While it's true I've never read anything by Devon Monk before this, her name had been on my reading list ever since her Age of Steam books first caught my eye. I wasn't aware that she was working on something else, which explained my surprise when I saw that she had a first book of a new Urban Fantasy series out this month. You know me, I can never pass up a chance to read new UF! The fact that I'll also finally get to check out a book by Devon Monk was also very exciting.
Hell Bent is the book in question, starring the jaded Shamus "Shame" Flynn as the main protagonist and narrator. Being a special kind of magic user called a Breaker, Shame along with his Soul Complement Terric Conley have the ability to "break" magic, channeling it in its full force. Thing is, Shame's magic is Death and Terric's is Life, and both are constantly engaged in a struggle against their power, which can consume them if they're not careful. In Shame's case, he has to remain control of himself at all times, lest his Death magic harms others arround him.
In a world where the power of magic has become so diminished, the Breakers immediately become targets when secrets behind their abilities leak out and become known to the government. A group of Breakers, including Shame and Terric, choose to stay and fight on home ground. But then, people with magic in their pasts start disappearing and dying -- people close to Shame and his friends. Then, beautiful and mysterious Dessa breezes into his life asking for help to find her brother's killer, making Shame realize the extent of the threat if the Breakers' secrets fall into the wrong hands.
Almost right away, I had to do a double-take of the blurb on the cover, to make sure I was indeed reading the first book of a new series. I had that strange feeling of being dropped into the middle of a a situation, much like walking into a theater fifteen minutes after the movie had already started. The world of the book had an "established" feel to it already, as well as a community of characters firmly set in place, described in a way that made me feel I should already know them. I did some research and that was how I ultimately came to discover Devon Monk's other Urban Fantasy series, the Allie Beckstrom books. I don't know how I managed to completely miss the boat on this series, because there are nine books all together and they were pretty popular, but I soon found out that Hell Bent is actually the first book of a spinoff. Which explains a lot!
With that mystery out of the way, I have to say that while those familiar with Allie Beckstrom will probably find a lot more to be excited about in this book, it was nevertheless a pretty fun ride for a newcomer like me too. Yes, I felt a little lost at first, but that was mostly due to my own compulsive desire to find out everything about the world and the relationships between all the members of this tightly-knit group of magic users (that is, nothing all that pertinent to understanding the story). The details that were important, on the other hand, were all there, so readers new to this world need not fear. If you're anything like me, you might even feel the urge to pick up the Allie Beckstrom novels. Indeed, my curiosity led me to add Magic to the Bone to my reading list, because I was just too intrigued by all the mentions and references to people and events in this previous series.
One thing I wasn't too sure of about this book was how I felt about the main character. I can tell Devon Monk is a talented writer from the way she has crafted this indepth and fully fleshed-out personality for Shamus Flynn. The problem is, that personality is a very caustic one. I'm used to reading Urban Fantasy starring snarky characters, but Shame's brand of snark was tinged with a little too much hostility for my tastes. Right from the start, I could tell he has a massive chip on his shoulder. Not that he doesn't have a good excuse, being Death Magic incarnate and all, but at times his angst would reach levels I could barely tolerate. It took me a while to warm up to him, when the story got going and the goodness in him eventually made itself known. He also has an unconventional way of showing that he cares, which actually won him points from me. Plus, I enjoyed his brutal and no-nonsense methods of payback. For a character I downright disliked at the beginning, he certainly has a way of turning things around and making me change my mind.
The final point I want to bring up involves the romance. Devon Monk did a fantastic job building it up and carrying it out, making it emotionally impactful for the reader. But for whatever reason, it just didn't work for me. Shame and Dessa were great together, but the way their relationship was written and presented somehow gave me the feeling like it was shoehorned into the story to make a point. It's definitely not a dealbreaker, but I do prefer it when a romance develops more realistically between two characters, especially in this case when things happen so quickly.
Despite being slightly disappointed at how the story was left wide open for the next book (not all the loose ends were tied up nicely), I did enjoy how this one ended. The climax was action-filled and suspenseful, leaving me excited to find out what will happen next. Hell Bent did its job as a good teaser and gave me a taste of what to expect, and I have a feeling I'll probably like the second Broken Magic book even more. I can definitely see Stone Cold in my future, not to mention the Allie Beckstrom series as well!(less)
Let's face it. Forbidden love is just like any other kind of love in young adult fiction. A good thing like that hardly ever lasts, at least not without being dragged through seven layers of confused teenaged angst and subjected to overused plot devices that involve mix-ups and misunderstandings. That said, I still really enjoyed this book. But the delicious passion and romance, which is what I loved so much about Daughter of Smoke and Bone, is lost and gone in this sequel, replaced by so much anger and bitterness.
Karou has finally awoken to her true origins, remembering the Chimaera she used to be. She also remembers the angel she once loved, in the world before the war and bloodshed. His people have decimated hers and killed those she loved, and so now she sets her sights on two goals: rebuilding the Chimaera army as their new ressurectionist, and hating Akiva. Meanwhile, the angel in question is wracked with guilt and heartbreak over what he has done to Madrigal/Karou, miserable that he'd found her only to drive her away again. Yet the war rages on, and Akiva must continue fighting for his own side, though not without uncertainty and a lot of doubt for his leaders and their orders.
The story has evolved to focusing on the fighting, politics and conspiracies between and within both factions. The seductive, magical aspect of this series has shifted to something darker and more violent, though I don't necessarily see this as a bad thing. But like I said, there is now very little of the delicious romance that first drew me in, though I suppose this was something I'd already expected even as I was zipping to the library to snag the second book as soon as I was finished with the first. I understand you have to ramp up the romantic drama somehow to make things interesting, especially in a trilogy. Sadly, it just didn't work for me; the relationship between Karou and Akiva was at once reduced to slow, dull, typical.
On the other hand, there's so much more to this series than just the romance. When I wasn't so busy being a morose sentimentalist, I actually enjoyed this book quite a lot, especially the chapters leading up to the ending. As irked as I was with the comedy of errors that has become of Karou and Akiva's love story, the gripping suspense in the conclusion and its promise of an incredible finale in the third book went a long way to make up for my disappointment. I still like the story, and desperately want to know what happens next.
I also don't want to make it sound like the book is completely devoid of love and lightness. After all, one of my favorite characters is Zuzana, Karou's best friend, who has found happiness with her boyfriend Mik. Their relationship is like a potent concoction of sweetness and humor injected right into the story -- almost like the author realized in advance that she would need to include them somehow to make everything feel less empty and bleak. It worked, for the most part; Zuzana's chapters carried a big part of this book for me. As I grew less interested in Karou and Akiva, my fondness for other characters increased. Besides Zuzana and Mik, I also very much liked Liraz and Hazael, Akiva's angel siblings and loyal companions.
And of course, Laini Taylor's writing is as beautiful as always, bringing her worlds and characters to life. In this area she has not let me down yet. Even though I didn't like this book as much as the first, there's still plenty here to gush about, as you can see. Very much looking forward to the third book to see how the war culminates as well as to discover the fates of Akiva and Karou.(less)
Wow, what a surprising and fantastic paranormal debut from E.L. Tettensor. With its dark mystery vibes and Victorian era inspired fantasy setting, this book was practically screaming my name when it was first brought to my attention, and even then I ended up with much more than I bargained for. That's definitely one way to make me a happy reader.
Darkwalker is the first book of the new Nicolas Lenoir series, starring the eponymous main character who was once a greatly esteemed and talented police inspector known for his tenacity and respect for justice. But now Lenoir is a shadow of who he once was, a jaded man who has grown dismissive of his work as well as the people around him, much to the annoyance of Sergeant Kody, who had thought being assigned to the legendary inspector would be the opportunity of a lifetime.
No one knows that behind that contemptuous demeanor and the apathy, Nicolas Lenoir is actually hiding a secret past. Something hunts him, a vindictive spirit known as the Darkwalker that will not stop once he has marked someone for death. Now a disturbing new case has brought the Darkwalker to Lenoir's neck of the woods, and the detective has to solve the mystery before the spirit of vengeance catches up to him...and time runs out for a young boy he cares for.
First, looking back at the notes I took for this review, I almost feel like I need to apologize to the book for brushing off its introduction as "slow". Granted, it took me longer than I expected to read the first sixty or so pages, not only because so little happens during this stage of setting up the story but also because I reacted so negatively to the main character's attitude. Simply put, Lenoir is a jerk. The way he treated Kody and looked down his nose on the case in the opening chapter made me want to punch him in the face. At this point, I almost started to dread the idea of reading further. But I shouldn't have doubted! Now that I'm done with the book, I could see that everything happened for a reason. I wouldn't have enjoyed this one so much if not for all the information that was given to me in the introduction, and likewise I would not have appreciated Lenoir for who he is at the end had not acted like such a curmudgeon at the beginning.
On that note, this story definitely includes one of those mystery plots that will have the reader flipping back the pages to a previous spot in the book, just to marvel at how the author had been dropping bits of clues and other details from the very start. I was still genuinely shocked at how things turned out; the answer came as unexpectedly to me as it did to the inspector.
Darkwalker also impresses me on the fantasy side of things. Lenoir works out of a city called Kennian, part of the Five Villages area, described as a rather backwater part of the book's world. The setting reminds me of turn-of-the-19th-century England, home to a population that largely does not acknowledge the existence of the paranormal, making the thing hunting Lenoir all the more creepy and unsettling. In addition, E.L. Tettensor has created a group of people and culture called the Adal, a society of pastoral nomads persecuted for their outsider status as well as the actions of a few bad apples. The subject of Adali magic plays a big role in the case, and Tettensor has also crafted a very thorough and rich history for her fictional race. I am overall very pleased with the amount of world building presented in this book.
