2008.02


Abe Sapien (Vol. 2): The Devil Does Not Jest and Other Stories: Abe flies solo

Abe Sapien (Vol. 2): The Devil Does Not Jest and Other Stories by Mike Mignola (writer), John Arcudi (writer), Patric Reynolds (artist), Peter Snejbjerg (artist), James Harren (artist), Dave Stewart (colors), and Clem Robins (letters)

Abe Sapien (Vol. 2): The Devil Does Not Jest and Other Stories is a collection of three stories:

In “The Haunted Boy,” Abe thinks he is going out on a simple mission, a regular, run-of-the-mill haunting: Two boys fell through the ice into a pond. One died and the other survived. Recently, there have been sightings of the ghost of the dead boy. The B.P.R.D. has been contacted to assess the situation. The professor sends out Abe Sapien to investigate. Not surprisingly, the case takes a strange, and much more dangerous turn. But first, we get to watch Abe do fieldwork by diving into the pond at night to reveal the secret behind the mystery. There’s a dramatic action scene... Read More

Dragonfly Falling: It’s weird, but it works

Dragonfly Falling by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Between introducing the uniquely imaginative concept of ‘Insect-kinden’ and showcasing a well-rounded display of characterization, world-building, story, pacing and prose, Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Empire in Black and Gold was not only an impressive debut, it was also a memorable start to an exciting new fantasy series. A direct continuation of Empire in Black and Gold, Dragonfly Falling is basically more of the same, just on a larger and more entertaining scale.

Like Empire in Black and Gold, the highlight of Dragonfly Falling is once again the Insect-kinden who, with their diverse Arts and philosphies, continue to lend the saga a distinctive quality despite utilizing such familiar fantasy themes as war, slavery, conspiracy, racial/cult... Read More

Philippa Fisher and the Dream-Maker’s Daughter: Another sweet story

Philippa Fisher and the Dream-Maker's Daughter by Liz Kessler

Philippa Fisher and the Dream-Maker's Daughter is the second book in Liz Kessler’s trilogy about Philippa Fisher, a lonely 11 year old girl with eccentric hippie parents. When we met her in the first book, Philippa Fisher and the Fairy Godsister, she had come to the attention of the fairy godmothers because her best friend had recently moved away and she was sad. A young inexperienced fairy named Daisy was assigned to grant Philippa three wishes. Both Philippa and Daisy learned a lot and became best friends. But Daisy had to go back to the fairy organization after the case was over.

Now it’s summer and Philippa and her family are going on vacation. Daisy has been assigned to take care of a girl named Robin whose mother recently ... Read More

Locke and Key (Vol. 2): Head Games by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez

Locke and Key (Vol. 2): Head Games by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez

A solid and scary second section to this first-class horror story.

Warning; may contain spoilers of Volume One; Welcome to Lovecraft

After everything the Locke family went through in Volume One, Welcome to Lovecraft, they need a break. Unfortunately, in Volume Two of this powerful graphic horror novel, they aren’t going to get one.

Head Games starts with an elderly teacher at Lovecraft Acad... Read More

Clockwork Lies: Iron Wind: A worthy sequel

Clockwork Lies: Iron Wind by Dru Pagliassotti

It’s been six years, but Taya, Cristof and Alister are back in Clockwork Lies: Iron Wind, a sequel to Dru Pagliassotti’s Clockwork Heart. You’ll really need to read that previous book to get the most out of Clockwork Lies: Iron Wind and this review will have spoilers for that first book, so proceed with caution.

Alister was blinded and exiled after his treasonous deeds in Clockwork Heart. His brother Cristof, who was happy just being a clockmaker, has reluctantly taken Alister’s place as an Exalted. He married Taya, the courageous Icarus who carries messages up and down the mountain city of Ondinium.

The city is named for its mines of ondinium, the precious lighter-than-air metal that Taya’s wings are made of. Many other countries would like to get their hands on some of that metal. The city is most vulnerable to atta... Read More

Hunter’s Prayer: What’s the point?

