Sunday, November 01, 2009
"Hurry, child." Mémère's voice urged Georgie up the ladder. He squirmed up the steps into the attic and scooted aside, offering her his hand. She climbed up, carrying one of Grandpa's guns. They pulled the ladder up and the trapdoor shut with a slap. Mémère slid the latch closed. It wouldn't help. The beasts would find them. They both knew it. "It will be fine." Mémère murmured. "It will be fine. We're going to cast a spell..." "They eat magic Mémère," Georgie said softly. "They like it." She stopped. "That's what Rose said." Porcelain shattered downstairs. Icy alarm shot through Georgie. He jerked. Mémère's arms closed about him. Another dish crashed. Something was moving through the kitchen. "Be very silent, child." Mémère whispered in his ear. "Quiet like a mouse." Silence reigned. A long minute passed. Around them the attic lay dim, empty except for a few boxes. A fine layer of dust covered the floor. Barely any light penetrated through the wooden slits of the closed shutter that guarded a single tiny window. Georgie felt the hounds' magic. It hovered on the edge of his senses, waiting quietly and patiently, waiting for them to use their power so it could pounce. The eerie sound of claws scratching at the walls nearly made Georgie jump. He clung to Mémère. She bit her lip and hugged him closer. He couldn't let the hounds get her. Not Mémère. But if he opened his mind, their magic would get him. Terror squirmed though Georgie. Claws skittered on the roof. Something bumped downstairs, directly under them. The beasts knew where they hid. Georgie shivered. His teeth chattered, his fingers and toes gone ice-cold. He couldn't let them get Mémère. ~Excerpt from On the Edge by Ilona Andrews Sometimes I really like to read paranormal fiction, but it can be one of the hardest cravings to satisfy. For some reason paranormal fiction has been largely morphed into the paranormal-romance genre and it's not uncommon to stumble onto some really bad, bosom heaving fiction. But every once in awhile, you find a little gem of a book that offers something original and entertaining-- like the newest one by Ilona Andrews. Rose Drayton lives in a world known as the Edge. It lies between the mortal world, known as the Broken, and a magical world known as the Weird. Edgers, as the people like Rose call themselves, are able to use magic to a limited degree, though they are not typically as strong as magic users that come from the Weird. Life in the Edge is hard because Edgers cannot stand living in the Broken for too long, which makes getting a good education, or a well paying job, very hard. After the death of her mother and the abandonment of her father, Rose has been eking out a living as a house cleaner and raising her two younger brothers, Georgie and Jack. Among Rose's challenges are the talents of her brothers. Georgie can bring the dead back to life, though it costs him his own life energy, and Jack is a shape shifter. Like her brothers, Rose is uncommonly powerful and it sets her apart from the other residents of the Edge, and makes her particularly attractive to men from the Weird; though they tend to look at her as good breeding stock rather than a human being. One day, out of the blue, a nobleman named Declan Camarine shows up on Rose's property. Sure that he's another man looking for her as a means to breed powerful children, Rose rebuffs his attention. But a strange threat is running through the Edge in the form of dark creatures that seem to feed on magic and Rose is forced to accept that Declan can offer protection to her and her family. So Rose accepts Declan's presence and sets up a series of challenges to him to force him to prove he can be trusted-- though she will have to accompany him to the Weird if he succeeds. I had not read anything by Ilona Andrews before "On the Edge," so I was pleasantly surprised by the complexity they (Andrews is a pseudonym for a husband and wife writing team) were able to draw from the characters and put into a book that's less than 350 pages. Paranormal fiction is often lightweight and brimming with werewolves and vampires, so it's refreshing to read a story that fits neatly into the urban fantasy mold, but has a unique magic system and mythology. Andrews also has a knack for including really strong back stories for all the characters, with the really poignant ones saved for Rose's little brothers. If I wanted to, I could come up with a few little nick-picky things to critique about the book-- Declan's decision to "court" Rose, for example, doesn't really make sense as it's explained. But really, that's a small complaint and doesn't take anything away from the story. In fact, I would say that "On the Edge" is quite a good example of the genre and easily stands up next to books by Patricia Briggs, Charlaine Harris and Rob Thurman. I consider Andrews my newest "find" and a great way to satisfy my paranormal cravings.