Sunday, December 6, 2009

Vampires, Oz and Demon Hunters

Three more interesting titles reviewed by Harriet.

Fade Out
Rachel Caine
NAL, Nov 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780451228666

Amelie’s evil brother Bishop temporarily took over Morganville; a town where vampires and humans co-exist, but blood suckers are on top of the food chain. However, recently Bishop was defeated. His vampiric allies have been routed also and Amelie’s cronies have loosened the rules giving more freedom and rights to the humans; and protection to blood donors. Amelie is the Protector of Claire Danvers, who with her boyfriend Steve, her BFF Evie and Eve’s boyfriend Michael the vampire like to keep life in Morganville on an even keel.

However peace is not to be found. Some humans are trying to destroy the vampires; a computer is out of control, and a videographer is taking pictures that could expose the vampires. Ada the computer wants to kill Claire who she believes wants her former lover Myrnin back when she was a vampire before she became the computer’s brain. She wants a war so she can have Myrnin all to herself. Myrnin is more out of control than usual and could become a danger to the vampires even though he is one himself. Claire and her buddies must find and destroy the video devices hidden all over town spying on the people, disable Ada, find out what is wrong with Myrnin and find the person who is giving insider information to the enemy if she and her BFFs are to save Morganville.

The latest Morganville vampire novel FADE OUT is full of drama, pathos, and a touch of romance with characters larger than life especially the teens who have to be in order to survive in a town run by vampires. Claire is the de facto leader who makes decisions for herself and her friends. Although some of the bite is gone with Bishop vanquished, much of his sting is replaced by the danger of the photos exposing the vampires and the computer going crazy. The most fascinating part of Rachel Caine’s latest Morganville book is the millennia old vampire who experiments on the human-vampire species while keeping a distance from them to avoid the dreaded ennui depression. This is a must read for teens and adults. Harriet Klausner

A Lion Among Men
Gregory Maguire
Harper, Sep 2009, $16.00
ISBN: 9780060859725

The Emperor of Oz enjoys war although he remains comfortable far from the combat inside the Emerald City. Munchkinland rebels and the emperor’s armies are preparing for combat. At the same time Brrr the Cowardly Lion travels around the countryside as a reluctant imperial spy. He agreed to become an espionage agent so he can elude the Animal Adverse Laws that harshly discriminate against talking animals.

Brrr reaches the Mauntery of St. Glinda where Yackle the cantankerous Seeress resides. He is to interrogate the crone before she dies, which can be any nanosecond or several lion lifetimes. Instead of gaining much information for use in the war, Brrr begins to learn about his unknown past, being alone, and afraid.

The third Wicked Years fantasy (see WICKED and SON OF A WITCH) continues the homage to L. Frank Baum through a deep look at the late author’s key characters while also subtly and not so subtly satirizing society. The cast is incredible as Brrr and company work through some complicated issues like responsibly and accountability in a world centrally managed by magic. Filled with whimsy yet deep philosophical questions, A LION AMONG MEN is once again an entertaining thought provoking fantasy.
Harriet Klausner

Demon Ex Machina
Julie Kenner
Berkley, Oct 2009, $14.00
ISBN: 9780425229644

Kate Connor has seemingly more personal issues than usual although she and her second husband Stuart have apparently worked out their differences since he now knows she is a demon hunter. Still she must train her spouse and her enthusiastic teenage daughter Allie how to defeat demons; she knows it was easier on her when her oldest child played soccer only. The supermom also has a two year old toddler who could terrorize almost any demon with his temperament.

There is also the complicated matter of the return of her formerly dead first husband Eric who has come back to life only to be possessed by a demon. If she succeeds in exorcising Eric’s demon yet keeping him alive, Kate ponders what she should do about the two husbands in her life.

Although the story line starts slower than the usual donkey kicking frantic frenzy and only accelerates a little, the latest demon slaying soccer mom thriller is a deeper look at Kate’s quandary. She does not want her daughter to follow in her demon slaying footsteps, but fears not teaching her how to defeat the enemy for she knows Allie will go out on her own. The same holds true for loyal Stuart. Then there is the mess of two husbands as she adores both of them. Filled with angst as she also has the toddler to care for, fans will appreciate Julie Kenner’s profound glimpse at the human side of demon slaying beyond a bad hair or broken cuticle day.
Harriet Klausne

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