Hunter’s Prayer by Lilith Saintcrow

“I am not a nice person” — Jill Kismet

Jill Kismet is a Hunter — she keeps her city safe by tracking and destroying the creatures of the Nightside — those things that come out of hell to prey on humans. The cops call on Jill when there’s a crime that seems to involve paranormal beings. Jill takes care of it while the cops cover it up. Jill’s a badass — she can beat up anybody — but she also has some special powers of sorcery and healing which she got by making a bargain with a hellspawn named Perry. Perry keeps Jill alive and in return she gives him two hours of her “time” each month.

In Night Shift, the first book in Lilith Saintcrow’s JILL KISMET series (reviewed by Robert), we met all the main characters, but you don’t really need to read Night Shift to u... Read More

The Ask and the Answer: Memorable characters and breakneck plotting

The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness

The Ask and the Answer is the second book in Patrick Ness’ CHAOS WALKING trilogy and picks up immediately where The Knife of Never Letting Go ended, with Todd surrendering to Mayor Prentiss in order to save Viola. This is the beginning of a complex relationship between the two as well as the bifurcation of Todd and Viola’s storylines. In the first, Todd, thanks to the Mayor’s control over what happens to Viola, becomes a grudging worker in the Mayor’s (now self-styled President) consolidation of his rule in New Prentisstown. He is thrown together with the Mayor’s son Davy — a sadistic, uncivilized young man who rarely thinks beyond himself. The main thrust of their work is to oversee and band a group of Spackle slaves.

Todd, therefore, is now navigating two new relationships — an increasingly s... Read More

Crusade: Even more exciting than the first book

Crusade by Taylor Anderson

The men and two women of the USS Walker are worn out and homesick. They’re resigned to being stuck on a parallel world, but they at least hope to find some more humans. There’s a severe “dame shortage” so, though Commander Matthew Reddy and Nurse Sandra Tucker are in love with each other, they know they must not indulge their feelings because it might lower the morale of the rest of the destroyermen.

There’s plenty to keep them occupied meanwhile — they’ve recovered Mahan and a reconnaissance airplane, and both need a lot of work. They’ve also discovered that the threat from the reptilian Grik is much worse than they had imagined. The Grik have hundreds of sailing ships and are intent on wiping out the Lemurians and their new American allies. The worst news of all is that the Japanese battlecruiser Amagi is with them, but the destroyermen don’t know if “the ... Read More

Shadow’s Edge: Significant improvement

Shadow's Edge by Brent Weeks

I read Brent Weeks’s debut novel The Way of Shadows some time ago. It was not a brilliant book but it kept me entertained enough to try the second part in the NIGHT ANGEL trilogy, Shadow's Edge. On the whole I liked Shadow's Edge much better than The Way of Shadows. With the wider scope of the story, it is a much more satisfying read, though it still has a number of annoying flaws.

The story picks up right where we left the characters at the end of book one. The army of the Godking (as he styles himself; there is little proof of his divinity that I can see) Ursull has taken the city of Cenaria in an orgy of violence and blood. The nation appears subdued, all resistance broken. Kylar has decided to give up his life as an assassin and prepares to move away from the c... Read More

The Cold Kiss of Death: Has sold me on Spellcrackers

The Cold Kiss of Death by Suzanne McLeod

Sidhe fae Genevieve Taylor is in trouble again. Hannah Ashby, whom Genny met in the last book, has shown up again — this time wielding powerful magic and demanding the priceless Fabergé egg Genny received from the Earl. Genny’s also being haunted by the ghost of a young girl. Worst of all, she finds a friend murdered and is framed for the crime. Now she needs the help of the manipulative vampire Malik al-Khan, which never comes for free.

