A young girl sees a shadow that no one else does. Luna isn’t crazy; her father knows what she is seeing is real. But being seen as...moreFantasy Review Barn
A young girl sees a shadow that no one else does. Luna isn’t crazy; her father knows what she is seeing is real. But being seen as crazy makes for a lonely life, and when the ‘crazy’ father commits suicide her ostracized spot in society is cemented for good. Armed with quick wits and a smart mouth Luna has put up with seeing demons her whole life. But when these spectral beings start messing with family? It is time for Luna to put the hammer down.
Yardley is showing me that she has the ability to show us something new in what should be a tired old story. My first taste of her wonderfully messed up style was Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu, a fun little road trip love story…involving two serial killers. Now I read Nameless and see a trite tale of rescuing a kidnap victim. But it feels fresh, and not just because of the whole talking to demons aspect. No it is stronger than its foundation because I actually believe in Luna’s love for her young niece throughout the story. Plus I may still be singing Let it Go on a regular basis; woman taking her own initiative to save another woman character still rings awesome.
Oh hell that last paragraph may be a bit spoilerific but I really can’t pretend to care. Because if there is a weakness to this story it is how telegraphed the first half was. Look, all I am saying is if you didn’t realize that the niece was going to be kidnapped by something tied to demons and Luna was going to have to save the day then you have never watched a cop drama. But that is OK, there is nothing wrong with following a familiar path when you keep it fun.
How this book remains fun is something of a mystery. It deals with big nasties in the dark, hell houses complete with creepy kids and hanging ghosts, accusations of mental issues and a decent amount of drug use. But a wonderfully snarky main character combined with an almost as good lackey of the devil (well, I assume they are hell’s demons) who gives as good as he gets; and provides something of an odd couple relationship with our favorite person who yells at the sky.
Nameless is fun and funny despite dealing with some serious stuff. I enjoyed it quite a bit. But I can’t go to crazy in my praise. It was strong, and much more up my alley than the serial killer love story I had read earlier, but this isn’t a book that will stay with me. As mentioned before it was fairly predictable. With its tight focus on Luna I found almost every other character faded completely into the background; fine if that is the intent but I feel I was supposed to care about or feel hatred for some of them. And the final confrontation seemed to me to rely on a criminally stupid set of choices made by the big evil.
A sum that is perhaps a bit better than its parts but nowhere close to the potential it initially showed. Servants of the Storm cau...moreFantasy Review Barn
A sum that is perhaps a bit better than its parts but nowhere close to the potential it initially showed. Servants of the Storm caught me with a great premise and a strong opening. A hurricane is coming and people are bunkering down. Young Dovey and Carly are stuck at home talking on a dying cell phone assuring a worried mother that they will be fine. But when the storm finds itself at its end? Of course everything is not alright.
Fast forward a year and Dovey has spent most of the time in a medicated state after a few high profile freak-outs; including screaming incoherently at Carly’s funeral. But a chance sighting of Carly, apparently not dead, and Dovey secretly stops taking the meds and finally sees the world for what it is. This small change sends her down a rabbit hole of demons, witches, and the personification of Josephine, the very storm that changed everything.
As setups go I can find no fault. Demon’s feeding on human’s negative emotions is not a new concept but I have never seen it tied to natural disasters. It makes perfect sense after all; the hellions could feast for a few years and move on. I also found no fault in Dovey as a character. Watching her come out of fog and turning back into the person we only got a glimpse of was a delight. This was a more mature version of young adult fantasy than much of what I have sampled, her pain was real. Dovey’s confusion morphed to a certainty in a realistic manner, and people believed in her or not in ways that made sense. Some major positives here.
What lacked in this story was any kind of logic or internal consistency when it came to the supernatural elements. Anything that moves the story forward seems to be allowed, the details can be filled in (or not) later. Not overstating it here; at one point a character claims after yet another revelation that he doesn’t know all the rules but knows where they are kept (in a very large book ). So we get complex combos of incubi and demon’s, slavery by pinky bone connections, a hierarchy of demons with no structure, and ultimately, little reason to care.
This is a story that can be read and enjoyed in a hurry if one likes a strong protagonist, doesn’t mind a love triangle, and cares little about believability. It has a strong ending that I didn’t see coming, and Dawson actually made me blush a little where her protagonist goes vamp for a bit (and feel very dirty because I forgot she is a teen until a bit later). But sometimes the little details matter and this book didn’t leave me with enough to want to carry on. It did however make me curious about Dawson’s adult series so perhaps that can be considered a win.
‘You’re a mean one, Mr. (Name retracted to prevent spoilers)
You really are a heel’
Ok, I am all in on this one; Three Parts Dead deserves all the praise it has been getting. Suspenseful, gritty, and working in completely unexpected directions; I am not sure what I thought this book was about but I am very pleasantly surprised with the unexpected direction it went. The very thought of necromancy does nothing for me, but with the possibility of resurrecting a god my ears perk up.
We meet Tara not long after being expelled with extreme prejudice from a school of craft. What is craft? Oh just a bit of necromancy, a bit of power that may be magical in nature, and a path that rivals the gods of the world in strength. And has; a war of craft against the gods is in the past but still very much still remembered. Tara is quickly offered a job to defend the interests of the church of Kos; a god who is suddenly and unexpectedly found to be dead.
Are we tired of books dealing with living gods and the nature of belief? I seriously hope not, Gladstone provides yet another unique telling of the same old story. As has been seen before we have the gods of the land pulling power from belief but there the similarities to any others I have read ends. Kos is not sitting on high playing games with mortals; he is an integral part of his chosen city, a fire god who provides almost everything fire can be used for. He also isn’t immersed within a bubble as there is a complex give and take of power written in contracts between the gods. Tara’s job of resurrecting him is multi-faceted; find how he died in the first place, what other factors were affected by the death beyond the obvious, and figure out just what a resurrected god would be if it is possible.
