The Witches is one of my favorites, a hold over from my independent reader days. In fact it's the same copy of Roald Dahl's classiI bought this book.
The Witches is one of my favorites, a hold over from my independent reader days. In fact it's the same copy of Roald Dahl's classic that I bought as a budding reader that I read to my kids this past October. Don't be fooled, this is a kid's book that's genuinely scary and isn't going to tack on a happily ever after ending for our valiant heroes. Imagine a creature that looks like a woman, but is actually an evil paranormal beastie bent on the utter destruction of children. And witches don't just kill kids (that's for people who get caught, Dahl assures us) they turn them into animals to be slaughtered for meat, or hex them into painting to live out their natural lives in oils. The Witches is one part absurd and two parts very scary. After his parents dies tragically our hero lives with his grandmother, who used to be a witch hunter and takes his witch education very seriously. Yet somehow, on vacation, our hero manages to stumble right into the annual meeting of the witches and end up the only living non-witch who has seen the Grand High Witch true face to face. They've hatched a plan to turn all the children of England into mice and only a ten year old boy and an eighty year old woman can stop them before it's too late. You could say that the whole premise is Dahl's hatred of women (especially women who don't want/like kids), but I think that like in his other stories (almost all of which on the kid's shelves deal with extraordinary kids facing really abusive adults) Dahl taps into one of the universal terrors of the early years. Even cared for and supported childhood is a dangerous time when a person has no real control over their life and where adults try to say there's no danger when there's a ton. In The Witches, like Dahl's other books, the power is put into the hands of the children characters to either let life crush them, or chase after their dreams any way. I recommend The Witches for an older audience (eight or so and up) and despite its uncomfortable touches of scary, recommend it as an essential part of a library-in-progress. Also, there's a movies version (with a different ending) staring Angelica Huston and filmed with the held of Henson's Muppet Studio (for effects, not muppets) that's worth checking out as well. ...more
At the risk of sounding too squee, let me preface with this: I absolutely loved this book. Over the last few years I've found myself increasingly boreAt the risk of sounding too squee, let me preface with this: I absolutely loved this book. Over the last few years I've found myself increasingly bored with straight horror novels. Perhaps it's my perceptions as a writer (picking out storytelling elements and good things gone cliché automatically instead of gleefully falling for them) or the by-the-numbers or just-like-Stephen-King styles that are prevalent. Regardless I find myself looking for something just plain different.
Cinema of Shadows isn't actually different. It's the tale of a group of college kids who are part of a paranormal investigations class (what college has that class? I want to go!) who are investigating the Woodfield Movie Palace. The Woodfield began as a live performance theater in the 20s, then a single theater movie place. Then it degraded into a porn theater before the last owner shot his fiance and himself in the ticket booth.
It goes without saying that the Woodfield is very, very haunted, and maliciously so. The kids are in for a world of trouble, especially since one of them is a natural channel, drawing trapped spirits to her for liberation.
In many ways, great ways, Cinema of Shadows is a typical horror novel. It's clear West loves the genre, but also understands some of its failings. He manages make the book a ton of fun by playing on reader expectations and turning them over. The lead females can be in distress, without having to be saved and they can be saved without being weak and useless. Likewise the males can be tough guys, but still get into trouble and need a little help themselves.
Cinema of Shadows was fun to read, hard to put down though I had strong suspicions where it was going. Definitely recommended, especially by those who miss having a little fun and humor with their ghosts and gore.
With a plethora of both zombie fiction and self-published author samplers popping up it's often hard to cut through the chaff to get to the good stuffWith a plethora of both zombie fiction and self-published author samplers popping up it's often hard to cut through the chaff to get to the good stuff. Dead Girl's Blog is the good stuff. Two emotionally satisfying tales of zombies that don't have to resort to the weary format of plucky survivors getting picked off one at a time. These characters stand off the page, reaching out and giving an often-missing soul to zombie stories.
There's only two short stories here, Dead Girl's Blog and Under a Blanket of Blue. But it's a perfect short read for those looking for a distraction in a waiting room, or before bed or on a car or plane trip. Highly recommended for quality and tasty pricing. (And the indie format is more lending-friendly for libraries looking to build an electronic collection.) Contains: Language, sex, violence...more
Fast-paced and stylistically intense, An Occupation of Angels is pseudo-paranormal spy story set in a world where angels came to Earth ending World WaFast-paced and stylistically intense, An Occupation of Angels is pseudo-paranormal spy story set in a world where angels came to Earth ending World War II. Killarney is a secret agent first assigned to assassinate an archangel, then tasked with discovering who's really behind the systematic slaying of the angels of the world. Could it be Nazis?
