The Suicide Motor Club by Christopher Buehlman was actually pretty awesome. Know that the only reason I didn’t rate this book higher is because I’m very picky about vampire books, owing to their particular abundance in fantasy and horror fiction. In truth, as much as I enjoyed this, I think there are better vampire titles out there, including Buehlman’s own vampire novel that was published a couple years ago, The Lesser Dead. I still remember how I felt when I read that book, the sense of fear and dread that filled me when I first encountered the novel’s group of creepy vampire children roaming and hunting in the subways. I wanted badly to experience that again with The Suicide Motor Club, but in the end it just didn’t compare.
The Suicide Motor Club opens in 1967, following a family of three as they drive down a lonely stretch of highway. All of a sudden, another car comes speeding up towards them out of nowhere, overtaking the family, making a snatch at the little boy sitting in the back with his arm hanging out the open window. Just like that, Judith Lamb’s son Glendon was gone, yanked into the other vehicle, a hot rod Camaro occupied by its gleaming-eyed driver and his pale companion. However, before Judith and her husband Robert could catch up and rescue their boy, another car comes up behind them and rams them off the road, causing them to crash.
Robert Lamb dies in the hospital soon after, but Judith survives, heartbroken knowing that Glendon is also lost to her forever. She ends up joining a convent, but two years later when she is still a novice nun, a stranger named Wicklow comes seeking her, claiming to be the leader of a group called the Bereaved. They are hunters, and the targets they hunt are the creatures in those cars that took Judith’s son, killed her husband, and almost killed Judith herself: Vampires. Wicklow tells her about a band of them known as the Suicide Motor Club, who prey on their victims by targeting them on the road, deliberately causing deadly accidents so they can swoop in and feed on the survivors. Because of her past experiences and unique position as a nun, Wicklow believes that Judith can help them. Ultimately he convinces her to join the Bereaved, appealing as well to her intense desire for vengeance.
There are a couple reason why I didn’t think this one was as good as The Lesser Dead. First of all, it’s pretty hard to out-creep creepy vampire children. Creepy vampire children are like the pinnacle of creepiness. Even the sadistic founder of the Suicide Motor Club and his ilk could hardly match that. Second, I felt a distinct aversion for the kind of…unsubtlety that made up the action in this story, like scenes of car chases, horrific crashes, and deadly explosions, etc. To be fair, this is something I should have anticipated, considering that fast cars and highways are the central focus of this novel. If that kind of action strikes your fancy, then chances are you’ll love the hell out of this book. Personally I’m just not that into this kind of bombast, so for me many of the more “exciting” sequences fell flat.
I also enjoyed the characters, even given limited opportunity to really get to know any of them. There are a lot of characters involved, including minor appearances from incidental names and faces whose presence is mainly used to illustrate the destructiveness of the vampires as they make their deadly rampage along the country’s highways. It’s a common enough device (especially in many horror and thriller-suspense novels) but to me it felt like it was slightly overdone here, overshadowing the more important primary characters. I liked Judith, but at the same time I also felt a detachment to her cause. When you consider the main story without all its tangents, the plot is actually quite simple; and at the end of the day, Judith didn’t seem to have much control over her circumstances, nor did she have the means to really influence the direction of the story and the fate of all involved. Still, I don’t deny that I generally prefer more character-driven stories, so this is most likely just a matter of taste.
Lest I start to sound too negative though, I want to emphasize again that this is not a bad book, and I actually liked it a lot! Admittedly I have high expectations when it comes to Buehlman, since I loved the two other books I’ve read by him. It’s just hard not to make comparisons to them, especially since like The Lesser Dead, this newest novel also features vampires, and I’ve even heard somewhere that The Suicide Motor Club was meant to be a quasi-prequel. Knowing that he was tackling vampires as a subject again, I’d merely hoped that the story would be more original, or that there would be something more unique about these vampires. Everything ended up being fairly standard and predictable, but I definitely wouldn’t say I was disappointed either.
Frankly, when it comes down to the enjoyment factor, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this book. It might not be perfect, nor do I consider it Buehlman’s best, but he does some pretty neat things with the premise. The Suicide Motor Club also hasn’t changed my opinion of him as a talented author, who writes with such a bold, evocative style. Plus, it’s fast-paced, action-oriented, and it’ll keep you turning the pages. When you’re looking to escape with a thrilling horror novel, sometimes you just can’t ask for more....more
This was my first book by Keri Arthur, and I was completely unprepared for how good it was. I don’t even know why I was caught so flat-footed! After all, I know friends who have been fans of the author’s for years and they all absolutely adore her work, which is what convinced me to give City of Light a try in the first place. I’ve been curious about her books for a long time, and this being the first book of a new series seemed like the perfect place to start, so I went in with pretty high expectations. It ended up exceeding all of them.
