Monday, September 6, 2010

The Hounds of Avalon, Siren, and Shadow Fall Reviews

The Hounds of Avalon
Mark Chadbourne
PYR, Jul 27 2010, $16.00
ISBN: 9781616142032

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

John Everson
Leisure, Aug 1 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780843963540

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.
Harriet Klausner

Shadow Fall
Erin Kellison
Leisure, Aug 1 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780505528308

While trying to save the life of his best friend, Custo Santovari was murdered by traitorous Spencer, an apparent wraith supporter. The Shadowman brings Custo to heaven where his courage and willingness to die for his buddy makes him an angel. However, Custo’s goal is to get back to America to warn his BFF Adam Thorne; besides he rationalizes he is too much a sinner to be an angel.

In Manhattan Annabella the ballerina magically dances causing a rift between realms. Custo returns to earth, but also making it through is Wolf the shadow hunter. Custo knows his mission is to go to the New York Segue Institute safe house to warn Adam and to keep safe Annabella from a nightmare; but nothing goes right as Adam thinks he must be a wraith and he falls in forbidden love with the "angel" he protects.

This is a fascinating urban romantic fantasy starring an obsessed lead male fleeing heaven on a quest and the woman who enables him to escape from the angels. The story line is fast-paced, as the city comes across grim and foreboding. Readers learn a little more about the wraiths since the events of Shadows Bound (Adam’s romance), but Shadowman remains enigmatic. Sub-genre fans will relish the second wraith war thriller as the shadows continue to darken the earth. Harriet Klausner

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