Steven R. Boyett
Ace, Nov 2009, $24.95
Three decades have passed since magic became the physics that rules the world. The Change as it is called by those who grew up after the planes fell and the cars stopped has brought with it much more than the halt of technology, fantasy creatures abound and a generation gap like no other ever before exists.
Ariel the unicorn reunites with her best friend Pete Garey (see ARIEL) after her mate Joe was murdered. At the same time post Change born wizard Yanamandra “Yan” Ramchandani wants to do something so big his name will go down in history and he has found the achievement of a lifetime. He knows how to reverse the Change. As Ariel and Pete investigate Joe’s homicide, they learn of Yan’s plot that the older generation would relish but those born after the Change and the tweeners like Pete would not. To prevent Yan from causing a second catastrophe, the unicorn and her human BFF enlist Pete’s son Fred who happens to be Yan's best friend, and the renegade mage’s father Dr. Ram; Fred also hopes Tan's sister Nandita joins their troupe.
Although exciting and fast-paced with an intriguing background of a post-apocalyptic realm, there are some jarring survival elements as the magic practitioners use much of what existed before the Change like canned food in spite of shelf time rather than employing their mage skills. Still this is an entertaining tale as the lead pair and their allies try to prevent the reversal of the Change although Yan will have plenty of supporters amongst the Baby Boomers and Generation X and detractors from Generation Change. Fans of the first tale will enjoy the sequel though much of the innocence is gone (he has an offspring). Harriet Klausner
Pocket, Oct 2009, $7.99
She inherited her Uncle Eric’s estate consisting of money and property along with his mission to free the human horse possessed by demons or the loas. By accepting his legacy skeptical Jayne Heller admits there is a hell of a lot of supernatural communities out there; some of which are extreme evil.
Meanwhile former FBI Agent Karen Black has been searching for a serial killing horse rider Legba who picked his next host horse Sabine, the granddaughter of Amelie (who he now rides) whose life is nearing an end. The loa starts taking over Sabine but Karen hopes to thwart its ambition. Jayne and her posse travel from Athens (Greece not Georgia) to New Orleans to help Jayne in her quest to end the serial killing horse rider’s reign of terror. When she arrives she notices the city is arising from the watery grave of Katrina while the belief in voodoo remains strong. Karen leads the demonic hunt and when she is near her goal she orders Jayne to leave. Realizing she has been tricked Jayne informs Karen she will remain to rid the city of the paranormal serial killing horse and gets in between a battle with one decent and one evil loa.
DARKER ANGEL, the second Black Sun’s Daughter urban fantasy (see UNCLEAN SPIRITS) is a fascinating and entertaining thriller in which it is difficult to separate the good loas from the bad; just ask Jayne. Determined to follow in her uncle’s brave footsteps and encouraged by his voice to do so, Jayne continues his war to dispatch the malevolent ones back to where they came from. Ignorant and prone to error, she learns the family business while under fire. Fans will root for Jayne in her invisible war against demons, loas, and who knows what else M.L.N. Hanover will dream up. Harriet Klausner
Tor, Oct 27 2009, $14.99
In Indigo Springs, Oregon, Astrid Letherwood like most if not all the other residents assumed her father was a drunken bum. With his death, she learns the truth about her dad; he was an underground magic practitioner who created “chantment” magical objects that he gave to people he felt deserved a slight edge. He told nobody, allegedly not even his daughter, who was actually his apprentice but remembers nothing about magic since he died. He knew the witch finders stalk everyone with their burn at the stakes first and ask the charred corpse questions second.
However he was unable to keep Astrid safe as the government has incarcerated her although they improved her prison to a comfortable cage. Roche and his agents have her under arrest for kidnapping and murder. The latest inquisitioner is hostage negotiator Will Forest who actually gets Astrid to reveal a bit of what she knows, but she recalls nothing of value. Family friend Sahara Knox arrives and taps into the blue fluid vitagua that flows underneath her dad’s home and is the source of magic. Unlike Letherwood who felt magic should do no harm, she employs violence turning people and animals into monsters as she wants the underground magic rebellion to come out into the open.
This is a super psychological suspense suburban fantasy starring a great bewildered lead protagonist who is center to all the goings on. Her confusion purposely leaves the story line somewhat hazy as her latest interrogator tries to get at the truth but is different from previous inquisitioners as he is first a hostage negotiator while the others were enforcers using any means. Sahara complicates a complex character driven thriller that uses the questioning of an alleged convict to establish the delightful Dellamonica domain. Harriet Klausner
Diving into the Wreck
Kristine Kathryn Rusch
PYR, Nov 24 2009, $16.00
Boss prefers to work alone when diving into a wreck though she works salvage operations with others. She feels she is more ethical than most of her rivals in their search for historical vessels as she always helps those in dire need in outer space though she prefers not to. Some of her unsavory colleagues would wait for a trapped crew to die so they can salvage like scavengers.
For her current quest the recluse uses her single crew ship rather than her larger Nobody’s Business vessel, but what awaits her is a shocker. Her computer claims the derelict is somewhat between 5,000 and 10,000 years old and from old earth; an impossible scenario as that time frame and locale did not have the technology for the faster than light speed to float this far. She searches for historical data as she is curious about this enigmatic anachronism, but fears what she will learn as the misunderstood ancient sciences might prove deadly. Bringing together a special crew of loner divers, Boss and company explore the vessel while she considers following her mom who left her to vanish inside the mysterious Room of Souls.
DIVING INTO THE WRECK is an exhilarating fast-paced yet cerebral science fiction thriller. Filled with action and adventure but purposely with two dimensional characters including Boss who is a bit more philosophical. Kristine Kathryn Rusch uses outer space to have her audience consider ethics and morality re the scientific-government complex and how society looks back at ancient civilizations through a modern day lens while failing to provide a historiographic disclaimer about the background of the anthropologist or archeologist leading the glimpse through time. Harriet Klausner