Saturday, April 14, 2012

Vampires and Urban Fantasies

Black Dawn
Rachel Caine
NAL, May 1 2012, $17.99
ISBN: 9780451236715

Like much of Texas, Morganville suffers from a severe drought. The town is run by vampires with Amalie the final authority at the top of the food chain. However the arid conditions have led to the draug water vampires searching for water and other vampires to snack on. Morganville due to a deluge of storms is a place for the draug to stay and take over.

A Draug bit Amalie who is turning into a land-Draug. Her second in command, loyal Oliver refuses to let her go while his side also is losing the inter-species war. Most of the residents of Glass House (Michael, Eve, Shane and Claire) and a few allies take a last stand against the draug. Claire uniquely is the only one who can see the head Draug, which is why he needs her dead. Her friends (human and vampire) guard her while trying to figure out how to take the battle to the seemingly invisible enemy. Their only hope is to dangle Claire as bait to draw out the powerful leader of the foe.

The latest Morganville Vampires (see Last Breath) is a great entry in which a common enemy forces the humans and vampires to unite; failure to team up will mean death for all. The storyline provides a bit of vampire background as we learn how the draug came to be, insight into their hive-like culture and why they became cannibals. Saving Morganville appears unlikely but the Glass House quartet feels they must make the Son Quixote effort. Harriet Klausner

Hunter’s Rise
Shiloh Walker
Berkley, Apr 3 2012, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425248379

A century ago, Sylvia James was forcibly changed into a vampire. That predatory violence has become a rallying cry for her as she travels as a mostly hired assassin taking down evil. However, she has a code of ethics when accepting a client; including no lying; as Faith Dwyer learns when she tried to employ Sylvia to kill her husband. She also does personal not for profit jobs to kill the psychopaths hunting others.

Hired by the parents of a victim Toby, Sylvia travels to Memphis to kill Alan Pulaski, pedophile. A local enclave of Hunters is also after the same thug. The difference is in the outcome as Sylvia will assassinate the predator while the Hunters will turn him over to the cops; with one exception enigmatic two century at least old Toronto the renegade werewolf Hunter who will first beat the crap out of Pulaski. When Sylvia and Toronto meet, each is shocked by their attraction as both thought their respective hearts died over a century ago. After getting in each other’s way, they team up to hunt a predator.

The latest Hunter romantic urban fantasy (see Hunter's Salvation, and Hunters: Heart and Soul) is a superb entry due to the lead characters, who share in common desire, outcast status and a disgust with falling in love. As they fall in love, they struggle to keep their eye on the mission but remain diligent to end a reign of terror. Sub-genre fans will enjoy this exciting fast-paced thriller with a fabulous late twist. Harriet Klausner

Michelle Sagara
DAW, May 1 2012, $17.99
ISBN: 9780756407421

Anyone in Toronto seeing Emma in daylight would believe she is contented with her life; however at night she, accompanied by her dog, goes to the cemetery to visit her late boyfriend Nathan who died in a car accident. On one particular evening while visiting his grave, Emma notices two other people on the bench; an elderly woman seemingly made up of rags and Eric from school. They turn towards her and the woman touches her which leaves Emma scared and cold.

Eric receives a call asking if he found the necromancer. He says yes, but has not kill her yet as he has a week to complete the mission. However, Eric knows if he falters, Chase is nearby to complete the assassination assignment. The pair quickly like and admire kind Emma and realize she is not a necromancer, but something else. Instead of taking power from the dead for dark spells, she helps ghosts who for whatever reason walk the city streets. She tries to rescue the lost little boy who is enflamed in fire for eternity unless they get his mother to rescue him. Aware of Emma and her power, the Necromancer wants her power to use for his dark deeds.

Michelle Sagara writes an enthralling Canadian urban fantasy tale filled with action inside of an allegorical good and evil storyline while readers anticipate the confrontation. The first book of the Queen of the Dead contains a dark eerie atmosphere, which should surprise no one who ever visited a cemetery at night. However, it is Emma who holds the storyline together as Eric and Chase know first-hand she makes loyal friends (including the deceased) wherever she goes, which is fortunate for her as she will need them to survive the ordeal. Harriet Klausner

Darkest Knight
Karen Duvall
Luna, Mar 20 2012, $14.95
ISBN: 9780373803446

One month ago, Aydin the warrior, bonded to a gargoyle, sacrificed his humanity to free his beloved Chalice from her master Shui the homicidal gargoyle before the psychopath dined on Chalice tartare. To fight Shui, he had to accept the curse. Now Aydin is a gargoyle and Chalice plans to bring her lover back to human form by facing her nightmares in the Vyantara Fatherhouse on the other side of the Veil.

Chalice has become a knight in The Order of the Hatchet. When something murders her sister knights while they sleep, Chalice investigates alone. At the same time, Aydin visits Chalice in her dreams. Soon she will be caught in a choice of competing loyalties no person should have to make.

The latest Chalice urban fantasy is an entertaining thriller as the heroine, filled with guilt and plenty of heart, struggles to adjust to her changed circumstances and what her beloved mentor did for her. Although newcomers will struggle with comprehending the Duvall realm (it behooves fans to have read A Knight’s Curse in which the mythos is established), the beleaguered protagonist remains a confused adult who is unsure what to do now that her teacher is no longer there for her and her guardian angel Rafe refuses to coddle her. Filled with sorcerers, angels and the fallen, fans will enjoy this complex thriller as the heroine continues to learn good and evil tend to somewhat overlap. Harriet Klausner

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