Much like the first Spellcrackers book, The Sweet Scent of Blood, the plot of The Cold Kiss of Death is intensely convoluted. Plot points that seem at first to be central turn out to be peripheral and vice versa, as Genny discovers a complex web of schemes underlying what she thought was going on. Events that seem unconnected ... Read More

Consumed: An addictive, spooky tale

Consumed by Kate Cann

When I learned that Consumed (Fire and Rayne in the UK) was being released stateside, I was excited. I enjoyed the previous book, Possessed, and was eager to find out what lay in store for Rayne and for Morton’s Keep. Kate Cann has done a great job with this sequel, giving us a hair-raising tale that tops the first book and brings Rayne’s story to a thrilling conclusion.

Sir Simeon Lingwall’s modern-day pawn has been defeated and his basement chamber of horrors filled in with concrete — so why is Rayne still seeing and hearing uncanny things, and why are gruesome crimes being committed in and around the town of Marcle Lees? Rayne begins to suspect the evil has not been completely laid to rest and may be rising again even stronger than before. The only hope of stopping it lies in traditions half-remembered by... Read More

Trail of Fate: High on action, low on logic

Trail of Fate by Michael P. Spradlin

Trail of Fate, the second book in The Youngest Templar trilogy picks up right where the previous book, Keeper of the Grail, left off. Our hero and protagonist Tristan is swept overboard during a storm and washed up on the shores of southern France. In his possession is the Holy Grail, bequeathed to him by his master Sir Thomas, along with a solemn promise to deliver it safely to Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland.

The task is not quite as simple as it seems, for a rogue Templar Knight called Sir Hugh is after Tristan for reasons that he can't quite fathom, knowing only that the man covets the Grail and knows something about Tristan's mysterious parentage. But for now, Tristan has bigger problems. Separated from his friends Robard and Maryam (sound familiar?), Tristan is found by a group ... Read More

The Crowded Shadows: Characters are inflamed and angsty, we’re bored

The Crowded Shadows by Celine Kiernan

I was hoping that the pace of The Moorehawke Trilogy would pick up once Razi, Christopher, and Wynter left the castle but, alas, this story continues to crawl at a glacial pace. In The Crowded Shadows, the three friends wander the forest with no plan but to find Prince Alberon (somewhere among thousands of acres) so they can hear his side of the story — why is he rebelling against his father? While they traipse about the forest, they spend a lot of time eating, fishing, sleeping, occasionally bathing, and becoming emotionally unstable.

Soon they realize that there are other people sneaking around in the forest who shouldn’t be there (thus the name The Crowded Shadows) and Razi, Christopher, and Wynter spend their days wondering what these people are doing and fighting, hidin... Read More

Corvus: A tale of war in all of its bloody horror

Corvus by Paul Kearney

I was introduced to Paul Kearney’s writing when I read The Ten Thousand, and I instantly loved the way Kearney does his brand of historical fantasy. His focus is on a Greek-like, Bronze Age civilization peopled by the Macht, a war-like civilization of city-states very much like the Greece of ca. 400 BC. In both The Ten Thousand and Corvus, Kearney uses ancient history as a broad structure for telling a tale of war in all of its bloody horror.

In Corvus, Kearney brings back Rictus, one of the leaders of the Ten Thousand, mercenaries who fought their way out of the Asurian Empire after their employer failed to seize its throne, and who are very loosely based on this world’s Ten Thousand, Greeks who similarly fought their way out of Persia. Rictus has a legendary stature in the cities of the Macht, and is... Read More

Rise of Empire: Straight-up action/adventure done fantasy style

Editor's note: Rise of Empire was originally published as Nyphron Rising and The Emerald Storm.

Rise of Empire by Michael Sullivan

Nyphron Rising: Now that the Imperialists have a puppet for their throne, the war for conquest has begun. Knowing that Melengar cannot stand against the Imperialists’ might, Princess Arista employs Royce and Hadrian to escort her on a self-imposed mission. While working for the princess, Royce has his own agenda: to secretly investigate Hadrian’s past to determine if what the wizard Esrahaddon has told him about his friend is true. This secret has the potential to topple the powers of Elan.

