Grave Surprise is the second book in the Harper Connelly series from Charlaine Harris. Harper is a woman with a bad...moreGrave Surprise by Charlaine Harris
Grave Surprise is the second book in the Harper Connelly series from Charlaine Harris. Harper is a woman with a bad past, the most obvious event being the day she was struck by lightning, leaving her with a myriad of small damages and the ability to find the dead. Unlike in other urban fantasies Harper is one of, if not the, only person in the world to have a psychic power. She and her brother, Tolliver who acts as her manager, travel the states working cases where people, or their bodies, are missing.
In Grave Surprise Harper has been hired to do a demonstration for a college professor's class on psychics. Sure that he's called her there to debunk her instead Harper names the occupants and cause of deaths for a little graveyard with stunning accuracy, right down to finding a new grave, a grave on top of an older grave. The newest addition the the cemetery is an eleven year old girl that Harper herself was hired to find a year ago.
The find is stunning enough for the Memphis PD, but the fact that Harper already worked the girl's case, and that the parents moved from the city where their daughter was abducted to Memphis, not far from the graveyard, makes the local cops suspect Harper and her brother and they suspect they've been set up.
Harris is a veteran mystery writer more popular for her Southern Vampire series, but with the Harper Connelly books she's turned back to her mystery roots creating a world that's a strange combination of real and dark. The cover of Grave Surprise (first US mass market edition) features a skulled jack-in-the-box popping out of an open grave. It matches the feel of the book perfectly, implying that this world inside should be bright and whimsical, but never quite makes it out the dark shadows. Likewise Harper and her brother are both trying to help people, and trying to shed the memories of an abusive past, and instead seem to be trapped by subtle chains, like depression and fears, into living dark lives.
This is the best book in the series so far, the plot is sneaky and more compelling than the first, but just as well written and unnerving. While Harris' other books might appeal to a more romance-oriented crowd this series has the potential to draw in fans who never thought they'd like a book like this, proving that Harris and her work should not be dismissed as another in a line of trend writers.(less)
The first book in the Dresden Files series (ten books and counting so far) is a refreshing wind for the urban fantasy genre and this reader. One of th...moreThe first book in the Dresden Files series (ten books and counting so far) is a refreshing wind for the urban fantasy genre and this reader. One of the cannon examples of urban fantasy, a blending of mystery and paranormal in a modern setting often with a touch of romance, Storm Front is slanted more toward suspense than romance.
Harry isn't another supernaturally endowed, kick-ass female heroine, taking on the world of evil and the world of men at the same time. Harry is a somewhat-awkward, technologically challenged wizard who only has his training and his will power working for him, and the mysterious "Doom of Damocles" (two strikes, one more and you're out), a black wizard killing by magic, and a supernatural version of a patrol officer (who thinks he's the killer) all working against him. As soon as Dresden figures out the black wizard is using spring storms to fuel his magic he also hears that he's the next target. The next rumble of thunder could be bringing his death.
Storm Front is suspenseful, the use of the storms as both plot point and for tension is excellent. Dresden is a charming hero, who gets by by the skin of his teeth and sheer luck, not by out magicking (or out sexing) the bad guys. The romance angle is lightly handled, the humor organic and the story will keep pages turning. This book is a great start for men or women who want to test out the urban fantasy waters.(less)
"I Will Rise" is a strange tale from the beginning. The prose is a jarring mix of common, even gutter slang ("super cool", "Nothing super wrong", "soo...more"I Will Rise" is a strange tale from the beginning. The prose is a jarring mix of common, even gutter slang ("super cool", "Nothing super wrong", "soooo") and sheer weight ("ferocity of my utterance"), as if the writer is undecided on his own voice. The voice wavers between a musing reminiscence and addressing the reader in a more conversational tone.
If there wasn't a sense of repulsion from this almost-anti hero from the beginning the narrator's well described efforts to keep himself from masturbating through body-funk visualization in the first chapter should be enough. By the end of the first chapter we know that Charlie is a socially awkward, fat, oily, ugly man who is a victim of the media and society and of the parents who casually called him "a fucking nut job". He fakes seizures and steals, but won't let himself be sexually aroused because God is watching.