Of course, I was skeptical at first, especially right after I opened the book and was almost immediately overwhelmed by a huge solid wave of info-dumps. To be fair, I understood the reasons for this, especially after I finished the book. There’s a tremendous amount of world building and a lot of amazing wonders and mysteries to discover, but the fun can’t start until after we’ve all taken the crash course, so to speak. After the story gets moving though, things really heat up.
This series opener introduces us to Tiger, a genetically hybrid soldier known as a “déchet”—a word that translates to “waste product” and speaks volumes about their makers’ attitudes towards their creations. But all that happened more than a hundred years ago, during the war between this world and the one beyond the veil. Those alive now live a precarious existence in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, with humans and shifters alike occupying highly-secured cities lit perpetually with artificial light meant to keep all the monsters like demons, wraiths and vampires out.
Tig is the last of her kind, after the shifters eradicated all déchet at the end of the war. She lives in the remnants of a military bunker filled with the ghosts of her people, whose energies she can sense and interact with. For the past century she has been in hiding, until one day she rescues a little girl on the outskirts of Central City and learns of a disturbing string of child abductions. Wraith-like beings are snatching kids in broad daylight—which should be impossible—and after what happened to her people, Tig has sworn never to stand by and let another child be harmed again.
I admit it’s a lot to take in, and I was initially confused given the staggering amount of information I had to process about Tig’s world. I almost thought City of Light might have been a spinoff from another series, and had to double-check to make sure this wasn’t the case. The world building is simply phenomenal, with a very robust and established feel, blending sci-fi futuristic elements with magic and other aspects from the fantasy genre. Even creatures like wraiths and vampires feel very different from the kind I usually read about in urban fantasy.
And for some reason, I went into City of Light expecting it to be a full-blown paranormal romance, probably since most of Keri Arthur’s other books have that tag. I was wrong, but I was also far from being disappointed. With Tig being a déchet created specifically for espionage and seduction, I admit was prepared for nothing but romance and sexual tension, but in the end the heavier emphasis was on the mystery of the abducted children rather than Tig’s relationships. On the whole, this book read more like a well-crafted UF with some PNR elements and a couple of smoking hot sex scenes thrown in, and it was a balance that struck the perfect note.
I also loved Tig as a protagonist. Her kind was created by humans to be a mix of animal, shifter, and vampire—the ultimate weapon. But after the war, the déchet were completely killed off, and even after all these years, Tig still remembers the day when the military bunker she was in was gassed with poisons. Everyone else inside was killed, including the young déchet in the nursery. Tig herself barely managed to survive thanks to her genetically modified DNA, but two of the children, Bear and Cat, died horribly in her arms. Today, their ghosts are her loyal companions, playfully following Tig wherever she goes, but the story of their tragic deaths haunted me and shattered my heart to pieces. It made me see why Tig is so protective of her little ones, and why she would go so far to help the kidnapped shifter children. I also gained a deeper appreciation for her strength and resolve, knowing the terrible things she witnessed back during the war. And finally, being able to connect with Tig made the ending more poignant, because it underscored the sacrifice behind Tig’s decision. Ultimately, nothing can ever come between her and her responsibility to those she has sworn to protect.
All told, City of Light is exciting and well-written, its story containing a remarkable mix of intrigue and action punctuated with sizzling melt-your-mind love scenes. The book’s main character is a sympathetic and lion-hearted (or rather should I say, tiger-hearted?) heroine you just can’t help but root for. Now I am waiting on pins and needles for the sequel to see what she’ll do next! I simply couldn’t have been more pleased at how this experience with my first Keri Arthur novel turned out. If I loved it, I have no doubt her fans will as well....more
Oh, Adele and Gareth. I just want to wrap them both up in a nice warm hug. How apropos it is that my favorite fictional power couple of steampunk is back this fall in a new adventure written by my favorite real-life literary power couple of fantasy fiction. Three years after the end of the original trilogy, Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith return to the world of Vampire Empire with The Geomancer, the first book of a new spinoff series.
This book is the beginning of a new chapter in every way. The vampire clans in the north have been decimated, their hold on Britain shattered. Empress Adele of Equatoria and her consort the vampire prince Gareth are looking to the future, trying to work together to bring back order. Humans are starting to feel safe on the streets of London again. The war here with the vampires is over.
