Monday, April 30, 2012

The River Witch-Kimberly Brock

The River Witch

Kimberly Brock

Bell Bridge, Apr 6 2012, $14.95

ISBN: 9781611941234

Thirty years old Roslyn Byrne’s charmed life ended with the crash. Her career as a professional ballet dancer on the Atlanta stage ended and while healing at her mom’s house, she gave birth to a stillborn.

Worried about her daughter’s inability to move past her grief, Rosalyn’s mom pushes her to spend a summer healing on Manny's Island; Georgia just off St. Simon’s. Rosalyn rents a house from the Trezevant family. Their tweener daughter Damascus adopts the grieving Roslyn by introducing her to gators and hoodoo magic as the ten years old knows loss too with her mom dead. As Roslyn’s past and that of the Trezevant family become known due to the river where the dead rest, the former dancer begins to heal.

The gothic atmosphere makes for a strong character driven tale of people struggling with grief. The support cast is solid especially ephemeral cousin Nonnie and patriarch Urey. However, this haunting whimsical tale of soul healing belongs to the Sea Isle with its magical music by the riverbank and the two females; each barely coping with their respective losses until they meet.

Harriet Klausner

Shadow Blizzard-Alexey Pehov

Shadow Blizzard

Alexey Pehov

Tor, Apr 24 2012, $26.99

ISBN 9780765324054

Shadow Harold the thief seeks the horn to prevent the awakened Nameless One Dark Lord from destroying Sial. His journey has been marked by the deaths of comrades in arms as they fight the forces of the Dark Lord, but though he would prefer to return to the shadows of thievery, Harold remains resolute in his quest to obtain the horn by breaching the impregnable Hrad Spein, a place no army, even that of wizards, has entered. If he and those allies who live and have not betrayed him (yet) reach the dark underground palace, only Shadow Harold alone, as the Dancer in the Shadows can complete the journey.

Even if Harold obtains the horn and escapes Hrad Spein, he knows he remains behind enemy lines with orcs hunting him to recapture him. However, Harold cannot think that far ahead as war explodes in Sial. Before he can take the horn, he still has to confront deadly hindrances entering and leaving Hrad Spein; obstacles that have destroyed every fool trying to steal the artifact.

With a nod to the Lord of the Rings, the Shadow Chronicles of Sial epic fantasy (see Shadow Prowler and Shadow Chaser) is an engaging trilogy as the third entry is a taut thriller that never abates the tension until the anticipated final confrontation between good and evil. Shadow Blizzard contains greater tension than the previous novels as the jocularity that seemed out of place with so much death and destruction is virtually nonexistent. Harold is terrific as he deals with immense pressure as he expects his destiny is death, but remains steadfast on his quest as he knows in the end he must go it alone.

Harriet Klausner

The Taken-Vicki Pettersson

The Taken

Vicki Pettersson

Harper Voyager, Jun 12 2012, $13.99

ISBN 9780062064646

Five decades ago Griffin Shaw private investigator was murdered. His gig is collecting the souls of murder victims like Nicole Rockwell who in spite of a crushed larynx tells him she is a photographer not a hooker who due to the movie Ghost distrusts him to Take her soul to Everlast. Unable to resist a crying female; he breaks the rules and allows her to change her clothing; allowing Anas of the Powers angels to claim the soul. Griff’s efforts to prevent the theft angers Anas who clips his wings and returns him to life in a skin of sin.

Nicole’s friend Las Vegas reporter Katherine “Kit” Craig arrives as Griff flees. Kit and Nicole were working on a child prostitution ring. Meanwhile Griff figures since he is being punished by the heavenly powers, he will investigate the cold case murders of himself and his wife Evie. However, he is given one last chance to regain his heavenly status: he must collect the soul of Kit Craig whose guilt and obsession to avenge her friend’s death has her facing death. Falling in love Griff cannot deliver though it means damnation.

This is an engaging romantic urban fantasy as Vicki Pettersson deftly exaggerates the traits of the hard boiled 1950s detective with a soft boiled heart and the go into hell for a story reporter (Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday). The paranormal hierarchy contains a uniqueness that is two-sword as the premise enables the reader to understand Griff’s “sin” and the universe he works, but the complexity of the Pettersson pantheon also slows down the storyline while never explaining his “fickleness” between Evie and Kit. Still this is an entertaining paranormal as two souls defy heaven.

Harriet Klausner

Lethal Rider-Larissa Ione

Lethal Rider

Larissa Ione

Grand Central, May 22 2012, $7.99

ISBN 9780446574501

Thanatos the Horsemen of the Apocalypse Death rages over what has happened to him. For centuries this Lord of Deliverance knew he must remain sexual abstinent to prevent his Agimortus seal from breaking. An ancient prophecy claims that his offspring will save the world so two of his Horsemen siblings (Ares and Limos) drugged him so that Aegis Guardian Regan Matthews could seduce him in order to become pregnant (see Immortal Rider).

Feeling date raped and betrayed Thanatos abducts Regan in order to make her his sexual prisoner. However, he finds an obsessive compulsive disorder individual filled with remorse and eight months pageant. Stunned Thanatos realizes the baby is his Agimortus and the fourth Horseman Pestilence, whose seal was broken (see Eternal Rider), hunts them for he knows killing the infant will fuel the Apocalypse.

The third Lords of Deliverance romantic urban fantasy is a superb apocalyptic thriller that grips the reader from the moment Thanatos realizes he has been betrayed and never slows down until the final confrontation. Though it helps to have read Immortal Rider as the drugged seduction occurs as a secondary plot; that is not necessary as this fast-paced story line filled with betrayals can be read alone; while setting up the Ione apocalyptic mythos final doomsday confrontation.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Danger That Is Damian-Lisa Renee Jones

The Danger That Is Damian

Lisa Renee Jones

Sourcebooks, May 1 2012, $6.99

ISBN 9781402251627

GTECH Renegades soldier Damion Browne keeps reminding himself to remain focused on his current mission in the war against the Zodius. Instead the woman in the bikini keeps distracting him.

His assignment goes wrong, but Damion escapes with the bikini woman Lara Martin. He takes her to his apartment where he is stunned when he realizes she is a female GTECH. He is unaware she is one of a newly engineered super woman soldier Serenity whose mission is to end the Renegades. Although he soothes her headaches and has her heart pumping, Lara’s customized brainwashing is to destroy her beloved who has doubts about his beloved’s loyalty.

Once again with a nod to Captain America, Lisa Renee Jones provides a great romantic military fantasy. The action-packed story line grips the reader from the moment Damion’s mission fails and never slows down as readers will wonder whether love can supersede intense brainwashing. Fans will enjoy this Project Zodius (see The Legend of Michael) as the two adversarial groups of Super Soldiers bring a deadlier female element into the war.

