Saturday, April 28, 2012

Fantasy Reviews

Witchful Thinking
H. P. Mallory
Bantam, $7.99
ISBN: 9780345531452

Almost thirty, fortuneteller Jolie Wilkins gave up on dating after the last few losers were deader than the reanimated she has brought back from beyond. Her self-image is pitiful; however, that was when she was just another mundane human trying to eke out a living. Her world spun off its axis when Rand the Warlock entered her shop. Soon afterward, she becomes a witch resurrected from the dead by Mercedes. Jolie is proclaimed the Queen of the Underworld of vampire, werewolf, fae, and witches; she has no earthly or other plane understanding of why or how it happened except some ties back to 1878 where she almost killed Rand.

Even more confusing for the new royal is Rand the hunk seems to want her. Throwing her already out of control life further into chaos is Sinjin the vampire who desires her Highness while vowing to protect her. Not used to one man coveting her let alone two, Jolie cannot make up her mind. However, Jolie has no time to ponder choosing one as a deadly paranormal species threatens genocide of her subjects even while she begins to learn governance is not a matchbook cover endeavor.

This is an engaging urban fantasy starring a self-deprecating heroine and two hunks who vie for her affection. The storyline starts off a bit choppy as the backstory (from self-published E-books) is provided. Once the game is set, Witchful Thinking turns into a wonderful amusing thriller as the paranormal seem real in the Mallory mythos. Wisenheimer Jolie makes the tale as she struggles with two males wanting her, preventing ethnic cleansing by malevolent mobsters, and learning governance of four conflicted species (like post Tito Yugoslavia). Harriet Klausner

J.F. Lewis
Pocket, $7.99
ISBN: 9781451651867

Eric Courtney the vampire wonders how killing one evil vampire ruler could cause such sh*tty chaos in Void City. His Mouser Talbot explained many time over the past year that it is easier to criticize the opposition than to rule. Still Eric in spite of his tumultuous tsuris as the city’s leader, would kill again; as Lord Phillip, the twisted late city ruler, deserved to die for his assault on Courtney’s adopted lunatic daughter Greta. Now by default he is the ruler of a lunacy ridden Void City as the riffraff has risen to the surface with Phil’s demise.

Responsibility sucks, but it is time for to begin the Big Plan. First is to kill immortal VCPD Captain Stacey the crooked Mouser running unlawful enforcement due to a deal with the Mages Guild. That is if Eric can remember not to step out of the squad car into the sun as his Alzheimer’s syndrome can make him forget to stay out of the sun.. He orders Stacey to leave his hole and meet him at a scene where many cops lay comatose thanks to his Eric’s mage Magbidion. Step two is to place Greta as sheriff; her crazed credo is to kill first and ask questions afterward. The final transformation is hell breaks loose in Void City as Lord Eric demands loyalty or else. That’s just the job; his personal life is even more screwed up with family curses and cursed females.

The latest Void City fantasy (see Crossed, Revamped and Staked) is a fabulous satirical noir starring an antihero whose attitude switches from bad ass leave me alone to bad ass I’m in charge. Fans will enjoy his “transformation” while he deals with myriad of paranormal species with demons always lurking in the gut. Harriet Klausner

The Dread
Gail Z. Martin
Orbit, $7.99
ISBN: 9780316093613

Weary of war but knowing hostilities are heating up; tired King Donelan of Isencroft goes to lie down in his bed. However, an assassin rigged a bow contraption underneath, which is activated when the monarch’s weight hit the bed. The ruler is dead and the kingdom is on the verge of civil war. Donelan’s daughter Queen Kiara Sharsequin Drayke leaves her husband and child behind in Margolan to go home as the monarch and prevent the civil war at a time when external crisis threatens the country.

Elsewhere in the Winter Kingdoms, trouble has returned with the bellicose rise of normally isolated Temnotta. At the same time, Kiara’s mate Summoner-King Martris Drayke (see Chronicles of the Necromancer) struggles with sorcery and steel combat coming to his nation at a time Tris fears for the soul of his infant child while he must use forbidden magic to deal the rise of the Dread.

The latest Fallen King’s Cycle political-military fantasy (see The Sworn) starts off with the shocking assassination, but slows down immediately afterward while the numerous subplots are established. Once done, the storyline accelerates into a rousing thriller as war has returned to the Winter Kingdoms. Filled with minute details, fans will believe they traverse the dangerous realms of the Martin mythos. Harriet Klausner

The Galahad Legacy
Dom Testa
Tor Teen, $17.99
ISBN: 9780765321121

On earth, mankind is dying out. Only 250 chosen teens were sent into space on board the Galahad to find a new home for what is left of the species (see The Cassini Code). One year away from their home, the survivors have faced a difficult journey, but so far prove that the adults who selected them picked those with the right stuff. However, the latest problem seems insurmountable as the vessel is falling apart having gone through the normal rigor of outer space, but amplified by alien attacks, internal sabotage and worm hole devastation (see The Comet’s Curse and The Web of Titan). Days remain with no exit strategy as a virus loaded to the computer has speed up the doomsday countdown.

That is until Council leader Triana Martell returns from her journey through a wormhole (see Cosmic Storm). Accompanying her back to the Galahad is the ambassador of the Dollovit who offers them a chance to survive but at what price.

This is a strong finish to a great teenage science fiction thriller. The storyline is fast-paced as the leader returns with an option that may save the crew but can they trust this alien race after meeting a bellicose species early in their journey. Readers will enjoy the adventures of the space crew Galahad as Dom Testa provides a fabulous space odyssey in which he sums up in his afterward note to his audience that like those on board, the cool person is the smart person. Harriet Klausner

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