To be honest, I don't always get along very well with paranormal short story anthologies. Oftentimes, I pick them up due to an interest in a few of thTo be honest, I don't always get along very well with paranormal short story anthologies. Oftentimes, I pick them up due to an interest in a few of the contributing authors, but find the collection on a whole to be very uneven. This was not the case at all with Ekatrina Sedia's latest anthology, Running with the Pack, which focuses on werewolves. I picked it up due to interest in the stories by Carrie Vaughn, Marie Brennan, and Maria Snyder. What I got was a treasure trove of fantastically written stories that draw their inspiration not just from the paranormal genre, but from humor, science fiction, and horror among other genres. All stories focus on the stories of werewolves, regular humans encountering werewolves, or a human becoming a werewolf. The narrators range from children to the very old, and I was happy to see we even got a few gay and lesbian protagonists as well. Here are short reviews for each of the stories
Wild Ride by Carrie Vaughn. This story seems like a nice gift to fans of the Kitty Norville Series. It gives us background information on the character of TJ, showing how he became a werewolf. I like the parallel it draws between being in the closet in regards to being gay, and keeping your werewolf identity a secret. Reading this made me very excited for the upcoming Kitty book, Kitty Goes to War.
Side Effects May Include by Steve Duffy. A man travels to China on business, and fractures a wisdom tooth very shortly after the start of his trip. After a few days of immense pain, he finds himself begging for a secret “miracle cure.” Unfortunately. this cure has a few side effects that he wasn't planning on. “Side Effects May Include” was at times slow moving, but I found that I enjoyed this quirky story and really appreciated the twist at the end.
Comparison of Efficacy Rates for Seven Antipathetics as Employed Against Lycanthropes by Marie Brennan. Marie Brennan's contribution really stands out from the rest of the anthology due to the fact that it's written in the form of a scholarly article. Inspired by Mike Briggs (urban fantasy author Patricia Brigg's husband), experiment with casting silver bullets, it follows the work of a researcher attempting to find the best way to kill werewolves. I couldn't help but laugh at some of the humorous developments, and really enjoyed how well Brennan inserts a story into the unconventional format of a research paper.
The Beautiful Gelreesh by Jeffrey Ford. I believe this is my second time encountering Jeffrey Ford. Once again, I found myself enjoying his contribution quite a bit. His story is about a mysterious creature called the Gelreesh that kindly and compassionately talks people into suicide. The writing here is quite lovely and the end left me really curious.
Skin in the Game by Samantha Henderson. Sandy is excited when she's invited to play bunco with a group of coworkers. When she gets too greedy with her cheating, there's no way she could predict the deadly outcome. While reading, “Skin in the Game,” it doesn't take too long for the reader to suspect what the ending is going to be. Still, it's a lot of fun getting there. Perhaps it's a cruel thing for me to say, but I didn't end up feeling all that bad for Sandy.
Blended by C.E. Murphy. I was quite nervous about reading “Blended,” after having a very negative experience with one of Murphy's novels, Urban Shaman. Little did I know, “Blended” would become one of my favorite stories of the collection. It tells the story of a young werewolf on a mission of revenge. Although it's never quite clear if this story takes place in the past, or an fantasy setting designed to look like the past, I enjoyed the change of setting and found myself really sympathizing with the main character. I also enjoyed the romantic elements.
Locked Doors by Stephanie Burgis. Tyler is an expert liar at a young age. After all, his father is a werewolf and he often has to spin falsehoods to explain his absences around the full moon. “Locked Doors” is an interesting little story that makes you think about child abuse. It's not Tyler's father's fault that he's a werewolf, but I couldn't help feeling awful for Tyler and the adult responsibilities he has to take on at too young an age due to his father's “condition.” “Locked Doors” is a sad story, with quite an ending.
Werelove by Laura Anne Gilman. “Werelove” tells about an old alpha female who gives advice to young werewolves. Although the story at times feels overly vague, it gives the reader a new perspective on the idea of werewolf love.