Harriet Klausner

Kiss of the Goblin Prince-Shona Husk

Kiss of the Goblin Prince

Shona Husk

Sourcebooks, May 1 2012, $6.99

ISBN 9781402262067

Amanda married in a registry office. Three months later she was a pregnant widow. Now Amanda Coulter is a single mom raising an asthmatic daughter Brigit with love. At her sister-in-law Eliza Coulter’s wedding to Roan King (see The Goblin King), Amanda and Brigit meet his brother Dai, a noted scholar.

Dai, like his sibling, survived his Druid millennia banishment in the Shadowlands by his compulsion for knowledge. Now he finally has returned to the human Fixed Realm where his magical experiments over the centuries have the Birch Trustees watching him carefully. The best man and the matron of honor are attracted to one another. However, his actions to keep Roan and other family members safe lead him believe he is unworthy of her; while she knows Brigit comes first in her heart.

The second Shadowlands romantic urban fantasy is an engaging tale of two people who believe love is not enough to cement a permanent relationship. The storyline is at its best when it stays in the present; when the scholar looks back at his deeds against Rome and in the Shadowlands, the storyline loses momentum as those segues are well written but come across as unnecessary. Still fans will enjoy the love story of the goblin and the mom.

Harriet Klausner

Where There’s Smoke-Karen Kelley

Where There’s Smoke

Karen Kelley

Sourcebooks, May 1 2012, $14.99

ISBN 9781402263866

In 1959 Destiny Carter died and went straight to hell. Vetis the demon informs Destiny that she must destroy the soul of a mortal in one week before she can achieve demon status; she does not want to know what failure denotes. Vetis sends her back to earth.

In Fort Worth, Texas near the stockyards, Destiny enters the Stompin’ Ground bar where she chooses lonesome cowboy Chance Bellow as she assumes he is an easy mark. Chance the nephilim has waited in the dive for the demon apprentice to arrive so he can show her what she failed to read in the fine print of her deal with Vetis. However, from the first smoldering touch, Chance and Destiny are so hot for each other; hell seems to have frozen over. As they fight for control, they fall in love, but there is no room for such a wasteful mortal emotion in hell.

This is a fast-paced urban fantasy romance starring two enticing paranormal engaged in a holy gender war. Although the ending seems too simplistic for the protagonists' journey, this somewhat tongue in cheek lampooning of capitalist religious dogma will have fans cheering for the rookie demon and the heavenly hybrid to light their respective fire.

Harriet Klausner

Home From The Sea-Mercedes Lackey

Home From The Sea

Mercedes Lackey

Daw, Jun 5 2012, $25.95

ISBN: 9780756407278

In Edwardian England, magic has faded from the minds of most people while psychic powers are thought to be evil. In Clogwyn, Wales, Mari Prothero’s father Daffyd does not blink when going out in storms to fish in his coracle as he always comes home regardless of the fury of the torrent with a boatload filled with the catch.

On her eighteenth birthday, Daffyd tells his daughter that the first Prothero made an arrangement with the clan leader of the Selch (a seal who can turn into a human and vice versa).

A Selch and a Prothero would copulate and give birth to twins and the Selch and one of the twins would return to the sea. Mari is so furious she makes her own deal with the Selch clan leader leader Gethin. He would send some Selch to court her and another to teach her to use her powers as a Master Water Elemental. Master of Masters Lord Alberscroft sent two psychicals Nan and Sarah to help Mari from the enemies who want her dead.

With a nod to the Nordic tale East of the Sun and West of the Moon, the latest Elemental Masters historical fantasy (see Unnatural Issues and Reserved for the Cat) is a thrilling tale due to the brave heroine who will fight for those she cherishes and to keep what is rightfully hers. She possesses the protection of Puck, a Power who used to be worshiped as a god. Nan and Sarah (see Wizard of London) with their respective bonded birds enhance the tale of a world in which magic is becoming a forgotten force.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, April 27, 2012

Into the Dreaming-Karen Marie Moning

Into the Dreaming

Karen Marie Moning

Delacorte, Apr 24 2012, $20.00

ISBN: 9780345535221

"Into the Dreaming." In Indiana, Jane Sillee dreams of the Highlander and now owns a medieval tapestry that she has no idea who or why it was sent to her. She looks deeply at it when suddenly she is transported back to 928 Scotland where she meets her Highlander, Aedon MacKinnon. She has to break the evil spell that engulfs the man she has loved since she first dreamed of him.

“Dark Highlander Lite.” Druid mage Daegus MacKeltar used his powers to travel back in time to save the life of his twin brother Drustan (see TO KISS A HIGHLANDER). However, Daegus pays a high price for his good deed as he released the spirits of evil Druids that share residency with him in his body. Medieval expert Chloe Zanders delivers a five century old reprint of the third book of Mannannan to Daegus, who recognizes his soul mate.

Part of the Tapestry anthology, Into The Dreaming is an engaging standalone novella with wonderful lead characters. Dark Highlander Lite contains the first seven chapters of the first “draft”; I would have preferred the entire first cut to compare with the published novel. The rest of the collection feels more like filler material as it includes interesting entries like a deleted scene from Kiss of the Highlander, a proposal for never published Ghost of a Chance, Chapter 1 of Darkfever and scenes from upcoming graphic novel of Fever Moon. Die-hard fans of Karen Marie Moning will enjoy this collection.

Harriet Klausner

Blue Remembered Earth-Alastair Reynolds

Blue Remembered Earth

Alastair Reynolds

Ace, Jun 5 2012, $26.95

ISBN: 9780441020713

In the latter half of the twenty-second century, Africa is the world’s superpower. For the most part, after barely surviving the Anthropocene climatic change disaster, national hostilities, violent crime and poverty no longer exist as a death from disease or a murder in an outpost in Europe or Australia become featured on the Nairobi news.

In this pristine realm, Geoffrey Akinya relishes his field studies of the elephants of the Amboseli basin. However, his pleasure is disrupted, but not by the death of his space exploring grandma Eunice who was the matriarchal cornerstone of the powerful Akinya business empire. Instead, soon after Eunice’s ashes are scattered on Mt. Kilimanjaro, he is blackmailed into looking at a potentially embarrassing incident on the moon where like elsewhere in the solar system colonization is growing by those who prefer not to reside inside of Earth's Surveyed Zones. He and his sister Sunday’s mission are to insure no scandal erupts, but what they learn about a secret of their grandma shakes their core while this twin cousins Hector and Lucas take a different approach.