Tidhar's style is urgent and wickedly ironic. This is a religious study with little religion, a spy story with Nazi conspiracies, but not like the other books on the shelf. One can't help thinking Killarney herself is something different too, as they travel through her head in this world-spanning short novel. An Occupation of Angels is a great, vivid story perfect for libraries looking for something unique. It's taste won't be up all readers alley's, but it's a standout example of fantasy fiction. Contains: violence...more
Part of my initial love of A Dozen Black Roses was that it came out when I was LARPing and so I gleefully imagined some of the characters I had to deaPart of my initial love of A Dozen Black Roses was that it came out when I was LARPing and so I gleefully imagined some of the characters I had to deal with getting into a show down with Sonja Blue. Now Biting Dog has released a White Wolf-free version of A Dozen Black Roses, which makes it less like a shoe horned effort to keep a star writer like Collins while also pushing the White Wolf RPG line, and more like an actual Sonja Blue novel.
Collins' vampire hunting vampire Sonja Blue was one of my first loves in horror (now though it might fit more in Urban Fantasy). She's different, from her creation story, to her split personality, to her punk rock attitude. And Collins' style is different as well. Known for loving descriptions of ultra violence Collins easily keeps up in a genre that seems to be boy territory. In fact Sonja shaking up the old boy's network is a key theme in this book, making it all the more fun. Sonja faces down the two vampire lords of Deadtown, vicious vampires who barely even notice humans as pawns in their quest for power and personal indulgence. And thought she's not exactly a superhero she's definitely the good guy come to make the (other) vampires pay.
Highly recommended for public and private collections, here's your chance to read the book as it should have been, without rules and dice and power gamers.
Contains: violence, language, drug use, rape...more
Let's Play White by Chesya Burke is an excellent collection of nameless myths, darkness and hope. Burke tugs readers through shadowy places where hopeLet's Play White by Chesya Burke is an excellent collection of nameless myths, darkness and hope. Burke tugs readers through shadowy places where hope still tries to linger, even if the people have given up. She also takes us to places where light is strong and vibrant, but people can't accept it. A wonderful collection, highly recommended, my favorites are the urban voodoo-themed ″Chocolate Park″ and the powerful rural fantasy novella ″The Teachings and Redemption of Ms. Fannie Lou Mason″.
Do not read this book without having book five ready to dive into immediately after.
By this point the series is literary crack,I purchased this book.
Do not read this book without having book five ready to dive into immediately after.
By this point the series is literary crack, unputadownable (to use a phrase I hate, but it fits). Zoey Redbird is a chosen of the night goddess Nyx, which means she has powers and will someday become a vampyre. Her friends are all gifted as well, beyond just being marked to become vampyres.
Zoey's circle is still recovering from last book's plot of I'm-lying-to-you-to-protect-you, but after a vision from Aphrodite it's clear that Zoey needs to start leaning on them again, even if evil High Priestess Neferet's mind reading powers might risk them all in the process.
Newly thrown into the mix are Stark, a vampire Bullseye, who can hit his target every time, even if he doesn't know what his target is, and Zoey's Grandmother, pulled into an active role when she finally puts a name and face to the big mysterious evil they are facing. But Stark dies in Zoey's arms, much like Stevie Rae died in the second book only to be reborn as a red-marked fledgeling. Sure that the same is true of Stark, Zoe hatches a plan to intervene and steal Stark from Neferet's influence.
But something is watching her from the shadows, something that's angry and growing power and Zoe must find a way to stop it and stop Neferet while protecting her friends and family as well.
I am absolutely as hooked on this series as I was on Buffy. It's smart, snarky, dark and absolutely engaging. I made the mistake of not having book five sitting ready when I hit the end and it's a shame, since the Casts have hit a stride born of past world building and past set up launching the characters into fast, readable whirlwind adventures. The House of Night series is poised to become my favorite YA world out there. In short, I humbly await more....more
Chosen is the Empire Strikes Back of the Casts' vampire finishing school series. Previously, Zoe Redbird was marked to become aI purchased this book.
Chosen is the Empire Strikes Back of the Casts' vampire finishing school series. Previously, Zoe Redbird was marked to become a vampyre, a favored person of the night goddess Nyx. Upon entering the House of Night she discovered an imbalance in the workings of the vampires and realized Nyx had charged her with fixing it. In book one Zoey takes on class queen and total meanie, Aphrodite. In book two Zoe learns that Aphrodite was not even close to the big bad of the series and something worse is going on, claiming fledgelings from the House of Night and turning them into something else.
