Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Fantasy Titles

The Drowning Girl
Caitlín R. Kiernan
Roc, Mar 6 2012, $16.00
ISBN: 9780451464163

India “Imp” Morgan Phelps would have been shocked if the shrink diagnosed her as an NT; instead labeling her as a schizophrenic which makes sense to her. Imp knows lunacy is like apple pie to her family as far back as she knows. Still meds and the shrink help her pretend she lives a normal life.

Imp is shocked when she sees the model in the 1898 The Drowning Girl painting. Meeting Eva Canning also brings about dreams and memories that cannot be true, but Imp wonders about their source as she fears her mental illness has worsened since meeting Eva. Deciding to learn who Eva is, Imp is further stunned when the woman vanishes. As reality becomes increasingly unstable, the voice amidst the chaos of her brain triggers an obsessive compulsive need to know what truly happened; ergo Imp ponders whether Eva is a ghost warning her but of what or a priestess whose flock died in 1991 in a mass drowning.

This excellent thriller grips the audience with a need to know whether the protagonist is mentally insane or dealing with regressed memories including perhaps generational. Impossible to put aside, The Drowning Girl is a fabulous psychological suspense or fantasy; Caitlín R. Kiernan keeps us guessing until the end. Harriet Klausner

By a Thread
Jennifer Estep
Pocket, Feb 28 2012, $7.99
ISBN: 9781451651768

In Ashland, Pork Pit owner Gin “Spider” Blanco completed the magical hit she has trained for when she assassinated Mab Monroe, the Fire elemental who murdered her family when she was a teen (see Spider’s Revenge). With many of the punks seeking instant infamy by killing Spider, and with Gin wanting to spend quality with her long-lost baby sister Ashland police detective Bria Coolidge, she leaves on a vacation from her occupation.

The siblings travel to Blue Marsh beach resort where Bria introduces Gin to her best friend Callie Reyes of the Sea Breeze. Small time felon Pete Proctor and his giant partner Trent warn Callie to sell her establishment to their employer Randall Dekes the vampire before hurricane season causes damage. Pete also harasses Bria before breaking a mirror. When he gloats over hurting Bria before, Spider knocks out Trent and stabs Pete’s hand to the floor before knocking him out. With a sigh Gin knows the vacation is over. Gin’s former lover Blue Marsh police detective Donovan Caine who is also Bria’s fiancé arrives at the Sea Breeze. However, the power hungry vamp covets a new acquisition, Spider’s elemental ice and Stone magic.

The enjoyable sixth Elemental Assassin urban fantasy is the first in the post Mabs era and fans of the series will appreciate the still kick butt heroine flashing her knives though her opponent is much more clever and a more dangerous adversary than her previous opponent was. Action-packed from the moment the vacation ends, Jennifer Estep avoids the sub-genre stereotyping of the heroine and the villain By A Thread based on who has the sharper bite. Harriet Klausner

Oracle’s Moon
Thea Harrison
Berkley, Mar 6 2012, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425246597

Twenty year old college student Grace Andreas has no time to grieve the death of her sister and brother-in-law. With Petra’s demise comes overwhelming responsibility as guardian to her four-year old niece Chloe and nine-month-old nephew Max. if that is not enough, she inherits her sibling’s humongous debt. Finally there is Power of the Oracle of Louisville, which goes from the late Petra to the swamped Grace.

A dispute on her property leads Khalil the demonkind Djinn Prince of House Marid to enter the lives of Grace and her wards. Over her objection, he joins the grieving household. His shapeshifting amuses and distracts the children while his body distracts his hostess. As he calms down the irate Elder Races who loathe Grace’s sassy scorn while she fumbles at deploying her new power, the demonkind and the humankind fall in love.

The latest Elder Races paranormal is a delightful romantic urban fantasy starring an in shock heroine and her demon protector. The storyline is mindful of the first season of The Greatest American Hero as the protagonist struggles with using her new talent, raising her young relatives and with her feelings towards the demonkind. However, the key to this excellent entry and the fabulous predecessors (see Dragon Bound, Storm’s Heart and Serpent’s Kiss) is the Harrison mythos of humans living alongside seven otherworldly species comes across as real. Harriet Klausner

Dream Shadows
Ingrid Weaver
Berkley, Feb 7 2012, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425246122

For fifteen weeks millionaire Elizabeth Graye has lied in a coma. Mrs. Harrison directed caretakers to play Mozart and Beethoven as a stimulus. However, Norma also plays Country music for her comatose patient and reads extracts from her romance novels.

Thus Norma plays the sad sound of musician Rick Denning, which reaches through the fog of Elizabeth’s rewiring brain. They begin meeting in different time periods when he is asleep. When his Elizabeth appears in his daydreams, Rick obsessively decides to search for the woman he never met in person but has fallen in love with her. As he encourages her to come to him, however, someone else has other plans for the rich “bi*ch” and no country singer is going to stand in the way.

Dream Shadows is a fascinating romantic suspense with a paranormal element serving as a matchmaker. Because of the diverse eras, the storyline feels somewhat repetitive in an entertaining Ground Hog Day way. Mindful of Jack Finney’s classic Time And Again, fans will enjoy love on a different plane while the body lies comatose and a killer waits to finish the job. Harriet Klausner

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