Category Archives: Paranormal

Written in Red – Anne Bishop

cs759 escaped.  Her flight lands her at Lakeside Courtyard inside Other territory.  It’s the safest place she might find.  The Courtyard is not subject to human law and may be able to keep her away from The Controller’s “benevolent ownership.”  She entered Howling Good Reads in the middle of a snow storm – hypothermic.  She is fed out of  basic kindness.  Knowing she needs to stay, she asks for a job.  The Others decision to make her Human Liaison is to avoid giving it to the distrusted human campaigning for it. She is the best option because she is the only other option. cs759 names herself Meg Corbyn.  Bishop’s story about her is addictive.  I do think it might be crack.  I read through the first three books, one after another, without break.  I’d read the fourth but it’s not available yet.

Bishop’s world is separated into land governed by The Others and Human’s, but human’s are not generally in control.  They are clever meat. Their value lies in what they create – their technology and devices of use.  Other’s are Shifters, Elementals, and Sanguinatti connected to the majority of land. Human land, that is theirs solely, lies  where their species orginated, but they have outgrown it.  They bleed over into Other territory.  This happen at Other’s allowance.  It should never be forgotten that it is not theirs.  They are renters, interlopers, tolerated only as long as they are useful.

Meg changes the dynamics in Lakeside.  The relationships she builds with Elementals, Shifters, and the Sanguinatti is something new.  It changes the way they see humans – that they can be more than useful or edible. This is something to protect, and a small group of humans on the police force realize this.  They see her as their best chance at survival.   A portion of humans resent Others, those who don’t live close enough to them to respect the danger the can invoke, and eventually/inevitably someone will make a mistake.   They hope Meg’s influence can protect them from being decimated.  Unfortunately, the human’s seeking Meg could easily be the ones to endanger them all.

Meg is Cassandra Sangue, a human seer.  They speak prophecy when they bleed.  Meg and her like have been committed to organizations, originally for their protection, becoming ‘benevolent ownership. ‘  Cutting creates a euphoria that develops into an addiction, causing themselves harm, requiring others to intercede.   Benevolent care transformed into exploitation over time.  The cut on their skin gives the observer to prophecy invaluable knowledge – an expensive commodity.  Meg’s escape brings powerful desire for her capture.   Many seek her for personal gain.

I listened to a portion of the audible book and found I preferred to read the book.  I didn’t find the maturity I was looking for in the voice of Alexandra Harris’s narration.  Meg is a young woman, and naive in many ways.  I understand why Harris’s was chosen and why she interpreted Meg the way she did.

Bishop’s Thasia isn’t a new piece of world building.  The Others aren’t unique.  She populates her book with Shifters, Vampires, and Elemental’s.  Recognizing this, I questioned why I am so attached to the book. Why it feels so comfortable?  While it’s not original, the world is a solid combination of familiar ideas and it also has developed/complete characters.   Her world feels natural and the threats realistic.  It’s compelling, well-written, and built with smart/complex characters.

I recommend this.  It is addictive – read at your own risk.


Thorn Jack – Katherine Harbour (Night and Nothing#1)

~ HALLOWEEN APPROVED ~

(This book, or part of it, is set at Halloween.)

This is a great read set through the month of October with the climax on Halloween..  ‘Thorn Jack’ captures the feel of Autumn. The brisk cold has the wind ripping leaves off trees. The Fae or Others, and their dead brought to life by the fairy folk, play their part.  Add a Teind, a pact that must be satisfied for the Fae and their collected spirits to live another 100 years and the story starts to get interesting.  Now, include a woman starting her first year at college in the sleepy Northeastern American town of Fair Hollow.  After her sister and her mother took their own lives in California Finn and her father fled to heal from the loss.  It’s a pretty fascinating concept, right?  It also is a retelling of the old Scottish ballad Tam Lin.  This book felt created especially for me based off my own personal interests.  It is very good but it is also a book that fades in and out of greatness.  The first near half of the book is close to perfect, however.  Katherine Harbour has a way with words and created a beautiful world mixing the normal with otherness.  It reminded me a bit of Charles De Lint’s writings.

