Sunday, November 8, 2009

More Good Reads From Harriet

High Bloods
John Farris
Tor, Jul 21 2009, $25.95
ISBN: 9780765325969

At the end of WWII in the Pacific, specifically in the Kingdom of Kalimanton, the returning soldiers brought home a microbe that turned into werewolves. For twenty-seven days of the month, they were as humans as the True Bloods; but when the moon was full they turned into maniacal killing machines. The disease spreads epidemically across the globe until the species becomes greater in number than Homo sapiens.

The International Lycan Control (ILC) monitors 80% of the werewolf population and has methods to control the change in order to keep the True Bloods safe during the full moon. ILC agent Rawson is shocked when he witnesses an Avenging Fury of a werewolf rip the head off businessman Artie of Arthur Excalibur Enterprises during a non full moon. Artie provided lycan escorts to pure humans, but the key is to figure out how someone was able to turn a lycan into a killing werewolf when the moon was in no way full. While he searches for the real culprits, Rawson also looks for Mal who is like a younger sister to him, before hunters preparing for a Mal de Lune (werewolf hunt) to kill her. Both tasks prove dangerous as enemies try to kill Rawson.

This is an exciting, fast-paced futuristic urban Noir fantasy in which American has been torn apart due to the Lycan virus. The story line is fast-paced from the onset and makes Los Angeles and Santa Monica seem genuinely filled with werewolves and True Bloods. Rawson is a believable Noir like hero who does what he believes is the right thing though he knows the cost may be those few he cherishes. Although, nothing new is added to the sub-genre as the premises have been overly done recently, John Farris provides a super thriller as the plot is faster than a speeding silver bullet. Harriet Klausner

Bloody Awful
Georgia Evans
Kensington, Aug 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780758234827

In 1940 in a small English village, everything looks normal and serene on the surface when they are not being hit by German air bombs. However, many of the local inhabitants are Others including red were-fox district nurse Gloria Prewitt, pixies Alice Doyle and her grandma, Welsh shapeshifting dragon Howarth Pendragon and several who refuse to come out into the open because of fear of deadly retaliation in spite of the BLOODY RIGHT of freedom. Alice was instrumental in preventing a German vampiric saboteur from blowing up a secret nearby munitions plant.

Another German vampire William Block has come to Surrey with the same mission as his late comrade. Gloria is the first to notice the new arrival and his Nazi Luftwaffe support; she tells the others who make plans to dispatch the newcomer to the same hell they sent his predecessor to. The enemy almost kills Alice who tries her magic against this Undead while a furious Gloria vows to stake this fiend who threatens her lover.

BLOODY AWFUL is not an apt title descriptor as the tale is BLOODY GOOD. The super fast-paced historical fantasy story line is filled with stunning revelations and unexpected twists yet most significant enables the audience to believe in were-shifters, pixies and oh my vampires. . Her friends and her lover need to protect her although Gloria is a terrific heroine who gains confidence in her paranormal skills as she battles otherworldly saboteurs. Georgia Evans avoids the middle book lack of a deep plot with this strong entry of a mousy fox who learns to roar like a lioness who believes she is BLOODY RIGHT (next tale) while battling a vampire. Harriet Klausner

Strange Brew
P. N. Elrod (editor)
St. Martin's, Jul 2009, $14.99
ISBN: 9780312383367

These nine urban fantasies make for a terrific anthology with no clinkers and several super entries. Especially excellent is Jim Butcher’s “Last Call” in which Harry stops for a beer while pursuing maenad Meditrina Bassarid, who stops for wine. Patricia Brigg’s blind witch in “Seeing Eye” who cannot turn on the lights to get rid of the terrors of the dark is top gun. Also super are Ginger: A Nocturne City Story” by Caitlin Kittredge that follows the adventures of two sisters, one kick butt the other a wuss; and Rachel Caine's "Death Warmed Over" in which the resurrectionist Holly Caldwell is asked to bring back the hero of the zombie war , the late witch Andrew Toland. With Charlaine Harris providing "Bacon", the editor P.N. Elrod a 1937 family hunt (“Hecate’s Golden Eye”) and “Dark Sins” by Jenna Maclaine make this a winner. Finally fans will take a Chance on Karen Chance’s “Vegas Odds” and have faith in the avenging vampires of “Signature of the Dead” by Faith Hunter which are top quality. These are fun supernatural mystery thrillers that accentuate why urban fantasy is so popular. Harriet Klausner

Faye Kellerman and Aliza Kellerman
Harper, Jun 23 2009, $16.99
ISBN: 9780061687211

California high school student Kaida is on a field trip to Carlsbad Caverns when there is a horrific van accident. Kaida spends a terrible night with two other students Zeke Anderson and Joy Tallon in a cave. The next morning she awakens to find herself in her California bed with her class trip to come next week. Something is not quite right besides the time disparity, but she is unsure of what.

The strangest thing Kaida notices is health care or the lack of as there are no doctors or hospitals. People who are ill are left to recover naturally or sent to the desert to die. Kaida knows this is not her California as the only people who do not look at her as insane over medical care is her two van mates.

This faster than the speed of light action-packed science fiction targets middle school students with an intriguing message about health care. The story line’s hyper speed overwhelms the cast even the transplanted trio who are the stars and the world they somehow enter. Still young adult fans will enjoy this accelerated ride that never slows down for a nanosecond. Harriet Klausner

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