Friday, June 7, 2013

Three Reviews

A Trace of Moonlight
Allison Pang
Pocket, $7.99
ISBN: 9781439198360

Maurice possesses the Key to the CrossRoads after stealing it from Abby Sinclair the TouchStone. Meanwhile Abby marries Elven Prince Talivar though her new mother-in-law wants to make her son a widower. However, a honeymoon must wait unto after she retrieves the Key.

The two rival males still vie for her affection yet Talivar and former incubus now mortal Brystion vow to help Abby when she confronts Maurice who threatens to terminate OtherWorld. Phineas the mini-unicorn joins their odyssey. To succeed she first must figure out the loophole in a deal she agreed to with a daemon that she does not remember occurring or what the pact is. Then she needs a replacement sacrifice for the Faerie Tithe or she dies for the second time.

The latest Abby Sinclair (see A Sliver of Shadow and A Brush of Darkness) fantasy is a taut good and evil thriller as each of the fab four knows what they voluntarily need to give up if they have any chance to prevent Maurice’s paranormal genocide from happening. Fast-paced with jocular graveyard bantering that at times feels out of place, fans will relish the confrontation between loving sacrifice and end of the world malevolence. Harriet Klausner

The Lost Stars: Tarnished Knight
Jack Campbell
Ace, $26.95
ISBN: 9781937077822

The ruthless Syndicate finds its violent control of its people in peril because of the inability to defeat the Alliance forces led by "Black Jack" Geary nor defend some of their worlds from aliens. As the Syndicate appears on the verge of implosion, The Midway Star System becomes a hotbed of activity because the sector is a nexus of hypergates to and from other Syndicate systems. Distrust of the brutal Syndicate forces runs throughout this sector as the locals expect to feel the terrorizing crush of their “protectors” and worse from the “snakes”.

Syndicate Commander Arthur Drakon led the ground forces in the Midway Star System, but he and what is left of his units are exiled. Instead of hiding, Drakon makes a rebellious bid to take over leadership of Midway starting with ridding the system of the snakes. To succeed, he needs to ally with a natural enemy CEO Gwen Iceni. Together they mount a counter attack on Syndicate units in the sector with a strong focus on those dominated by snakes. After declaring their independence from the Syndicate, each distrusts the other, but failure to do so will allow the snakes to regroup abetted by traitors.

This brilliant sidebar new series occurs during a period between the Beyond the Frontier last two entries: Dreadnaught and Invincible. Though there is plenty of military outer space combat, the storyline centers on the strange bedfellows’ codependent but tremulous alliance that Drakon and Iceni forge to bring their nebulous vision of a better democratic future for Midway. Jack Campbell runs a strong saga shown from the viewpoints of the Syndicate at a time when the vicious totalitarian military regime teeters on the brink of total collapse. Harriet Klausner

Into the Woods
Kim Harrison
Harper Voyager, $24.99
ISBN: 9780061974328

This excellent anthology provides readers a strong glimpse at the full Harrison realm to include inside and outside the Hollows. Part one focuses on The Hollows with three short stories and four novelettes; six previously published and a new tale of Rachel and Trent (“Million Dollar Baby”). The second section contains four “Beyond The Hollows” fantasy short stories that apparently were never published before (“Pet Shop Boys”, “Temson Estate”, Spider Silk” and “Grace”). In "Undead in the Garden of Good and Evil" Inderland Security Homicide Division cop and living vampire Ivy seeks a killer who knows her every move even as she evades the moves of her boss Art an undead vampire.

Teenager Rachel recuperates from I.S. disease that killed her father and nearly killed her, but left her new powers as a witch in training; however, she missuses her new skills with a resurrection that may prove lethal in "Two Ghosts for Sister Rachel." Jenks the pixy and Bis the gargoyle investigate a case involving pixy children in Ley Line Drifter." In “Million-Dollar Baby,” Trent and Jenks go on an elf-quest. Will Temson inherits much more than he bargained for when he gained "Temson Estates." In "Spider Silk" the angry tree spirit rages at three generations of females (Emily the grandmother, Meg the mom and Lilly the child). The collection is quite good providing more insight into the Hollows and into the rest of the Harrison mythos. Harriet Klausner

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