Everything in the plot just came together so well. Once you reach the point where the story takes off, it doesn't slow down. After making it through the introductory chapters, I was quickly drawn in by the intrigue and mystery, especially when I was treated to a brief glimpse of the brilliant and passionate detective Lenoir used to be. I found I could not bear to put this book down during the final hundred pages, and stayed up into the wee hours of the night just to finish.
Of course, there is still the big question of Nicolas Lenoir's past, which did not go fully addressed. So I was so glad to see this would be a series, even though this book can certainly be read as a stand alone with no cliffhangers or glaring loose ends to worry about. I would love to see further exploration into his character and this world, or heck, even stories about Lenoir that take place in an earlier time. Regardless of what comes next, I'm really looking forward to book two!(less)
Nightlife takes readers to a New Harbor, Connecticut on Halloween night, where deep within its depths, an ancient breed of predator prepares to rise. The city's outcasts, the forgotten and the homeless are the first victims, but the creatures' hunger only grows. At New Harbor's popular nightclub, Beth Becker arrives for her job as a bartender on one of her busiest days of the year, unaware that her life is about to be changed forever.
After that night, several people go missing, including Beth's best friend Zoe. But when the police ignore her concerns, Beth decides to take things into her own hands. However, her investigations lead her to more questions than answers, to ominous tales about the "Night Angel", and other horrors she never imagined possible. And when she encounters a mysterious stranger named Jack, Beth has to make a choice. New Harbor is about to fall to a new terror; will she run while she can, or stay and fight?
This was a request for a review that I immediately and enthusiastically accepted as soon as I read the description for the book. I think it was the idea of an "urban fantasy-horror" that first hooked me, because while something like that would naturally seem like the perfect combination of genres, I don't think I've actually read anything like it! And as it turned out, I wasn't disappointed at all. Now that I've finished this book, I think it at once delivered everything I expected but also gave me a lot of surprises as well.
But not surprisingly, the highlights for me are the characters. The story itself takes a bit of time to build up in the beginning, but meanwhile I was kept interested by Beth and the other perspectives we're given in this first part of the novel, not to mention the clever and snappy dialogue. I've read books where it takes a long time for me to get a good sense of the protagonist, enough to see them as a real person, but Beth felt like a well-defined character almost from the get go. More importantly, I liked her.
Plus, there's also the nature of the creatures preying upon New Harbor. I don't want to spoil anything, but let's just say the author takes a familiar concept in urban fantasy and paranormal, and adds his own twist and flavor of horror. This isn't at all like like the books where humans and supernatural beings coexist in a tentative balance; instead, the Beth and Jack are pitted against something savage, primal and inhuman. I liked some of the theories presented here about them, especially the biological ones, because...let's just say salt and those garlic sprays you can get for your garden make a lot of sense.
And finally, even though overall tone of the novel is quite dark, there are some fun parts as well. There's the aforementioned humor in the dialogue, as well as Jack reminding me a bit of a low-tech Batman with his badass attitude and arsenal of jury-rigged weapons and gadgets he keeps on his person.
I would have liked to learn more about him, seeing as there's a whole other side to this story that's presented but mostly left up in the air, such as the mysterious organization Jack appears to be running from as well as his link to the homeless and self-professed prophet Gil. At times, these sections actually feel disconnected from the overall plot, but they also leave much for the next book to explore. I'm looking forward to it!
A review copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.(less)
So, on my ongoing quest to read more original and offbeat Young Adult titles, my journey has led me to The City's Son by Tom Pollock. I'd heard great things about this book, along with some descriptions of it that are just way in the realm of the bizarre and uncanny. In other words, it sounded right up my alley.
The novel follows Beth Bradley, a young graffiti artist seeking escape after being sold out by her best friend in an incident that suspends her from school. Her father hasn't been the same ever since Beth's mother died, and hardly even notices what goes on in her life anymore. But just when you think this will be yet another story about an angsty teenager running away from her troubles, this book turns everything on its head.
The fun begins when Beth meets up with the mysterious "Urchin", the cocky pavement-slate-skinned boy who introduces himself as Filius Viae, prince of London's streets and the city's son -- for he claims that the goddess of the city is his mother. What follows next is pure wildness as a whole new world is opened to Beth, one filled with living statues, voice-stealing spiders that crawl along telephone wires, runaway railwraith trains, and beings that live inside streetlamps. As rumors surrounding the goddess' impending return continue to mount, Beth helps Filius rally the troops against Reach, the urban god of decay who is preparing his own return to the city in order to see her new friend dead.
The result of this is a novel that's gritty yet sometimes beautiful, with ideas in here ranging from pure whimsical to just downright terrifying. It's also, to put it mildly, all very strange. At the end of the book, Tom Pollock acknowledges authors like Neil Gaiman and China Mieville as influences, and I can absolutely see that here. Consider Gutterglass, Filius' caretaker who has raised him in his goddess mother's absensce, who sometimes manifests as a pile of city garbage, with egg shells for eyes or discarded pens for fingers, all held together by dirt, bugs and worms. Like I said, whimsical and terrifying.
In the past year, I've read several books that feature the setting so strongly that they may as well have been love letters to their respective cities. But still, there's bringing your city to life and then there's bringing your city to life. Sometimes the world-building is done so well and described so richly that the setting ends up becoming like a character in and of itself, but this book takes personification of urban features to a whole new level. Tom Pollock presents London in a way that will completely blow your mind. I read things in this book I never would have imagined in my wildest dreams. Just the sheer amount of creativity at work here is astounding; I have never read a book like The City's Son.
If anything, the world was so fantastically well done that it ended up taking center stage in my mind, making the characters pale in comparison. Don't get me wrong, both Beth and Fil were great, but they almost felt like the supporting cast in light of my love for this incredible re-imagined version of London. I enjoyed the characters immensely but still didn't feel much for their relationship whenever they were together despite their witty dialogue and banter, because ultimately it was the city along with its many strange denizens that made this book so great in my eyes.
The City's Son was exactly the kind of book I was looking for -- a unique and unconventional YA novel that made me see things in a whole different light. Interestingly, this was also my first experience with a Young Adult title from Jo Fletcher books, and based on their penchant for publishing novels with innovative and just plain cool ideas, I'm honestly not surprised that I enjoyed this as much as I did.(less)
My thanks go to Strange Chemistry for providing me a copy of Skulk in exchange for an honest review! Every once in a while I’ll delve into the Young Adult genre for my fantasy fix, and this is one of those books that makes me really glad I do.
The story opens with our protagonist and narrator Meg Banks busy sneaking out of her bedroom window in the middle of the night, carrying a backpack full of spray paint. 16-year-old student by day, graffiti artist by night, her plan is to head up to her school and adorn one of its walls with her work. That night, however, Meg is interrupted when she witnesses the final moments of a dying fox, and is shocked when the dead animal inexplicably reverts back into the shape of a man.
After that, nothing is the same again. Meg suddenly learns that the ability to shapeshift has passed on to her, and she is able to change into a fox at will. In addition, a mysterious blue gemstone has come into her possession. In her investigations to find out more about it, she discovers factions of other people like her all around London -- the Rabble, the Horde, the Skulk, the Cluster and the Conspiracy – shapeshifters who all must come together to fight against an ancient threat.
The first thing that hit me about Skulk is that this is not your typical paranormal shapeshifter novel. Not only is the ability to shift into a fox a pretty wild idea, but there are also characters that can change into ravens, rats and even butterflies and spiders (not to mention, thanks to Rosie Best I was also learning all sorts of obsolete collective nouns for groups of animals).
But my favorite part about this book other than its unique premise was the voice of Meg. I admit, when I first learned from the opening pages that she was a rich girl who likes to do things like sneak out in the dead of night to deface her prestigious school’s property with graffiti, I thought she would be one of those annoying YA heroines with a chip on their shoulder and a spoiled attitude. As it turned out, I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Struggling with her weight and uninterested in the same topics as her friends, in many ways Meg sees herself as an outcast. Along with the physical and emotional abuse she suffers at home from her overbearing politician mother, it wouldn't have surprised me if Meg turned out to be a melodramatic and curmudgeon-y main character. Instead, she was the opposite. I truly didn’t expect to find her so down-to-earth and just so damn real and genuine. It was easy to love her.
Story-wise, I also thought Skulk was fantastic. Something interesting or life-altering seemed to be happening to Meg in every chapter. On the whole, with only the exception of a couple plot points I found confusing or forced, I found the book intensely captivating. Even the romance angle, which is an aspect I find overdone in a lot of YA novels, was very sweet and didn’t end up dominating or disrupting the overall flow of the story like a rude guest. Rosie Best found the perfect balance for this book, hitting the nail on the head for this and so much more. As such, Skulk is probably one of the best YA novels I’ve read this year.(less)
Received an ARC of Iron Night, which won't be out until early January '14. Once again I'll have to save my full review for later, but I still feel lik...moreReceived an ARC of Iron Night, which won't be out until early January '14. Once again I'll have to save my full review for later, but I still feel like I have to get my early thoughts down here because otherwise I think I'll explode.
Important things first: Urban Fantasy fans, you NEED to drop everything and check out Generation V. Like, right now. I'll wait. After you read that, you'll be all caught up for Iron Night and be able to see why I love it so much. The only word I can come up with now to describe it is simply "PERFECT". Because while I really liked Generation V, I LOVED Iron Night, and that's due in part to the fact that everything I ever wondered/was skeptical about in the first book was pretty much addressed or answered here.