In this third book Zoe now knows that the high priestess of the House of Night, and Zoe's personal mentor, Neferet, is somehow behind her best friend's transformation from an ordinary fledgeling into a full realized--something--with a red crescent mark instead of Nyx's sapphire mark. But no matter how gifted she is, she is still a fledgeling and she's facing a fully trained, intelligent and malicious adult whose hands are firmly wrapped around other people and other powers.
In addition, Zoey still is finding herself unable to let her human high school boyfriend go, unsure if it's because she doesn't want to let go of her human life, or because he's the only source she has of fresh blood. When vampyre hottie and school poetry teacher Loren Blake starts making some serious moves on her, Zoey finds herself unable to even think or resist against his charms, despite her already complicated love life.
But she has to keep Loren, the red fledgelings and Stevie Rae secret from her best friends, risking their rage, because Neferet's mind reading powers (which don't work on Zoey) could put them all in danger. The only person Zoey has to talk to, the only other person immune to Neferet's mind reading, is Aphrodite, who has been publicly humiliated and abandoned Nyx—according to Neferet. Zoey's sudden trust of Aphrodite sits just as badly with her friends, prepping the House of Night crew for a show down that's less magic and fighting and more tempers and ill-will.
Despite the amount of emotional turmoil in this book it manages to avoid being needless high drama. Also missing is the borderline preachiness some readers have found in previous installments of the series. The Casts keep a balance between the elements introduced previously in the series; Zoey's family troubles, the mystery of the red fledglings, Neferet's bipolar influences, Zoey's struggles with her love life, and the battles of high school themselves; and still manage to move the overall plot forward..
If you haven't read the series before, don't start here because by this book readers should be well entrenched in the series to understand the importance of the climax and ending. It also helps, since book four is already available if you grab that one as well for a continuous flow of the overall storyline. Again, this is a fabulous dark urban fantasy series for readers who want dangerous and complex, but aren't ready for the sexual and violent content of more adult series on shelves today....more
Sharp, dark with a drug-induced dystopian flare, Katja is the story of chemical dealers, druggies and dreamers, all on a quest to escape their islandSharp, dark with a drug-induced dystopian flare, Katja is the story of chemical dealers, druggies and dreamers, all on a quest to escape their island prison. An unconventional collection of anti-heroes and antagonists, it's remarkably similar to the gritty tales of Sonja Blue by Nancy A. Collins. It's a toss up whether the sheer violence wins out over a theme of the struggle to find a better life. But it's all good, dark and fast paced, like being stuck in a trunk during a drunken joyride. Recommended for horror collections looking for something outside of the same old authors and styles. Contains: violence, language, drug use...more
Kira's life is scarred by magic. Unable to touch others because of her power she threw herself into education, both in history and in becoming a slayeKira's life is scarred by magic. Unable to touch others because of her power she threw herself into education, both in history and in becoming a slayer of the creatures of the Shadow. Now as an adult she's a powerful Shadowchaser, the more fighty aspect of a secret organization dedicated to preserving the balance between Chaos and Light. As a follower of Ma'at, balance is very important to Kira.
Then a friend brings a powerful—and evil—ancient blade to her for protection, and he ends up dead in an alley. His death exposes links Kira didn't even know they had, and makes her feel the loss even more keenly. Then a mysterious (sexy) Nubian warrior claiming to be the blade's owner appears and when Kira discovers he can touch her without suffering the death that most people do, it changes everything for her.
Shadow Blade is a fantastic Egyptian-themed UF with a lead who's the strong, calm type. While Kira has a little snark, there's no jerkiness or bad attitude here, just a woman who cannot connect with humanity trying desperately to save it. It's a fun, enjoyably complex read. Definitely recommended for UF fans and public collections. Contains: sexual situations, violence, language...more
Broods of Fenrir can't decide if it's urban fantasy or horror, so of course, I loved it. Brand is the rightful king of the Broods (lines of werewolvesBroods of Fenrir can't decide if it's urban fantasy or horror, so of course, I loved it. Brand is the rightful king of the Broods (lines of werewolves) but after growing up under the cruel rule of his father he rejects the Broods to live a solitary life. Until they force him back in with his one weakness—protecting women. Of course one has to wonder how a man raised in such a horrible, violent environment manages to survive with any respect for women (or men). But let that question drift away with others like ″Werewolves?″
Broods is engaging, vivid and energetic. And moody. Moody, moody, sexy alpha males, barely holding onto their rage, plus a one rightful king to save them all plot line and brightly realized characters (and a spice of Norse mythology) make for an enjoyable read. Definitely recommended. Contains: Rape Situations, violence, language, sex...more
Betrayed, the second book starring Zoey Redbird, recently marked by the goddess of the night, Nyx, and destined for great thingI purchased this book.
