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.

Gooseberry Bluff

Courtesy of Amazon.comI stumbled upon Gooseberry Bluff Community College of Magic by David J. Schwartz through one of those Amazon Daily deals. I think. I can’t quite remember but it was uber cheap and I was intrigued. I believe that before that, it was one of Amazon’s new book serials, like Indexing. Oh, there’s a follow up to Indexing too, which I’m waiting to get all chapters before reading. I find that though I’ve found two (hopefully three) good books through the serials, it can get confusing reading it one chapter at a time.

At any rate, Gooseberry Bluff was complete when I read it. This is an alternate earth type place where magic is known. The point of turning from our earth and this earth seems to be legendary nutjob, Aleister Crowley. In this world, Crowley brought magic and magical beings into the world view by using demons to end WWII. Interesting take on that, I felt.

Our protagonist is a young agent for the Federal Bureau of Magical Affairs, Joy Wilkins. Joy has a very interesting condition called prosopagnosia. If you don’t want to click the link (just wikipedia, y’all), then let me sum up by saying that she has facial blindness. She can’t recognize herself in the mirror, let alone anyone else. The one plus side she does have is that she can read people’s auras, so she can remember people by that. If she couldn’t, people would probably think that she was rude, forgetful or even faking.

Joy is sent to Gooseberry Bluff Community College of Magic in Wisconsin to look into demon trafficking, which they think is connected to events called Heartstoppers. Heartstoppers is the massive, unexplained deaths of everyone in a certain mile radius, which varies from attack to attack. The bureau thinks that demons are involved, but they don’t know how. They also think that the trafficking is happening through the community college and may be linked to a missing teacher.

Joy goes in undercover as a teacher taking over for the one who is missing. Its her first real assignment and right from the off, everything goes wrong. Her mentor and supervisor is found dead, her new supervisor is clearly a misogynist who doesn’t trust her (never got a good reason for that other than she’s a woman, which…ugh) and she’s drawn into some screwball local secret society that may or may not be involved with the attacks.

Joy has to save herself, save the town and possibly save the planet while trying to figure out who killed her mentor and who is behind the demon attacks. And while this is clearly a first book, because it’s a little choppy, I thought it was fun enough that I keep hoping for a sequel. The characters are interesting and not what you’d expect. Joy is a young African-American woman with the aforementioned (and rare) disability. There’s a teacher who is cursed, a powerful girl who doesn’t know she’s powerful, a drunken magical duelist and someone/thing who may or may not be a god.

It was a good mix and I enjoyed reading it quite a bit. I’d recommend picking it up if you’re looking for a bit of light reading, which I would recommend to break up the chewiness of the Mistborn trilogy. Rating: A. I also highly recommend checking out the Amazon serials. You subscribe to a book for about $3 and you get a new chapter every couple weeks. You’ll end up with a full length novel for about half the price of most of their books if you just have a little patience.

Trick of the Light

I love writer Rob Thurman. She’s got two great series, Cal Leandros and her Trickster series. Her first book in the second, but interconnected, series is Trick of the Light. Starring trickster paien Trixa Iktomi, this series takes place in Las Vegas. Because of course. Where better for a trickster (or two) to pull their tricks.

Trixa owns a dive bar in Las Vegas with her best friend and bartender Leo Rain. Leo looks like a very large Native American man but don’t let that fool you, he’s probably the most infamous trickster in history. I’ll give you a hint: He’s Norse. The two of them take great pleasure in foiling the plans of the city’s demon population. Demons as in fallen-angel type demons. They’re everywhere in Vegas which…duh, really. Makes perfect sense.

At any rate, Trixa and Leo keep their heads moderately down, doing just enough to have their fun and play on whatever Trixa’s long game is, because she does the long con like no-one’s business. They took two young orphans under their tutelage some years before, two now young men named Zeke and Griffin. These two young men are a telepath and an empath, respectively. And they very much enjoy killing demons. They do, in fact, do it professionally.

In this book, Trixa gets herself in a position of having to find an extremely powerful artifact called the Light of Life. In the wrong hands (see: Demons), it could be utterly devastating. In the right hands (hers, naturally), it could be a savior. The paien get hunted by demons and this Light could provide them with an impenetrable safe haven.

I loved this book because it kept me guessing the whole time. And the finale was amazing. I love a book that can surprise me to the end. I highly, highly recommend both this and its follow up Grimrose Path. In fact, I think I will go ahead and re-read these both. 🙂 I hope Rob Thurman writes more of these because I love Trixa. Rating: A+

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.

