Dreams and Shadows, C. Robert Cargill, Harper Voyager, ISBN 9780062190420, $24.99, 433 pgs

It’s human nature to compare. In Hollywood the first thing a producer wants to know about a script is what is it like, thus the once sentence smush–it’s like Diehard but with elves, or, It’s like Titanic but with meteors. So, it is inevitable that novels are compared to other novels and writers to writers. Cargill is compared to Gaiman and to others. I suppose this isdreams and shadows meant to help the reader who is wandering the forest wondering which next book to pluck from the shelves, metaphorically speaking since shelves are going away and the plucking involves atoms and electronics more than anything else.

What’s the book about?  In a nutshell, it is about two boys who are switched at birth, one taken to the land of fey and the other left in his place.  Obviously this irreversibly alters the lives of both and also binds them by this event.  Ewan and Colby are about to share adventures, and what adventures they will be for there is a better than even chance that one or both won’t survive.  With the help of a genie, some rogue elves, and more than one supernatural turn of events, the two try to reconcile their past with their present.

To his credit, and this may be where the comparison with Gaiman comes is, Cargill takes his time developing the book, and building the lives of the two protagonists.  Nothing happens fast or without purpose and there are consequences built on consequences build on treachery, built on lies and distrust enough for any one world never mind two.  But even with the time Cargill takes the book is a fairly fast read and interesting as all hell and get out.  It’s unusual and interesting and worth wading into.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes, well, Gaiman, but also to anyone who likes a well crafted story with history and strange characters all moving on their own paths which intersect each other in odd and meaningful ways.  If you’d like to go out and get your own copy all you have to do is click right here: Dreams and Shadows: A Novel

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Jocelynn Drake, Dead Man’s Deal, Harper Voyager, ISBN 9780062117885, 371 pgs., $14.99

This is the second book in Drake’s Asylum Tales universe. In this one, tattoo artist Gage, who has managed to escape the ivory towers to become a wizard in exile, now finds himself in debt to a local criminal who has control over Gage’s brother as well as information on Gage.  Gage finds himself forced to do what the crime boss wants or his friends will bear the dead manconsequences.  While this is going on, Gage is trying to stay alive while being hounded by some wizards with grudges, he’s trying to help the elves figure out why they have gone barren, and he’s managed to get himself in the middle of a rebellion against the ivory towers.

This is a lot for one guy, and it’s a guy who’s self esteem and sense of self worth is not all that high to begin with.  I did comment in the review of the first book that the protagonist read like a woman even though the character was male.  That has been fixed in this book.  But there are still some issues here.  first of all there’s just too much being thrown at this character.  No one, I don’t care who they are, becomes the pivot point for four or five major problems all at the same time.  And the guy is not superman so while I can buy his figuring out one I can’t quite grasp his figuring out them all.

The book essentially moves from one crisis to the next to the next and they are all life threatening.  And, to add to the indignity, none of them involve tattoos, which is kind of this guys specialty.

I don’t know. I liked the book enough to read it all the way through to the end but found myself getting poked in the eye each time I was asked to suspend disbelief one more time.  I can do it once, maybe twice but the third time is a bit jarring.

I’m going to recommend it because I think the series has potential if Drake can just ratchet it back a bit.

And, if you’d like to get your very own copy to see what I am talking about all you have to do is click right here: Dead Man’s Deal: The Asylum Tales

Into The Woods, Kim Harrison, Harper Voyager, ISBN 9780061974328, 513 pgs., $24.99

Kim Harrison is the creator of the Hollows series, a universe where magic and reality intersect just outside of Cincinnati. The Hollows, a place where elves and humans and warlocks and grandmothers and vampires and businessmen and werewolves and pixies all co-exist. Sort of. 10 novels make up the serieinto the woodss so far, each centering on Rachel, a witch in trouble and her vampire room mate. As the series has progressed characters have been added and grown and progressed as well.  A while ago a non-fiction book about the Hollows came out.  Now there is this anthology.

Eleven stories make up this book.  Seven involve the Hollows and the other four are supernatural additions.  The seven which involve the Hollows include a new novella and two new short stories.  The other four short stories have been published elsewhere but are collected here for the first time.

Needless to say, if you are a fan of the series this is a must read.  I would add that even if you have not read the series this anthology works as a stand alone since short fiction usually does not require a lot of background to work in the first place.  So, if you just like supernatural fiction there is actually no better place to go than here.

