fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy book reviews Amber Benson Calliope Reaper-Jones 2. Cat's ClawCat’s Claw by Amber Benson

Never wear your good shoes to Hell

In Cat’s Claw, Amber Benson picks up right where she left off in the tumultuous life of Calliope Reaper-Jones: office drone, wannabe fashionista, and daughter of Death himself. As the novel begins, Calliope learns that her maybe-boyfriend Daniel may not be as dead as he seems, Cerberus wants a favor in return for the hellhound puppy Calliope stole, and her parents have enlisted an eccentric “aura specialist” to train her in magic. Of course, everything is even more complicated than it sounds, and soon Calliope is on a mission to right a wrong that dates back to ancient Egypt.

Benson paints a vivid picture of the strange locales to which Calliope travels. Purgatory gets its turn to shine here — I loved the Hall of Death — and so does the (very real) Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas. We follow Calliope as she gets into potentially deadly supernatural trouble… and ruins her Missoni sweater beyond recognition.

Calliope can be a little annoying, mostly in her tendency to leap before she looks. There came a point when I wanted to shake her and say, “Don’t make any more bargains without reading the fine print, and don’t go off on any more wild goose chases when you’re on a tight deadline!” Then again, she has good reasons to do these things, and she wouldn’t be Calliope if she weren’t impetuous at times! Just be prepared for a few “oh no, not again” moments.

The plot is byzantine — twisty to the point of being confusing at times with all its double- and triple-crossing. I’m still not sure I understand everything that happened! But it’s fun, and has some heart-tugging moments as well. The characters are great (my favorites are Clio, Runt, Kali and, after this book, Cerberus). With its breezy tone and humor, Cat’s Claw — like its predecessor, Death’s Daughter — can be a delightful break from heavier, gloomier books.

Calliope Reaper-Jones — (2009-2013) Publisher: Calliope Reaper-Jones so just wanted a normal life: buying designer shoes on sale, dating guys from Craig’s List, web-surfing for organic dim-sum for her boss… But when her father — who happens to be Death himself — is kidnapped, and the Devil’s Protege embarks on a hostile takeover of the family business, Death, Inc., Callie returns home to assume the CEO mantle — only to discover she must complete three nearly impossible tasks in the realm of the afterlife first.

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  • Kelly Lasiter

    KELLY LASITER, with us since July 2008, is a mild-mannered academic administrative assistant by day, but at night she rules over a private empire of tottering bookshelves. Kelly is most fond of fantasy set in a historical setting (a la Jo Graham) or in a setting that echoes a real historical period (a la George RR Martin and Jacqueline Carey). She also enjoys urban fantasy and its close cousin, paranormal romance, though she believes these subgenres’ recent burst in popularity has resulted in an excess of dreck. She is a sucker for pretty prose (she majored in English, after all) and mythological themes.