Canaries, I’m going to need your book recommendations. This is a third or fourth urban fantasy in the last couple weeks whose opening had me clutching a five-star rating only to lose it somewhere among the pages. The clock struck midnight and, lo and behold, the glittering plot turned into a pumpkin and the supporting cast into squeaky mice.
Maybe it’s time to shift genres again. Maybe I want more lit in my genre fiction. Maybe my grandmother lost patience and did some Eastern European voodoo to punish me for not becoming a doctor.
“Oh, you waste life on book blog? I make all book you read taste like bad borscht. ALL BOOK.”
Black Dog Blues by Rhys Ford
Wowza. It’s been a while since I’ve enjoyed an urban fantasy novel that packed this kind of punch.
Here’s the setup. Kai is a Stalker, a freelance mercenary who hunts down deadly magical beasties for a bounty, in a California where our world and the fae world merged and magic and technology exists side by side. When a sidhe lord named Ryder arrives in San Diego to set up his own Court, Kai is strong-armed into doing a job for him. It’s supposed to be a simple escort run up the coast, but becomes something so much more as Kai’s secrets, sidhe politics, and family feuds collide.
Looks like Black Dog Blues was Ford’s first foray into fantasy, and it’s a gorgeous, action-packed piece of work. This book hits all the right notes for me. An alternative modern day world that combines high tech with magic, a main character with terrible secrets and a brutal past he’s trying to escape, fast-paced action, dangerous and deadly monsters, vicious plotting, magic, smart dialogue, clever characters, an array of possible romantic entanglements, and some painful questions of identity, family and humanity. Continue reading
Unhidden (The Gatekeeper #1) by Dina Given
Here’s the premise. You’re Emma Hayes, mercenary, ex-soldier, ex-foster kid, loner who lost her family – and memory – in a car crash ten years ago. You’ve made something of yourself, served in the army, built your own business, and life’s pretty good.
And then you learn that everything you thought was a lie. You’re not Emma. You’re probably not even human.
Amnesia? Check. Quippy banter in the face of death? Check. Government conspiracies? Uh-huh. Evil Supernatural Baddies? Yup. Handsome blokes with mysterious agendas? Check. Continue reading
Boreal and John Grey by Chrystalla Thoma. Fast, fun, fey and…I just run out of adjectives starting the the letter f. I made a promise to myself a long time ago that I would not use the word “feisty” when talking about book characters unless I’m talking about a cute-angry kittens (see right). But it was kinda that too.
Written in five “episodes” of about 50-pages each, this little series (“season”) is fun and fast. Ella works for the Paranormal Bureau taking down evil monsters when they cross into her world through the veil between worlds. But for the first time in centuries, they are coming across in droves, and they’re getting harder and harder to kill. When Ella’s work partner goes missing, she finds that she has to rely on a stranger-without-a-past named Finn to survive.
I’m no fan of TV terminology in my reading (Associations: episodes, seasons, why is Grimm so terrible? ZIVA WHY DID YOU LEAVE US), but the elves and the stoic male lead with his tragic past more than makes up for any mental sidetracking into all the shows I am currently watching except I’m not because I don’t have the time, but – Continue reading
Once every blue reading moon there comes a book that renews my faith in a genre. Snake Agent by Liz Williams is that book.
“Detective Inspector Chen is the Singapore Three police department’s snake agent – the detective in charge of supernatural and mystical investigations. Chen has several problems: in addition to colleagues who don’t trust him and his mystical ways, a patron goddess whom he has offended and a demonic wife who’s tired of staying home alone, he’s been paired with one of Hell’s own vice officers, Seneschal Zhu Irzh, to investigate the illegal trade in souls.
Political pressures both Earthly and otherworldly seek to block their investigations at every turn. As a plot involving both Singapore Three’s industrial elite and Hell’s own Ministry of Epidemics is revealed, it becomes apparent that the stakes are higher than anyone had previously suspected.”
– description from Goodreads
Isn’t the old cover gorgeous?
Oh man. Where do I start? I’m gonna try to write a coherent review, but this all would be so much easier if I could just fill the page with heart gifs and exclamation marks. Continue reading
Half-vampire Nina Martinez is a member of an elite secret team of government agents tasked with policing the secret underworld of magical creatures – vampires, banshees, demons, witches – and keeping their existence quiet. On the side, she helps her aunt with her bar and finds herself flirting with Max, bar regular and FBI agent.
But witches are being murdered in her town, and an old enemy has resurfaced. Nina has to navigate all her double lives – Max’s human investigation into the murders, Nina’s job as a government agent, the age-old mystery surrounding the death of Nina’s parents, and the threat of an assassin who is still hunting Nina after 30 years.
But here’s the thing, canaries. This isn’t really an urban fantasy detective story with a military edge, and it doesn’t really deal with a government agency trying to protect the world from evil. In fact, it’s more a kind of coming-of-age story for half-vampire Nina as she realizes almost everything she’d known about herself and her parent’s deaths was a lie and has to navigate the clumsy attentions of two hunky dudes as Mr. Baddie tries to kill her.
Full Blooded by Amanda Carlson
In the world of shapeshifter stories (and urban fantasy, in general), it’s pretty common for the female protagonist to be a rarity among her kind. This trope pretty much guarantees that the main character will have endless material for romantic subplots (and romantic angst) and a deep well of built-in turmoil.
They’re endangered, and in danger!
So when I saw Full Blooded by Amanda Carlson had gone all the way to the extreme of the spectrum, I was curious. Werewolf Jessica McClain isn’t just rare – she’s the only female werewolf ever. This odd fact comes with a lot of baggage.
On the one hand, the werewolves think she’s the lupine version of the Antichrist. On the other hand, hiding the fact that she’s a werewolf from her kind and from regular humans is getting harder and harder. A disgruntled cop is stalking Jessica, trying to catch her doing something illegal so he can put her away for a couple dozen years, and Jessica’s wolf instincts keep waking up and telling her to eat people she doesn’t like. Oh, and she’s also a private detective to pay the bills. Continue reading