A tight cast moves the story forward, if not at a brisk pace, at least in a leisurely way the never lags behind. Tara is a first rate protagonist with confidence in abundance. She finds her place after a rough start and starts pulling strings until she figures everything out. Those who help her in her investigations include a junkie who gave herself to the ghost of a goddess, and a chain smoking priest whose faith is strong despite the death of his god. Plus a few deities and the strangest kinds of lawyers I have ever seen.
This quasi steampunk tale works as the most unique courtroom drama I have seen, shows signs of supernatural adventure, and gives a satisfying mystery to follow. Learning the complex nature of divinity within this world is a satisfying experience. And Three Parts Dead does world building right, giving me just enough in a natural way that leave me wanting to know everything about the land. With the strength of Tara’s story as a driving force this is a great book already. But there is one thing that put this one over the top.
The villain of the story is simply amazing. Creepy, smart, hard to read and truly amazing. You know he is bad, you want to hate him, yet you can’t quite help but admire the resourcefulness and complete domination of the game he has lain down. But then, when you wonder if he is really that bad you watch him commit what can only be called a mind rape; unwitting entry into another. And you feel icky and creepy all at once. And then you watch him meet his match. And it is gorgeous, sheer and simple.
If the book has a weakness it comes from an over reliance of tell and not enough show. Huge chunks of the backstory come out in conversations and large pieces of the puzzle are shown in courtroom style bickering. On their own neither would have stood out to me, but taken together it was a bit too much information though talking. Also as unique as the courtroom setting was in this instance it was a bit too conveniently pushed aside when needed; I couldn’t help but feel that had the parties involved wanted to they could have skipped the judicial system in place all together.
As I say all too often, minor issues in a wonderful book. This one really hit me in all the right ways.
True story. My dad asked me what I was reading and I tried to describe this book. I said it was less of a parody and more of a parody of parodies; an...moreTrue story. My dad asked me what I was reading and I tried to describe this book. I said it was less of a parody and more of a parody of parodies; an entirely self aware narration that attempts to strip down everything about Urban Fantasy and built it back up so it looked exactly the same while being completely different. He looked at me and let me know that he has a Masters and still doesn’t know what the hell I am talking about.
Why did I come up with a stuttering, quasi-intellectual line of bull shit when discussing what this book was about?
Because there was no way I was going to that man who raised me that I was reading about a vampire junkie chasing after a dildo made from unicorn horn while trying to stay ahead of two demon brothel owners.
Give Tierney (pen name for Caitlin R. Kiernan) one thing, never have I see such a unique quest item. Hell if this series ever gets picked up by a major studio and becomes a move they won’t have to change a single plot point when writing the inevitable porn parody that follows. The potential for a goldmine here is staggering.
Siobhan Quinn is still the most unreliable narrator in the history of fiction. She tells you she is lying, then lies to you, then lets you know that that could have been a lie as well. We met her in Blood Oranges where she had something of a Flashman vibe; seemingly the hero of the story yet vile in most ways and living on luck almost entirely. Or, not exactly living, being part vampire, but the point remains. I loved the unique style, the plot was serviceable, and the humor was absolutely top notch.
But this is definitely a series best taken in small doses. Little things that bugged in the first book itch even more while reading Red Delicious. Some of this is no doubt by design, I know going in that Quinn is entirely too self-aware of the fact that she lives in an Urban Fantasy. But she not only breaks the forth wall but tells us she is going to; and at some point this is less novel and more cartoon. Perhaps she could jump off a building but not fall until she looks down in the next book? Still, less of a complaint than an observation, it is more of the same from the first book after all.
Red Delicious has some strengths compared to the first outing though. While I enjoy Flashman (and the Warhammer equivalent Ciaphas Cain) I was glad to see Quinn gain a lot more agency this time around. She gained so much in her undead transformation it would have irked had she not figured out ways to make it work in her favor. She plots against those who seek to use her, takes petty revenge when she knows she can, and defeats the other guys (bad guys is a stretch when taken in comparison to herself) using her head and abilities. All in a much better plotted book than the first round.
So I look upon Red Delicious as something of a mixed bag. What bugged me was what drew me to the first book; perhaps a larger delay between readings would have worked in my favor. But I would assume that most who enjoyed this little monster’s story the first time around will find just as much to enjoy here, wrapped in a more coherent plot.
Fortitude Scott is a baby vampire who doesn’t want to be one. He pretends to be human as much as possible despite knowing that his...moreFantasy Review Barn
Fortitude Scott is a baby vampire who doesn’t want to be one. He pretends to be human as much as possible despite knowing that his mother is the alpha predator of New England, keeping all other supernatural in line and wielding plenty of influence over the mortal one as well. Poor Fortitude works at a coffee shop and tries to make rent; not at all helped by a deadbeat roommate skipping on rent and taking advantage of a unique relationship Fort’s girlfriend decided they should be in. He sees his powerful family rarely but when the call comes, he goes.
This is not your typical vampire story. We do not see one, NOT ONE, vampire hunter tracking down this shady hidden society. Fort’s mother is a frail looking old lady, so immortality is out. And while there is no lack of stunning, beautiful people (and things that can pass as them), we don’t have universal flawless complexions; Fortitude himself is slightly gangly and awkward and his sister Prudence is a striking, middle aged (looking) women. And if you were thinking this was going to be one of those other kinds of vampire tales? Well, sorry, nothing I saw was sparkling.
This was a story where the supernatural was hidden, but the supernatural being hidden wasn’t the focus of the story. And to be honest, I can’t think of another story like it. When Fortitude takes interest in a visiting vampire’s habits, and more specifically his conscience is horrified by the man’s actions, that’s when the story gets a move on. After being saved from a mugging by fox that can turn human (kitsune are awesome) he realizes that being the low man in the supernatural totem pole will make stopping this monster hard.
