This was a rather dark story about humans who willfully exterminate legendary creatures, evil or otherwise. I enjoyed the change of heart that the you...moreThis was a rather dark story about humans who willfully exterminate legendary creatures, evil or otherwise. I enjoyed the change of heart that the young Slayer developed through an unlikely friendship with a young female Sphinx. I would like to continue this series.
Daggerspell is an epic fantasy novel built on the idea of reincarnation. If we have failed to fulfill our destiny in one life, we are compelled to ret...moreDaggerspell is an epic fantasy novel built on the idea of reincarnation. If we have failed to fulfill our destiny in one life, we are compelled to return to this life in another form to do that. As I read this novel, I was confronted with my feelings about that inalienable destiny. There are some people that you have in your life that seem only to bring pain and hardship, and the comfort is that when you leave this life, you leave that pain they cause you behind. In this novel, that is not the case. And more importantly, a person cannot run from themselves and the anguish their own actions will deliver them. In some ways, that was a bitter pill to swallow as I read. The blessing in this novel was that one man, Nevyn, which sounds like ‘no one’ has lived through three lives and walks that anguished road with those people who he failed to help the first time. Another integral part of this novel is the Welsh-like feel to their world. I’m not an expert on Welsh language, so if I’m wrong, I apologize. But it felt as though this novel used some of the Welsh language particulars and it felt pretty distinct and authentic to me. I was afraid that the names and the language would be an issue, but it wasn’t. After I read the novel, I read through the glossary, and surprisingly, I was able to discern what most of the terms meant through context.
The Characters: Nevyn and Jill were standout characters for me. I felt deeply for Nevyn. The huge burden of seeing people he had cared for in the first go-round suffer through their Wyrd (destiny) again and again until they got it right. That was tough. I loved that he had followed his own destiny, not without loss or sacrifice, and had used this incredible skills as a dweomerman (magician/wizard) to help people and to fight for the forces of light. In the first life, he made a selfish choice, and it cost the life of a woman he loved. He had vowed to help her find her destiny, and it took him three life cycles to do it. That’s determination. Jill was young but she had substance and a strong heart. One of her choices in this novel gave me heartburn. For a romantic, I was surprised I didn’t want her to follow that path and go in another way. I’m glad that this worked out despite my apprehensions about it. Cullyn was also a compelling character. He had me worried a few times. He was a man who had one heck of a wyrd to work out, and it was a rough one. What I loved is that he was able to overcome that dark destiny through the power of his integrity and love for his daughter. Rhodry was a character that didn’t quite convince me he was worthy of Jill. He was a decent person, a little spoiled, but I didn’t feel he was Jill’s wyrd, at least not in a good way. I guess the author knows better than me about such things. In the first life cycle, it was like watching a car wreck before it happens, I mean literally. That really took me out of my comfort zones. I was actually shouting at the book, saying, “Please don’t do that.” It took some fortification to keep reading after that, but part of me couldn’t let go of this story because like any good fiction novel, it made me ask the central question. “What happens next?” I’m not a believer in reincarnation, but the way things work out for the characters in that life cycle kind of made me glad that it exists in this novel.
Magic and Magical Folks: I loved that Jill could see and interact with the Wildfolk. Especially the cute gray gnome who was often her boon companion and her comfort through her tough young life. I liked this idea that those marked by the dweomer are able to perceive the Wildfolk. It was also interesting how many ‘normal’ folks feared the magic and many more didn’t even believe in it. It seemed strange to me since this felt so real, and their lives were deeply affected by the power of the magic around them. I appreciated how within this landscape of humanity there were pockets of legendary creatures, such as a dwarf metalsmith who gives Jill her silver dagger, and the Westfolk, who are actually elves. I really liked the elves!
My final thoughts: I went into reading this cold. I had never heard of this book until it was recommended on the fantasy group. I saw it at the bookstore and thought, “Why not?” And I am glad I read it. I think the writing was strong, the storyline interesting, although a bit on the tragic side in some ways. It felt intricate and complex and deep, and that appeals to me. The idea of having to work out the consequences of the choices you make in life resonates with me, and for a foundation of a fantasy novel, it works surprisingly well. I think I would like to continue this series to see where Kerr takes this story and the characters next. I recommend it to readers who enjoy epic fantasy. (less)
This is a book I would have loved as a girl growing up. I have this feeling I would have eagerly read every book by this author I could have gotten my...moreThis is a book I would have loved as a girl growing up. I have this feeling I would have eagerly read every book by this author I could have gotten my hands on. As an adult, my feelings aren't that different. She understands the magic and awe inherent in fantasy. I'll definitely be reading more by Tamora Pierce.
