4.5 stars What is one of the best things that can happen to urban fantasy enthusiasts? Tim Marquitz starting a new series and creating a new anti-hero,4.5 stars What is one of the best things that can happen to urban fantasy enthusiasts? Tim Marquitz starting a new series and creating a new anti-hero, that’s what! So now that that’s happened, please join me in this happy dance I’m doing all over my house.
Eyes Deep reads like a prequel novella to Tim’s new Clandestine Daze series. I usually hold off on reading prequels until the first book is released, but I strongly advise you to make an exception in this case. Eyes Deep is fairly long (although not a full lenght novel), and the story is strong enough all on its own. In addition, even though this series signifies a more conventional route for Marquitz, his trademark sense of humor still manages to shine through, which makes this a wildly entertaining read.
Theo isn’t one of those anti-heroes whose actions you can rationalize and justify to make them seem better. For one, Theo is not even his real name – Theodor Crane is actually someone he killed in order to assume his identity and spy on humans for his world, Aellisar. And he’s not the only one, there is a trail of bodies in our doppelganger’s wake, bodies that conveniently disappear thanks to his associates, while he only keeps the eyeballs he must consume in order to change shape. Gross, right? Sure, but also kind of awesome.
While the doppelganger doesn’t hesitate to kill when the need arises, he has some scruples when it comes to Theo’s original family, for which I was grateful. It is, as far as I can tell, his only redeeming quality so far. There is a heart under that treacherous body and I’m curious to see how things will develop from here.
The story isn’t just haphazardly thrown together, as is often the case with novellas. While the plot does take a back seat in favor of character development, it’s not underdeveloped in the least. I was fully invested in the events, and more than a bit curious to learn how things would end.
As usual, Marquitz knows exactly what he’s doing. Eyes Deep is yet another proof that this is an author with a sure hand and a strong voice. The advantage of this novella (and the upcoming novels, I’m sure) is that it will make him more accessible to a much wider audience due to a more traditional approach. Since he’s an author whose work I’ve been following for years, I can’t wait for the rest of you to jump on board. Hurry up, will you? There’s so much fun to be had.
You can read Tim's thoughts on his new series HERE, and there's still some time to enter to win a copy of Eyes Deep. ...more
Nothing like a good anti-hero to brighten up one’s day! And in the army of anti-heroes I’ve met in my life, Ethan Banning is, without doubt, one of thNothing like a good anti-hero to brighten up one’s day! And in the army of anti-heroes I’ve met in my life, Ethan Banning is, without doubt, one of the very best. He is private detective who constantly struggles with what he calls the Voice and what is in fact a demon that possessed him during one of his cases.
The Voice isn’t taking it easy on Ethan. It constantly whispers into his ear, telling him to hurt people and even kill them. The two are in a constant battle and make no mistake, Ethan is not winning. There are times when his plight is so terrible, so utterly humiliating, that we get a sudden ad strong urge to step in and put him out of his misery. Just imagine and evil creature living inside of you, able to use you as its mouthpiece and speak impossibly vile things with your very own lips. Poor Ethan, is he not? There is just enough shame and regret in him to make our guts clench in sympathy, although Ethan sometimes makes even that extremely hard.
But even demon-possessed and miserable, Ethan must do his job to survive, and his strength lies in finding missing persons. When a case lands on his table, a sort of quid-pro-quo arrangement, Ethan sets out to find a missing college professor. The investigation takes Ethan to Beacon’s Point, a small town by the ocean with a very xenophobic population. Beacon’s Point makes an extremely claustrophobic setting, and even though Ethan finds a sidekick of sorts (not counting his dog Mutt, of course), all doors are closed to him and his investigation is extremely difficult.
There are two prequel novellas you can read before going into this book – one before Ethan was possessed and one after – but it’s not necessary to read them in order to enjoy this novel. Ethan will tell you all you need to know, and truth be told, you don’t really need to know much. And anyway, the Voice will tell you more than you ever wanted to hear.
Naomi Clark is an experienced author, and it shows. This is dark urban fantasy folks, dark and depressing, but certainly worth your time.
