Tor, Sep 2009, $15.99
In 1863 in Seattle, Washington Territory, Russians hearing rumors of gold in the Yukon and Alaska Territories hire scientist Leviticus Blue to invent a device to obtain the precious metal buried under the frozen tundra. He creates Dr. Blue's Incredible Bone-Shaking Drill Engine; a steam-powered machine that drills through the thickest layers of ice to extract gold. He beta tests his gizmo in downtown Seattle, but something goes awry leaving several dead people from the ensuing accident and a stripped mining like hole that emits an eerie looking gas dubbed Blight as it turned nearby breathers into “rotter”, fresh flesh eating predators.
Almost two decades later, Leviticus’ son Zeke Wilkes wants to clear his dead father’s blighted reputation. He sneaks inside the walled containment zone with his concerned mother Briar in pursuit as she fears her offspring will turn into one of those putrefying rotters. However, her fears turn into mortification when she learns that mad scientist inventor Dr. Minnericht looks like the identical twin of her late husband and he seems to have taken a fatherly interested in her child.
This is a great Zombie alternate America thriller that hooks the readers from the moment that Dr. Blue turns on his machine and never takes even a gruesome puke break. The story line is fast-paced yet the three prime characters are fully developed though the rotters are what the BONESHAKER is all about. One should not read this on a full stomach unless a toilet is nearby as the descriptions are bone-shaking and breaking steampunk. .Readers will relish Cherie Priest’s sensational Seattle saga as a mom without apple pie battles zombies, mad scientists and other ilk to rescue her cub. Harriet Klausner
Child Of Darkness
Mira, Nov 2009, $7.99
Human-Faery Queene Ayla has ruled for two decades in the Lightworld; having come a long way from once being an assassin (see QUEENE OF LIGHT). However, she has some recent concerns when an Upworld Fae warns her to beware of the elves and their allies the Waterhorses. Concerned over the safety of her daughter Cerridwen, Ayla proclaims her offspring will marry her advisor Cedric, who she believes will keep her daughter safe.
Cerridwen is outraged by her mother’s declaration without consulting her. In fact she believes she loves Fenrick the elf. She runs away to be with her beloved, but to her consternation, Fenrick betrays her to the elves. Cerridwen becomes a prisoner of the increasingly feral elves-waterhorse allied horde. A despondent Ayla sends her mortal consort former Death Angel Malachi to rescue his offspring Cerridwen whom everyone assumes is the daughter of the late traitor Prince Garret and heir to the throne. War seems imminent.
This Lightworld/Darkworld fantasy thriller is an exhilarating tale that has become even more personal for Ayla when seemingly everyone on several planes wanted her dead. She may have come a long way from assassin to queene, but to Ayla the one constant is assorted species wanting her dead and now her daughter is in deadly danger. Cerridwen is a chip off the old danger block(s) and Malachi remains as kick butt as ever even if his soul mate has brought some mortal light to his former dark world. This is a terrific action-packed yet character driven tale. Harriet Klausner
Harlequin HQN, Nov 2009, $7.99
“Christmas Knight”. Although she has not seen Glenbrae, Hope O'Hara purchases the Highlands Manor with plans to convert the house into a bed and breakfast. The Wishwell sisters think Hope is perfect for Ronan McLeod, the thirteen century first owner of Glenbrae. Although they live seven centuries apart, the siblings use magic to bring Hope and Ronan together; believing love will do the rest.
"Moonrise". Former Crusader Knight, Navarre the Wolf plans to kill his former friend Adrian the ghost guardian of Draycott Abbey for betraying him. Collateral damage is acceptable to Adrian who casts a spell that will kill everyone inside by moonrise. The lone human resident is FBI agent Sara Nightingale seeking clues to a missing treasure, but instead meets Navarre and Adrian.
These are two entertaining Draycott romantic fantasies with Christmas Knight being a 1998 reprint and Moonrise a novella. Fast-paced and filled with strong characters especially lead protagonists in conflict and love Christina Skye casts a spell on her audience with the coupling of the new and the old. Harriet Klausner
Tainted: The Blood Lily Chronicles
Ace, Nov 2009, $7.99
Monstrous Lucas Johnson viciously attacks Rose. Bad to the bone twenty-six year old Lily Carlyle seeks out her younger sister’s molester, but Lucas kills her instead. An angel gives the dead Lily a second chance at righting all the wrongs she committed.
Soon afterward, Lily Carlyle reawakens inside the body of Boston bartender-waitress Alice Purdue. Lily still wants to go after Lucas and wonders what happened to Alice. However, her heavenly assignment is preventing a demon horde from opening the last of nine gates from hell. She is ready to die again, but is confused by her attraction to Deacon Camphire, who saved her second life, but whose soul seems filled with absolute darkness and no light.
Although somewhat similar in tone to the superhero coming back from the grave for a chance at redemption by simply saving the world, fans of dark urban fantasies will enjoy the first Blood Lily Chronicle. Lily is an interesting protagonist who was a thief until she failed at vengeance but in her second chance she still craves retribution although she has bigger monsters to fight. Deacon is the enigmatic champion rescuing her at her darkest moments, but fans will wonder is he a hero or a future villain as the book is still out on him. Julie Kenner leaves her lighthearted suburban soccer mom resting in goal while turning to a grave thriller starring a different personality demon assassin heroine. Harriet Klausner