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 rea...moreAn 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.(less)
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 a...moreA 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 charact...moreThis 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. (less)
The latest story in the Kate Daniels series provides a straightforward story with all the expected elements checked off: motivation, adventure, mandat...moreThe latest story in the Kate Daniels series provides a straightforward story with all the expected elements checked off: motivation, adventure, mandatory lovers quarrel, extreme violence, cathartic conclusion. Added a few new critters to the beastiary. I felt it didn't have as much of the humor present in Kate's earlier narrations. Of the revelations in the ending, some worked as surprises and some didn't. (view spoiler)[ For some reason, I'd guessed what Christopher's role would turn out to be, though Hibla worked fine. (hide spoiler)]
By coincidence I read a blog post on Tor.com last week that said every time a fantasy story took its characters out to the sea in ships, three things always happen: Sea Monsters, Pirates, and a Storm. "Magic Rises" provides the first two, at least. (I suspect it skips the storm because you can't rip open its chest, tear out its heart and crush it in your fist, which is the author's preferred way of characters solving their problems. :)
Major disappointments: the big finale, despite a heaping helping of ultraviolence, didn't really resolve much or advance the overall story arc, leaving the main conflict completely inconclusive. Worse, it smacked of manipulation: I suppose one person's "surprise" is another's "deus ex machina”. After expending so much effort creating impossible odds for Kate, Curran & company, the resolution seemed forced from outside, rather as if during the climactic scene of "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," Gandalf had suddenly appeared and intervened. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I was really hoping this series would interest me more. The first book had an enjoyable sense of humor about itself, but that seems to have been repla...moreI was really hoping this series would interest me more. The first book had an enjoyable sense of humor about itself, but that seems to have been replaced by sex as the heroine is apparently attracted to every male she meets taller than 6", pulse optional. This installment also suffers from a lack of a single story, being mostly episodic. (less)
This was a little too deep into apocalyptic threats and super beings. When gods and devils start making appearances, my mind kind of wanders. (Doesn't...moreThis was a little too deep into apocalyptic threats and super beings. When gods and devils start making appearances, my mind kind of wanders. (Doesn't leave much for an encore, short of the deification of the heroine.)
Interesting thought placing the story in a strange future Earth. At least we finally have flying cars. Kind of a strange society though, with mobs chartered so that they can pretty much destroy an entire city with legal impunity.(less)
I thought the 4th book of the series was terrific, and this 5th entry tops it. It's full of revelations going back to the beginning, as the heroine, J...moreI thought the 4th book of the series was terrific, and this 5th entry tops it. It's full of revelations going back to the beginning, as the heroine, Jayne, returns to her hometown in Kansas and her Bible-thumping father to get some answers. And, amazingly, there are answers aplenty, plus an exciting final confrontation to close things out with a bang.
There's almost a sense of conclusion about this one, though I suspect the author has one or two more secrets to explore before he's finished.
I found the whole thing totally engrossing, and was always reluctant to put it down until I'd finished.(less)
A relatively short book by modern standards, and a quick, simple read. The idea of a radio talk show host giving advice to supernatural critters (and...moreA relatively short book by modern standards, and a quick, simple read. The idea of a radio talk show host giving advice to supernatural critters (and their friends) is interesting, though it means an awful lot of the book is telephone dialog.
Early on in the book, I was feeling pretty negative about the story because there was a sex scene that I thought was rape. I suppose the good news is by the end of the story, the victim thinks so, too. I suppose that makes it a story of awaking empowerment or something. The bad news is that the book introduces a lot of "villains", but it doesn't really resolve those crimes, only the crime of one of of the villain's patsies. That makes for a very unsatisfying conclusion. I suppose one is expected to read the sequels to see if any of the bigger bad guys get their comeuppance.
I didn't dislike the book, but I didn't find them particularly compelling, either; the sequels just won't be very high on my reading list.(less)
The third book in the Alex Craft series is a quick, light read. The main story, again, is a supernatural mystery which only a witch who can speak with...moreThe third book in the Alex Craft series is a quick, light read. The main story, again, is a supernatural mystery which only a witch who can speak with the dead can see, because the mundane police have ruled the death a suicide. A short interlude in the middle of the book takes us first to the land of Faerie and then to the realm of the Soul Collectors so Alex can meet up with her competing suitors. Then we're back to the mortal realm for a fast-paced action conclusion.
