Miriam hasn’t touched a person and seen a new death in months. She’s settled down in Jersey with Louis, and part of the deal is no touching. But her fingers are twitching for a vision, and quickly a regular afternoon turns into a horrifying one. Still. Louis suggests a way for her to use her gift for the good. Prove to a hypochondria that she isn’t dying. But this hypochondriac happens to work at a problem girls boarding school, and when Miriam touches one of the girls, all hell breaks loose.
I was so glad to jump back into Miriam’s gritty world that is so unique in urban fantasy, although at first I was surprised by how settled down she seemed to be. Thankfully, that quickly changes, and a disturbing, rollicking plot comes into play.
What makes this series is the characterization of Miriam. She is not a nice girl. And she’s not bad in some fake-ass way designed to appeal to a hormonal teenage boy. She doesn’t run around in tight leather pants proclaiming her badness while batting her eyes and tossing her hair. Miriam is dark and brutally honest. She has a delightfully foul mouth. She wears what she wants to wear whether or not people like it or it’s in fashion. She doesn’t care if she’s attractive. She can be bitingly mean. But she still works as a heroine because she truly has a good heart and is willing to inconvenience her entire life to help other people. Reading Miriam is deeply refreshing to me, as a woman reader. She’s allowed to be precisely who she is without any restraints of gender norms by the author. Here is just a sampling of Miriam’s voice in the book:
Home Again, Home Again, Fuckity-Fuck (location 259)
A tattoo is an expression of your inner self inked on your outer self. It’s some deeply spiritual shit. (location 2143)
The plot this time at first appears to be purely about who is killing young girls, but slowly it becomes apparent that we’re learning more about Fate or what I think of as the crazy birds that control Miriam’s life. It appears that Fate is displeased that Miriam fucked with it by saving Louis, and now it’s out to get her. Although this addresses some of the issues I had in the first book about how confusing Fate is and what exactly the rules for this universe are, I must admit, I still found a lot of the information revealed to be a bit fuzzy, albeit wonderfully creepy. The fantasy information was better than in the first book, but it was still a bit too at arm’s length. I don’t want to have to wait out the whole series to finally understand even one significant aspect of what is up with Miriam.
One plot issue to do with the murders bothered me. Spoiler ahead!
*spoilers* I have a very hard time believing that after being fooled once by the killer who can imitate other people’s voices like a mockingbird that Miriam would fall for it a second time. She’s smarter than that, and it felt like a very clunky plot device to me. *end spoilers*
That said, the mystery was dark, gritty, and nail-biting. A lot happened, and Miriam’s story definitely moved forward. There is a self-contained mystery within this book, but the overarching plot got more traction as well.
The writing continues to be a mix of beautiful and grotesque that would keep me coming back even if the characterization of Miriam wasn’t so strong. Wendig’s description powers are truly stellar.
Her mouth brimming with foulness the way a soup can bulges with botulism. (location 2460)
They invited her to move back home but she’s not going to do that, oh hell no, she’d much rather snap her tits in a bear-trap than go back to that hell. (location 1633)
She gets on her tippy-toes and kisses him. Long, slow, deep. The kind of kiss where you can feel little pieces of your soul trading places as mouths open and breath mingles. (location 3722)
How can you not read a book with writing like that?
Overall, fans of the first book in the Miriam Black series will not be disappointed by this entry. Everything that made the first book unique in the urban fantasy genre has returned with strength, particularly the writing style and the characterization of Miriam. The overarching plot moves forward at a pace fast enough to maintain interest, although not enough about the rules of the fantasy world is revealed. The self-contained plot is gritty, dark, and sufficiently mysterious, although one moment detracts from it a bit. Miriam and the writing more than make up for it, though. Wendig fans will not be disappointed.
