Brakebills: Hogwarts Lite for America

Courtesy of goodreads.comSo SyFy has this fun new show called the Magicians that is based on a trilogy of the same name by Lev Grossman. The first book in the trilogy is also called The Magicians and it features a late teen boy (17-18) named Quentin Coldwater who lives in Brooklyn and is insanely smart. Like in a school of smart people where he and his friends are all Hermione Grangers. And yes, these sorts of schools do exist and the kids that come out of them are crazy, crazy smart…though not very well versed in social interactions.

I’ve really been enjoying the TV show and I have to admit…I was a little disappointed in the book. This first book is Quentin taking a test and getting into a school for magic. No, not Hogwarts but Brakebills. Brakebills is on the Hudson River in upstate New York and is, essentially, Hogwarts lite.

You enter a campus that no none magic person can find. Magic interferes with technology. You’re not allowed to tell anyone about magic (statute of secrecy!) and you get sorted into a house…I mean, specialty. Seriously, there’s a sorting process, but it’s a not until second or third year so it isn’t exactly like Hogwarts.

Oh, and there’s also an incomprehensible but internationally adored wizard game! Luckily this is some weird form of chess called welters and not something involving broomsticks. There’s also a Hermione Granger (Alice…something) and a Ron Weasley (Eliot…something) and a number of other brave but insignificant character that may play a larger role later on. We’ll have to wait and see.

I think the second book will be more interesting, or at least I’m hoping. There was no real conflict in this book. It was just Quentin being insecure and learning magic. Even HP and the Sorcerer’s Stone had Voldemort show up at the end. Imagine of in that book, Voldemort had never shown up and Harry just had a regular school year. Yeah, not that interesting.

But, seeing as I plunked down 30 bucks for the trilogy (the sample was interesting enough that I thought the first book would have just a little more oomph), I’m really hoping that it’ll get better.  I’m guessing that this is Grossman’s first book. It has potential but he didn’t really need that much character building. Rating: C

Return of the High Fae

Courtesy of Amazon.comReturn of the High Fae by by Tom Keller is the first in the Vegas Fae story arc. And I don’t think I’m going to read the rest. It wasn’t bad, per se, but it read like an episode of Scooby-Doo. It felt just entirely too tropey.

The story is written in the first person from the perspective of our protagonist (natch). Wouldn’t it be interesting to see a story written in first person but from the perspective of, say, a second in command? I digress. So our male lead is a PI named Robert Hoskins. And because of that, I pictured Eddie Valiant the entire time I read this.

Good old Bob is an older gent, former cop with two kids he doesn’t see all that often and a ranch on the outskirts of Vegas. We’re introduced to him as he saves a likely mobster named Eddy Milagre from a kidnapping. During the thank you for saving my life what can I do to repay you portion of the book, Milagre’s mom (I think?) discovers that Bobby is in fact a fae. And a powerful one. Of course.

As is the way of things, Mr. Hoskins is all I have no idea what you’re on but can I please leave with them, and gets out of the meet and greet with all fingers and toes attached. I did mention this is pretty tropey right? So Bob goes about his life until he starts seeing weird people around. He meets a Lilith, a vampire who’s not a vampire (seriously, all the tropes) and some other fae.

He finds out from his German aunt, who can walk through trees because faeries that yes, he really is a fae. And not only that, he’s a High Fae. From what I can tell this is like the faerie nobility, the strongest and most revered blood in the fae world. This, of course, leads him to all sorts of trouble but on the plus side, he’s deaged! He’s now a twenty-five year old instead of a 50 something. Though his friends and family will still see what they expect to see.

There seemed to be several different storylines trying to weave together in this story but unfortunately, it came out entirely discombobulated. I think Keller should have first done a coming into the powers/world of the fae story, either as an introductory novel or even just as a novella or short story. Then he should have done the saving the damsel from her horrible life story followed by the fighting a High Fae bad guy story. There were a lot of Oh hay did we mention this moments.

