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
the best sci-fi isn't about rocket ships and lasers, it's about what the impact on everybody having rocket ships and lasers does to society. Sarah's sthe best sci-fi isn't about rocket ships and lasers, it's about what the impact on everybody having rocket ships and lasers does to society. Sarah's spare, elegant story is at a surface level about a band trying to make it to the next gig in a world where e-music and technology make gigs almost obsolete; it's also therefore really about connection with your fellow humans and what keeps us driving down that road to the next gig. it's near-future, what might be in the next few years, rather than deep-space sort of sci-fi, but that only serves to make it more immediately believable....more
The warlord has netted up most of the continent in conquest, the duke's sister has set the foundation of her spy network in place and is learning theThe warlord has netted up most of the continent in conquest, the duke's sister has set the foundation of her spy network in place and is learning the higher alien languages, a new prince will be named in the alien empire, and some people will finally find peace in whatever place they're calling home. The Jaran series remains an interesting blend of fantasy and sci-fi tropes (alien invasion, political intrigue, iron-age "primitives," unfathomable technology, mystic religions) that somehow manages to be comfortably what it is rather than a trope itself. Elliott ties up this final installment by finally leavening all the disparate storylines chapter-by-chapter, which helps a lot with the need to know what's happening in equally interesting branches of the tale. Everyone ends up taking the path they need to, though that's almost always not the easiest path, and the ending is a whole lot more a "becoming" as in the title, rather than a definitive conclusion. ...more
3.5 stars - a middle book that can't be read without its siblings, but i'm intrigued enough by where we're going that i'm plowing straight through all3.5 stars - a middle book that can't be read without its siblings, but i'm intrigued enough by where we're going that i'm plowing straight through all of them.
Sigh. A cute premise and pretty decent writing is solidly ruined by most of the plot hinging on everyone the heroine meets acting irrationally pissedSigh. A cute premise and pretty decent writing is solidly ruined by most of the plot hinging on everyone the heroine meets acting irrationally pissed at her, and refusing to clue her in to WTF is going on. If you want me to believe that an uptight preschool teacher is the chosen one, for the love of monkeys give her a rock star support team, not these bickering assholes. ...more
dear Max Gladstone: your picture should be right there in the literary dictionary next to the term "worldbuilding" so that people can look up how to ddear Max Gladstone: your picture should be right there in the literary dictionary next to the term "worldbuilding" so that people can look up how to do this concept right. plenty of people that have wonderful imaginations love to throw everything whackadoo they dreamed up into their fantasy/SF/horror/genre-mashup novel, and end up coming off like ADD children, blinking at a whole bunch of pretty but meaningless images in quick succession. 'Two Serpents Rise,' like your series starter, comes off like this at first. the city is full of mystical ex-disciples with no gods left to pray to, flying Quetzals bearing cops on their backs, a skeletal King in Red, and an economic firm that governs commerce based on a soul rather than gold standard (as in, pieces of one's soul are the literal coinage of the realm). these cinematically painted images are tossed in front of the reader like scattered coins so effortlessly that watching the author pick them back up again and pocket all these seemingly throw-away ideas into vital parts of the narrative is masterful. AND some characters happen to not be straight, AND AND some happen to not be white, and who they are and who they love is, again, part of the plot and not just a haphazard colors-of-benetton random choice. the story is a little slower in some places than the impeccable Three Parts Dead, but just as well-written. i almost didn't miss that first book's heroine in getting wrapped into this one - turns out that Serpents has absolutely nothing to do with the prior book, other than that they clearly have happened in the same world, so feel free to read out of order....more
after a pair of somewhat lighter historical-fantasy-romances (albeit, ones with a darker undercurrent in the form of nasty villains), the series divesafter a pair of somewhat lighter historical-fantasy-romances (albeit, ones with a darker undercurrent in the form of nasty villains), the series dives much more deeply into that dark tone with the 3rd installment. Hobson has apparently completed the tale of the delightfully-named Dreadnought Stanton and his dirt-witch bride, moving on to tell the story of the couples' youngest son here. from the get-go, the main character is a pretty gawd-awful jerk (his willful carelessness likely killed his elder brother's favorite horse), but again, the interesting little twists on both the world Hobson has built for these interesting people to walk through and their own personal foibles keeps being engaging. there's a lot going on here (Tesla and his super secretive factory, the remains of the magic rock system, a whackadoo preacher, some "cursed" children), and with the book ending on an almost-cliffhanger, we're left wondering how much of it is red herrings or real plot anchors....more
an occasionally unevenly-written "normal people end up in a fantasy land" sort of tale, only SWEET BABY MONKEY IT'S ABOUT VETERINARIANS TREATING UNICOan occasionally unevenly-written "normal people end up in a fantasy land" sort of tale, only SWEET BABY MONKEY IT'S ABOUT VETERINARIANS TREATING UNICORNS AND WHATNOT.
BJ is a 4th year vet student in the middle of a brutal life upheaval that makes her question whether she can finish school. on the verge of walking out the door, she's invited by a large animal prof to join an ambulatory rotation, where she finds herself again by finding herself in an entirely different world. there's a somewhat superfluous bad guy plot tacked on the end, but that bit is easy to ignore in favor of the droll but deadly griffin and his ilk.
the fun of this for me was absolutely in the details. the afterword says that O'Donohoe's wife was a vet student during the writing of this novel, and her influence on accuracy of both the vet student experience and the practical realities of emergency equine surgery are utterly evident. this one is highly recommended for anyone who's both a fantasy lover and an IRL veterinarian....more
right from the beginning of this book, the 2 literary hooks being set are fairly obvious: this is utterly a Jane Austen pastiche + a gentle touch of mright from the beginning of this book, the 2 literary hooks being set are fairly obvious: this is utterly a Jane Austen pastiche + a gentle touch of magic, and there's a talented but homely heroine lovingly supporting everyone else while assuming no possibility of love for her own non-pretty self. i happened to be perfectly in the mood for both of these things, and so 'Shades of Milk and Honey' was an utterly charming read, quite firmly in the camp of comfort food.
Jane and her sister are very minor gentry out in the country (the family isn't called the Bennets, but you get the idea), where their father is working on putting aside a small dowry/living for each of them. Jane is very plain, but has natural talent weaving the sort of household glamour that a well brought-up lady would use to enrich her home. her sister Melody is the pretty one that of course relies on her face rather than any aptitude in a vocation to catch a suitor. a wacky mom, a host of possible suitors in the neighborhood, some balls and parties, a pending scandal of epic proportions, and a bright sparkle of everyday magic all end up in the mix. though the story about this family's escapades is complete in this volume, the writing is plenty enough to have me checking out the second in the series....more
A half-dead man with no past (killed and resurrected with no memory of life before) works as an enforcer for the shadowy NYC Council of the2.5 stars.
A half-dead man with no past (killed and resurrected with no memory of life before) works as an enforcer for the shadowy NYC Council of the Dead, removing who- and whatever they consider a threat. He stalks a lushly described big apple populated with ghosts and voodoo priests, smoking cigarillos and hunting with a sword cane, avoiding notice by the mundane folks.
All of which has the potential for so much badassery that it's frustrating when it sinks under the weight of its own moral grey zones. The COD guys are described as incompetent and possibly immoral assholes, but hey, we work for them anyway. Are there alternative employers? Is fighting the fight from within of benefit to someone? What happens if he just tells them where to shove it? Who knows? Worse, though, I'm still fuzzy on why the bad guy's plan was in fact actually bad.
Despite all that, the set-up here is pretty fantastic, so I'll X fingers that the next one finds stronger footing. ...more