In Sheep's Clothing by Molly Tanzer. “In Sheep's Clothing” is a sci-fi/dystopian short story about the downfall of our society, and what happens after that. Reading this story reminded me a lot of “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson. The werewolf aspect is not obvious at first, but it's done quite well. Tanzer has created a fantastic voice in “In Sheep's Clothing,” and the twist at the end is really well done. If you're going to only read one story in this collection, read this one. I think it's my favorite.
Royal Bloodlines by Mike Resnick. “Royal Bloodlines” tells this story of a shifty preacher who accidentally makes friends with a werewolf, with hilarious results. This is the second short story I've read by Mike Resnick. Although I was less than fond of the first one, I found I really enjoyed “Royal Bloodlines.” I like how he creates s humorous story where other authors would make horror. The protagonist, Lucifer Jones, was also quite amusing.
The Dire Wolf by Genevieve Valentine. “The Dire Wolf” tells this story of a werewolf named Velia. Her day job is to inspect suspicious looking wolf bones, and draw away attention from the fact that they look like werewolf remains. “The Dire Wolf” is an interesting story about one woman's struggle with her inner wolf, and with romance as well. Rather solid story.
Take Back the Night by Lawrence Schimel. This is a story about a woman who owns an all night feminist bookstore. One day, what looks like a large dog wanders in. Of course it's not really a dog, but a werewolf. “Take Back the Nigh” is an interesting story about a woman trying to reclaim her feminist fury from her youth, as well as being a story about werewolf love. Although a couple elements didn't quite ring true, I found I enjoyed the story.
Mongrel by Maria V. Snyder. “Mongrel” tells the story of a young homeless woman who adopts stray dogs. One day, she takes in an injured dog, only there's more to him than she realizes. Although this story is rather different than Snyder's full length fiction, I found it to be very enjoyable. Mongrel is a fully fleshed out character with an interesting past and understandable motivations. The story ends with an open door for a possible follow up story, if Snyder so chooses. I hope she does.
Deadfall by Karen Everson. “Deadfall” is the second story (after “Blended”) in this anthology that focuses on revenge. It tells the story of a teenage werewolf named Olwen. One day Olwen and a close friend are attacked by a school bully, and Olwen is determined to get back at him for this vicious attack. It took me a little while to get into this story, but once I did I couldn't help but cheer Olwen on as she worked towards her revenge. I see that this author is planning on writing a full length novel on this character, and I'd be interested in reading more.
Red Riding Hood's Child by N.K Jemsin. “Red Riding Hood's Child” tells the story about a young orphan changing from a boy to a man. He's grown up hearing stories about his supposed wanton mother, and has a fascination for the night. There's always been something sexual about the fairy tale, Little Red Riding Hood. Jemsin's story just makes the sexual aspects more obvious. It's a very well put together little story about predators, and prey.
Are You a Vampire or a Goblin? by Geoffrey H. Goodwin. This story takes place in a strange alternate universe where people randomly start to turn into vampires or goblins. To help them in this process, they're sent to special institute where they have to decide which group they want to turn into. Yvette is a patient in The Institute only she doesn't want to be either, she wants to be a werewolf. The dreamlike, stream of conscious style of writing of this story reminded me of Kelly Link, strangely beautiful and fascinating. It can be a little tricky to follow at times, but I ended up enjoying it.
The Pack and The Pick-Up Artist by Mike Brotherton. Prime is a pick up artist, with a knack for charming beautiful women. Then he meets Anastasia, who attracts him like no other woman. “The Pack and the Pick-Up Artist” does a great job of telling us a story about predators. I had a hard time with connecting to the scumbag character of Prime, but I really liked the ending.
The Garden, The Moon, the Wall by Amanda Downum. There are two things about Sephie that are a little strange. 1. She's haunted by ghosts. 2. She eats people. The Garden, The Moon, the Wall is the story I struggled with the most with in this anthology. Although beautifully written, I could never really connect with the characters, and as a result don't have too much of a memory for it.
