Monday, February 27, 2012

Fantasy Reviews

Discount Armageddon
Seanan McGuire
DAW, Mar 6 2012, $7.99
ISBN 9780756407131

The Price extended family has been cryptid hunters for generations. However, they eventually rejected the Covenant of St. George that condoned species cleansing. Like the rest of her clan, Verity Price is a cryptozoologist who works to insure safe environments for cryptids and humans. However, though she is passionately dedicated, her first love is ballroom dancing though she wonders where that strand of her DNA comes from.

Thus Verity moves from the West Coast to New York to dance for a year. When she prevents a carnivorous ghoul (clearly an oxymoron) from dining on a human, Verity, who works as a waitress for a Dark bogeyman at Dave’s Fish and Strips club, concludes this is why she never has a Saturday night date. As cryptids are being hunted in the city, Dominick DeLuca catches Verity in a rooftop snare. The two enemies agree to team up when lizard people are found in the sewers and rumors abound that a sleeping dragon underneath Manhattan gneiss bedrock is awakening.

As October takes a Daye off, Seanan McGuire begins a new urban fantasy starring a Romeo and Juliet couple. The storyline is fun to follow due to the amusing asides from the priceless heroine. With a nod to the classic cantina scene in Star Wars, it is the McGuire Manhattan mythos with the various cryptid species, many introduced at Dave’s club (like the therianthrope bouncer – cute as long as you don’t tango, and the dragon princess - known for making money faster than Wall St. and without a male), that makes for a great read. Harriet Klausner

A True Son of Asmodeus
Zvi Zaks
By Light Unseen Media, $13.00
ISBN: 9781935303350

In Los Angles, hematologist Dr. Eli Rothenberg mentions to Sheila the ER head nurse that the zoo will end in under an hour, she takes him seriously as his workload comments determine staffing needs. Eli tells her that when he was ten he predicted his dying cousin would recover from meningitis, which happened. His father tried to use his psychic skills at poker but lost his shirt and slapped Eli. He vowed to never use his skill, but Sheila insists subconsciously his ESP talent surfaces.

Eli is shocked when his mentor Dr. Andrew Netter arrives on a gurney with an empty sleeping pills bottle taped to his comatose body. That is the impetus for Eli to quit his job and leave his compassionate girlfriend Karen Lodge to accept a fellowship jointly sponsored by the University of Heidelberg, St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in London and the University of Munich. On the trek to London, Eli meets Hasidic Jew Abram Rabinowich of Munich and Schmuel the converted Jew. In London, horrific murders occur while Schmuel visits Eli. He heads to Munich; at the Dachau concentration camp Eli survives evil. Stunned he visits Abram, who introduces him to the Perceptive warriors while malevolence waits for Eli in Auschwitz though six million allies pray for him.

This terrific Hasidic religious thriller grips the audience from the first premonition until the last. Fast-paced and filled with action, Eli is a great hero as he goes from denier to skeptic to believer due to the events that his rationale mind wants to reject. Fans will relish Eli’s enlightened run through the darkest evil, which thrives when monsters like Hitler and his gruesome wannabes provide the sustenance. Harriet Klausner

Sadie Walker Is Stranded
Madeleine Roux
St. Martin’s Griffin, Jan 31 2012, $14.99
ISBN: 9780312658915

The Outbreak Patient Zero was on The Golden Princess that brought the virus to Seattle and from there across North America and the world. Millions died from this plague. As the survivors struggled with so much death and related diseases, the real pandemic begins when the dead rise with a craving for live flesh and many of the living become predators.

Wannabe illustrator Sadie Walker, mother to her eight-year-old nephew Shane, resides as normal as they can inside the Citadel a living encampment in Seattle. Her boyfriend Carl arranges for black marketers to abduct Shane as a commodity for sale. She manages to push Carl down the stairs killing him, but leaving her unconscious. The thieves leave with Shane while her friend from before the Outbreak Andrea tells her they must leave as Carl’s buddies tore down a barrier that kept the walking dead outside their stronghold. The two females rescue Shane but remain in peril as Seattle has become a buffet for the undead with the only way off is at sea but most people including Sadie fear water as an un-deadly trap.

Sadie Walker Is Stranded is an exciting urban fantasy in which people adjust to the new meaning of survival of the fittest or become fodder for the undead. The title character is super as she struggles with adaptation while her BFF is kick butt and Shane’s childhood innocence is gone. Although unlikely events (even for an undead tale) detract from an otherwise great thriller, readers will enjoy the zombie storm that leaves Sadie, Andrea and Shane stranded with no place to go although two men join their quest for a haven. Harriet Klausner

Eyes Like Leaves
Charles De Lint
Tachyon, Feb 1 2012, $15.95
ISBN: 9781616960506

On the Green Isles, magic has remained in a state of harmony seemingly forever due to the power equilibrium between Lothan the Icelord king of Everwinter and his rival Hafari the Summerlord. However, recently the magic has waned and the balance of nature threatened by Lothan who plans to subjugate the people of the Green Isles to Everwinter after he disposes of his dormant adversary.

Puretongue, the great wizard leader of the dhruidery, understands the peril to the land. As time is running out he sends his loyal student Tarn on a mission to gather anyone displaying Hafarl's magick before Lothan finishes his ethnic cleansing of the only viable counter insurgency. Meanwhile as Tarn does his search, the Samarand raiders continue unabated their practice of assaulting and plundering villages. Carrie, lost her family to these vicious marauders, meets Tarn who realizes she is powerfully blessed by warmth of the Summerlord. The pair and Deren the novice stand between Everwinter in the Green Isles.

This is the first publication of a quest Celtic mythological fantasy written by Charles de Lint during President Reagan’s first term. The storyline starts very slow as the author sets the locale and the key players in the seasonal civil war. From that snail opening, the plot goes hyperspeed with plenty of action as the bad and the ugly hunt the good and the innocent with genocidal intent. Fans of the author will enjoy this fine tale even without a visit from Jilly Copporcorn or a stop in Newford. Harriet Klausner

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