Nyphron Rising, the third book in THE RIYRIA REVELATIONS, is another consistently entertaining installment. Some interesting n... Read More

The Edge of Ruin: Science vs superstition, round two

The Edge of Ruin by Melinda Snodgrass

The Edge of Ruin (2010) is a direct sequel to The Edge of Reason, an excellent present-day fantasy novel by Melinda Snodgrass in which Chtulhu-esque beings use religion to generate emotions like fear and anger, enabling them to enter our dimension. It's an unusual and original concept that led to a fascinating novel.

Unfortunately The Edge of Ruin is not quite as strong as the first novel in the EDGE series. At the start of the novel, things are in extreme disarray: Lumina's leader, Kenntnis, is incapicated; Richard Oort, the cop-turned-paladin-of-reason, is trying to get a handle on both the Lumina enterprise and his family; and worst of all, the invading Chtulhu beings have established a beachhead in our dimension, making it all the more urgent for Richard & co. to get organiz... Read More

The Celestial Globe: Solid and rewarding YA

The Celestial Globe by Marie Rutkoski

The Celestial Globe is the second book in Marie Rutkoski’s Kronos Chronicles, following last year’s Cabinet of Wonders, which was a wonderful start with strong characterization, a creative mix of 16th century history and folk tales in service of a compelling plot, and a wonderful sense of both light and grim whimsy. The Celestial Globe isn’t as strong, but it’s a rewarding read in its own right and more than fulfills the purpose of a second book: convincing the reader to stay with the series.

The young girl Petra is back as the central character, along with her several compatriots: a mechanical spider named Astrophil, a young Roma named Neel whose magical gift is “ghost fingers” that invisibly exten... Read More

Mad With Wonder: More than worth the cover price

Mad With Wonder by Frank Beddor

Mad With Wonder is the second geo-graphic novel that chronicles Hatter Madigan’s 13-year search for Princess Alyss, who was lost on Earth after escaping through the Pool of Tears. This time around, Madigan’s quest takes him to America during the Civil War and finds the Milliner crossing paths with circus freaks, a group of outlaws, Mr. Van de Skülle, a child gifted with the power of healing, and a vampire as well as being imprisoned in an insane asylum.

The first Hatter M volume was nominated for an Eisner Award and won the 2009 Silver IPPY Award for Best Graphic Novel, so Mad With Wonder had some large shoes to fill. On that note, the graphic novel comes up short in the story department, mainly because nothing really happens. To be clear, stuff does happen in Mad Wit... Read More

Hand of Isis: Behind every great woman…

Hand of Isis by Jo Graham

I loved Black Ships, and I didn't know if Jo Graham could top it. The answer, I am happy to report, is a great big YES!

Hand of Isis continues the story of some of the characters from Black Ships who have now been reincarnated as players in the Egyptian-Roman power struggle. You don't need to read Black Ships first, but you'll probably get more out of Hand of Isis if you do. The story is told from the point of view of Cleopatra's "personal assistant," Charmian, who is Gull reincarnated. As the novel opens, she stands before the Egyptian deities in the afterlife and tells her tale.

The story begins with three little girls — half-sisters (in this novel Cleopatra's handmaidens Charmian and Iras are illegitimate daughters of Pharaoh) who become inseparable friends.... Read More

Dayhunter: Great setting, light plot

Dayhunter by Jocelynn Drake

I’ve just been to Venice and back, and I’m not even jetlagged…

In Nightwalker, Jocelynn Drake transported the reader to Egypt and London, and now, in Dayhunter, we’re headed for the canals. As the book begins, Mira and Danaus are summoned to appear before the vampire council in Venice. I loved following Mira to all her favorite haunts in the city; Drake does a great job of creating a tangible sense of place.

