Demons, Zombies and Pixies, Oh My
Starcraft II: Devils' Due
Gallery (Pocket), Apr 12 2011, $26.00
In 2488, farmboy Jim Raynor leaves backwater Shiloh to join the Confederacy Marine Corps where he meets Tychus Findley. Their unit became knows as the Heaven Devils (by William C. Dietz) for their courageous taking the fight to the enemy Kel-Morian Combine. Near the end of the Guild Wars, the two friends go AWOL after challenging the brutal abusive authority of their Commander. They become outlaws as their other option is to accept the Confederacy resocialization program that would strip away their respective essences.
In 2494 the pair eludes the interstellar marshals as they have since they deserted living a hedonistic life by stealing Confederacy credits. However, while robbing a train in the Badlands New Sydney all changes for the pair and not because they take Lady Jukebox. George Woodley of the Confederacy Bureau of Protection of Monies and Values man refuses to allow them to open a safe as Marshal Wilkes Butler is coming. As they celebrate their latest robbery, neither is aware of a killer on Tarsonis, but soon after business with the Skulls the two felons leave New Sydney to crime ridden Koprulu where their respective destinies lie.
This is an exciting science fiction thriller based on the game. The story line is fast-paced and loaded with non-stop action starting with the train robbery and never slows down until a final confrontation with Butler. Although Findley never seems more than a pale amoral Han Solo, Raynor is fully developed with a conscience. Butler and the villains are two dimensional, but fans especially gamers will enjoy Christie Golden’s Starcraft entry. Harriet Klausner
The Deadliest Bite
Orbit, Jun 22 2011, $13.99
Jaz Parks knows she is in the end game for who owns her soul and body. She hopes to keep the former though the Great Taker salivates over having her; and shares the latter with Brude the demon. Her only way to rid herself of Brude is extracting him from her head, which can only occur in hell where the Great Taker covets her return.
Meanwhile Jaz’s lover and teammate Vayl is under attack. Roldan the werewolf sent the reincarnation of one of Vayl’s sons to assassinate him. To survive, the pair and the rest of the crew (Raoul, Cole, Bergman, Cassandra, Dave, Jack and robokitty) head to Romania, first stop on the way to hell and hopefully back.
This is a fitting tribute to one of the better urban fantasy writers on the market as Jennifer Rardin passed away in September after finishing her eighth and final Jaz Parks thriller. The story line, like the entire series (see Bite Marks and Bitten In Two) is a fabulous fast-paced tale as the two and half century old vampire and his avhar assassin along with the rest of the gang work the two issues confronting them. Fans of the saga will agree that Ms. Parks pays fitting homage to herself with this strong final entry. Harriet Klausner
Morrow, May 17 2011, $22.99
Rebekkah Barrow returns home to Claysville to attend the funeral of her beloved grandmother, Maylene who was murdered just like Beks’ stepsister Ella. However, Beks is unaware that she has been chosen to replace her grandma who attended all funerals and told the dead to “sleep well and stay where I put you” as the town Graveminder. The function requires the person to provide food to the deceased so they remain in the Land of the Dead and not that of the living.
At the same time her former lover Byron Montgomery has become the Undertaker replacing his father William. The Undertaker works closely with the Graveminder as they have for centuries. As the pair diligently hunt for Daisha the teen who may have been murdered and has joined the Hungry Dead because they willl assault the living of Claysville.
With a great spin to the zombie mythos, this haunting dark thriller hooks the reader once Beks comes home from San Diego as the new Graveminder accompanied by the new Undertaker Byron struggle in their new unwanted positions. Two rookies with limited mentoring available must make everything right before the Hungry Dead begin to leave town in this exhilarating horror fantasy. Harriet Klausner
DAW, Jun 7 2011, $7.99
Now in her twenties, Dusty Carrick remains wary and reticent with an obsession for safety after battling childhood leukemia. She believes she survived her ordeal due to her best friend Thistle Down the Pixie who no one else ever saw.
The Pixie exile Thistle Down is in the mortal realm in human form. She needs help to survive so she seeks the girl who she comforted when she was an ailing child. Thistle brings her chaotic charm with her though it lacks her magic as she nukes Dusty’s safe world. She hopes to get the young adult to embrace not run from life. A bullying developer threatens Thistle’s home and Dusty’s museum so the Carrick family and friends fight back though they need money to succeed.
This enjoyable romantic urban fantasy is an entertaining tale mostly because of the havoc caused by Thistle as she and her Pixies are experts on disrupting human life. Her adjustment issues and antics in mortal form make the tale fun to read. Although the ending lacks closure as there are too many major subplots going forward into apparent sequels and scene changes too abruptly, readers will root for the BFFs. Harriet Klausner