Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Ghouls and More

This Side of the Grave
Jeaniene Frost
Avon, Mar 1 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780091783180

In Ohio Ghouls have been attacking vampires without Masters. There is a fear of a species war exploding unless the assaults ends. Vampire couple Cat and Bones head to the Buckeye State to prevent the deadly combat. Once the notorious half-breed government agent the Red Reaper who destroyed vampires Cat has evolved into a full Undead, but has skills no one has seen since the death in medieval times of Joan of Arc.

Apollyon the Ghoul insists that Cat is proof that the vampires are trying to take over the world starting with his species. Marie Laveau the Ghoul feels yanked in two directions that have friends and foes wondering who she sides with while Cat's mother has turned into a vampire at a time when all hell is breaking loose within her family and across the paranormal communities. Only with Bones does Cat feel comforted, but has little time for that respite.

The Night Huntress urban fantasy (see Destined for an Early Grave) continues one of the better series as the romantic subplot takes a back seat to the prime theme of the likely hellish paranormal species war. The cast that runs the species gamut is fully developed while the lead heroes struggle with preventing a nasty war; as each has come a long way from innocence and uncle dearest. Fast-paced and loaded with non-stop action, readers will appreciate Jeaniene Frost’s aptly titled exhilarating thriller. Harriet Klausner

One Hundred Candles
Mara Purnhagen
Harlequin Teen, Feb 15 2011, $9.99
ISBN: 9780373210237

An hour west of Cleveland at the Lake Sanitarium insane asylum, Charlotte Silver and her sister Annalise assist her famous parents (Patrick and Karen) and Shane their cameraman on their research into paranormal activity.when the Guardian of the Gate possesses dubious colleague Dr. Zeldon in what the Silver crew know is a sham. At the asylum, there is an otherworldly essence; the Watcher notices the Silver team, but makes his presence known through Zeldon’s assistant to Charlotte.

Besides an apparent demon, Charlotte has bigger personal concerns as the teen fears that the relationship between her father and mother, which she thought loving and forever, seems at an end. The teen would prefer to live a normal life as she has travels around the world with her parents mostly debunking claims of otherworldly phenomena, but not to have it end by the marriage ending.

Meanwhile, Charlotte is excited to be going out on a normal date with school football star Harris Abbot though she muses on going out with her friend Noah. As the Watcher sets in motion snuffing out the life of Charlotte, Harris seems to want more from her than she is ready to give him; especially at a party where the kids play One Hundred Candles, which will prove spiritually deadly.

The exciting sequel to Past Midnight is a fun teen angst paranormal thriller starring a realistic family dealing with paranormal phenomena. The key is that the four Silvers and Shane act normal including reacting in a way to what they encounter in a plausible manner. Young adult readers will appreciate One Hundred Candles as Marla Purnhagen goes golden with this enjoyable teen urban fantasy.
Harriet Klausner

Sophie Littlefield
Luna, Feb 15 2011, $14.95
ISBN: 9780373803361

She is the first known human to survive an assault by the flesh eating beaters without converting into one of these zombie-like beasts. Although she remains mortal and alive, Cass Dollar suffered immensely during her ordeal and afterwards; she remained hurt with many scars on her battered body. Her lack of memory of her trauma frightens her, but not because of what the Beaters did to her. Her beloved daughter Ruthie is missing and Cass has no idea what happened to her cherished offspring.

However, in spite of her agony, Cass has one objective and that is to find her missing daughter Ruthie lost somewhere in the biologically bombed California wasteland. Smoke an outlaw accompanies Cass on her quest while the militia, scientists and a female sect pursue her for diverse reasons.

This is a terrific post apocalyptic science fiction thriller starring a beleaguered lioness with one obsessed thought: finding and rescuing her Ruthie. Courageous Cass is impressive as she remains resolute in her quest while musing she is in her “third” life. The harsh California landscape adds to the eerie atmospheric aftermath of the pandemic catastrophe as the heroine continues her trek. Mindful of the Charlton Heston science fiction films, Aftertime is a strong opening act with. Harriet Klausner

Dark Mirror
M.J. Putney
St. Martin’s Griffin, Mar 1 2011, $9.99
ISBN: 9780312622848

Late in the seventeenth century in London, the British aristocracy decided that magic was beneath their upper class; so only the masses of the lower classes displayed the skill. By 1803, noble children, who demonstrate magical inclination, are sent to Lackland Abbey to hide the scandal these misfits cause while also learning to suppress the skill.

When Lady Victoria “Tory” Mansfield, daughter of an earl and Countess, learns she has magical abilities, her ashamed family exiles her to Lackland. Frightened she expects to be punished if she displays her talent, but is somewhat shocked to find some people refuse to bury their talents. As Napoleon plans to cross the Channel abetted by mages, Tory must choose between remaining ostracized by embracing her abilities to help protect her country or returning to the idyllic charmed life of the Ton.

This is a super young adult historical fantasy starring a wonderful young lady who must choose between risking her life for her country and enjoying the gala her country endows on the wealthy. A great timely switch enhances Tory’s decision while also stunning readers who will not see it coming. Tory decides how to answer JFK’s poignant question: “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” Harriet Klausner

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