Category Archives: urban fantasy

The Flux – Ferret Steinmetz (Mancer 2)

Steinmetz second book in the Mancer Series is perfectly enjoyable.  Valentine, Aaliyah, and Paul come back to us.  Paul Tsabo, the world’s most unlikeliest hero, takes us through the fine back alleyways between right and wrong, mancer’s vs. mundanes, faith vs. antagonism.  How nice it would be if the world was black and white.  Instead it is many murky shades of grey where the meek become powerful.  Mancer’s are created from intense passion.  Intense passion, obsession, is usually is born of loss and sadness.  So, the world is left in the hands of Paul, a lanky man of Greek heritage missing a foot who is a bureaucromancer; Valentine, an overweight/voluptuous twenty-something female videogamemancer; and Aaliyah, Paul’s baydly burned, mixed race, nine year-old daughter.  If the bookiemancer we meet in this book were to place a bet on these three I doubt it would be in their favor.

Paul Tsabo is in charge of the New York police force hunting mancer’s.  Who would be better for the job than the only mundane man to take one down?  Well, its complicated, Paul isn’t mundane is he? He’s carefully hidden his bureaucramancy. He is legitimately trying to find other mancer’s, but he doesn’t have any intention of capturing them if they are not a threat.  Paul hopes to find others like him, Valentine, and his daughter.

Paul’s second job is brewing the drug Flex for a criminal entity.  Unfortunately, his first job and his daughter keep getting in the way -resulting in him owing larger and larger sums to his Oscar.  K-Dash and Quaysean are Oscar’s employees tasked with supporting Paul.  Paul has amazing talent and skill but no one – not his daughter, not Valentine, not Oscar, or some other characters we meet, have any faith that Paul can/will protect himself.  His faith in his fellow man, mancer or mundane, leaves him at risk.  So, their attempts to protect him, while sometimes positive, usually result in highly dysfunctional trainwrecks.

While brewing Flex, his daughter steps in to protect her daddy when his own police force tracks him to his laboratory.  He might have been able to compensate for one variable but both result in the total loss of the Flex, millions of dollars he will now owe Oscar, and the loss of his job with the police.  The usual upbeat Paul is forced to slink back on his belly to Samaritan Mutual, the Insurance Company, he used to work for.  The information he will find working there about the King of New York, a Police Informant whose always one step ahead of him, and about other mancers in New York takes his life in very unexpected directions.  Paul and Valentine are forced to suffer terrible indignities in the name of doing what appears to be best for Aaliyah in this book.  Eventually, we learn all that looks righteous and good isn’t and entities that appear criminal and wrong aren’t either.  I told you this book was murky and grey.

We did meet some new mancers in this book. I wasn’t particularly fond of some of them. I get that Steinmetz mancy is based off of obsession but I had a hard time with the plushomancer. Everything about that just seems downright wrong.

A wonderful component of Steinmetz’ Mancer series is the complex characters. They are flawed well-intentioned underdogs.  Most books present their heroes as fit ideals.  They are the epitome of what society says is desirable – wealthy, attractive, and clever.  Things come to them easy.  We rarely know how they learned their skill set.  They just intuit how to use a sword, naturally lead through charisma, and save the day with their unwavering confidence they are right.  They have crisis of faith and challenges, but they start the game with advantages.  Steinmetz characters aren’t like that.  You only have to look at Valentine to see this.  She turned to gaming because it offered her an escape from her life.  The obsession became magic, but that magic came with Flux/backlash.  She can’t care about anyone because they die.  She lives in her car – her magic getting her evicted regularly.  She has sex with random people met online because it’s the only way she can connect with someone without fear of the Flux taking them.  She eats horribly, but hell carbohydrates make you feel good and in the midst of so much terrible in life a girl should get to have carbohydrates if nothing else.  While this book has focus on Aaliyah; what Paul, Valentine, and her mother believes are the right things for her; there is also added focus on Valentine.  I enjoyed this insight.  K-Dash and Quaysean’s characters are also developed.  They are two of my favorite supporting characters in a book.  For gangsters, who can wreak a high level of havoc and pain, they are kind loving men.  This book stands on its story, writing, and characters, but it also presents diversity in an intelligent realistic way.

