Archive for April, 2012

The River Witch-Kimberly Brock

April 30, 2012

The River Witch

Kimberly Brock

Bell Bridge, Apr 6 2012, $14.95

ISBN: 9781611941234

 

Thirty years old Roslyn Byrne’s charmed life ended with the crash.  Her career as a professional ballet dancer on the Atlanta stage ended and while healing at her mom’s house, she gave birth to a stillborn. 

 

Worried about her daughter’s inability to move past her grief, Rosalyn’s mom pushes her to spend a summer healing on Manny’s Island; Georgia just off St. Simon’s.  Rosalyn rents a house from the Trezevant family.  Their tweener daughter Damascus adopts the grieving Roslyn by introducing her to gators and hoodoo magic as the ten years old knows loss too with her mom dead.  As Roslyn’s past and that of the Trezevant family become known due to the river where the dead rest, the former dancer begins to heal.

 

The gothic atmosphere makes for a strong character driven tale of people struggling with grief.  The support cast is solid especially ephemeral cousin Nonnie and patriarch Urey.  However, this haunting whimsical tale of soul healing belongs to the Sea Isle with its magical music by the riverbank and the two females; each barely coping with their respective losses until they meet.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Taken-Vicki Pettersson

April 30, 2012

The Taken

Vicki Pettersson

Harper Voyager, Jun 12 2012, $13.99

ISBN 9780062064646

 

Five decades ago Griffin Shaw private investigator was murdered.  His gig is collecting the souls of murder victims like Nicole Rockwell who in spite of a crushed larynx tells him she is a photographer not a hooker who due to the movie Ghost distrusts him to Take her soul to Everlast.  Unable to resist a crying female; he breaks the rules and allows her to change her clothing; allowing Anas of the Powers angels to claim the soul.  Griff’s efforts to prevent the theft angers Anas who clips his wings and returns him to life in a skin of sin.

 

Nicole’s friend Las Vegas reporter Katherine “Kit” Craig arrives as Griff flees.  Kit and Nicole were working on a child prostitution ring.  Meanwhile Griff figures since he is being punished by the heavenly powers, he will investigate the cold case murders of himself and his wife Evie.  However, he is given one last chance to regain his heavenly status: he must collect the soul of Kit Craig whose guilt and obsession to avenge her friend’s death has her facing death.  Falling in love Griff cannot deliver though it means damnation.

 

This is an engaging romantic urban fantasy as Vicki Pettersson deftly exaggerates the traits of the hard boiled 1950s detective with a soft boiled heart and the go into hell for a story reporter (Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday).  The paranormal hierarchy contains a uniqueness that is two-sword as the premise enables the reader to understand Griff’s “sin” and the universe he works, but the complexity of the Pettersson pantheon also slows down the storyline while never explaining his “fickleness” between Evie and Kit.  Still this is an entertaining paranormal as two souls defy heaven.

 

Harriet Klausner

 

 

Lethal Rider-Larissa Ione

April 30, 2012

Lethal Rider

Larissa Ione

Grand Central, May 22 2012, $7.99

ISBN 9780446574501

 

Thanatos the Horsemen of the Apocalypse Death rages over what has happened to him.  For centuries this Lord of Deliverance knew he must remain sexual abstinent to prevent his Agimortus seal from breaking.  An ancient prophecy claims that his offspring will save the world so two of his Horsemen siblings (Ares and Limos) drugged him so that Aegis Guardian Regan Matthews could seduce him in order to become pregnant (see Immortal Rider).

 

Feeling date raped and betrayed Thanatos abducts Regan in order to make her his sexual prisoner.  However, he finds an obsessive compulsive disorder individual filled with remorse and eight months pageant.  Stunned Thanatos realizes the baby is his Agimortus and the fourth Horseman Pestilence, whose seal was broken (see Eternal Rider), hunts them for he knows killing the infant will fuel the Apocalypse.

 

The third Lords of Deliverance romantic urban fantasy is a superb apocalyptic thriller that grips the reader from the moment Thanatos realizes he has been betrayed and never slows down until the final confrontation.  Though it helps to have read Immortal Rider as the drugged seduction occurs as a secondary plot; that is not necessary as this fast-paced story line filled with betrayals can be read alone; while setting up the Ione apocalyptic mythos final doomsday confrontation.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Eye of the World: Book One of ‘The Wheel of Time-Robert Jordon

April 27, 2012

The Eye of the World: Book One of ‘The Wheel of Time

Robert Jordon

Tor, May 8 2012, $15.99

ISBN: 9780765334336

 