Serafina Sullivan, better known as Finn, came to Fair Hollow with her father, the professor of myth and folklore, to escape constant reminders of the loss of her sister, Lily Rose. Someone, who we learn about through small portions of her journal.  Finn and her father move into her late grandmothers house covered in carvings/pictures of fairies and anthropomorphic animals.  It is a true example of the eccentric town that contains several other boarded up mansions belonging to old families of wealth and fortune.  It has been a haven for the art/theatre community for years.  Finn’s college takes liberal and unconventional to new levels, but the town love for celtic tradition appears to be more than nostalgia for lineage and roots. Finn and the close friends she makes get drawn into Fae mischief.  Finn turns the eye of a Fairy Queen and her Jack.  Their interest, and the why behind the interest is what this book is about.  When Finn sees ties to the Fae in her sister’s journal it causes her to unabashedly rush down the rabbit hole in search of answers.  The fact that she is attracted to the Jack only draws her further.

I recommend you read this book rather than listen to it.  Kate Rudd narrates it and while she has done very well with other books, such as The Chronos Files Series by Rysa Walker, I preferred my own interpretation of Harbour’s writing.  Listen to the snippet available prior to purchasing the audio version and make your own assessment.

The first half of this book I could not put down.  Harbour’s writing is picturesque and I adored the originality.  I recognize this is a retelling, and that Tam Lin itself is a romantic story of a woman who tricks the Fairy Queen to release her love/the Queen’s Jack from her clutches.  My problem is I was so engrossed in Finn’s story of finding out what happened to her sister, who committed suicide and the reasons behind it, I was frustrated at being drawn away from that portion of the story. Ultimately, however, Harbour had to develop the tale of how Finn grows a new heart in the dead Jack.  (A Jack is an Other, who at the bidding of the Fairy Queen, causes people to fall in love with them in the pursuit of mischief and.)  The paranormal romance is not bad, but it did not have the same teeth that Finn’s search of the truth about her sister’s death has.  The romance is predictable and typical of current YA/NA writing.  The character interaction of Finn with her friend’s Sylvie and Christie loses its depth and realness at this point as well.  I belive Harbour has great potential as an author. I hope the next stories in the series of Night and Nothing can be the level of the first half of this book all the way through.   I believe Harbour can do it and I have been left curious.  I’m assuming the stories will not be about Finn and Jack since this story feels so complete.

I recommend you pick this up is you like stories about the Fae.  This is very good at leaning on real lore regarding the Fae from Celtic origins with interesting quotes from Shakespeare, Yeats, and Lady Gregory.  It is definitely New Adult and paranormal romance but it is interesting.  As I said I am interested in Harbour’s other work.


The Infernals/Hells Bells – John Connolly (Samuel Johnson#2)

Samuel’s success at closing the gate to Hell didn’t leave him quite in the position one would hope for.  Instead of being hailed a conquering hero for sussing out the plot and rallying people to the cause, they quietly believe he bears some responsibility.  They have done all they can to forget that demons descended on Biddlecombe.  When they see Samuel, however, they remember.  This makes him partially to blame in their thoughts.   If you have not read ‘The Gates’ it’s the wonderful start to the tale of Samuel Johnson vs. the Devil series. Everything started because Samuel and his faithful dachshund, Boswell, went trick-or-treating on October 28 when he was eleven.  He was maximizing his candy gathering potential when he interrupted a party of bored adults playing with the occult.  It all went downhill from there.

Samuel is thirteen now, and infatuated with the girl every little boy falls in love with.  He’s not spoken to her yet.  He’s still working up the courage. Aside from regular teenage worries he keeps seeing Mrs. Abernathy in the reflections of a puddle or mirror.  He just catches her out of the corner of his eye.  He has no doubt being the focus of an extremely powerful demon with a grudge is not a good thing.  During this book he is transported through a portal to Hell.  Luckily, he has company.  In trying to obtain Samuel a few others were brought to Hell by mistake. England has its own devilishly mischievous creatures.  Mr. Merrywether’s dwarves, an acting troupe of four little men, are pleasantly troublesome. The badly behaved crew is always in conflict with the law and once in Hell they give the demons just as much hassle.

