This Broken World

Courtesy of Amazon.comI don’t think I’ve reviewed any of the Damian Vesik books by Eric R. Asher yet, but This Broken World is the fourth and latest in that series. Damian Vesik is a necromancer and in this world necromancers are treated with a certain amount of suspicion but they aren’t necessarily outright evil. Damian is one of the good guys.

He owns an occult shop somewhere in Missouri (can’t remember the name of the town but I think it’s somewhere around St. Joseph’s?). His sister is a vampire (these vamps can be out in the daytime if they’re strong enough a la Dracula. No sparkling, thank god), his shop is home to a family of faeries (one of whom he considers as a surrogate mother. His own mother is alive and well but doesn’t really understand his world) and two cu siths (fae dogs).

In this book, he’s facing a war with a necromancer so old and powerful that he was considered a god at one point? Which god? Well that would be Anubis. I know you’re thinking that it should really be Osiris (okay, maybe that’s just me being my Ancient Egyptian mythology nerd) but Anubis is good enough a choice. Anubis is a slightly darker figure in Egyptian mythology, so it fits better with this bad guy than Osiris really would be.

Anubis issued a challenge to Vesik in the last book. Meet him and fight at Gettysburg or face the consequences. Damian has to rally his people and learn how to channel his growing powers while trying to dodge the commoners (humans who don’t know that the magical world exists) who are getting suspicious (news outlets and the like).

I enjoy these books and this one was no exception. Its very well written and you care about what happens to the characters. The only thing I don’t like is that Damian Vesik has to do all the heavy lifting (he’s expected to save the world after all) but the people who are supposed to be giving him the tools to do so (his mentor Zola and another ancient necromancer called alternately the Old Man or Leviticus) kind of just give him bits and pieces at a time. He’s a mushroom and they’re feeding him just enough to make him grow the way they want. That frustrates the crap out of me (and Vesik).

At any rate, these books are definitely worth the read, especially if you’re fond of the Dresden Files or the Jane Yellowrock novels. Rating: B+

Free Agent

Courtesy of goodreads.comSo I picked up this book Free Agent by J.C. Nelson because it said it was book 1 of the Grimm Agency series. I thought that the idea of a Grimm (as in the brothers) Agency sounded interesting. And it was an interesting read.

We get introduced to Marissa Locks (as in Goldi) who is an agent for fairy godfather Grimm (no first name). She’s chasing down someone who has stolen a pair of glass slippers. Apparently if a godfather or godmother grants you a magical item, such as glass slippers, the magic will work perfectly for you until midnight (natch). But if you steal said item, it will turn you into a slavering monster at midnight (…natch).

Marissa’s job is to retrieve objects like this, to set up princesses with princes and pretty much do anything else Grimm asks of her since her parents sold her to him for a miracle cure for their youngest (and only biological) daughter. The interesting thing about this world is that there is a Kingdom (where all the high society lives) and it is sort of an overlay (or maybe underlay) to the mortal world. I don’t recall them naming the city it overlays, but I’m assuming its New York because it’s always New York. So there are actual princes and princesses in this place not just princely people.

After retrieving the slippers, Marissa has to play the “wrong woman” again. This means she has to go out, find the appointed prince, break his heart and set him up to find his one, true, princessly love. I had issue with this bit because why does a princess need a prince? Or vice versa.

But people pay good Glitter (the currency of the Kingdom) to get their happily ever after so Marissa makes that happen. Unfortunately for her, this time she screws up though we find out in time that it isn’t really her fault. A fairy godmother is trying to move in on Grimm’s territory, which is usually a no-no. And since fairy magic cancels each other out, neither fairy can go up against each other directly. Meaning its Marissa to the rescue.

I found a few of the things in this book just “ugh, why?”, mainly the whole setting up princesses for marriage thing. Now, I am happily married but I also believe that a woman doesn’t need to be married to have a fulfilling life. Or a man for that matter. But since we’re dealing with fairy tales here, obviously happily ever afters involve marriage or one true loves so I guess I’ll give it a pass.

I like the concept of Glitter being currency and the idea that fairy tale creatures are among us, if only just slightly off, like you need to turn sideways to see them. Its interesting and I’m tempted to get the follow up book but I’m afraid that Marissa is going to go damsel in distress as so many women do in fairy tale based stories. Nothing bugs me more than a strong woman suddenly needing a man to do everything for her when a romantic interest comes into her life.

All in all, it was an entertaining read. Rating: B+.

The Aeronaut’s Windlass

Courtesy of jim-butcher.comOne of my all time favorite authors wrote a steampunk story. I fan girled. I got to meet him and get an autographed copy of said book. I fan girled. Then I read the book…and I sighed. I have to admit that I was a little disappointed in Jim Butcher’s The Aeronaut’s Windlass.