Blamed for Trying to Live by Jesse Bullington. After his mother dies, Charles, a young black teenager, moves to a bad neighborhood and becomes obsessed with becoming a werewolf. I really felt for Charles in this story, and enjoyed the little twist in the end.
The Barony at Rodal by Peter Bell. The Barony at Rodall tells the story about a father/daughter team traveling in Norway. I really appreciated the Dracula-esque atmosphere of this story, and found that it was written quite well. I think it falls short of some of the other stories in the anthology. I can't put my finger on it but I felt as if something was missing. Still, it was an interesting story that I ended up liking in the end.
Inside Out by Erzebet Yellowboy. This story tells about a werewolf named Gretchen, who lives with her two sisters. Gretchen despises her werewolf nature, and the limits it puts on her and her family's lives. This all changes when one full moon, she finds a woman locked in a cage. This tale of sisterhood really drew me in from the start, and I liked how well developed all three women were. I also enjoyed the concept of sort of a reverse werewolf that was introduced here.
Gestella by Susan Palwick. I actually had heard about this story on a podcast before reading it. It tells about a young werewolf who falls in love with a human man. In the beginning of the story, the werewolf is still a teenager, but because she ages in dog years, she quickly catches up and surpasses her human mate. This is my second favorite story in the anthology. I love how it examines the impact a beautiful young woman has on the men and women around her. The relationship between Gestella (werewolf) and Jonathan (the human mate) is highly disturbing and abusive, especially as she ages as becomes less appealing to him. The story ends on a terrifying note that will probably give me nightmares. Very well done.
Typically, werewolves play second fiddle to the more popular/sexy vampires, but Running with the Pack shows that werewolves can stand on their own very well. Often breaking the horror movie tradition of a wild uncontrollable wolf, Running with the Pack gives us twenty-two stories that examine our darker natures and more violent urges. I would highly recommend this to werewolf fans....more
It would be interesting to go back to the days when a book was just a book and nothing else. The twenty-first century goal appears to be to take a stoIt would be interesting to go back to the days when a book was just a book and nothing else. The twenty-first century goal appears to be to take a story and make it accessible to the maximum amount of people by presenting it on as many platforms as possible. Sure, there have been movie adaptations of books for a long time, and television series as well, but now the trend is to bring the story over to a comic/graphic format. The Twilight Saga is the latest series to jump onto this trend with the release of Twilight: A Graphic Novel. As one can tell from the title, Twilight: The Graphic Novel is a straight retelling of the first book in the Twilight Saga.
Unlike other paranormal titles that have recently made the jump to sequential art, Twilight is not presented in an American comic book style, but is clearly inspired by Japanese shoujo manga/Korean manhwa. This seems like an wise choice from a marketing standpoint, as plenty of teenage girls, Twilight's main fan group, are likely to already have jumped on the manga train. As a reader, it makes a lot of sense to me considering the Twilight Series often read like a text-only shoujo series, with it's over the top drama/romance, and emphasis on good looking guys. In this adaptation, Young Kim does a really good job with the artwork, which comes off as very flowing and romantic. The illustrations are presented in mostly black and white with the occasional splash of color to either assist with storytelling or enhance Bella's surroundings. The character designs are obviously not based off of their movie counterparts, and feel truer to their descriptions in the book than the movie cast.
Admittedly, it's been a long time since I've read the novel Twilight, but the graphic novel seems to do a solid job at adapting the story. While I was reading it, I couldn't help but compare it to the recent movie adaptations, which have been pretty faithful the source material, but ultimately lack the charm and magic of the novels. This is less of an issue here. There are a few pages that feel too dialogue heavy, but for the most part the story flows really well from page to page. The graphic novel reads impossibly fast, a little too fast if you ask me. Price at a hefty twenty dollars, the graphic novel only covers a portion of the actual novel, focusing on the early development of Bella and Edward's relationship, and ending soon after Edward's big reveal in the sunlight. I know that it takes a long time for the artist to adapt a work to this detailed style, but I couldn't help but wished that we had gotten to see the entire novel. Still, I can't really complain as I got this book off of paperbackswap, and technically didn't pay anything for it, but I can only imagine that may bother people who have paid full price.