Or is it? Barely half a year has passed since Adele brought death and destruction to the enemy by using her powers of geomancy, but already there are rumors spreading that vampires are making their return. An investigation into a string of bloody murders in London confirm their worst fears—somehow vampires have found a way to resist the killing powers of geomancy. At the same time, news comes of a mysterious human known as the Witchfinder who has thrown in with the new vampire regime, with plans to help them kill humans on a massive scale. There’s no doubt that the two events are connected, and the path to stopping this new threat will lead our characters on an epic quest across the globe, from the warm heart of Equatoria in Alexandria to the cold, icy mountains of Tibet.
The Geomancer is exciting, action-packed, emotional, and I’m delighted to report that there’s plenty to love here for fans new and old. Readers who began the journey from the beginning with the original series will be happy to be reunited with these wonderful characters, while first-timers will be able to jump right in. The narrative is taking the next step towards resolving the conflict between humans and vampires, and we’re swept along for the ride. There are new dangers to face, new foes to fight, new challenges to overcome, and in this novel Adele and Gareth are perhaps facing the toughest question yet: Can their two species ever learn to co-exist?
For all the good Gareth has done for humans in the guise of the hero Greyfriar, his secret identity remains closely guarded. The world is not ready for the truth, nor is it ready to accept Adele and Gareth’s romantic relationship. One day that time will come, and until then the two of them will just have to do what they can to change people’s minds, one tiny step at a time. But before that can happen, both of them are going to have to deal with his or her own personal demons.
For Gareth, who spends a lot of time struggling with his pride and dealing with a lot of self-doubt in this book, this can be quite a harrowing and emotional journey. Adele herself fears that the awesome power of geomancy might be doing more harm than good, especially since it is a force no one truly understands. But through it all, you can be sure the two of them are going to be there for each other, because if there’s one thing the Griffiths have always done right in this series, it’s the romance. The authors have done an outstanding job with these characters, further developing their relationship. Things are still interesting even after four books, and I just love how Gareth and Adele are closer now than ever before.
It’s also great to be back in this world, which I’ve always admired for its uniqueness. The setting is a great mix of alternate history, paranormal, and steampunk, and the vampires here are like nothing you’ve ever seen before. Kudos to the Griffiths for putting a fresh twist on an old trope. I also enjoyed how this book brought us to new places, like the hidden monastery in Tibet where I found a couple of new favorite characters among its intriguing residents. The vampire queen Caterina’s chapters also gave us a closer look at the treacherous power-plays as well as a burgeoning vampire rebellion in the overgrown ruins of Paris.
So if you’re curious about this series, this is a fantastic point to jump on board. I believe fans of the original trilogy will also be very happy with this new beginning, especially since familiarity with the people and places will make the experience all the more rewarding. Either way, prepare for love, action, adventure, and an explosive ending that promises even more to come....more
So the other day I was having this conversation with another blogger about what makes us give a book 5 stars. Admittedly, my own reasons can be pretty nebulous and oftentimes the finer details can differ from a lot of others’ “criteria”, but ultimately I think it always comes down to the question: Did the book blow my mind? Maybe the author impressed with some crazy unique ideas, or made me see something in a whole different light. Or maybe the book touched my emotions in some way, destroyed my feels and left me blubbering like an idiot.
Or maybe sometimes, like in the case of The Fifth House of the Heart, the reasons don’t have to be either cerebral or emotional. Maybe I just want to give a book 5 stars because it was just so damn fucking fun. DEAL WITH IT!
Seriously, though. Horror, humor, and a heist all in one? I couldn’t have asked for more. Say what you want about vampires being a tired old trope, but they can still be pretty terrifying, especially when you have an author who knows how to portray them like the monsters that they are—the way they’re meant to be. Next, throw in a motley group of mercenaries led by a septuagenarian antiquities dealer, our rather zany protagonist who is as motivated by his desire to rid the world of vampires as he is by the opportunity to get his hands on some of their priceless loot.
For you see, vampires are as bad as dragons when it comes to hoarding; they have an obsession for the past as well as an eye for expensive, beautiful, and exquisitely crafted things. Unfortunately, they are also fiercely attached to their possessions and will guard them with as much fervor. This is precisely how Asmodeus “Sax” Saxon-Tang draws the attention of a vampire at an antiques auction, after barely winning a bidding war for an ormolu clock. But Sax is no stranger to vampires, having profited greatly from a couple of run-ins with them in the past. So when the clock is later stolen from his warehouse, leaving the watchman on duty brutally murdered, Sax knows only one thing can be responsible. Determined to settle the score, he travels to the Vatican to assemble a crack team of vampire hunters to counter this new threat—and hopefully to make another fortune while he’s at it.