First, the character. If you've read Generation V you'll already know that the main character Fortitude Scott was kind of a doormat. He's funny, sweet, cute, but holy hell he was being used and manipulated to the extreme by pretty much everyone in his life, to the point where I felt so sorry for him it almost got too painful to read! Like any underdog though, he ends up coming into his own and by the end of the first book you get to see that starting to happen. I recognize something like that has to be a gradual process, and I think I wrote in my review that I was looking forward to seeing M.L. Brennan take that further in the next book, and boy does she ever.
Fort in Iron Night is still the sweet, cute and funny guy I knew and loved from Generation V, but he's definitely pushing back now. Not too much, though. His kind heart and goodness is still there (which is what always got him in trouble in the first place), but he's not letting just anyone walk all over him now (Suzume still gets to, but that's because, well, she's the Suze). Like I said, the transitioning here was just perfect.
Second, the author completely blew me away with her wildly original and unique take on vampires in the first book. She does it again here in Iron Night...but this time, with elves! I'll seriously never look at Legolas the same way again.
Third, the humor. I love coming across urban fantasies with protagonists that have a sense of humor. A lot of them do, but this series is the only one of maybe two or three that I can think of off the top of my head which has actually made me literally laugh out loud. Incidentally, this was how I almost choked to death on the granola bar I was munching on while I was reading Iron Night, and that was only on page 2. Curse you, M.L. Brennan, your sharp wit will be my undoing!
Fourth, the story and characters continue to develop. As ever, Fort is looking to find his place in the world, accepting the inevitability of his vampire nature but also desperately trying to cling to his humanity. We also get to see a lot more of his family life, and the fascinating dynamics there. I can't believe I'm actually saying this, but I think I'm starting to really like the character of his intimidating and certifiable sister Prudence, and I was very glad she was involved in a big part of this story. We also get to find out more about why Fortitude is "different" than his siblings, and the reasoning behind it. That was something I'd been waiting for and was itching to find out since the end of the last book!
Fifth, there was a shocking "Whoa, holy crap" scene in this book that I so wish I could go into without spoilers, but for now I can only describe it as a "Se7en moment". As you know, that "WHAT'S IN THE BOX?!" scene made that whole movie, and I have to say I had a very similar reaction here in Iron Night, having followed Fort's story closely in this book and the last.
When I read Generation V I knew it had the potential to become one of my favorite Urban Fantasy series, and this one pretty much sealed it. It was everything I'd hoped for.(less)
Update: Interview with the author on my blog: on Japanese mythology, writing underdog characters, creating a new breed of vampires and more http://bib...moreUpdate: Interview with the author on my blog: on Japanese mythology, writing underdog characters, creating a new breed of vampires and more http://bibliosanctum.blogspot.com/201...
Urban fantasy is quickly becoming one of my favorite genres, and I've certainly been reading a lot of it this year. The problem with that, however, is that I've become a lot more picky, so these days for a UF series to catch my eye, its ideas or stories need to be very interesting and it has to offer something a little different. That's why when the author of Generation V sent me a request for an honest review of her book, I very enthusiastically took her up on it. The book looked like it fit the bill for something more unique and original.
In that, I was definitely not disappointed. The book stars Fortitude Scott, who's not your typical urban fantasy vampire because he's, well, technically not even a full vampire yet. He's still mostly human, a trait which Fort is trying desperately to hold on to in the face of his impending transition. Meanwhile, his full-vampire mother and older siblings look upon him as a constant source of exasperation and embarrassment. But then Luca, a new vampire, shows up in his town and Fort realizes that there are worse monsters than his family.
Several killings and abductions drive Fort to take action. Along with the kickass shapeshifting kitsune woman Suzume Hollis, they try to find a way to stop this ruthless vampire. The problem is, Fort doesn't have much of a plan, not to mention the distraction that is his mess of a personal life. He's broke, his girlfriend is cheating on him, and he's on the verge of losing his job. The good news is, all that might not matter when he manages to track down Luca. In his mostly-human state, Fort realizes he is hopelessly outmatched and is probably going to get himself killed.
Have I ever mentioned how much I love an underdog? Fort is not like other urban fantasy heroes. He's not strong, he doesn't ooze sophistication or finesse like the rest of his vampire brethren in the genre, and he's not particularly fashion-minded either. In fact, he's kind of pathetic, albeit in a very adorable sort of way. The poor guy gets pushed around everywhere -- at work by his boss, at home by his hipster roommate, and in his love life by his girlfriend Beth who manages to convince him that their relationship can benefit from her sleeping around with other people. At a point, he almost becomes too painful to read about, but the nice thing about underdog stories is that they always bounce back. But more on that later.
In the meantime I just have to say I also loved the kitsune fox shapeshifters in this novel. They feature prominently in Japanese folklore, and I thought their inclusion here was a nice twist on the usual shapeshifter-in-a-vampire-book idea. Werewolves are fine and good, but it's also so much more interesting when an author works ideas based on mythology into their stories. Come to think of it, this may also be why I adore another one of my favorite UF series, the Mercy Thompson books by Patricia Briggs, which incorporates Native American myths on Coyote. It worked well there, and likewise, the kitsune also worked very well in Generation V.
Suzume Hollis, the bodyguard charged to keep an eye on Fort, is one of the kitsune. Her character is very intriguing. Although I think her attractiveness might have been overplayed a little, she also sets herself apart from a lot of female characters in urban fantasy by being mischievous, quirky, and sometimes just downright silly -- like all trickster foxes ought to be. Usually, I find it's often the male protagonist in an urban fantasy who does all the wisecracking, but Suzume can certainly hold her own on that front.
Speaking of which, I love M.L. Brennan's sense of humor. I know I've described many an urban fantasy as "funny", but very rarely do I actually forget myself and laugh out loud while reading -- something I found myself doing several times during the course of this novel. Fort may be a doormat, but he definitely has a way with words.
To balance out all that humor, though, are also some pretty heavy themes in this book. There are some bold new takes on vampires like their nesting habits, the fact they aren't immortal and that they actually age (even though the process is reeeaal sloooow), but it is the manner in which they procreate that takes the cake as one of the most fascinating and yet disturbing ways I've ever read. It's pretty neat, though. And I love it when books make me feel like that.
One thing I think I would have liked to see more of is Fort's growth over the course of the novel, because as it is he doesn't find his backbone until almost the very end. As well, there are some aspects of the story or character motives that confused me or that I thought could be better explained or taken further, but this also just means a lot of potential for this series. I was happy to hear that there will be a book two, but not so happy when I discovered that I'll have to wait until early next year for Iron Night. This is a great choice for urban fantasy fans looking for something fresh and fun.(less)
3.5 stars. My copy of this book was an ARC I received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Tor Books and NetGalley for makin...more3.5 stars. My copy of this book was an ARC I received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Tor Books and NetGalley for making that happen! My recent positive experiences with the Vlad Taltos series by Steven Brust had made me curious about this novel, so I was looking forward to checking it out.
The concept behind The Incrementalists is a very interesting and original one, and it only gets wilder as you read more of the story. Phil and Celeste are part of a secret society of two hundred people with an unbroken lineage of memories reaching back to the dawn of humankind. Their ongoing mission: to make the world better a little bit at a time through a process called "meddling" or "meddlework", which they achieve through influencing others by nudging them gently towards a certain inclination.
With Celeste's recent death, Phil goes looking for a new recruit for her next reincarnation, which is how he meets up with Renee "Ren" in Las Vegas. The book is told in alternating parts by these two characters, though Celeste remains a prominent presence in their lives. Always an unstable personality in life, Celeste is no different even in death. Now not only has her meddlework jeopardized Ren's initiation, her plans also extend to affect her fellow Incrementalists, changing the rules and putting them all in danger.
The idea behind the Incrementalists' work was what initially attracted me to this story. Personally, I felt the hints of both sci-fi and fantasy in the way their meddling process operates, which makes me think this would be an excellent book for readers who love cross-genre speculative fiction. To influence people, the Incrementalists would gather a list "switches" which are essentially memory and sensory factors which would trigger a reaction from their individual target. The Incrementalists themselves experience a sort of memory and personality "immortality" for as long as their consciousness stays stable through the reincarnations. All their collective knowledge or history of the world is seeded to the memory "Garden", available for any Incrementalists to "graze" from. This concept feels almost magical to me in a way.
This would also be perfect for those looking for something more cerebral and abstract, as the book is also heavy on symbolism and metaphors and would be positively mind-bending for someone not expecting it. The story mostly focuses on the Incrementalists and their own inter-societal crisis that Celeste has wreaked, but I would have loved it even more if there had been more on their history, or if their mission goals of making the world "better" had been expanded upon.
I also enjoyed the writing style. Of the two authors, I'm not familiar with Skyler White, though after this book I may be open to checking out more of her writing. But from what I've read of Steven Brust's fantasy novels, this definitely has the distinct feel of his work. The storytelling is so fast-paced, the reader has to be quick on their feet to keep up and you can't zone out for a second lest you miss something. I like that the book isn't bogged down with superfluous details, and in fact starts off with very little information, so you have to trust to the fact that more will be explained as the story progresses.
Overall, a great read if you're looking for something a little fun, a little strange, and a little different!
A total impulse read, I had absolutely no idea what to expect when I picked this up. I knew next to nothing about the characters or the story because...moreA total impulse read, I had absolutely no idea what to expect when I picked this up. I knew next to nothing about the characters or the story because believe it or not, I hadn't even stopped to read the synopsis or description (which, when you're a bibliophile, is like totally living life on the edge, I tell ya!)