This is a book with a tight plot and great pacing, but it truly is a character book (as in thriving due to characters, not an in depth character study). Fortitude is a great narrator, with self-deprecating humor and always giving just enough info at the right moment. He is something of an average guy as well, unable to rely on super vampire powers to act as a plot resolver. Bodyguard slash tormenter Suzume (the main kitsune) was wonderful; saving Fort when needed and playing practical jokes when the time allowed. She was much more of a typical kick ass Urban Fantasy heroine, and of course she is going to be a metaphorical fox as well as a supernatural one, but if she doesn’t make a reader laugh then said reader is dead inside. And even she avoids perfection, it is made clear again and again that the elder vampires are above all.
Generation V works in several ways. The back ground plot could work as a police procedural with supernatural elements (and amateurs instead of cops) and TV has proven that is a winning formula. The humor, I must repeat, is top notch. I got more than a smile out of much of this book, often I was just laughing. It was also the set up for something larger. Fortitude’s family dynamics should prove entertaining for quite some time. His mother heads something larger than any criminal empire in fiction, yet shows as a frail old lady. Brother Chivalry seems likable, but is also firmly in his mother’s control. And Prudence. Oh, my I couldn’t help but love that bloodthirsty monster.
4 Stars. I enjoyed this book so much I moved right into the next one….
PS, I have repeated this all over the blogosphere but this truly is a horrible cover. I really thought this was a tie in to one of the supernatural teen TV shows that air before Big Bang Theory reruns over here. They should have went with a fox.(less)
I read Generation V, I reviewed Generation V. And for the first time in a long time I just went ahead and jumped right into the seq...moreFantasy Review Barn
I read Generation V, I reviewed Generation V. And for the first time in a long time I just went ahead and jumped right into the sequel. I actually finished it before I wrote the review for the first book, and looking back, should have just tagged the two reviews together. Sequels can go one of two ways. They can take the series into a completely new direction, or they can build on what they are already doing right and continue to fine tune the story as Iron Night does. (Well, they can go another way, and that is downhill. Luckily we don’t have to worry about this here).
I really can only think of one small complaint about Generation V when musing about how come I liked Iron Night a bit more. At times Fortitude was a mouse in the pocket character; there to narrate the story but with very little impact on what was going on. He was pushed into most the situations, followed others around, and was bullied throughout. By the end he was showing some agency, but it took a while. Not a problem in Iron Night. When his roommate is found brutally murdered it is he who refuses to leave it. He talks Suze into helping him (not that she requires a lot of persuasion, she appears to be fairly attached to the littlest vamp). And it is up to him to come up with plans; even gaining a promise from Prudence to follow his command on this.
Everything else was much as it was in the first book. Still funny, still a quick read with tight plotting. Still more pranks from my favorite trickster fox (oh the fear in Fortitude’s eye when he realized he turned his roommate search over to her was probably something to see). And of course, a new round of supernatural to look out for (hey, some things no Urban Fantasy can get away from, no matter how original). This time we get Skinwalkers and elves. And again we get an original take. Usually elves are the top of the social order in supernatural tales so it is fun to watch them itch from being under the vampire cabal. The skinwalker was an interesting one. Was the fact that European vampires pushed the native skinwalkers out of their territory an intentional allegory or am I overthinking stuff here? In any case, all were intertwined and tied together nicely.
Since I already went full fan boy on this series I may as well just list things I really liked this time around. Prudence. Prudence. Prudence. A dozen or so different elf based insults from Suze. Prudence. We know Prudence is feared all over New England, we know some of what she is capable of from events in the first book. But now we get the chance to hate, love, and fear her all at once. Best enforcer ever? Maybe not, but damn close. She is Chigurh in the form of a middle aged women who can’t go out until dusk. Her bigger role makes this a darker tale; Fortitude is forced to do some things that strip him of his naivety. No longer is he a pure hearted hand of justice, even if his goals are still noble. He puts family first, friends in danger, and sees what is needed to keep his place on the hierarchy.
The author bio at the end of the book says the author is working on the next in the series. Is it out yet?
God I love popcorn. I live in a state with a craft brewery every twenty feet and almost all of them are good. Because I know I am g...moreFantasy Review Barn
God I love popcorn. I live in a state with a craft brewery every twenty feet and almost all of them are good. Because I know I am getting good beer almost anywhere I tend to gravitate toward the local breweries that serve popcorn. Fluffy, a lot of fun, and with absolutely no substance. Sure I will forget about it the next day, but know this; there is always room for popcorn.
So I read Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch. I should have read Rivers of London, but as a dumb member of the United States of America it was pretty obvious I would have passed right by this booky thinking it was a boring geography book so the editors were kind enough to change the title so it would jump out at me a bit more, promising both night time shenanigans and a riot. So, let’s give thanks for that.
Peter Grant is babysitting a crime scene when a damn ghost shows himself and claims to have witnessed the murder. Peter, whose future was looking like it would be spent bookkeeping for real cops, soon finds himself sucked into a secretive part of the London Police that deals the supernatural. Said department currently consists of one man, a wizard by the name of Nightingale, and Grant just happens to show the aptitude to apprentice under him. Lucky for us he brings his smart ass nature with him to the new job.
Two stories are going on here. There is a feud between personifications of rivers; The Old Man River himself and London usurper Mama Thames. One of Grant’s first duties is to find a way to mediate this dispute before a couple of supernatural entities go ballistic on each other, probably not a good thing for London. The main plot however involves something that is causing a wave of violence from unexpected people, murder and mayhem abound with something supernatural egging it on. It is up to Nightingale and Grant, along with their contact in the main department Leslie, (oh and an interested river nymph named Beverly) to track down the source, stop it, and all that jazz.