The Trollocs unexpectedly attack Emond’s Field.  While the surprise assault on the village continues unabated, a Myrddraal targets three young men (Rand al’Thir, Matrim Cauthon and Perrin Aybara.  The trio assumes they are the true focus of the hostilities so to save the townsfolk from further slaughter they flee.  Joining them on their exodus is Egwene al’Vere, Moraine Damordred the Aes Sedai, Warder Al’Lan Mandragoran and Thom Merrilin the Gleeman.  Led by the Myrddraal, the Trollocs pursue while Nynaeve al’Meara the Wisdom of Emond’s Field join the beleaguered band on the run

 

The weary travelers reach the evil city of Shadar Logoth where only Mashadar the malevolence lives.  Rand, Mat and Thom head to Whitebridge while the Myrddraal closes in on them. The deadly adventures have just begun.

 

This reprint of the opening act in the epic Wheel of Time holds up nicely due to the tremendous creating of the Jordan mythos.  Magic is deftly introduced as elemental but left somewhat shadowy with a fabulous twist on yin and yang theory tainted by the end of the last age leading to a matriarchal society, which becomes clearer in later entries.  The cast is solid with women as the stronger gender flaunting their superiority.  Although there is a ton of books that followed, many not as powerful as book one, The Eye of the World is a wonderful epic fantasy.

 

Harriet Klausner

Into the Dreaming-Karen Marie Moning

April 27, 2012

Into the Dreaming

Karen Marie Moning

Delacorte, Apr 24 2012, $20.00

ISBN: 9780345535221

 

“Into the Dreaming.”  In Indiana, Jane Sillee dreams of the Highlander and now owns a medieval tapestry that she has no idea who or why it was sent to her. She looks deeply at it when suddenly she is transported back to 928 Scotland where she meets her Highlander, Aedon MacKinnon. She has to break the evil spell that engulfs the man she has loved since she first dreamed of him.

 

“Dark Highlander Lite.”  Druid mage Daegus MacKeltar used his powers to travel back in time to save the life of his twin brother Drustan (see TO KISS A HIGHLANDER). However, Daegus pays a high price for his good deed as he released the spirits of evil Druids that share residency with him in his body.  Medieval expert Chloe Zanders delivers a five century old reprint of the third book of Mannannan to Daegus, who recognizes his soul mate.

 

Part of the Tapestry anthology, Into The Dreaming is an engaging standalone novella with wonderful lead characters.  Dark Highlander Lite contains the first seven chapters of the first “draft”; I would have preferred the entire first cut to compare with the published novel.  The rest of the collection feels more like filler material as it includes interesting entries like a deleted scene from Kiss of the Highlander, a proposal for never published Ghost of a Chance, Chapter 1 of Darkfever and scenes from upcoming graphic novel of Fever Moon.  Die-hard fans of Karen Marie Moning will enjoy this collection.

 

Harriet Klausner

Blue Remembered Earth-Alastair Reynolds

April 27, 2012

Blue Remembered Earth

Alastair Reynolds

Ace, Jun 5 2012, $26.95

ISBN: 9780441020713

 

In the latter half of the twenty-second century, Africa is the world’s superpower.  For the most part, after barely surviving the Anthropocene climatic change disaster, national hostilities, violent crime and poverty no longer exist as a death from disease or a murder in an outpost in Europe or Australia become featured on the Nairobi news.  

 

In this pristine realm, Geoffrey Akinya relishes his field studies of the elephants of the Amboseli basin.  However, his pleasure is disrupted, but not by the death of his space exploring grandma Eunice who was the matriarchal cornerstone of the powerful Akinya business empire.  Instead, soon after Eunice’s ashes are scattered on Mt. Kilimanjaro, he is blackmailed into looking at a potentially embarrassing incident on the moon where like elsewhere in the solar system colonization is growing by those who prefer not to reside inside of Earth’s Surveyed Zones.  He and his sister Sunday’s mission are to insure no scandal erupts, but what they learn about a secret of their grandma shakes their core while this twin cousins Hector and Lucas take a different approach.

 

This is an exciting futuristic science fiction tale in which the world building is phenomenal though only surfaces when an aberration occurs like a Caucasian or not speaking Swahili although a key element the Mechanism monitoring humans seems to Big Brother intrusive (and too selective).  Sunday is the more aggressive of the siblings as they investigate a moon incident that damns their family if surfaced and may destroy their world.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Reckoning-Alma Katsu

April 27, 2012

The Reckoning

Alma Katsu

Gallery, Jun 19 2012, $25.00

ISBN 9781451651805

 

In 1817 immortal alchemist Count Adair saved the life of Lanore McIlvrae when he gave her an immortality potion but at the cost of her becoming his mistress.  However, when her savior went after her true love Jonathan, she imprisoned him in a secret tomb in Boston (see The Taker).  Now he is free though confused by contemporary Boston.