An omnibus of three different books, it took me forever to read this, but it was very good. Lots of fantastical elements and a great show of the autho...moreAn omnibus of three different books, it took me forever to read this, but it was very good. Lots of fantastical elements and a great show of the author's imagination. It's a poignant story that will stay with me for a while, like an ache inside that I can't message away. I recommend it to fantasy readers.
Dragon Bound was an extremely hard act to follow, but I think Thea Harrison did a good job with her second book in the Elder Races series. I wondered...moreDragon Bound was an extremely hard act to follow, but I think Thea Harrison did a good job with her second book in the Elder Races series. I wondered how she could top Dragos, because he is so VERY! I am glad she didn't try to do that. She gave us a distinct hero with Tiago, and I like his differences, although he had the crazy/dangerous/possessive/jealous/fierce vibe of Dragos. Honestly, I would have missed that part...a lot. Tiago held his own as a hero, but not quite as compelling as Dragos. Having said that, how many heroes would be? Overall, I felt that he had some nice layers to his character. Lethal but also very caring and loving. The best kind of PNR hero! He reminded me of a mix of a Mack truck and a Golden Retriever.
Niniane, I liked her a lot. She was sort of the anti-urban fantasy heroine in all the best ways. She was soft and needy and vulnerable in a realistic way. But she was also very strong-minded, determined, in her force of will, which speaks to me more. Considering what happened with her family and her exile from the world of the Dark Fae, she definitely put on her big girl panties to go back to reclaim her throne. And that took some serious chutzpah. I liked that along the way, I was able to see an organic reaction to this process. Who wouldn't be scared to death, uncertain, and conflicted? I know I've felt that way even in much less dangerous situations. I could identify with her insecurities in that way, and it made her more lovable and admirable to me. I loved her warm, friendly way with people. I was glad that the betrayal she faced early in her life didn't destroy her capacity for that. I can see her being a very effective, beloved ruler.
Niniane and Tiago as a couple was something I couldn't quite get my mind around after I read Dragon Bound and knew they were next. But they worked together very well. Tiago is at heart a male who needs someone to fight for, someone to protect. Niniane has that softness to her personality that is a very good contrast to Tiago, and they complement each other very well. I would have enjoyed a bit longer book for their courtship in all honesty. But what I got was very enjoyable. Definitely some hot, sexy loving times for this couple! Talking about lightning striking, the earth moving, and seeing stars! I loved that they worked past the issues in their relationship and faced some serious obstacles as a united front.
The storyline was interesting, focused on Niniane's process of assuming the throne of the Dark Fae. A mix of fae politics, but a focus on the main characters and a few intriguing secondary characters. So far, I love me Aryal, the harpy sentinel. I know I said it in my Dragon Bound review, but she reminds me of Xhex from the Black Dagger Brotherhood books by JR Ward in the best ways. Looking forward to more of her. Some interesting chemistry between Rune and Carling, the Queen of the Vampyres.
Ms. Harrison is a very good writer. She provides a compelling story that kept me reading, with some sexy, swoonworthy romance that keeps a PNR fan more than happy. I feel her world-building is a star element in this series, so along with the aspects of PNR I can't resist, it makes her a safe bet for this fan. I do have to say I was a little disappointed at the very rapid climax and denouement, and not too happy about the fate of a character I liked and hoped to see more of. I wasn't as satisfied with the ending because of those issues. That's why I couldn't quite give this five stars, although it is very close.
Overall, a very satisfying follow up to Dragon Bound, and more validation that Thea Harrison is a PNR author to follow. 4.5/5.0 stars(less)
If I could say one thing about Bone Song, it is certainly unique. I like that Mr. Meaney wrote a book that was entirely out of his imagination. I did...moreIf I could say one thing about Bone Song, it is certainly unique. I like that Mr. Meaney wrote a book that was entirely out of his imagination. I did see shades of "Blade Runner" and noir/cyperpunk aspects in his story, but he didn't play it safe or familiar in any other way.