4 out of 5 stars
Miriam Black is an early 20-something drifter with bleach blonde hair and a surprising ability to hold her own in a fight. She also knows when and precisely how you’re going to die. Only if you touch her skin-on-skin though. And it’s because of this skill that Miriam became a drifter. You try dealing with seeing that every time you touch someone. But when a kind trucker gives her a lift and in her vision of his death she hears him speak her name, her entire crazy life takes an even crazier turn.
This is one of those books that is very difficult to categorize. I want to call it urban fantasy, but it doesn’t have much supernatural about it, except for the ability to see deaths. The world isn’t swimming in vampires or werewolves of goblins. I also want to call it a thriller what with the whole try to stop the trucker from dying bit but it’s so much more than chills and whodunit (or in this case, who will do it). Its dark, gritty style reminds me of Palahniuk, so I suppose what might come the closest would be a Palahniuk-esque urban fantasy lite thriller. What I think sums it up best, though, is a quote from Miriam herself:
It starts with my mother….Boys get fucked up by their fathers, right? That’s why so many tales are really Daddy Issue stories at their core, because men run the world, and men get to tell their stories first. If women told most of the stories, though, then all the best stories would be about Mommy Problems. (location 1656)
So, yes, it is all of those things, but it’s also a Mommy Problems story, and that is just a really nice change of pace. Mommy Problems wrapped in violence and questioning of fate.
The tone of the entire book is spot on for the type of story it’s telling. Dark and raw with a definite dead-pan, tongue-in-cheek style sense of humor. For instance, each chapter has an actual title, and these give you a hint of what is to come within that chapter, yet you will still somehow manage to be surprised. The story is broken up by an interview with Miriam at some other point in time, and how this comes into play with the rest of the storyline is incredibly well-handled. It’s some of the best story structuring I’ve seen in a while, and it’s also a breath of fresh air.
Miriam is also delightful because she is unapologetically ribald and violent. This is so rare to find in heroines.
We’re not talking zombie sex; he didn’t come lurching out of the grave dirt to fill my living body with his undead baby batter. (location 2195)
As a female reader who loves this style, it was just delightful to read something featuring a character of this style who is also a woman. It’s hard to find them, and I like that Wendig went there.
While I enjoyed the plot structure, tone, and characters, the extreme focus on fate was a bit iffy to me. There were passages discussing fate that just fell flat for me. I’m also not sure of how I feel about the resolution. However, I’m also well aware that this is the beginning of a series, so perhaps it’s just that the overarching world rules are still a bit too unclear for me to really appreciate precisely what it is that Miriam is dealing with. This is definitely the first book in the series in that while some plot lines are resolved, the main one is not. If I’d had the second book to jump right into I would have. I certainly hope that the series ultimately addresses the fate question in a satisfactory way, but at this point it is still unclear if it will.
Overall, this is a dark, gritty tale that literally takes urban fantasy on a hitchhiking trip down the American highway. Readers who enjoy a ribald sense of humor and violence will quickly latch on to this new series. Particularly recommended to readers looking for strong, realistic female leads.
4 out of 5 stars
The humans won the supe-human war, and now all supernaturals are confined to caged cities whose bars are made up of every metal that is harmful to supes. They also all have a brand on their forehead letting everyone now immediately what type of supernatural they are–crescent moon for shifter, full moon for vampire, wings for fairy, X for mixbreed, which is what Lanore just happens to be. Lanore is hoping to be the first mixie to graduate from the caged city’s university, and she also works on the side with another mixie, Zulu, to run a mixie civil rights group. The purebloods by and large hate mixies. As if her life wasn’t already complicated enough, one night Lanore witnesses a murder, and the murderer turns out to be a serial killer. Now Lanore is on his list.
I am so glad I accepted this review copy. The branding of supes and caged cities was enough to show me that this is a unique urban fantasy series, but I wasn’t aware that it’s also a heavily African-American culture influenced series, and that just makes it even more unique and fun.