Calvillo's voice, the overwhelming main building block of the book, is intense and disarming. Certainly dispirited readers will find much to connect with. But the flow of thought style is distracting, obscuring a plot that doesn't begin until 50 pages in with a half hearted attempt at poisoning people followed by a confusing death and rebirth into being the reformer of mankind. There's a disassembled feel to the story, an expanded, and at times out of control version, of the feel of the cult movie Fight Club. "I Will Rise" absolutely captures the tilting, half-insane, anarchist feel but with more rawness and less refinement.
If readers can accept the hallucinations and ranting flow of thought style in this dizzying tale of horror and social degradation they'll likely list "I Will Rise" as one of their favorites, but definitely as one of the most memorable books they've ever read.
I Will Rise is available in print at major bookstores or ebook form from Lachesis Publishing(less)
Shadows and Light brings readers back to a world of witches, magic and fae, and a growing evil that threatens them all.
By this book in the series readers know that the witches are really the descendants of the House of Gaian and that when a witch dies, slaughtered by the evil minions of jealousy and twisted magic, the tether to the magical fae land of Tir Alainn is broken and that part of the fae realm is lost.
This book strays from following the witch Ari as a primary character and instead travels with Aiden, The Bard, and Lyrra, The Muse, both exiled from the fae by Dianna and Lucian's rage, as they try to convince the rest of the fae to save the witches to save their world. This volume also introduces new characters; Brianna and Liam, half siblings struggle to deal with each other as well as the evil creeping into their land; Ashke and Padrick, fae, and human world baron and baroness as well; and a collection of humans, fae, witches and other who are finding themselves forced to choose sides. Each character is compelling and interesting and likely could carry the story on their own. Combined it leads to an epic, large scale feel as readers form a solid picture of Bishop's world.
Most interesting is Morag, the Gather, Death's Mistress, the one fae with the power of life and death which sets her apart even from the other fae. It also puts her in the position of being the only one who can stop the rotten core of the Black Coats' evil.
This volume also introduces the western fae, who never forgot their roots like Lucian and Dianna have and whole towns where fae and witch are synonymous with neighbor and friend.
Lyrra and Aiden are trying to make the adjustment from the eastern fae and their exile, to the western fae, who are guarded not because of the Bard and Muse's intent but because of the reputation of the eastern fae. They set out on a search for the mysterious Hunter. He may be the only one with enough command and power to counter the damage Dianna and Lucian are doing that threatens to split the fae into their own civil war.
Again Bishop spins a fantastic world, rife with beauty, humor and danger, and populated by fleshy characters struggling to do what's right. The heroism aspect in this volume is its only potential flaw. Despite the glory of Bishop's world there is a very clear cut line between good and evil and characters fall on one side or the other, though some don't realize the full extent of their actions.
The Tir Alainn trilogy remains one of my all-time favorite reads and has, several years after its release, stood up to repeated reads and still delivered a highly enjoyable reading experience.(less)
Anne Bishop is a master world builder, bringing epic fantasy lands to life with a deft hand. In this trilogy the world is one of e...moreI bought this book.
Anne Bishop is a master world builder, bringing epic fantasy lands to life with a deft hand. In this trilogy the world is one of elemental magic, where fae and witches come to life and both are threatened by a sinister evil force.
In this first book in the trilogy a witch with the gifts of fire and earth gets trapped by a bit of hedge love magic and, trying to avoid being abused, swears to give herself to a mysterious stallion who shares a summer holiday with her. The stallion turns out to be Lucian, the fae Lord of Fire in his animal form. Curious about this woman who sought him as a friend rather than as a breeder, Lucian begins an affair with Ari.
In Tir Alainn, the fae are facing their own, much larger crisis. Whole sections of their enchanted land are vanishing, cut off by a mysterious misty nothingness. When Dianna, Lucian's twin and The Huntress, discovers Ari is a witch, whom some of the stories and songs of the land blame for the growing evil in the world, she also begins to foster an interest in Ari, determined to save her home at any costs.
The truth of the lost places of Tir Alainn and a foul evil that's spreading through the land, is far more complicated than Lucian, Dianna and Ari know. In this first book three sides are drawn, those for good, those for evil, and those whose egos drive their actions rather than their heads.
This is absolutely one of my favorite books. Bishop's world is so thick and sensory that even though I read this for the first time when it was first published around 2002 I continue to read the trilogy over and over, nearly every year and have yet to tire of it.
Bishop's only flaw is a skew toward “Women are beautiful and wonderful and men are wicked and cruel” themes, and of all her work this series balances it out the best. Despite great or little power, Bishop's characters are real people, often gifted with a sense of humor which balances out the darker elements of the stories.
