The Map Across Time
Living Ink Books, $14.99
In Sherbourne, heartbroken siblings Adin and Aletha are saying their final goodbyes to their dying loving mother, the queen. She gives her beloved children lockets containing a message in the ancient language that “Love is as strong as death”. The queen depends on Reya the nurse to love her children and to guide them as she knows she cannot rely on her spouse. While his wife dies, the cold king, who despises his cripple son, loses himself due to the avaricious and fawning of his councilors. Sherbourne is in trouble of imploding due to royal neglect and greed.
The young prince and princess know the saving of the Kingdom of Sherbourne is up to them. Heeding the mentoring of Reya, the regal pair obtains the magical Map Across Time guiding them to Sherbourne’s past. There to save their present, Adin and Aletha must believe in the ancient truths and bring them back across time.
Adin sums up this terrific allegorical drama when he muses about Heaven selecting the weak to achieve improbable great accomplishments. Thus it is the innocent who is the only hope to save a kingdom from the greed of their father. High school and older readers will relish this terrific tale filled with references from the Old Testament as two young siblings heroically set out to rescue their beloved people on an impossible quest. Harriet Klausner
Razorbill (Penguin), $17.00
In 2007 in Kent, England, fourteen years old Jamie Carpenter and his mom Marie watched from inside his family house as his father Julian steps outside with a gun in hand only to be shot to death on the front lawn. Soon afterward the police informed stunned mother and son that Julian was caught selling highly classified information to a terrorist cell. The mail starts to arrive informing the pair that a family with a traitor is unwanted. They moved three times in two years.
The terror begins when pretty Larissa prepares to take Jamie but could not do it. He races home to find his mom missing and Alexandru with razorblade teeth coming for him when a giant Frankenstein saves the teen’s life. The “Monster” brings Jamie to the government’s extremely classified Department 19; the only unit without a title. He learns that over a hundred years ago Abraham Van Helsing and his team of survivors formed the cell to police the supernatural. Europe’s most powerful vampire since Dracula has captured Marie. Frank and Larissa join Jamie on a quest to find his mom.
Department 19 is a great urban and historical fantasy as the exciting story line rotates between the Department’s past escapades across Europe starting with that late Victorian war in Transylvania and London against Dracula and the young hero’s quest. Both subplots are well written while filled with suspense that grips the reader from the moment Julian is killed. Teens of all ages will relish Jamie’s run as Frank mentors him and Larissa keeps switching from wanting a bite of him to needing protecting him as readers will wonder whose side is she on. Harriet Klausner
The Woodcutter patrols the woody expanse between the Kingdoms of Man and the Realm of Faerie. While performing his duty, he comes across the corpse of a pretty teenage female stranger. Putting down his axe, he searches for her death wound, but finds none. He concludes her spirit fled her body due to immense fear. He ponders what could have been so scary that it frightened the girl to death. He informs his dear Wife he must leave.
The Woodcutter begins his investigation learning the victim was Cinderella and the predator was an escaped from the Wild Hunt hellhound of Odin. He must capture and return the hellhound to the Wild Hunt pack before other innocents die. However this simple journey turns into a harrowing experience due to evil wanting to foster malevolence in all realms so that they can rule as the Gentleman and the Queen; yet he also meets caring folks assisting him on his mission.
The Woodcutter is a fantastic dark fantasy that turns classic fairy tales upside down in a serious quest thriller (the diametrically opposite tone form Shrek). Starting with the King of the Golden River and visits with other fairy tales, the Woodcutter cuts quite a heroic stoic path as he follows the deadly trail of a dangerous beast. Readers will enjoy trekking with the hero as Kate Danley provides an entertaining engaging thriller. Harriet Klausner
Scottish graduate student Elizabeth Silk struggles with what she caused in Dmitriu, Romania .while researching the legend of vampires. She accidently released Prince Saloman an ancient vampire (see Blood on Silk). They are attracted to one another and he is bound to her for freeing him, but Elizabeth also has learned that inside her arteries and veins, blood of vampire hunters flow; including her ancestor who “killed” Saloman.
However, his ancient sword becomes the heart of a blood bath between vampires and humans, as both sides want possession. While he refuses to allow either side to have the sword as he knows how vicious both species can be when in possession of power; Elizabeth trusts her beloved to do the right thing while she is pressured to choose sides.
The second An Awakened By Blood urban fantasy is an exciting action packed tale starring two engaging natural enemies in love. The story line starts slow, but accelerates once the Grand Master of the American order of Vampire Hunters makes his move and never looks back. With a fabulous twist and an apparent eternal set up for the next entry, sub-genre fans will enjoy Blood Sin wondering whether the Vampire Hunter will adhere to her DNA or her love. Harriet Klausner