Everyone in this book is a character, in the sense that they all possess interesting and notable traits or personalities. First there’s Fra Paolo, the guileless monk admiringly described by the openly gay Sax as a dark, handsome young “piece of Italian beefcake.” Next is Min, a small innocuous-looking Korean woman who just happens to be one of the deadliest, most frighteningly accomplished vampire killers in the world–and the sanest one the Vatican could come up with on short notice. Rock is the team’s muscle, an ex-US Army Special Forces guy who is as rugged and strong as his name suggests. Gheorghe plays the role of the rogue, a Romanian burglar who moonlights as a street acrobat in between bank heists. Then there are the unwitting additions to the crew, those who just happened to fall into this deadly caper by happy circumstance: Nilu, the Bollywood actress who became a vampire victim; Emily, Sax’s concerned niece who trails her uncle to Europe; and finally, Abingdon the British blacksmith/professional jouster whose impeccable physique and devastatingly good looks make him popular with the ladies at Ren Faires all across the continent.
Hard to imagine a more dubious or random group of people getting together to slay monsters, but there you are. But of course, the most interesting and entertaining one of all is Sax, the leader of this jolly band and the one who holds everyone together. Sax is one of the best protagonists I’ve read in years, a man of contrasts if I’ve ever seen one. I can’t decide whether he’s closer in type to the gentle elderly man who gives smiles to children in the park, or to the crotchety one who brandishes his cane at them from his porch yelling “Get off my lawn!” In truth, he’s probably both in equal parts.
One thing is certain though: this novel owes a lot of its greatness to Sax. Certainly, his wry and wicked sense of humor is a huge part of it; I laughed and I laughed and I laughed. Throughout the book, Sax will say all sorts of scandalous or outrageously inappropriate things but you’ll still find yourself busting a gut without feeling too guilty about it because he reminds you of your 100-year-old eccentric grandpa. Plus, the guy has already survived two vampire attacks, and yet even now he’s preparing to charge headlong into another. RESPECT. I could only hope to be so spritely when I’m pushing eighty.
You might have noticed by now that I haven’t talked much about the plot – and I’m not going to. Because as with most heist stories, the less you know about the novel before you read it the better. The less you know about the vampires in this book the better too, but I just want to say how much I loved Tripp’s return to the ruthless, bestial portrayal of these creatures while still giving it a refreshingly unique twist. The Fifth House of the Heart will remind you that vampires are monsters. They don’t love you. They want to kill you.
So if you want some terrifyingly good entertainment, read this book. What an uproarious mix of thrills and chills! Needless to say, I enjoyed it thoroughly, from the first page to the last!...more
I have a feeling I’m going to be the sole voice of dissent on this one. It’s not that thought Blood of the Earth was a bad book, but quite honestly I was expecting a lot more. However, it should be made known that this was the first time I’ve ever read Faith Hunter; I’ve never read any of the books in the Jane Yellowrock series, and maybe that was part of the problem. A spinoff can be a tricky beast, and though this can be read separately from the main series, I’m guessing that not having the benefit of a previous connection to this world likely had an impact on my overall enjoyment—or lack thereof.
The story stars Nell Nicholson Ingram, who was, as I discovered later, a character first introduced in a Jane Yellowrock short story called “Off the Grid”. She grew up in a cult called the God’s Cloud of Glory Church, and was only a young girl when she was made to marry one of its other members, a much older man named John Ingram. For all his faults though, John had wanted to do right by Nell. So, when she turned eighteen, he also married her legally in the eyes of Tennessee law, which is why when he passed away, ownership of his entire estate was rightfully transferred to her. This, however, did not sit right with the Church. Even after Nell left the cult, its members still kept coming, harassing her about her property, which they considered as theirs no matter what the law says.
The attacks have made Nell nervous, which is why when a group of agents from PsyLED show up at her door one day, she isn’t sure whether or not she can trust them. Turns out though, Jane Yellowrock had referred Nell to the paranormal investigation agency after finding out about Nell’s earth magic and special connection to nature, so now Agent Rick LaFleur and his team of were-cat operatives are here hoping she can help out on a case. There has been a string of disappearances involving young women lately, and one of the missing victims is a member of a very important vampire house. PsyLED suspects Nell’s old cult might have something to do with it, and they believe access to her past and property could be a very useful resource.
