Oh the puns. The puns. They’re daring me to pick this book up off the shelf.
“Suddenly desperate, the inexperienced ex-rich girl was forced to take the only job she could get: as a tour guide in a cemetery. But a grave situation took a turn for the worse when a head-on collision with a headstone left her with an unwanted ability to communicate with the disgruntled deceased . . . and now Pepper has a whacked Mafia don demanding that she hunt down his killers — and threatening to haunt her until she does.”
– Don of the Dead (Pepper Martin #1) by Casey Daniels
Last month Epic Reads posted something rather epic (as they usually do) with a United States of YA map, showcasing a Young Adult book by settings for each U.S. state. The moment I saw that, my mind went to my favorite subgenre. Urban Fantasy.
Thus the U.F.A. list was born! (Thank you to all the readers on Goodreads and this blog for your suggestions!) Continue reading
Series Review: Darkness Rising by Kelley Armstrong
Last week, I posted a review of Armstrong’s The Darkest Powers series covering book 1-3. The Darkness Rising trilogy makes up the next three YA books in the same world, following sixteen-year-old Maya living in a small medical-research community on Vancouver Island. In a town of some hundred people, strangers stand out, so when a journalist shows up asking about a tragic death a year ago, Maya takes notice. And she begins to ask her own questions.
The mountain lions are acting up, Maya’s best friend is hiding something, a stranger is snooping around town, and a Maya is haunted by a memory of a friend’s drowning that might just have been murder. Oh and there’s a cute bad boy in school who suddenly develops a sudden and inexplicable attraction to Maya that she doesn’t believe and doesn’t trust.
I actually read this series first, before realizing that it connected indirectly (and eventually directly) to The Darkest Powers. Still, it is a comfortable standalone, and it helps that even if you don’t have the backstory from The Darkest Powers and don’t recognize some of the references, you’ll still know that something isn’t quite right in this peaceful little town. And of course, even the most oblivious reader will zero in on the fact that Maya has a birthmark in the shape of a cat’s pawprint. Because, you know, that’s never significant. Continue reading
Rachel Caine is a master of building nonstop suspense, fun characters who love fast cars (and classy motorcycles), and fast-paced action. The Outcast Season series follows Cassiel, an immortal djinn, after she is stripped of her powers and sent to Earth to live as a human. This Urban Fantasy is part spin-off, part continuation of the Weather Warden universe. It can be read as a very entertaining standalone, but it’s better with a couple of the Weather Warden books already under the belt. But if you’ve read up on that series (at least a couple books in) and haven’t given this one a try, here’s what you’ve been missing:
Undone (Outcast Season #1) by Rachel Caine
Cassiel is powerful, immortal, and she has existed for millennia. But when she refuses a direct order from the oldest among her kind, he breaks her connection to her power and reshapes her into human form. Forced to exist as a mortal but still needing power to stay alive, Cassiel must live among (and drain the power of) Wardens–humans who wield magic.
She ends up with Earth Warden Manny Rocha–in return for helping him on his missions, she gets access to his power, even as she struggles to understand the (frustrating and inconvenient) emotions and weaknesses of her new human body. But when something threatens Rocha’s family, Cassiel’s forced to decide what she is and whose side she’s on.
This is, in a way, a fallen angel story, and that was one of the reasons it took me so long to get to the series (oh me of little faith!). It’s a rare thing to see an author pull off a believable immortal–especially one as old as Cassiel, and with a first person point of view, no less. But I shouldn’t have worried; Cassiel’s voice convinced me. Continue reading
Guest writer, Rhiannon J. Taylor, writing for the Best and Worst series. Chirp!
BEST: Dresden Files by Jim Butcher
Okay, now anyone who happened to read my review on Storm Front and Fool Moon will know that I didn’t have the best experience reading Jim Butcher’s first two Dresden Files books. That ought to say a lot about the other guy.
But let’s start at the beginning of why Butcher’s Dresden Files wins my Urban Fantasy recommendation. The series is one of the best urban fantasies out there for a number of reasons. First of all, it brings a perspective that isn’t often found in Urban Fantasy: a male first person narrator. And while I enjoy most books in the urban fantasy genre, I tend to prefer a male narrator to a female one. Perhaps because I relate better to men, or perhaps it automatically breaks the Urban Fantasy norm, who knows, but for whatever reason, if the book has a male narrator, I’m giving it a shot.
Next, you can’t have a best read without an interesting premise and Butcher delivers. Harry Dresden is a wizard in Chicago working as a pseudo private investigator and Lost & Found box. Occasionally, he’s brought in as a paranormal consultant with the police for his magical expertise. It’s a nice change from the wizardly norm—you know, bushy beard, graying, and hanging around in sleazy taverns looking for bored young men to send out on pointless adventures. Continue reading
Dear Paranormal Fiction (and you too, Urban Fantasy),
There is a place and time for your heroine to volley smart-ass remarks. There is a place and time for your hero to be an insufferable bastard. Everywhere else, please make your characters act like human beings (even if they aren’t).
View our other grumbles here.