Friday, January 7, 2011

Vampires, Witches and An Odd One

Confessions of a Vampire’s Girlfriend
Katie MacAlister
NAL, $15.00
ISBN: 9780451232595

“Got Fangs? Oregonian teenager Francesca Ghetti is six feet tall and reads minds by touching objects. Her divorced mother is a witch who has dragged Fran to Hungary on a traveling show filled with freaks and geeks. Fran is almost run over by a motorcycle. The driver is a hunk who is actually taller than her, which is what freaks her out. She does not blink when she learns he is Benedikt Czerny, a Moravian Dark One over three centuries old, who believes she will save his soul. When Benedikt demands Fran and his sister stay home while he fights a demon; his American Amazonian prepares to kick demon butt and his if necessary.

“Circus of the Darned”. Teenage psychic Francesca has somewhat adapted to her abilities like summoning the dead and her abnormal lifestyle as a member of the touring Gothefaire. Even for Francesca used to the absurd being the norm, things are more out of control than usual starting with the twelve dead Vikings she brought back to life or her dating a motorcycle riding vampire who is almost three centuries her senior. While mom objects to his bad overbite with dental costs so high; Benedikt insists she is his life-mate, he needs to insure that his beloved GOT FANGS too. However the biggest problem in Francesca's mind is he is a night person and she has a curfew.

This reprints the two tongue-in-cheek young adult adventures of Francesca the Amazonian psychic written as Katie Maxwell. The cast in each tale, whether they are normal, supernatural, or hybrid in-betweeners, make for a fun time. However, this omnibus edition belongs to kick-butt Francesca whose action-packed escapades will be enjoyed by the targeted audience and long-toothed readers; while writing as Katie MacAlister has brought Francesca back in a delightful adult adventure (see In the Company of Vampires).Harriet Klausner

Mystic Witch
Mark All
ImaJinn, $14.00
ISBN: 9781933417707

In Atlanta, the funeral of Gram last week led Bailey Campbell to think back to the Incident that changed her family dynamics with the death of her father murdered by evil sorcerer Bern Emmerich over two decades ago. Her mother cut her off from her Gram and raised Bailey to live a normal life; void of magic. Nearing thirty, Gram’s odd will especially the coda has shaken Bailey’s soul.

At work late at night, something attacks her only bud Juan who screams for Bailey to run. Instead the Bailey Temper flares as she confronts faceless creatures. Apparently evil Emmerich has escaped captivity and is coming for the daughter who he blames for his two decade imprisonment in an alternate reality. His plan is to use her to bring his hell to her earth. Bailey obtains a mentor in warlock Frank Demming, who admits he has kept an eye on her over the years as he expected her to play a pivotal role when Emmerich returned. As she trains for the war of magic, she wonders if her teacher is her soul mate, ally or a perverted foe while Atlanta burns.

The Mystic Witch is an exciting character driven urban fantasy although the theme of the battle between the light and dark goes back to Beowulf. Fast-paced, the dark seems too powerful for the innocent light (loosely mindful of an adult version of the movie The Seeker) since the heroine even suffers from “homophobic” fear of the sight of blood. The key to this enjoyable winner take all thriller is the third party Demming as the audience ponders whether he is teaching his beloved student effective magical processes or if he is a sick pervert abusing her before allowing her adversary to use her. Harriet Klausner

Odd Is On Our Side
Fred Lentz, Dean Koontz and Queenie Chan (illustrator)
Del Rey, $10.99
ISBN: 9780345515605

Halloween in Pico Mundo, California has fry cook Odd Thomas concerned as he fears there is much more afoot than just trick or treaters. Something does not feel right; which is odd for a person who communicates with Elvis and helps restless spirits with their needs before they move onto their next resting spot.

As Odd struggles with his gut insisting that something evil is coming and his spiritual advisor Elvis unable to help him, he turns to girlfriend, Stormy Llewellyn. She encourages him with her at his side to investigate the horde of bodachs appearing; always an omen of a horrific event to come shortly.

The second graphic comic rendition of an Odd Thomas novel (See In Odd We Trust) is an engaging rendition but lacks the freshness of the original tales as fans already know what occurs to whom. Still the illustrations by Queenie Chan are fun to follow for readers who will compare her version to our imagination; as in my mind she captures Thomas’ essence and somewhat Stormy, but Elvis still needs to be found. The story line is entertaining but is no match to the novel while the addition of twenty odd additional pages following the story seems more like padding. The apparent targeted young newcomers will enjoy Odd is On Our Side. Harriet Klausner

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