All That Bleeds
Berkley, Jan 3 2012, $7.99
The demonic slaughter occurs at the Arts & Innovation Benefit held at the House of North. Body guard Mr. Clark takes his charge, Alissa the last heiress muse to a safe location, but she insists they return to rescue the human hostages. He refuses saying unless the Etherlin Council president Dimitri Xanakis orders him to do so she will remain safe. Mr. Clark reminds her that the damned cannot resist the smell of the blood of a muse like she is. Furthermore he blames the ventala hybrid vampires for failing to kill the demon in Varden. Merrick the ventala arrives and easily kills Corthus the demon, who had slaughtered many. Over Mr. Clark’s objection, Alissa thanks Merrick.
Five years later, Alissa and Merrick remain attracted to one another, but each knows that is taboo. However, everything changes when someone abducts the muse and removes her from the safety of the House. Merrick vows to use every tool in heaven, hell and earth to rescue the forbidden female he has loved since she bravely shook his hand after he killed Corthus.
The first Etherlin romantic fantasy is a terrific ultra dark (due to constant violence that lives up to the title as even demons bleed) thriller. The vivid story line is action-packed but it is the forbidden relationship between the muse and the ventala that is at the heart of Kimberley Frost’s turn from the lighthearted frolics of the Southern Witch saga to this dark tale. Harriet Klausner
Gift of Magic
Berkley, Jan 3 2012, $15.00
Not wanting to follow in the footsteps of his evil sire Gair, Ruithneadh of Ceangail hesitates becoming a mage. However, he has no choice but to undo what his notorious father wrought. Thus Ruith and dreamweaver Sarah of Doire, who uncannily can see the deadly spells on a map of sorts, follow the spell trail to destroy them though she believes someone purposely set this up to bring the pair to whoever this individual is.
As the pair find and destroy spells, other Nine Kingdom mages want control of Gair’s legacy and will kill anyone, even innocent civilians, to obtain the enormous but dangerous power. Sarah and Ruith know failure is not an option as that would plunge the world into eternal darkness as each wonders what awaits them at the end of the enchanted trail.
The final tale in the latest Nine Kingdoms quest fantasy (see A Tapestry of Spells and Spellweaver) is a great finish to a strong trilogy. The exciting story line is fast-paced from the onset until the final confrontation against evil. Although readers will know who awaits the lead heroes at the end of the spell trail, it does not matter as Lynn Kurland spins another fabulous fantasy. Harriet Klausner
Kiss Of Frost
K Teen/ Kensington, Dec 1 2011, $9.95
Gwen Frost the Gypsy possesses psychometric power. In her second year as a warrior in training at the Mythos Academy, she still feels like the proverbial outside newcomer who does not belong although Gwen has a few friends. However, she is attracted to Logan Quinn the Spartan, who ignores her entirely as if Gwen does not exist except in swordplay.
However, Gwen has a bigger than life problem other than an unrequited teen crush as Reapers and werewolves want her dead with two failed attempts including an invisible archer at the Library of Iniquities. A third try at the Winter Carnival also is thwarted as Gwen with Vic the sword realizes she needs to uncover the identity of the Reaper stalking her before the adversary finally succeeds.
With a nod to Greek mythology in a high school setting, the second Mythos Academy young teen fantasy (see Touch of Frost) is a charming tale filled with a strong cast especially Gwen’s archenemy Savannah Wren the Amazon and her BFFs. The fast-paced twisting story line contains misdirection as to who wants the heroine dead while is also filled with comedic moments, but avoids exploring the darker side of Gypsies. Still readers will enjoy Gwen’s non-academic adventures at school in which someone wants her as dead as her late mom. Harriet Klausner
Blood of Eden
Kensington, Dec 1 2011, $7.99
In Baltimore, twentyish FBI intern agent Sloan Skye is assigned to the newly formed Paranormal Behavioral Analysis Unit. She has no idea that the human Resources Division erred but PBAU chief Alice Peyton takes her on her scorned X-Files-like cell.
Peyton calls for a team meeting attended by Agents Jordan Thomas, Chad Fletcher and Brittany Hough, and Sloan. Baltimore PD asked for assistance with a murder in which the suspect appears to be a vampire. Although her late father the professor insisted vampires were real, Sloan does not believe even when her team assumes she is an expert due to being a chip off the paternal block. While she and her teammates work the case, Sloan, ignoring her mother’s zillion calls to her cell, is attracted to Jordan.
This is an engaging police procedural paranormal starring a likable heroine. The fast-paced story line engages the reader although the investigation is more Noir than urban fantasy. Still with a touch of romance in the air and some comedic relief, fans will enjoy Tami Dane’s Baltimore murder mystery. Harriet Klausner