Saturday, June 27, 2009

Fantasy, Vampires and the Future

More reviews from Harriet about vampires, fantasy and the future. Maybe something will interest you.

Eve of Darkness
S.J. Day
Tor, May 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780765360410

In California, interior designer Evangeline Hollis meets a hunk on a stairwell and cannot resist his lure. After heating up Orange County, he leaves and she notices a triangle etched into her arm. Soon after her encounter, her decade ago lover Alec Cain arrives to inform her ironically that she a true nonbeliever is now marked as a killer for God.

Eve is irate with Cain for deserting her ten years ago without a look back and the man in the stairwell, who turns out to be his brother Reed Abel for putting the Mark of Cain on her. Her new unwanted vocation is to destroy the evil Infernals while staying alive as demons have marked her for hell.

The first “Marked” romantic urban fantasy is a superb gritty tale starring a fabulous creative triangle. Eve holds the exciting dark story line together as the agnostic suddenly has a new belief system; hell she was just an Orange County interior designer and now she is Marked as a bounty hunter of Infernals heating the earth. Worse she has to deal with Cain and Abel as each fills her with desire that will ban her from attending Angels' baseball games. Sub-genre fans will enjoy the EVE OF DARKNESS and look forward to more gritty destruction as chaos has become the heroine’s norm. Harriet Klausner

Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century America
Robert Charles Wilson
Tor, Jun 9 2009, $25.95
ISBN: 9780765319715

It is 2172 and America is a radically different place since the oil was depleted. Transportation and communication are gone; people indenture their lives and that of their children to the Aristos who own vast Estates in return for food, clothing and shelter. The term for a president is thirty years as civilization has reverted back to no better than the early nineteenth century. In fact the goal of the present is a new “Manifest destiny” to encompass the entire continent.

President Deklan Comstock had his brother hung for the crime of becoming too popular; Julian Bryce’s son now lives in the backwater town of Williams Ford. Julian the president’s nephew, his mentor Sam and their friend Adam escape the local enlistment only to be impressed into the army. Julian becomes a hero known as young Captain Commongold throughout the Republic. Deklan is irate as history seems to repeat itself with his nephew replacing his bold and charismatic brother. To prevent further mishap to his presidency, Deklan sends Julian and friends to the front with few supplies and the worst troops; he figures if the enemy fails to kill the usurper, his subordinates will when they rebel.

Extrapolating current day economic, extremism and environmental trends, Robert Charles Wilson paints a bleak future for the sixty stars and thirteen stripes as the Bush legacy. One disaster after another has devastated America until the president becomes a tyrant and the country is divided between the less than 1% ultra wealthy Dominion And Aristos and the impoverished rest. The Christian Churches, the property owners, and the president determine what can be read by the masses and what is dumbed down taught in schools. Julian is an interesting person who is seen through the eyes of the narrator (Adam) as a champion who never wanted to be a hero, but was destined to be one. Though fascinating as he is, it is Mr. Wilson’s America that grimly owns this futuristic thriller. Harriet Klausner

Brandon Sanderson
Tor, Jun 2009, $27.95
ISBN: 9780765320308

Though he is loathed to do so, King Dedelin of Idris must adhere to the treaty signed ages ago in which he is required to send his daughter to marry the God King of Hallandren; as he cannot renege since Susebron’s kingdom is so much more powerful than his. However, the agreement is not specific as to which daughter he sends so he decides to go with his younger one, seventeen year old tomboy Siri rather than the apple of his eye, lovely Vivenna.

Upon arrival at her new home, Siri is shocked by the intrigue and backstabbing of her fiancé’s retinue; especially those allegedly loyal to the monarch. Spies are everywhere. Meanwhile, Vivenna runs away from home to save her sister from a fate she believes is worse than death. She joins a band of Idrian travelers and begins to learn to control her magical skills. At the same time back from the dead hero Lightsong wonders what the Returned Gods commanding Hallandren's army of zombies want from King Susebron.

Known for his Mistborn saga, Brandon Sanderson provides a superb stand alone character driven fantasy. The story line is action packed from the moment the courageous Vivenna sets out to save her younger sister Siri and never decelerates. Yet with that fast pace, several great twists, and plenty of adventures, the cast makes the tale super as monarchs, reanimated dead, returning Gods all learn to never judge a book solely by its cover; because if so Vivenna would have stayed girly girl inside her daddy’s castle. Hopefully Mr. Sanderson provides more tales in this interesting realm. Harriet Klausner

D.B. Reynolds
ImaJinn, Apr 2009, $14.00
ISBN: 9781933417479

Although the government and the people know that vampires exist, for the most part mortals prefer not to acknowledge the nocturnal species and the bloodsuckers concur keeping a low profile. There are eight vampire lords, each controlling a jurisdiction while respecting boundaries to avoid a lethal vampire war. Raphael is the most powerful of the octet with thousands of loyalists calling him Master throughout his domain, the Western states in America.

Two human traitors from within storm his Malibu estate in daylight while he is away; they kidnap Alexandria, a vamp he vowed to protect with his life. To deal with mortals, Raphael hires human private investigator Cynthia Leighton, who works vampire cases. From the moment the client and the sleuth meet they are attracted to one another, but Cyn learned early in life not to believe in love, passion, or trust as they will be used as a weapon of mental destruction. Still she is determined to help the vampire lord rescue his sister.

The first Vampires of America urban romantic fantasy, RAPHAEL, is a terrific tale that if it is an indication of the series, sub-genre fans are in for a treat. The protagonist is tough yet vulnerable as she uses psychological defense mechanisms to conceal her weaknesses behind a kick butt façade. The title hero is more aligned towards typical vampire behavior as an arrogant haughty alpha leader used to obedience until his dependant is abducted showing a rare weakness and then meeting the sleuth showing that rarity is a little more common than his minion thought. The investigation enhances the fine story line as star-crossed lovers try to mount the rescue. Harriet Klausner

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