I read and listened to the audio version of this book. Peter Brooke narrates the series.  He does a wonderful job.  He grasped Steinmetz humor.  He also handled the range of emotion and characters well.  This is definitely a book you can enjoy listening to.  Fair warning:  you might laugh out loud.  So, if you are at work listening to this, potentially in violation of work policy, be aware.

It’s clear I enjoyed this book and respect Steinmetz.  I encourage you to read/listen to it.  It’s geared to a fantasy audience, but I will say it should appeal to comic book lovers and dystopian fans too.

I received this from Netgalley and Angry Robot in return for an honest review.


Flex – Ferrett Steinmetz

I have no complaints for this book and several compliments.  There is action, humor, and it’s smart.  Steinmetz created an alternate reality that includes both magic and the Affordable Health Care Act.  …an interesting choice.  His magic is ‘mancy.  Power born from obsession and escapism.  If what you love and respect above all else is rules and paperwork you become a Bureaucromancer like Paul Tsabo. A man who believes in the justice paperwork provides.   Steinmetz main character is a skinny ex-cop who decided, by choice, to quit and work for an insurance company, Samaritan Mutual.  His job has been to catch ‘Mancers.  The people who distort the fabric of reality for their wishes, and it makes them dangerous because reality has to bend back.  This process is called Flux.  As the universe tries to make up for the imbalance you get earthquakes or storms raining frogs. … It’s quite the day when he becomes one.  In ‘Flex,’ Paul is searching for a ‘Mancer by the name of Anathema.  She uses her ‘mancy to create Flex, a drug, that gives mundanes the abilities of a ‘Mancer for limited time.  They, however, have no idea how to handle their flux and it is creating havoc in Manhattan.  It created a gas fire that burned Paul’s daughter, and the Bureaucromancer will do what he has to in order to stop her.

Paul is great character.  He’s a divorced father, ex-cop, hero, and insurance claim investigator.  He was disabled after his foot was crushed in his fight with ‘the Illustromancer.’  It led to stress in his marriage and escapism in work.  He believed if he couldn’t fix his own problems at least he could work on his claims and fix other people’s.  The focus and passion for it led to his work becoming ‘mancy.  This kind-hearted and loyal man is an unlikely hero.  Yes, he was a cop, but not because he had physical aptitude for it.  Clothes hang on him like a hanger.  It is his determination that got him on the police force and what drives him in his fight with Anathema.  He’s a good man, and a good caring father, despite the fact he is not a perfect one.  There is no such thing as a perfect parent.  What drives Paul is his essential goodness.  Steinmetz did well in his creation along with other characters like Valentine.  She is described as a sunny, pudgy, goth girl.  She’s pretty despite being fifty pounds overweight.  She’s messy in how she lives, but when the flux from your ‘mancy takes all you care about away, how else would you live?  She’s a solid and flawed character.  She cares for Paul’s daughter with the ferocity of someone who hasn’t received the same.  You start to see a pattern.  Steinmetz characters are kind, well-intentioned, and realistic.  They aren’t perfect.  Life has dealt them some tragedy that instigated their motivations.  There is also diversity without simplifying the characters into tokens.  I highly recommend this book from character study alone.

I both read and listened to ‘Flex’ and enjoyed it both ways.  I don’t think you can go wrong with either decision.  Peter Brooke’s narration is delightful.  My attention didn’t stray.  Brooke’s interpretation of Steinmetz humor was perfect.  It fit.  The more I pay attention to a narrator’s ability to differentiate characters the more I am impressed with those who do it well.  It isn’t easy and Brooke is successful. When I got interrupted and neglected to pause ‘Flex’ I knew exactly who was speaking in the story.  I wasn’t lost. I went back solely because I didn’t want to miss anything.

