Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Dark Fantasy, Steampunk and Pixies

The Master of Heathcrest Hall
Galen Beckett
Spectra, $16.00
ISBN: 9780553807608

The old king of Altania is dead, and the coronation of his heir has been delayed by competing political and mage leaders coveting power. The Ashen see the chaos as an opportunity to overwhelm the kingdom, but the power brokers squabble over their role in the new government rather than insuring what is best for the country.

Ivy Quent feels euphoric over her husband the mage’s recent endeavors and her own in Evengrove. However, she will soon conclude her optimism is an illusion when her extended family is in peril from those willing to cause a civil war while an external threat intensifies; all for a little more power. Pregnant, Ivy tries to keep her family safe while dealing with betrayal. She finds allies in the mage Rafferdy and illusionist Garrit of the Theatre of the Moon.

The third Quent dark fantasy (see The House On Durrow Street and The Magicians and Mrs. Quent) super thriller with several stunning bit plausible twists. The key to this entry and its predecessors is the Beckett mythology feels genuine due to the fascinating eccentric cast and the title abode. Ivy is a brave fabulous heroine who earns the respect of the audience. Galen Beckett scores the hat trick with her third entertaining Mrs. Quent quirky thriller. Harriet Klausner

The Impossible Cube
Steven Harper
Roc, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451464507

By 1857, the “clockwork plague” disease turned people into brainless zombies. A few of the inflicted become short-lived mechanical geniuses creating technological advances. England and China emerged from the calamity as superpowers, with both using clockwork geniuses to push their country to the top. However, in England a cure for the clockwork plague zombie syndrome was discovered but the government’s top secret Third Ward rationalizes that deploying it to save lives will destroy the kingdom as China would still have its mechanical gurus. They try to hide the cure in The Doomsday Vault, but Lady Alice Michaels and Gavin Ennock steal the elixir and begin releasing it while agents of the now defunct Third Ward led by Lieutenant Susan Phipps chase them in France.

Phipps and her goons (Glenda Teasdale and Simon D’Arco) catch Gavin who has caught the plague thanks to Alice’s late Aunt Edwinna. Alice, Click the Cat, Feng and Dr. Clef rescue Gavin. They flee to Luxembourg for supplies while on their way to China where they hope to find a cure for the clockwork mechanical genius syndrome before Gavin and Clef die. Using the new wireless communication technology invented by a clockwork genius, Phipps pursues the traitors.

The second Clockwork Empire steampunk alternate historical is an exciting adventure thriller that starts off with action and never slows down until a confrontation in the Ukraine. Fast-paced, readers will enjoy the escapes of the Bostonian and the lady as she is apt to rescue him even more than he does her. With a nod to Jules Verne’s Five Weeks in a Balloon (though an African crossing), readers will appreciate Steven Harper’s exhilarating trek across the European continent. Harriet Klausner

Chicory Up
Irene Radford
DAW, $7.99
ISBN: 9780756407247

Pixies are alive and well with a tribe residing in Ten Acre Wood. Many of the nearby human townsfolk of Skene Falls know Pixies exist and are responsible for their beautiful gardens. The Pixies banished Thistle Down from their community and soon afterward a magical spell changed her into a human. She and Dick Carrick fell in love and will marry as soon as a judge issues Thistle a birth certificate.

While the couple waits, there is trouble amongst the Pixies as the tribes are at war against each other egged on by the magic of the fairies who still want possession of Ten Acres Wood that hybrid Haywood Wheatland failed to obtain for them (see Thistle Down). Though young and inexperienced, Chicory knows a civil war will lead to the destruction of the Pixies replaced in the woods by the fairies. He and his followers form their own tribe living in the attic of Dick mother. Thistle Down returns to Pixie to end the belligerency, abate the out of control energy, and insure a new king is selected. Dick fears he is losing his beloved so he turns in to a Pixie due to Chicory’s magic. He enters the fray to insure Thistle Down’s back is covered.

Human or pixie, Thistle Down is a wise conscientious person who fulfills her obligations by going the extra kilometers. The Pixies bring plenty of amusing havoc unless you happen to be the human whose life is disrupted by the mischievous tribe. Filled with magic, intrigue and romance, readers will enjoy the latest entertaining lighthearted Pixie Chronicles woodland fantasy. Irene Tadford is one of my favorite authors. Harriet Klausner

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