And it was great fun, mostly due to the strength of Peter as a narrator. He was funny as hell, a bit distracted at times, and a good three steps behind throughout. This gave the book a wonderful pace as our hero was always on the move trying to catch up. Not only is he over his head on the police matters, he is also learning that being a new magician is hard work. I enjoyed the way magic works in this one for the most part. I like a rational explanation for Latin being used in spells and I liked how hard it is, each ‘form’ takes weeks to learn; over the course of the book Grant only comes away with about three simple spells.
What I didn’t like was the little details of the plotting. The two separate story lines were not really tied together, and even where they crossed it felt forced. The supernatural entity that was behind the wave of violence was a cool idea , but in practice I never was able to make since of what it was; the red herring Grant followed for a while made more logical since than whatever it was he eventually had to go after. And I couldn’t even begin to make heads or tails out of the ending, eventually I decided to just be happy with the pieces I was able to put together.
So I am going to give this one three stars and state that I found it very enjoyable. I will move on with this series because I love popcorn and this is no worse than any number of Hollywood movies I have enjoyed. For the most part it was smart and well planned, and like any good blockbuster most of its holes are hidden behind awesome acts of magic and mayhem.
Audio – My first audio book, so just a few words about the narration. Overall, I really liked it. It was a bit jarring to hear the male narrator do a female voice at first but I quickly got used to it and he never overplayed it. Holdbrook-Smith has a great voice, was well paced and consistent in his speech. He was very good at switching between characters and I never felt lost. It is clear that I made a good choice to start my audiobook experience with; if all narrators are as good as him I will be very happy indeed.(less)
Well it is no wonder I keep getting this series recommended to me. The first person narration is as haphazard, unreliable, and just...moreFantasy Review Barn
Well it is no wonder I keep getting this series recommended to me. The first person narration is as haphazard, unreliable, and just plain crazy as one of my reviews. Did I in fact write Blood Oranges? I don’t remember doing so, and if so my writing quality has gone up by quite a bit, but damn that is a familiar writing style.
Siobahn Quinn is a hunter of the supernatural and a damn good one. But when a nasty werewolf leaves her infected and almost dead she is saved from the most unlikely of sources, an ancient vampire stuck in a child’s body, who decides to pass her own little gift on to Quinn as well. Now Quinn is twice cursed, and by the way, all of her exploits are possible a bit of an untruth as well. That line about being a damn good hunter? Perhaps a bit of a stretch. In fact she is a junkie that hasn’t died yet due to pure luck and by being a bit useful to the right people.
At first glance I took this to be a parody of the urban fantasy genre but I don’t think that was the point. If anything it felt more like a parody of other parodies that don’t realize how transperent they are. Quinn is all too aware of the UF tropes and laughingly points them out throughout. Sparkly vampires (honestly someday I am reading Twilight just to understand this reference) is just one fallacy about the supernatural she points out. Want a quick history of vampire mythos? She has it on hand and can set you strait on which are real and which may be a stretch. But don’t take her word for it. Seriously, have I mentioned she is a bit untrustworthy?
The real story here is whatever Quinn wishes it to be at the moment. She admits almost immediately that she has already lied to the reader and warns that she will most likely do it again in the future. She goes off on tangents at a whim, sometimes a few lines and other times it can overtake the entire chapter. She forgets where she is, backtracks, and then hopes like hell the reader is still following. Throughout though she is dark yet funny and a complete blast to read; if I didn’t always believe a street junkie runaway could be so well read, no matter how much time she spent hanging out in a library, her quick and dirty history lessons were always a highlight.
Her story itself, or at least what can be believed, is enjoyable and tightly written. A classic survive the set up and track down those responsible type thing. She runs into other vamps and wolfs, gets riddles from trolls, gets pranked by dirty seagull (my favorite scene in the whole book, damn did I laugh), and puts all the pieces together the wrong way. The ending is either completely genius or a huge cop out; I am still trying to decide. Needless to say it fits both the character and goes against the grain of urban fantasy, so I am leaning on pretty damn smart.
Another book in which your mileage may vary. No doubt its entertaining anti-hero, dark storyline, and consistent humor should appeal to many. But I have seen unconventional writing styles turn people off before, and this one is completely unique. Quinn was at times a little too aware she was living in a fantasy book, but for the most part it worked. A junkie with a new habit, a bone to pick, and an unknown amount of luck left. What’s not to like?
I first came to Martin Millar due to a horrible search and request function from my old library. I honestly thought I was requesti...moreFantasy Review Barn
I first came to Martin Millar due to a horrible search and request function from my old library. I honestly thought I was requesting a Neil Gaiman book; instead they had mislabeled Good Fairies of New York because Gaiman had provided an introduction. Best mistake since bread was left near the petri dish.
Millar has a style that is completely unique. Rapid fire chapters and absurd characters that somehow still bring out the emotion, multiple plot lines being twisted around each other so many times it mind boggling that they can all be resolved- let alone tied together at the end. He is often funny; relying on the interactions of the characters for humor rather than a string of dated in jokes or puns. The Anxiety of Kalix the Werewolf (last time I am writing that title out in full, from now on this book will be referred to as Kalix, kay?) continues in the same style. This book completely relies on knowing what happened in the first two so from here on out there could be spoilers of the earlier books. So go ahead and catch up with the series before reading any more of this review, we will wait.
Done yet? No? Its ok, we all got Flappy Bird before it was pulled, we can wait for you. (Talk about easily dated in jokes, ya?)
Ok, moving on.
Once again there is so much going on it should be impossible to track. Kalix has set up a self-improvement plan for herself. The fire queen has consolidated her power after the civil war and can once again focus on the more important world of fashion; her new goal is to be shown in Vogue’s style pages. The crowded flat that Kalix lives in is full of people going to college and actually showing some responsibility; Moonglow makes a harsh, but fair, task master and has them all working and doing chores. In Scotland the fight for Thane is settled and Marcus is no longer facing resistance. And of course everything is about to blow up.