This is an exciting futuristic science fiction tale in which the world building is phenomenal though only surfaces when an aberration occurs like a Caucasian or not speaking Swahili although a key element the Mechanism monitoring humans seems to Big Brother intrusive (and too selective). Sunday is the more aggressive of the siblings as they investigate a moon incident that damns their family if surfaced and may destroy their world.

Harriet Klausner

The Reckoning-Alma Katsu

The Reckoning

Alma Katsu

Gallery, Jun 19 2012, $25.00

ISBN 9781451651805

In 1817 immortal alchemist Count Adair saved the life of Lanore McIlvrae when he gave her an immortality potion but at the cost of her becoming his mistress. However, when her savior went after her true love Jonathan, she imprisoned him in a secret tomb in Boston (see The Taker). Now he is free though confused by contemporary Boston.

Still the Count knows achieving his objective is all that matters. He will break his betraying former lover who plans to own her for eternity. As he searches for his lost treasures and amasses a fortune, he knows the way to get to Lanore is through her mortal lover Luke Findley.

The second Taker paranormal thriller continues the adventures of Lanore and the three males in her life. The key players seem fully developed and remain in character from the first Taker tale. Fast-paced throughout, Lanore seeks redemption while the Count seeks possession. Although an obvious middle book as it sets the table for the climax, fans will enjoy this supernatural drama as the heart beat between love and obsession is very faint.

Harriet Klausner

The Hot Gate-John Ringo

The Hot Gate

John Ringo

Baen, Apr 24 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781451638189

In the outer Solar System, the orbital gates appear as a trading boom for mankind and the Grtul, but the Horvath arrive in warships conquering Terra (see (see Live Free or Die). As humanity quickly teetered on the brink of extinction, tycoon Tyler Vernon converted the large asteroid Troy into a tremendous battle station that along with the Solar Array Pumped Laser humans was used to drive away the invaders from the Sol System. However, an even more dangerous threat entered the system as the reptilian Rangora began a deadly serpentine blitzkrieg (see Citadel).

Though earthlings have battled back, the threat remains ominous. To survive and thrive they must go where no one has dared ventured before: into the heart of the Rangora horde. Tyler Vernon and his unit aboard Troy begin the suicidal counter assault.

The latest Troy Rising storyline starts slow with a deep but irrelevant look into relationships in various cultures before finally turning back into the war of the solar systems. When the plot returns to its military science fiction theme, the tale goes into hyperspeed as readers anticipate the deadly confrontation that affirms Stalin’s commentary: "When one man dies it is a tragedy, when thousands die it's statistics.”

Harriet Klausner

The Gift of Fire / On the Head of a Pin: Two Short Novels from Crosstown to Oblivion-Walter Mosley

The Gift of Fire / On the Head of a Pin: Two Short Novels from Crosstown to Oblivion

Walter Mosley

Tor, May 8 2012, $24.99

ISBN: 9780765330086

“The Gift of Fire.” Prometheus escapes from Zeus’ divine punishment for his betrayal with The Gift of Fire to the mortals. Though Prometheus knows he should plead with Pluto or Neptune for asylum, he refuses to cower. Instead he hides as a human in Los Angeles with plans to give the second gift. Cops greet him by beating him. Soon afterward he calls himself Foreman Prospect and meets wino Nosome Blane who agrees to take the big man around the city. After facing a judge, Foreman continues his trek around South Central.

“On the Head of a Pin.” At Jennings-Tremont Enterprises, Joshua Winterland and Ana Fried are developing an animatronics editing technique to create movies that contain the same quality as live filming. Their method will enable the perfect blending of dead superstars with the top talent of today. However, neither is prepared for the final cut on their footage that denotes a new reality.

Somewhat different in tone, these are two superb urban fantasy novellas share in common a focus on mankind’s relatively short and low stature in the universe. This leads to a degree of separation between an African-American wino and a billionaire oil man being insignificant in the expanding realm of the big bang. Intelligent, readers will appreciate this fine two-story collection as Walter Mosley makes it look Easy switching from mystery to fantasy.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Spellcrossed-Barbara Ashford


Barbara Ashford

Daw, Jun 5 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780756407292

In Vermont, after she freed Rowan Mackenzie from the earthbound curse and enabled him to return to Faerie, former actress Maggie Graham replaced him as director of the non-profit Crossroards Theatre. The summer stock season has been difficult on her because of the cast. The professionals are an obnoxious group scornful of Maggie and nasty towards the bewildered amateurs while the children seem like an out of control army.

She considers using the magic she found at the converted old barn, but knows her first mission is selling tickets to get her boss out of her theater. However, ignoring the magic proves an unviable option as she finds herself drawn into a past personal mystery that needs resolution before the first curtain call.

The second Graham Vermont fantasy (see Spellcast) is an engaging whimsical witty tale due to Maggie who casts a spell on readers. The charming storyline is fast-paced while the musical numbers bring the freshness from the previous entry as the heroine is the sideline general rather than the on stage participant. Barbara Ashford provides a magical tale that readers will enjoy..

Harriet Klausner

Live And Let Drood-Simon R. Green

Live And Let Drood

Simon R. Green

Roc, Jun 5 2012, $25.95

ISBN: 9780451464521

Eddie "Shaman Bond" Drood muses that he saved the world and went on vacation in the South of France with his beloved Molly Metcalf the witch only to come home to find Drood Hall a burned ruin. Since there is no whisper of smoke the incident occurred a few days ago. Finally as he thinks he no longer has that rooftop he has escaped to many times over the years, he wonders what happened to his family who seemingly are all dead and why no one notified him?

Eddie knows he must honor his Shamon Bond as the last Drood standing to make the vile Crow Lee pay for this assault. The only problem Eddie has is that his Drood armour is no more, which means a frontal suicidal attack against Mr. Evil is doomed to failure. As he and Molly begin to find enigmatic clues that imply Drood Hall is intact and his family lives, Eddie asks the Regent of Shadows for help knowing the powerful essence will enact an exorbitant price.

The latest Secret Histories urban fantasy (see For Heaven’s Eyes Only and From Hell with Love) is a fresh thriller as Drood realizes he is stripped of his weapons and armour while facing malevolence. Thus he learns to err is Drood; to forgive is death as Eddie and Molly work a twisting vendetta that turns into something more complex and lethal.

Harriet Klausner

Blood Kin-M.J. Scott

Blood Kin

M.J. Scott

Roc, Jun 5 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 978-0451464583

Half-fae Holly leaves a room charmed before going to a nearby roof to see what happens. The weather is unusually cold and damp so she is freezing at her surveillance spot. She watches as Henri Favreau of the Favreau pack and Blood Lord Ignatius Grey meet in the charmed room. Holly knows her employer will pay big for the knowledge that this meeting occurred, but as she leaves someone on a horse saw through her invisibility charm and shouts at her. She slips off the four story roof to certain death except that Templar knight Guy DuCaine catches her. Holy tells him a lie as to why she was on the roof.