The second book is ‘Flux’ and I can’t wait to read it.  I’m forcing myself to wait a bit because I haven’t fallen in love this way with a book since Wesley Chu’s Tao series.  This isn’t to say I haven’t loved and enjoyed other books/series.  I most certainly have.  The attachment for it comes from the feeling I am left with after reading it.  It’s one of goodness, one of hope in an admittedly imperfect world.  I love the ridiculousness of the magic system because it feels right.  Magic created out of obsession and escapism makes sense to me.  Beurocromancy, Videogamemancy, etc. is so preposterous and harebrained it literally rings of reality.  I buy Steinmetz alternate universe, and if you are in the proper mood I am betting you will too.  If you are looking for something beautiful or grim this isn’t it, however, if you like some humor and bizarre reality in your magic system/fantasy pick this up.


Magic Shifts – Ilona Andrews (Kate Daniels #8)

I will reread the Kate Daniels series several times.  Ilona Andrews created a world and characters that make me feel like I’m coming back to my very own alternate home.  It’s urban fantasy but it feels real.  They live in Atlanta after ‘The Shift.’ Technology hit its peak triggering a cataclysmic event bringing magic back to the world.  All the myths, god’s, vampires, shapeshifters, and jinn exist.  Not all have their roots in history and legend.   New beliefs spawn unnamed things/ideas into existence too.  It’s an interesting time.  Magic doesn’t rule constantly.  The world is out of balance and snaps between magic reigning and technology ruling.  Newspapers are back because the internet is unreliable.   You have both cars and horses for transportation but horses are the most sensible.  They work all the time.  If you haven’t explored Kate Daniels world this isn’t the best place to start.  This is the eighth book in the series with several novellas set between.  ‘Magic Shifts’ can stand on its own but you’d be better off starting with ‘Magic Bites,’ the first book.  The titles and the book covers give an impression of light romantic urban fantasy.  The genre doesn’t have the best reputation for good writing but Ilona Andrews breaks the mold by being well written, having strong world building, and flawed wonderful characters.

Life continues in book eight.  Curran, Kate, and Julie have left The Pack and moved to the suburbs.  They have not, however, settled into domestic bliss.  Kate still has Cutting Edge, her detective agency, and people who can’t go to The Order, The PAD, The Pack, or The Mercenary Guild still come to her.   It hasn’t been sixty days and already friends from The Pack have found their way to her door.  Eduardo has gone missing, and the Beastlord isn’t able to investigate because Clan Heavy declared it a clan matter.  They don’t seem to be doing anything, however, and there are reasons Mahon might it opportune for him to disappear.  Eduardo was there for Kate and Curran.  They will have to play politics, from outside the Pack and in general society, to find him.

Kate and Curran have their own problems.  They are running out of money. The Pack can’t buy Curran out of his Pack investments, and are pressing him to take their shares of The Mercenary Guild as a compromise.  The Guild, however, is a sinking ship.  When it was left without Solomon Red, their leader, they let go of the administrative and cleaning staff.  No one is securing contracts for work, and the members are trying to plunder the pension fund. …On top of all this Kate’s father, the all-powerful harbinger of doom, wants to get to know the family.  Kate’s walking a tightrope.

She has magic of ancient and horrifying lineage and is a master with a blade, but Kate doesn’t take direction well.  She runs into danger without thinking.  She is blindly loyal despite having learned to abandon all attachments.  Her warped childhood taught her to survive at all cost.  She is stubborn, and doesn’t know when to stop speaking.  She isn’t perfect, and life rarely goes according to plan.  Unlike several books who have female heroines/hero’s that obtained their skills without effort or thought, Kate has worked her while life for them. She is still working, scarred, has trust issues, and is funny.  This is a real woman, and Andrews draws their other characters equally real.  In life you may hate your parents but in many situations you’re forced to continue to deal with them.  Ignoring her father doesn’t make him go away.  One of my favorite scenes takes place at Applebees for a dysfunctional family dinner.  Life still happens in post shift Atlanta.

