Saintcrow's Jill Kismet series is available bundled as a single kindle book, which i happened to pick up a very long time ago on sale. Re-reading theSaintcrow's Jill Kismet series is available bundled as a single kindle book, which i happened to pick up a very long time ago on sale. Re-reading the first book in the series recently was better than the first time I came across it, and I've ended up leaping into a series dive through the underbelly of Kismet's fictional Santa Luz for 5 books now. The episodic tales of battling the hideous evil of demons and their human converts have been plenty interesting, and many times a cut above my usual UF fare.
And gradually, partway through Heaven's Spite, a whole bunch of little threads cast throughout the past 4 books get jerked taut into a noose that Jill's going to have a hell of a time escaping. A solid summary of events spoils too much of the masterful way this noose tightens, so suffice to say if you've made it this far, book 5 is an unexpected payout of grand proportions, right up to the final drumbeat of the decidedly NOT cliffhanger ending. ...more
It occurred to me partway through this book, the 4th in Saintcrow's series about an augmented-human hunter that defends her corner of the world from dIt occurred to me partway through this book, the 4th in Saintcrow's series about an augmented-human hunter that defends her corner of the world from demonkind and things that go bump in the night, what sets if off from other very similar sounding UF novels.
She remembers to make evil actually be scary.
Oh sure, the spawn of hell are often described as heartbreakingly beautiful, and the bargains they make with human Traders that want a leg up on life are clearly enticing enough to understand why a person would agree to them. And yet, despite their power and attractions, these demons are always described as "poisoned candy" or "painfully beautiful" or some other turn of phrase that lets you know our intrepid narrator is always aware of the sharp hooks underneath the surface. Truly horrifically evil stuff is done by the enemies - bodies are physically and spiritually twisted by nightmare sorcery, and some good cops go mad from seeing the dark side. It's refreshing to have a world where there's a whole network of battle-hardened lone wolves desperately fighting to keep the night at bay actually have one of those lone wolves never find the one "good" bad guy to fall into bed with. And all that leads us to one of the most amazing unicorns in UF: this story is about her own personal redemption from what she has to do to keep the world safe, not the quest for redeeming some baddie that only appears to be evil on the outside.
Hard-drinking, foulmouthed, prickly, deeply flawed Jill Kismet gets to be the star of her own story, not merely a window onto someone else's. That's about as feminist as it gets....more
in which Saul is out of town on a family emergency and Jill has to pick apart what's really going on in the police force, since the half that's secretin which Saul is out of town on a family emergency and Jill has to pick apart what's really going on in the police force, since the half that's secretly dirty is also cutting deals with demonkind....more
Or maybe 4.5 stars, certainly enough to keep me one-more-chaptering until a good bit past my bedtime.
Just as Jill is starting to let go of the weightOr maybe 4.5 stars, certainly enough to keep me one-more-chaptering until a good bit past my bedtime.
Just as Jill is starting to let go of the weight of her mentor's death, her streetwalker past catches up to her with an unusually grisly series of murders of the local prostitute population. If that wasn't more than enough for a solo operative to deal with, her demonic bargain starts to show its true cost. Thank goodness she's not totally alone here, backed up by a shockingly mature and shenanigan-free relationship that actually grows organically instead of zapping fully formed out of some silly insta-love trope (wow, can you tell I've read a LOOOOOOT of overly formulaic UF?).
I'm content to continue my series dive, and kinda wondering why I left it so long after enjoying the first book a few years ago. ...more
dear 'annihilation': it's not you, it's me. the creeping dread, the lovecraftian horror, the possibly less than sane narrator, the unknowable (?) mystdear 'annihilation': it's not you, it's me. the creeping dread, the lovecraftian horror, the possibly less than sane narrator, the unknowable (?) mystery - wow, all wow, and full points for technical achievement. the writing here is gorgeously lush in a way that's really unexpected; the story of a coolly detached biologist could have been written very dryly to the point, but we really get to live and breathe her internal narration, and her sensory descriptions of what she sees and hears and experiences are just incredible. i thought about this book a good bit when i wasn't reading it...which was also a good bit. 3 weeks is an impossibly long time for me to nibble at such a slim novel, and i found it far too easy to put down. maybe you need to be in just the right headspace for such a thought experiment, and i was somewhere else?...more
the first half of Grant's now Hugo-nominated novel starts off as the best sort of sci-fi. it's not all about flashy gadgets as an excuse for a big spethe first half of Grant's now Hugo-nominated novel starts off as the best sort of sci-fi. it's not all about flashy gadgets as an excuse for a big special effects budget, but instead a big "what if" exploring how the world changes when world-changing technology arrives. based on "the hygeine theory," which says that the reason we're afflicted with a rising count of allergy and autoimmune diseases is because our immune systems are all dangerously bored in our modern sterile world, 'parasite' proposes the titular solution. soon, everyone in the developed world is sporting their own gene-spliced Intestinal Bodyguard (tm) tapeworm, which secretes regulated insulin to diabetics, provides reliable birth control without the pill, or calms the symptoms of anaphylactics. the expensive infrastructure to deal with daily pill-popping simply no longer exists out of lack of necessity.