As I mentioned previously, I didn’t think this was a bad book. That said, I also found nothing terribly exciting about it. First of all, a “missing girls” story? Urban fantasy isn’t exactly suffering from a dearth of missing-or-kidnapped-kids plots lately, so that ho-hum was one of the bigger disappointments. Second, the first third of the novel with its slow pacing almost did me in. What made it even more frustrating was the constant repetition, what with Nell finding about fifty thousand ways to beat it over the readers’ heads that the God’s Cloud Church wants her land because they didn’t agree with her late husband’s decision, or how some of their men came over and killed her dogs. Yes, Nell, cult goons bad. I got it the first time, and really could have done without the image of the poor dead pups over and over in my mind. The rough pacing continues in the later parts of the book, like when we’re introduced to the vampire family of the missing girl, and for the next hundred or so pages she is barely mentioned again. The story just feels like it’s all over the place.
I also didn’t think there was anything too special about the world. Again, I know I’m at a disadvantage because I haven’t read the Jane Yellowrock series, so I’m probably missing years and years’ worth of relevant world-building which would have helped me gain a better appreciation for it. Still, at this moment I don’t know if I’m jumping up and down to start another series about vampires and shapeshifters, since I’m already following a bunch of them that scratch that itch, though I did find Nell’s nature-based magic fascinating.
The main character’s background is also one of the most intriguing aspects of this book, since a life of growing up in a cult definitely shaped her into a very interesting person. However, I wasn’t entirely convinced of her random Sherlock Holmes moments. The story spends a lot of time painting Nell to be this country bumpkin, but every so often she will get these flashes of genius (all at the most convenient times, I might add) where she will surprise all her PsyLED team members and then proceed to lecture them all about how a lifetime spent hunting and trapping in the woods somehow taught her to become a whiz at deductive reasoning. And then when they all feel bad about judging her, Nell gets to pat herself on the back, all the while ignoring the fact she can be pretty judgmental herself, of course.
So yeah, this one didn’t exactly blow me away me due to a multitude of smaller issues that simply added up, hence the middling, uncertain rating. In spite of this, I haven’t entirely ruled out picking up the next book yet, especially since I still plan on starting the Jane Yellowrock series one of these days. I think there’s potential for Nell and Soulwood to be a lot more, so here’s hoping the sequel will help them grow on me....more
Even before I started this one, I had a feeling something big was coming. For three books now, Anne Bishop has been ramping up the tensions between the Others and the Humans First and Last (HFL) movement, a radical anti-terra indigene group that has been playing with fire since the beginning of this series. All that pent-up rage and energy had to be going somewhere, and that somewhere turned out to be in the pages of Marked in Flesh.
For centuries, a delicate balance has existed between humans and the creatures that inhabited the land before we got here. The Others, who see humans as prey, have only allowed this truce to continue because they benefit from the relationship as well, enjoying the useful trade goods that humans produce from the natural resources that are under terra indigene control. However, the HFL has made it clear that they are tired of this compromise, issuing a warning to all that a reckoning is at hand.
Caught in the middle of this conflict is Lakeside Courtyard and its leader Simon Wolfgard, the wolf shifter. The arrival of a cassandra sangue named Meg Corbyn has done much to alleviate the bad blood between the Others and the humans in this location, creating a relatively safe place for the two groups to get along. But as HFL violence starts spilling into their daily lives, Simon and the rest of the terra indigene will have to take steps to protect their own, and that may lead to some difficult choices.
Marked in Flesh is undoubtedly a turning point for this series, complete with a significant event that draws a line in the sand. Going forward, a lot of the characters will likely be defined by this moment. The world is also forever changed with the awakening of the Elders, which for all intents and purposes are the “super-terra indigene” of The Others universe. These are beings that even the earth natives themselves fear. For all their bluster and rhetoric, HFL is clearly screwed.
Still, these intense circumstances are merely the backdrop for what happens in Lakeside Courtyard, which is where the true interest is. Simon and Meg are again at the center of all this chaos, but there are also a lot of supporting characters to fill out the story. There’s a good number of perspectives to follow, but at this point in the series, I think this broader view is exactly what it needs. The Others is also somewhat of an oddity for me, since it’s one of the rare cases where I love the books but I’m not too crazy about its protagonist. Meg Corbyn hasn’t grown on me, and I feel her lack of agency in her own series continues to be a weak point, even in Marked in Flesh. She makes a bit of progress in this book, seeking other ways for her fellow blood prophets to get by without resorting to cutting, but in the end Meg is still a confused mess, even to herself. I still don’t really understand the reverence the terra indigene have for her. My enjoyment was instead carried by my love for some of the other characters, and so getting a bigger picture from those POVs actually worked well for me.