Fans won’t be disappointed.  This is good.  New magic is explored well with Ifrit Jinn.  There is an appropriate return/use of the Mercenary Guild – a humble nod to Kate’s beginnings.  Heavy exploration of responsibility of power, relearning hard lessons, and consequences are strong themes.  It is a book of consequences.  Not all are bad but all have to be acknowledged.  I listened to the audible version of this book narrated by Renee Raudman.  She does a great job especially in the voice and inner dialogue of Kate.  She can do many characters but more than anything her interpretation and expression of emotion in characters, across the series, impresses me.  I equally love to read and listen to this series.

Nightwise- R. S. Belcher

I guess everything old can be made new.  I feel like I time travelled to the 80’s and 90’s goth club scene.  Parts of this reminded me distinctly of ‘Constantine’ and the movie 8 MM.  It had some moments that brought us into current times. iPads and smart phones are mentioned.  It had the economic cynicism of present day, but mostly its steeped in references of the past including a musical set list of the Violent Femmes, Rob Zombie and Depeche Mode.  This isn’t going to be for everyone but it will have a strong niche audience.  Belcher’s ‘Nightwise’ reminded me of an actual belch.  It’s potentially satisfying but leaves you with a gross aftertaste in your mouth …and maybe some acid reflux.  It will offend polite company and find it’s place with a grittier crowd.

Laytham is a fiftyish year old wizard, Wisdom, whatever, Laytham isn’t one for labels.  He describes himself as a ZZ Top look-alike who is still somewhat physically fit.  He’s a man-child who quit emotionally connecting with the world at 15.  Trauma pursues this West Virginian man, but a lot of it he welcomes into his life.  He is a badass with a reputation, and as he says himself, he will not bow or serve any God other than himself.  While I like stoic, older, curmudgeon characters I’m not a fan of braggers – or older men who frequent nightclubs and sleep with young women.  Laytham does that.  Grinner, one of the few people in the world who still helps Laytham, tells him explicitly to leave Maggie/Magdalena alone but he just can’t help himself.  Both he and Grinner agreed she didn’t need his special brand of darkness in her life.  He tells her that he has no business sleeping with her.  It’s too dangerous to be around him.  It isn’t a scheme to sleep with her blah,  blah, blah…magic is real, blah, blah, blah.  Big words for a man who kisses her an hour later and sleeps with her.  Now , Magdalena, has her own responsibility in making her choices, but this is the heart and soul of who Laytham is.  He likes to choose to make mistakes.  It’s not that he doesn’t know right from wrong, or light versus dark magic.  He states he is just too lazy to do the right thing.

Given the character analysis above, it comes as a shock that he chooses to risk himself and seek revenge for a colleague who is dying.  When he learns Baj has come to him to cash in a favor he takes the job.  He surprises everyone, including himself, and seeks out a very bad man.  It appears that there is a shred of loyalty left in his dark soul.  That might be a stretch, but it allows him to appear to be a good guy and court death.  To Laytham’s disbelief this causes a few characters in his life to rally behind his damned soul.  Even Laytham believes that they will end up regretting it and half heartedly tries to chase them away. Belcher takes his character through the city seeking out power and magic in nightclubs, S&M clubs, and the general seedier sides of the city.  He will find the bad man even the bad men despise.

You could say this is a coming of age tale.  A teenager grows up.  He’s just does it really late in life.  He’s the consummate late bloomer.  Laytham learns some lessons, learns a bit about who he really wants to be, and decides to make some changes…maybe.

The writing isn’t bad.  There is a lot thrown in to make it grittier.  There is some S&M content, but I have a feeling those in the BDSM scene might not really like how it is portrayed.  A lot of it seems to be for shock value, purely rooted in gaining power and/or dysfunction.  Smoking is used to help darken the world and give credence to it being filled with vice along with sex and drugs.

Truth be told this isn’t my general fare, although I do love ‘Constantine.’  It’s fun if you enjoy this kind of thing, however, it’s not mainstream fare.  Belcher worked very hard for it not to be.  It reminds me of the punk kid back in the day who would get pissed off if you knew of the obscure band they were talking about.  It is distinctly not cool if the general public knows about it.  It wants to appeal to misfits, people who want to be misfits, and the anti-establishment crowd. This book will have its niche following.

