Archive for the ‘urban fantasy’ Category

shards of hope

ADEN’S STORY!!!

Aden and Zaira wake up in a dark cell, with their psychic abilities gone and, in Zaira’s case, seriously wounded. Breaking free from the prison where their gaolers are both human and psy, they find themselves at the mercy of the elements and far from civilisation. To survive they must make it to the hidden lair of a predatory changeling pack that doesn’t welcome outsiders.

A target has been put on the back of the Arrow squad and the leader, Aden, abducted to give up information, while Zaira was taken to show the world the squad isn’t invincible. Aden will cross any line to keep his people safe for this new future, where even an assassin might have hope of a life beyond blood and death and pain. Zaira has no such hope as she’s too damaged to return from the abyss. Her driving goal is to protect Aden, protect the only person who has ever come back for her no matter what.

This time, even Aden’s passionate determination may not be enough – because the emotionless chill of Silence existed for a reason. For the violent, and the insane, and the irreparably broken . . . like Zaira.
The plot was very complex, full of twists and turns and kept me enthralled till the very end. It set the scene for upcoming challenges in the post-Silence world. I really liked seeing seeing so many of the characters from the previous books and finding out more about them, like Miane and the water changelings, as well as totally new characters, like Remy and the RainFire pack.

It was so cute when Aden is figuring out how to alpha and watching clueless Arrows trying to figure out kids – changeling and psy – is sweet. The Arrows finally have a chance at life and Aden is determined they will become a family.

Can’t wait for #15!

Gollancz

Supplied by Hachette New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan

Firefight

The middle volume of a trilogy is often the tricky one, for writers, readers and reviewers. Sanderson pulls it off neatly, with a story that has a clear beginning, a middle and a truly spectacular ending. But that isn’t the striking thing about this book. What I found truly memorable was not the characters, although they continue to develop in interesting ways, nor the plot, although it was well-structured. No, what remains in my mind is the setting. This is Sanderson’s Babilar, Babylon Restored, the city of New York reinvented through Epic power, and it’s quite astonishing. Weird, beautiful, and truly imaginative. Yes, I know that this is background, but it is what grabbed me. Not that there’s a problem with the story, it’s action-packed and lots and lots of fun. We learn a great deal more about Epics, their weaknesses and the source of their powers – but not so much that I’m not really looking forward to the next book!

Gollancz

Supplied by Hachette New Zealand

Reviewed by Jacqui

Review of Steelheart here

steelheart

Wow! Brandon Sanderson takes the superpower meme and makes it epic! Literally, because “Epic” is what Sanderson calls superpowered individuals, and metaphorically because this novel reads like an epic fantasy. Urban fantasy, because like most stories featuring superpowers, this is set in the immediate future. But not any future you’d recognise. You’ll notice that I’ve avoided the term “superhero” in this review and there is a reason for that. Sanderson has chosen to take Lord Acton’s adage that “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” and apply it to superpowers. So the use of Epic powers turns an individual to an insane megalomaniac? Pretty much.

An Epic named Steelheart rules Newcago with a steel fist, with a coterie of other Epics, among them Nightwielder, Conflux, and Firefight. Our youthful hero lives with the knowledge that as a child he saw his father wound Steelheart and then be killed by him. Consequently, he hates Epics with a passion. But Steelheart, like many Epics, is invulnerable to almost all attacks. Somehow, David’s father had found his weakness. And so he seeks out the Reckoners, an underground group fighting the Epics, and finds them in the process of taking down an Epic named Fortuity. I have no intention of giving away any more of the plot – suffice it to say that there is no lack of action, a dose of mystery, plenty of wit, and a great twist at the end. Sanderson has a refreshing take on the science of super powers: “Too much about them breaks what science says should happen. I sometimes wonder if they came along because we thought we could explain everything.” In fact, there are a lot of great lines in this novel. Very quotable. And very cinematic. Not surprising, since Sanderson is clearly angling for a movie with this one.

I requested this volume from the library after the local publishers kindly sent a review copy of the second book in the series, “Firefight”, and a cursory look round the internet convinced me that for once it really would be worth my while to read the first book before embarking on the second. I was not disappointed. And, now I suspect I might have to go and purchase a copy of this book!

Delacorte

Supplied by Auckland Public Libraries

Reviewed by Jacqui

archangels shadows

Finally Ashwini and Janiver’s story!

A gifted tracker, Ash has the ability to sense the secrets of anyone she touches.   Except Janiver.   The sexy Cajun vampire has worked by her side for years, infuriating and fascinating her by turns. Now they’ve been tasked to discreetly track down a sadistic killer who needs to be stopped, while their flirtation has turned into a serious risk to their hearts. But Ash has a terrible secret that threatens to destroy them before they’ve begun.

The archangel Raphael and his hunter consort Elena are dealing with the aftermath of a brutal war and the last thing they need is death – especially death that looks like the work of an insane archangel. It must be handled by those who can be trusted to stick to the shadows; Ashwini and Janiver.