4.5 stars Bloggers and journalists have discussed at length the sudden popularity of serial novels, and not succeeded in finding a reason for it. Seria4.5 stars Bloggers and journalists have discussed at length the sudden popularity of serial novels, and not succeeded in finding a reason for it. Serial novels have a long tradition, but for a time it seemed that they were almost forgotten. Dating all the way from 19th century, they played a monumental part in creating the so called popular literature. In other words, they helped books find their place in popular culture.
From what I've been able to find out, Penguin and St. Martin's in particular seem determined to give serial novels a new life. But it wasn't until both Ilona Andrews and Seanan McGuire wrote theirs that I started believing this project would actually succeed.
Indexing was first published in a serial format on Amazon. The readers paid for the whole thing right away and downloaded a new part when it became available. Since it wasn’t available to international readers at first, I had to wait for the completed novel to be published, for which I ended up being thankful, since I’m not known for my patience, and the story is very compelling.
Don't mistake Indexing for a fairy tale. That's not at all what it is. Instead, it's a story about sentient, malevolent narratives. As for the characters, McGuire took the whole concept of archetypes and built upon it, using her vast knowledge on fairy tales (and literary theory) and combining it with extraordinary imagination to turn old stories into something we've never seen before. Whatever Seanan McGuire writes (be it under her own name or as Mira Grant), has her trademark combination of extensive research and wicked sense of humor. Worldbuilding-wise, Indexing is perhaps one of the most interesting things I've ever read.
Like most of McGuire’s novels, Indexing is cleverly subversive, serving a healthy helping of social activism with the already interesting story. McGuire always makes her point, but never in a way that could make her readers uncomfortable. Her messages are subtle, but clear, whether they’re allegories, or straightforward (in this case, the point was made through a very sympathetic transgender character).
Indexing is a product of superb intelligence and vast imagination, and as such, it’s worthy of your time. It pushes the boundaries of its genre, and it certainly pushes readers to expect more from genre fiction.
Intricate and richly imaginative, The Bone Season is a book that clearly stands out, one of the very few titles completely worthy of the hype. RarelyIntricate and richly imaginative, The Bone Season is a book that clearly stands out, one of the very few titles completely worthy of the hype. Rarely do I get so utterly swallowed by a book, living and breathing along with its characters, but Samantha Shannon’s debut held me prisoner for days. Though admittedly willing, I was no less a captive than Paige Mahoney was in Sheol 1.
And what a horrible place Sheol 1 is. Shiny on the outside, rotten on the inside, based on slavery and lead by the vicious Rephaim, it is a prison for voyants and unlucky humans alike. Paige is brought to Sheol from Scion London for killing a man by using her powers. She is immediately chosen by Arctrurus, Warden of the Mesarthim and the blood sovereign’s fiancée and taken to his tower for training.
Paige and Warden start as enemies: he her master and she his furious slave. She hates him, there is no doubt about it, even though it’s often obvious that he goes out of his way to protect her from his fiancée Nashira Sargas, the blood sovereign. Slowly, gradually, and above all realistically, their relationship changes from outright hatred to something akin to respect, closely followed by affection and attraction. It’s one step forward, three steps back for Paige and Warden, every ounce of trust has to be earned over and over, but to lose it is as easy as breathing.
He and I were natural enemies; there was no use pretending otherwise. And yet he had observed so much about me: the way I held myself, my tension, my vigilance. Jax was always telling me to loosen up, to let myself float. But that didn’t mean I could trust the man who kept me locked in this cold dark room.
The social structure, both in Scion London and especially in Sheol 1 is extremely well thought-out. Samantha Shannon thought of everything and she created a realistically structured society, based on fear and mistrust, as these things usually are. Shannon’s writing is well-measured and elegant, each word carefully chosen and each sentence a beauty to behold. I find it almost astonishing that this is her debut novel. With her prose, she shows a level of maturity many seasoned authors can only dream about. Even though The Bone Season is set in the future, her writing has that easy grace I associate with older, classical authors.
With her superb narration, Alana Kerr turned The Bone Season into what is surely one of the best audiobooks I’ve ever listened to. Her calm, steady voice gave Sheol 1 a three-dimensional quality and personality to its inhabitants. Through her interpretation, Paige Mahoney became more than just a character on page, she turned into a strong young woman, brave but slightly detached, and it’s because of this detachment that her emotional moments came across more strongly, making me shed silent tears while witnessing her heartbreak.