and then, instead of exploring WHY this change is interesting, after setting up this richly-imagined world, Grant goes with the whole mad scientist "we did it because we can!!!" thing, and this veers off into being a horror novel instead. and hey, who doesn't love a solid thriller now and then? well, apparently, me, if the science behind it swerves so sharply from interesting to WTF. apparently, 'round about page 261, the background researcher got fired, because we have only misused buzzwords instead of the actual science concepts from the first half. given that i'm a research scientist myself, this will likely drive me far, far more bonkers than it would the average bear, and i'd be willing to roll my eyes and continue a suspension of disbelief if the main character then did something other than let circumstance and side characters push her into being in a plot. i consider it a major failing when i can see the huge plot twist from 200 pages away, since i'm most typically surprised by everything. but when the big reveal happens halfway through, and everyone looks at the main character to see if she's gonna figure it out, then they all shrug and go on until it dawns on her that (effectively) soylent green is people on the very last page? sheesh, girl, now you just look like a dim bulb next to all the far more fascinating mad scientists....more
5 books into the series, we finally find out what the hell is going on.
it's a testament to Hill's storytelling that one thought one knew what was goin5 books into the series, we finally find out what the hell is going on.
it's a testament to Hill's storytelling that one thought one knew what was going on, having pieced together all the insanity of the keys and the house and the threat right along with the Locke kids... and yet, nope, it was a surprise just how much i was still in the dark... just as much as they still are at the end....more
wow, the Locke kids keep getting sneak-attacked by random and bizarre hordes in- and outside the house, yet manage to hold their own, and maybe startwow, the Locke kids keep getting sneak-attacked by random and bizarre hordes in- and outside the house, yet manage to hold their own, and maybe start to put together some pieces. but definitely don't read this without volume 5 laying around, because the ending (view spoiler)[omg Bode (hide spoiler)]!!!...more
read in a single sitting as per usual...and as per usual, i really wish i had ALL of the books ready to go at one time. it's been too long for me sincread in a single sitting as per usual...and as per usual, i really wish i had ALL of the books ready to go at one time. it's been too long for me since the last one, and i know i've forgotten some details.
the keys introduced here are really cool, but i think the triumph in the end happened a bit too quickly. the characters are, as always, fantastic, and i wonder if Hill & Rodríguez have a prequel stashed somewhere for the very interesting people shown in the antique drawings of the "history of the known keys" in the back of each book....more
if the top of the back-cover blurb strikes your interest, go for it: "It’s 1939. The Nazis have supermen, the British have demons."
at the dawn of WW2,if the top of the back-cover blurb strikes your interest, go for it: "It’s 1939. The Nazis have supermen, the British have demons."
at the dawn of WW2, a german scientist's life work comes to fruition. through electricity and brain surgery, he's managed to create a handful of battery-powered x-men capable of changing the way war is fought, though they may not be as much in his control as he believes. in a desperate bid to figure out what's going on and do something about it, the british scour the countryside for warlocks capable of bargaining with lovecraftian beings who demand a blood price for every favor. this is absolutely a "war is hell" type of story - there's a greater good these people are all striving for, but an awful price has to be paid to get there. neatly sidestepping any genre question of sci-fi and fantasy, it's an intriguing mix of both while really being much more of a character study than either one. bleak and realistic, but not gratuitously grimdark, very much recommended for people that enjoy the cold, analytical math of a battle strategy....more
one of those rare books that would be equally satisfying as a stand-alone or as a series opener, Graveminder sets up an intriguing rural fantasy and tone of those rare books that would be equally satisfying as a stand-alone or as a series opener, Graveminder sets up an intriguing rural fantasy and the people that are trapped within it without leaving us with awful cliffhangers by the end - a truly rare thing in UF these days. the story grows organically out of a bright, brief flash of tragedy, with the supernatural creeping in only gradually until the main characters are in way over their heads. this combines the crumbling ruins edged with trailer parks straight out of the best southern gothic, warmly human characters that start out merely good then confronted with the necessity of becoming great, and a sly dance with the devil thrown into the mix for an engaging read that i'd like to spend more time with only because i enjoyed it so much, not because the story was incomplete....more