Servant of a Dark God
Tor, Sept. 2009 $25.99
In the New Lands, the Koramites who have settled on the land are vassals to the Mokaddians. There is danger in this mostly unexplored place; the least of which are Bone Faces who attack the colonists from the south. They cut off a person’s pinky and use black magic to bind that individual to them. More dangerous are the Sleths who use Fire (another person’s life force) to give them incredible strength and speed. Only the Divines are allowed to use Fire because they feel anyone else would over use and over time would tirn into something evil. A monster nesting amidst the colonist has turned others into monsters.
Charity has come to the attention of authorities when her dead baby with parts of a stork and a stork with body parts of a human were found when the rains washed up the casket. Her husband was killed but her children blind Legs and Sugar seek shelter at the home if a member of the Order who use magic for good purposes. Talen, the man’s son wants to turn them in but his father refuses. The monster Hunger seeks Charity and brings her to his master. Soon many members of the Order are trapped in the monster’s monster’s cave and only a miracle can save everyone.
This is the first book in the Dark Gods series and it uses action to introduce the reader to the dangerous New Lands in which life is not precious. Readers get a sense of the differing species competing for power. For instance the Divines want more power to strengthen their hold at the top of the food chain. The monster who creates monsters out of humans wants to go back to where humans were herded like cattle. The Order is mankind’s only hope for a free life, but many doubt the lords and the commoners will believe in their cause due to prejudice against magic users who are not Sleth. John Brown has written a compelling but bleak fantasy world filled with a complex and convoluted social structure that will grip readers from the onset. Harriet Klausner
Secret of the Dragon’s Breath
iUniverse, 2009, $16.95
In 1941 Crackeston Haven in North Cornwall, England continues to have rationing in support of the war with the Nazis. Gavin Kane feels the impact as his thirteenth birthday party as there is no eggs or sugar to make a cake. His friends Emily Scott, and “evacuee boy” Bunty Digby accompany him to see the wise ancient dragon Sir Thaddeus Osbret the dragon who loves sweets when he is not pretending to be a fireplace. That night Bunty draws a picture of a castle that he fears contains an evil threatening the world
In Shloss Wewlesburg Castle in Germany, Herr Himmler learns his top scientist evil Deiter Gortz is missing, but has somehow created a dragon that the Nazi calls Black Wing. He is unaware that Deiter is the dragon. Also in residence is Reinhard Heydrich as Himmler knows to keep his most vile rivals nearby. He is also unaware that something beneath the castle has begun to control Heydrich who has come up with the “Final Solution”.
The dragon Council meets to discuss humans and their propensity for war and global destruction. Thaddeus makes a pitch in favor of the humans, but several have doubts the species should be allowed to live. Korbin the dragon warns his friend an evil is coming that could take the “Final Solution” out of their hands.
Besides the fantasy elements, which ring genuine, it is the deep look at life in coastal England during WWII that makes SECRET OF THE DRAGON’S BREATH a super read. The birthday cake is a great example of how rationing impacted people throughout the country. The tale is fast-paced and exciting as the danger to England mounts with the human friendly dragon and the three teens on one side while enemies human and supernatural mount on the other. The sequel to SECRET OF THE DRAGON’S EYE is a super historical military urban fantasy. Harriet Klausner
Drawn into Darkness
Signet, Sep 2009, $7.99
Centuries old and counting, Father Lachlan MacGregor gathers souls to deliver to heaven before the demons can suck them dry, for Lachlan this means penance as he is the Soul Gatherer. At the same time he insures his downstairs neighbors, artist Rachel and her fourteen years old daughter Emily are safe; he is especially keeping a wary eye on the teen.
Rachel is taken aback by her attraction to the handsome hunk upstairs as he is forbidden fruit being a priest. Lachlan reciprocates her desire, but he has some supernatural wars to contend with. As they fall in love, they team up to keep Emily safe from an especially evil essence who wants the teen to fulfill an ancient prophecy while also using the child as a pawn to get at Lachlan. What the Soul Gatherer hides from his beloved mortal is her child is his next transfer to the beyond.
This fast-paced urban romantic fantasy will grip readers with the first sword duel and never slows down until the final confrontation as everyone from beyond want to know the way to San Jose. The story line is fast-paced but driven by the relationships as the hero falls in love with the mother of his next delivery and the rebellious daughter is enticed by a charming demon. Annette McCleave provides a terrific thriller. Harriet Klausner