Tuesday, July 21, 2009
As I've mentioned before, I do reviews for the Sacramento Book Review. The reviews for that publication have to be 200 words or less so I haven't been posting them to this site because I always intend to go back and flesh out the reviews-- which I have been terrible about doing. So I'm going to post some of the reviews I have already done-- in their brief glory, so I can at least get something up in a half-way timely fashion. Undone by Rachel Caine Cassiel was a Djinn, one of the most powerful beings in the universe, until she was cast out by her master and forced to live as a human. She takes refuge with the Weather Wardens who supply her with the power she needs to stay alive. Cassiel earns her keep by working with Earth Warden Manny Rocha and soon finds herself under attack and caught in the middle of the ongoing battles and alliances between the Wardens and the Djinn. Cassiel soon learns that while human flesh is weak, human emotions and entanglements are not. "Undone" is the first book in a new series by Rachel Caine that continues the story of the Weather Wardens from a whole new perspective. Like most paranormal fiction "Undone" is fast paced yet still manages to finds layers to each character. Cassiel’s transformation from Djinn to human is convincing and Caine never resorts to heavy-handed sex or violence to keep the reader’s attention. Readers will get the most out of "Undone" if they are already acquainted with the Weather Warden series while existing fans ought to love this new addition. A Flash of Hex by Jess Battis Tess Corday is an Occult Special Investigator for CORE, an agency that investigates crimes of a paranormal nature. This time Tess and her partner Derrick are called in to examine a series of murders in which each of the victims have two things in common: an addiction to a vicious new drug called Hextacy and parents who are powerful mages. But it isn’t until Tess gets further into the case that she finds out that she has a personal connection the killer. Taking its cues from CSI "A Flash of Hex" is at its best when the characters are looking at the minutiae of a crime. Author Jess Battis has created a credible mix of science and magic and the book’s strength is it’s detail-oriented nature. The main weakness of the story is the main character. Tess is likable in a blunt way, but never seems like a heroine who is a credible step ahead of the villain. The secondary characters are likable, though maybe a bit too abundant. "A Flash of Hex" feels like a book that tries to take the genre seriously but falls into the trap of being slightly cliché. Some flaws, but entertaining overall. Ghost Ocean by S. M. Peters Following in the footsteps of her dead father, Te Evangeline is a paranormal investigator, though she isn’t sure she believes in the supernatural. But the city of St. Ives isn’t like anywhere else in the world; it’s a prison to creatures of the Old World and they are being set free, and Te can no longer pretend the boogeyman isn’t real. "Ghost Ocean" is the second book by author S.M. Peters and ambitiously tries to formulate a story that encompasses ancient myths from all over the world. Peter’s style is heavy on allusion and metaphor, which makes the plot frustrating to nail down. A lot of characters are introduced, from an albino woman with a thousand lives to an invisible man who may be trying to rule the world, but none are really fleshed out. Monsters appear, then disappear. Characters die, but don’t die. The story moves from obscure scenes to even more obscure action. There are some interesting ideas and terrifying creatures and sometimes the story gains enough traction that it seems like it could reach a satisfying conclusion. But ultimately it’s weighted down by too many ideas and not enough clarity. Myth-Chief by Robert Asprin and Jody Lynn Nye After retiring from M.Y.T.H Inc., Skeeve the magician, and problem-solver, decides to come out of retirement and set up his own business. Unfortunately for Skeeve, his former associates are not entirely happy with this development and he ends up making a wager with his old mentor Aahz over the next two customers that walk in the door: whomever makes the most money wins the contest and takes over leadership of M.Y.T.H. Inc. Recently deceased author Robert Asprin’s Myth Adventures series lives on in the hands of Jody Lynn Nye. Still full of puns, imps, dragons and pervects (not to be mistaken with perverts), Skeeve and Aahz end up competing directly against each other as their clients fight for control of the throne of a small vacation dimension. The change in authorship will likely disappoint longstanding fans of the series as the character interactions, storylines and development are significantly different in "Myth-Chief" than in earlier books. However, newcomers can easily slip into the story and may enjoy the lighthearted silliness of the book.