Toby Daye,fae changeling and Knight Errant is having a bad day. She is called to the knowe of Lily,an Undine that’s been there for Toby many times,and who she cares deeply about. Lily is ill,and no one knows why. Never mind that the Undine almost never get sick. Toby vows to find out what’s happening to Lily,but duty pulls at her from all sides,and while she is attending a ball at her liege,Sylvester’s court,another fae falls ill,but this time Toby thinks she knows who is behind it. Oleander,her old nemesis,has blown through,and Toby should know,since she can smell her rather unusual scent of oleander and sulfuric acid. Oh,how I hate Oleander. Evil has a name folks,and hers is it. The thought of Toby getting the chance to possibly wrap her hands around her neck certainly kept me turning the pages. Actually,I’m not sure who I hate more,Oleander,or Rayseline,Connor’s wife and Sylvester’s daughter. I think it’s pretty even. What follows is a race against time to find out what is causing Luna and Lilly’s illness,save their lives,and also thwart what seems to be a rather involved attempt to frame Toby and see her dead. She’ll need the help of all of her friends,and that’s one of the most enjoyable things about these books. I adore Toby,but the wonderful cast of characters that Ms. McGuire surrounds her with make the series an absolute joy. May,Toby’s Fetch,now lives with her,and is sort of the bright and colorful side of Toby,which,considering she’s the harbinger of Toby’s death,is always entertaining. Tybalt is also around quite a lot in this one,much to my delight. Tybalt,King of the Cats,is the ultimate bad boy,and he and Toby have always had a rather interesting relationship. Strong hitns that he may feel more than just friendship for Toby abound,and his gruff loyalty,not only to his cats,but to Toby,adds depth and meaning to an always (seemingly) tenuous relationship. Connor,Toby’s childhood love and Rayseline’s husband (for political reasons),is also always in the peripheral,and their chemistry is warm and sweet. Love triangle,anyone?
Seanan McGuire’s Faerie is a fascinating world that I never hesitate to return to. The characters are luminescent and leap off the page,and each faerie world has a life of its own. Court intrigue and machinations abound,loyalties are tested,and mad Faerie Queens and murdurous villians run amok. Toby is a strong,tough,heroine,with an unfailing sense of goodness,and Late Eclipses will reveal quite a few revelations about Toby’s past,and who she really is. I stayed up way past my bedtime to finish this one,and will probably be moving right along to One Salt Sea. This series is absolutely not to be missed!...more
Grad student Allison Hewitt is holed up with five co-workers at the bookstore that she works in part time while attending school. Why are they sequestered in the break room of the bookstore,you may ask? Well,zombies are milling about outside and work is where they happened to be when whatever caused the outbreak hit. The group is scared,stinky,and hoping for rescue,but Allison is beginning to think rescue may not come anytime soon. All she can think about is her mom,who has cancer,and hope she’s somewhere safe. Her one link to the outside world is her laptop and her blog. Allison uses blogging to tell her story,and from the get-go,she’s someone I’d want on my side. Strong,responsible,and snarky,eventually she becomes the de-facto leader of this little group,and the series of events that follow are nothing short of terrifying. Their food supply is running out,and soon they’ll need to leave the store. Armed with her trusty ax and her wits,Allison will need everything at her disposal to keep herself,and her little group safe.