We get to be reunited with “Nurd – The Scourge of Five Deities, Wormwood, and some of our other endearing demonic friends.  John Connolly did not disappoint with this sequel.  He includes the footnotes I loved in the first book.  There is a lot of scientific information in this and the last book.  The footnotes allow for some humorous/clever explanation.  It has been likened to Douglas Adam’s humor in ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.’  I don’t disagree, but Connolly has his own voice and style.  I saved this for Halloween because I believed part of it was set on October 31st, like ‘The Gates,’ but that was a misguided notion.  The third book, however, is set during Christmas time.  I will be putting ‘The Creeps’ in the queue at the end of November.

‘The Infernals,’ like ‘The Gates’ audio version is narrated by Tim Gerard Reynolds and he does an amazing job.  Do not read this book even  if you only occasionally dabble in audio books.  He is paired perfectly with the material and, in my opinion, adds to the experience of the book.  I’m sure reading it will not disappoint, but I highly encourage you to listen to this book not only for, but also specifically for, his interpretation of Mr. Merrywether’s Elves/Dwarves.

It is a middle grade book, however, most of the people I know who have read and enjoyed it are adults.  There is much discussion regarding Hell and demons.  This may have you questioning whether eleven and thirteen year olds should be reading it.  The UK title is ‘Hell’s Bells’ and was changed for the US publication in part because of this concern.  It is not frightening or inappropriate.  There is no profanity included in it unless you count ‘Hell’ as profanity.  It does not comment upon religion in a negative or positive light.  I, personally, would not have a problem with nine year olds reading it, but I am not offended by Hell or demons.  I include this so you have some context in determining how family friendly it is.


Book Review: The Haunting of Hill House – Shirley Jackson

Shirley Jackson’s novel is hailed as a distinguished and important work in horror.  ‘The Haunting of Hill House’ has a distinctly gothic feel even if it was published in 1959.  The house is a dark character enveloping people into its warped halls unwilling to let them go.  Dr. Montague, a scholar, who after considerable years searching finds Hill House.  It’s history is dark.  Tragic events taken place through the years lead him to believe it could be haunted.  He intends to find out by researching the phenomena correctly, in a controlled experiment, with people who have an inclination toward the paranormal.  He finds his participants by sifting through reports of metaphysical events.  Montague then sends out letters to the candidates he determined qualified and invites them for a summer at Hill House.  The three people who respond come for their own reasons.  They did not come, nor stay, because of an interest in the paranormal.

I picked up this book in anticipation for Fall, October, and Halloween.  It does not have a Halloween theme, is not set in October, or any part of Autumn.  It is, however, a seminal horror classic.  It is the haunted house genre. People read it every Halloween.  Who doesn’t want to indulge in a book about a haunted house when you can go to one after reading it?

The strength of this book lies in Jackson’s writing.   Her brand of horror is mental manipulation rather than physical danger.  Hill House has a twisted history of playing tricks on its inhabitant’s minds.  Those who come to stay tend to die rather than leave.  The few who have been able to leave develop an unhealthy obsession to go back.  Jackson includes some good twists and turns.  That said, it’s one thing to decide to spend a weekend exploring a hostile paranormal phenomena, but what could possibly possess anyone to stay a summer in a house believed to be haunted?

I listened to the narration by Bernadette Dunn.  She has a beautiful voice but it didn’t inspire the fear Jackson made her characters experience.  I do wonder if I read it instead, if ‘The Haunting of Hill House’ might have had more of an impact on me.  Dunn’s interpretation of climactic moments didn’t sound particularly different from the everyday events.