Of course, a lot happens in this very important volume, and Anne Bishop does not pull any punches. On the other hand, I also couldn’t help but feel that certain things have been dragging out. It took this long for the HFL conflict to finally come to a head, but certain other plot threads are still hanging. Not much progress has been made it comes to the fate of the liberated cassandra sangue, for example. And if there’s ever going to be any romance between Simon and Meg, then it had better come quick. When I look at the two of them now, I don’t see lovers; I see a relationship that reminds me of a child and her dog. Any chemistry between the two of them has been slowly leaking away, and if something doesn’t happen soon, I’m afraid it will fizzle out altogether.
In spite of my misgivings though, I’m still really excited for the future of The Others. It’s typical for urban fantasy series to have their ups and downs, and I feel that Marked in Flesh found a middle ground, holding steady on some plot points while also giving readers a watershed moment that will leave no one unscathed. If nothing else, I think this will set the stage for even greater things to come. I eagerly await the next installment!...more
More and more, I’m understanding why these books are so universally loved by urban fantasy readers. I suppose I’m a bit of a late convert; I certainly enjoyed the first two novels of The Others, but I don’t think the addiction really started to creep up on me until this latest installment. I found it difficult to put down at times.
Part of it is the fact that all the seeds planted in the previous books are finally starting to come to fruition. No more messing around, things just got REAL with the Cassandra sangue and the Humans First and Last (HFL) movement. I’m so glad I decided to catch up with Murder of Crows before tackling this one, because my experience with Vision in Silver would not have been so enjoyable otherwise. So if you’re thinking about picking up this series, definitely start from the beginning with Written in Red – and not least because you wouldn’t want to spoil anything for yourself, not when it comes to The Others.
This book continues two major plot threads that have been brewing for a while: 1) the fate of the blood prophets who were confined to compounds and then freed, and 2) the rise of the HFL and their increasingly aggressive resistance against the Others. Both have dire repercussions for the humans and terra indigene living across Thaisia.
With Meg Corbyn’s help, the Others of Lakeside Courtyard are trying to put together a plan to integrate the freed blood prophets into their new communities, helping them deal with the drastic changes to their lives and the uncontrollable urge to cut themselves. The details about the girls’ previous lives at the compound under the Controller just got even more terrible in this book. After what I read in Murder of Crows it’s hard to imagine that things could get any worse, but there you go. Meg may have escaped on her own, but she’s not immune from the effects either; now Simon Wolfgard is even more protective of her, making sure that her own efforts don’t put her even more at risk.
It’s the HFL storyline that wins, though. This whole ugly situation with anti-Others movement was a lit powder keg just waiting to blow, and the moment has finally come. It also makes you wonder, just who are the monsters here, really? Granted, the Others of the Lakeside Courtyard under the rule of Simon Wolfgard are more benevolent than your average terra indigene, but thus far this series has been painting them as the beasts that they are, the savage predators of humankind. But the depravity of the acts committed by some of the humans in this book are just despicable, not to mention the sheer stupidity of the HFL for even thinking about messing with the Others. THEY HAVE CONTROL OVER THE NATURAL WORLD, PEOPLE! If the elementals want to cause a huge storm or make the waves rise up to sink your ship to the bottom of a lake, they have their ways. For time eternal, humans and the terra indigene have existed side by side but only out of necessity; the former may have developed some useful and advanced technologies over the ages, but it is the latter who control the natural resources. By seeking to upset this precarious balance, HFL is going to open themselves up to a whole world of hurt, and there have already been casualties from both sides. Something tells me that there will be lot more craziness before this is over (*munches popcorn*).
That said though, I think the series also took a step backwards when it comes to certain things, mainly when it comes to the portrayal of Meg’s character. I’ve always wondered why Meg is so special to everyone in Lakeside Courtyard. Yes, she’s a Cassandra sangue, a human-but-not-quite-human-and-therefore-not-prey blood prophet who has stolen the hearts of the Others by helping them a few times, but that still doesn’t really explain why they defer to her or bend over backwards to treat her like a queen – especially since that goes against everything we know about the Others’ nature. Meg is an idealized character, an observation that has been sitting in the back of my mind since the beginning of the series, but it’s a lot more noticeable in this book, enough to finally push me over the edge to question it. It says a lot too, that out of all the books, Meg’s POV was the most limited in this one but I didn’t really notice or even mind too much. It’s a minor flaw, but it bothered me enough that I had to mention it.
