Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

Archive for the tag “faeries”

Amanda6′s #CBR4 Review 43-45: The Mortal Instruments 1-3 by Cassandra Clare

This review covers the “original” trilogy of The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, City of Ashes, and City of Glass. More books have been written and the series is up to five now; I have no idea how long the author intends for the series to run at this point.

Look at those covers — aren’t they kind of hilarious? Anyway, being the dedicated Tumblr user that I am, I couldn’t help but notice the fervor over these, particularly with the movie adaptation currently filming and slated for release in spring 2013. Turns out, I’m way behind on this phenomenon, since City of Bones was first released in 2008. Anyway. Onto the actual review-y stuff.

Set in modern New York, the series concerns the re-education of “mundane” Clary Fray, who grew up much like you and I, blind to the supernatural worlds that exist intertwined with ours. That changes one evening at a nightclub when she witnesses a group of Shadowhunters engaged in a bit of demon-slaying. Shadowhunters are humans that are angel-blessed and have the ability (and responsibility) to fight demons and other forces of evil. Shadowhunters are born only from the established bloodline of known Shadowhunters, so when the supposedly-normal Clary is able to see what ordinary humans, called “mundanes,” cannot, the Shadowhunter group takes her back to their lair. Meanwhile, her mother is kidnapped, as it turns out, by demons, and Clary and her new companions, along with her other mundane friend Simon, learn Clary’s true heritage and begin a quest to rescue her mother.

This is basically the setup for the first three books in the series, which has everything you would expect from a supernatural YA series: the epic and passionate romance that appears delayed by insurmountable circumstances and kind of leads to a love triangle, except that you’re never quite convinced that there is really any competition; the showdown between good and evil, which in this case is led by a former Shadowhunter-turned-bad; appearances from vampires, warlocks, werewolves, and faeries — etc, etc. There is also a lot of meta humor and current pop culture references, which make the books fun now but will probably lead to them seeming really dated in another few years.

Overall, yes, these were really fun. I read all three over the course of a single weekend, and I can understand why teenagers (aka, the actual target market for YA) have gone rabid over them. I really enjoyed the world-building and fast paced plot, both of which kept me engaged and caused me to want to zip through these quickly. The romance was fun too, due to a legitimately surprising twist, which keeps them “apart” for a good 2/3 of the trilogy and makes for some deliciously conflicted sexual tension. The writing itself was kind of hokey and immature, and didn’t really achieve the same kind of character depth or development that, say, Collins does in The Hunger Games, or even that THG would-be competitors like Divergent (Roth) do. What the characters lack in depth, though, they make up for in sassy quips. Again, these lend themselves to fun, quick reads rather than truly thought-provoking YA, but I’m not really complaining. One of the things that the Cannonball has done for me is taken away a bit of my prejudice regarding “serious” books. If I’m trying to read at least 52 books in a year, I owe myself a few silly fun ones along the way! So that’s what I recommend to this audience. The Mortal Instruments make a great palate-cleanser as part of the Cannonball: you’ll probably enjoy them, even if they don’t “stay with you,” as they say. And if this kind of stuff is actually right up your alley, you’ve probably already read them, since like I said, I’m late to this game.

Malin’s #CBR4 Review #90: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente

September is twelve, and lives in Omaha. Her father went away to war, and her mother works in a factory. One evening, when she is doing the dishes, the Green Wind shows up at her kitchen window on a flying leopard and invites her to come along on adventures to Fairyland. But while Fairyland is a delightful and magical place (naturally), all is not fun and games. The former queen, Mallow, has been replaced by the capricious Marquess, a girl not much older than September.

While on a mission to try to retrieve a very special spoon from the Marquess for some nice witches who assisted her along the way, September is sent on a quest to the woods of Autumn. If she doesn’t fetch a very precious artifact for the Marquess and return in a week, the Marquess will hurt not only September’s new friends and companions, the Wyverary (a wyvern whose father was a library) and the boy Saturday, but generally make the inhabitants of Fairyland suffer.

So September has no choice but to go off questing. During her adventures in Fairyland, she meets a whole host of interesting creatures (like the aforementioned witches, gnomes, a soap golem and more), she sacrifices her shadow to save a child, she faces her Death, very valiantly tries to avoid eating Fairy food, and learns all manner of important and significant lessons. Will she manage to find Queen Mallow’s sword before The Marquess’ time limit runs out? What will happen to her and her friends if she fails?