The characters are likable enough, and the writing more than serviceable. The plot relies a little bit too much on new rules, then breaking rules, then fixing things so rules cannot possibly be broken again.
As with many of these series, the extended story is starting to pick up a lot of baggage requiring ever more reminders at the beginning concerning the extended cast of characters and their histories. This one hasn't yet crossed over into hopelessly complex, but it's going to need a little pruning soon.(less)
The story of one of the secondary characters from the Kate Daniels' post-magic-apocalyse novels is likable enough in its own right, but not as much fu...moreThe story of one of the secondary characters from the Kate Daniels' post-magic-apocalyse novels is likable enough in its own right, but not as much fun as the original. "Gunmetal Magic" has a slightly more serious tone, character wise, than its progenitor (the plots are always "serious" life or death, saving the world adventures.) Although some attempt is made to re-introduce some of the characters carried over from the half-dozen Kate Daniels books, it's cursory; I think "Gunmetal Magic" would slightly mystified reader who picked it up without reading the earlier books in this world.
This book gives the authors a chance to expand on Andrea's background, tragic and abusive, that put her on the emotional edge, and in the grand tradition of fantasy literature, manages to tidy everything up by the last page.
Writing a story of a secondary character in this established universe poses some challenges. First, the characterization needs to make Andrea distinct from Kate; and since both novels are written in the first-person, that affects the entire narrative style. The distinctions only partially successful, and not quite as entertaining. The author is also faced with the challenge of explaining why, if the menace is so dire, why Kate and Curran aren't involved - especially since Andrea is both a shape shifter and Kate's best friend and business partner. Kate does make a few appearances, but they are necessarily held to a minimum, since this is Andrea's spotlight.(less)
I downloaded this for Ilona Andrews' Kate Daniels short story, and it was well worth the eBook price. Nice prequel story of Kate's first meeting with...moreI downloaded this for Ilona Andrews' Kate Daniels short story, and it was well worth the eBook price. Nice prequel story of Kate's first meeting with Saiman. Not sure it would hold up well for those who don't already know the series.
Haven't read any of Frost's Night Huntress, and the short story didn't inspire me to do so.
Those two short stories are less than half the book. Most of the book is previews of upcoming novels by Frost & Andrews. At the eBook price, that's not bad, but I'd be disappointed if I'd bought the printed paper version. Also note both stories in the book have been previously published.(less)
The Traveler takes a collection of familiar elements and weaves them into a mixed action thriller of scifi and urban fantasy. A shadowy worldwide orga...moreThe Traveler takes a collection of familiar elements and weaves them into a mixed action thriller of scifi and urban fantasy. A shadowy worldwide organization called The Bretheren (aka Tabula) propose to keep the world under control (for its own good), using modern high-tech surveillance (the usual combo of monitoring everything from tracking credit cards and cell phones, security cameras with facial recognition programs to sniffing the internet key phrases.) A small cult of warriors trained, from birth and largely hereditary, oppose this control; thus the heroine, Maya, a killer with swords, guns, or bare hands.
The MacGuffin are a few rare people called Travelers, mystics who can "cross over" to other realms, where, apparently, they gain new insights and perspective on the human condition. Since these new concepts bring disruption and change, the Tabula are hunting them to extinction, while the Harlequins are ruthlessly dedicated to their protection. Both sides are searching for two brothers who are potential Travelers.
The story is fast-moving and full of action, with a number of modestly interesting characters, though I didn't find any of them really involving. It's a quick light read.
The biggest weakness of this story is the idea of "Travelers". Clearly they have been historically ineffective: some create small cults or help establish communes, but all very marginalized. I just can't see what all the fuss is about; why would Tabula be so hostile to a few hippies wandering around the world? Usually a triller like this has some obvious grand consequence: there's a bomb or an assassination; good and evil in conflict. Here, what's at stake is the ability some guy to sit in a cave, contemplate the universe, and mumble "whatever, dude." Hard to get excited over the outcome. (less)