Am I really pumped up for the next book, though? Yes, a thousand times yes. I enjoyed Vision in Silver as much as I did the previous two books, but something about it just took it to the next level. Despite my dissatisfaction with Meg’s character, everything else was amazing. The story was superb, more engaging than ever before. The ending was also somewhat abrupt, which was torturous – I wanted more right away. I’m glad I’m all caught up with this series…but of course, that means I now join the waiting game for book four....more
I didn’t expect to like this one so much. First of all, I haven’t read any of Gail Carriger’s other books save for Soulless which I found quite enjoyable, but ultimately the emphasis on Alexia and Maccon’s romance kept me from diving headfirst into the Parasol Protectorate. Then along came Prudence. Described as a new series featuring the adventures of Alexia’s daughter, this book sounded like a lot of fun. More importantly, it also looked different enough from the original series that I figured I might just give it a shot.
I’m so glad I did. Prudence Alessandra Maccon Akeldama AKA “Rue” is definitely a force to be reckoned with! Like I said, I never got beyond the first book of the Parasol Protectorate series so this was my first introduction to this spirited young lady. I didn’t feel disadvantaged at all for not having read the original series; Carriger does a great job making sure that all her readers can hop aboard at this point and enjoy this book on an equal footing.
Witty, vivacious, and oh so much less prim and proper than her mother, I just couldn’t help but fall in love with Rue. She possesses an ability not unlike Alexia’s, being able to negate the effects of supernatural beings simply by making skin-to-skin contact with them, except she does this by temporarily stealing their powers. So for example, by touching a werewolf, she in turn becomes a werewolf, leaving her hapless victim mortal for the rest of the night or at least until Rue gets far enough away to snap the magical tether. Needless to say, high society has gotten quite used to the sight of Rue running around the city in wolf form wearing nothing but her bloomers, much to Alexia’s chagrin…which just goes to show how different Rue is from her mother.
Also, for much of Rue’s life she was raised away from her birth parents by her foster “second father”, the vampire Lord Akeldama. When trouble threatens to strike Dama’s tea interests in India, he tasks Rue with the mission to investigate, because as everyone knows, tea is SERIOUS BUSINESS. To help her complete her quest, Dama also gifts Rue with her very own dirigible, which our protagonist promptly dubs The Spotted Custard.
Oh God. Never have I wished this hard for illustrations in an adult novel. What I wouldn’t give to see a picture of Rue’s red-with-black-spotted dirigible, because Rue being Rue, of course the first thing she does is commission it to be painted like a gigantic ladybug. Oh, and due to some kink in its engineering, the ship also farts loudly upon liftoff.
Yeah, I just about fell out of my chair from laughing so hard.
Such preposterous, over-the-top situations are everywhere in this book, making this a very humorous read – another point Prudence has over Soulless, in my opinion. This fact makes the novel a regular comedy of errors, made even funnier by Rue’s traveling companions who are all delightful but just as hilariously incompetent at pulling off a mission of espionage. You have straight-laced Primrose who forces the entire expedition to depart early due to an unexpected fashion faux pas, the scholarly navigator Percy who fills up his stateroom with more books than the necessities for basic living, and the rakish Quesnel who is constantly distracting Rue with his good looks and casual flirtations. Can India survive the crew of The Spotted Custard? That’s the million dollar question indeed.
Another thing I really enjoyed is just the light smattering of romance, which in no way detracts from the main storyline. Something’s definitely brewing between Rue and Quesnel, but their relationship is secondary to the central plot which focuses on adventure. There’s no doubt that the exciting journey to India was what made this book such a joy to read, bolstered by Rue’s eccentric brand of diplomacy and the antics of her friends and crew.
I’m also happy that while many of the major characters of Parasol Protectorate are featured in this book, the author keeps their appearances limited. This is strictly Rue’s story, and I couldn’t be more pleased with that. Of course, if you’ve read the series featuring her parents you’ll have a better grasp on the lore and characters’ backgrounds, but I didn’t and I still had a blast. I actually liked Prudence a lot more than Soulless; after all, I didn’t get a jump on the rest of the books in Alexia’s series, but I’m very impatient now for the next book of Rue’s! I’m so glad that Carriger decided to focus on this character, and I can’t wait to follow Rue and her friends on their future adventures with The Spotted Custard....more
I make it no secret that Generation V is one of my favorite urban fantasy series right now. I just love these books so much! Even if this latest installment did make me bawl my eyes out.