The first volume of Twilight: The Graphic Novel is sure to appeal to fans of the Twilight Saga, and manga/manhwa inspired artwork. Obviously, they are planning on at least finishing up adapting the novel Twilight. If they chose to continue the series, I'm curious to see how Kim's pretty artwork will handle some of the more violent moments later in the series. ...more
Tales of the Otherworld is the second collection of short fiction which takes place in the Otherworld universe. The first collection, Men of the OtherTales of the Otherworld is the second collection of short fiction which takes place in the Otherworld universe. The first collection, Men of the Otherworld, was unique as it almost read like a novel, telling us the history of the werewolf pack, while focusing on the characters of Clay and Jeremy. Tales of the Otherworld is a little closer to what you’d expect from such a collection, delivering us the stories that couldn’t fit in the Otherworld novels. Like Men of the Otherworld, the short stories and novellas are arranged chronologically. Five are prequels to the Otherworld series, while remaining three take place during the actual series. The stories cover a wide amount of territory, giving us stories featuring major characters (such as Elena, Lucas and Clay) and characters that have so far played only supporting roles (such as Aaron, Logan, and Sean).
"Rebirth" is Aaron’s history story, telling us how he became a vampire and the first year of his vampire existence. This story is unique, as Armstrong doesn’t tend to focus on her vampire characters too much. Although there were places where I wish this story had been expanded upon a little it’s a well written short story that I enjoyed reading.
Bewitched tells us the story about how black witch Eve Levine met and fell in love with the sorcerer Kristof Nast. This novella was particularly interesting as we got to see Eve when she was just starting off, and didn’t have the fearsome reputation that she ended up with in Haunted. Bewitched is a very character based story, and I really enjoyed watching the ways that Armstrong developed the relationship with Eve and Kris. This is the second novella featuring Eve to be published in the past year (the first being the stand alone, Angelic) and I find I like this one the best.
"Birthright" features the character Logan, and shows how he discovered his werewolf heritage. "Birthright" is a relatively straightforward short story that it features a character that we don’t know too much about, although it lacks a bit in originality. Overall, it’s an enjoyable short piece.
Beginnings is probably my favorite piece of the enter collection. The novella tells how us how Elena and Clay met while Elena was still in college. It follows their relationship as it grows from friendship to love, and the ends on the event that leads to where Elena ultimately ends up in Bitten. It was particularly interesting to read this after the most recent Otherworld novel, Frostbitten, which features the same characters roughly twenty years later, but in very different emotional states. Beginnings, like Men of the Otherworld, also shows how Clay has a hard time being human, and how the results can be interpreted as awkward or rude. It also results in the relationship between Elena and Clay being somewhat unhealthy. I loved how instead of writing this off as “true love,” the novella explores this unhealthy aspect of the relationships. This is especially interesting when compared to the character of Jason, Elena’s foster brother who is more outwardly starkerish and abusive.
"Expectations" is a short story about a very young Lucas encountering Eve Levine. This story was interesting to read after Bewitched, as you get to see how Eve’s character had grown. Unfortunately, Lucas’s voice doesn’t really seem to be suited for the short story format, which occasionally marred my enjoyment of the story.
"Ghosts" is a short story taken from Jeremy’s perspective, as he reflects on his decisions at the end of Beginnings. On one hand, it’s really interesting to see Jeremy’s views, but the story doesn’t have the ability to stand well on its own. I suspect someone picking the story up without having read Beginnings would be very confused. Those who have not read Bitten, may find themselves scratching their heads as well.
"Wedding Bell Hell" is my favorite short story of the collection, and the only one that can be classified as humor. It tells the story of Paige and Lucas’s somewhat tumultuous roads to marriage. As someone who is planning on getting married in a year or two, I found this story to be equally amusing and terrifying, but was very happy that things ended well for my favorite couple of the series.