But perhaps I'm overplaying my daredevilry. The fact is, it's not like this Parasol Protectorate series hadn't been on my radar at all, because I see it everywhere, from people reading it on the bus to copies at the checkout racks at supermarkets. So I had a pretty good idea that these books were wildly popular, and I'll admit I've always been curious, especially ever since stumbling upon a description of it as a "paranormal comedy of manners". That definitely conformed to my impressions of it after seeing that charming cover.
So, discovering that it was a novel about werewolves, vampires and other such uncanny creatures was a real treat for me, as was finding out about the Victorian steampunk setting. After all, this is territory I'm familiar and happy with, and the main character Alexia Tarabotti's life as a "soulless" or "preternatural" sounded new and interesting enough for this book to be right up my alley.
As someone with her unique power, Alexia is able to negate the effects of supernatural beings simply by touching them, thus turning creatures like vampires and werewolves back into their human forms. I have to say I was just in love with this idea! In addition, the book also floated a really neat theory to explain the link between preternaturals and supernatural creatures, utilizing a concept that involves opposing forces and counterbalances. I know I've said this a bunch of times before, but I always enjoy seeing novel ideas like this in the paranormal fantasy genre.
In the book's intro, Alexia's condition as a preternatural was what allowed her to survive an attack by a rogue vampire. In her subsequent investigation into this incident with the werewolf Lord Maccon, they uncover cases of other rogues as well as a disturbing number of missing supernaturals, so now I'm getting really excited, seeing that an element of mystery is in this story line as well. All was going great...until I got to the romance.
Admittedly, here's where my enthusiasm began to wane. Now that I'm finished the book, I would definitely classify Soulless as a paranormal romance more than anything. While I have nothing against that particular genre, I still must confess that a book tends to lose me when the relationship drama begins eclipsing everything else in the plot and becomes the main focus. And so when Alexia and Lord Maccon actually started making out and rounding second base on the dirty floor of a dank dark cell while they were being imprisoned by a gang of fanatical torturers, I kinda knew we'd reached my breaking point.
Pages upon pages describing the etiquette of courtship and totally inappropriate moments to get amorous notwithstanding, this was still a very good book. I'm open to the possibility of picking up the next book in the series if I'm ever struck by the mood to read a fun paranormal romance, especially now that I know what to expect!
I can't get enough of Miriam Black. I just can't. I thought the initial delight of discovering this twisted and refreshingly candid series would have...moreI can't get enough of Miriam Black. I just can't. I thought the initial delight of discovering this twisted and refreshingly candid series would have worn off a bit by now, but it hasn't. If anything, I think I'm finally starting to sense of who Miriam is and the direction in which these books are going. Or that might just be wishful thinking. Regardless, I'm still having a blast.
Some time has passed since we last left Miriam and Louis in Blackbirds (book one of the series, my review here). For the sake of their relationship, Miriam has attempted to settle down, living in a double-wide trailer and working as a check-out girl at a local grocery store. No more drifting around the country, and no more utilizing her morbid ability to see and how and when someone is going to die simply by making skin-on-skin contact with them. For Miriam, it means a new life filled with lots of tedium, grin-and-bear-it moments, and constantly wearing gloves.
But a girl can only take so much. Fed up, Miriam packs up and gets ready to hit the road when Louis tells her about Katey, a contact of his who is convinced she is dying and wants to pay Miriam to confirm her suspicions. Eager to be herself again, Miriam readily accepts the job, which is how she finds herself dropped off at a prestigious boarding school for troubled girls where Katey is employed as a teacher. Very soon, Miriam finds herself caught up in much more than she bargained for, when she encounters Lauren, a student at the school whom Miriam's death visions tell her will die brutally at the hands of a crazed serial killer.
With Mockingbird, I think I feel a little more confident in describing the Miriam Black books as less of a traditional Urban Fantasy series, and more of a Thriller-Suspense with paranormal elements. Given the dark nature of Miriam's power, I would throw in a bit of horror, too. There are some intensely graphic and frightening scenes in this book worthy of the goriest slasher flicks, and if you're anything like me, at certain points while reading you'll likely find yourself squirming in your seat in an uncomfortable-yet-not-too-entirely-unpleasant kind of way.
Though, that's sort of what I've come to expect with Chuck Wendig. His writing and stories can make you desperately want to turn the page and be scared to do so at the same time. His characters and dialogue can induce me to laugh my ass off yet at once make me feel like a terrible person. And I love every minute of it. Why do people go and watch scary movies anyway? On a certain level, we do it for the express purpose of being terrified out of our wits. Similarly, that was why I was so eager to pick up this second installment of Miriam Black -- I wanted what I got out of Blackbirds the first time around, to again be shocked, scandalized and enthralled by Wendig's particular brand of dark humor and suspense. I was not disappointed.
Mockingbird also gave us a better look at who Miriam is as a person. I mentioned in my review of the first book that I know deep down beneath that snarky rough exterior she is good person with a good heart, and here I think we see that a little more in her determination to help the schoolgirls and her refusal to simply walk away from the situation. The origins of her mysterious power are still largely unexplained, but we do get a bit of that too. The best part, though, is this book provided a lot of insight into Miriam's past, like her childhood and her relationship with her mother, which gave me a better idea of how she became the way she is.
Overall, a very suspenseful and chilling novel which I could barely put down. As a special treat, I bought the Whispersync Kindle/Audible bundle so I was able to listen to parts of this in audiobook format too. The narrator Emily Beresford is fantastic as Miriam Black, her talent coming through especially when she sings the "Mockingbird" song, the serial killer's rendition of the folk song "Wicked Polly". The song earwormed itself into my head for days, which I have to say made the book even more memorable and creepy.(less)
My thanks to Netgalley and Orbit Books for providing me with an e-ARC of Charming in exchange for an honest review. My first impression of this book -...moreMy thanks to Netgalley and Orbit Books for providing me with an e-ARC of Charming in exchange for an honest review. My first impression of this book -- and keep in mind this was before I knew anything at all about it -- was that it was going to be an urban fantasy targeted more towards female readers. I suppose it was the reference to "Prince Charming" that did it. And the cover image featured a tall dark and handsome young man wielding a shiny silver sword emerging from a background of predominantly light pastel teals and purples, the title rendered in pretty loopy scrollwork classical font.
Turns out, I was a little off-base. In actuality, found that Charming read more like an urban fantasy novel in the same vein as those in series starring male protagonists like The Dresden Files or the The Iron Druid Chronicles. More recently, I read Jim C. Hine's Libriomancer which also came to mind when I read this. And what do all the leading men in these series have in common? They all have these kick-ass supernatural powers, possess a sense of humor that falls slightly on the geek-side, are all great at battling vampires and other forces of darkness that threaten the human populace, and always come to fights armed with plenty of witty pop culture references.
Which is just a rambling, roundabout way of me trying to point out that readers who enjoy the genre should also feel right at home with this book and its main character John Charming. Trained by the modern day version of the Knights Templar, John comes from a long line of monster hunters and was one of their best fighters. But a werewolf attack on his mother right before he was born had resulted in John becoming a new type of strange hybrid, and the day he manifested his symptoms was the day his own people turned on him, labeling him an abomination that must be destroyed.
Now John is on the run, hiding in rural Virginia with a new identity. He's rented a home near the woods and has taken up a bartending job in a college town, hoping to stay under the radar. Everything's copacetic, until two mysterious newcomers show up one night at the pub where John works, threatening the peaceful and quiet undercover life he has worked so long and so hard to maintain.
Like I said, if you love urban fantasy and especially the series I mentioned above, there's a really good chance you'll like this too. I think that's one of the reasons I took so quickly to Charming and its characters, because reading it was like returning to a place that feels comfortable and familiar. The problem with this, however, is that it can always act as a double-edged sword. While on a certain level a lot of the urban fantasy series I read may share a lot of similar traits and elements, my favorites are always those that stand out amidst the rest somehow, very often setting themselves apart through a unique idea or memorable features, say, like an alternate history or an interesting magic system.
As such, one issue I have with Charming is that I don't feel like it adds much to the genre. Many of the ideas I read here felt like the retreading old ground or that I've seen them elsewhere before. Somewhat related to this is also the sheer amount of info-dumping I noticed spread all throughout the novel. I usually give first-in-a-series books like this a pass on this since world-building from scratch is a tough but necessary evil, but I've seen other authors pull this off much more subtly. Of course, this also just might be an indication of me having read too damn much UF; I'm sure someone just diving into the genre reading this book through fresh eyes might have a totally different experience and opinion on this than me.
Anyway, every hero needs a team, and John Charming's no different. As expected, we have the supporting cast here including a couple of your instantly recognizable archetypes ("the hot leader chick that everybody has a crush on", "the genius techie guy with all the cool gadgets", "the smarter-than-he-looks cop", etc.) but on the whole I liked the diversity of characters. The ones that stood out for me are Parth the naga scientist that brings with him a refreshing take on South Asian mythology, and Dvornik the jealous boyfriend who despite his hideous personality has a pretty interesting dynamic with Sig, the aforementioned hot girl. I have to say this made the resulting Sig-Dvornik-John love triangle pretty interesting to read about, and this is coming from someone not usually keen on romantic drama bogging down my action in UF.
