Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Season of Passage, Future Imperfect, Pitch Dark and Burning Skies reviewed

The Season of Passage
Christopher Pike
Tor, $14.99
ISBN: 9780765331298

In 1996, an unmanned probe landed on Mars. The vessel sent back incredible data including unexplained gigantic footprints. The ship abruptly went dead.

In 2000 the Russian sent vessel the Lenin goes to Mars, but also suddenly loses contact with earth. In 2002 an American crew, lands on Mars. They are greeted by a shocker as a cosmonaut remains alive inside freezing Lenin while the ship orbits the planet. The Russian has no pulse and responds in an odd manner with a strange permanent grin to questions from the Americans including medical officer Dr. Lauren Wagner. The Russian escorts the Americans to the surface. While her older sister in on the Angry Red Planet, thirteen year old Jennifer writes a story about Princess Chaneen, an Asuiran goddess, who has ties to what her sibling encounters on Mars. The Martian expedition is disastrous with Lauren and one other astronaut coming home while Jennifer is dead and interred yet Chaneen apparently lives.

This is a reprint of an early 1990 thriller that deftly crosses science fiction and fantasy. The story line rotates between the two subplots until the Mars return leads to a confrontational convergence. With a sort of historiographical feel to the tale as a note points out that the novel is based on scientific knowledge of the 1970s, readers will relish Christopher Pike’s gripping suspense. Harriet Klausner

Future Imperfect
K. Ryer Breese
Dunne, $9.99
ISBN: 9780312641511

Whenever seventeen years old Ade Patience is knocked out, he sees the future. He becomes addicted to his skill as he does all sorts of stunts to land unconscious. His family is concerned though his mother believes her son is part of the coming Rapture. His friends are increasingly distant as they are uncomfortable with his visions.

Two years ago Ade first saw the girl he loves Vauxhall, but has finally met her in person. However, Vauxhall conceals a secret from Ade as she sees things from her sex partners’ past during intimacy. Like her new beau, she is addicted to her power. Finally Ade must deal with her boyfriend Jimi who he has seen what becomes of his rival.

This is an intriguing thriller with a strong look at self inflicted abuse. Ade and Vauxhall are odd but fascinating characters as their relationship is as far from the norm as an outlier can be. Although Ade’s constant concussing behavior should have caused much more long term physical damage (as quarterbacks and boxers know) and consequently led to a strait jacket by family and school intervening, readers will enjoy his banging his head against solid objects and Vauxhall. Harriet Klausner

Pitch Dark
Steven Sidor
St. Martin’s, $14.99
ISBN: 9780312354145

In Northern Minnesota, Wyatt and Opal Larkin own and manage a small motel in trouble as the new Super 8 chain is just off the highway and being Christmas Eve in a remote part of the state, business is nonexistent. The two Larkin's always look back to two decades ago when two psychopaths entered a restaurant and started shooting. They wounded Wyatt and pregnant Opal.

Their nineteen year old son Adam runs out of gas. Slightly older Vera Coffey picks him up. She conceals from her passenger that she stole the Tartarus Stone compass to hell from Dr. Horus Whiteside. He sends his horrific horde the Pitch after her. At the motel, Vera joins the Larkin family in what probably will prove a one way ticket to hell for the foursome.

Fast paced with a frozen tundra atmosphere enhancing a sense of imminent doom, readers will enjoy this frightful horror thriller. Although readers will anticipate what next as the plot has few surprises, the suspenseful story line still grips the audience as High Noon with evil comes to a small motel in Northern Minnesota. Harriet Klausner

Burning Skies
Caris Roane
St. Martin’s, $7.99
ISBN: 9780312533724

Endelle the nine millennia Supreme High Administrator of Second Earth keeps getting into the head of former Warrior of the Blood Marcus Amargi who quit the Guardians and left for Earth following the death of his sister Helena. However, though the vampire tells his ex boss to go home, Endelle appears in person on his bike and his Washington State home informing him that he owes her a favor and that ascended immortal Havily Morgan is not sleeping well because she sexually fantasizes making love with Marcus.

Marcus knows what Havily feels as he covets her blood. They are also in the throes of the breh-hedden mate bonding that she desires and he loathes for fear the woman meant for him could die. She wants nothing less than his full capitulation to her. At the same time, Marcus battles his need to surrender to his mate, brutal death vampire Eldon Crace wants Havily’s special blood his lethal way.

The second Guardians of Ascension vampire romantic thriller (see Ascension) is a terrific tale as the audience continues to learn more about the vampire civil war that is played out in combat and politics. The lead couple is a wonderful pairing as he cannot move on pass the violent death of his sibling while though sympathetic she cannot accept anything less than his whole heart and soul. Readers will enjoy the paranormal romance, but it is the background Roane mythology that makes for a powerful entry. Harriet Klausner

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