Thursday, January 29, 2009
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Posted by Harry Markov
Title: “The 12th Demon: Vampyre Majick” Author: Bruce Hennigan Series: Steel Chronicles, Book 2 Pages: 320 pages Publisher: Synergy Books Summary: After defeating the thirteenth demon, Jonathan Steel and Josh Knight return to Dallas, Texas, to finish up Josh's family affairs. When they arrive, a mysterious assassin named Raven surfaces from Steel's murky, dangerous past. At the same time, Rudolph Wulf, the twelfth demon, has arrived from Romania with plans to fulfill a two-thousand-year-old promise to unleash an army of demonic creatures--creatures that will inhabit the bodies of his "vampyre" army. When Wulf kidnaps Josh, Steel must find them in time to save Josh from a violent death and to prevent Wulf from unleashing "vampyre majick" on the world. Classification & Literary Class: “The 12th Demon: Vampyre Majick” is actually the second book in the Steel Chronicles with its predecessor being “The 13th Demon” and is labeled as urban fantasy for Christians. Usually I don’t go and review novels that are not the starter for a series, but in this case I was drawn in by the title. It is fair to say that the novel can be read as a standalone, since most of the highlights of the first have been included. I tried to enjoy the novel. It has a hero with anger issues and amnesia, the group of weird misfits and then we have demons. I got my rocks off, so to say, a couple of times, but overall “The 12th Demon: Vampyre Majick” fails to deliver any real thrills. As much as I hate saying it, publishing books to make a living out of it is a business as much as it is an art form to write anything at all, so one must aim to polish his/hers project to perfection. I didn’t find this strive towards perfection, since prose and small details disturbed my focus. For me there were passages that could have delivered more of an adrenaline rush, if they were to the point as for instance with the initial start. The hook so to say was irrelevant to the story and I could have been satisfied with a scene forward. The writing itself was okay, but dabbled in with some clichés and unnecessary adjectives such as “deadly sharpness” to characterize an assassin’s dagger. Perhaps it’s just me, but I don’t like the modernized businessman villain using words such as “infernal” to curse the heroes. And yet last but not least, in the passages that deal with events happening 600 years B.C, I think ought to be authentic and expressions such as “around the clock” or adjectives such as “smug” didn’t exist. I think this is my nit-pickiest review yet, but as insignificant as these elements are, they sucked the joy out of reading it. Characters & Depth: Character wise I think Hennigan tried a different road for the urban fantasy genre, which is always refreshing. I do like my super powerful babes, but diversity is always welcome in the form of more testosterone induced cast. Jonathan Steel is a rogue demon hunter and a former assassin with amnesia and a loose temper. A great character to explore for a long series and his actions speak are tied to his brash personality and short fuse. So far so good, but I am not exactly satisfied how his temper and amnesia have been handled. For one thing I think anger in that regard has been the most repeated word and does a very vague job, since a person with loose tempers usually have different degrees of anger and that should be shown. Just adding anger everywhere makes it seem that Steel is a Hulk undercover. And well amnesia is a complex illness to begin with and so far in the novel it’s not cleared to what degree the amnesia is to have these vital memories pop up at the most convenient of times. At any rate, the soul searching and interest in one’s own identity are just tapped and unfinished. I can ramble on and on about every other character too, but as a unified opinion I would have to say that Hennigan has made interesting choices, but hasn’t found the formula for my entertainment to unlock the full potential of his characters. What bothered me most was how easily anyone could switch. You can be corrupted as easily as you can be condemned and all it takes is one act of goodness or a luring lie of evil. A particular example is Nosmo King [No Smoking and I think it’s cool], who from chef to cop to preacher has turned into a drug dealer to supply his wife with crack and after Steel feeds him a meal and shows him the Bible and speaks of goodness, the guy turns into a templar. The real world doesn’t work that way as much as I would like. The evil or the flawed won’t become Samaritans because they had a onetime freebie of kindness and vice versa you can’t corrupt a person with one promise of something alluring and sinful. Worldbuilding & Believability: Now this is the part I have to complement Hennigan about. I have a knack for polar opposites and the idea that Lucifer did a demented version of Christ’s twelve Apostles had me bouncing up and down. As the novel states after the epilogue, the guy has done his research on vampire societies in America, something I am not knowledgeable about, and on vampire lore himself, so his vampires might be something entirely different from most urban fantasy titles, but different cultures have different vampires. I respect the new look on the topic. From start to finish the darker part of the cast has been handled near perfection with the massive plan to create a demon army, claim territories and back stab each other. Then again I usually go with the enemies of the heroes, so go villains. Now believability is another issue sadly and I do mean it overall. Comics, movies, TV series and novels of course have handled the story ‘defender of the law is submerged in paranormal world’ and we all know how cops, judges, detectives and so on react to the heroes explanations right. Here Hennigan just leaves these officials keep their mouth shut for pages as Steel and his crew talk about taking down demons without any sharp reaction apart from the usual comments “You are nuts” or “I don’t want any more of this demon crap”. This is convenient, yes, but not realistic. The Verdict: It was a rocky ride with this one. I don’t hate it, but I don’t love it either. What I do believe is that Hennigan has a good basis for a series. It’s slightly more different than what we see on the market and I support diversity. The truth in my case is that the novel should have gone through more revisions, because it wasn’t the story itself that didn’t work for me, but the representation.
