Saturday, July 7, 2012

A Potpourri of Reviews

Lost Everything
Brian Francis Slattery
Tor, $14.99
ISBN: 9780765329127

Sailing up the Susquehanna River towards Harrisburg, filled with remorse for his actions and regret for not being there for his son Aaron, Sunny Jim searches for his offspring with little hope of finding him. He thinks about his sister Merry siting by a window in the family home with a gun wondering if she is alive and he wonders about Aline. Everywhere he and his companion Reverend Bauxite, whom he met in devastated Baltimore, look, they see destruction like the collapse of the Market Street Bridge and corpses. The violent storms brought America to its knees with pandemic destruction. Those with power cling to it at any cost while those without join a side or die immediately as civil war is heading everywhere.

No one including Sunny Jim escapes the militia. They are following him up the Susquehanna ravaging the land and killing or scripting anyone in their way. Sunny Jim and Reverend Bauxite steal supplies from the army. Whereas the two weary travelers continue their watery road trip, they see death wherever they go; the army brings death wherever they go. If they catch him and the Reverend they will kill them.

This ultra-dark apocalyptic future thriller is fast-paced with an America no longer on the Eve of Destruction (P. F. Sloan). There are three prime settings (The River, The Highway and The House) that rotate perspective but share in common the death of the Unites States. Although the names of characters seem too whimsical with all the doom and gloom and musical lyrics distracting, fans will appreciate this grim saga mindful of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Harriet Klausner

Shawntelle Madison
Ballantine, $7.99
ISBN: 9780345529183

Natalya Stravinsky suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder that is so severe her former werewolf pack insists they suffer from her excessiveness so they banish and avoid her. Five years ago her lover Thorn Grantham made love with her for the last time though he promised their long distance relationship would work. As time moves on without him, her OCD has worsened. No longer on the other side of the Hudson, Natalya resides and works in her hometown South Toms River, New Jersey selling antiques to meticulous paranormals. Her only solace comes with her holiday ornament collection.

The brutal Long Island pack attacks Nat’s New Jersey pack. They demand that Nat be handed to them or else. Thorn returns home to lead his pack at war while some members prefer to acquiesce to their bellicose foes’ demands. Thorn, still attracted to Nat, rejects appeasement and objects to a wizard making his intentions clear re Nat; while she finds allies in a strange place.

Filled with humor, Coveted is a fun romantic suburban romantic fantasy with a cast of neurotic and psychotic paranormals from several species (mindful of the movie Gun Shy taken place in the Burbs with otherworldly creatures). Nat is a terrific protagonist whose OCD brings uniqueness to the kick tail heroine. Although her past with Thorn distracts from a great main storyline, fans will root for Nat and her zoo crew as they struggle to overcome their phobias at a time she is under attack from without and within. Harriet Klausner

Lies and Omens
Lyn Benedict
Ace, $7.99
ISBN: 9781937007508

Recently some of the Magicus Mundi otherworldly creatures have assaulted offices of the Internal Surveillance and Investigation government agency. The stunner is that the attacks have been coordinated in group waves as these monsters are notorious loners. The ISI agents and the Magnus Mundi are in mortal and immortal combat.

Though Miami based private investigator Sylvie Lightner is the first choice of those needing sleuthing amidst the Magicus Mundi in crowd, this is not her fight especially after what she recently caused in her city. Sylvie’s neutrality in the ISI Magicus Mundi war changes when the latter threatens people she cherishes. With close allies, Sylvie, using her sorceress powers, searches for the diabolical genius who has consolidated the Magicus Mundi monsters into a cohesive fighting machine.

The latest Shadows Inquiries urban fantasy is an exciting action-packed thriller. Fast-paced, the protagonist remains an interesting lead character although her powers have grown immensely. Less detecting and more superhero than the previous entries (See Gods and Monsters, and Ghosts & Echoes), fans will enjoy Sylvie Lightner investigator of the paranormal. Harriet Klausner

Fevre Dream
George R. R. Martin
Bantam, $7.99
ISBN: 9780553577938

In 1857, Captain Abner Marsh once ran a thriving steamboat business on the Mississippi. However, an unprecedented freezing of the great river left his Fevre River Packet Company destroyed. Abner still owns one dilapidated vessel as he limits his work to the Illinois River with his reputation the only reason he still has customers.

Extremely ashen looking Joshua York offers a partnering deal with Abner that is way above the value of the latter’s firm. Joshua admits his remittance is exorbitant, but insists he can afford this as a sort of hobby so he can captain a steamboat filled with his “guests” while Abner would run the business and pilot the ship. They build a steamship The Fevre Dream launched in New Albany heading down the Mississippi to New Orleans. However, Joshua conceals from his new partner that he is a vampire with a dream of his species ending their hunting of humans as he invented an elixir that eliminates the craving. Damon Julian, his bloodthirsty horde and his human lap dog Sour Billy Tipton prefer the traditional way of vampiric dining.

This is a reprint of an entertaining horror thriller released a decade before A Game of Thrones was published. George R.R. Martin provides an intriguing vampire historical thriller as two diverse groups fight for their vision of the future. The key cast is solid as each believes strongly in something they cherish; for the vampire rival leaders it is tradition vs. modernization, and for the captain it is Life on the Mississippi (by Mark Twain). Harriet Klausner

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