The second book has no description, cover, or even title, but I’m ready to sell a piece of my soul to get it regardless. Paige and Warden have a long and presumably dark journey ahead of them. I look forward to it more than I can say.
It’s safe to say that Wrong Ways Down is the best thing that happened to urban fantasy in a very long time. With this long-awaited, anxiously anticipaIt’s safe to say that Wrong Ways Down is the best thing that happened to urban fantasy in a very long time. With this long-awaited, anxiously anticipated and rather longish novella told from Terrible’s POV, Stacia Kane gave her readers exactly what they desperately needed – a glimpse into the complicated psyche of a well-beloved character.
If you know anything about Stacia’s books, you might have noticed that she doesn’t have almost-fans or lukewarm readers. People either hate or love her books, but for those who have loved the previous five novels, Wrong Ways Down will seem like a gift fallen from the sky. Not only do we get to see the inner workings of Terrible’s mind, but we get to see Chess through his eyes: a beautiful, confident and well-put-together version of her.
Somewhere in the back of my mind, I was always painfully aware of Terrible’s insecurities, although it’s easy enough to forget them while seeing his strength through Chess’s eyes. In Wrong Ways Down, Stacia Kane brings them all skillfully to light, thus giving a new and much needed dimension to a well-loved character. Suddenly, Terrible doesn’t seem neither untouchable nor invincible. He is as vulnerable as you and me, but all the better for it.
And when he was doing it, using his fists, his whole body... he felt right. Like his body did the thinking he mind couldn't seem to get, and when he was fighting he thought faster than anyone else. If fists were brains he was the smartest dude in the city, and he couldn't help how that made him feel good.
Terrible’s POV means that Downspeech is heavier than ever. Chess’s education is evident in her narration, as is Terrible’s lack of one. Stacia proved herself as a writer a hundred times over even before this novella, but for this, she should get a standing ovation. Everything about Terrible’s language was consistent and well-thought-out and Kane’s attention to details. I hope someone someday will write a paper about it, purely from a grammatical standpoint.
I realize $6 seems like a lot for a novella (that’s the EU price, I’m not sure about US), but Wrong Ways Down is actually the length of a short novel, and brilliant to boot, so trust me when I say it’s money well spent. In addition, I don’t often see a self published work that is so well edited and has such a wonderful, non-generic cover.
Downside fans, get yourselves a copy as soon as possible. The rest of you don’t know what you’re missing. :)
4.5 stars I am, first and foremost, an urban fantasy reader. On the secluded island that is my mind, a new series as good as The Others is more rare an4.5 stars I am, first and foremost, an urban fantasy reader. On the secluded island that is my mind, a new series as good as The Others is more rare and more coveted than a fresh batch of blueberry muffins. And I do love my blueberry muffins. It should be mentioned that Written in Red leans more towards the fantasy part of urban fantasy. In fact, if we take the strictest definition, it’s not urban fantasy at all. But it’s a thin line, and Bishop’s world so unique that I see no point in making the distinction.
In Written in Red, we familiarize ourselves with Thasia and its inhabitants. In Thasia, Others live in compounds where they govern themselves. Human laws don’t apply. Their contact with humans is extremely limited, which is for the best. Any human who breaks a law of the Others ends up eaten or worse. Humans (or monkeys, as the terra indigene call them) have access to a few stores and restaurants, but they aren’t allowed to go anywhere near the residential complexes where the Wolfguards, Hawkguards, Crowguards, Sanguinati and other clans live.
The terra indigene are not human. They are supernatural creatures that acquired human skin because it suited them for some reason. If visitors to the courtyard expect them to react and behave like humans, they are most likely to get eaten. The Others don’t advertise the fact that they all eat special meat, but they don’t try too hard to hide it either. To them, humans are monkeys, and they only tolerate them because there are certain human inventions and products they enjoy.
