Tag Archives: urban fantasy

Discount armageddon (InCryptid series)

Discount armageddon / Séanan McGuire

I’ve already reviewed Séanan McGuire’s October Daye series, so I figured I’ll start my massive collection of urban fantasy posts with her “other” series.

Honestly, I wasn’t super excited about this one, for whatever reason, but I had read all of the available October Daye books so I decided to pick up the first book in the InCryptid series.

Plot summary

The InCryptid novels (there are some short stories but I ha’n’t read ’em) follow the exploits of the Price family: cryptozoologists and self-appointed wardens of the American cryptid community.

Discount armageddon follows Verity Price, Latin ballroom dancer and traceuse, who has moved to New York City in an attempt to prove to her family that she can make it as a professional dancer. Her career aspirations are complicated by the appearance of a member of the Covenant of St. George, an international group devoted to exterminating all cryptid life.

Continue reading Discount armageddon (InCryptid series)

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Urban fantasy bonanza : introduction

As I mentioned in my earlier post, I’ve mostly been reading urban/contemporary fantasy lately. Since it’s fairly fresh I figured I’d collocate these reviews for easy comparison. Some of the posts I’ve already written about books in the genre are going to be retroactively added to the series, but I’ll be writing all-new posts for each series and/or book.

 

Here’s a preview of what I’ll be doing, in no particular order:

The InCryptid novels by Séanan McGuire – After reading all of the October Daye books I decided to move on to these. They’re interesting, but I think I like the October Daye series better.

Black wings by Christina Henry – The protagonist is a grim reaper/landlord. Interesting premise but the writing didn’t really grab me.

Ghost of a chance by Simon R. Green – This book was laughably bad.

Doppelgangster by Laura Resnick – Not a great work of literature but fun in a ridiculous kind of way. I realize that this isn’t the first in the series but for some reason urban fantasy and historical romance publishers LOVE to make it as hard as possible to figure out which book is actually the first.

Gregor the overlander by Suzanne Collins – this book made absolutely no impression on me.

The hum and the shiver by Alex Bledsoe – This one was REALLY good although the “twist” was pretty obvious from page 1.

Singer of souls by Adam Stemple – I’ve brought this one up before – a good story brought down by a horrifying ending.

Nightlife by Rob Thurman – This book was straight-up terrible.

The Golgotham series by Nancy A. Collins – Not a terrible series, it had its ups and downs but I actually read the whole thing.

Half-resurrection blues by Daniel José Older – Can’t wait for more.

The iron hunt by Marjorie M. Liu – I’m on the fence about this one. The second book in the series is the next one in my queue so maybe I’ll have stronger opinions after that.

The black London series by Caitlin Kittredge – It’s decent, but borrows way too much from the early Hellblazer stories.

Dying bites by D.D. Barant – Tonal whiplash all through this one. Not sure if I’ll read more.

Magic to the bone by Devon Monk – a more unique premise than most of the ones on this list, I’ll be checking out the next one in the series the next time I’m at the library. [Update: the only book in the series that my library doesn’t have is the second one.]

Dead to me by Anton Strout – Haven’t read this yet, it’s in my queue after the sequel to The iron hunt. [Update: enjoyable]

 

So that’s the preliminary booklist. It’s possible I’ll add more eventually. It’s also possible that I’ll end up doing some  other genre stuff in between so it doesn’t get too monotonous.

 

[Updated to add the following]

Spider’s bite by Jennifer Estep – incredibly violent but I’m still going to check out the sequel

 

 

Krampus : the Yule lord

Krampus: the Yule lord / Brom

Krampus : the Yule lord is another work by artist turned author Brom. Along the same lines as The child thief, Brom takes a well known story, adds the “lost” pagan version, and infuses it with a degree of moral ambiguity.

So, here’s a Christmas season post that’s actually about “Christmas”. Sort of.

Brief plot summary

Musician Jesse is miserable. After failing to get his daughter the Christmas present she wanted, Jesse witnesses what appears to be a fight between Santa Claus and a small group of mysterious attackers. Discovering that the battle sent Santa’s sack through the roof if his trailer, Jesse soon becomes embroiled in a centuries long conflict between Krampus and Santa Claus over the true meaning of Christmas.

Continue reading Krampus : the Yule lord

Rosemary and Rue

Rosemary and rue / Seanan McGuire

Rosemary and Rue is the first book in the October Daye series. As a series, it’s more than a little bit similar to the Dresden files, combining fantasy and detective fiction, but I honestly prefer McGuire’s series.

Brief plot summary

October “Toby” Daye is a changeling private detective, half human and half sidhe. Forced to investigate the murder of a powerful figure in the faerie courts by the victim’s dying curse, Daye’s investigation will take her from San Francisco to the faerie realms and back, bringing her into conflict with more than one important figure from her past.

I realize this summary sounds terrible and melodramatic, that’s my fault, not this book’s.

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The thief of always

The thief of always / Clive Barker. First published 1992.

The thief of always is somewhat difficult to classify in that “unabridged fairy tale” kind of way. It’s a horror novel that features a ten year old protagonist, but it’s not exactly an “adult” book, nor is it really a children’s book. Originally published in 1992 and illustrated by the author, there was a graphic novel adaptation by IDW in the early 2000s. It’s one of the more well known books in a genre that’s surprisingly underpopulated. I’d guess that authors are hesitant to write straight-up horror geared towards both children are adults. It would be astoundly easy to write a book that is too “adult”, making it difficult to publish and market as well as inviting the outrage of upset parents, but it would be just as easy to write a book that’s not adult enough, that ends up too elementary for older readers. The thief of always walks that line very well.