Her father orders Holly to spy on Guy’s brother Simon the healer (see Shadow Kin). Guy catches her again when his secret investigation collides with her espionage. They agree to team up undercover as a fallen knight is in love with a hybrid. Neither is prepared for fiction to become reality.

The second Half-Light City political romantic fantasy is an exciting thriller as various factions manipulate the shaky treaty that peacefully governs the city. Fast-paced and well written, the storyline feels like déjà vu as the lead couple is identical to the protagonists of Shadow Kin with Guy being a dedicated Templar like Simon and Holly a half fae forced to do the villain’s bidding like Lily.

Harriet Klausner

The Mongoliad-Neal Stephenson, Greg Bear, Mark Teppo, E.D. deBirmingham, Erik Bear, Joseph Brassey, and Cooper Moo

The Mongoliad

Neal Stephenson, Greg Bear, Mark Teppo, E.D. deBirmingham, Erik Bear, Joseph Brassey, and Cooper Moo

47North, Apr 24 2012, $14.95

ISBN: 9781612182360

By 1241, the feral Mongol Horde led by Onghwe the dissolute Khan of Khans defeated the armies of Christendom at Legnica. The third son of the Great Genghis has built a city here as he plans to use this locale as a springboard to continue his western conquest.

Reeling from the slaughter at Legnica only three months ago, a band of warriors and mystics led by elderly Feronantus of the Skjaldbraedur shield-brethren begin a desperate trek to end the bloody invasion. They need to learn why superpowers war with each other for top dog at the cost of the innocents. Evidence point to powerful secret societies shaping the world in their image. Some of the warriors prefer assassinating the Khan of Khans, which wise Feronantus knows is a short term fix of a millennium problem. Cnan the messenger using the name Vaetha enters their camp, which has all of them mystified by her except Feronantus who welcomes her as he knows she is the first sign if he can gain her trust. She tells him Illarion lives minus his right ear and he sent her to him to rescue Illarion as Feronantus needs his information.

The first book of The Foreworld Saga is a terrific alternate history thriller starring a brave band of warriors on a mission behind enemy lines. Filled with gory action from the start (the killing of captives is vividly haunting) and never slowing down, it is the full blooded cast that makes for a strong opening act.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Niceville-Carson Stroud


Carson Stroud

Knopf, Jun 12 2012, $26.95

ISBN: 9780307700957

In Niceville, a security camera catches the sudden disappearance seemingly into thin air of Rainey Teague on Main Street. Not long after that a bank robbery turns ugly with four cops killed and a TV helicopter shot down by a sniper. A pedophile and a SWAT team are on the verge of a violent encounter. More people abruptly vanish as other unexplained incidents occur too.

As the townsfolk reel from the tragic events, police officer Nick Kavanaugh investigates while his wife Kate the lawyer tries to help him understand the apparently inexplicable. Thirty-six hours since Rainey disappeared leaving a town in crisis; Nick finds clues that lead to something he cannot rationally accept in nearby Crater Sink.

This is a convoluted but exciting horror police procedural thriller that never quite gels on a prime plot between the vanishings and the bloody bank robbery. This leads to way to many characters for the Kavanaugh couple and the audience to cope with. Still fans will enjoy a trip to Niceville with a need to know who or what is snatching people off the streets and in homes and stores as safety is nowhere in the town. The storyline is at its best when the abductions take center stage over the bank robbery.

Harriet Klausner

Extremis-Steve White and Charles E. Gannon


Steve White and Charles E. Gannon

Baen, Apr 24 2012, $7.99

ISBN-13: 9781451638141

The telepathic Arduans fled their galaxy as their sun went nova. They traveled for centuries until they reached their destination Bellerophon. However, they are unhappy to find a sentient race recently colonized the planet. Still after what they have been through to reach their new home, the Arduans believing they are supreme as the only sentient race see the humans as a minor irritant.

Adding to their manifest destiny belief is the feebleness of human existence. Whereas the humans live one short life as telepathic mutes, Arduans live numerous lives while recalling each. The warrior caste wants to cleanse the orb and the rest of the galaxy using stolen technology from humans and their allies (Orions, Ophiuchi and Gorm) of these nothing species while Ankaht the scientist-philosopher tries to find a peaceful solution to benefit both species as well the indigenous population.

The latest entry (co-authored by Charles E. Gannon) in Steve White's Starfire saga collaborating with David Weber (see The Stars at War) and Shirley Meier (see Exodus) is a terrific military science fiction that is at its best during the non-combat scenes. The battles are entertaining, but it is the philosophical debate on belief systems, species profiling and ethics especially from the alien perspective that make for a powerful timely thriller with applications in our society.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Enemy’s Kiss-Zandria Munson

The Enemy’s Kiss

Zandria Munson

Harlequin Nocturne, May 22 2012, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373885862

New York auction gallery owner Nicholas Drakon is elated that he no longer turned into a gargoyle at daybreak every day; as his Romanian clan’s centuries-old curse was lifted (see Heiress To A Curse for his brother Marius’ tale). Master cat burglar Daniela Ferreira knows of the successful siblings as she plans to rob an amulet from them for a client. However, she is unaware that this relic and a companion piece will bring back the curse on the Drakon family.

Nicholas vows to regain the priceless artifact while Daniela’s client abducts her younger sister to insure she cooperates and steals the second amulet. When the thief and the once cursed man meet, each is stunned by the attraction. As he reluctantly teams up with her to rescue Elaina, Nicholas fears he will soon have to choose between his family and his heart.

The second Drakon romantic urban fantasy is a superb suspense thriller. The lead couple is a dynamic pairing as neither can afford love at this time with family members from both sides in potential peril depending upon what they do. Fast-paced from the moment the heroine conducts surveillance of the auction gallery and never slowing down, readers will relish this terrific tense thriller with a fabulous climatic twist.

Harriet Klausner

Guardian of the Night-Linda Thomas-Sundstrom

Guardian of the Night

Linda Thomas-Sundstrom

Harlequin Nocturne, May 22 2012, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373885855

A Blood Knights Guardian created centuries ago to protect the purity of vampires in order to keep humans safe from his species; Mason LanVal has remained faithful to his pledge. Miami surgeon Dr. Faith James arrives in France seeking her missing sister Hope. To do so she must find Mason who has no phone. However, she foolishly falls into a vampire trap. Mason rescues her but not before she is injured.