Monday, January 26, 2009
Posted by Harry Markov
Each year brings us the promise of something new, incredible, wonderful, spectacular or simply optimistic. For every person there is a different adjective, but I ask. How do you classify the gathering of NINE urban fantasy authors together on one blog? I can see shrieking fans in ecstasy and grandeur unlike any other. Note that I didn’t choose this art randomly. It represents what happened when “The Deadline Dames” launched.
The “Deadline Dames” and like their smoldering heroines, these femme fatales in the hottest new genre to be at to kick ass. And they do. It has been a week since the official launch of the site and you can see incredible and ranging number of comments, swelling at each post in the range from 3 to about 200. Cosmic numbers for any blogger and quite the launch. But shall we cover why “The Deadline Dames” have achieved such success.
We have the founding holy trinity plus one in urban fantasy and namely Jenna Black, Keri Arthur, Lilith Saintcrow and Jackie Kessler. Then we move on to Rachel Vincent, my personal queen of shapeshifter novels; Toni Andrews and Devon Monk, whose debut has been released last year. Last but not least we have Karen Mahoney and Rinda Elliott, both amazing people as well as writers and by both being represented by Miriam Kriss, success is inavoidable. I like to call them Generation Next in the urban fantasy scene. For me this grouping in experience is going to add some diversity and unexpected dynamics in the blog.
Second, and I think as equally important to the fans, “The Deadline Dames” are generous party girls and in order to celebrate their smooth start, for two weeks they are giving fantastic prizes as well as their insight on a matter of topics: deadlines being on top of their priority right.
I also would like to speak a few words about the site itself. Stylish and fashioned with the trademarks of urban fantasy such as dark colors, knives, guns, tattoos and the necessary femme fatales, “The Deadline Dames” is easy on the eye in more than one way. We have a rotating schedule for weekly posting and several pages for the visitor to explore. All in all, as a reader and writer in the genre, I have to say pretty darn good.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Friday, January 23, 2009
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Monday, January 19, 2009
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Friday, January 16, 2009
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Posted by Harry Markov
January 13 marked the release date of one of the more interesting titles for 2009. “The Tarot Cafe” published by TokyoPop is paranormal romance from a totally new dimension. Inspired by the Korean style of comic books called the manhwa, not to be mistaken with manga, and based on a successful and translated into English seven volume series, carrying the same title, Chandra Rooney presents her take on Park Sang-sun’s story and characters. About the Author: “Chandra Rooney can’t remember exactly when she got her first Tarot deck, but she can remember she wrote her first short story in grade five. In the years since, she’s graduated from high school, been an English teacher in Japan, studied both fine arts and design, and worked as a freelance graphic designer in Los Angeles. Presently, she’s probably writing. When she has her cards read, she likes to use the Queen of Wands as her signifier.” About “The Tarot Café: Wild Hunt”:
Based on the best-selling manga!...Bryn McCallister's fiance, Jack, has gone missing. She has the nagging suspicion that something terrible--and otherworldly--has happened to him, a feeling that only increases when she has vivid visions of Jack being chased by a vicious hunter intent on owning Jack's soul. Always one to consult psychics, Bryn finds herself at The Tarot Cafe seeking a way to aid Jack in his spiritual struggle. But when she discovers what has happened to him, Bryn finds herself with an impossible choice between a life without love or an eternity of pain by her soul mate's side.Harry: So Chandra, January 13, will mark debut in the writing. The synopsis above shows only as much for people who are already acquainted with the manga “The Tarot Cafe”. Can you add a bit more about the world and your own story? Chandra: The Tarot Café is a seven volume dark paranormal romance manhwa (Korean comic) by Sang Sun Park. Pamela, a Scottish woman cursed with immortality, uses her psychic abilities to aid her customers. During the day, she helps humans. At night, she greets her Midnight Visitors—all sorts of paranormals who need her guidance. Each story unfolds along the frame of the Tarot card reading. Park does a fantastic job of weaving western fairy tales and mythology with her own take on dragons and devils to create a multilayered dark fantasy world. As the series unfolds, we learn more of Pamela and her tragic past… including how she became immortal and the bargain she’s made to end that immortality. With the novel, we’re adding a fresh story to the collection. Bryn is a contemporary Londoner poised on stardom, but her happy moment is ruined by the disappearance of her fiancé. Through circumstance, or Fate if you like, she finds her way to Pamela. Pamela and Bryn have a lot in common, emotionally, and Bryn’s reading dredges up some of the nasty bits of Pamela’s past. By drawing events from the comic and blending them with this new vignette, I think we’ve managed to create something that rewards the fans of the comic without alienating new readers. H: As a debut author, I can imagine that you feel pretty stressed and/or excited at the upcoming release date. What are your expectations at just one step before crossing the line and do you think it will be a debut to be reckoned with? C: Mostly, I’m relieved. Which is not to say that I’m any less stressed and excited than any other debut author, but I’m just grateful