Falcon is a odd one. He's never felt like he's fit in anywhere. On the first day of spring, he discovers why that is: he's not human. He and a couple...moreFalcon is a odd one. He's never felt like he's fit in anywhere. On the first day of spring, he discovers why that is: he's not human. He and a couple of classmates are picked up and delivered to a school for monsters, only to find that he doesn't really fit in there, either.
Although it's the second in a series, The Bone Palace stands alone quite well. It’s a dark, political, high fantasy mystery told from two perspectives...moreAlthough it's the second in a series, The Bone Palace stands alone quite well. It’s a dark, political, high fantasy mystery told from two perspectives: Crown Investigator and necromancer Isyllt Iskaldur; and the crown prince’s mistress, Savedra Severos.
A prostitute has turned up dead, her throat slit. Sad, but hardly uncommon. The only thing that draws this to Isyllt’s attention is that she was found carrying a royal treasure, and the scandal needs to be resolved before word can reach the king. The investigation leads Isyllt into the deep underground to the vrykoloi, vampiric demons, and into an odd partnership with the vrykolos Spider. She knows it’s a bad idea, but bad ideas seem to be her stock in trade, lately.
Savedra, for her part, is deliriously in love with Prince Nikos, and surprisingly fond of his wife, Ashlin, even going so far as to serve as confidante and bodyguard—much to the warrior princess’ dismay. Being intimately tied to the crown as she is, while Isyllt roams the streets and tunnels of the city, Vedra investigates the twisty politics of the nobles, including those of her own family. Neither of them could anticipate the betrayals revealed when they uncover both buried history and an enraged demon out for blood.
Both books in the series (and, presumably, the forthcoming sequel, The Kingdoms of Dust) are marked by intensive world-building, political machinations, and strong female characters. This is a book for the people who get a bit tired of the testosterone of George R. R. Martin and don’t feel like the romantic bent of Kim Harrison.
For the non-copypasta'd part of the review, I want to gush lovingly about Downum's treatment of sex. Specifically, how it's just sex. It's a pleasurable activity between friends, and sometimes a drunken mistake, but there's nothing shameful about the activity. There's no visible backlack against orientation, either, with people being happily bisexual without reproach, or mildly lamenting that they aren't. (Isyllt wishing she were into women because her friend was otherwise perfect made me laugh, if only because she acknowledges that she's not even remotely her friend's type.) The relationship between Vedra, Ashlin, and Nikos fills me with angsty glee, and I wish there were more of that around. All in all, a fantastic novel. I eagerly await the next one.(less)
I read the first eight volumes of this some time back—between one and four years ago—and the other day I noticed that volumes nine and ten were availa...moreI read the first eight volumes of this some time back—between one and four years ago—and the other day I noticed that volumes nine and ten were available, picked them up, and concluded the series.
I suppose I have a love-hate relationship with Hellsing, and for two very obvious reasons.
On the side of love are Sir Integra Wingate Hellsing, the titular heroine of the series, a no-nonsense, hard-as-nails woman whom singlehandedly runs an organization devoted to keeping England free of freaks and monsters, and her primary servant, Alucard. That's "Dracula" backward for a reason. Alucard is a shameless monster, bound to the Hellsing family and acting only at the behest of his master—and taking great delight in the destruction of freaks, i.e. lesser vampires. He's as amoral and cunning as Integra is driven and dedicated, and together the two of them make me fangirl with glee.
On the hate side of the coin, however, we have four little words: Nazi werewolf vampire cyborgs. I wish I were kidding. Really, Hirano? Really? That was the best you could do? I swear I have a minor aneurysm every time I think about it.
Falling somewhere in the middle are Integra's improbably impressive butler, Walter, he who designs the outlandish guns that Alucard and Seras use; Seras Victoria, the "police girl" that Alucard makes into a vampire and his servant at the beginning of the series, and who serves as fanservice bait for the majority of the run; and then, of course, the oft-incomprehensible pages and pages of black and white splash art in which there are presumably fights occurring beneath the motion lines and blood splatters. Happily, while such scenes are plentiful, they are nicely counterbalanced by the odd, brilliant, beautiful pictures, such as one of Alucard, sprawled out in a chair, looking utterly debauched while surrounded by numerous empty bags—formerly holding blood. The parallels to an alcoholic surrounded by bottle of bourbon were deliberate, evocative, and altogether striking.