It isn’t what I would properly call steampunk. It had a lot of the same themes as steampunk: a highly stratified society, aeroships, aether, copper/brass doohickies. It was not clear whether this was some sort of alternate earth time line or some alternate planet. A no point were any recognizable human countries from the Victorian age mentioned.

All humans, and cats, live in these giant Borg cubes (and yes, that is straight from the horse’s mouth) called Spires. They are 10,000 feet high by two miles wide. Each level in the cube is 50 feet in height and referred to as a habble. The top habble occupied mostly by the top families, who are rather like the English nobility.

The main power source seems to be crystals rather than steam, which I thought was cool and not nearly as noisy. It doesn’t seem like women are at all treated like arm candy, which is pretty opposite of Victorian England, you must admit.

Cats can communicate, but only if the human is “smart” enough to realize that they’re talking. They’re also assholes but…so are real cats. There is also a caste (not really a caste system but the best word I can come up with at the moment) of humans called warriorborn. From what I can tell, they’re some sort of half-human, half-cat like creature as cats call them half-souls.

I think my favorite characters are the ethrealists, which are mad to a one. And by mad I mean Mad Hatter sort of mad.  They’re powerful but doofy. Master Ferus, one of the ethrealists, has a problem with door knobs. He can’t open them. It’s a nice little running gag.

Since the book only came out about a week or so ago, I’ll just give a brief overview. So possible SPOILERS here.

This book features five people other than the ethrealist Master Ferus: Captain Francis Madison Grimm (often called the grim captain by Ferus), Gwendolyn Lancaster of House Lancaster (who control the crystal vatteries in Spire Albion), her cousin Benedict Sorellin-Lancaster, Bridget Tagwynn (who speaks cat) and Folly (apprentice ethrealist).

Gwen and Bridget are new inductees into the Spirearch Guard of Spire Albion (there are several Spires, not just this one). The Spirearch is like the king and the guard are his, well, guard. They’re the police force and the fighting force  for the spire. Benedict has been a guard for two years already and is enjoying being one up on his cousin on the reg.

Grimm is the aeronaut with a bad past. He was drummed out of Fleet for cowardice, even though it clearly wasn’t him. He was the patsy. Still, he has his own ship, The Predator, no matter how badly damaged so he’s his own man.

Due to a surprise attack from Spire Aurora, our unlikely allies are gathered together by the Spirearch as the only people he can really trust. Mostly because they’ve all given them lip at some point, I think. At any rate, he has a mission for them to Habble Landing, where the majority of the Spire’s commerce takes place. Habble Landing, naturally enough, houses the docks and is the likely place for any further Auroran attacks.

The writing is good. If I didn’t know who had written it, I probably would have guessed Jim Butcher. But. It wasn’t what I would term a good steampunk novel. I would really classify this as just a fantasy novel. I think that’s where my disappointment stems from. I’ve read and enjoyed so much steampunk that I have an expectation of what it should be like, and this book isn’t it.

I would say that if you want to read this one, go into it thinking of it as a fantasy novel and not a steampunk novel. Don’t box yourself into a set of expectations. However, I would also say, wait until it comes down a little in price if you want to buy it. Rating: B-. I’ll probably read any follow up books, but I’m not sure if I’ll read this one again.

Killing Pretty

Courtesy of goodreads.comI love the Sandman Slim novels. Richard Kadrey’s writing reminds me of a mix of Simon R. Green’s evocative descriptions and Jim Butcher’s snark peppered with a hint of the dystopian. A hint is all I need really, I’m not generally a person who reads full on dystopian books.

The latest Sandman Slim is Killing Pretty. This book picks up where the last one left off, pretty directly. Stark is resented by a lot of angels, his girlfriend Candy is ‘dead’ (she was ‘killed’ pretty spectacularly in front of a lot of cops but it was a fake out. A glamour making her a Japanese woman is all that keeps her safe these days) and he no longer has access to the room of 13 doors. This is the major bummer as that was his big trick, the one he relied on more than anything to help him figure out what was going on.

But the big thing is that someone has killed Death. Or rather, they managed to stuff the Angel of Death into a body and then kill that body. It didn’t take, so Death crawled out of where the body was and went to Stark for help. Because he’s working as a PI for a woman who used to be a marshal, she ends up working the case.

This is the big case, the name maker that will make sure that she and Stark remain in business. Because while Death is stuck in the body of a mortal, people aren’t dying. It’s a little Torchwood Children of Earth, honestly, but the mechanics of what’s going on at least make a little sense in this universe.

I highly recommend this whole series, and this is a pretty good one. You don’t need to read the whole series for this to make sense but there are a number of callbacks to prior novels that make more sense if you’ve read them. I do know that this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea so be warned there is a lot of cussing and graphic violence, as one would expect with Sandman Slim. Rating: A