Monday, June 4, 2012
Four from Harriet
Songs of the Earth
Gair has been a dedicated holy knight who has devoted his life to the revelatory service of the Lady and the Church. However, his loyalty proves insufficient as he breaks the prime law of the Holy City when he hears the music of magic. Declared rightfully as a witch he expects to burn at the stake. Tormented by his taint though keeping his head up and looking at his accusers, Gair knows even if he wanted to escape, which he does not as he must die, the Church Knights led by the Witchfinder would hunt him down like an animal.
However, he is taken aback when Preceptor Ansel changes his death sentence to permanent exile from the parish. Leaving the Holy City to starve to death, a mysterious stranger Alderan of the Guardians of the Veil, who watched the court proceedings, escorts the shocked young man away. However, a dying Goran sends his Knights and a Witchfinder after them, but they escape as they begin their journey to a place where the lad can learn to control his magical skills as he learns that the Guardians of the Veil patrol the barrier that separates this realm from a hell; while being mentored by Aysha the shapeshifter.
This is an entertaining fantasy with several subplots, but mostly the trek, the school (especially the older woman younger man romance) and the search for answers by Ansel and Goran. The fast-paced but somewhat straightforward storyline will remind fans of E. Rose Sabin's "School For Sorcery" saga though the protagonist of Songs of the Earth is older. Readers will enjoy the opening Cooper mythos as a breach in the gate of hell gives a trainee a baptism of fire. Harriet Klausner
The Thirteenth Sacrifice
Boston PD Detectives Samantha Ryan and her partner Ed Hofferman arrive at the scene of coed Camille’s homicide in an off campus apartment. On the forehead of the victim is a bloody pentagram, but there is no blood anywhere else on the deceased or in the room. They interview the roommate Katie who claims to be a solitary practicing witch, but Samantha realizes she offers nothing not even emotion; while the victim’s new boyfriend Brad cries. George the coroner informs Samantha that the pentagram was drawn in nail polish several hours after the death.
The two cops head to St. Vincent’s Cathedral where Sister Mary Ellen has a waxed pentagram on her forehead. Next Katie’s former boyfriend Kyle is found dead by his roommates. Samantha believes Kyle’s death is a red herring by a clever killer who wants the cops looking at Katie as the killer. His girlfriend Tina arrives hysterical; which leads to Samantha hugging her. Soon afterward, Samantha loses her cross while subsequently more murders follow; she increasingly believes the vicious witches that she descends from have returned to Salem using sacrifices to embellish their power.
The first Witch Hunt urban fantasy police procedural is a terrific thriller due to a strong protagonist who converted from witchcraft practitioner to Christian believer. The whodunit is clever as Samantha has to return to her roots going undercover to ferret out the serial killer as she believes the motive is power. Readers will appreciate Detective Ryan affirming “You Can’t Go Home Again” (Thomas Wolfe) as she returns to a community she fled several years ago. Harriet Klausner
Newlyweds Jeff and Kitty Martini resign their positions as Centaurion Division exterminators-commanders to raise their infant Jamie. The family moves to Washington DC as head diplomats at the recently formed Centaurion Embassy.
However, they find the American capital as dangerous as some of their extermination missions were. A bomb blows up the limo that the Martini pair were supposed to be in. Additionally, Kitty learns of a major assassination plot planned at the upcoming Presidential Ball. Though POTUS is the most obvious target, Kitty has doubts though she remains clueless who else or why, but believes aliens are involved. Jeff, Kitty and their crew hunt for a killer and for a killer dress.
The latest Kitty Katt Alien satirical science fiction thriller (see Alien Proliferation, Touched by an Alien, Alien Tango and Alien in the Family) is a superb jocular entry that is filled with twists, spins and humor. Fast-paced, readers will believe the two species are real (as are other not quite as benign ETs); while the Jamie effect continues to nuke the lifestyle of the parents. With a sort of Mork in Men In Black lampooning, readers will enjoy this amusing action-packed tale in which nothing in alien (as observed by the rest of the country and the Centaurions) DC is sacred. Harriet Klausner
Magic Without Mercy
In Portland, Hound Allie Beckstrom always was proud that she and her team rigidly adhered to the strict rules of the overseeing of magic Authority even when risking their lives and souls in support of the practitioners (see Magic at the Gate and Magic at the Hunt). However, to prevent a magical plague from spreading and end a serial killer’s reign of terror, Allie Beckstrom shot the new Authority Chief Bartholomew Wray (see Magic On The Line). Her dead dad keeps reminding her inside her head that she had no choice, but filled with Shame, Allie, her lover Zayvion Jones, and other friends have been declared outlaws for violating the rules even if their cause was just as the end never justifies the mean.
As Allie struggles with the Shame of the killing, she and her team elude the Authority and the cops while seeking a means to cleanse the poisoned magic and finally end the plague; the answer seems to rest with a lunatic. At the same, they must cope with the Veiled murdering people.
This is a great entry in a superior urban fantasy series, as conscientious Allie knows logically she did the right thing with Wray, but emotionally feels Shame as she broke the Authority rules, which run deep in her brain. Fast-paced and loaded with action, fans will relish this direct sequel (need to have read at least Magic On The Line) as guilt wracked Allie and her cohorts struggle with doing the right thing as hostilities turn heated with the doomsday clock striking the midnight hour.