There was a lot of fast paced action and several unexpected surprises that I did not see coming. There were the steamy scenes Nalini Singh excels at but also tender moments that were sweet and made the story touching. Of course the ending is a HEA but Ash’s secret was   handled very cleverly. Ashwini and Janiver have been in the background for years and I’m thrilled their story was finally told but there’s also quite a bit of Raphael and Elena and it was great to see them.

I hope Naasir is in the next book as we get to see a lot of him and I love the glimpses of his life and am dying to know more about his feral nature.

Gollancz

Supplied by Hachette New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan

Alliance

Why does it not surprise me to learn that Frost helped create Twin Peaks and the Fantastic Four movies? There is certainly something cinematic about his writing, and he has something of a talent for vivid description… but I am getting ahead of myself. First, let’s admit that I hadn’t read book one of the Paladin Prophecy, and that even with a massive data dump near the start, the thing is so damn complex that I had difficulty figuring out what was going on.

This introduction certainly grabbed my attention: “Lyle Ogilvy had trouble staying dead” is a great first line, but then the tension and the interest drop rapidly into a confusion of conspiracies. We have the Center, a Hogwarts for genetically enhanced teens, we have a castle with a vast ancient city in a cavern below, we have demonic critters trying to break through and take over the Earth, Native American weirdness, adults with dubious morality and Nazi philosophies… it’s all just a bit too much for one story. And some of it really strains the boundaries of credibility.

Sometimes more is less, and perhaps that is a lesson for writers too. If you are intrigued by this series, I suggest you go read the first book, The Paladin Prophecy, first, it might make more sense.

Corgi

Supplied by Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jacqui

Dark Heavens – Kylie Chan

Posted: September 1, 2013 in Review, urban fantasy
Tags:

dark heavansNow this really is a brick; 900+ pages, 6cm thick, and weighing in at nearly a kilo. But then it is an entire trilogy in one volume (and these days, if the physical size is too much, there’s always the e-book). Chan gives us urban fantasy with an oriental twist, what you might call Fu Fantasy.

The cover is somewhat misleading because the central character is actually an Australian woman, working as an early childhood teacher in Hong Kong. She quits working for the kindergarten and becomes a full-time nanny when the woman running the kindergartens begins asking too many questions about the father of the child she’s been looking after. Of course, he is far more than just another wealthy Chinese businessman. He’s a turtle… and he’s the Lord of the Northern Heavens.

It’s true that Chinese mythology lends itself to this kind of treatment, and has been doing so for centuries in the traditional wuxia – what you might call martial arts fairy tales. This book is then the literary equivalent of fusion cuisine, the blending of western urban fantasy with modern wuxia – sort of Nalini Singh meets Jet Li. Now, there are plenty of critics who deride fusion cuisine, and I’m sure that Kylie Chan’s work has its detractors, but it’s quite evident that she’s researched both the background and the setting. Her writing is still somewhat in need of a good editing; “White Tiger” was her first book and it shows.

Be warned that some people will find our heroine irritating; too slow to figure out what’s going on, and too quick in developing her skills. I found it to be a lightweight and entertaining trilogy, with lots of high-kicking chi-flinging martial arts battles. Perhaps too many… it got a bit samey after a while. The bad guys are primarily the demons of Chinese myth, the kind that dissolve into black goo when thumped hard enough. Which is a pleasant change from vampires and zombies.

The largely unresolved sexual tension is for once given some rationale for its lack of resolution. And truth is, I looked at the size of the volume, and initially decided I’d read it as three separate novels. But I got to the end of book one, and just kept going… and that is as good a recommendation as any. Oh… and there is another trilogy published, and it seems one coming after that.

Harper Voyager

Supplied by Harper Collins New Zealand

Reviewed by Jacqui

Able to see the possible future, Alex Verus runs a magic shop in London.  A small minnow in the world of magic, he keeps his head down and tries to avoid being noticed.  His magic allows him to see the into future, useful when can look into the future when fighting an opponent and know which direction they will come from and what powers they’ll use.

Alex has a dark past he’s trying to hide from, involving an apprenticeship to a Dark mage, a lost love, and a body count.  This has left him with strong desire to stay away from all Dark mages. The White Council have unearthed a relic from the fabled Progenitors though, and they need a probability mage to help them find and understand it.  Before the Dark mages do.

I wanted to read this as Jim Butcher recommended it and am so glad I did.  Like Harry Dresden, Alex lives in a world of magic that exists alongside the normal one.  There’s – a White Council that ignore unpleasant truths, Dark and Light mages, a hierarchy of abilities and prestige. Yet it’s totally different; the world, the magic, the rules.  The first half explains how the magic works, while the second is full of action and a rollercoaster of excitement.

Read this book!  If you liked the Dresden world, you’ll love this unique one.  There is no romance in this book, though the possibility is there for later in the series, so is safe for boys!  I’m looking forward to the next in the series, Cursed.

Orbit

Supplied by Hatchette

Reviewed by Jan