Fire Baptized. It starts with a bang – literally – when Lanore and Zulu bomb Dante Botelli’s business. Unfortunately, this provides Detective Rivera with the last bit of leverage he needs to blackmail Lanore into solving another of his cases – the murders of two young women. To complicate matters she also has to contend with her love triangle with Zulu and Meshack, the escalating war of revenge-for-revenge with Dante, a possible conspiracy involving the Rebels, keeping the vessel – Angel – safe while she tries to determine the Palero’s true motives for wanting her, and dealing with Zulu’s little sister, Cassie, who has become Lanore’s self-appointed assistant. Solving the Burning Bush Murders for Rivera turns out to be the easy part. Dealing with her friends and loved ones is the daunting part. When Dante retaliates – with tragic results for Lanore – she takes a closer look at what she’s doing with her life and who she’s doing it for.
First, a couple of things I didn’t like. The first book in the Habitat Series – Fire Baptized – was an urban fantasy with some strong romance undercurrents. The Burning Bush seems to have transformed the series into a romance in an urban fantasy setting. I’m also not a fan of cliff-hanger endings in book series.
Wright continues to develop her world of supernaturals forced to live separately from humans. She provides history of the rift between the two and Lanore’s own backstory seamlessly throughout the story. She balances the various parts of the story, keeping the reader uncertain as to which are related and what is truly coincidence or conspiracy. As in Fire Baptized, her characters are the heart of the story. She’s created individuals you can see yourself spending time with – or avoiding at all costs. I especially like Zulu’s Prime. His attitude and personality remind me of some of Christopher Moore’s monsters.
In all, this is a good second “episode” for the Habitat Series, but be prepared for a change in approach to the story from the first “episode.”(less)
Dark Moon revolves around a love parallelogram – two love triangles mashed together with two of the characters in both triangles and the other two cha...moreDark Moon revolves around a love parallelogram – two love triangles mashed together with two of the characters in both triangles and the other two characters related to each other. The characters display the emotional and reasoning capacity of a herd of eighth-graders. From that perspective, the story would go something like this: Storm and Trevor have been dating since seventh grade, and Storm wanted Trevor to ask her to go steady, but he was just playing it cool. Then Storm and Jarred met and hooked up, and that same night Trevor asked Storm to go steady, but she was freaked out because of what she and Jarred had done, so she told Trevor she’d think about it. Then Jarred decided Storm had to go steady with him because they’d hooked up, and he really liked her a lot, but Storm didn’t want to have anything to do with him because she thought he took advantage of her. Storm’s BFF, Donna, just wanted to have fun and kept telling her she should have some fun too. Storm still wanted Trevor to like her, but she wasn’t sure about him because he started acting kind of weird. Turns out, Elle, Storm’s lab partner, had been friends with Jarred for a long time, and wanted to go steady with him, but he told her they were just friends, probably because he was so into Storm. Oh, and Elle just found out that Trevor’s really her brother and is actually such a bad boy. When Trevor found out about Storm and Jarred, he freaked out and treated Storm really bad. He even tried to hook up with Donna to get even with Storm. But he still wants Storm to go steady with him. He and Jarred got into a couple of fights over Storm, and Jarred’s been really protective of her, but in a creepy, stalky kind of way. When Storm decided to go steady with Trevor, he got really controlling of her, and then he and Jarred got into a really bad fight over her, and…well, you know…
Based on the synopses I’d read, I was expecting Dark Moon to be a paranormal/supernatural thriller. What I got was a fairly standard romance with some supernatural thrown in, almost as an afterthought. Each chapter had me throwing up my hands in frustration as the characters found more and more senseless ways to think and behave. The few attempts at developing the supernatural aspects of the plot appeared to be stuck into the story to fill holes and potentially explain the characters’ odd behavior.
Fans of romance may enjoy Dark Moon, but true paranormal/supernatural fans will be disappointed.(less)
It’s not unusual for a series to have a prequel. Generally, the author reaches a point where he or she feels the need to provide additional context fo...moreIt’s not unusual for a series to have a prequel. Generally, the author reaches a point where he or she feels the need to provide additional context for the characters or for the story arc of the series, and writes a prequel as opposed to awkwardly plopping that information into the middle of a book. Don’t Call Me Angel is unusual for a prequel. It should actually be considered a series prologue rather than a prequel, because we have it well in advance of Possession – the “first book” of the series – which is due in April, 2013. I hope others will follow Brewster’s lead in this method of introducing and building interest in their upcoming series.
Six – a fallen angel – is somewhat surprised by what she learns when she escapes from Hell. She finds that Alden – another fallen angel she brought with her – has a far darker side than she ever imagined when they were trading blood debts just to survive in Hell. Then she realizes that Earth isn’t the idyllic place she believed as she viewed it on countless occasions through the portals. She can’t understand why people are so dissatisfied with how much they have and are so desperate to have more. Alden introduces Six to the multitude of demons, fallen angels, monsters, and others who have previously escaped Hell and are perpetrating their now-unrestrained lust on defenseless humans, and she realizes life on earth will not be the peaceful existence she’d dreamed of. When he begins killing human’s souls along with their bodies, she goes after Alden to prevent him from exposing their escape to Luke – the being she fears more than any other.
This is a fast-paced, dark story that will hold your attention from start to finish. It introduces the main characters and conflict in a way that will leave readers eagerly anticipating the release of the upcoming series.
The characters are well developed. You can feel Six’s confusion over the attitudes of humans, her disgust at the behavior of the other former denizens of Hell, and her terror of being found by Luke. Alden’s foul existence will slither about your feet seeking a way into your soul.
Don’t Call Me Angel is very well written. The prose flows easily and the descriptions are so good you can almost smell the garbage in the alleys and feel the warm southern rain. The descriptions of what can be done to human bodies may have you wondering what Brewster has been up to the past few years, but the flicker of hope that she keeps burning in Six’s heart will assuage any such “concerns.”(less)