The guild of werewolf hunters have stepped up their efforts, leaving their old ways and modernizing with better security and tactics borrowed from the Special Forces. They also have some help from an odd ally, the new empress Kabachetka, Malvaria’s rival in fashion and war in the fire realm. Holy mother of god, enough details, I am out of breath and hardly got started. Once again, SO many plot lines! So many names! Each character is so unique (in part because of their over the top, quirky natures) that I have no trouble remember who is who, even with a two year layoff since reading the last book.
If anyone is like me and already hooked they should love this book. I am not sure it matches Lonely Werewolf Girl, in part because it will never feel quite as fresh as it did the first time, but it comes close and exceeds Curse of the Wolf Girl in my mind. While it still has its share of angst and shows signs of darkness like the first two it has an altogether more hopeful tone; both in the beginning and right through the end. Kalix in particular finally is starting to realize some of the good things she has; it is not suddenly sunshine and lollypops but it isn’t always doom and gloom anymore. Hell the ending is downright cheerful compared to the first two outings.
If there is something to complain about it is clear that that this is now a series without a clearly defined end and as such no longer wraps up all of its plotlines within one volume. Thrix in particular goes through some changes that affect her on the most fundamental level; and we never see her get any closure. On the other hand there is a malevolent fairy on the loose that should provide us with a lot of entertainment if another book makes its way out into the world.
Another solid entry from one of the most underrated authors out there. Please do yourself a favor and pick up any of his books. If you do I have a strong feeling you will make your way to this one eventually.
I have decided to finally give Chuck Wendig a chance. All I knew about him is A. He supposedly has a morbid sense of humor and B. h...moreFantasy Review Barn
I have decided to finally give Chuck Wendig a chance. All I knew about him is A. He supposedly has a morbid sense of humor and B. his books involve a use of profanity that would make a sailor blush. As such reading his stuff is a no brainer. It may shock you all to learn this, but I am a fine connoisseur of creative profanity. After reading Blackbirds I gotta say, I am not disappointed. This review could have gone two ways; talk about the book a bit or give a top ten list of the various bouts of cussing. In the end I chickened out and decided to talk about the book.
Miriam Black is a drifter with a unique gift. The first time she touches someone she gets a full mental rundown of their death. Needless to say if you watch exactly how every person you meet dies, and stick around to confirm it a time or a hundred, it makes you quite the jaded soul. But it has its advantages, especially if you are a loner with no gainful employment. Catch someone right at their death, but before anyone else knows, and enough cash can be found to get to the next stop.
The story really starts when Miriam meets a trucker while hitchhiking. There is a casual touch, Mariam unconsciously works her own special magic, and she learns the man’s death is not only imminent but he seems to be looking at Miriam right before he is brutally murdered. What follows is a fast ride in which she alternately runs from her perceived fate and participation in this horror, and at times fights against it. Along the way she meets a smooth talking con man, some truly unique killers, and a hairless drug runner with the most interesting story about his grandma you will ever read.
A bit darker than my usual read (strange to say for a ‘Grimdark’ fan, but being set in a real work makes it more real to me). I almost certainly would not have liked it much without the running humor. Some of the gruesome deaths made me cringe, and the complete inhumanity of some of the characters scares me. But there is a lot of humor, and anytime something happens that made me uncomfortable I felt even more so when I was laughing in the next paragraph. Consider this a win by the author; humor either hits or falls flat and Wendig is genuinely funny. As long as you have a slightly juvenile streak like I do.
I was already aware of the debate about Miriam herself that has been going on for since this book was released. Between here potty mouth and willingness to talk about male anatomy some have called her a female character written with a very male gaze. Others have pointed out that not all women are creative equal and felt her to be genuine. I am going to continue to be the brave risk taker I am and fall right in the middle of the debate. She was entertaining as hell and certainly I have met people like her (I recall a former coworker in particular who liked to shock people unprepared for her style, good times). At the same time it was hard not to think some of aspects of her character was designed specifically to provide a bit of fan service to male readers; she was the hot slutty girl just waiting to be redeemed by someone awkward; perfectly willing to hitchhike in ‘provocative’ clothing, engage in casual sex, then go drinking all night.
Those seeking answers to every little question will be disappointed. We never really learn what sparks Mariam’s powers, nor if she is the only one with them. We get the backstory for some villains, but the least cliché of them remains a mystery. But the book itself wraps up nicely with no nasty little cliffhangers that force you to immediately go to the next book of the series. Though, if you are a fan of dark humor and horror aspects you will most likely do anyway.
I am glad I gave the author a try. Mariam was so entertaining I look forward to visiting her again. Now if you excuse me, I got some major catching up to in the cussing department. So far Wendig seems to have me beat
Ok, so there is the real world, known as Mundanus to those who know of the other worlds. There is Exilium, home of the Fae, and a v...moreFantasy Review Barn
Ok, so there is the real world, known as Mundanus to those who know of the other worlds. There is Exilium, home of the Fae, and a very dangerous place for mortals. But in between, there is the Nether, with is neither here nor there. In this land live the Great Families, mortal, but fae touched and magical. While in the Nether they do not age, and life seems to be a nothing but a string of social climbing and political posturing between the great families.