The Case of El Chupacabra is the final novella in the collection, and tells the story of Paige and Lucas trying to track down a killer known as “El Chupacabra.” What I liked about this novella is the more character based moments, such as Lucas struggling with the fact that he feels that he’s not committing enough financially to family. I also enjoyed the exploration of the prejudice against vampires in the supernatural community. What I thought was somewhat lacking was the actual mystery itself, which wasn’t necessary bad, but not nearly as engrossing as the previous novellas in the collection.
Although Tales of the Otherworld is not as consistent as Men of the Otherworld, it still delivers us a nice batch of short fiction. What I enjoy the most about the fiction displayed here is that Armstrong never seems to view the short story or novella format as a way to merely deliver cheap filler. Each story is filled with character development, or gives us a deeper view into the Otherworld universe. I hope that Armstrong will one day release a third volume in this series. I would love to see more short fiction and novellas in print....more
At the beginning of Changes, the twelfth novel of The Dresden Files, Harry picks up his phone to hear his ex-lover, Susan Rodriguez, on the other end.At the beginning of Changes, the twelfth novel of The Dresden Files, Harry picks up his phone to hear his ex-lover, Susan Rodriguez, on the other end. And what she has to tell him will change everything. They have a daughter, and she's been kidnapped by the Red Court. To save her, Harry must cross lines he’d swore he’d never cross, and make sacrifices he never thought he would have to make. For all of the magical peril he's faced, no challenge will be as great as saving the little girl he never knew he had. It's time for some changes.
I remember picking up Storm Front during my last year of college. At the time, I thought it was a flawed, but overall fun book, and eventually got around to reading the next two books in the series, which I felt pretty much the same way about. Then I picked up book four, Summer Knight, and saw that the first three books were just practice rounds. This was what the series had the potential to be. With Changes, I discovered that I was wrong. For all of the excitement of the previous novels, it's nothing compared to when Butcher throws all caution to the wind and decides to really shake things up. During this novel, changes occur; some which I'm sure will not sit well with every fan. For me, they worked.
Changes has an intense plot filled with plenty of action sequences and twist and turns. Even though you might see some of the twists coming (or, if you're like me, get spoiled. Thank you Jim Butcher's twitter), it's safe to say you probably won't see them all. Butcher's skillfully foreshadows these upcoming twists, mostly in the form of dialogue (the last page twist in particular is heavily foreshadowed). On top of the story involving Harry's daughter, we also get the resolution of one of the biggest dangling plot lines of the series, and some development of two other big ones. This made me happy, as I'm always upset with authors that just leave story lines dangling from book to book, and never take the time to develop them further or resolve them. I was also happy to see that despite being such an intense book, Butcher still makes room for Harry's trademark humor. I enjoy the fact that even as Harry's stories become more and more serious, that Butcher doesn't make the mistake of taking things too seriously.
Changes draws heavily upon the established arsenal of characters in The Dresden Files. Most of the big names either play a starring role or at least make a cameo (with the exception of Michael Carpenter). One of the characters I was happiest to see was Sanya, who is quickly becoming one of my favorite characters in the series (I have a weakness for Knights of the Cross apparently). I also enjoyed seeing Molly given a more active role in the story. Despite the fact that she has no where near the amount of power that many of the other characters (especially Harry) have in the series, it's nice to see her take a more active role.
Like Summer Knight, Changes brings The Dresden Files to another level. It does end on a cliffhanger that will make you want to tear you hair out (or not, depending how you feel about cliffhangers. This one is a little different than you'd expect). It reads like the season finale of a television show, filled with an epic showdown, painful sacrifices, and plenty to make you eager for next season. I'm looking forward to Side Jobs, the collection of Dresden Files short stories coming out later in this year, and the future novels of the Dresden Files. ...more
Chloe Saunders and her friends have escaped the Edison Group and are hiding in a safe house owned by Andrew, a friend of Simon and Derek’s father. HerChloe Saunders and her friends have escaped the Edison Group and are hiding in a safe house owned by Andrew, a friend of Simon and Derek’s father. Here they hope to gain some control of their abilities and convince the adults at the house to go back and save their friend Rae, and Chloe’s Aunt Lauren. Only the adults don’t seem to take them very seriously. They’re convinced that the teens are lying about the Edison Group and their powers, or just have “overactive imaginations.” Will Chloe manage to save her friends, make peace with her necromancy, and sort out her romantic feelings involving a werewolf and his sorcerer brother?