Normally, I’d be pretty resentful if anyone made me cry, but it’s entirely different when it comes to a book. In that case, it’s liable to earn itself at least an extra half star and a gushy review. What can I say, I just love it when my reading material appeals to my emotions. It’s a sign of good storytelling and character development, and I’m always excited to see what author M.L. Brennan will bring next for our underdog vampire protagonist Fortitude Scott and his partner Suzume Hollis the spunky kitsune.
Every Generation V book is a new surprise, and Dark Ascension might be the biggest and most important one yet. The winds of change are sweeping through Madeline Scott’s territory, and all the supernatural denizens within are bracing themselves for the inevitable outcome of the vampire matriarch’s failing health. Everyone is worried (and rightfully so) what would happen when her daughter, the psychotic and murderous Prudence takes over, but Fort is not about to let his Machiavellian older sister seize all that power without a fight. In the end though, the aging but still terrifyingly shrewd Madeline may be the one to surprise them all.
Dark Ascension follows a path that is very dissimilar to what we saw in the first three installments, and to be honest, to most urban fantasy arcs in general. It’s a very bold move by the author, but for what she’s attempting to do here, it works rather well. Instead of presenting us with a main problem that unifies the entire plot – like a paranormal crime to be solved by the characters over the course of the book, for example – the story is actually made of many different and smaller conflicts. And subsequently, all these conflicts come to together to form the big question: What will be become of Madeline Scott’s territory once she’s gone? The answers will have repercussions for the entire supernatural community, not to mention Madeline’s own children.
Once again, the Scott family dynamics are at the forefront, an element I find fascinating and that I look forward to seeing developed each time a new book comes out. I’m not sure what it says about me that I simply adore the fearsome and bloodthirsty Prudence, but it’s always nice to see her get a bigger role (though not as much as I thought she would). Needless to say, Fort’s more liberal way of thinking combined with his kind heart makes him the antithesis of his cruel, hard-edged sister. But that doesn’t mean they don’t love each other; it’s merely a love that few can understand. To paraphrase Fort, it’s not that Prudence is incapable of showing affection, just that she’s at her most terrifying when she actually tries. Between them in birth order and in ideology is also of course their brother Chivalry, whose moderate stance only leads to more gridlock whenever the siblings try to work together as a team. If anything though, I think this book only raised my regard for Chivalry, who of the three of them seems to be the most invested in honoring their mother’s wishes. I’ll admit it, I’m a sucker for the good son.
So where does this leave Fort? Well, on the one hand, I’m really impressed at the amount of growth he’s shown throughout the series, but in some ways he hasn’t changed at all. Despite being on his way to become a full-fledged vampire, Fort still underestimates his own value and puts himself in situations where people take advantage of his kindness. He’s also struggling with a serious case of denial when it comes to what he is, but probably not for much longer. Dark Ascension is a turning point where all sorts of changes are happening, and most of them are in our protagonist. Despite the relative lack of action and intrigue in this novel compared to the previous ones, here is where I saw Fort face his most difficult challenges yet.
Furthermore, there’s just so much delicious foreshadowing. Fort makes some great strides in Dark Ascension, and yet there’s still a piece of me bracing for the other shoe to drop. We’ve been told that he is “different” from his siblings, but what that truly means remains to be seen, and I’m very curious to find out what greater purpose Madeline had in mind for her youngest son when she decided to alter his upbringing. Fort has also spent most of his life trying to avoid the family business, but now it’s given him a new purpose. To what cost, though? Keeping in mind Suze’s analogy of the Peep in a microwave, will Fort’s good intentions end up biting him in the ass? Chivalry’s warning at the end is especially ominous. Fort’s heart may be in the right place, but he’s still going against the grand plan and breaking many promises by acting on his own. Isn’t this how corruption begins? By going against Madeline’s wishes, who’s actually bringing the greatest threat to her vision for the future?
I’m practically bursting with questions and anticipation for the next book. I know I’ve said it before but I’ll happily say it again and again: M.L. Brennan’s Generation V series is simply wonderful, featuring a unique world filled the most incredible and unique paranormal beings you’ll ever meet. Without a doubt, this is one of the most fun, refreshing and addictive urban fantasy series you can find on the shelves right now, with each book bringing a new adventure and plenty of surprises. If you haven’t started yet, run—don’t walk—to your nearest bookstore and pick up the first book. I really can’t wait to see what Fort and Suze will be up to next....more