Clearly inspired by Victorian children’s stories like Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Peter Pan, this book is a wonderful story, which never talks down to kids, and makes me wish I had children of my own to read it to. Having read Valente’s Deathless before this, I knew that she had a wonderful way with words, but the brilliant way she constructs the story in The Girl who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (surely the longest children’s book title out there) took my breath away.

September is a great protagonist, impulsive and headstrong like 12-year-olds should be, and described as quite heartless (as children’s hearts grow as they age) but also brave and loyal and affectionate. She’s intelligent and knows quite a bit about how things must happen in stories, having read many of them herself. Her companions are also great, and I’m very much looking forward to reading the rest of the series, the second of which was published in hardback earlier this month.

Cross posted on my blog.

Malin’s #CBR4 Review #87: Ironskin by Tina Connolly

It’s been five years since The Great War between the humans and the fey ended,  and the humans are trying to rebuild their society to manage without the magically enhanced technology they previously got in trade with the fey. Jane Elliot lost her brother during the war, and has permanent scarring on her face. Those injured with fey sparks have to wear to control the fey influence overwhelming them and spreading to those around them. In Jane’s case, she has to wear an iron mask, or her rage will affect those around her in terrifying ways.

Jane works as a governess to support herself and her younger sister, but never gets to stay long in a position before she is let go with thinly veiled excuses. When she sees a listing for a governess to help with a child born during The Great War, she is certain it’s a child who’s also fey-cursed, and she’s eager to help. The position proves harder than Jane could’ve imagined. Nearly alone at the large, partially ruined manor with a willful child who refuses to use her hands, and is able to move things with her mind, Jane is close to despair. She is one in a long line of governesses who’ve been driven to despair by the girl, Dorie, and the girl’s widowed father, Mr. Edward Rochart, is an elusive and mostly absentee artist, clearly fond of his daughter, but mostly preoccupied with his work.

Jane is drawn to her employer, even when she knows it’s a terrible idea. She’s also curious as to the mysterious nature of Mr. Rochart’s work. Plain or downright ugly women come to the manor and enter his studio, and leave beautiful as the fey. How is it that the lights in the manor are still run on fey technology? What is the real truth behind Dorie’s strange powers and why is her birth shrouded in secrecy? Why does Mr. Rochart visit the woods around the manor, where the fey are known to live? How does he transform the women who come to his studio?

I first read about Ironskin several months ago on The Book Smugglers’ blog. A steampunk retelling of Jane Eyre, one of my favourite historical novels? I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the book, and my joy was hard to contain when I was granted an ARC through NetGalley. The book is indeed a re-imagining of Jane Eyre, but it’s more fey-punk than steampunk and there are elements of other stories in it too. Aspects of Beauty and the Beast and Tam Lin are absolutely present, and anyone expecting a beat for beat fantasy version of the Brontë-novel is going to be disappointed.

This Jane is not an orphan, and actually has valid reasons for being upset about her appearance. If Jane Eyre had had to wear a face mask to cover hideous facial scarring, I would’ve had more sympathy for her whining about being so plain all the time. Mr. Edward Rochart doesn’t have a mad wife in the attic, and the little girl needing a governess is actually his daughter. Unfortunately, while the world building is excellent and the events of the Great War and aftermath are portioned out without any heavy info dumping, the romance side of the book is less well done than I would’ve liked.

Jane is a great character. As the story is told from her perspective, we get to know her intimately. We know her fears, hopes and dreams and feel deeply for her when she’s struggling to get Dorie to behave more like a normal child than one fey-touched. We understand her loneliness, and how distant she feels from the life of balls and high society that her younger sister is part of after an advantageous marriage. Mr. Rochart is clearly an attractive and intriguing man, but unlike Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester, they barely spend any time in each other’s company. Barring a few scenes together, where it’s made clear that Mr. Rochart’s past is somehow intertwined with the fey, and that he loves his daughter very much, they barely see each other, and it makes me wonder what she’s building her infatuation and later passionate affection on. I’m not a fan of “tell, don’t show”. The author has to give me reason to believe a romance is actually viable, something Connolly sadly doesn’t. Jane just falls in love with her employer because Jane Eyre does. That’s not good enough.

