Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Witches, Telepaths, Romantic Fantasy and Amnesia

Witches of East End
Melissa de la Cruz
Hyperion, $23.99
ISBN: 9781401323905

North Hampton is almost as difficult to find as Brigadoon as maps fail to locate the hamlet. Across from the town is abandoned Gardiners Island where Fair Haven has not been occupied for decades until now.

Nineteen year old Freya Beauchamp works as a bartender thanks to her license which dates her as twenty-two. She met Bran Gardiner due to a dress strap snapping and now they are engaged. However, though she loves Bran, she is in love with his brother Killian. Like her older sister Ingrid the librarian; and their mother Joanna, Freya is a witch. Due to the messy Massachusetts massacre from a few centuries ago, The White Council has placed strict limitations on magic usage, but the immortal Beauchamp females are recently leaking magic. The townsfolk feel fortunate as things seem to go their way until incidents turn ugly and supernatural beasts arrive from beyond while humans starting with a girl drinking a Freya’ special cocktail vanished.

Filled with delightful twists and the strong establishment that witchcraft and other paranormal beings exist, this is a superb bewitching thriller. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action, but it is the three Witches of East End who make this a wonderful supernatural tale. Harriet Klausner

Steve White, Charles E. Gannon
Baen, $24.00
ISBN: 9781439134337

The telepathic Arduans fled their galaxy as their sun went nova. They traveled for centuries until they reached their destination Bellerophon. However, they are unhappy to find a sentient race recently colonized the planet. Still after what they have been through to reach their new home, the Arduans believing they are supreme as the only sentient race see the humans as a minor irritant.

Adding to their manifest destiny belief is the feebleness of human existence. Whereas the humans live one short life as telepathic mutes, Arduans live numerous lives while recalling each. The warrior caste wants to cleanse the orb and the rest of the galaxy using stolen technology from humans and their allies (Orions, Ophiuchi and Gorm) of these nothing species while Ankaht the scientist-philosopher tries to find a peaceful solution to benefit both species as well the indigenous population.

The latest entry in Steve White’s Starfire saga collaborating with David Weber (see The Stars at War) and Shirley Meier (see Exodus) is a terrific military science fiction that is at its best during the non-combat scenes. The battles are entertaining, but it is the philosophical debate on belief systems, species profiling and ethics especially from the alien perspective that make for a powerful timely thriller with applications in our society. Harriet Klausner

The Last Kiss
Red Garnier
Heat, $15.00
ISBN: 9780451233134

Ben Newcastle knows he is dying from cardiac arrest following the car accident. He has one thought as he holds a locket; he wishes he made the last Kiss with his beloved Emma forever.

One year, eight months and seven days have passed since Emma Wilkins’ knew her life ended when her beloved Ben died. In a Texas bar, Ben’s best friend Carter Bates begins to bring Emma back to life, but also angers an already frustrated Ben watching his beloved from beyond. She asks Carter the “pirate” to spank her while Ben her “prince” vows to return somehow. When Ben makes a Faustian deal, he comes back to San Antone and Emma now has two men she desires. However, Ben owes the devil.

The Last Kiss
is an engaging erotic romantic fantasy starring two strong males and a somewhat weaker female although some of her issues are grief. Ben is an intriguing character as he refuses to move on and in fact chooses to move back. Carter is a solid caring person while Emma is more an extension of the two men lusting and loving her. Fans will enjoy this strange exciting triangle. Harriet Klausner

The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes
Marcus Sakey
Dutton, $25.95
ISBN: 9780525952114

He awakens on a beach with no one around wearing no clothing. The man realizes he has no idea who he is though he knows he nearly drowned. Nearby he finds a car. Inside is a California license for a Daniel Hayes with his picture on it. He wonders how he who apparently lives in Los Angeles ended up in coastal Maine.

Daniel knows the truth lies in Southern California though he feels a niggling of remorse that he cannot fathom why. He heads across the continent as glimpses of his pre-amnesia life flash by in his mind. Soon Daniel learns he is a screenwriter whose TV star soap opera wife died in a vehicular homicide. The cops believe he killed his spouse while someone is stalking him.

This dark thriller grips the reader from the moment the amnesia victim awakens on a deserted New England beach and never slows down until the final exhilarating climax. Daniel is terrific as he evades police and a hunter while trying to rewire his brain as the replay button is too slowly coming into focus. Set aside time, readers will find it difficult to put aside The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes as Marcus Sakey provides a fresh exhilarating spin to the amnesiac in peril theme.
Harriet Klausner

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