L. Jagi Lamplighter
Tor, Sep 13 2011, $25.99
Miranda has successfully run the family business Prospero, Inc. However, though the firm has prevented some major disasters on earth, she is losing her power. She thinks someone in the inner circle has betrayed her and the family.
At the same time Prospero is caught in a hellish tempest in which avenging demons plan to execute him. Though pondering why that hack Shakespeare couldn’t find some other character and island for his play, Miranda, estranged from her famous deadbeat dad and her distrusting siblings, knows he needs rescuing. Thus Miranda enters the circles of Hell to gather her family so they can save the pickling of the patriarch in the Pit; ironically they share in common resentment of dearest dad.
The final Prospero's Daughter urban fantasy (see Prosper Lost and Prospero in Hell) is a brilliant finish to an engaging family drama. The story line is fast-paced as the family travels through Hell seeking the salvation of their father and the redemption of themselves as individuals yet a traitor appears to be amongst them. To paraphrase Alexander Pope: to err is human (and fairy), to forgive divine. Harriet Klausner
Veronica and the Vampire
Harlequin Nocturne Bites, Jun 21 2011, $ .99
Barnes and Noble ISBN: 2940012882387; Amazon ASN: B0057AI6IQ
In Los Angeles, her cubicle mate at the legal firm Annie sends law clerk Veronica Davis to V.A.M.P. Inc. so the latter can choose an escort to take her to her nasty sister Charlene’s wedding. The choices of men reside inside coffins, but it is Christopher who she wants. Veronica does not believe Christopher is a vampire, but marvels with how he deals with her shocked sibling and her stunned mother. He is the reason she is not wearing the scarlet letter of L for loser.
However, Christopher wants more from Veronica than a “dead-end date” at her sibling’s wedding. As she begins to accept what he is, the vampire must persuade the law clerk they are destined soumatesl.
Veronica and the Vampire is a fun lighthearted paranormal romance starring a woman who find a male that like the Electric Company’s Letterman changes the meaning of L from loser to lover. Although the novella format leaves the plot thin, sub-genre fans will enjoy Linda Thomas-Sundstrom’s amusing frolic similar in tone to the author’s engaging Barbie and the Beast. Harriet Klausner
Ghosts by Gaslight: Stories of Steampunk and Supernatural Suspense
Edited by Jack Dann and Nick Gevers
Harper Voyager, Sep 6 2011, $14.99
In the Introduction, editors Nick Gevers and Jack Dann explain that the premise of this excellent anthology is to explore the “great paradox of the Victorian age” in which the Queen declared the enlightenment yet superstition and paranormal species still held a grip on the people. Perhaps Laird Barron's "Blackwood's Baby" is the best example of that unbalanced scale between enlightened understanding and suggestive fears of the unknown. Thus the Enlightenment is a transition into the modern world. All seventeen entries are excellent examples of “Steampunk and Supernatural Suspense”. “The Iron Shroud” by James Morrow opens the superior collection with Jonathan pondering insects and hell as his dead mentor remains interred. Just after Princess Maude married the future Sultan, four men living in a rooming house learn why Turks write down everything even “Music, When Soft Voices Die” by Peter S. Beagle. Margo Lanagan provides an engaging insightful focus on the changing class combat in "The Proving of Smollett Standforth." “The Curious Case of the Moondawn Daffodil Murder as Experienced by Sir Magnus Holmes and Almost Doctor Susan Shrike” (by Garth Nix) pays homage to the great Victorian detective and his sidekick in a razor sharp thriller. All the other entries are excellent as this may prove to be the historical fantasy (and horror) collection of the year climaxing with Jeffrey Ford's gloomy ghostly ruins of "The Summer Palace." Harriet Klausner