‘The Haunting of Hill House’ was horrifying to readers when it came out.  It was original.  It, however, is not now if you have read other haunted house tales with a paranormal investigation.  I recognize the books I’ve read were Jackson’s descendants.  They, unfortunately, prepared me for the climactic points of this book.   It will not have the effect on current readers it had on those in the sixties.  This does not mean you shouldn’t read it, but you should know its history, so you can respect it even if you are not frightened by it.


World After – Susan Ee

World After (Penryn & the End of Days, #2) This is actually the second time I’ve read this book. Originally, I consumed it seconds after reading Angelfall.  Ee left us with a painful cliffhanger and I’m not patient.  The beauty of writing the review after reading it the second time is reflection, and the funny thing is the pieces I didn’t like the first time are the same ones I love now.  World After is good.  Ee was originally self published.  It makes me that much more impressed that her books are polished.  ‘Angelfall’ is unique and well written. ‘World After’ is just as good.  Unfortunately, this wonderful genre has been saturated with lots of replicas of what made it popular.  Finding something original is a breath of fresh air. I will recommend this even to friends who only love the grimmest of the Grimdark or the highest of the High Fantasy because this is what makes Young Adult amazing.

We open with Penryn paralyzed, thought to be dead, and deposited in the arms of her mother by a flying creature with scythed demon wings.  Understandably, even the revolutionaries who knew Penryn are giving serious thought to tossing her over the side.  That said, whose going to cross Penryn’s insane mother holding a cattleprod and a seven year-old growling science experiment.  Once Dum and Dee weigh in saying not to touch “the living dead girl” all hope is lost.  After all, DeeDum is hoping for Zombie mud fights.  If you haven’t read ‘Angelfall’ I may have lost you.  Bare with me. Angels have fallen to earth and have reaked havoc amongst Tsunamis and earthquakes. Mankind is no longer the dominant species.  Penryn is in the Bay area with all the software engineers and no software.

Penryn found her sister severely altered by the Angels.  Her vegetarian baby sister now has a mouth of monster teeth and a hunger for raw meat.  Her uneasy alliance with the Archangel got her to the Aerie but he’s gone, and she is reunited with the rebels.  Joining the human resistance isn’t what you would hope.  The angels have turned our world upside down and what it means to be human has changed.  Penryn and her sister are kept to be studied but they aren’t trusted.  Penryn woke from the dead and what exactly her sister is hasn’t been determined.  Another type of human monster has been created in Clara, the empty husk of humanity, left after the scorpion angels sucked her dry.  That’s right they aren’t dead, even though most would prefer them to be.  The walking husks are forced to live separately. How fickle we humans are, even faced with a common enemy we have difficulty seeing past our differences to unite. Everything and everyone can be turned into monsters.  That goes for angels and humans.

This book highlights the fact angels are not in a war with humans.  They don’t need to be.  The great human attack on the aerie is an inconvenience.  No angels died.  Humans are an afterthought.  Monkeys.  Monkeys that don’t deserve enough consideration to be called an enemy.  The angels have much bigger issues – each other.   Gabriel is dead and Uriel is campaigning to be the new messenger.  The attack on Raphael was peremptory. He is an Archangel, on earth for centuries hunting out the nephilim – the spawn of the unholy union of a daughter of man and angel, and a threat.  He stands for the ultimate dedication to Angel law.  Earth is caught in the unfortunate power struggle and political warfare.  The twist is what you ignore can hurt you.

