A Fiend in Need

Oh where do I start? A Fiend in Need is written by Maureen Child. This is apparently the second book in the series. I won’t be going back to read the first one.  I’ll likely not read any sequels. And probably not any of her other books.

My issues:

-She wants to write her main character, Cassidy Burke, as some sort of new found slut (new found because she got preggers at 16 and has been a single mom until 32). She can’t write the word vagina. She insists on calling it hoo-hah. Really? You’re an adult woman. You’re likely writing for adults as well. You have no trouble writing penis but vagina gives you the heebie-jeebies? Grow up. Even if you don’t want to use the word vagina, you can use dozens of other words that are far more sexy than hoo-hah. There is a thesaurus online. Please try it.

-Cassidy is Buffy the Vampire Slayer if Buffy came into her powers on her 32nd birthday. Of course, she can’t call Cassidy that so she’s a “Demon Duster”. *facepalm* How about hunter? Executioner? Assassin? Butcher? Well…maybe not butcher. My point is random demons hissing out “Duster!” just doesn’t work for me.

-Cassidy is a cleaning lady. She finds demons by…squirting them with homemade Windex. It doesn’t kill the demons, but it burns.  Apparently the main ingredient is oregano. *sigh*

-Her human ex who knocked her up wants back in her life. She has a demon lover. Because not all demons are bad.

-Everybody in the town suddenly knows about demons. But no one talks about them. I have no idea why.

In this book, she place bodyguard to a hot (surprise, surprise) Faery. Turns out there are demon queens and the local demon queen wants to use this Faery as a sex slave because sex with a Faery pumps up whatever powers you have. Natch. The demon queen puts a hit out on Cassidy which, unfortunately, is not successful. The book is filled with a bunch of little fights which lead to the inevitable final showdown. The night before, Cassidy and the Faery do the horizontal mambo where in they ‘bond’ (sexy bond obviously) and the Faery dude gives all his power (and thereby his life) to Cassidy so she can beat the demon queen. And she does.

I had to force myself to finish this book but I was skimming by the end. It was something like 3.99 on Amazon. It isn’t worth it. Rating: D. I’m sure it appeals to someone out there. But if you want good quality urban fantasy, check out Jim Butcher or Simon R. Green.


Hazardous Goods

I am a big reader. I love Clive Cussler’s action/adventure stuff and I love urban fantasy and steampunk. The trouble is, I read very quickly and I often find that I have to wait months or a year to read the next novel in a series I’m reading (Dresden Files, the Hollows etc). Or a series has just ended (Sookie Stackhouse). So I have to troll through Amazon to find new stuff and often times have to go on very short preview chapters or just the descriptions of other people.

Sometimes I strike out. And sometimes I find a hidden gem like Hazardous Goods (Arcane Transport) by John Mackie. This book takes place in Toronto, Canada, which isn’t a place many if any of my urban fantasy books have taken place. It centers on a business called (*gasp*) Arcane Transport. They transport goods and items for businesses in the Toronto area. This can be a great many items from small to large.

Donnie Elder has just lost his job is the normal world. Coming to his aid is an old family friend who runs a transport service a la FedEx or UPS but smaller. This man is getting up there in years and is looking for a junior partner who is eventually going to take over the business. Enter Donnie.

Donnie is very much a skeptic. He doesn’t believe in magic or the things they transport. His business partner takes him on his first rounds in the business and unluckily enough, they get robbed. It puts the elder man in the hospital and puts Donnie in charge.

So now there are shenanigans of the new-to-the-job-and-finding-magic-is-real types. Add to that the fact that Donnie is bound and determined to get the stolen item back, then you have a sort of detective without the detective training thing going on.

It was an interesting first book and it has potential. It was, unfortunately, short so I blew threw it in a manner of hours. 🙂 So I’d rate it a solid B. There’s another book coming eventually but not soon enough.

Dead Ever After

You know you’re addicted to reading when you buy a brand new book and read it in a matter of hours (spread out over two days, but hey, I was trying and failing to pace myself). I just picked up Charlaine Harris’s Dead Ever After. Its being billed as the final Sookie Stackhouse novel but there is a follow up “coda” of sorts due out in October (After Dead).  Since Dead Ever After just came out recently, I’ll try not to go into too many details. However, there may be inadvertent SPOILERS.

So at the end of the last book, Sookie was forced to use her precious faerie brooch the cluviel dor to bring Sam Merlotte, her boss and best friend, back from the dead. His former lover had accidentally killed him while trying to off the Shreveport werewolf pack leader Alcide. Things did not end up good for the girl.

This book picks up the day after pretty much. Sam is in shock (obviously). And we learn that there are some people out to get Sookie Stackhouse for pretty much everything that she had done in the previous books. Eric is pissed at Miss Sookie for using the cluviel dor on Sam rather than on him and his marriage problem.

So Sookie has to sort out Sam while keeping herself alive. We get all the good old characters back: Mr. Cataliades, Diantha, Bob the (no longer) cat, Amelia Carmichael, Bellboy Barry and Quinn (albeit briefly). It was a very good book and if you like the Stackhouse series at all, you cannot miss the finale.