Despite this, I really very much enjoyed the novel, and thought it was a very clever re-working of a book I’m very fond of and have studied in depth while doing my degree. As well as being an entertaining reading experience with many clever twists in its own right, Ironskin made me consider new aspects of Jane Eyre and different interpretations of the influences that may have inspired Charlotte Brontë. Best of all, Ironskin is the first book in a series, and I enjoyed the book enough that I will absolutely check out any sequels as well.

Crossposted on my blog.

Malin’s #CBR4 Review #83: Ashes of Honor by Seanan McGuire

This is the fifth book in the October Daye series, and this review may contain spoilers for events in previous books. It’s also not the best place to start the series, go read the first book instead: Rosemary and Rue. My reviews of the other books in this series can be found by clicking the character name tag.

Sir October “Toby” Daye, changeling knight and private investigator, retriever and rescuer of lost children, has been grieving for year, due to the losses she incurred towards the end of One Salt Sea. While seemingly getting by, on the surface, fulfilling her responsibilities, training her squire, paying the bills, Toby is acting more and more recklessly, and her friends and loved ones are getting worried. When another of Duke Sylvester’s knights show up on her doorstep, begging for her help to find his changeling daughter, Toby wants to refuse, but understands that she’s the only one who can help him.

The very proper and correct Sir Etienne hadn’t even realised he had a teenage daughter until his ex-girlfriend called him up, furious because she believed he’d kidnapped her. Etienne can teleport, and his daughter has the same power. Normally changelings are closely monitored by Faerie. Chelsea has incredible powers and none of the control that other changelings are taught. She’s not only opening portals across huge distances in the mortal world, but opening realms that were believed sealed off and forgotten ages ago. If Chelsea keeps on opening the portals, it’ll cause rifts in the walls between the worlds, and can endanger not only Faerie, but the mortal world as well.

Tybalt, King of Cats, has been keeping his distance, but Chelsea’s out of control teleporting is endangering his realm and family as well, and he needs Toby’s help to sort things out. However, there’s dissention in the ranks at the Court of Cats, and while Tybalt may have nine lives, he’s going to have to be very careful not to lose all the remaining ones to rebels set on stealing his crown.

While it took me a while to warm up to Toby as a character, and to the October Dayeseries in general (I didn’t really get into it properly until book 3: An Artificial Night).She’s tenacious, stubborn and very determined, brave to the point of idiocy and far too liable to throw herself into life threatening situations at the drop of a hat. She’s less charming than some of the other paranormal fantasy heroines that I’m fond of, and therefore (at least to me) took longer to grow fond of. Now I absolutely love her, with all her flaws (even though I frequently want to reach into the book and slap her resoundingly). She’s come a long way in six books, has the lonely half human, half-very powerful fae. She’s learning, through trial and error, love and loss, and countless near death experiences, that she may not have to fight ever battle by herself. She has friends, and allies, and people who care deeply for her. In this book, she actually thinks before she acts, and willingly consults her little group of compatriots, and the book is all the greater for it.

The supporting cast are also great. Seeing the always supercilious Sir Etienne forced to humble himself  to Toby, who he clearly doesn’t always like that much and becoming a more well-rounded character as a result, was good. Quentin, Toby’s squire continues to be a delightful side-kick, and it’s obvious that while McGuire finished off several major plot strands and a big arc with the last book, she’s setting up a whole new set of them with intriguing hints about the rapidly maturing boy’s absent parents. Raj, Tybalt’s nephew and heir, is also central to the plot, and McGuire writes the different youths with distinctive voices and presences.

Tybalt, my absolute favourite character, really gets to shine in this book, which of course warms my heart. Having started out as almost an antagonist for Toby in the first book, Tybalt has gradually become an important friend of Toby’s, always there for her when she needs him the most, yet confusing her with his cryptic remarks and sudden disappearances. A third of the love triangle of the series for a while, Tybalt was disapproving of Toby’s childhood sweetheart Connor for a number of reasons, and now, having patiently waited in the wings, is ready to take centre stage. He’s clearly willing to risk everything for Toby, the question is what she really wants.

There’s no question that this is my absolute favourite of the ever-improving series so far, and I’m really sorry that it’ll be another year until I can read the next book. Fans of paranormal fantasy should definitely check the series out. It takes a couple of books to really hit its stride, but when it does, it grabs your attention and refuses to let go. You’ll be hooked, and you won’t regret it.

