Awake At Dawn
St. Martin’s Griffin, $9.99
This has been a particular difficult summer for Kylie Galen who recently discovered she had previously dormant special abilities inherited from her biological father. However having been adopted she had no one to mentor her on using these powers. Instead she is learning the extent of her new found skills the hard way through trial and error with an emphasis on the latter.
Shadow Falls Camp caters to those with supernatural powers. The counselors try to determine what Kylie can do, but they are concerned as she keeps manifesting new skills at an alarming unheard of rate. A female ghost haunts Kylie; the spirit insists the teen has the ability to save a friend. Kylie is heartbroken that shapeshifter Derek leaves her but upon his return he wants to pick up where they were as if he did not dump her. She has Lucas the werewolf in her life but he demands she prove she no longer thirsts for Derek. Meanwhile a rogue vampire wants her, but she refuses to have anything to do with this killer and an ancient vampire stalks her with evil plans to use Kylie’s skills.
The protagonist is a complicated individual struggling to understand who she is ever since her late dad made an unexpected visit (see Born At Midnight). Her two roommates are a vampire and a witch, but perhaps the heroine’s greatest power is her ability to get along with both of them. Kylie uses her innate abilities to help others though that makes her stand out further as new skills arise leaving everyone in her circle and her to wonder what species she is. C.C. Hunter writes an engaging young adult coming of age urban fantasy. Harriet Klausner
Aloha From Hell
Harper Voyager, $23.99
Lucifer the Fallen Angel has left Hell for Heaven. His abdication fails to eliminate sin as the monotheistic churches claimed it would, but instead leaves behind an even more dangerous power struggle to sit on his former throne.
Avenging Nephilim James “Sandman Slim” Stark recently killed Mason Faim the magician who exiled him to Hell where he became Lucifer’s bodyguard for over a decade. Mason finds he owes his “friend” for sending him to Hell were he plans his new gig to deploy the faithful on an invasion of Heaven. Kissi the demon encourages Mason to take the war to the enemy as his evil essence has plans to take over regardless of who survives the end of days combat.
Stark ponders why God remains on vacation instead of acting to prevent the war that could end the universe. He understands the Lord’s free will doctrine, so expecting no divine intervention; he decides to enter Hell on a Heavenly cause; besides which he prays he can bring his murdered girlfriend back with him if he escapes to Los Angeles.
The third Sandman Slim urban fantasy (see Sandman Slim and Kill the Dead) is a delightful dark humorous noir starring an antihero who will persuade readers that Los Angeles is as hellish of a place as Hell is. The support cast on all sides of the conflict is developed to enhance an exhilarating violently over the top of the Tower of Babel plot. Fans will enjoy Richard Kadrey’s latest contrary satirical spin with his fabulous twisting End of Days. Harriet Klausner
Joan Conning Afman
Camel Press, $16.95
In 2020 Congress passed a law that created the ultimate prison for those convicted of capitol punishment offences: a one way ticket to Death Island. No one escapes from this rock as the masses of TV viewers can tell who watch each week this true reality show.
A jury of his peers convicts Danny Manning of being the notorious serial killer Axe Murderer. He insists he is innocent having murdered no one, but he is sent to Death Island for killing five women including his wife Katie. Danny is dropped from a copter along with obese fiftyish financial thief Tom Koranda. He survives the aptly named island for now due mostly to psychopath Martin Sicilia adopting him and an obsession to escape in order to find the real killer; Tom is murdered in less than a week.
Danny’s next door neighbor in Northington, Connecticut Charlie Adjavon believes he is innocent especially when a sixth victim is found in New Haven. She would like to help him, but has no idea how. Besides she believes her husband Reverend Paul is having an affair with her very tall married friend Heather Waverly, but begins to wonder whether her BFF who threw the first stone at very tall Heather is the other woman.
Death Island mixes together an adult Lord of the Flies and Roman Coliseum premises with Survivor rules inside of the Schwarzenegger movie The Running Man. The story line is at its best on the island where plants and animals, especially two legged, stalk. Although suddenly emotional Charlie trying to help Danny (not the retired basketball star) seems over the top of Mount Frissell, fans will enjoy wondering whether the protagonist will escape from Death Island. Harriet Klausner