“But what would they have said to their Liaison? It’s like this, Meg. We didn’t like that Asia Crane, so we ate her. When dealing with humans, honesty isn’t always the best policy, Vlad thought”
Meg Corbin, a blood prophet and the courtyard’s human liaison, is not your typical urban fantasy heroine. She is physically weak from being imprisoned all her life and her knowledge and social skills come from carefully selected photographs and video clips. Until she escaped, she wasn’t allowed to talk unless she was speaking a prophecy. But despite her obvious weaknesses, there is a certain strength in her quiet, persistent ways, a steel spine in her small, fragile body. And unlike all the other humans, she doesn’t smell like prey.
The narrator’s voice has a very pleasant timbre and her voice characterization is excellent. Simon Wolfguard is a true alpha male if there ever was one (notice how I wrote male but not man!), and getting his voice just right was no small feat, yet Harris gave him just the right amount of growl and menace without making it seem like she was trying too hard. 18 hours is a very long time to spend listening to a single person, but Harris made it very easy. In the future, I won’t hesitate to pick up any audiobook she narrated.
I can’t believe I have to wait a whole year for Murder of Crows to come out. Just thinking about it is painful. But I do know I’ll wait for the audio, if they keep the same narrator. This is another book I can already add to my ‘Best of 2013’ list.
There’s nothing I love more than dark, gritty urban fantasy, and man, does Joseph Nassise know how to write it! I can’t even remember the last time IThere’s nothing I love more than dark, gritty urban fantasy, and man, does Joseph Nassise know how to write it! I can’t even remember the last time I enjoyed UF quite so much.
A man’s daughter disappears right from under his nose. He spends the next few years desperately looking for her, losing his wife and his job in the process. As the years go by and his search remains without results, his methods become increasingly desperate. Left with no other options, he performs an arcane ritual which takes away his eyesight, but gives him the ability to see the spirit world. He occasionally assists the police with some particularly difficult investigations in exchange for information about his daughter’s case.
Parents experience a unique kind of fear. It is at once more visceral and more paralyzing than any other fear, a cold, clammy hand that squeezes your heart until your very blood starts to drip from between its fingers. It invades your mind like an alien presence, disrupts your thought process and ratchets your emotions right of the scale, until you can’t possibly think straight and every second is an eternity, an eternity where all you can do is think about all of the terrible things that could have happened to your precious child.
Jeremiah Hunt is a character of unusual complexity. To a reader, the pain Hunt feels over losing his daughter is far more terrifying than any ghost, fetch, witch or beserker he comes across. This is where Nassise truly impressed me. Every few chapters we’d get to jump back to those days around Elizabeth’s disappearance and see Hunt as he was then: a successful Harvard scholar with a nice house and a beautiful wife. Making the jump back to current events and Hunt as he is now was shocking every time, especially at the beginning, before the entire process was revealed. Of course, as the reader is offered more chapters about Hunt’s increasingly desperate search, his choices become more clear and understandable, but never easier to handle.
I really liked Hunt’s only two allies (if you don’t count Whisper and Scream, his ghostly assistants), Denise Clearwater and Dmitri. They are exactly the kind of people someone like Hunt needs: used to not asking a lot of questions and unwilling to answer more than strictly necessary, but more than willing to make sacrifices for a good enough cause. And if they do seem unusually loyal for relatively new acquaintances, it's because they aren't really loyal to Hunt himself, but to the Gifted community as a whole.
Readers who enjoy romance above all else might find themselves a bit disappointed, though. Hunt isn’t exactly interested in women, and although there’s some real attraction between him and Denise Clearwater, he is simply to obsessed with his search for Elizabeth to act on it, or even to give it much thought.
Eyes to See doesn’t end with a cliffhange but enough things were left open to make me eager to read the sequel, King of the Dead, as soon as I can. Luckily (and thanks to the lovely people at Tor), I have it right here. To conclude, I’ll just quote Seanan McGuire straight from the cover: “Make time for this one.”
4.5 stars Something was seriously amiss in this town. I’d felt it the moment I crossed Bell Lake. The shadows seem deeper, the nights longer, the secr4.5 stars Something was seriously amiss in this town. I’d felt it the moment I crossed Bell Lake. The shadows seem deeper, the nights longer, the secrets older. Even the wind felt different here.