Plot summary

Harvey Swick is the 10 year old spiritual descendent of Milo of The phantom tollbooth. Dissatisfied with his life, he dreams of being whisked away to somewhere more interesting. To his surprise, this happens when a thin man with an improbably large grin arrives to take him to Mr. Hood’s Holiday House, a paradise for children where Christmas happens every night. Harvey quickly realizes that all is not as it seems, and when he starts to become homesick discovers that returning home is harder than he expected.

Continue reading The thief of always

The child thief

The child thief / Brom.

I realize that I’ve kind of been on a contemporary fantasy kick this month, so I figured I’d switch things up by doing another contemporary fantasy review.

In all seriousness, I’ll take a break from the contemporary fantasy after this one. Probably.

It’s not like you can stop me if I choose not to. Pardon me while I let all this power go to my head.

BACK TO THE CHILD THIEF!

The child thief is Brom’s contemporary take on Peter Pan, coupled with a healthy dose of celtic mythology. It’s not-too-dissimilar (in a good way) from Clive Barker’s The thief of always (the subject of a future post. Probably).

Peter Pan is the titular child thief, who travels between the human world and Avalon, kidnapping abused children to use as cannon fodder in a never-ending war against Captain Hook. It’s a dark fairy tale without clear heroes and villains.

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Dead harvest/The wrong goodbye

Dead harvest / Chris F. Holm

The wrong goodbye / Chris F. Holm

Why do I keep reading Angry Robot books again?

I’m doing these two books as a two-fer ’cause that’s how I feel like doing them today.

Dead harvest and The wrong goodbye are a pair of contemporary fantasy novels about a noir-style hardboiled grim reaper. It’s an interesting premise, and the cover art is certainly eye-catching in that it evokes that old-school pulp style. Apparently there’s a third one now (The big wreap) but I haven’t read it and don’t really plan on reading it unless somebody asks me to do so for this blog.

Some background on the publisher

I’m going to end up reviewing more than a few books from Angry Robot and I feel like it’s worth mentioning something about them as a publishing house. Angry Robot is a relatively small UK-based publisher of weird fiction. They are supported by an extensive guerrilla marketing apparatus, and the library where I worked at the time seemed to acquire pretty much their entire catalog.

I’ve read close to a dozen books published by Angry Robot so far, and to be honest I haven’t generally been “wowed” by them. Still, their marketing is incredibly effective on me and I find myself continuously picking up books by this publisher. The only other publisher that markets to me as effectively is Orbit. Tor and Baen are probably tied for third but that’s chiefly because that’s where many of my favorite authors are.

Back to the books in question: plot

If you recognize the source of the titles (Red harvest and The long goodbye), it’s pretty close to what you’d expect.

Sam Thornton was once  a living human who sold his soul. Now he is a collector, a disembodied spirit that possesses the recently deceased in order to collect the souls of the damned and send them to Hell. Upon being tasked with collecting the soul of a young woman he believes to be innocent, Thornton decides to rebel against his masters in an act that threatens the balance between Heaven and Hell.

Continue reading Dead harvest/The wrong goodbye

Libriomancer

Libriomancer / Jim C. Hines. Originally published 2012.

Libriomancer is The club Dumas for sf/fantasy fans.  It’s a relatively light adventure story packed to the brim with cameos from other, more well known books. It’s a fantasy novel with a bibliography, and as such provides fans of the genre with plenty of in-jokes as well as possible suggestions for further reading.

Brief plot description

(Spoiler free)

Isaac Vanio is a library cataloger with a secret. He is also a libriomancer, a magician with the power to make fiction real. After being assaulted by vampires, he discovers that an unknown power has been manipulating the vampires into attacking magicians. Joined by dryad Lena Greenwood he sets out to save the world …

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Sandman Slim

Sandman Slim / Richard Kadrey. Originally published 2007.

If one were to create a spectrum of contemporary horror/fantasy/whatever, with John dies at the end on one end and the Dresden files at the other end, Sandman Slim would end up somehwere in the middle. It’s the first novel of a series that now includes five novels and at least one short story.

Brief plot description

(Spoiler free)

Stark is a punk rock magician/car thief who has just escaped from Hell ten years after being betrayed by his circle of magical collaborators. Stalking the streets of L.A., Stark attempts to hunt down his former allies one by one, seeking revenge for his long imprisonment and the murder of his girlfriend.

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John dies at the end

John dies at the end / David Wong. Originally published 2007.

John dies at the end is one of those books I randomly picked up because the Kindle version was on sale and I was looking for something new. It’s an irreverent horror novel and was adapted into a moderately well received film.

Brief plot description

(Spoiler free)

David Wong is a 20-something slacker living in an anonymous midwestern college town (implied by the film version to be Champaign-Urbana, but more ambiguous in the book). After a bizarre experience at a party involving a mysterious drug called “Soy Sauce”, he and his friends end up on a wild adventure involving talking meat products, celebrity exorcists, and a demon-like creature known as “Shitload”.

Continue reading John dies at the end