It’s not new to parallel supe civil rights issues with those of minorities, but they often flounder. Wright’s book depicts the complexities eloquently. Making a group within the supes that the supes hate makes it more closely parallel the real world. The addition of the brands on the foreheads also makes the supernatural race immediately identifiable just as race is in the real world by skin color. The caged cities are also a great analogy of inner city life and how much of a trap it can feel like. The fact that Lanore accidentally witnesses a murder on her way home from school is something that can and does happen in the real world.
The other element that I really enjoyed is how Wright brings the African-American religion of Santeria into the mix. She provides multiple perspectives on the religion naturally through the different characters. Lanore doesn’t believe in any religion. MeShack, her ex-boyfriend and roommate, does, and it helps him in his life. And of course the serial killer also believes in Santeria but is going about it the wrong way, as Lanore eventually learns. The book naturally teaches the reader a few things about Santeria, which is often maligned and misunderstood in America. But it does it within the course of the story without ever feeling preachy.
The sex scenes (we all know we partially read urban fantasy for those) were hot and incorporated shifter abilities without ever tipping too far into creepy beastiality land. They were so well-written, I actually found myself blushing a bit to be reading them on the bus (and hoped no one would peak over my shoulder at that moment).
The plot itself is strong through most of the book. The serial killer is genuinely scary, and Lanore doesn’t suddenly morph into some superhero overnight. She maintains her everywoman quality throughout. I wasn’t totally happy with the climax. I didn’t dislike it, but I also think the rest of the book was so well-done that I was expecting something a bit more earth-shattering.
There are two things in the book that knocked it down from loved it to really liked it for me. They both have to do with Zulu. Zulu is a white guy, but his beast form is a black dude with silver wings. I am really not sure what Wright is trying to say with this characterization and plot point. It wasn’t clear when it first happens, and I was still baffled by the choice by the end of the book. In a book that so clearly talks about race, with an author so attuned to the issues innate in race relations, it is clear that this was a conscious choice on her part. But I am still unclear as to why. Hopefully the rest of the books in the series will clear this up for me. My other issue is with how possessive Zulu is of Lanore. He essentially tells her that she’s his whether she likes it or not, and she goes along with it. Why must this theme come up over and over again in urban fantasy and paranormal romance? A man can have supernatural powers and not use them as an excuse to be an abusive douche. I’m just saying. But. This is part of a series, so perhaps these two issues will be addressed in the next book. But for right now, I’m kinda sad that Lanore chose Zulu.
Overall, this is a unique piece of urban fantasy. The tables are turned on the supes with them in caged cities, and the creative use of forehead brands and the existence of mixed-breed supernaturals are used intelligently as a commentary on race relations in the United States. I highly recommend it to urban fantasy fans and am eagerly anticipating reading the next entry in the series myself.
4 out of 5 stars
Source: Kindle copy from author in exchange for my honest review
If a human is touched once by a Sidhe, they become addicted….heroin addict level addicted. Since London’s Sidhe died, she now has to periodically put her private investigator for paranormal clientele job aside in order to seek out more Sidhe for a fix. This time, a bunch of young vampires say they know where she can have a changeling teleport her to an enslaved Sidhe….for a price.
Series of fast-paced novellas are becoming more popular in urban fantasy and paranormal romance. I know I enjoy them as a kind of single-serving of ice cream. Fun and delicious and able to get through in those 40 minutes your bread is in the oven or something. I read the first book in the Touched series, and since I enjoyed it, Archer, one of the authors, was kind enough to send along the next entry in exchange for my honest review. It was still fun, but not quite as well-written as the first.
The world of the paranormal in the UK and Ireland that Archer has created continues to be creative and engaging. While some of her paranormal creatures are typical (such as the vampires) others are more unique, like the changelings and fairies. For instance, having a changeling run the whole come party and suck the blood or touch a Sidhe thing was pretty unique! In other series, that would definitely be the sort of thing run by vampires.