Our heroine Catherine, Cathy for short, has managed to hid from her family and patron in Mundanus, living a typical college student life. But as the story begins the Fae known as Lord Poppy finds her, strips off the protection that hid her, and gives her three wishes ( and anyone used to ‘fairy tales’ knows this is more curse than gift). Forced home Cathy is quickly woven into the petty (but perhaps deadly) politics that make up life in the Nether. Something sinister is happening in the Nether though, as the Master of Ceremonies is missing. A gate keeper of sorts, his disappearance is noticed in Mundanus as well. Enter Max, an Arbiter (which appears to be some kind of border patrol between the magical and non). Originally searching for corruption within his ranks, he gets dragged into the disappearance by a sorcerer. Lastly there is one witness to whatever happened, a mundane named Sam. Unfortunately, Sam was drunk when he saw.. something.. and may have a magical charm blocking the memory as well.
Confused? Don’t worry, the author does a decent job of easing a reader into the new world as the characters travel between the different realms. Most of the story follows Cathy, who is entertaining to read about. Considered ‘plain’ by Nether standards, she fell in love with the Mundane world, even going so far as having a boyfriend. Going back to being a ‘puppet’ of the Fae in the Nether grinds on her horribly. While she never stops fighting for her own personal freedom, for most the story she has little control over her own life; where she lives, where she goes, even a promised marriage are all out of her control. Max is an interesting character as well. As an Arbiter his soul is literal taken from his body. What this does is make him almost emotionless, unless he is near the chain that holds his soul. It was a strange but interesting plot device, and at times it worked well, though it was a bit clunky in the execution.
I enjoyed the unique take on fairy realms, by adding the Nether there was one more level between the Fae and humanity. Some neat ideas were present, such the Great Families needed to own the property on both sides for it to be binding. And when it came to the story itself, I found myself staying up late to finish after a fairly slow start.
So there are a lot of interesting ideas, and the plot was enjoyable enough for me to stay up late to finish. That was good. But I have to admit, there was too much about this world that I just didn’t believe in, which is a problem for a fantasy book. I can’t figure out what the Arbiter’s really are policing, nor where they get their authority. There are vague references to a treaty, but no explanation as to why the Fae should fear them at all. The Great Families have a thriving economy, but no indication of what it is based on. No one in the Nether seems to work (outside of servants), but they are not true Fae, so they are not just living on magic. There are hints that the Great Families trade in things other than money (wishes, dreams, etc), but they also had a heavy hand in the economy of Mundanus, with no real indication of how. It got frustrating. Other little things; why would a family distrustful of technology use a car because they are afraid of trains? How could a sorcery be in contract with agents in Mundanus like Max but be so unaware of what technology is useful for, even if he refuses to use it? Why did they seem to move with humanity right up to Victorian times, they decide to stop?
And while this was certainly the first in a series, and therefore allowed to have some loose threads, this book left some loose threads completely ignored. Why was Sam protected by Lord Iron, when no one seems to know who that is? Why was Max concerned about Titanium used to mend his broken bones? I have lots of questions, and I am not sure many of them are set to be answered.
It was a good book, and a real page turner. I will probably be reading the next in the series, because I enjoyed most of it, and love fairy tales of all kinds. But I sure wish I believed in the world the author built a bit more.
‘Magic Bites.’ It appears to be a novel the urban fantasy style. Something is missing though, something just doesn’t seem right. Ma...moreFantasy Review Barn
‘Magic Bites.’ It appears to be a novel the urban fantasy style. Something is missing though, something just doesn’t seem right. Maybe it is just me, let me make a checklist.
-Interesting setting? Huh, this one is here. Wow, it is something quite a bit different too! Sure it is mostly set in modern United States, but there is a twist. Post-apocalypse, kind of. Seems there was some sort of magic surge, came out of nowhere, ate portions of towns and changed everything. Suddenly most the things that were once make believe are now real; vampires, werewolves, necromancers, and countless others. Sure, there is the ‘everything and a kitchen sink’ approach but it too is explained, the magic feeds on people’s faith. So if enough people think magic is X, then magic sometimes obliges them. The magic of the world ebbs and flows as well, when a surge hit technology becomes useless only to work again when it recedes a bit. Best I can tell the world is about 300 years in the future, but the magic has kept tech from progressing too much. Ok, I think the book got this one right, moving on.
-Interesting protagonist? Kate Daniels rocks! She uses intelligence and cunning to work her way through this strange world, dealing with strange creatures all over the map. She has a secret that gives her a little extra edge. And when all else fails, she knows how to kick ass as well. A particular scene comes to mind where a monster of a man (literally, he is a werewolf) grabs her and puts her back to the wall; Kate jams a small silver pin into his hand. She won’t get pushed around, but her strength isn’t unrealistic. What else is great about Kate? Well, she is sarcastic as hell, unwilling to back down when she is right, still makes mistakes but learns from them, and through all that still seems to be a good person. Absolutely the book got this right.
So far all the pieces are there for a decent urban fantasy novel. Having an interesting protagonist puts it ahead of the game in my mind. But something still doesn’t seem right. Hmm.
-Supporting characters? Eh, a little weaker here. Most the people Kate deal with are one-note types, but with this being Kate’s story that is forgivable to a certain extent. The lead werewolf was a complete ass, but Kate knows this. Her love interest was fairly boring as well. Well, this could be what’s bothering me, but I think I am missing something more substantial. I will keep searching.
OH! I think I know what I was looking for! ANYTHING RESEMBLING A LOGICAL PLOT! Wow, there it is, I knew there was an important part missing for this to be considered a novel. Some books are content to merely have plot holes, ‘Magic Bites’ must have felt the need to make those look like amateurs. This book was a short 250 pages in paperback, moved quickly and flowed on the strength of Kate’s character so well that I almost missed that the actual plot line makes no f---ing sense. The main bad guy had a plan so idiotic it defies explanation. He is the one who tipped Kate off to how his own plan may be defeated. With Kate being an important part his plan he let her keep digging at figuring it out rather than deal with her in the many opportunities he had.
Oh. And the final battle was ridiculously anti-climactic as well. Is there a page on TV tropes for ‘blacks out after battle and wakes in bed?’