In The Kingdom, second book in The Graveyard Queen series, Amelia Gray is called to restore the local cemetery in Asher Falls, South Carolina, and she gladly accepts, hoping that some time away will help put emotional distance between her and John Devlin, the haunted police detective she desperately loves. The job, however, is not as simple as it seemed to be. Thorngate cemetery and the powerful family that used to own it are surrounded by controversy and not everyone is welcoming. Amelia soon discovers that she has blood ties to the place and she is forced to face not only the ghosts that are everywhere, but her family's history as well.
It is strange but admirable that Stevens decided to distance her heroine from the original love interest for the duration of this book. As much as I missed John Devlin and his dark, brooding personality, that particular storyline is a lot like good wine: the more time Stevens chooses to give it, the better it will become. After all, if Devlin was freed from the ghosts that haunt him – those of his wife and daughter – too quickly, it would make the issue seem less serious than it’s supposed to be, especially if the trigger happened to be his attraction to Amelia. In addition, getting to know Thane Asher, the man who kept Amelia company in this book, was an unexpected pleasure. Like Devlin, he has a lot of baggage and a definite dark side, but they really couldn’t be more different. I could see why Amelia would be attracted to him, especially after everything she went through with and for Devlin.
The heavy atmosphere of Deep South wasn’t as pronounced in The Kingdom, but the creepiness of the minuscule town and the closed mentality of such a small community were portrayed rather excellently. Asher Falls had layers upon layers of shameful and dangerous secrets, and for some unknown reason, Amelia was at the very center of it all.
Amelia Gray is a highly unusual Urban Fantasy heroine. She is gentle, reserved and very quiet, trained to keep her emotions and reactions to herself. She never relies on sarcasm and her entire personality is influenced by her Southern upbringing. Perhaps she is not a real lady like her adoptive mother and her aunt, but she is, above all, polite – towards friends and enemies alike. My mother and aunt were very beautiful women, exuding a bygone femininity that smelled of honeysuckle, sandalwood and fresh linen. Papa, by contrast, smelled of the earth. Or was that me? To Mama’s horror, I often had little half moons of dirt beneath my nails, the odd leaf or twig stuck to my hair. Even wearing my Sunday best, a bit of graveyard seemed to cling to me.
Stevens’s prose is lush and gorgeous, intense and heartbreaking. Her characters come alive so easily, and her talent for creating an eerie atmosphere is enormous. Truth be told, there aren’t that many Urban Fantasy authors like her. With her talent, she could write anything she chooses, anything at all, which is why I’m especially proud that she opted for my favorite genre.
I’m supposed to read the third book, The Prophet, with my friend Heidi over at Rainy Day Ramblings and I’m already so excited about it. If you’re a fan of dark, eerily beautiful stories that will keep you awake at night, please give this series a try. It was, after all, recommended to me by Ann Aguirre, and she’s a lady who knows what she’s talking about. ...more
Every time I get my hands on a new Demon Squad book, it feels a lot like Christmas. Admittedly, it’s a dirty Christmas, full of drunken groping and inappropriate comments, but it’s Christmas nevertheless. It is not often that urban fantasy is written and delivered with such boldness and abandon – Tim Marquitz does not only overstep the lines of good taste, he completely ignores them and then he laughs in your shocked face. And I love it.
Where is God now? I guess we’ve all asked ourselves that question at some point in our lives, some of us every day even, but when Frank asks, he actually hopes to get an answer. God has been missing, or rather, he left us to fend for ourselves, and to make matters more interesting, Lucifer has done the same. Two armies with no one strong enough to lead them are a sure recipe for disaster, but with a few more hostile universes in the mix, the Earth has very little hope of survival.
Enter Frank Trigg, Lucifer’s reckless nephew. After a long period of silence, his uncle sent him a message warning him about God’s old creations, all bigger and more powerful than us. Trigg is supposed to gather his allies and come up with strategies to defend Earth. But what makes him so special? Why should he carry this weight on his shoulders? To answer that, he’ll have to take a long, hard look into his past and maybe even kill an angel or two in the process.