Unfortunately, I didn’t find the characterizations as good this time around. London comes off as a bit flat, as do the vampires around her. Most distressing to me, though, as an American reader is her American character she put in. London meets a guy when doing a job for the changelings. She can tell he is American because, I kid you not, he is wearing a flannel shirt and a cowboy hat. Erm, ok. More annoying though is the fact that this American dude twice says, “shite.” Americans don’t say “shite,” except perhaps for some 20-something hipsters who are trying to be ironic. This 40-something mercenary is definitely not a hipster. He would say “shit.” If you are going to have a character from a country besides your own, you really need to fact-check how they speak, and especially how they swear. He’s not a major character, and I probably would have noticed it less if this was a book and not a novella. He was a lot more noticeable since he was present for most of the novella.
Overall, then, the world is interesting but the characters could use a bit of work. If you’re just looking for some light, quick urban fantasy to brighten up your day, though, it might be worth your 99 cents. Personally, though, I won’t be continuing on with the series.
3.5 out of 5 stars
Source: Kindle copy from author in exchange for my honest review
Diana doesn’t have much going for her–a bad job and perpetual unwanted singledom, plus she’s been sleeping on friend’s couches since losing her apartment. So when a room in a building with a quirky landlord shows up, she grabs it instantly. Only to discover that a monster called Vom the Hungry is in her closet waiting for her to let him out, at which point he will probably eat her. In fact, the whole building is oddly connected to other dimensions full of monsters, creatures, mayhem, and madness….not to mention tentacles.
I obviously had to read this book. The cover has tentacles on it, and it’s clearly a Lovecraftverse story. These are both basically automatic must reads in Amanda-land.
The storyline is fairly straight-forward as far as the Lovecraftverse goes. There’s a place where the lines between dimensions and reality fade and threaten mere humans with madness. The monsters that Diana meets within her own apartment are fairly creative. There’s Vom the Hungry who is pretty endearing, there’s the hedgehog looking guy (whose name I can’t remember and can’t look up because: audiobook) who spawns copies of himself when he’s upset, and of course there’s the giant floating eye with tentacles who tries very hard to be prim and proper. They’re creative and funny.
The foes–the cult of the moon god–are not so creative. They’re your typical moon-loving shapeshifters, and the moon god even has three forms just like a certain other god of a religion we’re all familiar with. Compared to the creativity of the apartment and the apartment’s monsters, it just doesn’t feel like a worthy foe.
Similarly, although I liked Diana and the world she’s living in, she has basically no backstory. I have a hard time believing she’d have such an easy time mostly abandoning her friends and family from her time prior to the apartment. I can believe she’s not afraid and can handle the horrors, but it’d be nice if we got at least a toss-up to the concept of her having a family or even a mention of estrangement from them, if that’s the case. That doesn’t happen, so I was left feeling that Diana is very two-dimensional.
Given these elements, I’m sure I would have skimmed through it very quickly in print and probably missed the humor that it does contain, except that I read the audiobook. The audiobook narrated by Khristine Hvam. And she is an incredibly talented voice actor.
Every single character had their own entirely unique voice, and the voices perfectly matched the character, even an eyeless faceless omnivorous Vom the Hungry. Hvam is just….just so amazing to listen to! I kept listening more to just hear her perform than due to a true vested interest in the story. In fact, I looked up her voice actor page on Audible after just to maybe get another one of her books. She mostly narrates scifi/fantasy, unfortunately mostly YA, which we all know I don’t like. But I will be keeping my eye out for more of her adult work. She is just so amazingly talented.
So, overall then, the story itself rates 3 stars, but the narration rates 5, so my rating must average those two out. Be aware, though, that I recommend Khristine Hvam over the book, but if you are intrigued by the book and don’t mind a lack of backstory or average villains, then I recommend picking the audiobook for twice the fun.