I don’t think I would have made it through the book if not for two things.  One, I received and agreed to read it in exchange for a review.  I feel I have an obligation to finish in those scenarios.  Two, the narrator was fantastic.  I received this from Audible in exchange for an honest review.  Beware, Bronson Pinchot speaks very slowly.  It fits the character, but I believe it will be to slow for some.   If you need to change the audio speed it doesn’t hurt anything.  He had a great West Virginian American accent.  His Australian was rough, but for the range of characters he narrated, he did a fantastic job.  His low booming voice for an ancient god and his interpretation of the devil was truly enjoyable.

If this sounds like something you would be interested in give it a chance.  The writing and range of magics is good.  The way financial disenfranchisement and the ‘Corporate Man’ is used is clever.  It’s not anything new, but Belcher did his research and the hodgepodge of magic he combined worked.  It fit Belcher’s Laytham, and the story.

Foxglove Summer – Ben Aaronovitch

Foxglove Summer (Peter Grant, #5)

After a painful betrayal in Broken Homes Peter Grant is focused on getting through the day.  He is still in the process of being debriefed for three separate Formaturgical (magic related) cases and sees no end in sight since the investigations were complete disasters.  One, specifically, ended his involvement in it by being tasered in the back by a good friend and colleague.  As a result, he spends his time practicing both normal police procedure techniques as well as those formers Nightingale has been teaching him for the not so mundane magical confrontations. When two young girls go missing Nightingale sends him to the country to find out what he can do.  The Folly has a responsibility in cases of child abduction.  Apparently, children are used frequently in the practice of unethical magic.  So, it’s off to the country for our London Constable to rustle up any hedgewitches and the like.  Nightingale says it will do him good to go to the country and take his mind off things.  In the tradition of Peter’s wit he can’t help but think, “because nothing cheers me up like a good child abduction…”

How I’ve missed Aaronovitch’s characters.  I will not lie, I wanted some resolution or at least information regarding Leslie.  She abruptly stopped working with the Folly and is nowhere to found.  Aaronovitch placing Peter in the country for this book very soundly put a stop to this kind of thinking.  This is an entirely separate case.  It provides no satisfaction or progress towards the case with the Faceless Man who has caused vexation and suffering since ‘Midnight Riot.’  That said I still enjoyed this book and every once in a while Leslie Mai texts Peter to let him know she hasn’t forgotten him and that he is in her thoughts.

Peter, Londoner through and through, gets some help from the River Beverly Brook.  It’s a good thing because he doesn’t know the first thing about the country, and the country isn’t sure how to take him.  One of my favorite lines is when a group of white boys are staring him down and Peter thinks, “The hard thing about being a racist in the country is you don’t get a lot of practice.”  It made me laugh.  His diversity both of being black and magical cause many moments of humor.  Nightingale sent Beverly as support and she is cathartic for Peter.  She helps him to express his anger and process his emotions regarding the mess at Sky Garden.  While he can not be a temperamental goddess that will bring thunder and lightning he also can’t lock it away and pretend it didn’t happen.  Her aid  in the investigation strengthens their friendship and provides some other benefits as well.

Peter also gets to meet an old colleague of Nightingale’s who fought with him at Ettisberg during World War II.  The elderly gentleman is a kind soul who broke his staff after Ettisberg from a broken heart.  The information he provides helps Peter see a much larger magical community that between he, Professor Walid, the Rivers, and the Fey could develop into a revitalized magical community.

The key story, however, is about the missing eleven year old girls.   Parents awake to their children missing, and after it was confirmed they were not sleeping over at another childs house, West Mercia Police gets overrun with reporters.  Peter is there to ensure no magical problems are to blame, but there are magical problems that include very angry and dangerous unicorns.  One of whom was a good friend to the missing girls by the name of Princess Luna.  Don’t let the name fool you, she might sound like a kind, rainbow grazing beast but these unicorns prefer meat and goring Peter if he gives them the opportunity.  Peter finds the girls but where were they?  One of them seems to have her own magical gifts and her friend is convinced she isn’t who she says she is.  Enter the question of changelings.

