Modestly entertaining urban fantasy adventure story in magic-heavy alternate world. The heroine is sort of like a cat lady, but she collects stray garModestly entertaining urban fantasy adventure story in magic-heavy alternate world. The heroine is sort of like a cat lady, but she collects stray gargoyles instead of cats. Oh, and she has to thwart a bad guy who likes to torture gargoyles to extract their magic. As a simple adventure of good guys vs bad guys, it works fairly well.
It's quite a short book, which makes it a quick read, but also means the author doesn't spend much time on world-building. It's difficult to know what the world is really like, e.g. figure out the technological level of this alternate world. All the characters we meet have some sort of innate elemental magic capability, but we meet so few people it's hard to know whether that's universal. Magic is sufficiently common that the heroine's job involves using Earth magic (her speciality is quartz), local law enforcement has its own magical SWAT teams, and magic is used to supplant things that would be technological in our world; e.g., no need for text messaging if you can send a message magically in an air bubble thingy. Can everyone do that?...more
The 3rd entry in Olson's Colorado/Lex branch of her "Old World" urban fantasy universe is likable enough. I've enjoyed both her Scarlett and Lex storiThe 3rd entry in Olson's Colorado/Lex branch of her "Old World" urban fantasy universe is likable enough. I've enjoyed both her Scarlett and Lex stories. (For moment I almost thought we were going to have a serious crossover here, like the short Malediction, but clearly Olson wasn't ready to let that happen.)
I was disappointed in the ending. Despite all the build up pep talk of "be a witch", and all the talk about how powerful Lex is supposed to be, she never uses those alleged powers. (view spoiler)[ Seriously, how has this allegedly awesome quasi-immortal big bad dude lived for thousands of years if all it takes to bring him down is a few quick jabs with a combat knife? No one in the middle ages ever took a whack at him with a sword? (hide spoiler)] ...more
Very simple, straightforward prequel short story of Olson's Scarlett Bernard, told from the point of view of Molly, Scarlett's roommate. Not a whole lVery simple, straightforward prequel short story of Olson's Scarlett Bernard, told from the point of view of Molly, Scarlett's roommate. Not a whole lot here, and strictly for fans who've read Dead Spots & sequels and wanted just a little bit more of Molly....more
Okay, two of Olson's protagonists from different parts of her Urban Fantasy Old World finally meet, and it makes for an interesting contrast. I'd forgOkay, two of Olson's protagonists from different parts of her Urban Fantasy Old World finally meet, and it makes for an interesting contrast. I'd forgotten how much I enjoy reading Olson's writing, too, But she tells an engaging story and creates interesting, full-blooded characters, that lets her pump some emotion into her storytelling. This is a nice, satisfying short read.
(On the other hand, people who haven't read Hunter's Trail & Boundary Crossed won't get much out of this story, Since it depends on knowing the story from the former and a character from the latter.)...more
Readable enough urban fantasy in what's become a pretty standard setting of vampires, werewolves and witches plus other assorted cryptids. Decent setReadable enough urban fantasy in what's become a pretty standard setting of vampires, werewolves and witches plus other assorted cryptids. Decent set of characters, very readable narration....more
An odd detour for a superhero series off into voodoo & vampires, and kind of ordinary. Doesn't seem to fully embrace the potential of its "breakthAn odd detour for a superhero series off into voodoo & vampires, and kind of ordinary. Doesn't seem to fully embrace the potential of its "breakthrough" premise, which would seem to call for more variations in vampire lore than it offers....more
I enjoyed a couple of Olson's Scarlett Bernard novels (Dead Spots.) I thought with this "Boundary Magic" series she'd be starting something new. She'sI enjoyed a couple of Olson's Scarlett Bernard novels (Dead Spots.) I thought with this "Boundary Magic" series she'd be starting something new. She's kept her same Urban Fantasy universe (which she calls the "Old World"), a rather standard vampire/werewolf/witches brew, but relocated the story and created new characters. I didn't think it offered anything fresh or new, but rather reinforced the depressing similarity of so many urban fantasy stories. This time, "Lex" is a witch, the handsome hunk is a vampire, and the supporting cast is Lex's family. There are bad guys doing bad things, and hitherto unknown powers to awaken....more
I read Bellet's "Goodnight Earth" in this month's Lightspeed, liked it, decided to give one of her novellas a try.
So, urban fantasy is a really oversuI read Bellet's "Goodnight Earth" in this month's Lightspeed, liked it, decided to give one of her novellas a try.
