Zebra, Dec 1 2011, $6.99
Eight century old Immortal Guardian Marcus Graden is concerned with the recent military precise pack attacks by vampires; as that is out of the norm for the insane bloodsuckers who rarely work together. In Chapel Hill, Marcus meets Ami, a weapons expert, when both battle a vampire pack.
To his chagrin his Guardian superior Seth wants Ami to serve as a human Second to Marcus. She is appalled with working with this cold Guardian and he prefers to work alone; both make their feelings known to each other. However, as they team up to counterattack the new vampire king and his deadly shocking allies, Marcus and Ami fall in love but she owes him the revelation of the secret she conceals from everyone.
The second super Immortal Guardians romantic urban fantasy (see Darkness Dawns) is a fantastic thriller filled with twists that bring freshness to the action-packed story line. The protagonists are a delightful pairing of arrogance and butt kicker though neither are unique characters. Fast-paced from the moment the lead pair meets in Chapel Hill, fans will enjoy this vampire thriller. Harriet Klausner
Honor Among Thieves
Harper Voyager, Nov 29 2011, $7.99
Fate chose Malden the thief as the savior of the people of the Skrae Kingdom when he obtained one of the seven Ancient Blades. However being the chosen one (of seven) does not automatically denote success; Malden failed to prevent the horde from the East devastating Skrae. The mass destruction taught the clever thief several lessons as he flees from the Dwarven Kingdom southward towards the Free City of Ness. Understanding a thieves’ first principle to never trust an ally to have your back, his associates who jumped on his bandwagon have leaped away from him as if he is a pariah. Everyone with a few exceptions abandon Malden though many from the King of Skrae and the leaders of the Free City of Ness like Cutbill of the thieves’ guild (that is before he abruptly vanished after receiving a message from his operative in the always squabbling Northern Kingdoms) covet the loser’s magical power.
Malden has an army of harlots and thieves, along with Cythera the sorceress and Slag the dwarf. However, all is not lost though it looks hopeless; Malden may have a sword of magic, but he applies his thieving experiences to concoct a plan.
The final Ancient Blades military fantasy (see A Thief in the Night and Den of Thieves) is a fast-paced thriller as the beleaguered hero learns honor and dishonor among thieves and political leaders (who many will say are thieves). The story line is fast-paced with a great early hook involving Cutbill. Although the swords that were prevalent in the previous entries (especially the first one) plays a lesser role than expected, quest fans will appreciate Malden’s final stand. Harriet Klausner
NAL, Jan 3 2012, $9.99
In Chicago, Lily Parker attends St. Sophia School for Girls. The sophomore, the rest of her high school group and her BFF Scout protect the residents of the city from the Reapers; adepts who refused to give up the magic once they use their allotment so they absorb the soul from people to give them more time as practitioners.
One day Lily applies her firespell, but it fails to work. She soon learns that all the adepts in the city no longer possess magic. The adepts blame the reapers, but Lily finds out that the rogue practitioners have lost their talent too. Although the two groups distrust one another, Lily needs a reaper to help her regain what has vanished. Sebastian the reaper who does not follow the party line agrees to team up with Lily while the Enclave chief decides to take a chance on the rogue loner. Lily takes the biggest risk when she attempts to break the spell in order to bring back the magic; while the caster’s plans sneak up on the teen.
Wiser than her age, Lily is the bridge between the two rival magical using groups as she rejects the black and white assertions of each side. This concept is critical for her and Sebastian to team up. She is a true heroine who takes dangerous chances to keep her Enclave safe. The third Dark Elite urban fantasy (see Firespell and Hexbound) is spellbound twisting winner. Harriet Klausner
City of the Lost
Daw, Jan 3 2012, $15.00
In Los Angeles Joe Sunday and his partner Julio Guerrera are enforcers working for mobster Simon Patterson. Though they mostly break a few bones, each has killed targets without a second thought. In a North Hollywood bar, Julio violently attacks Joe and the bartender before cutting his own throat. LAPD Detective Frank Tanake arrives and tells Joe to report anything suspiciously odd.
Simon explains to Joe that Sandro Giantetti who he killed decades ago murdered Julio. He assigns Joe to retrieve a stone from the elderly man. Julio’s wife Mariel returns Joe’s earlier call to tell him her spouse is home when she becomes hysterical. Julio smashes his beloved spouse into a wall as Joe enters the house. Sandro arrives and directs Julio to attack Joe. When Joe regains consciousness he realizes none of years of aches hurt. Sandro explains that Joe is his first success at reanimating a dead man. All hell breaks loose as Joe kills Simon for betraying him and Tanake shoots Sandro in the head. However, Tanake shows the non breathing Joe that Sandro posed in a Renaissance Era painting so will probably return to life. Joe knows the talisman he took from Sandro means a horde of zombies led by Sandro will come for him.
This is a brisk engaging zombie urban fantasy starring am antihero who has a strange values system as he has no compunctions being a hit man or cannibalizing a hooker, but feels he owes his partner by telling Julio’s wife that he is dead. Although the reason for Sandro’s experimentation comes late as this intuitively appears to conflict with his centuries-old longevity, sub-genre readers will enjoy the reanimated hit man takes Southern California. Harriet Klausner