My first read of this book I was annoyed that Penryn was such a teenage girl.  You read that correctly.  She is infatuated with Raphael.  She’s concerned about her appearance at the end of the world even if she hates the fact as much as we do.  She runs haphazardly into plans without thinking and worst of all she called her archangel sword ‘Pookiebear’ and dressed it in a skirt and silly stuffed bear.  It is blasphemy!  It is also smart.  Who takes a short teenage girl seriously?  Who looks at a sword dressed in a teddy bear and skirt and is threatened?  Who values a sword called ‘Pookiebear.’  No one, and that’s the point. Penryn isn’t foolish enough to think she can fight adult men let alone angels as an equal.  She took years of self defense.  When you are smaller than everyone else you use their weaknesses against them and you smile when they underestimate you. Yes, it bothered me Penryn was being a teenager, and girly, but after reading it again I loved it.  We have a strong heroine who can still be infatuated at what she shouldn’t be.  She isn’t ashamed to dress her sword in glitter if it means she can keep it.  She can love her broken mother and wish she was more at the end of the world.  No one is perfect in this story

Despite every author thinking they can write YA, and cash in,  it’s not true.  You have to think about your demographic.  While there are many middle aged people reading it, it’s not solely for an adult audience and that is something young adult authors have to be aware of.  Ee presents a non-perfect world filled with violence, mental instability, sex, religion, discrimination, disappointment, love, and loyalty in an honest light.  It shows the good and the bad.  She doesn’t preach. She creates strong flawed characters and allows them to learn and to fail.  She lets us enjoy her characters for what they are. I’m pretty sure Raphael and Penryn are going to end in romance but I hold out hope that Raphael can appreciate Penryn, love her as a friend and family, but still recognize she’s a child.  I know there are those of you have finished the series and can tell me the answer, but don’t…


The Penguin Book of Witches – Katherine Howe

Penguin Witches

If you have ever had an interest the historical story of witches, how they became so notorious , and how society came to fear them to the point of mob justice, generating the term “witch hunt,” this is the book for you.  Katherine Howe takes historical records from 15th century court records of witch trials to the 19th century when belief in witches as a reality began to wane.   Her study crosses England, Scotland, Ireland, New England and Canada.  Howe it’s thorough in demonstrating what created our present vision of a witch.

This is non-fiction, and if like me you get a little disgusted by the sensational version of witches like the show ‘Salem,’ this may be for you.  This was a real and tragic attack on the disenfranchised, those on the outskirts of society, the poor, and those that did not conform to the societal norm.  As the bible states, “thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.”  This was not the first, or the last situation the bible would be utilized to justify swift unreasonable violence.

Think about your life and see if you fit in the demographic of those that would be accused of a witch.  First, are you a single woman?  Men were accused too, but a disproportionate amount were women.  Are you middle-aged or older?  As a woman do you not always conform to gender roles like getting in an argument with your neighbors and cursing?  Have you ever had to beg or depend on the charity of your neighbors?  Do you choose to not go to church or occasionally just miss services?  Do you live alone with no family living in your town?  If you said yes to at least three of these you probably would have been accused of being a witch.  If you were lucky the court may just make you give your land to your accuser, but it’s more likely you would have lost your life.

How do you prove a person is a witch?  Confession.  What could possibly cause someone to confess.  Interrogation.  It was generally violent.  Accused witches bodies would be searched thoroughly for open sores, or teats, that the devil and his imps would suckle for the witches blood.  I can only imagine the amount of skin tags and legitimate sores people had on their bodies at these periods in history.  If you wanted to find something I have no doubt you would.  The indignity of the search would be terrible.  I don’t want to mention everything but I do want to peak your interest.

This is a compilation of research and study including Howe’s impressive notes section.  If you enjoy in-depth analysis you will like this.  Actual documents are included, and while Howe explains it, it is not broken down into layman’s terms.  This is for those with historical curiosity.  This in not a book to read on Halloween to create a spooky atmosphere. I did appreciate it and am glad I read it.

I received this from NetGalley and Penguin Group Penguin Classics in return for an honest review.

 


White Rabbit – K.A. Laity

White Rabbit

Published April 21, 2014

White Rabbit centers around Draygo.  He is an addict, clairvoyant, charlatan, and ex cop.  Draygo has a very real connection to the ethereal realm he just doesn’t particularly want to participate in it.  It’s easier to use tricks and trade secrets he learned from his Aunt to create an illusion rather than actually speak with the dead.  Draygo is focused on getting by the easiest way possible with the least amount of headaches or actual participation in the real world.  Our reluctant hero is at the heart of this paranormal noir tale.  It it is told from his first person narrative.  This is both beautiful and dysfunctional for a variety of reasons.  K.A. Laity was true to her main character.  It is what made the second half of the book great and the first half extremely difficult to immerse yourself in.

