Saturday, December 29, 2012

Monster Hunters, Demons, and a Stormdancer

Monster Hunter Legion
Larry Correia
Baen, $24.00
ISBN: 9781451637960

Two conferences converge in Las Vegas as many who attend the Top Secret first annual International Conference of Monster Hunting Professionals at the Last Dragon Hotel will also spend time at the SHOT shooting industry show to look at the latest in weaponry. After dealing with a vampire in Mississippi, Monster Hunter International operative Owen Zastava Pitt, his wife Julie Shackleford and his unit arrive at the hotel. MHO California based agents John VanZant and Green fume when they see unsavory Paranormal Tactical operatives led by Rich Armstrong. Owen and MHI employee Jason Lococo get into a fight that angers their superior Earl Harbinger. The warriors set the unwritten conference agenda.

Monster Control Bureau Chief Doug Stark introduces the conference, but it is Special Task Force Unicorn Chief Stricken who ends the war stories when he announces a ten million dollar bounty on a monster on the loose in Nevada. Private and government hunters race to be the one who bags the monster.

The latest Monsters Hunters International urban fantasy (see Monster Hunter Alpha, Monster Hunter International and Monster Hunter Vendetta) is an engaging thriller that starts slow but entertainingly as readers meet the various rival groups and players at breakfast. Animosity and affinity run high as caffeine is not needed with this testosterone laden (including Julie) group. Once Stricken proclaims the games begin, the storyline accelerates into a fast-paced, action-packed thriller as teams stalk a deadly monster and each other. Harriet Klausner

Personal Demon
Susan Sizemore
Ace, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425254721

In Chicago, demon Ivy Bailey the vampire hunter insures the city’s undead population strictly adheres to the “rules”. When someone breaks one of the edicts, she hunts the felon down.

In 1888 London Christopher Bell defeated the evil Jack the Ripper. The English vampire’s investigation leads him to Chicago. There he notices something that looks eerily familiar stalking Ivy. Christopher warns Ivy and offers to watch her back, but she declines. Meanwhile someone is magically murdering witches with demons as the most likely culprits. Ivy senses a connection as she hunts the serial killer while a malevolent creep stalks her; Christopher ignores Ivy’s bravado as he pursues their common Personal Demon.

The first Laws of the Blood urban fantasy (see Heroes) in several years is an engaging grim entry that brings the vampire enforcer road show to Chicago. A major reason this entry is fun is the diverse outlook on how humans, vampire, demons and others should co-exist as the Brit and the American define community differently. Readers will appreciate the triangle battle with the murderer as death stalks the Windy City. Harriet Klausner

Dark Light of Day
Jill Archer
Ace, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425257159

In a world in which the demons won the battle of Armageddon, human survivors worship demons as gods if they want to live. The demons established a strict code to insure no fratricide.

In this new earth, twins Nouiomo "Noon" and Nocturo "Night" are total opposites with an unheard of twist. She holds the power of a Magester that is never possessed by a female; while he contains the healing magic of the Mederi that almost always belongs to a woman. Noon conceals her magic as many would declare her an abomination against the laws of demons. She attends St. Lucifer’s where she meets powerful student Ari Carmine. While friend Peter Aster seeks the reversal spell to change Noon’s forbidden magic, Mederi disappear. Noon investigates the vanishings.

With a nod to James Blish’s Black Easter and The Day After Judgment, the first Noon Onyx urban fantasy establishes an earth where the demons rule after winning the war. Noon is a great protagonist as she knows the realm has rigid enforced rules that might mean a female Magester must die. The whodunit is engaging but it is the entrance into Archer world that casts a spell on readers. Harriet Klausner

Jay Kristoff
Dunne, $24.99
ISBN: 9781250001405

The Shima Imperium has left the isles on the verge of environmental extinction. The industrialization of the islands has polluted land, air and water as the powerful Lotus Guild worships the lotus that fuels the sky ships, but poisons the soil making it useless and pollutes the water with run-off and turns the air into smog from the ship’s exhausts. The four clans feel hopeless as the spirit animals are becoming extinct and their mad Shogun Yoritomo-no-miya expedites the Shima Isles turning into a wasteland.

Yoritomo tasks a team to capture an arashitora, a creature part-eagle and part-tiger. Sixteen year old Kitsune Yukiko and her father know the mission is impossible, but failure means execution in a horrific way. In the last wilderness, her father maims Buruu the arashitora. When Yukiko and Buruu meet, both are shocked that they understand each other. As they team up, the pair meets enemies of the Shogun and the Lotus Guild while battling to survive against underworld demons and the might of the Shima Imperium.

Young adult and older readers will appreciate this excellent feudal Japan steampunk fantasy starring a vivid dying landscape serving as a reminder of the long term impact of pollution and a strong cast trying to survive or thrive in the dying isles. Although the Shogun is not developed beyond being a malevolent mega maniac, fans will enjoy the coming of age adventures of a teen girl and an injured mystical spirit animal. Harriet Klausner

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