She asks Mason for help, but is confused with what she has learned so far especially her being a no longer dormant trueborn Lycan thanks to his kiss of blood and Hope is an innate werewolf hunter adopted by their parents. For the first time in his centuries of existence, Mason struggles with his pledge of remaining a pureblood as he wants his worst taboo.

The latest Vampire Moons romantic urban fantasy (see Golden Vampire) is a thrilling entry from the moment Faith arrives in South France and never slows down until the final confrontation. Readers will relish this well written thriller due to a wonderful Midi location and a s strong cast as the werewolf and the vampire commit seemingly the worst sin possible by falling in love.

Harriet Klausner

The Frenzy War-Gregory Lamberson

The Frenzy War

Gregory Lamberson

Medallion, Jun 1 2012, $14.95

ISBN 9781605424538

NYPD Captain Tony Mace risked his life before finally killing psychopathic werewolf Janus Farel, who terrorized the city (see The Frenzy Way). His award from his superiors for ending this brutal predator’s serial killing spree is he kept his rank, but for the two years since Tony has worked in the office in support of the K-9 unit.

The Vatican sends it top secret, highly trained and armed Brotherhood of Torquemada unit to New York with the objective to eradicate these wicked werewolves as the only good shifter is a dead shifter. These elite Christian warriors attack the werewolf population in the name of God. They abduct teenage Lycan Rhonda Wilson and assassinate several werewolves using silver bullets and the Blade of Salvation. Pack alpha Gabriel Domini has lost his hold as his pack wants to rip the throats of their stalkers. Take out of mothballs as the NYPD werewolf expert, Mace and a select law enforcement teal hunt the hunters to end the Torquemada terrorism while continuing to hide the existence of werewolves from the public while his wife Cheryl the reporter believes the people have a right to know.

This is an exhilarating gory police procedural urban fantasy as the death scenes are not for those with a queasy stomach, but enhance the overall war is hell theme. The action on the mean streets of the Big Apple grips readers, but also never allows any of the characters including the hero to be fully developed. In spite of the emaciated cast, readers will enjoy this bloody entertaining thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Hard Magic-Larry Correia

Hard Magic

Larry Correia

Baen, Apr 24 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781451638240

A few decades after magic entered the world, Charles Darwin claimed this ability as proof of his general law that the strong survive and the weak die as he believes traditional mankind will become extinct. Two opposing groups have surfaced vying to control magic. The idealistic Grimnoir Society believes magic should be used as a force for good for the planet while the realistic Japanese Imperium know practitioners are the top of the food chain.

Both are fighting over control of Nikolas Tesla’s last known invention. Caught in the middle is private investigator Jake Sullivan. One side magically recruits him giving him an option of joining or joining; while the other side actively wants to kill him giving him an option of death or death. A veteran of the trenches, kick butt Jake always leads with his chin, having spent time for magical manslaughter. Being an Active Magical his skill is changing the mass of an object to make it much lighter or heavier and has used it against those trying to kill him.

The first Grimnoir Chronicles is an exciting historical hard boiled fantasy as the Magicals are like Wall St. bankers who use their skill with too big to fail immunity unless another practitioner destroys them. The storyline is action-packed especially when the hero gets into one of his zillion brawls. Although the good and evil war over magical deployment is well written and entertaining, it is the little alternative historical tidbits that pull the reader from the plot; for instance Hitler’s suicide in 1929 had this reviewer wondering what happened to Germany and WWII. Mindful of the movie Cast A Deadly Spell, this is an intriguing opening act.

Harriet Klausner

The Devil Delivered and Other Tales-Steven Erickson

The Devil Delivered and Other Tales

Steven Erickson

Tor, Jun 19 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9780765330031

The Devil Delivered. The hole in the ozone layer has grown so immense that it is equivalent to a third of the once proud United States. Dead zones are everywhere and the oceans are a graveyard. The earth is dying with only the time for the wake and burial remaining. William the anthologist explores the land of the Lakota Nation. Jack Tree informs him that the Lakota has shut their borders to the outside. On the net, people around the globe watch the lone anthropologist as he roams these dead lands at a time when nature changes the rules against a species that has brought hell on earth.

Revolvo. In Canada, bureaucrats and technocrats control the arts by controlling the grant money or the award winners. They choose who will be funded, which means they tell who will eat, which in turn determines what is created as the money holders must be satisfied not the artist’s muse or the public. Thus patrons, bureaucrats and technocrats converge on artists who talk about fighting back, but know they won’t if they want funding.

Fishin’ with Grandma Matchie. His Grandma Matchie calls her nine year old grandson Tike while everyone knows him as Jock Junior. He is spending three weeks at a cabin in Canada where he learns his Grandma Matchie is feuding with the "One Armed Trapper", his mother "Lunker", and Satan. Grandma and grandson travel on and under the lakes as they go on a series of adventures.

These are three strange but well written novellas that satirize the real world. Not for everyone, fans who enjoy something different will appreciate these three whimsical cautionary tales.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, April 23, 2012

Seeker of Shadows-Nancy Gideon

Seeker of Shadows

Nancy Gideon

Pocket, May 29 2012, $7.99

ISBN 9781439199510

In New Orleans, shifter-chosen geneticist researcher Dr. Susanna Duchamps of the Chosen arrives at Cheveaux Du Chien shifter club to meet with Nica Fraser who asked for her help so she took the train from from Chicago as she owes the assassin (see Hunter of Shadows). Nica’s friend has a human buddy who was injured with no chance of recovery; her friend and a male shifter bonded and his regenerative qualities were passed on to her, and perhaps could be passed on to save the human. Considering ethical issues, Susanna is excited yet uncertain she should proceed.

Nica’s boss Jacques LaRoche orders her back on the floor while Susanna recognizes his scent and voice from when he was in the North, but she knows he is unaware of who she is; only what she is. As he dreams of the mysterious female from the North who is his lost mate, Jacques realizes Susanna is trouble, but unaware of why beyond her being a stray in his shifter world. As clans bloody the streets, Susanna fears she will not be able to let go of her Jacques a second time.

The second Shadows romantic urban fantasy with links to Nancy Gideon's Moonlight saga (see Masked by Moonlight and Bound by Moonlight) is a wonderful thriller and Nica serving as the tie to the previous entry Hunter of Shadows. The storyline is fast-paced from the moment Susanna enters the club and never slows down as the pair dance an intriguing tango. While the overarching themes move forward in the complicated Gideon mythos, fans will enjoy this latest paranormal romance.