This time around, Frank gave a whole new meaning to the word underdog. Nobody wanted him around for too long and there were far too many people (I use the term loosely here) trying to kill him. When you add to that a few shocking revelations about his family’s history, it’s no wonder I had the urge to hug him and comfort him just a teeny tiny bit (although he’d probably grab my butt or something, dirty bastard that he is, and then I’d have to shoot him with his own gun… not that he ever gets to keep it for long anyway).
The beginning of Echoes of the Past was a little bit rough for me. I was just getting comfortable in the Demon Squad universe, and suddenly there were more universes to consider, more powers, more creatures, more everything. It was all too much too fast and it took me a while to adjust, but the second half more than made up for it. In it, Marquitz showed that he’s not afraid to add layers to his main character. The emotional depth he showed, the seriousness with which he approached certain subjects while keeping Frank true to himself stunned me. It made me forget about the first half. It even made me less grumpy about the cliffhanger. I’ll always put character development first and that part was done perfectly.
It’s too early to start thinking about book 5, but I can’t help it, not after that cliffhanger, and I’m excited and terrified in equal amounts. I don’t know what’s coming next for poor Frank, but I’m sure it won’t be pretty.
EDIT 1/22/12: Stop by The Nocturnal Library for an interview with Kristen Painter. We're also giving away two copies of this book. Giveaway is internaEDIT 1/22/12: Stop by The Nocturnal Library for an interview with Kristen Painter. We're also giving away two copies of this book. Giveaway is international.
She had more signum than just what was on her hands, feet and face. The lacy gold mapped her entire body. A finely wrought filigree of stars, vines, flowers, butterflies, ancient symbols, and words ran from her feet, up her legs, over her narrow waist, spanned her chest, and finished down her arms to the tips of her fingers. Gilded, head to toe. No wonder she glittered like lost treasure.
Not just a pretty cover after all. I didn’t even wait to finish Blood Rights before ordering the second and the third book from The Book Depository. I only needed to read the first 20% to know, without a doubt, that this is a series I’ll love.
Chrysabelle is not an ordinary human. Her whole body is covered in gold tattoos and at 115, she looks no more than 20 years old. She’s a comarré, a human hybrid born and bred for one sole purpose: to feed a noble vampire. A comarré’s body produces more blood than it needs, so every comarré needs to be fed from regularly or they develop hypervolemia. Their blood rights are sold to a noble and nobody else gets to feed from them as long as their Master lives. In return, vampire saliva gives the comarré super-human strength and eternal youth. But Chrysabelle is special even among her own kind. Her blood rights were sold to Lord Algernon, Dominus of the House of Tepes, for 22 million Euro, the highest price any comarré has ever achieved. She spent almost a hundred years in Algernon’s house, until one day her Master got killed by a weapon only a comarré can wield. Instead of enjoying her freedom after 100 years of servitude, Chrysabelle must leave Corvinestri and travel to Paradise City in order to try and clear her name.
Even in Paradise City, Chrysabelle has no one to turn to but Mal, the only vampire in the world who wants nothing to do with her. Mal used to be a noble vampire of great power, one of the strongest in the House of Tepes, but he became anathema after being cursed for the second time. Because of his curse, every person he sinks his fangs into must die, and those he kills end up living inside his head, haunting him forever. His body is covered with names of his victims. To avoid adding another voice to the constant noise in his head, he wants to stay as far away from Chrysabelle as possible, no matter how hungry he is or how good her blood smells to him. However, Chrysabelle offers to help him lift his curse, and that’s the only thing Mal cannot refuse.
You judge me while you have no idea what it's like. My head is never quiet. Never. You try spending just twenty-four hours without a moment's privacy and see if it doesn't make you a little crazy. I live that every day and night.
Some described Blood Rights as being halfway between urban fantasy and paranormal romance, but I have to disagree. This is urban fantasy in its purest form. Sure, we have a strong heroine and a strong hero and they DO work together, but the focus is not on will-they-won’t-they at all, at least I didn’t see it that way. The worldbuilding is far too good for paranormal romance: I loved the combination of old vampire traditions and the technology one could expect in the year 2067. Supporting characters are also fantastic. Tatiana is one of the best villains in urban fantasy as far as I’m concerned, and Mal’s companions, Fi and Doc, are so interesting that they deserve their own trilogy.