Being a mystery, and also a paranormal, this fits nicely into the R.I.P VII genres. This will be my first review for that challenge. Cross posted, as always.

Malin’s #CBR4 Reviews #70-74: Once Burned by Jeaniene Frost, Timeless by Gail Carriger, Grave Memory by Kalayna Price, The Thief and The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner

More of my backlog being cleared, here are five more reviews:

Book 70: Once Burned by Jeaniene Frost. First book in new series of paranormal fantasy books, where a girl who channels electricity and can read the history of objects, and the vampireVlad Tepesh (who hates being called Dracula) fall in lust and get into hijinx. 4 stars.

Book 71: Timeless by Gail Carriger. Fifth and final novel in the Parasol Protectorate series. Fluffy fun. 3 stars.

Book 72: Grave Memory by Kalayna Price. Third book in a well-written paranormal series I discovered through Felicia Day. 3 1/2 stars.

Book 73: The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner. I wasn’t very impressed with this book the first time I read it, and nearly stopped reading half the way through. Boy, am I glad I stuck with it. Essential young adult literature. 4 stars.

Book 74: The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner. I loved this one the first time I read it, and even more on a second reading, when I really knew how clever and wonderful it was. Everyone should read this book. 5 stars.

Malin’s #CBR4 Reviews #58-62: Darkfever, Bloodfever, Faefever, Dreamfever and Shadowfever by Karen Marie Moning

The Fever series:
1. Darkfever
2. Bloodfever
3. Faefever
4. Dreamfever
5. Shadowfever

MacKayla Lane is a self-proclaimed sunshine girl, both in appearance and disposition. She has long, blond hair, she wears pastels and rainbow colours and adores pink nail polish. Her life in Georgia is easy and care free. Then her sister Alina, studying abroad in Dublin, Ireland, is brutally murdered, and her life is turned upside down. Defying her distraught parents’ wishes, Mac goes to Dublin to find answers, as the police fairly quickly dismiss the case. On the voicemail message Alina left Mac just hours before she died, it’s obvious that she was on the run from someone. She also claims that she has to find the Sinsar Dubh or everything will be lost, and Mac doesn’t even know how to spell the thing, let alone what it is.

To her shock, shortly after arriving in Dublin, Mac realizes that not only had her sister been hiding her activities from her family, but Mac has unusual abilites, and can see thefae, which normally appear cloaked in powerful glamour to normal people, or walk through the streets invisible to but a few. She finds an unlikely ally in the dark and mysterious bookstore owner Jericho Barrons, who explains to her that she is a sidhe-seer, and that the dark faeries in Dublin’s streets may well kill her if they discover that she can see them as they truly are. Barrons is also the one who tells Mac what theSinsar Dubh her sister mentioned actually is – a legendary Unseelie (dark) faerie book, believed to contain all the magical secrets of the Unseelie king. It alledgedly holds the power to remake worlds, and Alina is certainly not the only one wanting to find it. Barrons discovers that as well as being able to see the fae, Mac seems to possess the ability to sense powerful fae artifacts. He therefore proposes that she move into his bookstore, that they team up to find the Sinsar Dubh, and he will help her try to find her sister’s murderer.

It quickly becomes clear to Mac that the quest for her sister’s murderer, and to locate the Sinsar Dubh is extremely dangerous, and she has a number of near death experiences. Luckily, as Barrons refuses to let his faery artifact-detector get injured, he’s always around to get her out of scrapes. More and more unseelie show up on the streets of Dublin, and Mac discovers that the shady figure who’s opening portals to the faerie realm and letting them through, allowing them to roam the streets, hunting humans, calls himself Lord Master, and that he was Alina’s boyfriend. The Lord Master also wants the Sinsar Dubh, and claims he had nothing to do with Alina’ murder. He wants Mac to join his cause, something neither she, Barrons or Mac’s other unlikely ally, the Seelie (light) fae prince V’Lane, are very enthusiastic about.

Over the course of the five books, Mac, Barrons, V’Lane and the coven of sidhe-seers in Dublin have to try to stop the Lord Master and his Unseelie allies from taking over not only Dublin, but large parts of the world. Mac goes through more than one transformation, and in the end, is far from the innocent, optimistic, naive and sunny blonde who traveled to Ireland to find the truth about her sister’s death. When she finally does find out who killed her sister, she’s gone through Hell pretty much literally and metaphorically, and lost pretty much everything she thought she cared for in the world. Her quest for revenge and to locate and discover the truth about the Sinsar Dubh, not to mention herself and her heritage takes her to some incredibly dark places, and what doesn’t kill her, not only makes her stronger, but harder and more ruthless.