Harriet Klausner

Asgard Park-Ronald Simonar

Asgard Park

Ronald Simonar

Eventhor Media, May 27 2011, $14.99

ISBN: 9789197966719

In June 1991, psychologist Dr. Birger Wallenberg flies from Copenhagen to New York to become the Director of Research at Asgard Park Mental Institution. He has no idea why him as his experience is limited and he only applied because a friend nagged him to do so.

Birger replaces retiring Dr. Karl Leamas who will still reside at the Westchester County facility. Upon arrival, chief psychiatrist Dr. George Kennan informs him a patient Haakon Beale left the place last night and killed two men. Soon after his auspicious welcoming, he finds Birger everywhere as the older man encourages the newcomer to embrace the Nordic God Heimdallr as the chosen one.

In Albania, Rakipe “The Kid” whore argues with widow Shequere Avhiu over the value of sex. Rakipe relies on herself to survive while Shequere, whose late husband committed suicide, depends on her dealing brother Spiro. Soon they will find a connection to a bewildered European doctor in New York who learned Leamas funded the protection of the chosen children of Heimdallr.

This is a fascinating but odd thriller that is not an easy read as the storyline predominantly rotates between Westchester and Albania, but their link comes later so readers who remain patient will relish learning the secret behind what is going on. While, the key players are fully developed so that the audience understands what motivates each of them. Fans will appreciate this strange yet engaging modernization of Heimdallr the Nordic Watchman who never sleeps.

Harriet Klausner

The Craving-Jason Starr

The Craving

Jason Starr

Ace, Jun 5 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9781937007553

In Manhattan, thirty-nine years old Simon Burns struggles to adjust to major changes in his life; as he lost his job, his marriage is on the rocks, and he avoids the Pack whom he met, along with other stay at home dads watching their kids like he does with his three years old son Jeremy. The Pack leader Michael Hartman changed Simon, Charlie, and Ramon into werewolves. Simon shaves his face and chest twice a day; has the strength and speed of a wolf; and craves raw meat.

Unable to cope with what happened to him and aware he owes his wife Alison an explanation of the radical changes especially his nocturnal wanderings she has noticed him taking; Simon informs his spouse that he suffers from lycanthropic disorder. His lies drive the couple further apart until Alison finally kicks him out of their apartment when she no longer trusts him. He stays at Charlie’s place as he reconciles with the Pack members except Michael who he distrusts. Meanwhile Ramon met his heart mate Geri Rodriguez, a cop who works the toughest cases. He takes the first step to convert his beloved, but Michael believes Simon stole it and prepares to end the rogue’s life.

The second Pack urban fantasy is a fascinating Manhattan horror tale in which readers observe the changes to Simon that he struggles to curtail or ignore his new life out of fear that what he is will harm his beloved wife and child. The New York setting adds to this unusual tale as readers wonder whether the real monster is the werewolf or a criminal. Jason Starr provides an action-packed (pun intended) great Lycan psychological horror thriller. The author writes one of kind

horror tales that will make him tomorrow’s superstar in his field.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Battleship (Movie Tie-in Edition)-Peter David

Battleship (Movie Tie-in Edition)

Peter David

Del Rey, Apr 24 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780345535375

In 2006 in Honolulu Alex and Stone Hopper are having drinks when a beautiful woman asks the bartender for a chicken fajita; he says the kitchen is closed. Hopper, as Alex is called, races to a convenience store as the owner locks up and refuses his money. Undisturbed he breaks in and delivers the woman a fajita only to have the cops arrest him. Stone uses his influence as a naval officer to get him out of trouble. Stone tells him the woman Sam Shane is the daughter of the Rear Admiral; if he wants her he needs to clean up his act. Stone joins the navy.

After SETI shuts down, in Tibet, Dr. Andrew Nogrady becomes the head of Beacon International Project. His team sends signals into space seeking alien contact.

Five years later, Sam encourages Hopper to ask her father for permission to marry her. When he gets into trouble with a Japanese sailor, Shane informs him he will be court martialed after the military games are completed. The games end when disaster strikes around the globe and a strange vessel shows up in the zone. Nogrady realizes he got what he wished for; an armada answered his signals with efficient force.

Based on the upcoming movie’s screenplay (by Erich Hoeber and Jon Hoeber), Peter David provides an exciting military science fiction thriller. The first few chapters establish the always in troublesome hero, whose propensity for causing disturbances helps him later on when facing an enemy more powerful, faster and impossible to see (radar down). However the invasion that readers anticipate arrives 25% into the entertaining storyline. Still this is a fun thriller as the superior alien armada is conquering the planet.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, April 21, 2012

On The Prowl-Christine Warren

On The Prowl

Christine Warren

St. Martin’s, Apr 24 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780312357214

Years ago, their parents arranged the marriage between Saskia Arcos and Nic Preda. Though they have not seen one another in two decades, each agrees to marry the other in order to unite and strengthen their families.

When Saskia and Nic meet for the first in years, each is stunned by their attraction. As the chief of the Streak and a CEO, the pair will live in Manhattan. However, the Council has a problem with his fiancée being a Tiguri were-tiger as they are convinced this clan needs elimination for attacking their leader and other problems. Nic will die if needed to keep his mate safe, but Saskia is not one to hide from enemies; she joins her mate as they prowl the asphalt jungle seeking an unknown predator.

This engaging Other romantic urban fantasy (see Not Your Ordinary Fairytale, The Big Bad Wolf and Black Magic Woman) with a clever mystery is an enjoyable thriller starring an Alpha and a shifter who turns into an Alpha when her mate or family is threatened. Sub-genre fans will enjoy this paranormal romantic paring On The Prowl of New York searching for a diabolical foe.

Harriet Klausner

Cursed-Benedict Jacka


Benedict Jacka

Ace, May 29 2012, $7.99

ISBN 9781937007591

In London empathic diviner mage Alex Verus sees infinite possible futures and sometimes influences which one occurs; he has one survivor mantra to choose a future in which he remains alive. After a battle with mages when he refused their demands he open an artifact from the ancient mage war as the outcome is one hundred percent deaths for him and his two dependents, Luna the cursed woman and Starbreeze the ancient air elemental (see Fated), Alex tries to keep a low profile running his magic shop. However, the warring mages of the Light and Dark pressure him to join their side, but he rejects both as his empath ability reminds him of the hostilities harm each causes civilians.

Alex also tries to assist his friend Luna cope with her family curse. However, Luna’s new friend persuades her he end the curse with a relic that grants wishes. The storeowner has no time to intercede as he realizes that an assault on his friend Arachne the spider is from someone who is draining the life force of the magical beings with humans on the docket next.