How far would you go to save your best friend? If you’re anything like Corine Solomon, you would take a one-way ticket to hell without a second thougHow far would you go to save your best friend? If you’re anything like Corine Solomon, you would take a one-way ticket to hell without a second thought.
This is my tenth book by Ann Aguirre, and she has yet to write a single sentence that I won’t like. From her restrained writing style to her astonishing worlds, everything she does demonstrates calmness, precision and experience not many authors have.
My relationship with Corine Solomon got off to a rocky start. Just like Sirantha Jax, she was insufferable at first, mildly infuriating later and a role model by the end. Not that we got to see much of Corine this time around, as she was sharing her body with a vicious demon queen. She was mostly in the background, a helpless spectator in her own life, and even when she found the strength to push the queen down, she was rarely the Corine I know and love. She and the queen started out as complete opposites, one gentle and mellow, the other evil incarnate, but the lines started blurring pretty soon and suddenly I had no idea where one ends and the other begins. Just like Chance, I was unsure about her actions, constantly wondering which part was Corine, and which the demon queen. If that isn’t proof enough of superior writing skills, I don’t know what is.
I adore that Aguirre toys with the genre, stepping in and out as she sees fit and abandoning it altogether when the need arises. Hell Fire, book two in the series, was really a small-town horror story, compelling, utterly creepy and so much better than the small town horror story that won 2011 GoodReads choice award. That’s when it became clear that the author refuses to be confined by the genre and it was around that time that I started worshiping the ground she walks on… with much dignity, of course. ;) She took a step back with the third book, Shady Lady, which was a real urban fantasy if I ever read one. It was, at that moment, the best one of the series. I loved an impossible man together with Corine, I suffered with her, I fought right alongside her and I cried when she lost the things she valued most. I thought it would be a hard one to top, and it was, but I might have underestimated Aguirre’s ability to surprise her readers. She wrote a book so unlike Shady Lady, or any of her books for that matter, that it’s simply impossible to compare them.
Flirting with high fantasy did wonders for this series. The second Corine and Chance jumped (literally, they jumped) into the demon realm, my jaw dropped and that’s where it stayed. From the gate and the sacrifice the crossing required to Xibalba, a huge demon city they ended up in, every single detail was in its place. The demon queen’s palace was as real to me as my own back yard, and the creatures that gathered there will feature in my nightmares for a long time to come. I’ve said this before, but it deems repeating: nobody builds worlds like Ann Aguirre. Each one is a work of art, but when the time comes to destroy them, she shows no mercy. I think that’s what I appreciate the most.
I always find it especially hard to review urban fantasy books. I read them, I usually enjoy them, I spend a total of three minutes thinking about theI always find it especially hard to review urban fantasy books. I read them, I usually enjoy them, I spend a total of three minutes thinking about them, and after that, there’s really not much to say. But this book and its author Rachel Caine, who in all honesty hasn’t failed me yet, deserve my best effort.
This isn’t my first book by Rachel Caine. I loved her Weather Warden series (at least the first three books that I’ve read so far) and I still moderately enjoy her Morganville Vampires. My expectations for this were pretty high to begin with and after reading the first book, I'm pretty confident that this will become one of my favorites. Working Stiff is full of small surprises. I can’t really say that it’s unpredictable because, you know, urban fantasy never is, but there were times when the plot went in the opposite direction from what I expected.
After spending four years in Iraq, Bryn Davis understands well the importance of taking care of the dead. As odd as her career choice may seem, she is perfectly happy with her decision to become a funeral director. That is, until she discovers that her new employer is using the funeral home as a cover for some pretty serious and pretty disgusting illegal activities.
Bryn is an amazing character, beautiful, strong, silent and incredibly stubborn. She is caught in an impossible situation, and while she does get overwhelmed by fear and acts foolishly from time to time, she never whines. At least not in a way that would bother me. She also knows how to be funny without being overly sarcastic.