So, urban fantasy is a really oversupplied field. Kick-ass heroine, page 1. Hunky romantic interest, page 2. Were-critters, page 2, witches, page 1, and a random fae (Leprechaun, page 8), and we're set for cast. ("Vampires", were told, "don't exist.". I wonder how many books before that changes ? :)
The story is short (which doesn't bother me. A story should start at the beginning and end when it's finished.) It's a fairly straightforward story, no twists. Problem, straightforward investigation, climax, hugging & kissing. Not a lot of character development beyond Jade, the sorceress of the series title, who's likable enough with a dark past and hidden talents. And on the plus side, this heroine really does kick ass. Reluctantly, but decisively. The rest of the cast is there as plot delivery devices.
Bellet has a nice & easy prose style that moves you write along. It's quick enough read, pleasing more like a superhero comic book, doesn't find anything really new in the urban fantasy subgenre, but engaging enough at what it does.
I vacillated between 2 & 3 stars, since I liked it a bit. I may try the next book in series, so I suppose I better say 3stars :)....more
Stiletto was an enjoyable read, though not as much so as its predecessor.
It wasn't easy to anticipate what kind of sequel O'Malley might write to TheStiletto was an enjoyable read, though not as much so as its predecessor.
It wasn't easy to anticipate what kind of sequel O'Malley might write to The Rook. The first book was an urban fantasy with a protagonist with a unique problem: in charge of a supernatural-oriented organization but with no memories whatsoever.
So, Stiletto is the story of an attempt by the Checquy to make peace and even ally with its historical enemy, the bioscience oriented Grafters. Although the previous novel's heroine, Myfanwy, appears in the story (and even has a couple of segments in her point of view), she's far from the main character. Instead the story is divided between one young Grafter women attending the "peace conference" and her Checquy bodyguard. Complicating the story, in addition to a few supernatural manifestations, is a dissident group of Grafters who are actively opposing reconciliation through terrorism designed to disrupt the peace effort.
It's a decent story, with a pair of generally likable characters, and O'Malley still writes in an engaging style. It just doesn't have the unique organizational spark of its predecessor. ...more
A pretty standard urban fantasy: spunky, snarky, kick ass young woman, unlikely romantic interest, supernatural critters, 1st-person narration, dastarA pretty standard urban fantasy: spunky, snarky, kick ass young woman, unlikely romantic interest, supernatural critters, 1st-person narration, dastardly plot. Some extra credit for not having werewolves vampires, witches or fae; instead going with bogeymen, cuckoos and dragon princesses....more
Traditional urban fantasy with kick-ass heroine, written in 1st-person. The variant is she's a zombie, although these "zombies" retain their intelligeTraditional urban fantasy with kick-ass heroine, written in 1st-person. The variant is she's a zombie, although these "zombies" retain their intelligence (which makes them more like the more usual UF vampires: really strong, hard to kill and quick to heal, except instead of blood they need to feed on brains.)
I picked this particular book upon sale because it looked like fun. I was, however, not aware was the 3rd book in the series. I don't think that was a big obstacle, because although there were a number of references to previous events and how some of the characters were involved in those, the exposition is adequate to catch up with the story.
The plot involves a evil conspiracy and a flood, and the zombie heroine acquits herself with more energy and smarts than one normally associates with "white trash". The story is lighter on romance than the usual urban fantasy. The writing is smooth and workmanlike.
It's not a bad book, but there's nothing really special to distinguish it from any of the other urban fantasy available. ...more
The 3rd entry in the series is nothing special in Urban Fantasy. The series seems to have plumbed the depth of our heroine's backstory in the first 2The 3rd entry in the series is nothing special in Urban Fantasy. The series seems to have plumbed the depth of our heroine's backstory in the first 2 books, and this entry is a familiar serial murder mystery. It's smoothly readable, though, and Scarlett is a modestly interesting character inured to a variety of unpleasant events....more
"Three Parts Dead" creates a new, imaginative fantasy world with early industrial technology and strange new magics ("Craft"), populated by men and th"Three Parts Dead" creates a new, imaginative fantasy world with early industrial technology and strange new magics ("Craft"), populated by men and their very real gods. Gladstone has given it a reasonably deep history to back up his story.
In this universe, Craft users act almost like lawyers, consulting professionally on behalf of clients concerning the exchanges of magical energies among Craftmen, gods and mortals.
Tara, recently expelled from Craft college and hired as assistant to a veteran Craftswoman in a prestigious consulting firm, finds herself sifting through the aftermath of the death of a god, Kos Everburning. She's no typical fantasy tyro, though. Brilliant, skillful, self-confident and energetic, she sets about her forensic investigation with the assistance of one of the dead deity's priests, Abelard, as they prepare to vie with our own personal arch nemesis from college in matters of contract, law, and magical skill.
