Skinwalker: A Jane Yellowrock novel

Courtesy of Goodreads.comI’ve read all through the Jane Yellowrock series by Faith Hunter but I haven’t reviewed any of them yet, which is a shame because they’re really quite good books. The series starts out with¬†Skinwalker, which just happens to be what Jane is, though we don’t find that out right away. We’re introduced to our protagonist Jane Yellowrock as she rolls into New Orleans on her motorcycle, Bitsa. Bitsa is so named because she’s apparently made out of “bits of” other bikes. That tickled my fancy. ūüôā

At any rate, Jane is something of a mercenary/bounty hunter. She’s licensed to handle vamp problems, which include the right to kill them if necessary. Since vamps aren’t really citizens in this world, as yet, the US government isn’t terribly worried if you knock one off for bounty money. Vamps in this world are sort of considered foreign citizens and their compounds as foreign territory. The humans leave it up to them to police themselves because humans just can’t handle them for the most part.

And for their part, vamps police themselves very well. They¬†want to be accepted by human society. They want power that comes from being citizens, of holding property and earning money. So they don’t want to compromise that due to some nutso vamp going on some killing spree, which is what’s happening in New Orleans right now.

High powered vamp Katherine Fontanbleu has hired Jane to find a rogue vamp whose killing off not humans but other vamps. They don’t know who it is, don’t know how its killing the other vamps. They want it caught and they want it dead, which is where Jane comes in. Jane has specific requirements when she takes a job and Katherine readily agrees to them all with no argument, which rather puts Jane on edge.

Jane herself is Cherokee but with little memory of where she came from before the age of twelve when she was found wandering some woods. She was raised in an orphanage and that’s about what she knows. She knows, of course, that she’s a skinwalker and the last one to her knowledge but she keeps that from most everybody. She has few friends and no romantic entanglements and she likes it that way.

So naturally, within the course of a few days, she finds two hot guys in New Orleans that are her type and who light her fire but are also pretty suspicious fellows. She finds herself more than a little off balance with these two and the master of the city, Leo Pellisier, who is very interested in what she is. Somehow Jane has to tango around all three of these guys to get at what’s going on.

These books are a good combination of urban fantasy and engaging mystery. I liked the fact that I was kept guessing the whole time. There were some personality traits of Jane’s that I didn’t particularly care for but the world has been crafted well enough that I could see why those traits came about. I like the fact that the protagonist is a strong, independent female who is, for once, not a white girl with red hair as seems to be par for the course these days. Also, I adore New Orleans. ūüôā I highly recommend this whole series. Rating: A.

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!

The Hollows, IV

Book four of Kim Harrison’s Hollows series is A Fistful of Charms. For some reason, I am continually entertained by Harrison’s titles being plays on Clint Eastwood movies.¬† Charms opens up with Rachel Morgan getting a visit by her partner Jenks’s wife Matalina coming for a visit to beg help from Rachael.

It turns out that Rachel’s ex-boyfriend, the human Nick Sparagamos, isn’t what Rachel thought he was.¬† Instead of being a human that academically dabbled in magic, Nick turns out to be a thief.¬† And his thieving has gotten him into big trouble around Mackinac, MI. Matalina gets involved because Nick has taken her eldest child, son Jax, with him and introduced him to the thieving lifestyle.¬† Jenks, being the prideful and stubborn pixie that he is, couldn’t bring himself to ask for help.

Rachel decides that she has to help free Nick from his latest trouble, if only so she can tell him where to shove it in person and to help Jenks get his son Jax back and out of trouble.¬† But it’s still cold out and pixies don’t do so well in the cold. If Jenks and Matalina hadn’t been inside a warm home during the winter months, they and their children would have been hibernating.¬† Rachel’s solution is to get the help of elf Ceri and to twist some demon magic to make Jenks human sized.