4 out of 5 stars
After spending over a decade serving hard labor in the Caribbean for mutiny and conjuring, Ethan has finally made it back to Boston. He now makes his living as a thieftaker, essentially a private investigator who hunts down stolen items, using his conjuring where necessary to help him out. But the year is 1767 and trouble is starting to brew in Boston. The Stamp Tax has been enacted, and the people don’t like it. There are even riots in the street. Against this back-drop, Ethan is asked to find a brooch that was stolen–from the body of a dead girl. He doesn’t usually take on cases involving murder, but this one is different.
It’s probably hard to tell from this blog, because they’re hard to find, but I am a real sucker for a good Boston during the American Revolution story. So when this title showed up I snapped it up. I’m glad I did because it’s an interesting take on the Stamp Act Riots.
This is an interesting piece of historic fiction, because it’s more like urban fantasy historic fiction. Is that a genre? Can it be? What on earth would we call it? In any case, I was in heaven, because I love BOTH urban fantasy and history so having both in one book was heaven. I mean first it’s breeches and three corner hats then it’s look at this illusion of a creepy little girl. Brilliant.
I struggled a bit with Ethan, which in retrospect wasn’t a bad thing. That shows he’s a realistic, well-rounded character. But let’s be honest. I’m more of a Sam Adams revolutionary type. Ethan served in the British Navy and is all “oh these hooligans.” This bothered me a lot! Especially when I got suspicious that the book as a whole would lean Tory. But! This all ends up being part of the character development, which in the end is what makes the book stronger. Ethan isn’t sure about protesting and fighting the aristocracy at first. But he changes his mind with time. This makes for a great plot-line. I like it. I do hope in the sequel we will get less of this hemming and hawing about owing things to the crown and yadda yadda. DOWN WITH THE KING. Ahem.
As a Bostonian, can I just say, I haven’t seen a book so intent on giving actual street names and buildings before, but it worked. They are totally accurate. I could completely visualize not just the streets but the entire routes Ethan was walking along. Granted, it was as if through a looking glass, since when I walk them they’re a bit different than in 1767, but still. It was very cool. I also really appreciated the depiction of the South Enders, since I spend quite a bit of time in Southie. Seeing the historical versions was really fun.
The magic portion of the book was also unique. Ethan has to cut himself to get blood to work the more powerful spells. The less powerful ones he can work with surrounding grasses, plants, etc… This makes the interesting problem that people struggle in fist-fighting him because if he bleeds he just uses it to work spells. It’s a nice touch.
So with all this glowing, why not five stars? Well, honestly, Ethan bugged me so much for the first 2/3 of the book that I kept almost stopping in spite of all the good things. He’s just such a…a…Tory. For most of the book. Instead of being angry at the man for putting him in prison for conjuring, he blames himself. Instead of being angry that the rich just keep getting richer while he struggles to pay his rent, he blames himself. You get the picture. Being irritated almost constantly by Ethan kind of pulled me out of the world and the story, which I wish hadn’t happened, because it really is such a cool world. I get what Jackson was trying to do, character development wise, but the payoff in the end was almost missed because I kept stopping reading due to being irritated with Ethan. Perhaps if his change of heart had started to show up a bit sooner it would have worked better for me.
Overall, though, this is well-researched and thought out version of Boston during the Stamp Act Riots. Fans of historic fiction and urban fantasy will get a kick out of seeing the latter glamoring up the former.
4 out of 5 stars
Di Angelo and Farah thought they were getting a typical, boring DC government job. But it turns out they have been assigned to the Department of Magic, and whether they like it or not, their horogaunt boss is having them face down demons, shifters, and more in repeated robberies to gather the pieces of George Washington in the hopes to bring him back to life to fight off the ancient Mexican gods who were stirred out of slumber by all the talk of the ancient Mayan prophecy of the end of the world in 2012.
I have not hated a book this much since finishing Anne Rice’s The Wolf Gift in February (review). On the plus side, this means you all get to enjoy an angry Amanda take-down style review. On the minus side, I had to suffer through this horrible thing. But this is what book reviewers do. We suffer through things and tell you about them so you don’t have to.