Like I said,I’ve been through quite a few zombie books lately,and looking at the cover for Allison Hewitt,you’d think this might be a light,funny read. Not so!! The book opens with a letter to a Dr. Burroughs,dated August 3,2108,asking that Allison Hewitt be included in a possible book detailing the heroic contributions of women during the zombie outbreak,then goes back to 2009,when Allison’s story occurs. There is quite a bit of humor,Allison’s snarky observations of her colleagues and others are fantastic and there were passages that made me laugh out loud,however,Allison’s story is a terrifying one,and I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning to finish it! Allison’s blog entries are punctuated with comments from people across the world that come to depend on her posts to give them hope,not to mention her story is just plain riveting. I kept imagining Allison as some shining warrior goddess wielding an ax instead of a sword. She’s not without her flaws,but her resilience and bravery in the face of such horrors is phenomenal. There are plenty of zombie battle scenes (with heads being lopped off left and right) to please horror fans,and Allison swings her ax with pragmatism and grim determination. One memorable scene in the bookstore,when she and Ted (who eventually becomes a very good friend) venture out for food,is of Allison foolishly dropping the bag of loot to grab as many books as she can before getting back to safety. It’s things like that that really made me fall in love with her. I can totally see myself doing something like that,even in the midst of a zombie attack. The writing is crisp,the pace is flawless,and I was absolutely glued to the pages throughout. There were a few tiny plot issues,but nothing that I couldn’t overlook and certainly nothing that marred its overall awesomeness. In the search for her mom,Allison will encounter zombies (plenty of them,hordes of them),zombie squirrels,and a cult of crazy widows bent on cleansing the sinners and continuing the human race,even if they have to kill to do it. She also finds some amazing allies and friends,and even love. At turns laugh-out-loud funny,exciting,and sometimes heartbreaking,Allison Hewitt is Trapped is a MUST READ for horror and urban fantasy fans,and of course all you zombie lovers out there. Not to be missed!...more
Deep in the jungles of Columbia, Sam Thornton is on the hunt for the soul of Pablo Varela, drug czar and brutal killer. When he gets to the camp, his whole posse is dead, and a message is carved on the chest of one of the bodies. There’s only one person who could have left the message: Sam’s old friend and fellow Collector, Danny Young. Danny now has the soul that only Sam was supposed to collect, and if he doesn’t get it back soon, the powers that be will be very, very angry. Sam met Danny in 1953 while in Amsterdam for a Collection. Danny wanted to team up, be each other’s support system, and in spite of the strict rules against consorting with other Collectors, a friendship was born. You see, there are two types of people that come up for Collection: contract kills and freelancers. Contract kills are generally good people who’ve made a deal with a demon, many times in order to help someone else. Freelancers are people that revel in the misery and suffering of others(serial killers, psychos, you get the picture…). Both Sam and Danny were contract kills and both ended up as Collectors, as they sometimes do. The way Danny saw it, with the horrible job they had to do, Collectors should stick together, support each other, even if it was against the rules. It also doesn’t help that Sam is still reeling from an angelic confrontation that may have kicked off a war between heaven and hell.
I really enjoyed Dead Harvest, the first book in the Collector series, but in The Wrong Goodbye, Chris F. Holm really brings the awesome. Told in Sam’s voice, we get quite a lot more insight into why he is the way he is, not to mention some insights into his past collections that will chill you. The author has a gift for lush descriptions and his creatures made my skin crawl more than once.
Poor Sam has quite a few enemies to contend with in this one. He’s certainly been under scrutiny since his last big demon/angel confrontation; however, he does find friends in unusual places, such as a former small time hood, Gio, whose soul he places inside another body in order to use him as a sort of dowsing rod in finding the missing soul of Varela. During their trek across the desert, they also meet up with an oilman trying to escape the clutches of his greedy soon-to-be ex-wife, and a blind, transvestite fortune teller.
The action is pretty much nonstop, yet somehow the author managed to balance that with laugh out loud and terrifying moments in equal measure. Their wild journey across the desert will lead them to an L.A. Day of the Dead celebration and a showdown with powerful magic you won’t soon forget Sam is not your usual protagonist. After all, the man changes bodies like we change socks, and since he doesn’t have his looks to rely on, it’s who he is as a man that makes him a worthy hero. And he is worthy. Magic, betrayel, creatures made of bugs. It’s all in a day’s work for Sam.
