Vampires Not Invited
St. Martin’s, $7.99
In New York City, hybrid human-Drow Princess of the Dark Elves Nyx moonlights as a Night Tracker private investigator investigating incidents (see Demons Not Included and No Werewolves Allowed) involving paranormal species. Her current case is frustrating her as a gang of sprites impishly mock human landmarks like painting Liberty’s toes pink.
Her elven half gut tells her there has to be more than just inane graffiti and sillier pranks; a trademark of the pain in the butt obnoxious sprites. Digging deeper, she finds what she feared. The mischief sprites work for Master Vampire Volod and his fang gang who want a return to the prominence they once held in ironically what seems like a lifetime ago. His plan is for his vampires to rule nocturnal New York. Nyx and other trackers realize the sprites are a divergent ploy to occupy the trackers with nonsense while Volod uses the opportunity to exploit the weaknesses of other species. Nyx plans to use all her strength to end this threat as everyone knows Vampires Not Invited to any shindig let alone run the city.
Obstinate Nyx, who breaks the rules as she even dates a low life, as all humans are, remains tenacious and confident as she plans to stake her life on preventing the Vampiric take-over. She holds the fast-paced exhilarating private investigative urban fantasy focused as her stubbornness never allows her (or the reader) to take their eyes off the ball as despicable Sprites and Vampires come out of the shadows and coffins to challenge the leadership. Harriet Klausner
The hostile debate between the four colleges of magic finally explodes into open warfare as Xetesk seizes the opportunity to take the first rung on their vision of dominion with an assault on the depleted Julatsa, who sacrificed so much in the Wesmen wars (see Chronicles of the Raven trilogy). The Julatsa know they must find a way to survive the invaders, but to do so they will need the interred Heart of Julatsan.
The other two colleges Lystern and Dordover discuss what to do when a somewhat depleted Xetesk turns to them and how to control what is left of the Raven. They forge an alliance with a plan to invade Xetesk after it wastes much of its magic, but to do so they must lock away or assassinate the Raven survivors. However, way to the west, a power is surfacing whose vision is that of a Balaian continent with no magic or eastern mage-rulers. In a ploy to conquer the other three colleges and thereby the continent, Xetesk has turned to the Balaian as an ally especially with the alliance and Raven in the way of their manifest destiny.
The second Legends of the Raven fantasy (see Elf Sorrow) is a terrific middle tale as the hostilities that remained outward towards the anti-magical Black Wings (their mass grave as described in this thriller is simply grim and eerie) turns inward between the colleges. Readers will appreciate the continual saga of the Raven as the exhilarating story line is filled with action, but it is the political intrigue that makes for another great entry by James Barclay. Harriet Klausner
The Witch’s Daughter
St. Martin’s, Jan 18 2011, $24.99
In 1627, the plague ravages Wessex as well as the rest of England. All of the Hawksmith family dies except for the matriarch and her daughter Elizabeth Anne. The child is unaware that her mom the earth healer made a deal with Satanist warlock Gideon Masters. However, mother and daughter are accused of witchcraft; the locals hang her mom while Bess flees into the night making her own pact with Gideon that begins an eternity of solitude.
In 2007, Elizabeth trains Tegan the teen hedge witch how to use her powers wisely. She also tells her female student tales about her family especially her mom, her master Gideon and his master, her encounter in Whitehall with Jack the Ripper, and her work as a nurse in the front lines in Flanders during WWI.
This is an entertaining epic fantasy in which ironically the historical subplots engage the audience; while the modern day segue feels awkward and distracting rather than anchoring the story line. Overall The Witch’s Daughter is an enjoyable read as Bess is an intriguing Forrest Gump like witch who’s almost four centuries past hopefully will be explored further. Harriet Klausner