This book has a triple-whammy of awful. It has so many grammar and spelling mistakes that I can’t believe it ever made it through an editor (oh but it did!). The plot is confusing and ill-paced. Finally, and most importantly, it is so prejudiced I had to double-check that this wasn’t a pen-name for Ann Coulter. Too often I’ve made these assertions in the past but been unable to truly show them to you since it was a library book or some such. Enter: the kindle. But first let me quickly explain the plot/structure/pacing issues.
So Farah and Di Angelo aka Rocky are hired by this mysterious department in the US government. There is a lot that makes zero sense about the department. First, it appears to only consist of Rocky, Farah, and their boss Crawley (a horogaunt). Anyone who has worked in the US government *raises hand* knows that they do not underhire. They overhire. So this just makes the author look like he knows nothing about government.
Throughout the book, Farah and Rocky have this problem of carrying out covert operations for the department and almost getting arrested and wanted for murder and blah blah blah. Um, excuse me. This is the motherfuckin government. If they want George Washington’s sword they “borrow” it. If they can’t “borrow” it, they send in government agents and protect them from prosecution because, I reiterate, this is the motherfuckin government. A department that supposedly exists to keep America aligned with the goddess America and protected from demons and vampires and what-have-you that no one else knows about would probably be a Big Deal on the inside. So this plot point makes no sense.
Then there’s the pacing issues. The pacing goes up and down and up and down and the reader keeps prepping for a climax only to get none. I think you see the analogy I am going for here. And it sucks.
Moving right along, let’s get to just a few of the more egregious grammar, spelling, and other writing I caught in this *laughs hysterically* edited book.
rung off. (location 385)
Americans hang up. No one in this book is British. The narrator is not British. This is stupid.
He could feel her hot breath, fetid as a zoo animal’s gorged on fresh meat. (location 752)
This is a bad analogy, as any high school student can tell you, because the vast majority of people don’t KNOW what a zoo animal’s breath smells like. An analogy is supposed to help a reader connect an unknown thing to a known thing.
Kabbala (location 858)
This is not how you spell Kabbalah.
Then she pulled both of their caps off and bit him on the mouth. (location 1889)
No, this is not a scene between one of our heroes and a demon. This is supposed to be Farah romantically kissing Rocky. Was that the image you got from that? Didn’t think so.
The most terrifying form devils or demons can take. No one has lived to describe them. (location 1889)
This comes from the federal book on beasts and demons that our heroes read and start every chapter with an excerpt from. Question. If no one has ever lived to describe these demons then a) how do you know they exist and b) how the hell are you describing them in this book?!
Her face was beautiful, appearing radiantly soft-cheeked and virginal in one instant, a rotting grinning skull, a death-mask in the next. (location 3922)
If you are writing a sentence comparing something from one instant to the next, you can’t compare three things! Two. Two is your limit.
Ok, but obviously I wouldn’t hate a book this hard for bad plot and some (ok a lot of) writing problems. I’d give advice and encouragement. The hating on the book comes from the prejudice hitting me left and right. It was like running the obstacle course in Wipe-Out! I can’t and won’t support or recommend a book to someone else as not for me but maybe for them when it’s this painfully prejudiced throughout. Let’s begin, shall we?
Look, hon, you know you’ve got zero will-power. Honestly you’re like a lesbian. You go out with this guy a couple times, you’ll move in together on your third date. I see him all day, every day. I don’t want him underfoot when I come home too. Plus he’s too poor for you. (location 741)
Oh look! Homophobia! The sad part is you can tell that Kierkegaard thinks he’s being funny when he’s just flat-out offensive. To top off this delightful bit of dialogue, we’ve got classism. And I feel I should mention the man they are talking about is an Iraq War vet. But he’s poor. And clearly that is what matters in dating. Homophobia is not quite this blatant throughout the rest of the book, although we do have a *delightful* scene in which Bobbi (a girl) shows up to seduce Rocky, who she thinks is gay, since Farah spread a rumor that Rocky is gay to keep her fiancee from being upset that she’s working with a man. Yeah. That happened.
