Death’s Excellent Vacation
Edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni L.P. Kelner
Ace, Aug 3 2010, $24.95
This is a fun thirteen fantasy collection in which the paranormal go on vacations and have holidays that make the Griswold family and Monsieur Hulot seem tame. “Two Blondes” (by Charlaine Harris) Pam and Sookie go to a not so gentleman’s club in Mississippi for the weekend. Jim the demon (see Aisling Gray) heads to Paris for a good time but runs into “The Perils of Effrijim” by Katie MacAlister. The eight immortals get together as “The Boys Go Fishing” by Sarah Smith, but conclude drinking tea is easier. In “One for the Money” by Jeaniene Frost, hitmen Cat and Bones find their vacation interrupted protecting an heiress when the former’s mom arrives. You can’t go home if you want time out as affirmed by Toni L.P. Kelner in “Pirate Dave’s Haunted Amusement Park”, “The Demon in the Dunes” by Chris Grabenstein and “Home From America” by Sharan Newman. Readers will enjoy the amusing vacations of the supernatural as whether it is Bermuda (Lilith Saintcrow’s “The Heart Is Always Right”) or Port Arthur (“Seeing is Believing” by L.A. Banks), fans will want to accompany the paranormal when they go on Death’s Excellent Vacation tours. Harriet Klausner
The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer And The Undead
Mark Twain and Don Borchert
Tor, Aug 3 2010, $13.99
The plague turned people into zombies who could only be stopped by beheading them or shooting them in the head. People like young Tom Sawyer and his Aunt Polly adapted to the Zum as southerners called the zombies with some safety adjustments to normal living like sharpening the top of wooden fences. Tom ever the imp causing Polly and the townsfolk despair was punished for a misdeed by being forced to perform zombie antiterrorist fence sharpening, but conned the other lads into doing his work.
Tom, Huck and their friend play pirate on a nearby island. They stay for days and rumors spread amongst the townsfolk they were dead until they miraculously return home. Another time Tom and Huck get lost in a cave with Becky Thatcher and the Zum serial killer Injun’ Joe.
This is amusing historical fantasy uses the prime cast and story line from the Mark Twain classic, but adds Zum fever to the tale. The cast is solid, but the plot is clearly owned by the mischievous title character and his prime adversary the Undead Injun’ Joe serial killing Zum. Readers who enjoyed zombie invasion of the classics like the respective tales by Seth Grahame-Smith and Steve Hockensmith starring Jane Austen or W. Bill Czolgosz’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Zombie Jim will want to read Tom’s undead farce with Injun’ Joe. Harriet Klausner
The Last Page
Tor, Aug 17 2010, $25.99
Twenty-three year old Caliph Howl is the heir to ruling the Duchy of Stonehold. He is proud of his work at school as he is set to graduate with honors; however, his perfect life plan is devastated when he meets upperclassman Sena. She is filled with magic and enthusiasm, but conceals her legacy that she does not quite comprehend. Abruptly she ends their relationship.
In the Seventh House coven, her Shradnae sisters prepare her for what they know is her rightful place in Stonehold as well as theirs. Her assignment is to spy on the new High King who is attracted to her. Obsessed with power, Sena is unaware of what she and her coven wrought when civil war ignites and the ancient Cisrym Ta text surfaces with implications that the mathematics of life and death will change existence. At the same time in the capital of Isca, inexperienced Caliph becomes the High King when the leader is forced to make deadly decisions that will harm the innocent; unaware of the return of Sena. He needs his blood to open the arcane tome.
The world constructed by Anthony Huso is a wonderful imaginary numerically design that readers will admire. The beauty if the Huso realm is fully appreciated when the math formulas of life and dead appear to be changing. Although at times the language seems purposely and to this reader illogically shocking, taking away from the overall fine fantasy, readers will enjoy Mr. Huso strong saga from the start to the Last Page as the logic of math applies to this world’s equation suddenly becomes an out of balance inequality. Harriet Klausner