The novel is centered around a detective, a dead femme fatale, and a hard-nosed female reporter.  While Draygo is a disgraced ex-cop, he by no means is a hard-boiled detective.  He’s all over the place and engages in a fair bit of self-pity.  Due to the amount of ‘Dust,’ narcotics and alcohol he consumes, he is rarely in an unaltered state.  Our femme fatale was the wife of a high profile gangster running  the tabloid scene.  She gets murdered by her own bodyguards in Draygo’s house while he is communing with the dead on her behalf.  He gets framed for it.    She remains with Draygo as an unwelcome spirit  that pesters him incessantly to find out what the White Rabbit is and why it got her killed. Is the white rabbit a drug, an organization, and what is causing the dead to go into a frenzy of fear?  It was a nice twist to have murder victim be a main character haunting our character from the other side.  It is set in the underbelly of an alternate London.  Draygo introduces us to his bartenders, prostitutes, and illegal pharmacists as he tracks the white rabbit with Saunders.  Saunders is the female reporter that turns up on Draygo’s doorstep immediately after he is sprung from prison on bail.  She wants the story of the White Rabbit and she pokes and prods Draygo into investigating in the real world at the same time our dead trophy wife is pestering him to do so in the ethereal realm.

The first half of the novel was hard to engage in.  K. A. Laity’s narrator is Draygo.  He talks in a constant stream of slang, jargon, and references to books, movies, and songs.  Some of it is explained and some I knew, but a large amount I believe will be missed by the average reader.  It became a distraction from the storyline and at one point I considered abandoning the book.  I’m glad I didn’t.  The story in the second half becomes much more focused and enjoyable.  The concept is wonderful.  I believe the references, slang, and tangents were part of the character building.  The character is a mess.  It makes sense, since he is the narrator, that the book would be frenetic and a bit cluttered .  As he weans himself off the ‘dust’ his mind becomes more focused  and the story became more clear.  As a device, I can respect what the author did, but I’m not sure I liked it. I, personally, would not have picked up on this if I had not finished the book, and it made it hard for me to connect with the book.  I want to make the distinction because I do not believe the book is poorly written.

Overall, I enjoyed it.  I liked the concept.  I enjoyed the combination of noir and paranormal.  It is a short, complex, and fun read.  I would recommend you give it a chance.  You will know if you want to finish the book or if you want to abandon it in the first few chapters.  I would definitely read another book by K. A. Laity.

I received this book from Fox Spirit Books and NetGalley in return for an honest review.


The Girl – Madhuri Blaylock

The Girl (The Sanctum, #1)Well, Madhuri Blaylock sure knows how to start a book off with a bang and end with a doozie of a cliffhanger.  ‘The Girl’ is about several young paranormals running amok in New York.  These teenagers, however, are not young.  They have been running from or for the all-powerful Sanctum.  At 16 you are already a warrior, and the characters reflect the maturity that goes with dispensing justice on behalf of the governing body.  I would classify this as New Adult except the characters are technically in their teens.

The Sanctum is the governing force that controls the population of magicals be it angel, vampire, troll, werewolf, faerie, etc.  It also ensures humankind isn’t let in on the secret.  If magicals step out of line, a warrior is sent to take it out for the common good.  This started happening a bit more freely once the ranking Sanctum family became the Breslin’s.  One must question if the motives of The Sanctum are as pure and just as they should be.