Character-wise, I think my one disappointment was actually with John himself, and more specifically, it was his "Prince Charming" background and angle of the book that I wish had been more overt or explored further. After all, Prince Charming is a prominent but often underdeveloped figure in many classic and beloved fairy tales, and he rarely gets top billing like this. The blurb for this book and some of the other publicity materials for it appear to play up this point, which is why I was surprised there was not more of a link between John Charming (and his ancestors) and the Prince Charming of legend and fable. It it weren't for the family name, there wouldn't have been much of a connection.
All in all, a fun read. I had some mild issues with the main character and wished that the plot, lore and world were a bit more inventive and unique, but on the whole I enjoyed this and would be interested in reading more of the series. (less)
4.5 stars. Oh man, what can I say about Miriam Black? Funny how Chuck Wendig was able to hook me on his Blackbirds female protagonist the way he could...more4.5 stars. Oh man, what can I say about Miriam Black? Funny how Chuck Wendig was able to hook me on his Blackbirds female protagonist the way he couldn't with Mookie Pearl in The Blue Blazes, my first book by this author. I may have mentioned my aversion for rough, brutish, brawn-over-brains characters like Mookie in my review of that book, but here I find myself completely taken with Miriam and her snarky, foul-mouthed, firebrand hellion devil-may-care badass ways. This chick had me at, "That's me. My fair fuckin' lady."
Miriam also has a very special ability -- she can foresee the manner in which a person will die and know exactly when, down to the very micro-second. All she needs is any skin-on-skin contact and the visions will trigger, the deaths playing out in her mind in their entirety but lasting only a couple seconds to anyone watching from the outside. She used to care, used to want to save others from their preventable demises, but quickly learned her lesson: What fate wants, fate gets. Now she's a vagrant, hopping from city to city trailing those she knows will soon meet their end, so she can swoop in and rob them at the time of their deaths and no one will be the wiser.
Then one day she meets Louis, the random truck driver who gives her a lift and is the first person in a long time to show her even a hint of kindness. She finds she likes him, but then she shakes his hand and sees his death -- in 30 days, Louis will be brutally murdered. Miriam is shocked; she's seen hundreds of deaths from accidents, suicides, and health problems, but very rarely has she seen murder. And the kicker is, in her vision right before Louis dies, he looks up past his killer and calls Miriam's name...like he sees her there.
It was difficult to put this book down. Obviously, the plot being such a tease was a major draw, but like I said before, I was also very much taken with Miriam. I still don't know why, really; it's not like I can relate to her all that easily since I am nothing like her, but I felt connected to her regardless. She's definitely unique, and it'll be a mistake going into this book expecting her to be just another independent, tough-as-nails paranormal fiction female protagonist. Miriam would probably just beat someone like her up, but only after cussing her out and drinking her under the table.
A lot of the criticisms I've seen directed at this book claim Miriam's character doesn't read like a "real girl", but I have to disagree. Not only do I know women who act just like Miriam, I also think that her rough, trashy badass exterior reflects the kind of life she's had growing up with her disturbing power, making her behavior and personality convincing and refreshingly honest. At the same time, I sense that underneath is someone more perceptive and complex, with a introspective, kind and caring side to her that you just have to dig a little bit beneath the surface to find. Okay, maybe make that dig A LOT beneath the surface, but I still know it's there.
This book also made me start appreciating Chuck Wendig's style a lot more than I had before. His writing, topics, and characters are infused with this attitude which to me is a little reminiscent of the transgressiveness in books one might find by authors like Chuck Palahniuk or Bret Easton Ellis. I also love the paranormal spin to Blackbirds, but I would also hesitate to categorize it as urban fantasy because it throws so many of that genre's conventions out the window; my guess is that a person can be really put off by this book if caught completely unprepared by it.
Sometimes, it does feel like the book is deliberately out to shock you, what with some of its violent and graphic scenes as well as Miriam's potty mouth, but I was strangely cool with it. The subject matter also had a way of making me feel deliciously unsettled, but it at least made this book memorable. I admit I was somewhat initially hesitant about tackling another Chuck Wendig book after enjoying but not being completely blown away by The Blue Blazes, but I definitely liked Blackbirds more than I thought I would.
Wow, never have I snapped up and read all the currently available books in a series so quickly. With my enthusiasm waning f...morePosted at The BiblioSanctum
Wow, never have I snapped up and read all the currently available books in a series so quickly. With my enthusiasm waning for Harry Dresden in light of the new direction the Dresden Files series has taken in the last few books, someone else has recently dethroned him as my favorite leading man in urban fantasy fiction. Peter Grant is my master now!
I'm really enjoying this series. I probably didn't like this book as much as the two preceding it, but then again, Rivers of London was excellent and the sequel Moon Over Soho was even better, so I knew that was going to be hard to top.
The story begins with a strange murder in the London Underground, and as usual, strange murders always lead to a call to The Folly, home of the Metropolitan Police's two-man paranormal investigative unit. And thus Peter is dragged into a messy case involving a dead American exchange student who is also the son of a rich and powerful U.S. Senator. Added to that is The Folly's ongoing manhunt for "The Faceless Man", the rogue wizard who wreaked havoc and almost got Peter killed in the last book.
Actually, I'd thought this book would take up that thread directly, following through on the mystery behind who The Faceless Man is and ending that story arc, but apparently not. It seems the author has plans instead to expand that particular plot line over the course of future books, an indication that the scope of this series will be getting bigger and bigger. I'm not sure how I feel about that; on the one hand, I'm glad there are ambitious plans for these novels, but on the other, a part of me still prefers the one-contained-mystery-per-book-at-a-time kind of format.
Already, this book feels like there's a lot more happening in it than the others. With the exception of a couple scenes, the story didn't feel as suspenseful because the mystery was "diluted" amidst all that was going on. Maybe that's also why its chapters were organized into what happened by days of the week this time, to help keep track of all the events over time. There seems to be a lot more exposition as well, and sadly -- at least it feels this way to me -- less history about London and less of Peter experimenting with magic using science, which were the two things I'd loved best about the first two books. Actually, there's just not as much magic, period.
Despite that, there were some things I really liked about this book, not the least of all Lesley's bigger role in this series. I wasn't happy at all about what happened to her in the first book, and good to know she wasn't just some shallow, throwaway plot device never to have a more important purpose again. There are also a few scenes which I felt were done extremely well, especially a particular one near the end in the eerie confines of the underground tunnels. Very imaginative and atmospheric.
Anyway, I'm glad that I'm all caught up now, but unfortunately that also means it's going to be a long and difficult wait for the end of July, which is when the next book comes out.(less)
If you ever find yourself with some time on a lazy afternoon, in the mood for a book that's light, funny and just a little silly, I highly recommend t...moreIf you ever find yourself with some time on a lazy afternoon, in the mood for a book that's light, funny and just a little silly, I highly recommend the Monstrosity series by Jesse Petersen. They're super quick reads and are like pure fluffy cotton candy for the brain. Anyway, I would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
This one is actually a follow-up to Club Monstrosity, in which we were first introduced to the motley crew of monsters who meets twice a week in a church basement for their Monstofelldosis Anonymous support group. After the events of that first book, however, the topics of their meetings have understandably shifted from more touchy-feely subjects to war planning and preparations for their fight against the descendent of fiction's most famous monster hunter and his family, the Van Helsings.
The old gang is back -- minus the few we lost in the first book, of course, but there are a couple new additions to the cast as well. Speaking of which, why, yes that is indeed Cthulhu you see on the right side of the cover. I admit my inner Lovecraftian horror fan danced a little jig in glee at the appearance of Patrick, even if the thought of an Old One cavorting with the likes of Natalie, Alec, Kai et al. is more than a bit surreal.
This was a cute story, very funny, and quite similar in nature to the first book, except with more casual swearing than I think I remember. If you're in the mood for a "popcorn book" or something to lift your spirits or give yourself a break from the stress, this does the trick. It's told in a very good-humored, teasing way, and doesn't take itself too seriously.
Thrusting the issue of social media into the lives of these characters, some of whom are hundreds if not thousands of years old, is also a nice touch. Dracula with an iPhone still cracks me up, though I think the image of Igor watching Sex and the City might give him a run for his money. Like I've said before in past reviews, it always fascinates me to see authors tackle re-tellings or satirical takes on fairy tales and classic literature, and putting a light spin on movie monsters ranks up there on my list of interesting ideas.(less)
3.5 stars. Okay, my first thought after reading this book: Chuck Wendig is awesome! Then, my second thought: Why on earth haven't I heard about or rea...more3.5 stars. Okay, my first thought after reading this book: Chuck Wendig is awesome! Then, my second thought: Why on earth haven't I heard about or read anything from this author before now? So, my thanks to Angry Robot for rectifying this, by providing me with an e-ARC of The Blue Blazes via NetGalley. The book's expected publication date is May 28, 2013.
So what are the "Blue Blazes" anyway? In the book it's one of the many slang names for a type of drug, a cerulean powder that when rubbed onto your temples will not only give you one hell of a buzz, but it'll also allow you to see through the "glamor" of monsters living amongst the populace. The book is a tale of two Underworlds -- a literal Underworld located beneath the depths of New York City where the Blue Blazes are actually mined, as well as a criminal underworld run by a cabal called the Organization which controls the drug.
Mookie Pearl is our main protagonist, a hulk of a man who used to work down in the mines but is now a loyal member of the Organization. Working for the mob is just a way of life, that is until a big secret about "The Boss" comes to light, leading to a power struggle which shakes up the foundations of all the gangs in the city. And as if that wasn't bad enough, Mookie's estranged daughter also becomes involved. Now, criminals and thugs he can handle. Same goes for the goblins and other dangerous creatures of the Underworld. But Nora Pearl can definitely give Mookie a run for his money.