Reading this book made me really glad that I’m not a teenager anymore. Think about it. To have gone through weeks of hell where you find out that you’re a genetic experiment, be betrayed by a good friend, and spend a week on the run where you’re being followed by gun-toting bad guys, only to have someone chalk up this experience to “an overactive imagination.” Talk about the ultimate insult. I also really found myself feeling for Chloe, who has to go through all of the supernatural drama, on top of her own confused feelings for Simon and Derek. I think that’s part of what makes Chloe such a relatable character. Despite the fact that she has to go through these traumatic events that are very out of this world, the way she emotionally reacts to everything, from first love to first zombie, feels very true to life. I really enjoyed having her as a protagonist. The other characters, Simon, Derek, and even Tori, are also quite likable this time around. Despite my misgivings about Tori in the first couple books, I found that I warmed up to her considerably in this volume.
The Reckoning, as the final book in the Darkest Powers Trilogy, does a great job of wrapping up Chloe’s story. Will Chloe ever figure out a way to use her abilities to defend herself? Will Chloe choose to be with Derek or Simon? Will they ever be free of Dr. Davidoff? All these questions are answered in a satisfying way. I particularly like the way the love triangle was handled. Both Simon and Derek are really likable guys. Although after The Awakening, I think it should be obvious who Chloe picks, but that doesn’t make her decision any easier. One thing reader may be surprised to discover is although this is the last book in Chloe’s trilogy, it’s not the last in the Darkest Powers universe. There are a few threads left dangling that will be picked up again in a follow up trilogy called Darkness Rising (first book, The Gathering), which will apparently feature a new cast of characters. I’m curious to see how Armstrong will deal with more books involving the Edision Group, without rehashing old themes and storylines.
All and all The Reckoning was a very satisfying end to the trilogy and I think the strongest volume in the series. It was consistently enjoyable from beginning to end, and I’m really happy for the time I got to spend with these characters. Bring on The Gathering!...more
After attending her mother's funeral, Joanne Walker hops on a plane to her home city, Seattle. As the plane is landing she notices something strange dAfter attending her mother's funeral, Joanne Walker hops on a plane to her home city, Seattle. As the plane is landing she notices something strange down below, a man with a knife, and a woman being followed by a pack of dogs. Once the plane touches down, Joanne rushes to the rescue with the help of an elderly cab driver, an act that tangles her life up in a world of dangerous gods, and and give her access to powerful shamanic magic she didn't know she had.
One of the things that drew me to Urban Shaman (despite the great cover) was it's unique premise that didn't involve the typical paranormal elements (vampires, werewolves, witches, etc). Murphy's mix of Celtic and Native American mythology is certainly a change from the norm. It's nice that in a genre that seems to require a minimum of one sex scene per novel, to have a book that focuses more on character growth, leaving romance behind. I also enjoyed the positive portrayal of older individuals in this book, and the fact that the male-female friendships didn't all feel like set ups to future romantic entanglements.
Unfortunately, despite it's original premise, the execution is sloppy. There's just too much going on at once here. We have a protagonist who's a mechanic but also a cop, two big bads to follow, multiple murders on top of a spiritual journey, and a plethora of side characters that often feel underdeveloped. I also found that I had a bit of a problem with the protagonist, who just seems to be a bundle of extremes. She spends the entire novel tripping over herself, cracking jokes, and acting like an all around space shot. It was impossible for me to comprehend how this woman, who didn't even seem to know basic police procedure, graduating in the top three at the police academy.
