2002.05


B.P.R.D. (Vol. 5): The Black Flame: Echoes of Lovecraft

B.P.R.D. (Vol. 5): The Black Flame by Mike Mignola (writer), John Arcudi (writer), Guy Davis (artist), Dave Stewart (colors), and Clem Robins (letters)

B.P.R.D.: The Black Flame is another great entry in the B.P.R.D. series. This volume opens up with a board meeting at a company called Zinco. We are quickly led to see they are a company unlike any other: In the basement, they are running tests on and trying to communicate with frog creatures. Upstairs off of the boardroom is a secret chamber hiding the CEO’s secret Nazi memorabilia. Zinco will have an important part to play in upcoming events.

Back at the new B.P.R.D. headquarters, we find out that Abe is no longer working in the field even though Kate keeps asking him to do so. Abe remains haunted by his past life, which he uncovered in volumes three and four. Meanwhile, in Western British Columbia, the B.P.R.D. team is hunting frog monsters in a snowy... Read More

Undead and Unpopular: Short, silly, and shallow

Undead and Unpopular by MaryJanice Davidson

Warning: This review will contain spoilers for the previous books in the QUEEN BETSY series.

Undead and Unpopular is the fifth book in MaryJanice Davidson’s QUEEN BETSY series. Each of the books in this extremely fluffy paranormal fantasy series is short, silly, and shallow. The only thing that keeps me reading is that they’re quick breezy breaks between more substantial works — something I can read with half my brain tied behind my back. Also, they’re available in downloadable audiobook format at my library. I would have quit if it wasn’t for that, and the fact that I find MaryJanice Davidson’s sense of humor genuinely amusing, and Nancy Wu’s narration exceptional.

In Undead and Unpopular, it’s... Read More

Black Water: The plot suffers for the sake of the Message

Black Water by D.J. MacHale

In Black Water, the fifth book in D.J. MacHale’s PENDRAGON series, the rules seem to be changing. All the things we thought we knew about how the flumes, the territories, the Travelers, and the acolytes work are different. Saint Dane, the villain, has brought that deadly poison he used on Cloral (in The Lost City of Faar) through the flume to use in the beautiful but dangerous territory of Eelong. Bobby Pendragon figures that if Saint Dane has broken the rules, so can he. And so do his friends Mark and Courtney who finally decide to dive into the flume and see what happens. I expect that most fans will be thrilled to see Mark and Courtney in action. Unfortunately, Bobby and his friends will soon find out that breaking the rules sometimes has really bad consequences.

Poison isn’t the only problem in Eelong. When Bobby first arrives,... Read More

The Wurms of Blearmouth: A short comic tale by Erikson

The Wurms of Blearmouth by Steven Erikson

The Wurms of Blearmouth is the fifth novella by Steven Erikson centered on his gloriously disruptive pair of "evil sorcerers" Bauchelain and Korbal Broach, along with their by-now-relatively-stoic servant Emancipator Reese. As with the prior four, this is a far lighter tale than his lengthy, dense, and often deeply serious MALAZAN series. The BAUCHELAIN AND BROACH tales are more comic, far shorter, with far fewer moments of Erikson's trademark "philosphophizing" (though fewer does not mean no such moments). I found The Wurms of Blearmouth a mixed success, with some laugh-out-loud moments, lots of chuckles, some welcome sharper bits, and a few less funny/comfortable moments.

At the start, we are introduced to the sorcerer-ruler of a small town on a wrecker's coast — Lord Fangatooth Claw (the first chuckle) atop his tower keep declaiming for the scribe ... Read More

Before Midnight: Like candy floss at the fair

Before Midnight by Cameron Dokey

Cameron Dokey's contributions to the Once Upon a Time series are undoubtedly the finest, but her retelling of Cinderella is initially a little hit and miss. The series as a whole involves writers taking a recognizable fairytale and tweaking it a little into something that is still familiar but which provides a different point of view. This can involve changing the setting or the time period, removing all the magical elements that make up the original tale, or simply fleshing out the characterization.

Dokey takes all three approaches in her take on Cinderella, setting it in an unspecified time and place (though everyone has French names) and expanding more on our heroine's relationship with her father and step-family. Born to Etienne de Brabant and Constanze d'Este, Cinderella is here named Cendrillon, and her birth is... Read More

Heaven’s Net is Wide: Historical fantasy set in medieval Japan

Heaven's Net is Wide by Lian Hearn

Beauty, Grace, Eloquence. These words define the writing of author Lian Hearn. Her Tales of the Otori series of historical fantasy novels are extremely popular worldwide. If you haven't read the first four installments, Heaven's Net is Wide is a great place to begin the story.

Because it is a prequel, Hearn has not assumed the reader has much knowledge about the setting or characters. She begins with a hook, describing a confrontation between two members of the Tribe — a family of assassins. Readers of the prior books will recognize the importance of this event right away, but for the new reader, Hearn begins on just the right foot, hooking them into the story.

The tale is set in medieval Japan, with some mythic elements, mostly in relation to the unique abilities ... Read More