So, while there's a lot here that sounds terrible, there's a lot that is wonderful, and I highly recommend the series. It's a fantastic antidote to the sparkly vampires we're getting socked with these days, and hammers home the point (pun intended) that only a human can defeat a monster.(less)
I was a little leery of this as I started reading it, as it had all the trappings of some horrible paranormal romance. Happily, it didn't go that dire...moreI was a little leery of this as I started reading it, as it had all the trappings of some horrible paranormal romance. Happily, it didn't go that direction after all. While not the greatest of stories, I'm pleased enough to consider reading another in the series, as it was decent filler fluff.(less)
Chicago, 1936. Jack Fleming wakes up dead and can't remember how he got that way.
A fun homage to the hardboiled novels of the era, fast-paced, fun, an...moreChicago, 1936. Jack Fleming wakes up dead and can't remember how he got that way.
A fun homage to the hardboiled novels of the era, fast-paced, fun, and gritty all at once. This is an excellent start to the series and features one of my favorite opening sentences for sheer eye-catching surprise:
The car was doing at least forty when the right front fender smashed against my left hip and sent me spinning off the road to flop bonelessly into a mass of thick, windblown grass.
I read this back in the waning days of my Ravenloft obsession, and it was definitely one of the better novels of the bunch. An excellent fleshing out...moreI read this back in the waning days of my Ravenloft obsession, and it was definitely one of the better novels of the bunch. An excellent fleshing out of a two-dimensional bad guy, but the world itself remains lackluster in its hopeless dreariness.(less)
Jack is back, and there's nothing like almost killing your best friend to screw your head back on straight. Since there's no shortage of people waitin...moreJack is back, and there's nothing like almost killing your best friend to screw your head back on straight. Since there's no shortage of people waiting to unscrew it again, though, it doesn't stay straight for long.
Being the twelfth book in a series that's been running since the mid-nineties, it's hard to remember that all the events have taken place in just over a year—that's not a lot of time to go from being a live reporter to an undead nightclub owner and stand-in mob boss—and the author spends some time reflecting on Jack's changes in this book.
This would have been a four-star review, but for the change in storytelling. It's not the first time the author's juggled perspective, but the mixture of Jack's first-person voice and Kroun's third-person threw me a little.
All I can add is that my love for Charles Escott grows with every passing novel.(less)
I'm a fan of vampire novels, I always have been. I picked this one up some years back, when the series was established, but not yet insanely popular....moreI'm a fan of vampire novels, I always have been. I picked this one up some years back, when the series was established, but not yet insanely popular. I'm actually glad I did, if only so I can know firsthand what it is people are raving about.
Sookie, as a character, is awful. She's a classic Sue: she's whiny, self-centered, and yet somehow incredibly appealing to all and sundry and possessed of speshul powers.
I've been known to tolerate these qualities before (I'm looking at you, Laurell K. Hamilton), but only when there are other redeeming qualities. Unfortunately, Dead Until Dark has none. The prose is lackluster, the plot is tepid, and the other characters have all the charm and personality of wet cardboard. I can think of nothing to recommend the series beyond sheer popularity.(less)
Jack the Ripper is out in London, and he's not the only one. Unfortunately, he is the only one trying to stop the be-tentacled Elder Gods from coming...moreJack the Ripper is out in London, and he's not the only one. Unfortunately, he is the only one trying to stop the be-tentacled Elder Gods from coming out and destroying the world. Well, him and his loyal guard dog: Snuff. Narrated from Snuff's point of view, and sprinkled with delightfully twisted illustrations, this is a hilarious, charming, and utterly wonderful romp through a month like no other.(less)
This was a slow start for me. It took some time to get interested in Oskar after his introduction as a twelve-year-old boy who pees his pants and fant...moreThis was a slow start for me. It took some time to get interested in Oskar after his introduction as a twelve-year-old boy who pees his pants and fantasizes about murdering his classmates. However, the slow unfolding of his life, and the lives of those around him, in the light of unsolved murders and the strange little girl next door, was absolutely gripping. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.(less)
Finally! Anita has a plot! Once upon a time, this was a series of gritty, urban fantasy murder mysteries with a good sense of humor. I wonder to mysel...moreFinally! Anita has a plot! Once upon a time, this was a series of gritty, urban fantasy murder mysteries with a good sense of humor. I wonder to myself why I keep reading, though, after they devolved into nonstop copypasted porn, but every so often one crops up that reminds me. Continuing from the last book that had a semblance of plot, this has Anita in Vegas, hunting down the serial killer that escaped her in St. Louis. It also reunites her with the crew of the last book before the steep downhill slide of the series: Obsidian Butterfly.
There are actually a few loose ends wrapped up in this volume, which lends hope to the theory that the series will wrap itself up and end before it looses any merit it ever had.(less)