I couldn’t make this stuff up, but Chris F. Holm can, and it’s a good thing, because we get to have a blast reading it. This series is urban fantasy at its best with subtle noir undertones and the combo just works. Also, if you’re a fan of the classics in hardboiled noir, the title is especially awesome. I wanted to hug this book when I finished (it happens sometimes, don’t judge.) If the author keeps this up, he’ll be giving some of the big UF names a run for their money, very, very soon. If you haven’t discovered this series yet, you’re in for a wonderful ride!...more
Washed up, disgraced psychiatrist Dr. Annie Torgus has got quite a story, and she’s determined to sell it to the highest bidder. For the past 35 years she’s worked at a prison called Morphic Fields, attempting to thwart suicide in death row inmates (the irony is not lost on her), and she’s convinced that there is something “otherworldly” about convicted child killer Agnus Day. Agnus has Gershwind syndrome that causes him to write compulsively on every surface, and he’s been known to portend trouble for the prison staff. Meanwhile, Detective Alexis Bianco is onto something too. Her latest case has her stumped, after the medical examiner came back with the news that the bones of a 22 year old girl are supposedly over 400 years old. This case leads her to Lola, a woman whose sole job is to hunt down and kill the Tormenta; demons that torment people into committing suicide so they can siphon their remaining lifespan. The Tormenta may be the least of humankind’s problems, however, because the Mosca is coming…
Romeo Spikes takes place in Louisiana and its bayous, and having just visited New Orleans, I can honestly say that the author couldn’t have used a more perfect location for this story. Morphic Fields is decidedly creepy, and the Tormenta are terrifying, just like the methods they use to increase their lifespans. I loved strong, smart Alexis Bianco and actually developed a bit of a soft spot for Lola. The demon mythology is fascinating and Ms. Reay manages to balance quite a cast of characters deftly. There are tons of plates spinning in the air in this head banger of a book, and I don’t recall one of them breaking. There’s so much awesome in Romeo Spikes, I’m not sure what to highlight, to be honest. For starters, Lola has a rocket launcher over her door, for gawd’s sake (and an alarmingly vast number of weapons hanging on the walls.) It’s got angels, demons, murder, insanity, bayou mambos, otherworldly hunters, super-secret government agencies, mysterious manuscripts, and yes, romeo spikes. It reads like a movie, which makes sense, since Joanne Reay is a professional screenwriter, and her prose virtually leaps off of the page. She’s not afraid to take risks either, and knows how to keep her readers on their toes. Romeo Spikes is a fast paced, breath-of-fresh-air, scary, exciting, and rather unique, humdinger of a novel, and I dare you not to get hooked at page one! It’s also part one of a trilogy, so there’s more to come, and I can’t wait!...more
It’s been a bad day for Steven de Selby. He has a hangover from a night of drinking with his cousin, and best friend, Tim, a dead girl is following him around (who he might actually be falling in love with), someone is killing his co-workers, and there’s already been an attempt on his life. Steven is a Pomp, or a Psychopomp, working for the family business (Mortmax), drawing the souls of the newly dead through to the Underworld. He’s been living quietly with his border collie, Molly, and moping over a break up that happened nearly 3 years ago, when all hell seems to break loose at once. His Regional Manager is missing, and Morrigan, family friend and higher up at Mortmax, can barely contain the sudden violence. Steven suspects that Stirrers are involved, who pretty much do the same thing as Pomps, but hunger for both the living and the dead, creating pain and havoc wherever they strike. Losing his co-workers is bad enough, but when the violence hits very close to home, Steven vows to get to the bottom of things, before it’s too late for him too. I’m a sucker for male protagonists (I like kick-ass chicks too, but this is a soft spot, k?), so when I started Death Most Definite, I was full of hope that I’d discover a new fave. Well, I have. Steven de Selby is everything I love in a male lead. He’s sensitive, kind, and a bit vulnerable. He doesn’t have a tortured past, and except for a rather bad run with women, there’s no serious angst that he’s dealing with when the you-know-what hits the fan. He’s just a (taller than usual) guy, doing the day to day in the family biz (albeit an odd family biz), and trying to catch a bit of happiness wherever he can. See, I get that (except for the guy part), and his humanity is part of what makes him so damn likeable. The author puts Steven though the emotional and physical wringer in this one, and it’s almost more than one man can handle. De Selby reminds me a bit of Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden, but in Australia, instead of Chicago, and without as much of the snark , although there’s plenty of it for this snark fan. I thought the pacing was just about perfect, and I really enjoyed the little things, like the author’s references to 2001: A Space Odyssey, Firefly, and Mad Max. I love his world of inklings (tattoos that come to life), beautiful fig trees that ease the passing from life into death, and even zombies (of the non-brain-eating variety). Add car chases, explosions, some awesome twists, a chilling trip through the Underworld, and one of the funniest renderings of Charon I’ve ever read, and you’ve got a must read! I’ll definitely be back for more with Managing Death, book 2 in the Death Works series. ...more
*I've done my best to avoid spoilers, but this being #13 in a series, there are some inevitable details that I felt I had to include** Mortals connected to all things supernatural are being hunted and spirited away by creatures that haven’t been seen in thousands of years. Karrin Murphy, with the help of her friends and allies, are trying to keep more disappearances from happening, but it’s getting harder and harder to contain the growing threat. Dresden has been sent back to the mortal realm from “between” to take care of some unfinished business, even though no one will tell him what that business is. All he knows is that if he doesn’t go back, three people close to him will suffer or die, and he can’t let that happen. Harry enlists the reluctant help of Morty the necroomancer, and learns that Murphy’s allies want her to use the Swords of the Cross, some of the most powerful weapons against evil in existence to defeat the Fomor (the nasties threatening Chicago.)
