Friday, September 18, 2009

Magicians, Fairys and Vampires

Sea Glass
Maria V. Snyder
Mira, Sep 2009, $13.95
ISBN: 9780778325802

The entire Sitian Council and the three Master Magicians demand apprentice glass magician Opal Cowan report to the Council Hall immediately. Her friends warn her if she goes to the Citadel as ordered she will vanish for quite a long time inside the Keep’s dungeons. To ignore their summons means being declared an outlaw but for now being free; to adhere to their summons means being declared an outlaw and at best be under house arrest, but more likely dungeon duty. Her new powers to take away a magician's power frightens them more than her as they are wary of anyone powerful enough to milk dry any magician.

Opal chooses to travel with her exasperating prisoner Devlen and her easy to goad ally Janco to the Moon Clan’s land where they hope to find Devlen’s body containing Ulrick’s soul so that Yelena the Soulfinder can switch them back. Opal believes she loves Ulrick and will do anything to save him though she fears Devlen is right that her beloved is addicted to the blood magic, which if true would mean she lost him. As she treks across a land in which every mage wants her for her new skill, Opal also thinks about the hunk Kade the Stormdancer who seems repelled by her. However, Opal has no time to explore her desires as her quest remains steadfast.

Although it helps to have read STORM GLASS to understand how far Opal has come and the soul switching magic, SEA GLASS is a fascinating quest fantasy. The heroine makes the novel worth following as she struggles to remain resolute while seemingly every practitioner in Ixia wants a piece of her. Fans will enjoy Opal’s second gem of an adventure as she tries to rescue her beloved, but must at the same time either drain or elude a horde of mages. Maria V. Snyder affirms with the Glass series what the Study trilogy proclaimed that she is a super fantasist.
Harriet Klausner

There Be Dragons
Heather Graham; illustrated by Cherif Fortin & Lynn Sanders
Medallion, Sep 1 2009, $25.95
ISBN: 9781605420714

Once upon the time in the medieval magical kingdom of Calasia, Marina is the only surviving member of her family, the daughter of the House of D’Or, The Count of D’Artois, her step-father is giving Marina in marriage to the Count Carlo Baristo whom his fiancĂ©e loathes. Carlo’s mother Countess Geovana arranged the marriage by ingratiating herself with D’Artois. While wandering outside the castle a concerned Marina meets a wounded falcon who speaks and insists she is the fairy Thomasina.

The fairy grants Marina three wishes. While one of them is an indulgence in which she asks for Carlo to make a fool of himself, the second is for her to spend a day with the love of her life. That man turns out to be Michelo, the son of Duke Fiorelli, engaged to marry her stepsister Daphne, whom he does not like. Marina and Michelo meet and fall in love. When his father hears from the falcon that Michelo should marry the woman nearest to where an olive branch falls; Geovana will prevent that from happening by conjuring up evil to insure the death of Marina.

People of all ages will enjoy Heather Graham’s fine fairy tale enhanced with thirty colorful illustrations by Cherif Fortin & Lynn Sanders spread throughout the novel and a CD of original related Christmas songs. This is a spellbinding tale though like most fairy tales the cast is stereotyped between the forces of good and evil as malevolence can wear the disguise of attractiveness (think of the witch in Snow White) leaving intelligent people to go beyond the surface to the inner beauty.
Harriet Klausner

Dark Road Rising
P. N. Elrod
Ace, Sep 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 9780441017553

In 1938 Chicago, Jack Fleming is trying to recover from the worst trauma of his life. Hog Barstow, a sadistic sociopath captured and almost killed Jack; he left his victim with emotional damage that has him frightened of his shadow (which says a lot as Jack is a vampire) and physical scars from the monster’s attempts to skin him alive.

The New York mob sent Gabe "Whitey" Kroun to the Windy City to kill Jack as retaliation for killing one of their associates. When Jack tried to commit suicide his best friend Charles Escott stopped him, but they had a fight and the mortal ends up in the hospital with severe life threatening injuries. Gabe was turned into a vampire but also suffered memory loss; a bullet in his head limits his skills. He learns of his ugly past, which disgusts him. Gabe wants to do no more evil deeds so when he finds Escott dying he gives the man blood, which saves him from certain death. At the same time, an old enemy captures Jack with plans of forcing him into changing him into a vampire. Certain people like Gabe’s brother want him dead for what he did to a young girl; only lucid thinking and a bit of luck will save Chicago’s two vampires.

Time and place are captured through the vernacular though perhaps mobster talk is a bite or two overdone. Still readers will enjoy the escapades of a sensitive vampire whose vulnerabilities make him fresh as he stands out from the supernatural crowd; yet he seems to end up in mob messes that require a hard boiled Noir reaction from him when all he wants to do is spend nights at his club Lady Crymyn. The pathos of the three males will stun the audience as P.N. Elrod follows up SONG IN THE DARK with more dangerous adventures on the mean COLD STREETS of Chicago at a time when Capone was a guest at Alcatraz, but danger remains high.
Harriet Klausner

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