‘Foxglove Summer’ is wonderful.  This is good urban fantasy mixed with police drama.  If you have not read any of the series start with ‘Midnight Riot.’  I’ve never been disappointed by Aaronvitch.  He has a capability of taking magic and diversity and being able to blend it with an Alternate London that feels natural.  Many have compared The Rivers of London to the Dresden series.  I don’t find it that similar, but it is urban fantasy and it is a magical police procedural book.  I recommend this to people looking for a non young adult version of urban fantasy who like their books with sarcasm and a bit of dry wit.  Kobna Holdbrook-Smith narrates the audible series.  He does a fantastic job.  I prefer to listen to this series rather than read it because of his talent.  I encourage you to pick up either the book or the audible version.  Fans of the series will not be disappointed and I am confident the rest of you are just fans in waiting.

The Mime Order (Bone Season#2) – Samantha Shannon

The Mime Order (The Bone Season, #2)

 Publish Date: January 27, 2015

A while ago I received Samantha Shannon’s teaser for ‘The Mime Order.’ It was fantastic but left off at a rather large cliffhanger. I have to give Shannon accolades because now that I have finished the ARC for the entire book I’m left in exactly the same position – driven to distraction and frustrated that I don’t have the ARC for Bone Season #3.

‘The Bone Season’ was a good book. It had some flaws, but it was enjoyable. The plot is fast paced. It introduces you to unforgettable characters and an alternate totalitarian London that is even more controlled than initially presented. ‘The Bone Season’ starts a revolution with the Rephaim, beings from the other side of the Veil, but ‘The Mime Order’s’ focus is on London.  Specifically, it is on the Criminal Syndicate, the illegal underbelly of the city. The forbidden piece of romance in ‘The Bone Season’ is addressed in this book but it’s not the primary focus. There are bigger problems to deal with.  When you have a revolution on your hands romance isn’t that important. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t take on a new intricate and plot enhancing shape, but it still isn’t the plot driver.  Welcome to the good version of Urban Fantasy.

Paige Mahoney is I-4′ Pale Dreamer.  She is the gangs mollisher (lead fighter/bodyguard to the leader) and second in command to their leader Jaxon. Paige is focused on exposing the Rephaim and London’s corrupt puppet government, but it isn’t that easy. The bulk of London’s population doesn’t know the Rephaim exist. Our escapees of penal colony Sheol 1 are doing everything they can just to survive and survival in London requires a clairvoyant or voyant to be part of one of the syndicate gangs. If they try to go it alone they will end up captured by the government or dead. Fear mongering propaganda is spread through the streets and without Jaxon’s and the syndicates protection Paige would be dead in moments. There is a bounty on her head and every night televised executions are shown to the public of Voyant escapees or unlucky Voyant look-a-likes. It’s pure show. The Rephaim are using the government to flush Paige out. She is the real threat – a figure to rally the syndicate against the Rephaim. Our poor Paige quickly becomes disillusioned.  As long as the Syndicate Mime Lords (Criminal Voyant Gang Leaders) survive and get their cut they are fine to keep the status quo.  The delicate balance can last only so long, however.  It is so much worse than Paige ever thought. London is going to be turned upside down.

This is a favorite series for me. ‘The Bone Season’ was enjoyable but Shannon has found her voice with this book. Paige is an intelligent if impetuous new adult. She’s forced to learn patience. This alone makes it feel real. The world building and language are natural. The villains are worthy. The real villains aren’t the ones we see coming and Shannon sure knows how to handle them. I would reread it immediately but I have other book commitments. The cliffhanger at the end is painful. When will I ever learn? I don’t have this kind of patience/self-control. I think receiving ARC’s is feeding my “need” for immediate gratification. I want to have my cake and eat it too. I “need” the third book already. I got the second book early. I am a greedy bastard.