I found this world poorly built and the characters not compelling in the least. I think my favorite one was the dog, because who doesn’t love dogs? And every once in awhile, I see the second book in the story for cheap on Amazon and I pause…but it isn’t really worth it. Maybe if it were a buck or free. Even then, I think I’d rather re-read a Dresden Files book where the fae are awesome.

Not even Vegas as a background could save this book. If I wanted Scooby-Doo, I’d watch Scooby-Doo (which I love, admittedly). I prefer a book where I can’t guess the ending by the third chapter. Rating: C-.

Destroyer Rising

from daysgonebad.comI’ve been reading the Damian Vesik series by Eric R. Asher for a while now, and they don’t disappoint. Damian is a necromancer and now, since the events of the last book, a lot more than that. People have been bandying about that he’s a god now, a new Anubis.

This book doesn’t go too into depth on that aspect of things, just hints here and there. But in Destroyer Rising, we see Damian doing his damnedest to get over the seeming betrayal of his adopted fae mother, Cora (she was the fae king’s wife and she’d never mentioned that at all to anyone) and trying to rescue ghost girl Vicky.

Being a ghost, Vicky normally wouldn’t need rescuing. Unfortunately, she got in the wrong way of a very powerful demon. This demon is trying to use her to ascend to the mortal world. If that happens, it would be bad news for everyone. Humans are already on edge from the rise of the fae city Falias in the middle of America. Rightly so, since it resulted in the deaths of over a million people, all of whose spirits are swirling around in Damian’s head at the moment.

With the help of his mentor Zola, his sister Sam and his demon friend Mike, Damian has to navigate the Burning Lands to find the demon, perform a complex spell that no living person has ever cast and do it all in the span of about 12-18 hours.

This whole series is pretty darn good but I think this might be the best of the lost. Damian is in a bad place, but he still fights his way through it for the people he loves. I don’t know how many books are left in this series, but I really can’t wait for the next one. I can’t recommend them enough. And it’s so rare to see a necromancer as a good guy. It makes a refreshing change. Rating: A.

Crescent City Fae

Courtesy of Deannachase.comI love New Orleans. It’s an awesome city with tons of interesting history. Also, beignets. Mmmm. So when I see a book set in Nola, I tend to give it a chance. I’m rather disappointed that I gave Influential Magic by Deanna Chase a chance.

This series revolves around a faerie named Willow Rhoswen (already with the really? feeling). She owns a cupcake shop in New Orleans. A magic cupcake shop. Literally because she weaves potions into her cupcakes. Some of which are dangerous enough to require a government license to purchase. It reminded me a little bit of what Professor Snape says in HP 1 about brewing glory and stoppering death.

At any rate, Willow is apparently allergic to vampires, which are rife in New Orleans. So naturally, she’s totally in love with one. To be fair, he wasn’t a vamp when they started dating. This guy was essentially ordered to date her, get close to her, because apparently her brother was some sort of fae big wig or something. That’s really unclear.

In fact, there was a surprising amount of this story that I felt just didn’t make sense. I’m assuming that this was the author’s first book because it was super Scooby-doo. Or maybe super Adam West Batman. I felt like the author tried to do plot twists but instead of being “oh wow, I didn’t see that coming” it was more of a “why did you do that?”.

I had to force myself to finish this book. Right away, the female lead wasn’t a character I enjoyed. She was trying to be the I can handle myself type and turned into the save me Prince Charming type. I really hate when that happens. It seems that a lot of books with strong female leads always end up with them falling all over themselves for one (or more) men.

I think what really, really bothered me about this one in particular is that it was clear that the man she was having feelings for had lied to her and manipulated her and yet she was still going oh but I still love him so! Am I the only person out there that would toss a guy (or gal if that’s your thing) out on their ass for being a lying bastard? Ugh.

It was an extremely disappointing book and I’m glad that the trilogy (I really should have just bought the first book *sigh*) was only three bucks on Amazon at the time I got it. And I was using a Christmas gift card.

Seriously, skip this series. If you want good urban fantasy or fantasy set in New Orleans, go for Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles and Mayfair Witches or Faith Hunter’s Jane Yellowrock series. Crescent City Fae…not so much. Rating: D.