Betrayed, the second book starring Zoey Redbird, recently marked by the goddess of the night, Nyx, and destined for great things, starts off with a thick, back story heavy first chapter that's an example of the worst the Cast writing gets. Things appear shallow and skewed, with the misunderstood female-goddess-powered vampires facing off against the domineering, bone-headed male “People of Faith” (a cult of Christians) types. And with Zoey's super special, empowered friends railing against meanies, while themselves being judgmental and snobbish. But don't stop there, because once the series and situation so far has been summed up the Casts move on to tell a completely different story. Fresh off a victory over meanie, vampyre elitist Aphrodite, Zoey finds herself the leader of the elite House of Night school prep club/sorority the Dark Daughters and Sons. She immediately puts the people who helped her take the position from Aphrodite at her side as prefects as she struggles to make the club something more than the nasty, abusive thing it had become. But Zoey doesn't know it all, and isn't exactly prepared to handle what Nyx starts to reveal to her. After much preparation Zoe's first Full Moon ceremony as Priestess in training begins to go well, with her friends all showing an affinity for an element that makes them solid choices for the role Zoey has put them in (and it makes Zoey's choice seem less like nepotism and more like foreshadowing, or even prophecy.) But Fate—or something worse—takes Zoey's best friend and roommate from her when Stevie Rae collapses after the ceremony and appears to fall prey to a failed Change (when a Marked teen's body rejects the Change to a vampyre and instead, dies.) When Zoey's semi-stalker ex-boyfriend Heath vanishes soon after Zoey is shocked to be given a vision which shows her Stevie Rae is responsible. To save Heath Zoey must tear away another layer of the mystery surrounding the House of Night, which leads her to the only person who seems to believe her and maybe even knows what is going on—Aphrodite. What could very well be taken as a cliché tale of super special (underestimated) teens proving to the world how much better than ordinary they are instead becomes something else. Again Zoey represents a girl struggling to find her own place in the world, and in herself, when the people around her seem determined to ruin her or rule her. When everyone else says her instincts are wrong Zoey is forced to follow them, or lose people she loves. Furthermore this book introduces additional complexity by showing that Dark doesn't always mean evil and Light doesn't always mean good. Actions speak louder than compliments, familiar roles and even religious affinity. After the initial chapter, religious and female power overtones are relaxed and worked better into the tale, even to the point of glancing off the idea that only women getting “favored” by one god is as unfair as only men being “favored” by another. Even Zoey's more annoying friends, Shaunee and Erin, are toned down while the plot is proceeding and take a stronger supporting, instead of agitating, role. The plot as well is a nice mix elements that is similar to those seen in other well liked long running series, like the Harry Potter books. While there is, one can assume, one primary evil, it's minions are many, and unexpected (by Zoey anyway). And the solution is never as easy as pointing and declaring “There's the bad guy.” Instead the characters must weave their way through their destined conflicts, which even include their differences with each other. Zoey's voice keeps the darkness in check with wit, snark, a special kind of confidence, and determination. A good read for teens, and even adults still fighting with teen issues, Betrayed is a good, easy read that manages to keep some meat on its bones with out becoming either too heavy or too fluffy....more
Callie lives with her mom in a grand old hotel in the middle of the Dust Bowl and has spent the last years watching it, and their town, slowly blow awCallie lives with her mom in a grand old hotel in the middle of the Dust Bowl and has spent the last years watching it, and their town, slowly blow away with the wind. If this life wasn't difficult enough Callie has a dark secret—she's half black. Her dad is a jazz musician who promised to come back for her mother someday. Or so Callie thinks. Then in the middle of a giant dust storm Callie's mother reveals the truth, he dad isn't human at all. He's a fae prince. Callie's anger at her father's abandonment fuels the storm around them and her mom disappears, taken by fae who want to come for Callie as well. Because neither court is terribly happy about Callie's existence.
Dust Girl is a fantastic period fantasy tale. It will appeal to lovers of classical fairy tales (the old Grimm types, not the Disney re-makes). The blending of Depression-era conflict with tricky fairy prophecies is enchanting. Highly recommended....more