I received the Mime Order’ from Netgalley and Bloomsbury USA in return for an honest review


Mind The Gap – Tim Richards

Mind the Gap (The Darius Transitions)

Publish Date: December 1, 2014

This was a rough read for me. I loved the premise. Set in an alternate London we meet Darius, our main character.  He always thought he was a normal guy, but after an altercation in the Underground he thinks he is going crazy.  A a man came after him with a knife and he can’t remember anything else. He woke up in a different station. He doesn’t know how he got there and he is being chased by trained assassins. An unknown and mysterious woman saves him  only to let him know his world – the real world, and a parallel world created by dream and thought exist. He would say she had lost her mind except he keeps disappearing and appearing in other places. How can he explain this and why are trying people trying to kill him?  It turns out they want to kill him because of his disappearing act.  They believe he fulfills an ancient prophecy and whoever controls him controls the fate of both worlds.

The two worlds have a connection to ancient Egyptian religions. I was excited for this but the world building was not strong.  It felt cardboard.  There wasn’t enough detail to make you feel you were in present day London let alone an alternate version.  I recognize I tend to lean towards long descriptions and don’t mind a 1000 page book so this may bother me more than the average reader.  I wanted and expected more. I wanted to see the abandoned subway tunnels. I wanted to feel for the characters but I couldn’t see them and I can’t tell you more about one than the other or how to distinguish them from each other.  Strong solid characters and strong world building will lead me to forgive the worst writing.  This is what I look for in books first and foremost.  If this is important to you this is not the book for you.  If a strong story is enough for you there is a chance you will connect to this better than I did.

Consider this before you pick up ‘Mind the Gap.’ Are you looking for a light read? This fulfills that.  Do you like Urban Fantasy?  Check.  Will you need to pay attention? Yes.  Do you care if your characters are stereotypical? Yes – steer clear, if it doesn’t bother you feel free to pick it up.  In some ways the premise has similarities to ‘Sixty One Nails’ by Mike Shevdon.  It may satiate your needs better if you require stronger world building and fleshed out characters.

I received this from Netgalley and HarperCollins Publishers Australia in return for an honest review.

London Falling – Paul Cornell

London Falling (Shadow Police, #1)

I found Paul Cornell through Ben Aaronovitch – author of The Rivers of London Series.  I was checking his Goodreads page to find an update for ‘Foxglove Summer.’  Aaronovitch read and rated ‘London Falling’ well.  London officers are investigating Crime Boss Rob Toshak, who for ten years has been able to charm jury’s and get off without a slap on the wrist to their endless frustration.  It has some basic similarities to The Rivers of London.   There is a paranormal division in the London police that civilians are unaware of.  ‘London Falling’ is grim and it’s characters not as likable.  I enjoyed this book. I hated the first two chapters that introduced us to the Undercover cops Costain and Sefton who are embedded in Toshak’s criminal enterprise.  The book grew on me the more I read.  Stick with it.

Most authors, even with their unlikable characters, try to endear the reader to them.  I don’t believe Cornell cares about this.  I will say I grew to like them more as the story churned on.  They have undesirable traits.  Each character on the investigating team is important, and couldn’t function without them, but they get on each others last nerve.  Detective Investigator Quill has been running the Toshak investigation and as he is raiding Toshak’s enterprise he has every intention of taking Costain down in the process. Quill doesn’t trust him, and whether he has proof or not, he’s going to trash Constain’s career.  Costain is the lead undercover, and Quill should distrust him, he has set aside some of Toshak’s drug supply for a rainy day.  He is just as willing to sell out the investigation as support it if it means he ends up on top.  Sefton is the junior undercover and has allowed Costain to bully him and edit his investigation reports to delete any unsavory or questionable actions.  Sefton would love to get back at Costain.  He won’t proactively take Costain down but if the right questions are asked he’ll talk.  Lisa Ross is the analyst on the paperwork side of the investigation.  No one knows who she is, what her involvement is, and she doesn’t play well with others.  This unlikely crew are put together to solve Toshak’s death after he combusts in the investigation room with Detective Inspector Quill – drenching him and everything else in the room in blood.  There are no leads and no cause of death.  For all intents and purposes it looks like these four are set a hopeless task.