The idea of bones having power to run cities, and for necromancers to kill gifted people so they could harness the power of their bones, was something I have not encountered in my reading. It was pretty gruesome, at times, although this book is far from gory.
The worldbuilding in this story was very solid. I do admit, I was totally scratching my head at first. Mr. Meaney builds his world from the ground up, even using a very different calender and number of days system that I have ever encountered. I am pretty sure that Quintember 37, 6066 is a date I will never see in real life. And last I checked, there are not twenty-five hours in a day.
I loved the infusion of mythical beings and various types of ethereal creatures into this novel. In the cities of Bone Song, wraiths of various types are enslaved and used to power the city in various ways. For example, the elevator in the police building is run by a wraith named Gertie. There are also stone-beings, and deathwolves who guard the premises of the police station and rich people's homes. Mages and witches are employed on the police staff, on airplanes, and in hospitals. And zombies are fairly common, although not accepted by everyone.
The world of crime-solving had a uniqueness as well. Instead of forensic medical examiners, there are Bone Listeners who read the bones to find out how people died. It was a bit creepy how that was done. Well, very creepy.
This story managed to mix the paranormal with science in an intriguing way. I won't deny that I wasn't lost, at times. I was quite lost. But, I was also intrigued to keep reading. That's not to say this book wasn't a bit dry at times. It was. But not so dry that I wanted to give up on it. I truly had to see where the story was going, so I persevered through the drier moments.
I really liked the main character, Donal. He was a tough guy, but also seemed to want to do the right thing, and genuinely cared about people. His situation was pretty harrowing at times, and I felt like I had to hold my breath, at the various twists and turns in this story. When the book felt dry, his character kept me reading. That's a good thing, because that's why I read books, for the characters that stand out and earn my loyalty.
I liked the secondary characters as well. I did feel like Laura, the commander of the unit that Donal joins, and his love interest, could have been more deeply characterized. I didn't feel like I knew a lot about her, which seemed important, considering her relationship with Donal, and her very interesting nature. I had a love/hate relationship with the point of view switches. I felt they were too abrupt, and it took a while to figure out where the story was going when the POV changed. If that had been more smooth, I think I would have been fine with seeing the other characters' viewpoints. I feel like there is more to learn about Viktor, Xilia, Alexa, Harald, and Shushana.
I have to be honest and say I didn't like the ending. It was way too abrupt and didn't seem to make a whole lot of sense. I have this feeling that it's a cliffhanger sort of ending, so I won't throw the book against the wall. I'd like to see where John Meaney goes with this story, so I'm looking forward to reading the next book.
Bone Song won't appeal to all readers, but I am glad I read it. It was a unique world with some elements that really stood out to me. Overall, I think Mr. Meaney wrote quite a fascinating book, and I would like to see more of his world where the bones have their own songs to sing.(less)
From the Top Secret File of an Unofficial Reviewer of the Files Recording the Incident Henceforth Known as "The 1997 Event."
For Authorized Eyes Only
Da...moreFrom the Top Secret File of an Unofficial Reviewer of the Files Recording the Incident Henceforth Known as "The 1997 Event."
For Authorized Eyes Only
Date: 15 October 2010
I came upon this historical document, and I was amazed at how close the world came to a true cataclysm. Fortunately, Hellboy, and the BRPD were there to save the day, at some significant personal cost. Truly, the death toll was astounding. The engineer of these horrible happenings was a man with good intentions, but one who slipped over into madness. He believed that if he brought back the mythical creatures that had once ruled the world, but had since slipped into Memory (that lost place where the legends go when beliefs falter), the earth could be the beautiful Eden that it was. He declared war on modern humanity, for their wanton destruction and rape of the Earth.
It was no easy feat, reading about the carnage that creatures like griffins, sea serpents, dragons, huge black demonic dogs, and yes, even a kraken; and others perpetrated on humanity. These creatures had an unlimited capacity for destruction. Based on this document as reviewed, Heathrow Airport is a smoldering ruin, and London hasn't faired much better.