Here you will find neither damsels in distress nor super powered Janeways. The balance between male and female, good and evil are maintained delicately, but clearly, making this whole trilogy a pleasure to read and reread.(less)
It's not until the last moments of the book that Harry Dresden wonders if someone is trying to kill him. But readers of Fool Moon, the second book in...moreIt's not until the last moments of the book that Harry Dresden wonders if someone is trying to kill him. But readers of Fool Moon, the second book in the Dresden Files series, will wonder it nearly right away.
Despite still being upset with Harry for giving her just enough information about the Nevernever to believe in it, but not enough to face its creatures in her mundane job as a cop, Special Investigations' lead Karrin Murphy calls Harry to a crime scene with all the horrifying hallmarks of a werewolf perp. The problem is that there are multiple kinds of werewolves in this magicked up version of Chicago and Harry isn't sure which kind is out killing people.
While the number of shape shifters and the evidence are piling up nothing seems to fit and the Chicago PD's efforts are hampered by Murphy being under an IA investigation, a group of FBI agents playing dominance games with the crime scenes, a local mob boss who thinks he's the next target trying to force Harry into protecting him, not to mention the humans' stubborn refusal to take the supernatural seriously.
Fool Moon has a complexity that is not typical found in urban fantasy. Not only are there hints at the past that are never expounded on, but there are also hints at a mysterious person or persons being behind the villains of the first book, and this book. More like a noir, supernatural tinted true crime story than other books Fool Moon could easily bring the fantasy, mystery and horror crowds together under the Dresden banner.(less)
Zoë Martinique lives in a strange life. Her mom runs a tea/occult shop out of an old Victorian house, with the help of the ghostly gay couple that hau...moreZoë Martinique lives in a strange life. Her mom runs a tea/occult shop out of an old Victorian house, with the help of the ghostly gay couple that haunts the house and Rhonda, an urban fantasy cross between Penelope Garcia and Abby Sciuto. And Zoë herself is a strange character, possessing the ability to shuck her body and astrally travel about the city at will. It's Zoë's career path, auctioning her services as a super spy off on ebay, that leads to trouble when on an out-of-body spy mission she witnesses a creepy, Vin Diesel look-alike kill and reap the soul of a vice president of a major Atlanta company. Worse the creep marks her somehow, binding the two of them together and sending Zoë on a life changing mission to save herself and others. I have very mixed reactions to this book. To begin with it was very hard to get into. Zoë makes a lot of TV/movie references, she speaks directly to the reader often and her attitude is rather childish. Zoë's mother, the ghosts and Rhonda come off flat, and, honestly, annoying. The flow of the action, and therefore the tension, is consistently interrupted by Zoë's comments to the reader or attempts to be funny (usually with pop culture references) which nine times out of ten aren't. At one point, after the plot finally starts to be interesting, the flow is completely broken by a scene in which Zoë's "loving" mother holds Zoë at gunpoint and forces her to submit to an exorcism. I very nearly stopped there. Even though she's 28, Zoë's mother, Nona, treats her like child, even to the point of drugging her and physically restraining her to keep her from following the plot. Not only does this make Zoë seems even more childish, and disrupt the core plot, dragging it out more than needed, but the later references to Nona only acting out of love just don't coincide with her actions making the mother-daughter dynamic feel more like an abuser/Stockholm syndrome relationship. However, there are some interesting ideas in Wraith. Primarily is the reoccurring theme of people using Zoë's body against her. She gained her power during a traumatic rape and even after she becomes comfortable with it over and over people capture Zoë's body while she's out running around astrally and use it as leverage against her in a variety of ways. Whether Weldon realizes she's layered this theme into Wraith or not I'm not sure, but I did find myself continuing, wanting to see Zoë overcome this problem as much as I wanted her to have beat off her original rapist. The dynamic between Zoë and the two leading males in the book is also interesting, especially as unlike other urban fantasy books that stick closer to the romance Happily-For-Now ending this series seems poised to go into some very dark, rule-free territories that are interesting and new. There's also something to be said for the plot itself, which has unexpected twists of mystery, centers around planes of existence rather than the ways the character exist and spans into a multitude of human races that are sometimes missing from other urban fantasy tales. I'm not sure I can recommend Wraith at this point, but I can't exactly dismiss it either, making it one of the more difficult reads, and difficult reviews I've done in a while. (less)