The imaginative world and fascinating characters make this definitely worth reading. Although there is a sequel, this story is nicely self-contained (though I most certainly will be reading the next book in the series presently.)
About the only criticism I would offer is that the magic Craft used is ill-defined, seemingly capable of whatever. Much of its abilities are fascinating (such as stealing someone's face). As we reached the end there are elements in the resolution that are cleverly foreshadowed, camouflaged in earlier parts of the story; but some of the capabilities of Craft seem almost anything goes....more
Writer/director Joss Whedon re-imagines Buffy the Vampire Slayer v2.0 in a new heroine, Frey. To distance it from the previous mythos, he's allegedlyWriter/director Joss Whedon re-imagines Buffy the Vampire Slayer v2.0 in a new heroine, Frey. To distance it from the previous mythos, he's allegedly kicked the whole thing forward a couple of hundred years. Well, it's not really futuristic science fiction (though there are flying cars) — it still vampire and demon-slaying fantasy, just with a whole new set of characters. It's an easy read, and has some excellent artwork to back up the story. This volume is also a self-contained story (you might think of it as an origins story); there's no reason a sequel couldn't be written, but it's not necessary. ...more
It's the near future in Australia, and we finally have some flying cars, drone grocery delivery, and a few other gizmos. They've apparently saved a s It's the near future in Australia, and we finally have some flying cars, drone grocery delivery, and a few other gizmos. They've apparently saved a small chunk of the outback by walling off and making it a tourist destination with a American Old West theme (?). Our heroine, Virgin, is one of the park rangers, and there's apparently some shenanigans going on in her territory.
I got off to a bad start with this book when Ranger Virgin witnesses a murder, and instead of reporting it, decides it she decides to wait until tomorrow because she's late picking someone up at the airport. Seriously, what law enforcement official has those sorts of priorities? Fortunately, things pick up later in the story, though Ranger Virgin seems to have an overdose of keeping secrets from friends, allies, enemies and unknowns alike.
With a mixture of outdoor settings and inner-city crime zones, plus a hefty dose of fantasy, this novel covers a lot of bases. It's also very obviously just the story of the first battle of what the author plans to be a lengthy war.
I picked this up because of the Aurealis Award....more
A very enjoyable urban fantasy with some unique, engaging characters and an imaginative premise. The story that repels everything is a complex crime mA very enjoyable urban fantasy with some unique, engaging characters and an imaginative premise. The story that repels everything is a complex crime mystery, but what makes this book really stand out is the sharp prose. It has a real gift for description, world building, and characterization.
The story's heroine, Zinzi, an ex-convict for a crime that is left a little vague, literally carries her guilt on her shoulders in the form of an animal familiar that seems to spontaneously appear to those who've done wrong. And her current life in the animal-cursed ghetto called Zoo City has more than her share of flaws. Despite that, she remains sympathetic, and she's far from the over-achieving heroine of most UF.
But mostly I just like the sparkling prose that Beukes writes....more
An interesting idea for a Urban Fantasy, featuring Libriomancers who can reach into books and pull fictional items out from them. It also has a very fAn interesting idea for a Urban Fantasy, featuring Libriomancers who can reach into books and pull fictional items out from them. It also has a very fannish potential, what with sonic screwdrivers, Excalibur, laser pistols and Narnian healing potions.
Unfortunately, it seems to get stuck in that no man's land between trying to be clever funny and trying to be a light adventure story; nowhere near funny enough to be a comedy, and too self-referential to be taken seriously. The result was a rather dull read, evoking either laughter nor excitement....more
A protagonist with no memory, Myfanwy, discovers herself to have modest supernatural abilities and be a high-ranking member of a top-secret organizatiA protagonist with no memory, Myfanwy, discovers herself to have modest supernatural abilities and be a high-ranking member of a top-secret organization that keeps the lid on the supernatural, and also still in danger from whatever enemy wiped out her memories.
This gets extra credit over most UF from its interesting storytelling conceit: thanks to prophecy, Myfanwy knew she was doomed to lose her memory, and provided some helpful notes for her new self, starting with the arresting opening line, "The body you are wearing used to be mine." This gives us really two protagonists, the old, doomed Myfanwy and the new, very confused Myfanwy. (And I found it interesting that the original Myfanwy judged, I think probably correctly, that if all her memories were going to be destroyed, it wasn't a whole lot different than dying.) Through old Myfanwy's letters to her new self, which are interspersed with the contemporary story (occasionally and annoyingly bringing the story momentum to a screeching halt), we get a pretty decent picture of her as well as her new personality. It's a unique approach to the obligatory info dumps.