The book is like your favorite action movie meets paranormal urban fantasy. It seriously doesn't stop. Just when you think things are winding down, you get more. Mookie Pearl is all muscle and brawn, preferring to use his fists over his brains whenever he's in a tight situation. I can't really say he's my type when it comes to fictional characters, but if you enjoy non-stop thrills and lots of brawling action, then he's definitely your man.
I also have to say that I love Chuck Wendig's wit and punchy writing style. Its almost staccato-like rhythm is perfect for the gritty nature of the story, and I was hooked within the first few minutes of reading. When it comes to dealing with points-of-view, however, I felt the book could have done with less jumping around from perspective to perspective. The scene changes seemed to occur very frequently. As with the prose, I feel that this was quite appropriate for the overall tone of the story, but it also made for some confusing moments where I had to figure out where I was.
Still, the best thing about this book has to be the world-building. Not something I would have expected AT ALL from an action-oriented urban fantasy novel like this, but I do love it when I'm surprised. What Chuck Wendig has created is just simply amazing. Through detailed descriptions, he's painted an original and convincing picture of the secret Underworld below. For example, I loved the addition of "excerpts" from Underworld expert and cartographer John Atticus Oakes' journal at the beginning of every chapter. The plot mostly drove me to keep reading, but admittedly, I was also motivated knowing I would be rewarded with more from Oakes. These little tidbits provided background information, complementing the storytelling by filling in the gaps or going into more detail about the life and lore of the Underworld.
The collection of horrifying creatures the author has created also bears mentioning. From the Gobbos to Snakefaces, each are described in such creative detail. Granted, I would not want to meet any of these in a dark alley at night, but I have to admire the imagination and ingenuity that went into coming up with these monsters and the places in which they live. The paranormal aspects, everything from the pigments and their, er, curious drug effects to the supernatural and magical ways of The Blue Blazes universe are unlike anything I've ever encountered in the genre.
Bottom line: despite my lack of connection to the main character and some issues I had with the constant scene shifts, these are just personal preferences. I think more important are the book's strengths, such as the world-building which is exceptionally well done, rivaling some of my favorite epic fantasies. I really can't praise this part of the book enough. Truly a surprising treasure trove of fresh and interesting ideas. (less)
I don't know what it is about the Peter Grant series, but this is only the second installment and already I am completed addicted. I've not been a fan...moreI don't know what it is about the Peter Grant series, but this is only the second installment and already I am completed addicted. I've not been a fan of urban fantasy for very long, but over the years I have come to appreciate the particular brand of "fun and fluffiness" that's so characteristic of books like this. They're reliable entertainment -- I know even before I crack the cover that I'll have a good time, and I'm hardly ever disappointed.
As it happens, Moon Over Soho was even better than I expected, because I found I could hardly put it down once I started. The story begins just several months after the events of the first book Rivers of London/Midnight Riot, but police constable and apprentice magician Peter Grant is already called upon to investigate a series of curious deaths around the Soho area in the West End of London. It appears a troubling number of jazz musicians have been keeling over dead after their gigs, apparently from "natural" causes such as aneurysms or heart failure, but the discovery of thaumaturgical residue on the bodies makes Peter suspect magical foul play.
I was also surprised to see that a seemingly minor event from the last book, one I'd thought was originally thrown in at the end for some perverse comic relief, actually turned out to be the basis for another major plot thread in this novel. The details are a little disturbing and really much too outrageous to try to explain, so let's just leave it at that. I'd rather not spoil it, anyhow.
That said, while the adventures of Peter and his dry sardonic British wit (especially in his zinging of everything from the bureaucracy of the London Metropolitan Police to post-modern architecture) continue to delight and make me laugh out loud, there is definitely a darker, more sinister tone to this book. Not only are a few of the crime scene scenarios somewhat disturbing, there were also a few parts where I actually found myself downright creeped out -- but in the good, spine-tingling-edge-of-your-seat kind of way.
There are also a couple of traditions I'm glad to see this book continuing. The first is the ever phenomenal characterization of London as a charming, vibrant and multicultural city. The author likes to inject random and interesting facts about London's description, history, and people in the course of his storytelling, and all that attention to detail truly brings this magnificent city to life in these books.
The second is the "science" behind the magic. The magical systems and how they work in this series are still not very clear, and here the reader is almost as lost as Peter when it comes to trying to figure it out. Peter, however, persists in experimenting with his powers using logic and scientific theory, and even though some of his results and "explanations" make things even more confusing and harder to understand, I do like his unique approach and am interested to see how the series' concept of magic will continue to develop in future books.
Speaking of which, contrary to the first book which in my opinion wrapped up quite nicely, Moon Over Soho has the distinct feel of a "Part I". This series is definitely building into something bigger, and I can't wait to get my hands on the third book so I can find out what happens.
Before I begin, I want to thank the publisher for providing me with a Netgalley advanced copy of this kooky little book which certainly doesn't hide i...moreBefore I begin, I want to thank the publisher for providing me with a Netgalley advanced copy of this kooky little book which certainly doesn't hide its intentions to provide pure and unadulterated comedic entertainment. It's quite cheekily successful at it too, if I may say so myself! This book will be available on April 29, 2013.
The basic premise behind Club Monstrosity is the question, What if all the monsters and paranormal creatures that have ever been featured in our favorite books and movies are actually real and living in secret amongst us? Our protagonist Natalie is one such monster -- a Frankenstein's Monster, in fact -- living in New York City. Twice a week, she gets together with other monsters in her Monstofelldosis Anonymous support group in a church basement to talk about all the difficulties faced by your average everyday misunderstood monster, just trying to make it in the big city.
Within their little circle are characters like Dracula AKA Drake the vampire, Kai the Egyptian princess mummy, Alec the fun-loving werewolf, Dr. Jekyll and his brother/other self Mr. Hyde, and Linda the swamp creature. Perhaps unsurprisingly, meeting topics typically revolve around trying to blend in as normal people and not freak out the populace -- that is until one day when their usual group leader Bob the Blob goes missing and Ellis the Invisible Man turns up dead, killed by an angry mob in the same way his character meets his end in the H. G. Wells classic. Suddenly, Natalie and the other monsters find themselves hunted, targeted by a killer bent on taking out their kind by using their own "stories" against them.
Books like these are my go-to for a fun-filled, laugh-inducing read. They may fall short on character development and descriptions (for example, this one seems particularly fond of using the adjective "stupid" a lot) but they make up for that with action and humor. Right from the start, the book boldly plays up the monster tropes and references with plenty of pop culture jokes, often putting the characters in deliciously ironic situations. Natalie the Frankenstein's monster, for example, works at the city morgue as an autopsy assistant. I mean, that's pretty awesome and just the right amount of twisted at the same time.
Whether it's fairy tale re-tellings or in this case providing a satirical take on our beloved literary and movie monsters, I always enjoy it when I see authors attempting different and imaginative spins on classic concepts. All in all, this was a funny and entertaining murder mystery starring a motley crew of eccentric characters, with even a romance thrown in for those who enjoy a cute little love story. Recommended for paranormal fiction fans who are looking to take a break with something fun, easy and light-hearted.(less)
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: "Jacqueline Carey and Urban Fantasy? Yes, please!" Being a big fan of Ms. Carey's epic Kushiel Universe, it didn't take much convincing for me to dive into the first Agent of Hel novel when I found out she was working on this new UF series. And I was not disappointed; the first book called Dark Currents can stand on its own next to all of the great urban fantasy and paranormal titles I've ever read, and in many ways it even sets itself apart.
Now comes the sequel Autumn Bones, and in my opinion it is even better than the first. I loved returning to our half-demon protagonist Daisy Johanssen and revisiting her role as an agent of Hel, the Norse goddess who presides over an eldritch underworld located in the quaint Midwestern resort town of Pemkowet. As ever, Daisy is busy with her duties as the liaison between the local police department and the supernatural community, but at the moment her love life is proving even more complicated than keeping faeries, hobgoblins and vampires in line.
Thinking it would be nice to settle down into a normal relationship for once, Daisy is shocked when it turns out her new beau Sinclair Palmer is more than he seems. Descended from a long line of Obeah sorcerers, Sinclair has been keeping his past and his family a secret, but it all blows apart when his twin sister breezes into town bent on making her brother leave Pemkowet and come home to Jamaica with her. Emmeline Palmer badly wants Sinclair to take up his rightful role in their family, so badly that threatening Daisy and her beloved town is only the first step.
Apart from this main story line, there are also many other sub plots, and I like how something crazy is always happening in Daisy's life but she juggles everything from supernatural disasters to personal dramas without missing a beat. Her half-demon background and the dire consequences that would result if she ever gave in to the temptation to claim her birthright is a constant worry that hangs above her head, but this aspect of Daisy is also a point of uniqueness about her and served as a main interest for me as a reader.
Strangely enough, though, while Daisy struggles hard every day not to fall prey to any of the seven deadly sins, the one vice she does not seem too concerned about is lust! Still, the potential suitors for Daisy are all equally fascinating, sexy, well-written and fun to read about, and there's a powerful yet effective undercurrent of romance and sexual tension in this series which makes me think it would be an awesome choice for fans of paranormal romances. Even I was a bit addicted to this book, and I'm generally ambivalent towards romantic drama in my urban fantasy.