I listened to the audible version of book narrated by Damien Lynch.  I enjoyed his voice and interpretation of characters but he takes long pauses between sentences.  I thought that the download was skipping content.  It wasn’t.  I  sped the audio up to adjust for this but it didn’t help.  I had to get used to it.  If you choose to go with the audible version make sure you listen to the sample before purchasing to ensure this will not detract from your enjoyment of the story.

As the magic system developed, the team became more cohesive, and the investigation evolved into the paranormal I dug in and found myself captivated.  I did find I had to go back and listen to portions a second time to ensure I knew who was speaking.  It wasn’t always obvious which characters narrative you were in.  I felt I was involved in my own investigation.  Usually this would be a frustration for me but I didn’t mind it.  I encourage people who enjoy adult paranormal, thriller, and noir to read this.  I don’t believe all of Aaronovitch’s fans will like it.  It doesn’t have the same sense of humor that The Rivers of London has. Chuck Wendig fans might like it a bit more.  It’s not as gritty as Wendig but I could see his fans enjoying this.  I have hope that this series will develop and intend to pick up the second in this series, ‘The Severed Streets’.  I’m picking up the e-book because, unfortunately, the second book is not available in audible yet.  I grew to like Lynch.

The Mime Order (Bone Season#2) – Samantha Shannon (9 chapter teaser)

The Mime Order (The Bone Season, #2)

Oh my! I received the 9 chapter teaser for Samantha  Shannon’s second book in the The Bone Season series.  Was I happy to see it was just a teaser?  No, but did it stop me from requesting it?  No.  I’ve read teasers before and generally come away feeling no worse for it, but this left a hell of a cliffhanger.  I don’t like the term “tease” but lacking a better term for this…well, this was a tease!  I’m left frustrated and wanting more…

“The Mime Order’ is better than ‘The Bone Season.’  It is better written.  I was never bored.  This book, at least the 9 chapters I was able to read, does not focus on the Rephaim.  The books focus is on the Syndicate.  Do you enjoy delving into the illegal underbelly of an alternate London?  Do you like strong female characters that aren’t teenagers?  Do you like magic or clairvoyant behavior?  Do you like a books that do not have romance as the primary focus?  Welcome to the good version of Urban Fantasy.

Paige Mahoney is the Pale Dreamer.  She is a mollisher, the second in command of a powerful voyant (clairvoyant human) syndicate headed by a crazy man by the name of Jax.  She is Irish, and the Irish are not thought of highly in this version of London.  Any practice of voyant powers are outlawed and to survive you better be part of one of the syndicate voyant gangs or you will end up captured by the government or dead.  The London population is afraid of voyance and they are quick to eradicate it.  The funny thing about this is it’s a show.  The city is controlled by Rephaim, dangerous alien creatures that protect humanity from an even worse alien threat in exchange for captive Voyants.  The Rephaim feed off the voyant auras.  This is hidden from the average London population.  The fear mongering propaganda is solely a tool for a corrupt puppet government to capture and provide Voyants as sacrificial lambs to the Rephaim and keep their twisted bargain.  So, Paige returns to her London to try to correct this bigger problem; to rally the syndicate against the Rephaim.  Our poor Paige quickly becomes disillusioned.  As long as the Syndicate and Mime Lords (Criminal Voyant Gang Leader) are getting their cut they are fine to keep the status quo.  The delicate balance can last only so long, however.  Changes will come…and that is where the cliffhanger comes in.  No spoilers.

I am now biting my nails in frustration. The wee  taste of this book I received has only made the wait for the COMPLETE book harder.  Oh, and it’s no longer coming out in October I heard the release date has been pushed back to January..ish.  I’m a very patient lady in most respects of my life, but I have no literary patience.  I want immediate satisfaction.  The fact that what I read is a vast improvement over ‘The Bone Season’ doesn’t help.  I liked ‘ The Bone Season’ by the way.  It had a few flaws, but it was a great debut for Samantha Shannon.  There were no flaws I could see in this “teaser.”  That’s all I have to say.  I’m off to find the literary alternative to a cold shower.  Any suggestions????

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.


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