The Hounds of Avalon
PYR, Jul 27 2010, $16.00
Since the Fall devastated earth with the return to magic as the prime power source, governments are collapsing around the world and with their breakdowns civilization as we know it no longer exists. Optimistically the future is bleak; realistically there is no future. That assessment was even before the pandemic plague struck.
As mankind is on the precipice of extinction, the potential for survival has diminished much further for the Void has emerged. The Void lives for all other essences even its armies to die. Desperately trying to regroup and find a resolution to prevent the Void from nullifying all life, the British government leaders try a Hail Mary ploy by going after one of the Brothers and Sisters of the Dragons. They abduct Mallory to use as their counter weapon against the forces of the Void. However, in their naivety they leave behind a critically wounded and perhaps dying Sophie; weakening the already waning strength of the Brothers and Sisters of Dragons. With insider help, Mallory escapes and joins his brethren in a last stand against first the Void’s invincible armies and if miraculously successful and still somehow alive then they will battle against the Void; human existence is at stake.
The final The Dark Age fantasy is a great ending to a complicated mythos as the world appears to be blinking out. The story line is fast-paced from the onset while the focus is somewhat different from that of its predecessors (see Devil in Green and Queen of Sinister) as the reader obtains a deeper look at pillars of civilization like government imploding. The Void is a terrific unique end of life essence as it devours the world with only the Dragon siblings sort of like a team of David (or the fantastic Four against Galactus) the only slim prayer. To appreciate fully the Chadbourne Dark Age, readers need to start at the beginning; it is worth the journey. Harriet Klausner
The Fire Lord’s Lover
Sourcebooks, Jul 6 2010, $7.99
In 1724, elven lords from Elfthane rule England with a cruel iron fist. Half-breed son of elven Fire Lord evil Mor’ded, Dominic Raikes conceals the full extent of his magical skills and more important his heart from his sire because he knows his father would view him as a threat for either and kill him.
Meanwhile the human Rebellion, who want to overturn the Elven malevolent reign of terror, raise seemingly innocent Lady Cassandra Bridges to appear prim and proper to disguise her other training as an assassin. She and Dominic wed in a marriage of convenience. However, to their shock, the newlyweds fall in love with one another. Unintended consequence is his human side of empathy and love supersedes his ruthless elven half, which leads to his worst nightmare that his dad becomes aware of what has occurred.
This is a superb Georgian romantic fantasy that effortlessly merges facts of early eighteenth century London with a mythical spin. With several great twists the story line is loaded with otherworldly action anchored by the realism of 1724 England as the Rebellion and the elves control the destiny of the newlyweds. Ironically even with others trying to pull their strings, the exciting plot is owned by the lead couple as she is a top rate assassin and he a half-breed coming into his power due to the love of the mortal he married; while Mor’ded tests his son. Harriet Klausner
Leisure, Aug 1 2010, $7.99
When Josh drowned, his death also figuratively killed his parents Evan and Sarah. Suffering from aquaphobia, Evan watched in horror as his son drowned. Now he watches in horror as his beloved wife drowns her sorrow with alcohol.
Over a year since the tragedy, Evan meets naked Ligeia on the beach he tramps every night before bringing his intoxicated wife home from the bar. She provides Evan with an escape from his nightmarish failure as a father and now a husband. She sexually entices him with her perfect body and her silky voice drowns out Josh’s plea to him for help. Mostly she makes him forget, but not entirely as he tries to ignore her siren’s call by returning to his wife.
Siren plays out on two levels; as a horror thriller and as a psychological family drama. There is also a second subplot that provides the audience with a late nineteenth century look at Ligeia’s past, which is a two edged sword depending on the reader’s taste; on the one hand it anchors the siren story line, but also detracts from the reader’s imagination of whether she is true or a desperate figment of grieving Evan’s psyche. Still this is a powerful thriller as John Everson uses the loss of an offspring as the springboard to the gripping Siren.