We can only thank the BRPD, including Hellboy, Liz Sherman, Abe Sapien, and the werewolf who strove to be human, Abby Paris, for fighting these creatures, not to mention those who gave their lives in sacrifice, for dealing with these threats, and the man behind them.
This historical document reminded me that humanity is frail. We live in arrogance, assuming that we are at the top of the food chain, that we are stronger than myth and legend, that we can easily defeat the ancient dragons and other beasts of the past; but there is always a price to be paid for our arrogance. We must also look at the darkness within ourselves and determine if we will fight it, and become the heroes that we are meant to be, or to become the villains.
I'm a mere civilian who happened to be privy to this information, but I can truly tell you, we dodged a bullet here. Even still, the world will not be safe, if it ever was; for some of the creatures of Memory now inhabit our world. And they are hungry and angry for their loss. The BRPD will have their work cut out for them, indeed.
My thanks to the brave recorder of these events, Mr. Tim Lebbon, for posterity's sake. It is my hope that we will use this information to be prepared for the worst that is to come.
If anyone could take on the Greek gods by herself, it's Charlotte Mielsweatski. She proved that she was more than capable in The Shadow Thieves, and n...moreIf anyone could take on the Greek gods by herself, it's Charlotte Mielsweatski. She proved that she was more than capable in The Shadow Thieves, and now she's taking on the all-powerful Lord of the Seas, Poseidon. But, you see, he picked the fight. Poseidon is a very vain god, full to the brim with his own self-importance, and he is annoyed that Charlotte and her cousin, Zee (short for Zachary), kicked the pants off his evil descendant Philonecron. So, he decides he's going to make Charlotte pay. Little did he know that this redhead packs a punch.
This was a very enjoyable book. I loved the humor. It had me laughing out loud many times. I think Ms. Ursu does something magical with the Greek myths. If I had kids, and I was trying to get them interested in Greek mythology, this is definitely a book I'd let them read.
It's also a good book to show the beauty of family (and in all its diversity). I loved the message that family doesn't all have to be the same color or same ethnicity or culture. You see, Charlotte's cousin Zee is biracial: his mother is black British and his father is white American. That makes no never mind to Charlotte; he's her beloved cousin and that's all that matters. I liked the way Ms. Ursu subtlely and eloquently addressed what Zee faced as a biracial person. People would ask how he and Charlotte were related. I am sure that is what biracial people face, but it's no big deal. You deal with it, and embrace that families don't necessarily come monochromatic anymore. And kudos to the publisher, for actually showing a boy on the cover who looks biracial (I wish the romance publishers would get a clue and realize that people will buy books if they show a brown-skinned person on the cover!).
There is also a powerful message about being strong and standing up for what is important. Charlotte is still grounded from having been out all night when her and Zee had to save the Underworld from Philonecron's takeover plan. It's rough having to deal with parents that don't get that you have very righteous motives for breaking their rules. Charlotte has a strong personality, and I think she's going to grow up to be a phenomenal woman. Of course, she is afraid of having to take on Poseidon, but she knows it has to be done when she learns Poseidon is going to sic his monster, Ketos, on the cruise ship where her parents and hundreds of others are being entranced by his siren lounge singer. She gets hurt very badly by Poseidon in their smackdown, but she doesn't surrender until her family and Zee are safe. What a girl.
Although this is a book for younger teens and older children, I think any reader who is young at heart and appreciates a good, fun, meaningful story will appreciate The Siren's Song. I know I did. Like I said, I consider this a must-read if you like Greek mythology. I am excited to see Charlotte and Zee take on Zeus, the king of the Greek gods. I know she's up for the challenge.
I will go through and discuss a little about each of the stories, since I was organized this time, and jotted down notes regularly as I read this coll...moreI will go through and discuss a little about each of the stories, since I was organized this time, and jotted down notes regularly as I read this collection. One comment I have is that this anthology assumes that the reader has read a Bedlam novel before. You can read and enjoy this separately, but you might have to make some assumptions. One very important assumption is what a bard is. I came to the conclusion that a bard is a person who has magical ability tied into their musical (vocal or instrumental) talent. This is a recurring theme in this collection.