The story itself moves along quite briskly, a page turner of an action thriller with the usual quota of monologing, improbable escapes, and revelations as Myfanwy tries to identify who her murder is.
Like much UF, it's written with a dose of humor as well. I was going with 3.5 stars for the fun and originality, rounded up to 4.
An overly fast-paced urban fantasy using a lot of familiar elements that may have the nugget of a good story buried there somewhere. A short, fast reaAn overly fast-paced urban fantasy using a lot of familiar elements that may have the nugget of a good story buried there somewhere. A short, fast read.
The heroine is your standard kick-ass babe with special powers (she can apparently locate just about anyone, though she specializes in lost children.) Mix in one witch girlfriend (plus a pair of rival covens), a werewolf buddy (the twist being he's a total coward and about as sharp as a young child), and then the obligatory vampires (and daywalkers), trolls, demons, ogres, harpies and unicorns. About half of Bulfinch's Mythology. Finally, a handsome FBI agent whose sure the heroine is actually a murderess (and apparently has had no other cases to work for the last decade besides tailing her around North Dakota.) Send the whole lot out searching for a missing child (missing for six months, though entirely by chance our heroine gets on the case only a couple of days before the kid is to be used in a ritual sacrifice. What are the odds?)
The storytelling feels very rushed, one supernatural encounter or desperate fight piled right on top of another. At a little over 200 pages, it sometimes it almost feels like an outline. Too many events, not enough time. As a result, exposition gets squeezed in at the oddest times (rappelling down a mine shaft to go face an evil coven of witches, FBI dude asks, "what really happened to your sister?" Because that's the most convenient moment to bring that up.) It also leaves most of the characters without much background or context. Our heroine in the handsome FBI agent, despite being longtime antagonists, suddenly do an awful lot of flirting & groping, usually at the most inappropriate moments.
The novel also serves to set up future installments in the series concerning the mysterious disappearance of our heroine's long-lost sister (apparently the only person on the planet she can't track) and a mysterious robed vampire who must have some reason for popping up near the end and being annoying, plus the rather nasty local werewolf pack....more
The sequel to last year's Daughter of the Sword is another interesting combination of modern urban Japanese police thriller and stories of samurai andThe sequel to last year's Daughter of the Sword is another interesting combination of modern urban Japanese police thriller and stories of samurai and ninja in ancient Japan.
This time, instead of a crime involving an antique samurai sword, the contemporary thriller involves the theft of a antique demon mask (a No mask.) That serves as a bracketing story for a pair of historical fictions with light fantasy overtones. One continues a story of a samurai swordsman that was introduced in the first book; the other is from a different and older period of Japanese history.
The two historical fiction comprise about 2/3 of the novel, with the remainder continuing the character of Detective Sgt. Mariko introduced in the first novel. The historical fictions are interesting stories, especially the older one that is the story of the creation of the now-antique mask.
The contemporary story is the weakest link, mostly because Detective Mariko and her partner Han seem pretty slow to put the clues together, such that the reader figures out the crime long before the heroes (Seriously, you almost want to grab them by the shoulders in frustration and shake them and ask them if they're stupid.)
Although "crime thriller", samurai and ninja may seem a combination for an action story, actual acts of violence and derring-do are measured out carefully, with a lot of police procedural, samurai politics and personal relationships making up most of the story.
Oh, and a word about the cover: Mariko may own a samurai sword as a result of events in Daughter of the Sword, and while it is slightly related to the story, she never once carries it, much less unsheaths it, in this novel. ...more
A pretty decent urban fantasy crime story of the usual vampires, werewolves, and witches. The second half is more engaging than the first, which has aA pretty decent urban fantasy crime story of the usual vampires, werewolves, and witches. The second half is more engaging than the first, which has a bit too much exposition, despite being an investigation into a serial killer.
This turned out to be an entertaining urban fantasy beyond my expectations.
There's certainly no shortage of urban fantasy with a strong female charactThis turned out to be an entertaining urban fantasy beyond my expectations.
There's certainly no shortage of urban fantasy with a strong female character coping with vampires, werewolves, witches, and other paranormal entities. This one provides a pretty decent murder mystery, concentrates on the story and characters, only dabbles in the romance, and goes light on the side-nonsense and eschews the snarky attitude. About my only quibble would be that one of the main pieces of the central mystery ends up just walking into the story from out of nowhere, rather than being uncovered by the diligent or blundering detective work of the protagonists. I'm pretty sure Agatha Christie would call that cheating.
And although the murderer gets solved by the end of the book, there's a sizable hook leading to the forthcoming sequel. ...more