In Darkfever, Mac is pretty much a ditz, but even to begin with, she refuses to take orders from the autocratic Barrons without constantly demanding anwers the cryptic gentleman is reluctant to give. She as a few moments of TSTL in the first book, but they are pretty much excused by the fact that she’s 22, raised in a sheltered and loving environment, and ideas of bloody vengeance, sinister faeries that prey on humanity and a huge plot to alter the world as she and everyone else human knows it, are very far from her reality. She adapts and learns quickly, and gives herself surprisingly little time to dwell on the miseries that life keeps throwing at her. Because it annoys Barrons immensely, she persists in being bubbly, optimistic and dressing in rainbow colours for as long as possible. When things turn darker, and it’s clear that she’ll have to adapt into becoming a fighter, she again barely flinches, and learns what she needs to stay alive.

Barrons is one big mystery. His origins are unknown, and as Mac discovers, he is unlikely to be just 30, no matter what his driver’s license says. He doesn’t react well to birthday surprises, and as she gets to know him better, Mac starts to doubt that he’s even human. He’s tall, dark, impeccably clad,  very striking looking and a self-proclaimed villain. He holds his cards extremely close to the chest, and only very occasionally lets anything slip about his past or his motivations. Mac is frequently unsure whether she finds him deeply attractive or completely loathsome. He’s very dangerous, owns a bookstore described as something that would put the library inBeauty and the Beast to shame, has a garage full of expensive sports cars, and is clearly wealthier than Bruce Wayne. I can see why romance bloggers all over the internet are weak at the knees for him. Barrons is the ultimate alpha, and there is nothing soft or sensitive about him. He is willing to do pretty much everything to get what he wants, he is ruthless if crossed, but also willing to kill to protect those he cares about. For a lot of the series, he’s frankly incredibly mean to Mac – but like so many other magnificient bastards of literature, he pulls it off wonderfully.

I was surprised when I added up the page count and saw how much the five books actually consist of, as they are very fast and easy reads. Faefever andDreamfever (books 3 and 4) both end on cliffhangers, and after both books, I didn’t waste a second before starting the next one. They are gripping and addictive, if occasionally very dark and quite violent reads. Also, while not wishing to spoil, readers who have a problem with rape as storyline trope should be warned that at a certain point towards the mid-point of the series, this is unavoidable. So if you can’t get past it at all in storylines (I can if it’s not used just for gratuitiousness and shock effect), you may want to give this series a miss. Otherwise, I would recommend it for fans of dark paranormal fantasy with romantic undertones.

Crossposted on my blog.

Malin’s #CBR4 #50: Grave Dance by Kalayna Price

This is the second book in the Alex Craft series, and I’m yet again resorting to a plot synopsis from Goodreads because while I love these books, I apparently suck at making them sound exciting to others:

After a month spent recovering from a vicious fight with a sorcerer, grave witch Alex Craft is ready to get back to solving murders by raising the dead. With her love life in turmoil thanks to the disappearance of Fae Investigation Bureau agent Falin Andrews and a shocking “L” word confession from Death himself, Alex is eager for the distractions of work. But her new case turns out to be a deadly challenge.
The police hire Alex to consult on a particularly strange investigation in the nature preserve south of Nekros City. The strange part: There are no corpses, only fragments of them. A serial killer is potentially on the loose, and Alex has no way to raise a shade without a body, so she’ll have to rely on the magic of others to find leads. But as she begins investigating, a creature born of the darkest magic comes after her. Someone very powerful wants to make sure the only thing she finds is a dead end—her own. 

Looking at it, that still makes the book sound a bit lame. It’s not. It’s really very exciting, and if I hadn’t had to do actual work, I would probably have read the whole book in one sitting, having the husband bring me food so I didn’t have to waste precious reading time acquiring nutrition.