This is a pretty neat bit of magic but Rachel once again shows her stupidity with it. Or perhaps her knack for convincing herself that what she’s doing isn’t stupid.¬† Demon magic puts a black mark on your soul, regardless of whether or not you actually have to kill something to twist it.¬† The spell to make Jenks big doesn’t require any death or animal bits and pieces so Rachel convinces herself that it’s just a slightly more powerful earth magic charm.

Ceri forcefully sets her straight and I’m hoping this marks a turning point for the character of Rachel Morgan.¬† She’s starting to realize that she is woefully unprepared for her lifestyle.¬† Now that she realizes this, perhaps she’ll be a little less leaping before she looks and a little more be prepared.

At any rate, it’s a neat bit of magic that turns tiny hand sized pixie Jenks into a six foot four dreamboat right in the middle of Rachel’s kitchen.¬† At the same time, she also twists a demon curse that will allow her to Were (turn into a wolf) if she needs to, seeing as she had barely gotten out of an alpha challenge earlier. Both of these things come into play later.

Rachel leaves Cincinnati for Michigan with Jenks shortly after working both spells and realizes that while Jenks might look human, he still acted like a pixie.¬† He played with everything, lived on sugary foods and couldn’t go more than a few hours without a pit stop.

Once in Michigan, they quickly discover that Nick was kidnapped by Weres and imprisoned on a private island Were sanctuary and that Jax was MIA.  After shopping for some basic necessities, Jenks pixie habit of being overly curious pays off when he discovers a pamphlet for a butterfly house.  Sure enough, when he and Rachel break in after hours, Jax is there with his new pet kitten and he spills the whole story.

Nick had swindled not one but two groups of Weres in regards to an ancient Were artifact that would all Weres to create others through biting (a la vampires) and bring all Weres together in a sort of super pack.  Said artifact is demon created and had been, until recently, kept by the vampires in order to prevent Weres from getting their paws on it.

Long story short, Rachel finds and rescues Nick with Jenks’ considerable help and gets herself in deep trouble once more.¬† The Were pack that had been torturing Nick for the location of the artifact now thinks that she knows where it is.¬† She doesn’t…not until Ivy shows up with said artifact in Kisten’s Corvette.¬† Nick had sent it to Rachel just like Henry Jones Sr had sent his grail diary to Indiana Jones in The Last Crusade.¬† Since Nick believed Rachel to be dead (from the shenanigans in the previous book), he figured that was the safest way to get it out of Michigan.

Rachel cooks up an extravagant plan involving doppelganger charms, a living vampire named Peter and a car wreck to convince the Weres that Nick is dead and the artifact destroyed.  But she also realized that Nick, being a thief, is no longer trustworthy and may in fact try to steal the artifact from her during this whole thing.  Without telling him, she switches the artifact with something else and entrusts it to Jenks only.

Her original plan goes awry with Nick’s backstabbing, but the general effect works out to be the same. The Weres think that Nick is dead and the artifact destroyed, while neither is true.¬† Nick is very much alive, despite plunging into Lake Huron in a two thousand pound tow truck and he thinks he has the real artifact.¬† Jenks’ son Jax, unfortunately, chooses to go with Nick instead of going home to learn how to be a runner from his dad.

This book brings to light some very important points that probably could have been mentioned earlier. 1) Almost all of Rachel’s bad decisions are apparently because she’s an adrenaline junkie. She needs that thrill of fear to get off in her relationships, hence why she is living with one vampire and dating another. 2) Ivy is a basket-case of a living vampire due to Piscary. 3) Ivy loves Rachel in a sexual way, but Rachael doesn’t return those feelings. Can we say awkward? 4) Ivy apparently can’t last two days without Rachel because of said abuse from Piscary.

It will be interesting to see how Ivy and Rachel and Kisten make out in the following books (not literally). I’m also hoping to see more of Trent Kalamack in the following books. He may be the bad guy, but I rather like his character. He’s the only one who started off with a complicated, multidimensional character.

All in all, I think this is a solid A book and I really need to get the next one.