Break Time

Okay, so the folks are out for Thanksgiving (US holiday for anyone outside the country). And due to someone trying to hack my debit card a few days ago, I might not have any new review materials for a week or so. I am still looking for recommendations. Urban fantasy and steampunk in particular. If anyone has suggestions, bring ’em on! ๐Ÿ™‚

Whitechapel Gods

Whitechapel Gods by S.M. Peters. It is very steampunk. But it’s not a comedic steampunk like I’m used to reading. I’d say it’s more like a 40s pulp or film noir type steampunk. So, some spoilers below I’m sure.

The area of Whitechapel (where Jack the Ripper wen on his infamous rampage) in London has been cut off from the rest of Britain by a wall and two mechanical gods, Grandfather Clock and Mama Engine. I don’t think Peters ever said for sure how these creatures came to Whitechapel or what exactly their purpose was. Other than making the residents of Whitechapel miserable that is.

The book focuses on the rebellion against Grandfather Clock and Mama Engine. The humans that aren’t cowed and whipped into submission (for whatever reason), are trying to destroy the two so-called gods. There are severe health problems among the residents of Whitechapel that includes lung disease (from breathing the severely sooty air) and a condition called the Clacks, where humans are invaded by mechanics because of the two Gods. Humans are also, apparently, the fuel for Mama Engine. Yum.

At any rate, the book follows various groups of rebels and collaborators as they attempt to either bring down one or both of the gods. Peters tends to jump around from group to group but he does fairly well in keeping it from getting confusing, which I appreciate. Not every writer can do that.

Over all, I rather enjoyed the book. I think the grittiness and seriousness of the story was very much in tune with how the lives of Victorian industrial workers would be. Some steampunk books ignore the fact that Victorian England was a gritty, sooty place where fog turned yellow from coal dust and where there was a severely huge gap between the haves and the have nots. Peters didn’t do this.

However, I would have liked to know where these two so-called gods came from, what it was they were working toward and what the British government’s response was to suddenly losing a portion of it’s city. So Whitechapel Gods is certainly worth the read but don’t go expecting those sorts of answers. B-

Archangel’s Consort

I rather like the Archangel books by Nalini Singh. They’re a very novel take on vampires and angels. One of the latest books is Archangel’s Consort. The plot is intriguing but I was rather disappointed by all the sex. Yeah, that’s right. The first book was rife with UST (unresolved sexual tension) between Guild Hunter Elena and Archangel Raphael. It took them a long time to get to the sex. In the second book, they were constricted because of Elena’s injuries. In this book, there wasn’t any constrictions and the sex didn’t move the plot along. At all. There could have been much, much less of it and the book would be better off.

That being said, it was interesting to see the introduction of Raphael’s mother, Caliane. Caliane, and an unknown number of ancient archangels, are in a state called Sleep. Yes with a capital S. It seems that when these immortals get bored they basically hibernate until they’re no longer bored or have cured whatever injury or madness has ailed them. And unfortunately, Caliane was mad when she hibernated.

When a Sleeper awakes, the power of the individual will set off calamities around the world. Strange weather patterns, earthquakes, tidal waves and even aberrant behavior in vampires and angels. Even archangels.ย  Since it is impossible for anyone to know who is waking with certainty, Raphael fears that it is his mother and that she is still mad. If she is, he would have to try and kill her. In this arc, no maddened angel or vampire is allowed to live. The trouble being, how does one kill an archangel who is a good fifty thousand years old an immeasurably powerful.

That is why fellow archangel Lijuan tries to convince Raphael to kill his mother before she wakes, in violation of one of angel kind’s deepest and oldest taboos. Unfortunately, Lijuan has ‘evolved’ into something that is far more demonic than angelic and therefore does not exude trustworthiness.

In any case, the story itself is quite interesting. If the sex had been toned down, I’d have given it an A, as it is I’ll have to give it a B because it annoyed me. There is more to urban fantasy than just sex. Look at The Dresden Files or The Nightside books. Sex is sprinkled in sparingly and they are awesome.

Sandman Slim

So I just picked up the new Sandman Slim novel Aloha From Hell and I realized that I didn’t review the last two books. The books are written by Richard Kadfrey and are sort of an old fashioned pulp mystery mixed with urban fantasy. The first novel was Sandman Slim (surprising, I know).

Sandman Slim’s name is James Stark. He doesn’t particularly like either moniker. Mostly he gets called Stark. You don’t really want to like him. He murders, he tortures, he cusses. He’s a thief. And he can walk through shadows and do magic. Stark has spent the last decade or so in Hell. And that isn’t a metaphor. He was the only living human in the whole of Hell. And he was the favored toy/gladiator of the Hellions, right up to Lucifer himself. When you’re immortal, new things are always fun.

We’re introduced to Stark as he wakes up in a flaming garbage pile in LA. This might be a bit redundant. ๐Ÿ˜‰ His first act is to roll a guy for his clothes and money. The only thing on his mind is to kill the men who sent him down in the first place, people he’d once considered friends. In the mean time, he manages to pick up some new friends that include a 200 year old alchemist, a young woman working the counter at a video store, an archangel masquerading as a doctor and his assistant, a Jade named Candy. Jades areย  a cross between vampires and spiders. They liquify the innards of their victims and suck it up.

His main focus is a man named Mason, the one who was personally responsible for sending Stark to Hell in the first place. The only problem is getting to him. He’s rich, he’s magically powerful and he’s more than slightly psychotic and paranoid. Not to mention the thug he has protecting him. Stark is definitely an anti-hero, but he’s good at it.

If you like darker, grittier books, this is one you should definitely pick up. Rating: A+