I really liked Grave Witch, where Alex Craft was introduced. In the sequel, Kalayna Price expands on the world she created, and lets the reader find out more about Alex’ family and friends, the complicated hierarchy of the Fae, more about the soul stealers and complicates Alex’ love life a whole lot more. Love triangles tend to either frustrate or bore me, but in the case of Alex, Falin and Death, I’m actually struggling to see who she should pick, as both guys are deeply intriguing and clearly care greatly for Alex, to the point where they will both do rather ill-advised things in order to prove their love for her.
This book is even more action packed and tense than the first one, and because I’ve already come to care a lot about all the central characters, the suspenseful scenes affected me even more. I now eagerly anticipate the third book in the series, which is out at the start of July.
4 and a half stars out of five.

Malin’s #CBR4 Review #49: Grave Witch by Kalayna Price

Plot summary from Goodreads, because I’ve been trying for about half an hour to recap this in a decent way, and failing miserably:

As a private investigator and consultant for the police, Alex Craft has seen a lot of dark magic. But even though she’s on good terms with Death himself—who happens to look fantastic in a pair of jeans—nothing has prepared her for her latest case. Alex is investigating a high profile murder when she’s attacked by the ‘shade’ she’s raising, which should be impossible. To top off her day, someone makes a serious attempt on her life, but Death saves her. Guess he likes having her around…

To solve this case Alex will have to team up with tough homicide detective Falin Andrews. Falin seems to be hiding something—though it’s certainly not his dislike of Alex—but Alex knows she needs his help to navigate the tangled webs of mortal and paranormal politics, and to track down a killer wielding a magic so malevolent, it may cost Alex her life…and her soul.

I picked up this book because it was the first book featured in Internet geek queen Felicia Day’s Vaginal Fantasy Hangout, an online book club that features exactly the sort of stuff I love to read. Never one to let a chance to add another first person narrated female paranormal heroine series to my already looong list (doing a rough count in my head, I think I’m currently following and enjoying 15 different ones), I was still pleasantly surprised by Grave Witch.

The world building is nice, and there are no vampires or werewolves anywhere. The paranormal races introduced so far are witches and the Fae (who come in a variety of wicked and devious and intriguing). Then there’s the soul collectors, of which Death is only one of several (they made me think of the reapers in Dead Like Me, which is never a bad thing. There are a whole range of different types of witches, as well, with different skill sets and abilities.
Alex is a great heroine. She’s determined and independent, and has changed her name and become estranged from her father and sister because her witchy powers would not help her dad’s political career. Unlike a lot of paranormal heroines, she’s not super powerful or the best in the field at what she does, but she takes pride in her abilities, and will unfortunately often push herself to the limits of her endurance to help her friends. Using her powers takes a definite physical toll on her (she can go temporarily blind if she overuses her grave magic), which also makes a nice change from a lot of other books out there.
As well as an engaging, and well rounded (she’s got her fair share of flaws) heroine, the book has a very cool cast of supporting characters, including the seemingly unavoidable love triangle. Detective Falin Andrews starts out as an annoyance to Alex, but sparks obviously fly, even when Alex knows she should probably stay away from him. Her long friendship with the soul collector she calls Death is also changing, after he literally pushes her away from a bullet. As she’s the only one she knows who can see him (and his “colleagues”), it can create complications in the romance department though.
The story really grabbed me, and I hated having to put the book down. I don’t think I’ve been as excited by a series since Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series or Patricia Briggs’ early Mercy Thompson books. Absolutely recommended to fans of paranormal fantasy with romantic elements.

Quorren’s #CBR4 Review #23 The Child Thief by Brom

I was hesitant to buy this book, because unless you’re Cher, you can’t pull off the monosyllable, one name without sounding like a pretentious douche-nozzle. But the Barnes & Noble Buy-2-Get-the-3rd-Free table is an irresistible temptress.

The Child Thief is a grittier reboot of Peter Pan.  Neverland is actually the cloaked in mist isle of Avalon.  Currently the island is besieged by the fleasheaters – a group of pilgrims who mistaken washed up on Avalon’s shore trying to get to the New World.  The faerie folk and other magical creatures that live on Avalon came on a diplomatic mission to open talks with the new settlers and were massacred. Peter is half faerie, but after a falling out with the ruling faeries, he took an isolated part of the forest for himself.  He now travels to the real world and leads children living on the fringes back with him to be soldiers of Avalon.