3 stars. But only because Kate Daniels is awesome. I may read on at some point. (less)
This is a reread of a favorite, but the first time I have reviewed it.
Describing this book is hard. The underlying plot is a war...moreFirst posted on Blog
This is a reread of a favorite, but the first time I have reviewed it.
Describing this book is hard. The underlying plot is a war of ascendency in an ancient clan of werewolves, set in modern Great Britain. It is not a comedy, but often funny, and completely absurd. Most of the book involves the politicking between two brothers involved in gaining the votes for a new Thane, but the moving parts involved include alcoholic werewolves, fashion obsessed fire elementals, a guild of werewolf hunters, and two college students who get caught up in all of it.
As I am a fan I am going to start the review with reasons a person may not like it, before I move on to all the reasons it is one of my favorites. To start with, my copy has 235 chapters, at 560 pages, do the math. Rapid fire doesn't begin to cover it, not only are chapters short, but the author can use three paragraphs to focus on three characters in three different cities. While the book isn't "silly," many aspects of it are completely absurd. While the pieces fit, Millar isn't Tolkien, and building the back story isn't his focus(at one time why her cloths are gone in werewolf form and back in human form, the title character replies "I don't know"). Lastly, part of the rapid fire pace results in points being hammered repeatedly. You will know that Kalix is lonely, college boy Danial is shy, and various characters are very beautiful, and you will be reminded of the fact often.
But if you can handle the unique style, then you may find a surprisingly great book. While revolving around the title character, Kalix, the cast of characters is huge for the book size. The rapid fire switching of viewpoints keeps the book from every becoming bloated, each chapter advances one(or more) of the many side stories that will eventually bring the main plot together. The shear number of plot lines Millar is pushing is huge, but the most amazing part is as a reader, I never felt lost. I knew what each character was doing, who they were sided with, and I never had to back up to past pages to remind myself of anything. Even more impressive, despite several rereads I have still not found a side plot that wasn't in some way resolved, and almost every named character mentioned in some ways advanced the main plot-line.
Characters were great. While not every character was likable, all were entertaining. Most books have one PoV that readers dread seeing. Perhaps the fact that I never had to spend more than a page at a time with a character had something to do with it, but I truly enjoyed learning what was happening to every major player. The fashion obsessed fire elemental(who looks like a super model and acts like a child) was a particular high light. Moonglow, one of the college students, has a sweetness and kind heart that is infectious. I defy someone to not have sympathy for the other college student, Danial.
The book had the right amount of humor. It is a serious story (bands called Yum Yum Suguary Snacks aside), but i was chuckling throughout. It also has the right amount of violence. Despite a war being fought, there is not lingering on the ins and outs of battles or even particular fights. The set up and aftermath is more important than details of who did what to who.
Lastly, despite leaving enough open for a potential sequel(which eventually came), the book reached a true conclusion. Some may think the final showdown ended abruptly, but there was almost nothing about it that wasn't foreshadowed subtlety throughout the rest the book.
Pros: Well crafted, and the handling of plot-lines is among the best I have seen. Humorous and believable despite the absurdity of some situations.
Cons: Some dialog rings false. Every single character is a true beauty, male and female. Really? Not one unattractive werewolf?
This book has been on my radar for quite a while, and I have no idea where I first saw it. I have no history of reading self published works, but the...moreThis book has been on my radar for quite a while, and I have no idea where I first saw it. I have no history of reading self published works, but the premise of this one intrigued me enough take the plunge. In this case the author has found a new fan.
Book one in a series(though fairly self-contained), this is a fairly unique take on vampires. Told in first person, the main character Jordan is a personal assistant to the worlds biggest pop-star, Jesse Cannon. Her life, and several others, is thrown into chaos when her boss learns in a very abrupt fashion that he is one of five men who make up the Vessel. Details are fuzzy, but the Vessel is the worlds defense against Hollows(vampire like creatures that in essence are pure death). The five strangers who make the vessel converge around the tour bus of Jesse, followed by hollows and a secret society. From there the book has some pretty standard series set up tropes, coming into power, learning the back story, and meeting bigger and badder villains.
The books biggest strength is the conversational style of the narrator. She is easy to read, sometimes witty, and a lot of fun She is an easy character to like(although the same can be said about most the authors characters). I was also impressed on how much back story was inserted without feeling like info dumps interrupted the flow. I know a lot about the realities of this world, especially for such a short book. Also, despite following some tropes to set up the series, the story line never feels trite.
There are some issues. The most glaring is some awkward switching between first and third person, when the entire book is supposedly narrated by Jordan. As Jordan is a mere mortal among demigods, she should not have a lot of the knowledge she passes along(such as the order of minor actions that take place when she is not around, and more importantly, what people are thinking). There were a few editing problems, the most glaring being a section in which some piece of dialog is missing, because two characters jump to a conclusion that the conversation doesn't even suggest. That said, the author obviously had an army of proof-readers, as I was expecting more errors of this type in a self-published work, so color me impressed.
Pros: A very enjoyable narrator(when not jumping between first and third person), and fairly unique story, and quite a bit of wit.
Cons: The switching narrator thing was the most jolting. At times it felt the author didn't know if she was going for a humorous book with a serious plot, or a completely serious plot where the humor disappeared for stretches.
3.5 stars, and I will be on the list for the next one.
Pretty damn good. The book reminds me a lot of Neverwhere, but better in most ways. What you are not going to get is characters, much like Gaiman this...morePretty damn good. The book reminds me a lot of Neverwhere, but better in most ways. What you are not going to get is characters, much like Gaiman this book has people who are pretty much one note, but that is because in many ways they are not people so much as ideas.
What you are going to get is surprisingly smart action scenes, a city that feels alive and magical(the basis of the book really), and perhaps one of the top two or three Urban Fantasy novels I have ever read(a genre I typically enjoy the idea of, rather than the execution).