There is more blatant classism, though.
Baltimore is the blue-collar ugly step-sister of the white-collar Washington DC metropolitan area. (location 1250)
Noooo, comparing hardworking people with blue collar jobs to the ugly stepsisters in Cinderella is not offensive at all.
Also, pretty much every demon “disguises” themself as a homeless person. This means almost every homeless person our heroes run into is a demon. Seriously.
And what about women?
The reason I’m so into Nineteenth Century romantic literature, I guess, is because I love anything that reminds me of growing up with my mom and my sisters and gets me inside women’s heads. (location 1214)
Yes! Let’s just go ahead and say that Jane fucking Austen represents every woman’s head everywhere in the 21st century. That’s just awesome.
Speaking of women, I will say this. Farah is the more talented of the duo in climbing, which is nice. However, she and every other woman are presented as shallow and obsessed with fashion. Also, a baby is born, and Farah turns overnight into a doting mother-figure when she was a sorority-sister type girl mere hours before. Meanwhile, the actual mother fails at parenting, and the only explanation for this utter lack of ability with babies is that she is a vampire.
I’m not sure what the precise word is for it….xenophobia perhaps? But Kierkegaard makes it abundantly clear that only Protestants have the whole religion thing right.
White or “good” magic, he told her, already had a name. It was called “prayer.” And even prayer, unless directly addressed to God the Creator, is in essence a Luciferian transaction, because it relies on the intercession of intermediaries, such as saints or boddhis, and inevitably involved some sort of quid pro quo. (location 1545)
Speaking of religion, no hateful book would be complete without some anti-semitism tossed in there, would it?
Freemasons–A Lucifer-worshipping conspiracy cult dedicated to Zionist one-world government, heirs of the Christ-murdering Pharisees and the Knights Templar. (location 1596)
Christ. Murdering. Pharisees. He actually went there. And not only are they the Christ killers but! They also secretly run the world through a Satan-worshipping secret organization!
I would have thrown the book across the room at this point, but it was on my kindle, and I love my kindle.
And finally. To round it all out. We’ve got some good, old-fashioned American racism.
First we have the black man who spoke entirely normally until this sentence:
You got any questions you need to axe me, you know where I live. (location 1193)
Then we have the Asian-American man who can’t pronounce his own name:
There they consecutively picked up a squat red-faced Asian named Robert, which he pronounced as “Robot,” and a noisy and vituperative older black man in a water-sodden daishiki named Walkie-Talkie. (location 3225)
Beyond these blatant examples there’s the fact that every person of color is either actually a demon in disguise or working for the seedy underground of some sort of organization. The exception to this is Farah, who is Lebanese-American, but Kierkegaard takes extreme care to point out that she is NOT Muslim. She’s one of the Christian Lebanese-Americans. She also basically acts just like a white sorority girl but with an exotic look!!
See? See? I just. *sighs* The only people who might not be horribly offended by this book are the type of people I don’t really want to recommend books to anyway, except to be like “Here, read this book that might make you realize what a douchebag you are being, like say some classics of black literature or books on how hard it is to be gay in an evangelical family or maybe read about the real history of the Bible.” You see my point.
The only people who would enjoy this book are people who have this same prejudiced world-view against basically everyone who isn’t a white, straight, Protestant, American male. So, I guess, if that’s you, have at it? But it’s riddled with spelling, grammar, and plot problems, so you won’t enjoy it anyway. So hah.
1 out of 5 stars
Georgina Kincaid, the succubus that wishes sex with hot men didn’t always steal their life energy, has held up her side of the bargain with her demon supervisor. She’s been going after quality men in exchange for him not wiping the memory of her human boyfriend, the hot writer Seth. Of course, they can’t have sex together without yanking some years off his life, so when they sleep together, it’s literal sleeping. But life continues in spite of boyfriends and job accolades. Georgina finds herself caught up in helping an old incubus friend, as well as trying to find out what has her coworker, Doug, so full of energy.