See, when Harry unleashed the magic to save someone dear to him, it destroyed every member of the Red Court, creating a veritable power vacuum. Their holdings were so vast that every evil supernatural group is going after what they can, and killing whoever gets in their way. After being grievously injured in the fight, Molly (Harry’s apprentice) is now an enemy to the White Council, and she’s possibly gone a bit crazy as well. With Harry dead, Molly has declared Chicago protected and is calling herself the Ragged Lady. Lea, Harry’s fairy godmother, has been training Molly, and now Molly is killer-kickass. Seriously. Molly has got some serious mojo, but Harry fears for her life and her sanity.
Ghost Story has been the most introspective of the series, which makes sense, with Harry’s death, and it’s also one of the most heartbreaking. Changes twisted me into all kinds of knots, and things don’t get any lighter in Ghost Story. Harry has to do some serious soul searching here, and dig deep inside to find the strength to save those he loves, and the city he loves. Harry takes a young thug (who has a penchant for Dickens) under his wing, that can hear Harry without magical aid, and I really enjoyed watching this friendship unfold. Harry’s “conversation” with Father Forthill when he sends the kid to him for help was a bit of a highlight for me. We also go back in time with Harry, learning about his upbringing and the experiences that made him what he is, which, to me, was fascinating. The previous books have gone into Harry’s past, but nothing like this. The fighting is epic (to say the least), and Harry’s up against enemies both new and old, not to mention very, very powerful. He’ll fight for his friends, and for his very soul, and the ending is nothing short of jaw dropping. After 13 books, I'm still wild about Harry, and reading a Dresden novel, for me, is like coming home. Each one is better than the last, just when I think they can’t possibly get better. All I can say is, get ready Dresden fans, ‘cause Ghost Story is gonna take you on a ride you won’t soon forget....more
Working the checkout line at the grocery store is no place for Miriam Black. Little acts of rebellion like staring into the laser light of the scanner just aren’t doin’ it for her. Of course she finally runs her mouth and gets herself fired, but gets an itch that she just needs to scratch. That would be touching the woman that fired her and finding out how she dies. The only problem is, when she does that, she finds out death isn’t far off at all, quite possibly for all of them. This incident prompts Miriam into packing up and attempting to leave the trailer that she shares with Louis. Feeling smothered and panicky, she sets off on foot, but Louis tracks her down. He always does. Louis talks Miriam into using her “talent” to help an English teacher at a school for troubled girls, which leads to visions of a serial killer. Let the descent into crazy begin…
If you’ve read Blackbirds, you’re already somewhat familiar with Miriam’s personality. She’s rude, mouthy, insensitive, blunt, extremely foul mouthed, and really, really hard to like. Ok, now set that stuff aside for just a minute. Bear with me. Yes, Miriam isn’t the most charming girl, and if anything, she’s even more abrasive in Mockingbird. Seriously, the girl would begin trying my patience in about 2 minutes. However, all of that crappy stuff is mostly a defense mechanism. Mostly. Her ability allows her to see horrible stuff, and the events at the girl’s school are just about as bad as it gets. Our Miriam, foulmouthed, childish, and surly, will put herself in the path of a Mack truck if it means saving an innocent life. She reminds me a bit of a zombie, without the whole rot and braaaaaiiiiiins thing. She will keep coming, until the job is done, and she’s dead. And poor Louis feels like her must protect her. Needless to say, I don’t envy Louis the job he’s assigned to himself. A killer is indeed cutting a swath through these girls, one that dons a plague mask and uses barbed wire for restraints. The situation is much, much worse than Miriam initially thinks, though, as hard as it is to believe, and she’ll need every bit of grit she has to get through this one. Dark forces are rallying against Miriam, because she’s been messing with fate, and fate is a fickle, vengeful mistress. Chuck Wendig’s mind is a terrifying, twisted, fascinating thing, and thank goodness he puts this stuff down on paper for the rest of us. Darker than dark, Mockingbird will take you on a journey you won’t soon forget, so fortify your stomach and settle in, because you’re going to want to read this one in one sitting. Can’t wait for the next one!...more