I recommend this book based on the Prologue(which was a full ten percent of the book) and the nurse of a different sort scene alone. (less)
The Gods of Olympus are down on hard times. They are living in a flat in London, their power is running out slowly, and no one believes in them. But a...moreThe Gods of Olympus are down on hard times. They are living in a flat in London, their power is running out slowly, and no one believes in them. But a stupid prank is about to change their world.
This is a quick, fluffy read. No deep characters here, but they don't have to be. They are Gods, you can figure out their persona from that. All are vain, all are selfish, and that makes for some humorous reading.
The mortals in the book are not much deeper. The female lead is a shy but smart cleaner and scrabble savant. The male is a shy but smart engineer. Neither one makes a move at each other, until of course forced to by the Gods.
I am not a big fan of urban fantasy, but throw gods into the mix and I am a bit better. This a funny, quick read. Think Christopher Moore toned down two or three notches. Sweet smiles rather than laugh out loud, but enjoyable fluff all the way through. (less)
The Kitty Norvell series is one of the few urban fantasy that have kept my interest. A couple of the middle...moreReview written after a reread of the book.
The Kitty Norvell series is one of the few urban fantasy that have kept my interest. A couple of the middle books are really good. I guess that because of that, i forgot how mediocre the first book of this series is.
Kitty is a werewolf, attacked and turned in the near past and living as part of the Denver pack. She DJ's the late shift for a indie radio station, and almost accidentally the show slowly becomes a popular call in show for the occult. Vampires, witches(and wannabees) call, and the show gets popular.
This part of the world works, and the gradual awareness of supernatural the world is forced to go through within this series is one of the series highlights.
The problem with this book is Kitty herself. She is a victim, and never leaves that role. The whole book she is abused, one way or another, and the only relief from that abuse comes from one male or another, she never helps herself. With the exception of one show of strength, and then right back to submissive.
Luckily, most of this goes away in the next few books of the series, and Kitty becomes a much more balanced character.
So please read this book if your a fan of the sub-genre, because the series itself is worth reading. Just don't expect a lot of the debut. (less)
Stark is pissed of and he doesn't care. Also, he is really good at magic in a modern world where magic is everywhere, but also secret to the rest of s...moreStark is pissed of and he doesn't care. Also, he is really good at magic in a modern world where magic is everywhere, but also secret to the rest of society. Sound like every other Urban Fantasy novel out there? Ya, I think so too. (Honestly, I want an UF novel where the world knows about the magic, THAT would be a nice change of pace).
But if your like me and don't read very much UF, this book had a good enough flow and entertaining enough characters to make it a worth the 99 cents I paid for it. The romance plot is in the past, and it is a nice change of pace to see the male protagonist pining over lost love(and not sleeping with every female character in the book). Also, is it fridging if the lost love was dead before the book starts?
Anyway, the book itself. Stark is sent to hell while still alive, and learns that he is Startrek Borg, attacks only work once then he adapts. Then he escapes hell and goes after the people who sent him there.
Once again, worth 99 cents, and if you are not troped out of UF, then it is probably worth the read. I would consider rereading it if i want something "fluffy," as it really was a quick and entertaining read
Ok, this was a fun read, well thought out, and had some spots that were down right hilarious. The story was resolved nicely while still leaving things...moreOk, this was a fun read, well thought out, and had some spots that were down right hilarious. The story was resolved nicely while still leaving things open for the sequel. I liked the main character(and loved his dog), and I enjoyed his interactions with the other supernatural entities he runs into.
All in all, this was a great little modern fantasy romp that deserves 4 stars. The reason I didn't give it 4, was there were too many references that will date them self considerable, and I am not sure how well parts of this book are going to hold up. When I want to reread this book in ten years is the south park reference still going to make sense? I doubt it.
Weird reason for loss of a star, i know, but if you base your comedy on modern references, you risk losing the funny factor as time goes on.
Still, I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to be entertained by a surprising well researched modern fantasy. (less)
Like many, I found this old book by Gaiman shout out. I looked in local used book shops for a couple years, finally found a copy, and learned of Jones...moreLike many, I found this old book by Gaiman shout out. I looked in local used book shops for a couple years, finally found a copy, and learned of Jones death when I got home. Kinda strange.
Anyway, a nice YA book, with Norse gods coming into a young boys life suddenly.
A very quick read even by YA standards, the only flaw I see is in a slightly awkwardly rushed ending. But it certainly doesn't distract enough to keep me from enjoying it. I have not read a lot of Jones, but this is by far the best of hers I have personally read. (less)
A short read, this book of a circus like no other was fairly entertaining. However it didn't strike me as a pure classic that it was being billed as....moreA short read, this book of a circus like no other was fairly entertaining. However it didn't strike me as a pure classic that it was being billed as. I found the writing to be jumpy, and the style hard to read at times. And the ending came up too quick and was WAY too easy.
I think for rereads I will stick to The Circus of Dr Lao for my weird circus entertainment. (less)
You will love it or hate it, I am in the former category. What to expect? lack of chapters, abrupt changes in PoV, crazy characters and crazier ones,...moreYou will love it or hate it, I am in the former category. What to expect? lack of chapters, abrupt changes in PoV, crazy characters and crazier ones, a consistent thought that a guiding hand has a role in everything, R rated humor, and lots of drunk fairies. If you don't think you can handle that, don't bother.
But I love this book. Punk rock is better with fiddles, the streets of New York probably resemble a Greek battleground more than most of us know, and entire societies shouldn't be completely industrialized in one generation.
Ill never be able to explain what happens, even after my third reread. But hey, it has a introduction by Neil Gaiman, so that should be good enough for you. Just imagine American Gods with humor, crazy chapter structure, more drunken fairies, and half the length. (less)