This brings us to the biggest problem I had with this novel: plausibility. I had a very hard accepting the initial set up of the exhausted Joanne being able to see a man with a knife, a pack of dogs, and a woman all on one street corner from the vantage point a commercial jetliner coming in for a landing. That did not seem physically possible without some sort of supernatural explanation, for which there is none. I also found the idea of the Seattle police department supporting Joanne's position as a cop to be a little unlikely, given how she acts like a crazy person for much of the book. The speed in which most characters accept the concept of the supernatural seems alarmingly fast to me. This only scratches the surface. This lack of plausibility really tainted my enjoyment Urban Shaman, constantly bringing me out of my reading experience and making me pause to over analyze many scenes. It also caused me to view the book with a bitter level of skepticism instead of the normally open and curious state I usually approach fiction with. This, as a result, probably made me dislike the book more than it deserved.
Urban Shaman was a frustrating read. I love how it's not afraid to take the less conventional route. As someone of Irish heritage, I was really looking forward to the Celtic elements. Unfortunately I just couldn't warm up to either the protagonist, or the plot, which despite it's occasional moments, ultimately proved to be overstuffed and unrealistic. I suspect most of these problems arise from the fact that this is Murphy's debut novel. Unfortunately, there's just not enough in here for me to give her further work another shot. I will be posting this book back on paperbackswap and hope that it finds a home with someone that will appreciate it more....more
All actions have consequences. That’s what Harry is feeling at the beginning of Summer Knight. Ever since the previous book, Grave Peril, Harry has beAll actions have consequences. That’s what Harry is feeling at the beginning of Summer Knight. Ever since the previous book, Grave Peril, Harry has been hard at work trying to find a magical cure for vampirism to save his girlfriend Susan, neglecting his friends, his job, his apartment, and hygiene in the process. Meanwhile, the vampire Red Court has declared war on The White Council, and The White Council puts the blame directly on Harry. To complicate things further, Mab, the faerie Winter Queen approaches Harry with a difficult case, find the murderer of the Summer Knight. In return for solving this crime and completing two more tasks, Harry will be released from the deal he made his faerie Godmother when he was young. Initially, he turns her down, as making deals with faeries is never a good idea. Then, events change and soon Harry has no choice but to help the Queen of Winter. If he doesn’t the world may plunge into chaos.
There’s a bit of a story behind this book series. I read the first three books over a period of a few months, and found them to be funny, exciting reads with an amusing lead. Then I put aside most of my personal reading when I took a young adult literature course. In the meantime, I recommended the first three to my fiancé, seeing as he’s a fantasy fan and I thought he would enjoy the detective angle of the books. He read the first three books, and then purchased the next two. The next thing I knew he was flying through them, and we were making weekly trips to Borders so he could buy the next two, then the next two books in the series. I was sad I wasn’t able to discuss them with him, but one thing he told me was “Summer Knight is my favorite.” So far, I think I have to agree with him.
Summer Knight is heads and shoulders over the first three books in the series, which apparently the author wrote for a class. With this installment, the writing is much better, better to the point when I was constantly looking up and thinking “wow where did that come from?” The plot is tight, and the pacing at a steady speed. Also, I feel this is the book when we really get to see what made Harry who he is. We get to see the full White Council for the first time, as well as a few faces from Harry’s past. This information really helps us understand Harry in a better way. I also like the fact that Harry seems to have learned from his mistakes and is making fewer blunders in this book. He’s less likely to isolate his allies in feeble attempts to protect them, and he doesn’t do something as silly as say, dress up as a Hollywood-esque version of a vampire at a real vampire’s ball. Harry’s really at the top of his game here. It’s not his fault that he’s just in way over his head.
I would really recommend this book to fans of the Dresden Files. Even if you weren’t blown away by the first three, give this one a try. Maybe it will change your mind. The only thing that made me sad is the fact that apparently this is the best book in the series. The feeling of “it’s only down hill from here” is never a pleasant one. Luckily, a few of my classmates have explained to me that it only gets better from here. Perhaps the books will continue to be this good....more