 

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. 🙂

Drynn

Drynn is a book I stumbled across on Amazon while looking for something new to read. Written by Steve Vera, it throws small town Montana sheriff Skip Walkins into a world he is not at all prepared for. See, entombed in this small town cemetery is a nasty, extra-dimensional bad guy/demon type named Asmodeus the Pale. This bad guy was entombed by a number of mage warriors from his dimension (called Theia) called Shardyn knights.

These Shardyn were trapped on Earth after defeating Asmodeus because Earth has no magic. Thinking that, they made lives for themselves among humans and hoped to find a way back. Except something happened. A killer by the name of Donovan (not sure why that seems strange to me but it does) makes his way to this small town in Montana for some reason he doesn’t fully comprehend. See, Donovan was legally dead for some time and when he came back, he came back changed.

Something about Asmodeus called Donovan to Montana, where he inadvertently released the demon. So Skip has to chase both demon and Donovan across the country. Asmodeus wants revenge on the the Shardyn knights and he’ll stop at nothing.

All in all, I was really surprised by this book. Some of the characterizations were a little ham-fisted I thought. Skip not only gave up a life as a good detective with Philly PD, he also happened to be a crack sniper for the Marines! Of course! But I was pleased to see that while there was a bit of sexual tension there was no actual sex! An urban fantasy book with no sex! Holy shit, I’m hallucinating. Now, I have nothing against sex but it is nice to see that an author can go without it.

Vera left the end of the book in a way that clearly says he is looking to continue in at least one more story.  And I am actually looking forward to it. So it was a good read and cheap on Amazon Kindle but Vera could use a little polishing as a writer. Rating: B.

Ever After!

Aaaaaaaaaaaaand I’m back. I’ve been away a while because I’ve been re-reading the Harry Potter series. Again. 🙂 At any rate, I’ve just read the new Hollows novel, Ever After by Kim Harrison. When is the next one coming out? Cause seriously, this one was good. It wasn’t really as frustrating as those early books were. Since this book has just recently come out, you are warned that HERE BE SPOILERS.

Rachel Morgan, our leading lady, has actually changed! She doesn’t rush head long in to dangerously stupid (or stupidly dangerous) situations. Thank god. That was really annoying. And she’s actually learned that she can get help from people! Oh my god! Okay, enough with the sarcasm (maybe).

In this book, she’s in trouble because a ley line that she accidentally created (which makes it her responsibility) is leaking ever after (the place where the demons live and allows for magic to be used). Only it isn’t her fault. True she created the line but someone has cursed it, causing the ever after leakage. That person (well, demon really) is the creepy Ku’Sox that demon she bested a few books ago. He is out for revenge in a big way.

Ku’Sox uses Rachel’s ex-boyfriend (who hasn’t appeared in a while) Nick Sparagamos as a familiar. Nick wants revenge on Rachel in a big way…though I can’t really remember why. I’d be tempted to go back and re-read those early books if Rachel Morgan wasn’t so god damn irritating in them. At any rate, Nick (or crap-for-brains as Jenks calls him) is abducting witch children with Rosewood Syndrome, the same deadly disease that Rachel had as a child. And if they’re cured, they will become day walking demons just like Rachel.

Not only that, but Ku’Sox kidnaps Trent Kalamack’s child Lucy as leverage. Trent is the only one who knows the complete Rosewood cure. So Rachel has to get the babies, get Lucy and stop the ever after from shrinking. And if she doesn’t? Oh the usual…death by Newt (the only other female demon, not the lizard).

I won’t go into too much detail but I really, really enjoyed this one. Rachel is finally, finally becoming a fully fleshed out character. And she finally freaking kissed Trent! I’ve been waiting for that to happen for several books now. I’m am really looking forward to the next one, whenever it may be released. Totally worth the read. I might even re-read it. Rating: solid A.

Niki Slobodian

So I just read three books by author J.L. Murray. These were cheap on Amazon, so they were a little bit shorter than something you might see from a more established writer such as Kim Harrison or Jim Butcher. Still, they were rather interesting.

The first book is Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. Niki (Nikita) Slobodian, as you might have guess from the post title, is the main character. Niki is of Ukranian (I think) descent. Her father is a mobster of some sort. Because aren’t all Ukranians(*SARCASM ALERT*)? At any rate, Niki is one of a minority of people called Abnormals (or Abbies for short). Abnormals are people with unusual abilities. They are also deemed criminals by this world’s standards. It’s a bit McCarthy-esque with a Registry and everything. Or perhaps X-Men-esque.

Niki can see ghosts and help them cross over. Niki had been placed on this Abnormal after a grand show trial. She was essentially put on trial because her father was the first ever Abnormal placed on trial for being Abnormal and like father like daughter. Being on the Abnormal Registry, she isn’t allowed to hold a job so things are getting rather tough financially and her godmother, Sofi, is undergoing chemo.  Its a desperate situation.