When Carter Breslin sends out a decree to exterminate a hybrid, half Angel/half Demon, everyone is sent searching for a holy terror the likes of which no one has seen before.  Wyatt Clayworth and his best friend Ryker, class A Sanctum warriors, are the ones who find her, specifically Wyatt.  Until this point, Wyatt had been the perfect warrior and Sanctum member.  He follows orders, but when he finds the hybrid is broken girl rather than an apocalyptic monster, he becomes uncertain.  She turns his life, and the lives of those he cares about upside down.  In the process they may alter the entire Sanctum.  The definition of a holy terror may have to be redefined.

The book is fun.  It sucked me in from the beginning.  It was nice to decide I wanted to finish the book after 5 pages instead of needing to wait fifty.  There is romance, romance that is categorized better as fated rather than instant love.  It is a device rather than a failure of the author’s capability to develop a believable love story.  First and foremost, this is the story of warriors bent on revenge.

Every character is good-looking, and I do mean every character. I rolled my eyes for a minute, in my head telling myself this isn’t believable, and then I remembered I was reading a fantasy about creatures that don’t exist.   I decided I could suspend my disbelief and started to enjoy myself again.  My only other concern came in when I realized these teenagers acted like thirty year olds.  For the most part their interactions are far to mature.   In my head, I once again said this isn’t believable, remembered its fantasy,  stopped being ridiculous, and went back to enjoying a good story.  It certainly isn’t going to hurt anyone to have a little maturity role modeled.  It is good fun light urban fantasy, and provided some much needed escapism for me.

The next book, ‘The Boy,’ is out and I purchased it about 10 seconds after I finished ‘The Girl.’  Ms. Blaylock leaves you with a serious cliffhanger, and anyone who reads my blog knows I’m not known for literary patience.

 


“Angelfall” (Penryn and the End of Days #1) – Susan Ee

Angelfall by Susan Ee

This is good YA.  There is a lot of YA out there, and I enjoy it,  I even enjoy some YA that’s maybe…not great.  I read the entire Divergent series despite having  issues with it.  I found it fun enough for light reading,  but ‘Angelfall’ is fabulous YA.  It made me remember why I like YA, why I enjoyed ‘The Hunger Games’ and Suzanne Collins so much.  Susan Ee created a good young female for us to follow.  She is strong, challenged, and doesn’t look for someone to save her.  This doesn’t mean she’s and idiot and won’t accept it when available, but Penryn is a character I would want young adults to read.

Angelfall is about Penryn, her paranoid schizophrenic mother, disabled seven-year old sister, and the angel Raphael.  There are some other characters but these are the core. Angels have come to earth and have ravaged it.  Power is unreliable, food is rare, civilization, houses, and cars have been abandoned in the three months after the Angel’s arrival.  How do you fight what humanity was led to believe is divine?  These are not sweet cherubs.  These are the warriors from the Bible.  This is not dystopia: it is a Doomsday scenario.

The book starts with Penryn and her family evacuating.  They stumble upon Angels fighting each other. As a distraction to give her family the best lead possible she tosses the outnumbered angel its sword.  His wings have been cut off but still fights off  his attackers.  Penryn’s reward is a vengeful deserting angel plucking up her sister and taking her away.  Penryn is responsible for her family and strikes up an uneasy alliance with the angel, Raphael, so she can save her sister.  She leaves her mother to fend for herself.  Susan Ee makes the point that at the end of the world the mentally unstable and paranoid are the most capable of surviving.  I find this thought something repeatedly getting mulled over in the back in my mind.

This book passes the Bechdel test.  There are female characters that don’t fit static stereotypical molds and exist outside their relationship to the men in their lives.  Penryn is trained in multiple forms of martial arts and self defense.  Her mother had a mental break and took out all their savings, due to her fears of the devil and demons, to enroll Penryn in every self-defense class she could find.  This was the breaking point in her parents marriage.  The money was to help Penryn’s little sister with medical for her paralysis.  Her father snapped and left, and Penryn became the head of the household.  She took her lessons seriously being witness to her mothers episodes.

