Queen of Wands
Baen, Aug 7 2012, $25.00
In Algomo, Mississippi devout Christian Barbara Everette is a soccer mom raising three kids (Allison, Jason and Brooke) and a husband Mark who appears to be in charge. Barbara asks Mark if she can take a needed respite from the family, which he approves as he assumes she will take a few days in Gulfport to clear her head. Instead, the Foundation for Love and Universal Faith (FLUF) agent has been hearing voices and seeing demons riding on people unaware of them. Barb assigns her oldest offspring teenage Allison to run the house while she is away.
Barb consults with sexagenarian FLUF agent Sharice Rickels who tells her she has gained the Gifts of the Sight of demons and the Ear of the thoughts of demons and other creatures. FLUF operative and Special Circumstance FBI consultant Augustus Germaine asks Barb and Sharice to come to Chattanooga where Asatru priestess Doris "Janea" Grisham is near death because her ka has been removed from her body. FBI Agent Kurt Spornberger arrives from Atlanta working the Madness cases as he and the FLUF operatives head to Moccasin Bend Mental Health Facility where evil abounds with walking dead people who lost their ka and ba. As Janea fights for her existence, Barb and associates fight to prevent a zombie takeover.
The sequel to Princess of Wands is a fun urban fantasy starring two intrepid heroines fighting evil on different planes though the book comes across more like three interrelated satirical tales rather than a novel. Mindful of Julie Kenner’s amusing Adventures of a Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom but bloodier and gorier, fans will enjoy the adventures of Barb and Janea even with an odd ending. Harriet Klausner
Berkley, Sep 4 2012, $16.00
Several years ago, Annika Fridasdottor inadvertently placed at risk Iceland when she revealed the mechanical secrets that protect the island from the Horde and other invaders. However, her sister Källa said she was culpable and was exiled from Iceland. Filled with guilt, Annika took a position on the airship Phaeton in search of her sibling.
Years ago an experiment went bad leaving David Kentewess without the use of his legs and a hand, and left his mother dead. Physically, David lives a normal life due to nanoagents and prosthetics while working as a volcanologist. Emotionally he misses his beloved mother; so for two decades David obsessively needed to complete her last request to return her to her home Hannasvik, but has lost hope of ever succeeding though he keeps trying. Booking passage on the Phaeton, David meets Annika and thinks he recognizes the accent he last heard so many years ago. However, instead of exposing her as he threatens to do, David and Annika are stranded on a fjord with an obsessed maniac in pursuit.
The latest Iron Seas romantic steampunk fantasy (The Iron Duke and Heart of Steel) is a superb thriller that grips the reader with the conflicting obsessive quests of the protagonists with each on a personal mission that makes them enemies who initially judge the other as unworthy. Filled with action on the ship and the glacier, fans will be Riveted by Meljean Brooks’ latest adventures. Harriet Klausner
Tor, Aug 21 2012, $27.99
Lovers Caliph Howl the blood mathematician mage and Sena Iilool adept of the Shradnæ witches control Stonehold. However, during the combat, Caliph died and soon afterward Sena, using an incantation from the ancient Cisrym Ta tome, brought him back to life.
Word spreads to the nearby empires in the south whose monarchs want the Cisrym Ta and will sacrifice anyone to obtain it. Arriving from Pandragor, Taelin Rae wants to establish the Nenuln Church in Stonehold but feels she must kill the evil Sena who is an affront to God. At a time when Caliph is expected to attend a regional leader summit, a plague has crippled Stonehold and there is the enigmatic Uncle Nathaniel, who works in mysterious ways as he assists his nephew with ancient enemies.
The sequel to The Last Page is an entertaining but convoluted high tech fantasy with much of the action occurring from passive sources like dreams and books. Caliph and Sena are courageous champions while the mystery of Nathaniel enhances the tale. Still not for everyone, fans who relish the convergence of math, science and fantasy in a complicated but difficult to follow thriller will enjoy Anthony Huso's blood magic. Harriet Klausner
Devil Said Bang
Harper Voyager, Aug 28 2012
Avenging Nephilim James “Sandman Slim” Stark sarcastically thinks what a hell of a way to escape from hell (the second time around). To his chagrin the monster killing monster has become a cosmic joke as the new Lucifer (see Aloha From Hell); a job with more paperwork than a government agency. Stark loathes being Hell’s top hell-raiser but also knows with his new armor comes a crosshair encouraging the wannabe horde (from heaven, hell and points in between and outside) to challenge for the filled leadership position.
To escape the bureaucratic work, Stark returns to Los Angeles, which can be more hellish than hell. He soon learns of a serial killing ghost terrorizing the city and worse his angelic side that he needs to become whole again has vanished inside of the lost days as a cabal rewrites reality. Maybe Milton is partially right that it is "better to reign in Hell than to serve” on earth.
The forth dark Sandman Slim fantasy is a fabulous sarcastic satire that humorously continues to mock society and organized religion though at a diminished rate compared to the end of days’ twister of Aloha From Hell; as nothing remains sacred inside of the Kadrey pantheon. Action-packed with a nourish feel to the storyline, Sandman Slim learns for the second time you can’t go home when someone can alter reality. Harriet Klausner