Harrison is a gifted writer with a very smooth writing style.  Her ability to create characters that you relate to is a genuine gift.  I do have to admit that I think she is in best form in her longer works but there is still plenty of enjoyment to be had here.

Definitely recommended for those who want to know more on the background of many of the characters and who want to fill in a few holes that were left in the novels.  It’s all here for the taking so go ahead and enjoy.

And if you want your very own copy all you have to do is click here: Into the Woods: Tales from the Hollows and Beyond (Hollows Story Collection)

Ever After, Kim Harrison, Harper Voyager Books, ISBN 9780061957918, $27.99, 435 pgs

ever afterEverything’s going to hell. Quite literally. Or maybe it’s just that hell is being destroyed and letting everything loose. Well, not hell literally but the Ever After, the place where demons live. Whatever the case, Rachel Morgan is the one responsible for it all. Sort of. At least she’s being held responsible for it by the demons who are not looking forward to being destroyed in the process. She holds herself responsible as well and is working hard trying to find solutions. The problem is that the whole thing is being manipulated by Ku’Sox Sha-Ku’ru, the soul eater, who has vowed to destroy her, or have her destroyed, whichever comes first.  Rachel finds herself in an unusual position, having to team up with Elf Trent Kalamack, which brings its own dangers.  Trent is just as likely to get her destroyed as the demons.  The whole thing is a mess and full of complications, which is usually the case when Rachel Morgan gets involved.

This is the eleventh book in the hollows series, assuming you don’t count the non-fiction book or the collection of shorter tales.  And it’s one of the final books in the series as well.  Harrision has done her usual expert job of crafting a story that twists and turns at a fairly frantic pace pulling in all the characters and placing them all at perilous risk.  It’s tightly plotted and wonderfully written.  There’s not a mis-step in the whole thing and it’s pure enjoyment from beginning to end.  Of course this assumes that you’ve been keeping up.

I’ve enjoyed this series, which I consider one of the best of the supernatural romance genre although it’s more heavily weighted on the supernatural side.  I think Harrison does a great job with balancing her characters.  It’s tough to write strong women in a field dominated by men and Harrison does this very well.  I’m going to miss the series when it concludes.  This is one of the few series where, when a new book comes out, I have no fear of adding it to my reading pile because I know it’s going to be enjoyable.  Definitely recommended and if you have not yet had the chance to get into this series there is no time like the present.

To get your very own copy you can go here:Ever After (Hollows)

Divine Misdemeanors: A Novel, Laurell K. Hamilton, Ballantine Books, ISBN 9780345495976, $7.99, 384 pgs

Français : L'auteur Laurell K. Hamilton lors d...

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Merry Gentry is a princess of faerie. She could have been queen but decided not to take the position. She’s also a private eye in Los Angeles where she serves as the liaison between the human world and the world of fey. She’s also pregnant and, therefore, highly protected by her two bodyguards, Frost and Darkness. She’s also fairly horny most of the time, which would explain the pregnancy as well as a number of other things in the book. Needless to say if you don’t like your urban fantasy mysteries interspersed with sex you should probably avoid this book. Of course you would not be picking up Laurel K. Hamilton if you were not looking for that as well as an interesting story.

This is the eighth book in the Merry Gentry series and it continues the story of Merry, princess of faerie, as she tries to turn her self-imposed exile into a positive situation by creating a new order outside the world of faerie. She has a lot of support since the faerie court is quite cruel and often deadly. What she does not have is a really good handle on all of the other fey who are running loose in the area. Some of them are up to no good and this creates problems not only for Merry but for the humans who are just trying to go about their business.

This is an interesting book. It’s not a new concept; there are any number of writers doing this setting and situation, but few add as much spice to mix as Hamilton does. Like many of her other books, Hamilton does not fool around with plot and quickly gets things moving in interesting ways. Often she is ahead of the reader which creates an interesting process of trying to follow as she maintains a plot pace just before you. The characters are interesting, the story is interesting and there are no few twists involved before you get to the end. And there is an end which is a great thing. Sure there are loose ends as well which will lead to the next book in the series but the main problem is resolved in a satisfactory way. Fans of Hamilton have already read this book and enjoyed it. Others should feel safe to pick it up if they are looking for a good, sexy, urban fantasy. Recommended.

To order the book at Amazon click here Divine Misdemeanors: A Novel