My pet peeves with the book even though I highly enjoyed it:
1) Eric went back to his old dickish self. I’d thought he’d changed in the last few novels but alas, he was your “typical” vamp in that change is hard and probably doesn’t come at all.
2) All too brief cameos by Quinn and Alcide. Almost wasn’t worth having them there at all
3) The bringing back of two relatively minor douchebags as major baddies bent on revenge.
4) Bit of an unnecessary side plot involving Copley Carmichael, Amelia’s dad. It introduced some whole new information that literally NO ONE in this universe knew about…and went absolutely nowhere with it. Perhaps this information will lead into some sort of spinoff series in this same universe?

At any rate, despite my little peeves, I really enjoyed the book. I’ll likely pick up the coda in October as well. Until then, I’m going to need to pick up more books. Rating: B+/A-. And remember, I welcome suggestions!

Black Magic

Normally I am not one for the sword-and-horse type of fantasy novel. I prefer urban fantasy but I’ve been tearing through books recently and the urban fantasy series that I’m reading are all waiting for new releases later on this year. So I picked out Black Magic by Megan Derr.

Black Magic is a very interesting story but I feel I should warn that this is a homosexual romantic fantasy novel. There is explicit male on male sex but oddly enough, not as much sex as I’ve seen in some hetero-romantic fantasy novels (I’m looking at you Anita Blake. You can put plot in with your porn you know). I don’t feel that this detracts from the story at all but it is not everyone’s cup of tea so be warned.

In this book, there are several classes of magic users: Paladins, Necromancers, Priests, Alchemists and Demons. There are non magic users as well but this is a fantasy novel so the magic users are the focus. Each class has what one might call ‘regulars’ (that is, averagely powered members) and ‘high’ (above averagely powered members).  Each of these classes except Alchemists have some sort of connection with a figure they refer to as the Goddess. She is the string puller of the tale.

High Paladin Sorin has discovered his the body of his cousin, a priest, in his chambers. Upset but needing to investigate, he goes to consult with the High Priest Angelos. High Priests are the ones most likely to have steady and clearer communication with the Goddess. They’ll get words and directions from her and not just feelings. Sorin should expect the arrival of someone “dark” to aid him in his quest to find his cousin’s killer.

Enter Necromancer Koray. Necromancers are feared and mistreated by the rest of society. They are badly misunderstood. What they do is put the dead (that is ghosts) to rest after battles and such. It costs them dearly in personal energy and not to mention the possibility of death from their fellow humans and demons. Koray has no trust for anyone, let alone Paladins of any stature.

Sorin stumbles upon Koray in the middle of the woods outside of the royal castle and convinces the Necromancer to come back with him (read, forces him). The Goddess has made it painfully clear (quite literally) to Sorin that Koray is the person he needs to solve the crime. She also makes it clear to Sorin that she is less than pleased with the way that he has been treating Necromancers who are merely doing her bidding…just like him.

Sorin and Koray show the people that Necromancers can be trusted even if Koray himself finds it hard to trust Sorin in return. They find the killer eventually (no spoilers on who) but not before he kills the High Priest. In the midst of this, we learn that Sorin’s second in command Emel is in love with a Demon. Demon’s ‘eat’ the energy (and sometimes the bodies) of other magic users but this demon is not the typical brainless, vicious demon. This demon loves Emel, can restrain himself from eating people and wants to be with his lover in peace.

At this point, Derr cuts to an exiled prince’s story in the neighboring kingdom. This kingdom has no Priests, Necromancers or Paladins. They have Alchemists who trap energy in vessels (commonly jewels) and who are property. (A lot of social commentary in this book if you haven’t noticed). Cerant is the exiled prince of the kingdom that Sorin serves. For months he has been suffering debilitating headaches without a clue as to why.

His has a would be lover and Alchemist, Neikirk, in his employ. Technically, Neikirk is Cerant’s property even if Cerant himself doesn’t think of Neikirk that way. Cerant keeps his hands to himself for a decade (I love it. I love that he could take advantage of the situation but doesn’t). At the end of the contract time, Neikirk finally finagles himself into Cerant’s bed due to mutual love and so of course, bad news comes.

The Goddess and events have conspired to bring Cerant out of exile. He travels back with Neikirk and get attacked by a new and very odd brand of demon. These demons are pure white or gray, marking them as sickly but no less dangerous. Cerant makes it back to the royal castle and thereupon finds himself marked as high priest with a new mystery to solve. What is behind these odd white demons and how can they be stopped?

Black Magic is a good book even if it is a bit oddly named. No one seemed to have done anything that might be considered as really black magic until the end of the book. And even then, there wasn’t a scene showing people working black magic. I would actually love to see a follow up to this, or several. I found the characters compelling and I really loved the acerbic Koray. Rating: A. I am actually sorely tempted to go right back and re-read it tomorrow. 🙂