Monday 30 April 2007

Demon Angel by Meljean Brook

Demon Angel tells the story of Lilith (half-demon) and Hugh Castleford (a Guardian). From the first moment they meet, their relationship is a battle of wills, wits and then swords. Spanning nearly 800 years from the 13th Century to the present day, this is a much more complicated story than boy meets girl, boy saves girl, they live happily ever after.

I had read very good reviews of this book, but when I started it I was slightly wary. Number one, because it starts in 1217 and I am not a big historical fan and also I really am not keen on the cover (I know it's what's inside the book that counts but there you go.) Actually I admit that's an understatement, I really don't like the cover.

However, my bias was quickly swept away as I was drawn into Hugh and Lilith's tale. And we're quickly brought up to date as the majority of the book takes place in the present where Hugh and Lilith face a possibly unsurmountable threat to themselves.

Lilith is another of what I'm coming to think of as 2007's demon heroines (see also Jesse from Hell's Belles and Georgina from Succubus Blues). What I find interesting about her is how complex she is, in parts of the book she seems to revel in what she does because it's necessary. And then there are the parts where she is disgusted with herself, each equally well written. Meljean Brook takes us on this journey with Lilith and for me this is what made the story, readers who prefer a more traditional romance may find it slightly harder to get into. Personally I loved it.

Hugh is perhaps the perfect hero for Lilith, in that he doesn't let her get away with anything - even when, perhaps, he should. Their relationship is a very slow burn, starting out more adversarial than romantic, but in the end they are both willing to give up everything for the other.

It's great to find another series with well-developed characters and plot (more on that in a moment). The secondary characters - Colin the vampire, Sir Pup, Savitri are not just their to support Hugh and Lilith - they have their own problems to deal with - some which appear to have far-reaching consequences.

I've mentioned how much I loved the complexities of this story and its characters and I apologise if I appear to contradict myself here. In places I was left scratching my head as to what exactly was going on and at some points didn't understand what the characters were talking about as well. This is probably most in reference to the bargain made towards the end - I read through this bit several times and still didn't really understand it. It happened in a couple of other places as well but this is the one that stands out. If you can bear with that, this is a book that is well worth reading.

For anyone who hasn't seen it Meljean Brook commented on the plot complexities at the Dear site in the comments section of the review of Demon Angel. With particular reference to explaining the complexities of the bargain. LOL - I found it quite a relief to know I wasn't the only one who was confused.Demon Angel Review at Dear

The next novel Demon Moon is out June 2007 and is already on my wishlist. There are also short stories available in the Wild Thing anthology (May 2007), and the Hot Spell anthology (November 2006

Monday 16 April 2007

Greywalker by Kat Richardson

I feel I need to start this review with a caveat - I really did like it a lot. So if I appear to contradict myself later please bear this in mind.

Greywalker tells the story of Harper Blaine a private investigator who dies for two minutes after she is savagely beaten during the course of an investigation. When she comes round in the hospital, she begins to realise she has changed. She's now able to see and experience the Grey, a mysterious zone that exists between our world and the next. And it's something she has to learn to deal with quickly, because the creatures that exist in the Grey are not about to wait for her to find her feet.

I started this book sure I wasn't going to like it, I don't know why...Does anybody else ever have that - an unreasonable bias with no explanation? You pick the book up off your TBR pile and can't remember what on earth possessed you to buy it in the first place. It can be a cover issue, but I thought the cover was fine. Anyway, I digress...

So I was pleasantly surprised when in the space of the first few pages I was hooked. Kat Richardson starts Greywalker with a bang - an incredibly realistic sequence of Harper being beaten where you virtually wince with every punch. The story engaged me for the majority of the book, there were points where I didn't want to put it down - always a good sign :) . Her characters are well written, each of them individuals with their own agendas that may or may not be beneficial for Harper; Quinton - the mystery man, Mara and Ben - the happy couple with the baby and several Machiavellian vampires (one who was beyond creepy). As a first novel it impressed me.

I was really torn about what grade to give this book as it drew me in so completely, but there were a couple of things that didn't work for me. The characters use the word OK far too much, this seems a petty point but if you read the book you'll understand what I mean. And it's written as OK so it really jumps out at you. I hate the thought of writing in books but at one point I seriously considered scribbling the OK's out as I came across them. I think Ms. Richardson should maybe limit herself to five okay's in the next book.

I also felt the plot kind of petered out in the end, and I was left wondering why a couple of characters had been included. One of the things I enjoyed was how as everything slowly slotted together, events began to take on a momentum of their own, and yet these two characters just didn't seem to fit. But maybe this was intentional and will be dealt with in a future part of the series and we're meant to wonder that?

This is probably more of a PI novel with an urban fantasy twist, so I think you'll enjoy it more if you like the private detective genre - fans of Charlaine Harris's Grave series might want to give it a try. Greywalker did leave some questions unanswered, I'm very interested in Quinton's story, so I hope he'll be making an appearance in the next book - Poltergeist which is scheduled for release in August 2007. And I will be picking it up, because I liked this one a lot.

Monday 2 April 2007

Warlord by Elizabeth Vaughn

Warlord concludes the trilogy that began with Warprize. Lara and Keir finally reach the Heart of the Plains and Lara goes before the Elders to see if they will confirm her as a Warprize. I am already a big fan of the first two books so admit to some bias here. For those readers who were unhappy with some of the occurrences in Warsworn, I feel this story is a return to the form of Warprize, so they should be pleased with the concluding book.

Warlord has been marketed as a paranormal romance and as I mentioned for Warprize, I don't think this is the correct genre for this book. There are no werewolves or vampires, and readers expecting them because of the paranormal labelling may be disappointed. Unlike Warprize though there are some occurrences here that could be considered paranormal, but it's not the main focus of the story.

Trying to think about the story objectively for a moment. :) The trilogy is really Lara's tale, so it will stand or fall on whether you like her as a character. And we only get to know the other characters as much as they open themselves up to her, plus any suppositions she makes about them. I know some readers feel that Keir is not as developed a character as he could be. But by the time you get to this installment you should have an idea whether you like the author's style or not.

After everything seemed to fall apart for Lara and Keir in Warsworn, things finally come together here. Lara realises in Warlord what a task it will be to try and unite the Xyian and Plains way of life; and that there will be no easy answers or solutions. Keir remains intractable as far as the Warrior Priests are concerned, though it becomes clear that they are not all bad.

There are references back to things that happened in Warprize and Warsworn, so if you haven't read those books for a while you may want to refresh your memory before starting the third book. This final part of the story ties everything together - Lara finally gets to see what an ehat looks like; in Warprize Marcus mentioned the cost of pride and we get to find out what he may have meant by that comment; also the references to the uses of blood moss in Warsworn come to fruition here. There is one incredibly dramatic scene, which following the events of Warsworn should leave you with your heart in your throat because Ms. Vaughn showed there that she was prepared to let her characters suffer.

This part of the story is concluded but you are left with the feeling that there's still much left to learn about the Plains people and their Warprize. My fingers are crossed that Elizabeth Vaughn will be returning to the Plains in a future book, I'd rate the trilogy as a whole at an A.