My Soul To Steal
Harlequin Teen, $9.99
While Nash suffers excoriating withdrawal pains from the Netherworld’s addicted Demon’s Breath his maybe girlfriend Kaylee feels betrayed by his actions (see My Soul To Keep). He knows she is not ready to talk while she misses him after two weeks of no Nash. However, Kaylee wants a serene spring term at school after the nightmarish previous semester that no sixteen years old girl, even a Banshee like her, should ever face.
However, their chance to reconcile their differences takes a tortuous spin towards hell when Nash’s former girlfriend Sabine the Mara transfers to their school. She has arrived with one goal: to win back her boyfriend and any means to achieve her end is acceptable. The Mara uses her skill to read fear and turn that trepidation into a nightmare. as subsistence. She turns up the fear factor to the point people especially her adversary Kaylee cannot sleep due to the nightmares that have their souls screaming for solace as increasingly their dreams are literally killing them.
The fourth Soul Screamers teenage urban fantasy (see My Soul To Save) is a fabulous complex relationship thriller as what Sabine wants Sabine gets. The fast-paced story line is driven by the relational triangulation as the female banshee struggles with her feelings made into something to fear by her vicious rival. My Soul To Steal is much more personal in nature than the powerful previous three tales. Harriet Klausner
Alien in the Family
Kitty Katt the human and Jeff Martini the Alpha Centaurian are in love and planning their wedding in Vegas. However, the human learns her hunk exiled from the nearest star has through attrition over the decades (time is relative) become the heir to the empire. Kitty who had trepidations now has Olympus Mons doubts that her résumé as an exterminator qualifies her as a future queen especially when she must pass the royal worthiness examination.
Besides the Martini royal horde invading Sin City, outer space Amazon terrorists plan to introduce the couple and their guests to the big bang theory. The CIA and the Centaurian Division are outraged by the audacity of testing Kitty. However she has one thankful thing going: whatever happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.
The third zany kill Kitty Katt science fiction tale (see Alien Tango and Touched by an Alien) is an amusing over the top of the combined miles of Animas, Hatchet and Chiricahua Peaks romantic sci-fi thriller. The jocular exciting story line is faster than the speed of light as the heroine struggles to get married while the universe seems to voice their opposition. Readers will enjoy this bizarre totally out of control yet fully entertaining adventures of a woman just wanting to marry her hunk from outer space. Harriet Klausner
Catherynne M. Valente
The city has changed names several times over the past century, but currently is called St. Petersburg as everything goes full circle. On Gorokhovaya Street, Marya Morevna was six years old when she saw the bird turn into Lieutenant Gratch of the Tsar’s Personal Guard who came to take away her older sister Olga with him. Three years later Lieutenant Zuyok of the White Guard also changed as he came for Tatiana. Finally when Marya was twelve Lieutenant Shulan of the Red Army arrived for the third daughter Anna. Watching the birds change to men come for her older sisters leaves Marya musing over the type of bird her mate will be.
Koschei the Deathless Tsar of Life arrives for his woman, Marya. However, she must prove herself worthy as Koschei’s mate. In that regard Baba Yaga tasks Marya with three impossible assignments; failure to compete all three proves she is not the mate of the Deathless Tsar of Life. Marya begins her Herculean tasks, Marya starts to lose her humanity until she meets the innocent Ivan “The Fool” Nikolayevich, who pulls her back to Mother Russia; leaving her confused with one foot in Koschei’s realm and one in the land of her ancestors.
This is a terrific complicated retelling of a Russian folktale that uses The Revolution era as a backdrop to the saga; in fact Marya becomes a Major-General in the Red Army. Fast-paced with a strong protagonist who keeps the engaging story line focused; readers will appreciate this intriguing look at Bolshevik Russia through a fantasy lens. Harriet Klausner
Surrender the Dark
Besides being a chain smoker Celeste Jackson is a chain drinker and a constant abuse victim. However, in her mind, she believes she deserves punishment as she suffers from schizophrenia. Her mental illness culminates when her abusive boyfriend Brandon threatens to kill her and Celeste sees a demon residing inside him that he commands to leave; as the horned figure flees the human host, Brandon crumbles in death.
Fleeing for her life, Celeste does what she always does when she hallucinates; she stops at a bar for a drink or ten and a pack of Newports. Her thoughts are she has to get out of this place as Philly is not a safe haven for her. Azrael the Angel who left the Light to protect Celeste meets her at the bar. She thinks he is crazier than she is, which says a lot as he explains who she is and why opposing sides recognize she is critical in the war over humanity. She feels safe with him and he tries to obtain her trust. Celeste must serve as a rallying cry to gather her hybrid angelic-human peers the Remnant and other sensitive receptors to stop the evil dark from continuing their rule over humanity. However, Azrael’s attraction to his ward could cost him his wings and mankind their last chance for salvation; only Celeste’s addictions may prevent his obsession leaving him wingless forever.
This is a terrific urban fantasy with a throwback feel to when authors used the genre to spotlight social issues. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Celeste orders the demon out of Brandon and never slows down even while L.A. Banks looks deeply at what ails the country. Readers will appreciate the battle for humanity between angels and demons as a schizophrenic addict serves as the pivotal essence in a war for eternity. Harriet Klausner