 

Still the Count knows achieving his objective is all that matters.  He will break his betraying former lover who plans to own her for eternity.  As he searches for his lost treasures and amasses a fortune, he knows the way to get to Lanore is through her mortal lover Luke Findley.

 

The second Taker paranormal thriller continues the adventures of Lanore and the three males in her life.  The key players seem fully developed and remain in character from the first Taker tale.  Fast-paced throughout, Lanore seeks redemption while the Count seeks possession.  Although an obvious middle book as it sets the table for the climax, fans will enjoy this supernatural drama as the heart beat between love and obsession is very faint.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Hot Gate-John Ringo

April 27, 2012

The Hot Gate

John Ringo

Baen, Apr 24 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781451638189

 

In the outer Solar System, the orbital gates appear as a trading boom for mankind and the Grtul, but the Horvath arrive in warships conquering Terra (see (see Live Free or Die).  As humanity quickly teetered on the brink of extinction, tycoon Tyler Vernon converted the large asteroid Troy into a tremendous battle station that along with the Solar Array Pumped Laser humans was used to drive away the invaders from the Sol System.  However, an even more dangerous threat entered the system as the reptilian Rangora began a deadly serpentine blitzkrieg (see Citadel).

 

Though earthlings have battled back, the threat remains ominous.  To survive and thrive they must go where no one has dared ventured before: into the heart of the Rangora horde.  Tyler Vernon and his unit aboard Troy begin the suicidal counter assault. 

 

The latest Troy Rising storyline starts slow with a deep but irrelevant look into relationships in various cultures before finally turning back into the war of the solar systems.  When the plot returns to its military science fiction theme, the tale goes into hyperspeed as readers anticipate the deadly confrontation that affirms Stalin’s commentary: “When one man dies it is a tragedy, when thousands die it’s statistics.” 

 

Harriet Klausner

The Gift of Fire / On the Head of a Pin: Two Short Novels from Crosstown to Oblivion

April 27, 2012

The Gift of Fire / On the Head of a Pin: Two Short Novels from Crosstown to Oblivion

Walter Mosley

Tor, May 8 2012, $24.99

ISBN: 9780765330086

 

“The Gift of Fire.”  Prometheus escapes from Zeus’ divine punishment for his betrayal with The Gift of Fire to the mortals.  Though Prometheus knows he should plead with Pluto or Neptune for asylum, he refuses to cower.  Instead he hides as a human in Los Angeles with plans to give the second gift.  Cops greet him by beating him.  Soon afterward he calls himself Foreman Prospect and meets wino Nosome Blane who agrees to take the big man around the city.  After facing a judge, Foreman continues his trek around South Central.

 

“On the Head of a Pin.”  At Jennings-Tremont Enterprises, Joshua Winterland and Ana Fried are developing an animatronics editing technique to create movies that contain the same quality as live filming.  Their method will enable the perfect blending of dead superstars with the top talent of today.  However, neither is prepared for the final cut on their footage that denotes a new reality.

 

Somewhat different in tone, these are two superb urban fantasy novellas share in common a focus on mankind’s relatively short and low stature in the universe.  This leads to a degree of separation between an African-American wino and a billionaire oil man being insignificant in the expanding realm of the big bang.  Intelligent, readers will appreciate this fine two-story collection as Walter Mosley makes it look Easy switching from mystery to fantasy.

 

Harriet Klausner

Spellcrossed-Barbara Ashford

April 26, 2012

Spellcrossed

Barbara Ashford

Daw, Jun 5 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780756407292

 

In Vermont, after she freed Rowan Mackenzie from the earthbound curse and enabled him to return to Faerie, former actress Maggie Graham replaced him as director of the non-profit Crossroards Theatre.  The summer stock season has been difficult on her because of the cast.  The professionals are an obnoxious group scornful of Maggie and nasty towards the bewildered amateurs while the children seem like an out of control army.

 

She considers using the magic she found at the converted old barn, but knows her first mission is selling tickets to get her boss out of her theater.  However, ignoring the magic proves an unviable option as she finds herself drawn into a past personal mystery that needs resolution before the first curtain call.

 

The second Graham Vermont fantasy (see Spellcast) is an engaging whimsical witty tale due to Maggie who casts a spell on readers.  The charming storyline is fast-paced while the musical numbers bring the freshness from the previous entry as the heroine is the sideline general rather than the on stage participant.  Barbara Ashford provides a magical tale that readers will enjoy..

 

Harriet Klausner