to know the book has made it. TOKYOPOP has been on a bit of roller coaster this past year and I really want this book to do well for them and Park. We’ve all worked so hard on it, and it’s gratifying to be able to see that work pay off. Now, that it’s available the true anticipation begins as we wait for the fandom’s response. H: How did you strike a deal to do a sort of collaboration with the original manhwa creator Sang Sun Park? As far as I understand you are bringing new characters and situations in her world and the light novel itself features illustration by Sang. Can you reveal more behind working with the artist? C: TOKYOPOP already owned the rights to produce The Tarot Café comics in English. From what I understand, Park was approached about the possibility of a prose tie-in series. She agreed, so they sought to hire a writer for the project. After that is when I was contacted by Jenna Winterberg, the Senior Prose Editor, who had found my blog. She asked if I was interested in working with TOKYOPOP, and if I had any writing samples she could look at. When she was confident that the samples displayed the narrative voice and style that would fit the project, TOKYOPOP made an offer. As for bringing in new characters… when we discussed the concept for the novel, Jenna and I agreed that we did not want to do an adaptation of an existing story. We wanted to create a new story that could serve as a welcome to the world for readers who were unfamiliar with the comic. Park’s involvement was to approve the outline and sample chapter of the novel and to create ten original illustrations to accompany the prose. All of my dealings with her were on a removed scale—our correspondence went through my editor, translators and Park’s representative. H: As far as genres go I understand that this is a light novel, which is a special Japanese format, but on the other hand it has fit American genre standards. Is it safe to say that this is going to be Japanese approach to fantasy translated into current urban fantasy? C: “Japanese” only in how the time I’ve lived and spent in Japan, added to my exposure of Japanese story-telling, has influenced the way I approach fantasy. Which is probably a great deal more than I realize. One of the things that I admire about Park’s series is that it is so accessible to a Western reader. This a woman who knows her English folklore and fairy tales and has mastered the art of reworking them. However, I wouldn’t say The Wild Hunt is an urban fantasy. I would classify it as a dark paranormal romance, because the relationships in the novel are what drive the plot. The spooky hunters and immortality and devils are background elements to the emotions of the characters. H: Can you share a bit about the process of writing the novel? Which was the hardest moment for you to write and cope and where do you feel exceptionally proud of? C: This was the first time I’d worked with a professional editor from concept to completion, so I wasn’t used to having the feedback or the collaboration that Jenna provided me. Through working with her, I came to understand how you need the right editor because she has an incredible influence on the quality of the final product. Jenna is perfect for this project. The hardest moment in the process of writing The Wild Hunt was coming to terms with the fact that what I was writing didn’t belong to me. I was an invited guest in another author’s world. If I was writing Bryn’s story as a standalone young adult novel, it would have been different from what it is. Not “better” or “worse,” mind you, just different. Ergo, the flipside of the coin is when I realized this and ego ceased to matter. I could concentrate on just creating the best addition to Park world. Being able to remove myself from the writing and see it objectively doesn’t just benefit this work-for-hire project, it means I’ll be able to do that when comes time to work with an editor on my own manuscripts. Proudest moment so far—aside from completing the contract—was finding the Sequential Tart review. It’s an incredible thing to see a fan of the source material respond so positively to what you’ve helped produce. H: And as a finally, is “The Tarot Cafe” going to be the first novel within a series or is it a stand alone? What are your future plans? I mean you have agent Miriam behind your back. You can’t go wrong. C: At this time, I’m unable to confirm either my involvement or any sort of release schedule for the rest of the volumes. However, I would suspect that so long as The Wild Hunt is well-received, TOKYOPOP will go ahead with their plans for a series. Miriam sent my adult novel, THE TALE OF ARIAKE, out on submission a few months ago. We’re waiting to hear back from several houses, and it’s all very exciting. That’s the first of a proposed three book adult contemporary fantasy series that adapts Japanese fox lore and Western fae in a North American setting. Much like The Wild Hunt, it involved a great deal of research and care to get the details right and the setting realistic. I should imagine within a few months I’ll be starting to write the second book, THE BELOVED OF INARI. I’m also working on a far-future young adult urban fantasy series. It’s something that’s captured me completely, and I’m so excited to be writing it. The influences are largely the manic tone and adventurous plots of the new Doctor Who series with various reoccurring fantasy and technological elements of anime and manga. Mirim and I have revised the first manuscript, FRAGMENTS, and I’m finishing the second, SHARDS. Despite the common association most paranormal romances evoke in reader’s minds, this one promises to be something different and by the sound of it Chandra Rooney is a brand new name that in time will could be to look for eagerly. Be sure to check her blogs: Dreaming in Red and Good Karma Reviews. For those, who are really excited, you can order from AMAZON.