Ahhh, Georgina. You are quite possibly my favorite urban fantasy heroine, although your fixation on Seth kinda bugs me. Anyway, everything that made Succubus Blues so fun is back with a bang this time around. We’ve got crazy sex scenes, paranormal mystery, and an every reluctant succubus.
The story itself is a bit more predictable than the first one, but that’s ok. I may have known right away what was up with the incubus’s project as well as what was wrong with Doug, but it’s so much fun to be in Georgina’s world that I honestly didn’t care that I knew. I mostly delighted in this new version of Seattle that Mead has created.
Georgina is complex and so well-rounded. We constantly learn little snippets of her long life, this time around focusing in more on her succubus years than her human ones. She may have sex down pat, but she still doesn’t have relationships figured out, which is part of what makes her character work. Men can still surprise her sometimes. Especially Seth.
There is honestly not that much else to say about this book. The world is delicious, the plot predictable, the heroine delightful. It’s drizzled in intelligent wit and topped off with some red hot sex scenes. This series is definitely remaining my go to for urban fantasy. Fans of the first won’t be disappointed, and anyone with even an inclination toward the genre should definitely check it out.
4 out of 5 stars
Source: Public Library
Sam sold his soul to the devil in the 1940s and ever since then he’s been hopping from body to body, possessing and utilizing them to perform his task–collect the souls of the dammed. Although he can possess anyone, he prefers the recently dead. His new assignment stops him dead in his tracks though when he touches the 17 year old girl’s soul, a girl who supposedly killed her mother, father, and brother in cold blood, and finds it untainted. His refusal to collect her sends both angels and demons after him, eager to restore the balance, but Sam insists that collecting her soul will only bring about the Apocalypse.
I’m not sure why, but somewhere between my email from Angry Robot about this then upcoming book and actually reading it, I forgot what it was about and assumed from the title that it’s about zombies. Um, not so much? Haha. Actually, it is an urban fantasy film noir. Instead of a detective we have a collector, who, a friend pointed out to me, is basically the same as Sam the Reaper on the tv show Reaper. Our femme fatale is Lilith (you know, the first woman god made but she refused to be subservient to man so she got kicked out of the garden and went and hung out with demons. I always liked her). It all sounds super-cool, but I was left feeling very luke-warm about the whole thing.
First, there’s how Sam talks, which I get is supposed to come across as witty banter, but I myself didn’t find that amusing. Perhaps I’m way too familiar with the classic works of film noir and to me this just didn’t measure up. Perhaps I’m just a mismatch for it. I feel like people with a slightly different sense of humor would enjoy it more, though. Personally it just read as Sam trying too hard to sound suave, which I always find annoying.
My other big issue with the story is a couple of really unbelievable action sequences. Ok, I get it that this is urban fantasy, but even within that we still need believability. What do I mean by this? Well, if something huge happens that affects the mortals, there should be discussion of how the immortals cover it up or deal with the fall-out. This doesn’t really happen in this book. One sequence in particular that bugged me involved Sam and the 17 year old hijacking a helicopter, flying it all over NYC, then crashing it in a park AND THEY GET AWAY. Does anyone believe this could actually happen in a post 9/11 world unless some sort of otherworldly shielding was going on? I don’t think so. It was at this point that I knew the book was just not gonna work for me.
Does this mean that I think it’s a badly written book? No. It’s an interesting twist on urban fantasy and film noir simultaneously. The characters are interesting, and the plot wraps-up fairly well. I personally found it difficult to get into and found some sequences simply too ridiculous to believe. However, I do think other people might enjoy it more, perhaps someone who has an intense love for urban fantasy and doesn’t mind ridiculous situations.
3 out of 5 stars
Source: Kindle copy from publisher in exchange for my honest review