That’s when she stumbles upon a bar in the middle of a sketchy industrial area called The Deep Blue Sea. Inside the bar is the bar keeper (Janis) and one man, Sam. Sam has a deal for Niki. He has a job he needs done. He can’t do it, but she can. In exchange, she’ll get her name off the Registry, get her guns back and a hefty payment. Wary but needing the cash and wanting her name back, Niki agrees and gets saddled with an Abnormal partner named Bobby Gage.

Bobby is a Caster. He can cast any number of spells so long as he can find the proper books to read from. Niki and Bobby need to find something, a creature from hell called a Dark. So far as I can figure, Darks are a bit like the Dark Phoenix creature from the Marvel Universe. Darks are spirit beings that can possess humans (and Abnormals) and make them do anything, even against their will. Darks will do anything to, so long as they enjoy it. That enjoyment tends to be more death and dismemberment than a trip to the water park.

Niki and Bobby have to find this Dark, which could be in anyone, and return it to hell. So they have to follow the trail of destruction and death until they can finally figure out how to trap it. Once they find it and get rid of it, the Dark turns out to have been just a distraction from the real deal. A high level demon named Abbadon is trying to get a foothold in the world…with the help of Niki’s father.

How will she deal with this new threat? What is going to happen with her father? And just who, exactly, is Sam? Well, we get at least two out of three answers at the end of the book. 🙂 As I said before, it is a little shorter than an established author’s books might be but it has promise. And I bought the following two books which I will review shortly. So I’ll rate this a solid B. For 3 bucks, it isn’t a bad little read.

Devil in the Dollhouse

Oh Richard Kadrey. Please keep writing Sandman Slim stories. I do adore them. 🙂 The Devil in the Dollhouse is a Sandman Slim short story. It focuses on Stark’s first few interactions in Hell as the new Lucifer. He’s trying to play all factions against the middle so that no one remembers that Stark was just a plain old human rather than a fallen angel like the rest of them.

One of his advisors (name is eluding me at the moment but I’m sure if you looked up demonology on the web, you’d come across it), convinces him that something needs to be done about what is essentially Hell’s out-house. And not in a bathroom sort of way. Well actually, it is that too come to think…Anyway, this area is supposed to hold demons and souls so bad they give other demons the heebie-jeebies.

Stark is good at kicking ass but he’s not very good at politicking or out thinking his opponents so he’s basically talked into this trek.  There are three rings of challenges to get through, each hard than the last but they weren’t really physical challenges so much as mental/emotional ones.

Turns out these challenges weren’t so much keeping demons out as keeping the uber-scary demons in. And rather than demons it is demon, singular. He claims to be the original Lucifer, the one who was the original cast out. Well, considering that there is a Sandman Slim full sized novel due out in a couple weeks, you can hazard a guess as to who wins this showdown.  😀 Anyway, loved the story because it whetted my appetite for more Sandman Slim. Read it. A

A Perfect Blood

**SPOILERS**

So I just plowed through Kim Harrison’s latest Rachel Morgan novel, A Perfect Blood. It was good and yet in parts of it I wanted to wring the main character’s neck. We’ve had quite a few of these books and apparently Rachel Morgan still goes off half-cocked with no plan and no back up only to be surprised when she gets captured by the baddies!

In this book, she’s essentially spayed herself magically speaking because she’s afraid of how people will treat her as a full powered demon. Not to mention she doesn’t want to live permanently in the ever after with Al and the other wacko demons. So for half the book or so we watch Rachel trying to continue working as she had before…but without any of her demon abilities because while she’s come out as a demon, apparently she just mentally has not accepted that her life will change.

And now we have a new group of bad guys who, while clearly focusing on Rachel for something, are more into the destruction of anything non-human rather than Rachel specifically. This makes a nice change from the previous books where the bad guys seem intent on wiping Rachel out simple because she’s Rachel.

At any rate, her life is changing and she’s getting frustrated that she can’t keep up. Ivy and Jenks are moving on with their respective others and Rachel is just a bit jealous because she doesn’t have one. She’s trying to talk herself out of a clear crush on elf Trent Kalamak and I’m note entirely certain why. He’s a bit of a dick, sure, but he’s also helped her out of quite a bit of trouble. Those two need to shag and get it over with already.

Eventually Rachel reaches a breaking point where she HAS to regain her demon powers by removing her charmed silver bracelet. From there, she ends up kicking her ass in her usual Three Stooges way. Let’s face it, she can fight and she can spell but she really has little common sense. She never waits for backup and she purposefully limits herself by dampening her powers. I really do like these books but sometimes Rachel Morgan just seems a little too cliche to me.

Rating: BB+