Devil Went Down to Georgia by Mercedes Lackey- 5 Stars --What if the devil was actually an evil faery? That's the essence of this story. Very well done. It had a bit of a Manly Wade Wellman Southern folklore feel (which I love).
Unleaving by India Edgehill - 5 stars --Two Seelie Elven siblings become captivated by the magic of movies (been there). The brother joins the WWII fight against the Nazis. This story involved me emotionally and made me sad, although it had a slow start.
Old Order by Michael Longcor - 4 stars --What if a biker gang ran by an Unseelie moved into a small farming community and tried to recruit an Amish boy ready to embark on his rumschpringen (when an eighteen year old Amish teenager goes out to experience the non-Amish world)? Good thing his father has a friend who has been around for a long time and knows all about the Sidhe, personally.
Well-Met by Moonlight by Diana L. Paxon - 5 stars --Lovely story of an artist on the run from her abusive husband, who hides out in a Renaissance Faire, and gets help from the real deal, a handsome, kind Elf with a personal interest in her.
The World's Full of More Weeping by Rosemary Edgehill - 4.5 stars --If only the Sidhe were around to protect the children from the predators in real life. The shopping mall is a portal to the Otherworld, and the Sidhe are watching over us. This is seen through the eyes of a so-called lowly security guard.
The Waters and the Wild by Mercedes Lackey - 3.5 stars --Hmm. This one was okay. Kind of bleak. Interesting, though. About a mine defusing technician who was mentored by a Sidhe folk woman.
The Remover of Difficulties by Ashley McConnell - 5 stars --Very enjoyable. If only my grandmother could call in a favor with a magical friend to deal with a bad boss for me. Just the right touch of humor and magic, and some Persian culture.
Bright as Diamonds by Barb Caffrey with Michael B. Caffrey - 4 stars --Unrequited love never fails to stir me. In this case, a bard in training and a Seelie Elf, is in love with his uncle's human consort, who has a very powerful latent talent as a musical Bard. Did you know Las Vegas is Tir Na Og?
Bottle of Djinn by Robert Gellis -- 4.5 stars --I admit my attention wandered away a few times, but I liked this one. It was like an Ocean's Elven caper-type story, but with a fantastical twist. The desired object is a bottle with a djinn. If the djinn gets out, it spells trouble for the human and Faery worlds.
Red Fiddler by Dave Freer and Eric Flint-- 4 stars --Pretty good story with a powerful magical person from the land of Faery, Ruairi Mac Faelan (minus the Gaelic punctuation.) I'm not sure if he's exists in folklore or not. I need to look him up. He's a fiddler who serves as a guardian of the door to Faery, and lives in a tree.
Unnatural History by Sarah A. Hoyt-- 5 stars --Not one, but two, very hunky elven brothers, and a heroine who has a mundane job cataloging junk (for lack of a better word) at the museum of natural history. One of the brothers was encased in stone 2000 years ago by evil Romans and their rogue Elven magicians. Really liked this one.
All That Jazz by Jenn Saint-John-- 4 stars --Very nice love story with an Elf who is a troubleshooter for his brother and his male human lover, who is a Bard. It was very poignant in the expression of love between the couple who only got two days out of the year to spend together. Had some voodoo stuff also.
Six-Shooter by Ellen Guon-- 4 stars --I didn't really get an Elven/Faery feel in this one, but it was an interesting concept. When a person commits suicide, the act tears a whole in the fabric of the barrier between our world and a darker one, allowing nasty monsters to get through that devour the souls of suicides. We never get the name of the protagonist, but she is recruited by another suicide monster hunter to join in destroying these creatures.
Mall Elves and How They Grew-- This was more of an explanation of how Mercedes Lackey got into writing urban fantasy. I love to find out what the genesis of a genre is, so that was fun reading. I would love to read more of her urban fantasy collections and novels.
This is was a good collection. It took me a while to get through, because I had trouble keeping my concentration on some of the stories. But it was worth the effort and I did find them very enjoyable. I liked that no two stories were alike. It shows how broad the urban fantasy genre is, even if a similar motif is used, in this case the world of Faery (elves). Recommended for urban fantasy readers who want to try something different from the currently popular books in the genre. Definitely read this if you are a fan of the faery genre or elves (not the Christmas kind, mind you).