Unfortunately, the plot didn’t grab me as much as the setting did, at least not at the beginning. It’s sort of too fast and too slow at the same time, crazy as that may sound. It’s fast in the sense that there are constant skirmishes; it’s slow in the sense that the fights don’t seem to advance the plot much. We are witnessing, pardon my French, a pissing contest between Mira and th... Read More

Nine Gates: Worth it for the sake of the hell scenes

Nine Gates by Jane Lindskold
The Orphans — at least in their current incarnation — had proven to be a chatty group. Hardly anything, from something as minor as what to have for dinner, to the planning of major expeditions did not get talked over — sometimes, she suspected, to the frustration of their allies from the Lands.
Sometimes to the frustration of the reader, too. The "talkiness" of this cast of characters was an issue in Thirteen Orphans, and it hasn't gone away in Nine Gates. The characters still expound to each other at every opportunity. Sometimes they're imparting useful information, albeit more pedantically than necessary. It's less justified when the subject is, say, the definition of "homonym."

However, I found Nine Gates to be more enjoyable than its predecessor. The book starts with a bang: a combat scene that drops the reader right... Read More

The Osiris Ritual: Fun, predictable, slightly charming

The Osiris Ritual by George Mann

George Mann’s The Osiris Ritual (2010) is the sequel to his Victorian-era fantasy-mystery, The Affinity Bridge. It shares the same setting and characters, as well as the same positives and, unfortunately, negatives as its predecessor.

We’re back at the start with Sir Maurice, one of her Majesty’s agents and a specialist in the occult, as he attends the unwrapping (literally) of a newly-discovered mummy, who turns out to have been mummified alive. The mystery deepens when those associated with finding the mummy start to turn up dead. Soon, Sir Maurice is caught up in a web of violence involving the contemporary murderer, an old Egyptian myth (the basis for the title), and a rogue English agent who allegedly died years ago. Meanwhile, his assistant Veronica is caught up in her own mystery: a group of young women have gone missing, all of whom... Read More

Deep Water: Pamela Freeman’s trilogy is unique

Deep Water by Pamela Freeman

Deep Water is the second book in Pamela Freeman's The Castings trilogy and though it suffers just a tad from middle book syndrome, this is a great continuation from the last book Blood Ties, enriching the world and developing the characters, as well as setting things up nicely for the final installment.

The Eleven Domains were conquered thousands of years ago by Acton's people, who marched across the northern mountains and massacred the dark-haired people (now called "Travelers" due to their nomadic lifestyle) already settled there. The memory of this injustice is still remembered by the Travelers to this day, and has lead one powerful enchanter to call up the ghosts of those killed in the attacks in order to reap vengeance on t... Read More

Kith: Lacks emotional impact

Kith by Holly Black

Kith is the second installment in The Good Neighbors, Holly Black’s series of graphic novels about Rue, a young woman whose life is torn apart when her mother disappears. Kin, the first book in this series, traces Rue’s discovery that her mother is a fairy princess who returns to her own people when Rue’s father is unfaithful. Kith picks up the action as the fairy world fights for Rue to join her mother, and as Rue’s grandfather, Aubrey, sets into motion a plan to bring the town where Rue lives into the fairy realm forever.

Ted Naifeh’sartwork is as lovely as ever, with a dark and brooding presence that underscores the temptation that magic holds for Rue, even as she struggles to protect her friends from Aubrey and his minions. A scene where Ru... Read More

The Ruling Sea: Different opinions

Editor's note: This book is tilted The Rats and the Ruling Sea in some markets (UK) and The Ruling Sea in others (US).

The Rats and the Ruling Sea by Robert V.S. Redick

PLOT SUMMARY: The great ship Chathrand, supposedly launched to bring an end to centuries of war, has all along been a tool of evil men. And behind them all stands Arunis, a 3000-year-old sorcerer bent on scouring life from the world of Alifros.

Now this enchanted, 600-year-old vessel has reached the island of Simja, where the tarboy Pazel Pathkendle will see the young woman he loves, Thasha Isiq, face death to thwart Arunis — and Pazel himself will be forced to confront his shattered past.

But the journey is only beginning. After Simja, Pazel and his friends must face the terrors of the Ruling Sea, an ocean so vast and violent that no ship but the Chath... Read More