This is a great urban fantasy as guns and magic deftly rock London. Alex is a terrific protagonist who struggles with remaining altruist towards the helpless by avoiding either Dark or the Light camps; as each commits crimes against humanity without a second thought re collateral damage of the innocent. The storyline is fast-paced as the hero investigates who is siphoning off the life forces of others.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, April 20, 2012

Summoning The Night-Jenn Bennett

Summoning The Night

Jenn Bennett

Pocket, Apr 24 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781451620535

In Morella, California, Arcadia Bell co-owns Tambuku Tiki Lounge where some of her best customers are demons. Several years ago her parents Enola and Alexander Duval were accused of killing three rival mage occultists. When they returned to the States they tried to sacrifice their daughter as their penance, but failed (see Kindling The Moon).

Back at her bar with Halloween coming soon, she is dating Earthbound demon Lon Butler, father of teenager Jupe. However, the Hellfire Club leader Dare asks Cady to investigate a recent series of abductions of paranormal offspring. With Lon as a club member, she dare not refuse. Thus with Lon at her side and assisted by patrons of the lounge, she follows the clues applying her recently activated Moonchild powers. The amateur sleuths soon learn that these insidious kidnapping mirror the snatching of seven children three decades ago.

The second Cady Bell urban fantasy is a superb thriller from the moment Dare assigns the reluctant heroine to end the reign of terror. Fast-paced while the lovers hunt down a devious predator, fans will appreciate the inquiry as the protagonists follow leads into danger.

Harriet Klausner

Deadly Descendent-Jenna Black

Deadly Descendent

Jenna Black

Pocket, Apr 24 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781451606805

The son of the Gods of Death and Vengeance, Anderson Kane leads the Liberi team whose goal is to make the world a better place while their enemy the Olympians hunts down the Descendants of the Gods. Reluctantly Nikki Glass, a Descendent of Artemis, has joined the Liberi while wondering how she will pay her bills as her paying private investigative work is shut down by her new job and her office was burned down by an idiot. Anderson assigns her to look into the files of those they have hidden in their equivalent to the witness protection program to ascertain vulnerability.

Olympian Phoebe the Oracle accompanied by Cyrus Constantine visit the Liberi to discuss her latest vision about one of Anderson’s team pretending to be Anubis’ Descendants attacking mortals in the DC area. She says if the humans catch this serial killer, they will learn of the existence of the Liberi and the Olympians. Nikki investigates, but Phoebe underestimated, probably on purpose, who the predator behind the hell hounds is.

The second Nikki Glass urban fantasy (see Dark Descendent) is an exciting thriller that feels like a paranormal hardboiled detective tale. Nikki is an intriguing protagonist who still struggles with the concept that due to abetting an Immortal’s suicide, she has become an Immortal. Sub-genre fans will enjoy her take no prisoners attitude (just ask Emma the Liberi or a coke bottle) as she provides readers with a fascinating tour of the jackal underbelly of DC.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Nightshifted- Cassie Alexander


Cassie Alexander

St. Martin’s, May 22 2012, $7.99

ISBN 9780312553395

Having graduated from nursing school, Edie Spence is euphoric as County Hospital hires her. However, her schooling proves in adequate as she does not work ER or the normal floors; instead she is assigned to the secret Y4 floor whose patients include vampires, various were-species, shapeshifters, zombies, and a few unique ones that Hollywood or urban fantasy novels failed to create yet.

Edie adjusts nicely to her new position until she erred by loosening the restraints on Mr. November a daytimer vampire servant who kept holy water and in his final frenzy bit her thumb. Filled with remorse though told this happens to those who work the Nightshifted, Edie looks at his possessions including a watch, an old photo and addresses. Seeking some atonement she searches for Mr. November’s Anna as she recognizes one street where her brother Jake the addict scored drugs. However, Edie is unprepared to land in the middle of hostilities between two vampire Thrones who call her a killer. Though unused to having allies, a vampire lawyer, her zombie boyfriend, and a ghost residing in a CD player refuse to allow Edie to go it alone; as she continues her quest to save Anna (and herself).

This entertaining medical urban fantasy is a fast-paced and action-packed tale in which the paranormal patients make the Cassie Alexander world seem genuine. Edie is an intriguing protagonist whose life before this job far was harsh but turns bizarre yet fulfilling with new friends. Readers will appreciate life, death, and undead on the night shift.

Harriet Klausner

Devilishly Sexy-Kathy Love

Devilishly Sexy

Kathy Love

Kensington, May 29 2012, $14.00

ISBN 9780758265883

Demon slayer Michael Archer struggles with his profession in the modern world as there is no privacy in this century which makes killing a bit more complex than the good old days back three decades and more before instant global communication went viral. His current assignment has him embarrassingly acting as a low life at "Hot!" magazine while he learns the new wimpy rules of twenty-first century slaying

When he sees fashionista Liza McLane popping pills, Michael assumes suicide and comes to the rescue. She tries to conceal that she uses Benadryl to mute the noisy demon sharing her body. Attracted to one another, she hides her inner demon from him while he cloaks his true profession from her.

The second Devilishly lighthearted romantic fantasy (see Devilishly Hot) is a humorous affair as the protagonists try to hide a deep respective secret from their potential lover. Michael’s dilemma of falling in love with a human who possesses a demon goes against his nature of killing including the host. Although the exorbitant use of outdated 1970s lexicon becomes distracting, fans will enjoy Kathy Love’s fast-paced paranormal.

Harriet Klausner

Secrets of the Fire Sea-Stephen Hunt

Secrets of the Fire Sea

Stephen Hunt

Tor, May 27 2012, $27.99

ISBN: 9780765327673

The island continent Jago is a forbidden place with few habitable locations as much of the land is covered by a thick tundra and the magma sea surrounding the continent adds to the horrid environment. Finally no one is allowed to emigrate.

Circlist Church Archbishop Alice Gray adopts orphaned Hannah Conquest, as her ward because her parents who were archeologists died allegedly in accident just after her birth. When the Guild of Valvemen’s leader Vardan Flail drafts Hannah, an upset Alice can do nothing. Soon afterward someone brutally murders Alice and tries to kill Hannah. In the Kingdom of Jackals, the Circlist Inquisition asks former parson Jethro Daunt, a private investigator, to investigate the murder. Knowing a request from the Inquisition denotes do it or else, he gladly accepts the case. With his sentient-robot steamman Boxiron, he travels to the Isle of Jago to probe the archbishop’s homicide.