But of course, the best things about Jacqueline Carey's books are her characters and world-building. I adore Daisy, who is wonderfully flawed and all too human, despite her dodgy demonic heritage. Her personality annoys me sometimes, but I also feel her naivete, inexperience, and the fact she's prone to distraction and self-doubt only serve to emphasize her internal conflict to be a good person and stay on the right path. As well, she's surrounded by a diverse cast of friends and family, making these books not just about her, but actually the whole living, breathing eldritch community in Hel's domain and Pemkowet. Using a cozy little tourist town as a setting gives these books a whole different flavor than other series that take place in big cities, not to mention Carey has always been great at writing fantasy worlds, blending history, mythology, and eschatology (yes, I did as the book said and looked it up!) while doing it. Her unique take on the genre first impressed me in Dark Currents with the introduction of her version of ghouls, or the Outcast, and I'm happy to see her unconventional yet intriguing ideas continue in Autumn Bones.
A very enjoyable, fast-paced and action-filled read overall, and exactly what I'd been looking for when I picked this up. I think Jacqueline Carey is on the right track with this series, and I have a feeling she has a lot more planned for it just based on how much is already currently happening in these books. I thought pacing was an issue in the first book, but with this sequel I see her getting more into the urban fantasy rhythm of things, and I'm amazed at her versatility. (less)
The wife one of my friends really likes this series, and that's how I found out about it. This was before the movie, and generally I'm pretty clueless...moreThe wife one of my friends really likes this series, and that's how I found out about it. This was before the movie, and generally I'm pretty clueless when it comes to what's popular and making the rounds in the world of young adult fiction unless it walks right up and smacks me in the face, so the only thing I knew about Beautiful Creatures at the time was that it's "like Twlight, but with witches".
After having read this, I can see why. Our narrator and protagonist Ethan Wate has spent his whole life in the quiet southern town of Gatlin, just itching for the day he can pack up and leave it all behind. Everything changes, however, when Lena Duchannes arrives and turns his world upside down. There's something strange and magical about beautiful Lena, and even though she is shunned by the townspeople and all the other kids at school, Ethan finds himself inexplicably drawn to her.
Right there, you already have the bulk of your usual young adult paranormal romance tropes: a new girl, a small town, a tale of undying love between two teenagers that transcends all differences even when it seems like the whole world is trying to keep them apart. It's not like I expected anything different when I signed up for this, so I have to say the book did a good job in delivering everything it was meant to, and I can see why it's so popular in its genre. But even putting aside the clichés, there were a few things that bothered me, which is why I gave it an average rating.
First of all, despite the book reading like your typical YA paranormal romance, I do have to give my kudos to the authors for trying to do a couple things differently. Attempts to break the mold or shake things up should always be applauded; the problem, however, is whether or not these decisions paid off.
Of course, the biggie is the male point-of-view. It's very rare to see this these days, considering the vast majority of readers of this genre are female. There's a fine balance to strike when telling a story from the perspective of a teenage boy, because you want your target audience to relate to him but at the same time he has to be realistic. Thing is, I don't think the book managed to find this balance. Ethan Wate simply doesn't act or sound believable as a high school sophomore male; instead, he reads more like what a teenage girl would WANT their high school sophomore boyfriend to act and sound like.
It's especially obvious when you consider Ethan is the only character who seems different in a book otherwise filled with blatant stereotypes. I thought the southern setting was kind of neat, but of course it had to be filled with every shameless cliché, including the town being full of ignorant, prejudiced and backwards-thinking people -- oh, except for Ethan and his learned family, because they're special. The high school also embodies every cliquey convention you can think of, mostly boiling down to the shallow jocks and cheerleaders who torment Lena for being an outsider. It's a wonder how Ethan lived his whole life in this context yet managed to rise above all that (but of course he does, he's perfect!), the guy sounds like a friggin' old man next to all his peers.
The second issue is the book's length. For the first installment in a new young adult series, deciding to make it almost 600 pages was probably a risky choice. It would be one thing if you had a big story to tell and lots to write about, but it's quite another when a quarter of the book is given to tedious back-and-forth and other such filler. I started getting the urge to skim around the halfway mark, and kept feeling like this until almost the very end when interesting things finally started to happen.
My biggest problem with the book, however, is probably Lena. In a word, she is infuriating. When she's not flying into histrionics, she's depressing with her insecurity and defeatist attitude. The things she says! "It's no use", "It's always going to be this way", "Nothing we ever do is going to matter", "You'll only make things worse" and other insufferable gems like that seem to be all she can add to conversations.
Ethan, bless your heart for caring, but since you're so perfect and special, you really ought to find a girl who can actually stand up for herself. Someone who won't give up before it's even started. Honestly, if a character doesn't even have the backbone to fight for the very things she so desperately wants, then why should I as the reader care enough to root for her?(less)
3.5 stars. This took a little bit longer than I expected to finish, despite it always being a joy and a treat for me to return to the world of Mercy T...more3.5 stars. This took a little bit longer than I expected to finish, despite it always being a joy and a treat for me to return to the world of Mercy Thompson. The thing is, I adored River Marked, the book that came before this. Simply adored it. So if I had to compare the two, I probably didn't like Frost Burned as much, but it's still a solid follow-up. If you're a fan of the series, it's not to be missed.
Anyway, to the surprise of absolutely no one, Mercy's life has not settled into the normalcy of wedded bliss even after her marriage to the werewolf alpha Adam -- but it's not for the lack of trying. The book begins with Mercy taking her teenage stepdaughter Jesse out for some Black Friday shopping (oh, brave, brave Mercy), which is how they end up being two of the few spared when the entire pack and their loved ones get targeted or abducted.
This general premise actually ends up leading to an awful lot of plot threads, which is to be expected if you're familiar with the series. But it was perhaps a bit too much in this book, because I found myself struggling to keep my focus more than I had with any of the previous ones. New elements to the plot were still being introduced almost right up to the very end, such as the revelation which finally led me to understand the reason for the book's title.
Also, I fully admit I may be in the minority for this one, but I did not really enjoy the Adam chapters. To my knowledge, this is the first time he's had his point-of-view featured, albeit in third person, as I don't actually recall if we've ever seen it in a Mercy book before this. I'd have thought it would be amazing to get inside Adam's head, but I was wrong. To be honest, he came off as kind of a jerk. I know, I know, he's a werewolf alpha and can't help it, but nevertheless it still bumped his character up a couple notches on my turn-off meter. I would have been even more put out if the POV change was uncalled for, but because of how certain events played out in the book, I have to admit it was necessary and completely appropriate for that particular situation.
One great thing about Frost Burned, though, is that it introduced two more characters that I absolutely fell in love with almost right off the bat. Asil the werewolf and Thomas Hao the vampire -- I hope we see more of these two in future installments.(less)
LOVED THIS. Not only do we get a whole book without the rest of the pack business always getting in the way, the story in this is one I've been waitin...moreLOVED THIS. Not only do we get a whole book without the rest of the pack business always getting in the way, the story in this is one I've been waiting to read for a long time.
Mercy and Adam get married at the beginning of River Marked, putting a definitive end to any and all love triangle drama, and even though the wedding scene was too understated for my tastes and over all too quickly, I was happy the story was moving along. The newly-wed couple embark on their honeymoon rustic style in a fae-borrowed trailer, but settling down to marital bliss will have to wait. In the depths of the Columbia River, an ancient evil has awakened and is killing innocent people. Mercy also encounters other walkers for the first time, people like her who can take the form of other animals.
I really liked that the plot of this book was relatively self-contained and focused; I know I've complained in the previous few books that vampire and pack politics always seem to get in the way to interrupt the flow of the story, but there was almost none of that here. And with the elements of mystery, it's the exact kind of urban fantasy I enjoy.
It was also high time that Mercy's own past was explored, answering many questions about her heritage and the father whom she never knew, the man from whom she inherited her special powers. Briggs' inclusion of Native American mythology in this tale also made a very interesting read. My favorite Mercy Thompson book by far.
I was surprised at how thin the main plot was, though I suspect I may have to start altering my expectations for the books in the rest of the series....moreI was surprised at how thin the main plot was, though I suspect I may have to start altering my expectations for the books in the rest of the series.
Seems the relationships between Mercy and Adam and his wolf pack is in reality the main focus of the entire series, while everything else that happens in each book is actually the side plot, the padding.
I think it finally hit me in this book when one of Mercy's good friends was kidnapped by the fae, and the first thing that happens isn't anyone trying to figure out how to rescue him, but instead all the characters drop what they're doing to deal with an internal pack challenge. I mean, a kid's life is on the line, can't we fight later? It's not the first time this sort of thing has happened in this series, but this one made an impression on me because I was surprised Mercy didn't even spare a single thought for her friend while she went along, especially when she was aware time is of the utmost essence when dealing with the faerie realm.
While I suppose pack business her love for Adam would come first, I do wish sometimes that urban fantasy writers would move past the old-fashioned and convoluted raging testosterone-driven aspect of alpha male werewolf politics. I think I'm starting to get a little irked by all the action and mystery constantly being interrupted by werewolf drama.(less)
Something about this second book just didn't do it for me, despite the action and the twists and turns in the plot. In this sequel, Sandman Slim is pa...moreSomething about this second book just didn't do it for me, despite the action and the twists and turns in the plot. In this sequel, Sandman Slim is paid big bucks to be a bodyguard to Lucifer, who has come to Hollywood to make a movie of his life. The vampires and porn stars and zombies make this book sound wicked and glamorous as all hell, but to be honest, I had to really struggle to stay focused on the story.
Stark's background, which actually is actually quite original and unique for urban fantasy, had so enthralled me in the first book, but it's also not quite enough to hold a story together if it has a weak foundation in the first place. It didn't matter in the end how much action and badassery was thrown my way, it was all distraction and didn't really disguise the rather light plot. There's quite a bit of set-up for some major things happening later in this series, though, so I'll keep going and hope I'll have a better time with the next book. (less)
Now here's a book that comes with a ton of caveats.