Peter meets Nick, a 14 year old kid on the run from drug dealers.  He brings him back to Avalon, to join his clan, The Devils.  The Devils are children Peter has brought back and trained as soldiers.  Sekeu, basically analogous to Tiger Lily, is peter’s second in command; she is a Native American from the early days of the discovery of America.  Nick doesn’t take the transition to soldiering in Avalon very well.  He starts to show the signs of becoming a Flesheater himself.

I was surprised how much I enjoyed the book (in the beginning).  Brom is foremost an artist and while his writing style is a bit basic, he created an intriguing story.  However, thematically, he is heavy handed.  The book is a big metaphor for civilization versus nature, organized religion versus spirituality (clap your hands if you believe!).  The story still captivated me, until the ending.  Peter has no real character development by the final act.  Sure, he goes the independent route, but that choice felt hollow to me.  He STILL is getting what he wants with little to no concern for anyone else.  The whole book was leading him down the path to change his behavior and Brom went with an ending akin to giving us a pat on the head and a little push on our way.

Malin’s #CBR4 Review #25: Fair Game by Patricia Briggs

This is the third book the Alpha and Omega series, and while it can be read without previous knowledge of the series or characters, it’s a lot better if you’ve read the previous two. So avoid this review if you want to avoid spoilers, and if you’re interested in starting from the beginning, check out Cry Wolf.

Anna Latham is a werewolf and an Omega wolf, a wolf that has the ability to stand outside normal pack structure and calm other wolves, especially Alphas. They are deeply treasured in any wolf pack because of their ability both to stand up to the Alphas and keep them sensible, and for their abilites to soothe the often volatile tempers of other werewolves. Anna is married to Charles Cornick, who’s not just an Alpha wolf, but the son of the Marrok, the leader of all the American werewolves. Charles is also the enforcer who has to clean up when werewolves break the very strong edicts placed upon them. Since the werewolves are openly “out” in society, they also have to make sure they survive in the public scrutiny. Since the existence of werewolves was revealed, Charles has had a lot more executions to carry out, and it’s taking its toll on him.

Anna is very worried about her husband, and manages to convince his father that unless Charles gets some different responsibilites for a while, he’s going to snap, and lose control completely. The Marrok sends Anna and Charles to Boston, to assist the FBI in a serial killer case. It turns out that the killer’s last three victims were werewolves, and once Anna and Charles investigate further, most of the killer’s victims seem to be supernatural in some way, either werewolf or fey, although none of the victims were openly acknowleged as such. The killer clearly has knowledge not available to the general public, and the task of finding him turns is not made easier when Charles and Anna’s lines of communication are threatened by the ghosts haunting Charles.

A couple of years have passed since the previous book in the Alpha and Omega series, and the characters have grown and developed in the interim. Anna, who came from a background of abuse and mistreatment has grown strong and confident, and her love and loyalty to Charles makes her unafraid to take on her ancient and extremely powerful father-in-law, even when she knows he won’t like the truths she has to tell him. She is deeply hurt by the distance that is developing between Charles and herself, and determined to do anything to help him, whether he wants it or not.

Charles is deeply loyal to his father, and carries out the duties imposed upon him, even as it’s slowly driving him crazy. His Native American heritage means that he sees the spirits of all the wolves he’s had to execute for rule breaking, and they refuse to give him peace, taunting him and threatening his bond with Anna. He tries to protect her by cutting himself off from their mate bond, but ends up endangering her further with his distance. Even though I thought Charles was quite dumb throughout much of this book, and I suspect many of his issues would have been solved if he just spoke to his father and his wife honestly, I can also understand his need to shelter and protect Anna. Several centuries older than his wife, he’s been used to relying only on himself, and because Briggs writes her characters so well, I’m sure I’ll feel less like slapping some sense into him in the next book.

Fair Game updates us on several already familiar characters in Briggs’ universe (she also writes the Mercy Thompson books – highly recommended), as well as introduces us to some intriguing new ones, including a human FBI agent who’s not the least intimitated or scared by the existence of werewolves and fey, as long as they stay on the right side of the law. I hope we see more of her, and of Isaac, the Alpha of the Boston werewolf pack. Never afraid to take risks, Briggs makes sure the ending of this book opens up exciting and interesting possibilites for both the series she’s writing. While I was a bit underwhelmed by her last Mercy Thompson book, the ending of Fair Game now has me hoping she will write a lot more, and fast, so I can find out what happens next.

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