Zebra, Jan 1 2012, $7.99
Ohio seems like the perfect hell for hybrid Shaman Eugenie Markham to raise her unborn twins in a safe environ away from Otherworld assassins and the prophecy. However, her hiding in the humid heat of the Buckeye state leaves her unaware of the crisis in the Otherworld. A spell is turning the realm into a blighted landscape with extinction a real possibility.
Fairy King Dorian’s support, who deceived Eugenie re who was to be Iron-Crowned, is trying every desperate measure to prevent what increasingly seems inevitable. He knows the only hope is for him, Eugenie, Kiyo the shifter and others, including beings who want the twins dead, to unite in trust, but she is in the mortal realm looking forward to being a single mom with no desire to cross over.
The final Dark Swan urban fantasy (see Storm Born, Thorn Queen and Iron-Crowned) is a great surprising finish to the strong saga. Fast-paced, Eugenie faces a moral dilemma that leaves her choosing between two terrible choices that no parent ever should have to face. Readers will appreciate Richelle Mead’s strong end to a powerful series. Harriet Klausner
K Teen/Kensington, Jan 31 2012, $9.95
In Chicago, St. Brigid’s High School senior, Maura “Mo” Fitzgerald witnessed the mob take out her BFF Verity; her thirst for vengeance led mousy Mo into a world of magic, prophecy and two mysterious hunks Colin and Luc (see Torn). Her need to avenge Verity’s murder changes to protecting those she loves but she fears she will never be freed from the Arcs, her mobster uncle, the Quartered and the Seraphim has all seem to have her in their crosshairs.
In one month since the homicide that changed her life occurred, Mo has a major dilemma as she has no one to take to the Sadie Hawkins dance. However wanting to be left alone to attend school and work at the diner is not an option; as the Chicago mob never lets witnesses live and the magic with the surges since the Torrent never lets practitioners especially one embroiled in the ancient prophecy quit. A grieving raging Constance is now the magical battleground.
The second Mo urban fantasy is a terrific thriller with a profound morality question cutting across the entertaining storyline as the resultant heroine deals with the unintended nasty consequences of her seemingly pristine actions in Torn. Action-packed, it is the second and third order effects that will have the enthralled audience wondering if the end justifies the mean even when that mean goes against your positive values. Tangled is a wonderful teenage thriller as Mo just wants to choose between secretive Colin and enigmatic Luc, but then fate may have chosen Billy for her. Harriet Klausner
The Fear Index
Knopf, Jan 31 2012, $25.95
When the Feds defunded the Texas super collider, Dr. Alex Hoffmann obtains a position as a physicist at CERN in Switzerland. When he suffers a nervous breakdown, he leaves Geneva. Alex takes with him VIXAL-4, an independent computer with the uncanny ability to self-teach at a speed that humans cannot comprehend.
To finance his research and his machine, Alex sets up a hedge fund run by VIXAL. The algorithm VIXAL uses takes the pulse of investors leading to four years of incredible growth while the stock markets around the world collapse. However, as the creator loses control of his creation, someone inside the firm diligently works on making Hoffman look insane to his staff.
This is an enjoyable modernization of Frankenstein with a touch of Harry Kellerman inside of a contemporary convergence of physics, computers and international finance. The storyline is fast-paced with a terrific late twist although none of the cast including VIXAL is likable as all seem morally bankrupt. With a two prong cautionary plot, Robert Harris provides a fascinating timely thriller as science without passion is dangerous while even more lethal is finance void of ethics and scruples when profit is the feral god. Harriet Klausner
Harlequin Teen, Feb 28 2012, $9.99
Her father King Adrik of Hytanica forced his daughter Alera to marry hedonistic Lord Steldor, son of the Captain of the King's Guards Lord Cannan. Once they wedded, Adrik removes the crown from his head, places it on the new monarch King Steldor and vows allegiance to his replacement. However, Alera does not want her spouse and refuses to consummate their marriage as she loves Narian of her country’s enemy Cokyri.
The Overlord of Cokyri uses his mystic abilities and the hostage of a woman Narian cares about to force him to betray Hytanica where he was treated well. Narian is to lead the invasion that will end the long running hot and cold Legacy war with Cokyri victorious. When he takes his troops into combat, Alera’s loses what is left of her innocence as she thought her beloved would never commit atrocities against the kingdom that treated him well.
This is an entertaining young adult romantic alternative medieval historical that contains fantasy elements. The irony of the two warring nations are neither remembers what the original dispute was about and the plight of Alera who if she lived in the adversarial kingdom, she would be the ruling Queen and not just the wife of the king. Although it is critical to read Legacy before perusing Allegiance to understand the two kingdoms and their complicated ties that bind them, readers will enjoy this entry as Alera must choose between her love for her country symbolized by the king she loathes, and her love for her enemy symbolized by the Commander she loves. Harriet Klausner