I can’t really reveal the name of Bryn’s love interest because that would ruin one of the small surprises I’ve mentioned. I can, however, say that he’s one of the hottest and most attractive male characters in urban fantasy. I should know, I’ve read them all. He is 100% human which means that he doesn’t have any supernatural powers to hide behind, but he is still more amazing than any vampire, were or mage I can think of. I kid you not. Silent, serious ex-marine type with a tenderness he shows only rarely, he reminded me of Benton Wesley from the Kay Scarpetta series. (I always had a thing for smooth, smart, suit and tie guys like Benton.) He alone would be reason enough to read this book.
If you like urban fantasy, you are going to love Working Stiff. I can’t wait for the next book to come out. ...more
"Chalice is a modern-day knight descended from an order of female knights that existed int he Middle Ages and actually used hatchets to defend their h"Chalice is a modern-day knight descended from an order of female knights that existed int he Middle Ages and actually used hatchets to defend their homes when the men went off to fight. In Chalice’s twenty-first century world, that order still exist, but the female knights are the progeny of angels. The abilities they inherit are their most powerful weapons…"
Chalice has no idea why she’s different: she’d lost her mother when she was just a baby and she never knew anything about her father so her heightened senses (smell, hearing and sight) were never explained to her. Her senses are so strong that she’s forced to wear ear plugs and contacts to protect herself from sensory overload. Because of her abilities, Chalice was taken from the monastery where she was peacefully growing up by a man claiming to be her father. To keep Chalice from running away, the organization that took her, Vyantara, tied her to a gargoyle. She is now forced to steal rare artifacts for Vyantara and keep pretending that the man who took her truly is her father. If she fails to do so, she will turn into a gargoyle herself.
Because of the way she was taken and treated, Chalice is convinced that all magic is bad. But then she meets Aydin, a guy who’s in a very similar situation, tied to a gargoyle and working for Vyantara. He introduces her to a hidden world of good magic and benevolent magical creatures.
I must admit that I liked the way the story developed and, what’s more important, I was genuinely surprised by the ending. On the other hand, the world Duvall created just wasn’t colorful enough and, as much as I tried, I couldn’t picture all the necessary details in my head. I can’t say I liked Chalice much either, and Aydin was creepy at times.
I have many friends who are primarily urban fantasy fans, just like I am. I think most of them might enjoy Knight's Curse. I will definitely read the next book in this series. ...more
The city of Scranton, Pennsylvania abounds with supernatural beings of all sorts – vampires, werewolves, ghouls, wizards and the occasional demon. OfThe city of Scranton, Pennsylvania abounds with supernatural beings of all sorts – vampires, werewolves, ghouls, wizards and the occasional demon. Of course, with all this magic out in the open, the ‘live and let unlive’ policy the city is so proud of doesn’t always work out very well. There are witches who use black magic, a vampire is likely to bite an unwilling victim (especially if he thinks he can get away with it) and goblins have developed a liking for bank robberies and meth. The Occult Crime Unit, where only the best and the craziest detectives can find their place, was formed to deal with such cases.
My name is Markowski. I carry a badge.
When a wizard turned vampire gets killed in the most gruesome way, detective Stanley Markowski and his new partner are called to investigate. Normally Stan wouldn’t lose much sleep over a dead vampire or ten, but this case feels like the beginning of something much larger and far more dangerous. As it turns out, the vampire was the keeper of an incredibly dangerous book called Opus Mago. Here’s how the leader of the supernatural community explains it: Making use of the spells contained in the Opus Mago would be similar to what a friend of mine once said about studying the work of the philosopher Hegel: one must be highly intelligent in order to do such, and profoundly stupid to wish to. It would seem that one such person has arrived in Stranton and it’s now up to Stan and his partner Karl to stop him or her while there’s still time.
Whenever I discover an exciting new urban fantasy series, I feel like a child on Christmas morning. Thanks to Justin Gustainis, I’ve opened my presents early this year! I have to be honest here: I was a little skeptical when I requested Hard Spell. I thought it might be ok at best, but I never even considered the possibility that it would be this good. A male author and a male protagonist are very uncommon in urban fantasy – that’s why the quality of this book makes me even happier. Gustainis did everything right: his world is just dark enough to make you worry about the characters, there are enough funny moments to break the tension, and the plot doesn’t drag for a second!