Book Reviews for May 2015
Reviewed by Normalene Zeeman
Prescott Public Librarian
A Darker Shade of Magic (2015) by V.E. Schwab
Let me tell you all the ways I loved this book. First, our main character, Kell, is an orphan taken in by the King of Red London. He has the most awesome magical jacket that he flips inside out and around to make different jackets depending on what kind of jacket he needs. He can travel between the three very different parallel worlds which he calls Red London, Gray London and White London, because of the magic each land does or does not have. There is a fourth London, Black London, which no one talks about and no one visits. Kell has one fully black eye which marks him as magical and gives him power to travel between the different Londons as a messenger of the Red London King. Second, Rhy, the prince of Red London, princely - but not too much so, gorgeous, nice and most of the time he treats Kell as a brother not as the property of the royal family that he actually is. Third, Delilah Bard, thief of Grey London, owner of one glass eye (which is so sneakily told you might miss it if you aren't paying attention), who robs Kell of a mysterious stone. Fourth, the stone which has powers that it can grant to special people and for which some people will kill to own it. And from there you have such great descriptions of the ways the various Londons differ and the awesome villains, who while way over the top, are still very scary. When Lila and Kell meet, he saves her, she saves him and they make such a great team, you really hope there will be a sequel. The action is tight, the pace is fast, the magic is mostly believable and very important to the plot and the fully-fleshed, realistic, characters are so much fun to adventure with even when they are being mean or nasty. While this is not a young adult book, older teens would enjoy it. I can't at the moment think of any other books like it, so it really does stand on its own. Read it and tell me if you agree that it is a great story with characters you want to see again. Schwab's previous book "Vicious" was a "Publisher's Weekly Best book of 2013," a "Booklist Notable Reading List Winner" and the "American Library Association Top Pick for 2014." I expect equally great things for this book. Definitely five stars.
Vision in Silver (2015) by Anne Bishop
This is the third book but not the last in the series. Blood Prophet Meg is dealing with her need to control how often she accesses her prophetical powers and werewolf and Courtyard leader, Simon, is dealing with his unusual affection for a human. We don't see a lot of plot development here although the maneuvering for the final book in the series is wonderful to read. We meet more of the other Blood Prophet girls who are still reeling from their rescue and unable to deal with being thrust into an overload of sensory impressions. We also meet more Other-friendly humans and some not so friendly when Officer Montgomery's daughter, Lizzy, is discovered by herself on a train headed to Lakeside with a handful of jewels sewn into her teddy bear and no mom in sight. Violence escalates as humans think they can conquer the terra indigene but they have no idea what sleeping giants they may have awakened. You have to love Nathan's joke about the dinosaurs: What happened to the dinosaurs? - the terra indigene! Loved it - can't wait for the next one.
This Shattered World (2015) by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner
The sequel to These Broken Stars (2014) sets us on the planet Avon, which is being terraformed but seems to have stuck at a somewhat unfinished position. The military are guarding the installations and the locals have a rebel faction called the Fianna. Captain Jubilee Chase is kidnapped by Flynn, a handsome young man who turns out to be Fianna and the brother to the most famed rebel on the planet, the tortured and deceased Orla Cormac. Flynn wants Lee to find out about a secret base which may be causing increased incidences of violence called The Fury. He rescues her from danger, she rescues him and so on. The characters are very well-developed and the plot is intricate and hard to explain. We meet more of the Whispers from the first book and find out how they fit into this story. The reveal at the end is fascinating and leads me to believe there will be one more.
Shadow Study (SoulFinders #1) (2015) by Maria V. Snyder
This is Soulfinder's #1, but also Study #7, so if you haven't read the others first, do so before you start this one. We meet Yelena in the forest heading for a rendezvous with Valek, but she almost immediately loses her powers again. While this device worked wondrously well the first time, I'm ready for her to try something else. This does however allow all the other characters to step up and play a bigger part and they are up to snuff with their antics here. Finally Valek is thinking about how much he misses Yelena when he isn't with her and being pulled in two directions, his job and his girlfriend are getting to be more in conflict. I like where the story is going and while Yelena without her powers is still a formidable opponent, there are some serious questions that need to be answered: who is she opposing and is Valek on her side or on the side of the Commander? The reveal at the end of this book was awesome and I can't wait to see where the author goes with it.
Watcher of the Dark (Jeremiah Hunt #3) (2013) by Joseph Nassise
I should have started these in order but I'm reading the third one first because that was the one my library had. Part fantasy and part horror, Jeremiah Hunt is running from the law for a crime he didn't commit and his power to see the unseen is what will help him get through it. When he is captured by the evil Magister of Los Angeles, he needs his friends and his powers to live through it. The plot was well done with lots of conflict and the characters live up to their story arcs. I didn't need to read the first two to catch up as the author gives us enough of the back story to want to read the first tow but it isn't needed. Nassise lives in Phoenix which is what brought him to my attention. He's been nominated for the Bram Stoker Award and written many books and now I have to add him to my favorite author list and go find all his other books.
Free Agent (Grimm Agency #1) (20115) by J.C. Nelson
Marissa works for Grimm (THE Fairy Godfather)who gives her orders from the other side of a mirror. Along with some of the other employees, she breaks curses, leads princes to their destined princesses and is trying to save enough of her pay (Glitter) to retire and go back to the family who sold her into virtual slavery to save their other daughter from a terminal illness. I didn't necessarily love Marissa but as a character she was interesting - strong, independent, quirky sense of humor. I loved the world building but it takes time to figure out the background as there is very little infodump in the beginning. I loved the characters which reminded me of the supporting cast in Jennifer Estep's Spider series about assassin and barbeque restaurant owner, Gin Blanco. The second one is already out and on my to-be-read shelf - yay!
The Steel Remains (A Land Fit for Heroes #1) (2009) by Richard K. Morgan
I found this title on a list of the best epic fantasy reads, couldn't figure out how I had missed it when it first came out and had to try it. This is a book with adult content, although not on the gore and gross-out violence level of GRRM. Our hero, Ringil Eskiath of a noble house, is a soldier with a named blade of Kiriath steel. He is also openly gay and for some this might be a deal breaker, but the character has a cool sense of humor, is able to show a depth of emotion not usually found in a soldier, with a quirky personality and a solid military history - he almost single-handedly won the battle of Gallows Gap. This was a big deal as it was the battle that won the war against the alien (possibly dimension-hopping)Lizard Folk with the help of the now-departed alien race, the Kiriath. His friends are equally fully developed and quirky. One Kiriath half-blood remains behind serving the Empire, Archeth, who along with another war companion, a Majak horseman, Egar, meet up to do battle with the dwenda, yet another dimension-hopping immortal race. I loved how all the alien races were different and had lots of back story that was relevant to the plot. The history of this story grounds itself in antiquity and gives heft to what is actually only 416 pages of tightly plotted action. The world-building is complex and intricate with court intrigue, dead gods who maybe aren't dead, alien races struggling for dominion, slavery, debauched emperors and a storyline where I'm glad I can start reading the second one, "The Cold Commands", (2011) right away. This book will stand on its own if you don't want to read the sequel as there is no cliffhanger ending. This are several instances of m/m sex, so if you want to, feel free to skim past those.