She is a responsible young woman whether the position she has been put in is fair or not. Susan Ee, however, still represents her as a girl with the challenges that young girls encounter along with the ones that come with the end of the world.  She is not an adult woman in the shape of a 17-year-old girl.  This means there is still teenage language and written in a  teenage voice.  We are privy to her internal dialogue where she thinks about her awkward attraction but also acknowledges the reasons she can’t act on it.  What person hasn’t had feelings they knew they couldn’t act on?  This is an important lesson for anyone to learn.  That being said, while I love and am impressed with this book, if your expectation is for an adult book in the form of YA, this isn’t it.  This is YA fiction, enjoye it, but don’t make it something it isn’t

There is a question of romance: a forbidden attraction between angel and daughter of man. Penryn and Raphael deal with feelings of awkward attraction.   Let me rephrase, Penryn deals and Raphael may be showing signs of attraction.  Raphael, however, isn’t an ageless male paranormal that has a sudden epiphany that a teenage girl is the answer to his amorous desires and calls it love.  In short, he is not an irresponsible predator…at least not yet.   I praise Susan Ee for writing a responsible male character.   Raphael is an accountable paranormal male instead of  the love-struck vampire seen in a lot of YA. Put a pretty face on it, it doesn’t change that a 100-year-old/eons old being is taking advantage of a teenager. …Okay, I recognize I just went on a rant.  I apologize.  I will even admit I enjoy books that  fall in this category.  That doesn’t mean I don’t get uncomfortable or question what kind of problems we might be creating with the amount of literature published, geared to young  adults, that makes having a relationship with older men not only acceptable but fascinating and tantalizing. (End of Rant)

I recommend this for people who enjoy good YA or are considering taking a foray into YA.  Start with the good stuff so you don’t run from the genre screaming.  I also have to say I enjoy  Susan Ee’s take on Angels.  They are not stereotypical.  I’m impressed at her realistic characters you like even as you acknowledge their flaws.  Enjoy it, I’m going to go pick up the next book.  I am worried.  The third hasn’t been written and after this book there will be no immediate gratification.  Be aware before you start the series…


“Whispers Under Ground” – Ben Aaronovitch

Whispers Under Ground by Ben Aaronovitch

Ben Aaronovitch has not lost his touch and did a wonderful job with Whispers Under Ground. I finished this book and promptly listened to it a second time. I didn’t think I could do justice to my review, and let’s be honest, I just wanted to listen to it a second time. Kobno Holdbrook-Smith narrates this on Audible, if you have already listened to the first two of the series, you know he is an amazing narrator. He does remarkably with the characters, both with being able to do the accents but also with picking up on the personality, humor, and sarcasm Aaronovitch gave them. I wish every book and narrator were so well matched.

In Whispers under ground Peter, Leslie, and Nightengale are searching for the “Little Crocodiles” (ethically challenged magical practitioners that are rogue and not keeping the Queens Peace – Peter takes objection to Nightengale calling them black magicians.) They also are working with the murder squad to determine who murdered a young man with a bit of magically imbued pottery in the underground. This opens our team up to investigating the London Underground and sewers. Oh, how I want to now take a trip to London and take a tour of the underground!

Leslie is back, and you get to experience Peter and Leslie develop their friendship after the tragic deformation of her face. Peter is far more sensitive than we would have believed in the past, and its great to see these two characters grow, especially since Leslie is a perfect counter to Peter.  We also meet some extraordinarily funny and perfect CI characters that we will see again in Broken Homes.

It does have profanity, but its situation appropriate. There isn’t sex in this book unlike the last in the series. In my opinion, it wouldn’t be an issue for a teenage crowd to read as long as you are comfortable with some profanity.

The book is delightful. I honestly don’t know if it is the best written book, I really wasn’t paying attention because I was so drawn into the book, but its one of my favorites. It’s humorous, it has the necessary one liners of a police detective novel, and the brash characters needed with Sewall and Stefanopolis. It’s delicious.  I have to say this is my favorite of the series, and as I not so patiently wait for the next installment of  ‘The Rivers of London’ series, I decided to visit and old friend.


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