The Dead Man: Ring of Knives
Lee Goldberg, William Rabkin and James Daniels
Adventures In Television, $6.99
Due to a stag that may or may not have been on the road, Matthew Cahill’s vehicle is in a ditch. The tow truck driver, who believes Rush is a liberal, takes him to the “nuthouse” where Matt is going. After his driver mentions looking at the eyes to see the soul Matt peeks at the man and he sees beetles in the sockets as the guy says he plans a surprise for his ex and her beau in Tacoma to night.
At Westland County Mental Health Center, Matthew set up an interview to discuss how to fight the evil Dr. Dark with thirty seven yeas old Jesse Weston, an encyclopedia of mental illness. However, the hospital administrator who arranged it Dr. Dindren no longer works there and Weston was transferred elsewhere. Employee Maloria, who he has a Tase moment h just before arriving at the MHC explains what is going on. He needs to see Dindren in order to learn where Weston is. However, to do that he must enter the monitored modules escorted by Maloria; there he will learn first hand what happens to those with mental illness and the cause of seeing the abnormal and paranormal while finding getting in is easy but getting out alive is lunacy.
The second DEAD MAN paranormal novella is a taut thriller that grips the audience from the moment Matt sees the driver’s eyes and never slows down especially when he enters the house of horrors. Action-packed throughout yet key support players like Maloria, Drindren and teenage patient Annica come across fully developed as readers will appreciate Cahill’s search for answers to death and Dr. Dark after coming back from the dead. Harriet Klausner
Cam Attling left his hometown of Kayforl to fight in the war. Just a boy when he joined, Cam lost an arm but is the only person from Kayforl to survive the combat. He knows his fortune occurred because Lord Gyaar, son to the winning side’s ruler, allowed him to live.
At home, he finds the townsfolk resent his surviving when other loved ones died. His family wants him to leave as they are embarrassed he came back alive while his engagement to Graceful Fenister ends ungracefully when she wants nothing to do with him. Cam leaves Kayforl for the second time in search of the Lord who spared him to learn why. On his quest for the truth he becomes friends with a boy and meets others like Diido who lost everything to the war.
This is an engaging novel that looks deeply at the impact of war on the returning vets and those in the home-front. The living must move on emotionally with what happened to their loved ones and yet must rebuild their devastated world in order to survive the ordeal. Although being an in depth character study including looking at villages like Kayforl limits the action and slows the pace deliberately as Christine Hinwood cleverly avoids dumbing down with her powerful tale that respects the middle school audience as intelligent caring readers.Harriet Klausner
To the shock of everyone Eon the novice proves to be a female; the first dragoneye of that gender in centuries. The ten other dragoneye except Eona and Lord Ido were massacred after being betrayed by the latter. No longer concealing her sex, Eona struggles with the grief of the Celestial Dragons and remains loyal to the deposed Pearl Emperor Kygo; removed from the throne by his uncle High Lord Sefton.
While Eona flees accompanied by rebels Ryko and Lady Dela in search of the stolen Black Folio, Lord Sefton sends his army to kill one of the two threats remaining to his rule. He also incarcerates Ido before the last experienced dragoneye can use his power. Eona reluctantly needs to rescue the traitor so he can mentor her on using her power to protect Kygo who she loves while wanting Ido.
The second Empire of the Celestial Dragons (see Eon) is a fabulous quest fantasy. Eona is terrific heroine struggling to learn her craft ironically from the traitor who betrayed and destroyed his peers. The tale is filled with angst as the dragons are grieving over the loss of their bonded partner; while Eona feels the weight of the world on her shoulders as she tries to help the mourners and the exiled young Emperor Kygo, but does not know how. This is a strong action-packed thriller that will have young adult readers soaring though the sky riding dragons. Harriet Klausner
Shannon Duffy and John Zakour
Blue Leaf Publications, $9.99
She does not drink blood and she can go out in the sunlight, but otherwise she has all the powers of her mother Candi, the Vampire Queen. She can also spell-cast thanks to the magic of her father who has a spark for it. Stormy Knight tries to live as a human, but she lapses at times especially when her archenemy Rosie does something to harm her or friends or people in general.
Rosie is determined to be the prom queen and Stormy who has been nominated asks to withdraw as a candidate. She starts seeing ghosts, the first one a boy Jack who appears in her classroom. He pleads with her to kill him so he can return to where he was. On Prom Night, Stormy is at a bowling alley with her friend Marie when the ghost of the former librarian Ms. Snider appears. She tells Stormy that she has to go to the prom because something terrible will happen if she does not stop a magic user from carrying out his plan. Stormy rushes to the school, but fears she will be too late to prevent a tragedy.
With a nod to Buffy, this whimsical chick-lit urban fantasy is an entertaining tale due to the heroine who wants to live life as an ordinary teen, but fate keeps forcing her to use her paranormal skills to perform good deeds. She shares the same problems as any teen supplemented by tsuris due to what she can see with her third eye and has a sixth sense that works overtime. A quirky support cast, a reluctant heroine and a spell caster who doesn’t know the consequences of his actions makes this a character driven charmer. Harriet Klausner
Hexes and Hemlines
She searched the world to find a place she could call home and Lily Ivory found it at the corner of Haight and Asbury in San Francisco. Lily is a genuine witch trained by her grandma in the craft though she never completed her studies as she was run out of her hometown. She owns a vintage clothing store, but also has helped the police on investigations using her magic.
SFPD asks her to help with the inquiry into the death of Malachi Zozi whose body is surrounded by bad luck symbols. She cannot read anything from the body and the clothes in the apartment so Lily concludes someone magically wiped clean the magical aura. When she sees a picture of Malachi alive and well, she tells her mentor Aidan, the powerful lead witch of the craft in the Bay area, who warns her to stay away from the case. However, her best friend Bronwyn the Wiccan asks Lily to help because her son-in-law is a person of interest by the cops. Soon afterward, Bronwyn begs her to stop the investigation; as does a witch capable of bending time. Ignoring them, Lily feels it is her duty to catch a killer though her efforts place her in peril.
This exciting urban fantasy murder mystery (see A Castoff Coven) is an entertaining paranormal whodunit. Lily’s persistence as an amateur sleuth hooks the audience who is unsure whether to scream at her to back off or to encourage her to charge forward. Her familiar Oscar, a half goblin-gargoyle becomes a cute pot bellied pig who adds jocularity to the fast-paced story line as part of the quirky cast (benign, kind, and evil) that helps make this spellbinding tale a fun read. Harriet Klausner