First of all, it seems whenever a title about vampires or werewolves comes out nowadays, most of us tend to automatically think, "Oh geez, not yet another YA urban fantasy." Except I don't know if I'd let any tween of mine get within twenty feet near a book like this. No question about it, it is adult fiction containing a lot of mature themes and very naughty language, though interestingly enough, no sex.
Which is also kind of the perfect segue into my next point: If you are someone who prefers a little paranormal romance in your urban fantasy, then this book is also not for you. Our main protagonist and narrator is one of those gals who would sooner kill a monster than get lovey dovey and make out with one, if you know what I mean. As all tough demon huntresses should be, if you ask me. That she also makes fun of sparkly vampires is a plus.
Actually, if you're still unsure of whether or not this book is for you, just flip through the first few pages of front matter to the author's foreword. Here's my favorite quote from it: "In fact, if you're the sort who believes books should come with warning labels, this book's not for you. Also, please note: Siobhan Quinn is not a very good writer. Fair notice."
Yes, fair and pretty much accurate. Good thing my sensibilities are not easily offended, because this book was a lot of fun and a riot to read. It actually made me laugh out loud a few times. There's just something about the gritty writing style and Quinn's sarcastic cynicism and that devil-may-care attitude of hers that makes me really like her. She reminds me of a female Sandman Slim.
Yeah, Siobhan Quinn is definitely not your run-of-the-mill urban fantasy heroine. Not at all. The two monster-kills that that first led her onto the demon-hunting path were complete flukes, the products of her clumsiness and sheer dumb luck. She's a foul-mouthed street-kid drug addict with serious issues who gets bitten by a werewolf and a vampire -- both in a single night! -- but her "werepire-ness" has not left her any prettier, any more cheerful, or improved her hygienic habits one whit. Not to mention she's also a junkie, a self-admitted coward and compulsive liar, and a terribly unreliable narrator.
But perhaps the thing I liked most about her character is the fact she breaks the urban fantasy female protagonist mold, in a way that's almost borderline satire. That along with the book's departure from the norm offers a refreshing change of pace for those of us who are wearying of the same-old-same-old genre tropes, and who might be looking for something different to stir things up.
By the way, Kathleen Tierney is the nom de plume of Caitlín R. Kiernan, whom I found out only after I finished this book is quite a well-known author of horror fiction. Though I have not read any of her other works, after Blood Oranges, I think I might want to. (less)
This was a book I had high hopes for, ever since finding out what it was about. At some point in our childhoods...moreOriginally posted at The BiblioSanctum.
This was a book I had high hopes for, ever since finding out what it was about. At some point in our childhoods, I'm sure all of us bibliophiles have wished that the worlds in our favorite books were real, and wondered what it would be like to interact with with its characters and objects.
This book features a magic system that plays around with the general basis of that idea. The protagonist Isaac Vainio is a Libriomancer, a member of a secret organization who possesses the ability to reach inside books and pull out objects in their stories. One day Isaac is attacked by a group of vampires, and discovers that they have been targeting other magic users as well. Together with the dryad Lena, Isaac finds himself tasked with solving the mystery of the attacks as well as the kidnapping of Johannes Gutenberg, inventor of the movable-type printing press...and Libriomancer founder and leader.
First of all...ugh, why did it have to be vampires?
Seriously though, this was a good book. Even with the vampires. My issues with is, however, have more to do with my hangups with the Libriomancy magic system. Not to sound disparaging, because I don't deny it's a great idea and sounds awesome on paper (it's what first attracted me to the book, remember) but the application of it here was just...messy.
Don't get me wrong, I understand the challenges here. After all, the Libriomancers' ability to reach into books and pull out objects has got to be like the most over-powered superpower ever. This story must have been a plotting nightmare with all the deux ex machina moments just waiting to happen. It just makes sense that logically with so many books in publication, someone somewhere sometime must have written something that would be able to get our hero and his friends out of any and all troublesome situations the bad guys throw at them.
Apparently, the solution to that is to put in rules. Rules like Libriomancers can only pull out smaller objects, no bigger than the size of the open book which is the magical "window" to the world of the book. Or that certain books with dangerous or disgustingly powerful objects are magically "locked" which prevent Libriomancers to bring them into existence. Hermione's Time-Turner device in the Harry Potter series would be a perfect example.
As a result, every chapter you'll get an info dump, Isaac guiding and explaining the nuts and bolts behind the Libriomancy magic system -- what you can do and what you can't do. It's unfortunately very distracting, and I started to wonder after a while if I wouldn't have preferred to put all that out of my mind and simply enjoyed the story, plot holes and all. I love cool magic systems, but Libriomancy just doesn't seem to be one that lends itself to grow naturally in a reader's mind. Like I said, great idea, but it's not so fun when you're always finding inconsistencies and then waiting for the narrator to explain them.
Other than that, this book wasn't bad. I liked the main character, even though for a smart guy Isaac has a terrible habit of not thinking things through when he does them. He has a very single-minded way of looking at a problem and isn't above threatening his hostages with remotely-activated exploding brain implants in order to get his way. Oh, and he's constantly distracted by Lena and ogling her like a horny adolescent.
Okay, so I didn't like those aspects of him so much. But what I did like was his sense of wonder and motivation to learn new things. When Isaac isn't constantly distracted by Lena, he's constantly distracted by his curiosity and desire to find out why or how things work, which makes him instantly relatable. His love for books comes through, and also reinforces his character and makes him seem more real. When he goes into a bookstore he claims the books "speak" to him, but the way he describes it makes me doubt Libriomancy has much to do with it; every book lover can tell you how walking between the shelves of a store or library and seeing all those books can make them feel giddy and happy. There's no real magic in it, but I think it's something magical nonetheless, and the author captured those emotions very well in his characterization of Isaac.
Anyway, if you enjoy books with plots that are fast-paced and constantly driven forward by a whole bunch of things happening at once, then Libriomancer definitely fits the bill. I'll admit a lot of it was too convoluted and outrageous for me (and this coming from a diehard fan of The Dresden Files series) but if action-packed and bombastic urban fantasy stories are your thing, this book might be worth checking out.(less)
Note: This book is AKA Midnight Riot in the US. Review originally posted at The BiblioSanctum.
I didn't even get past a quarter of the way through thi...moreNote: This book is AKA Midnight Riot in the US. Review originally posted at The BiblioSanctum.
I didn't even get past a quarter of the way through this book before I thought to myself, "Okay, this one is totally going on my 'favorites' shelf." In a word, it was fun. So, so fun. I really can't think of any other book in recent memory that has made me laugh out loud so much.
It definitely helps if you're a fan of the kind of paranormal action-adventures by Jim Butcher or similar authors, but somehow, I think even non-readers of the urban fantasy genre would enjoy this book. First of all, I don't even know if "urban fantasy" would most accurately describe it, as there is also so much of the book that sets it apart and makes it an original and refreshing read.
I suppose it's best to describe Rivers of London as a police procedural mixed with a heavy dose of the supernatural, topped with a dash of dark comedy, mystery and action. The book features Peter Grant, a London Metropolitan Police constable fresh out of probationary hoping to be assigned a decent permanent post, until one day while working on a case he finds himself encountering a ghost. His impromptu interview with the dead witness brings him to the attention of detective Thomas Nightingale, who is also a wizard and the only member of the Met's little-known paranormal investigative unit. Peter becomes Nightingale's apprentice, and soon the two are running all over the city trying to solve a series of murders involving exploding faces.
The book is also almost like a love letter to London. Rich descriptions of the city's history, landmarks and architecture fill its pages, instilling everything with feeling and practically making the setting itself a character all its own. And I haven't even gotten around to talking about all of the rivers in and around London being personified as semi-divine spirits, which I feel is probably one of the most unique and defining concepts in the novel.
As the main protagonist and narrator, Peter Grant pretty much single-handedly made this book amazing for me. I love his dry British wit. I love the unruffled way he approaches weird X-Files moments like ghosts and exploding faces with nothing more than a shrug and a c'est la vie. I love the fact that he is inherently a "good guy" who wants to be a policeman for the right reasons. I love that he tries to approach magic with a scientific mind.
It is that last point about Peter that really resonated with me, because I'd like to think I would react much the same way in his shoes. Also, it is the "science-y" bits in Rivers of London that in my opinion roots the story more to reality than a lot of other books in the genre. That said, sometimes the magic system still has that unfinished, not-entirely-developed feel to it, but I imagine this will be further explored in subsequent novels in the series. Speaking of which, I'm off to find the sequel.(less)
Whoa, this was dark. And also fun. It's got that whole "I don't give a fuck" attitude emanating off of it in droves, and you know what? I actually kin...moreWhoa, this was dark. And also fun. It's got that whole "I don't give a fuck" attitude emanating off of it in droves, and you know what? I actually kinda liked that.
I've read more urban fantasy in the recent months than I have in years. I like the genre; I admit it's grown on me. But sometimes, I just need an urban fantasy fix that doesn't involve any messy paranormal romances with werewolves, vampires, or faeries, you know what I mean? Sandman Slim was the perfect break from that, with its gritty story about demons and fallen angels and a main character who, like in most urban fantasy books starring a male protagonist, is hilarious and always armed with a treasure trove of pop culture references and creative metaphors.
Stark is also so angsty and full of rage that I'm actually kind of worried if I'd be able to take it if he remains this curmudgeon-y for the rest of the series. I am still picking up the next book though, no doubt about it.(less)