The latest steampunk Stephen Hunt thriller (see The Kingdom Beyond the Waves, The Court and The Rise of the Iron Moon) is a terrific sleuthing entry as the harsh locale where electricity actually works enhances the suspense. Although the pacing can slow down with the vivid details, fans will enjoy the escapades of the professional, the sidekick and the amateur as they investigate who murdered Alice and what secret does the culprit believe Hannah inherited from her mentor that she must die too.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Queen of Kings: A Novel of Cleopatra the Vampire-Maria Dahvana Headley

Queen of Kings: A Novel of Cleopatra the Vampire

Maria Dahvana Headley

NAL, May 12 2012, $15.00

ISBN 9780593067048

Octavian is irate with his former brother-law and Triumvirate partner Marc Antony. He plans to punish the traitor for choosing Egyptian Queen Cleopatra. His Roman legion laid siege to the city of Alexandria where Antony and Cleopatra reside. Not long afterward Antony is dead while Cleopatra makes a deal with Sekhmet the ancient lion-headed Goddess to pay any price if the deity brings back Antony. She fails to complete the sell as the Romans arrive and soon force her to burn her believed husband’s body on a funeral pyre.

She soon learns the price of her folly as no longer wants to live but has become an immortal seeking the blood of the living. Still Cleopatra plans to take revenge on Octavian, who is now the Emperor Augustus, which means she must go to Rome.

This is an intriguing historical fantasy that spins the tale of what happened to the Queen of Egypt after General Agrippa takes Alexandria. Action-packed, readers anticipate the bad vs. bad war between Cleopatra and Octavian even as neither comes across as sympathetic. Filled with real historical events and persona that anchor the time and place, fans of historical vampire thrillers will want to read this engaging ancient paranormal.

Harriet Klausner

Rage of the Dragon-Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman

Rage of the Dragon

Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman

Tor, April 24 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9780765319753

Aelon and the Gods of the New Dawn continue their successful insurgency against the Old Gods. Both groups of deities have loyal subjects on the mortal plane. For the Old Gods, Skylan Ivorson and his Vindras clans seek four of the lost Five Bones of the Vektia Dragon created during creation for whoever has the bones possesses the power of creation; while the enemy Sinarians, who own one of the bones, worship Aelon leader of the upstarts (see Bones of the Dragon)..

Having barely surviving the betrayal by Raegar, who converted into a priest loyal to Aelon (see Secret of the Dragon), Skylan knows the Sinarians have a much more powerful military than his Vindras. He needs allies like their former adversary the ogres as he believes they fight a common enemy more powerful than they are if they remained apart. Sailing on his dragonship, Skylan leads his team across the dangerous Sea of Tears destination the Forbidden Empire of the Cyclops while Raegar on his dragonship tries to stop them. However, a new foe emerges from the sea with different powers than the land dwellers like the Vindras.

The third Dragonships quest fantasy continues the adventures of Skylan and his intrepid band to keep the status quo in the pantheon. The story line is at its best when the Vindras are in combat against difficult opponents like the kraken while the scenes when Raegar lead seems weak compared to those starring the brave hero. There is also an intriguing new race, the Aquin sea-people met on the odyssey. Fans will enjoy this entry and look forward to the next following a great late twist.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Undead-John Russo


John Russo

Cemetery Dance, Apr 30 2012, $40.00

ISBN: 9781587672552

“Night Of The Living Dead.” Siblings (Johnny and Barbara) visit their dad’s gravesite at a Pennsylvania cemetery to leave a wreath when a weird looking individual attacks the sister. Her brother comes to her rescue, but the stranger hammers Johnny with a rock before going after Barbara who flees in terror. Soon she and six other strangers hide inside a small farmhouse while a horde of corpses try to rip off their flesh.

“Return Of The Living Dead.” Not long after the military contained the first zombie wave, a flatbed truck containing pipes crashes with a bus. The pipes smash through windows killing many of those on board. The townsfolk leave church to destroy the new dead before they reanimate, but arrive too late.

These are fun novelizations of the first two George Romero films written by John Russo who worked on the movies. Both entries remain pure to the original film, but fail to flow as smoothly and Return of the Living Dead feels like a rehash of the Night of the Living Dead especially the latter half and the reused news bulletins taken from the original incident ten years earlier. Still Living dead fans who provide a gap between the novels will enjoy zombie fever.

Harriet Klausner

Ascend-Amanda Hocking


Amanda Hocking

St. Martin's Griffin, Apr 24 2012, $8.99

ISBN: 9781250006332

In Minnesota with her eighteenth birthday coming, Wendy Everly has no reason to celebrate. The royal troll changeling feels trapped as she is obliged to marry someone immediately to become the queen of Forening a position she does not want. She has viable candidates who she cares about, but the teen wonders who would be best for her people at a time of crisis. Adding to her regal woes is, her father the king of the Vittra threatens to destroy the Trylle if his daughter fails to surrender; she knows his trill forces will overwhelm her meager side.

Still she has come a long way from the high school student and monster as her mom called her years ago who only recently learned she is the biological daughter of royal trolls at war. Princess Wendy has learned to use her powers and has a strong support cast, human and troll, ready to die for her. Her heart is a different matter as she knows she must marry one of her loyal supports like Tove, but there is her former lover Finn the tracker and Loki the Vittra wanting to remain at her side.

The third Trylle teen urban fantasy (see Switched and Torn) is a superb much darker thriller as the heroine chooses duty over desire. Fast-paced, readers will enjoy the complicated romance as Wendy has Finn, Loki and Tove wanting her. Besides them, she knows the war with her father will devastate the Trylle if she opts to fight, but her distrust of her brutal patriarch makes surrender even less appealing. This is a great ending to a strong trilogy.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Wicked Road to Hell-Juliana Stone

Wicked Road to Hell

Juliana Stone

Avon, Apr 24 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780062022646

Bill the Seraphim rescues sorcerer Declan O’Hara from hell. In remittance to his being saved from eternal torment, Declan pledged to be a loyal Seraph solider obedient to Bill’s orders.

Two years later Bill sends Declan and Ransom the werewolf to New Orleans to find the vampire and the ward the Undead protects. He meets Ana DeLacrux the vampire who was staked two years ago in front of his eyes and Kaden the teenage sorcerer who heaven will kill to keep the demons from getting him; she works for Bill too. Ana and Declan were already in heat before each took a tour of Hell, but now that desire ignites at a time when neither wants it as what to do with the sixteen years old boy must precede their attraction.

Spinning from the Jaguar Warrior sage, the League of Guardians (see the novella Wrong Side of Hell; not read by me) is a terrific romantic urban fantasy starring two dedicated individuals with a history between them. Action-packed yet character driven as Declan feels betrayed by Ana and Bill while Ana thirsts for avenging her murderer but protecting Kaden is her priority. Filled with twists and strange bedfellows, readers will appreciate this action-packed second chance at love and redemption paranormal romantic thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Under A Vampire Moon-Lynsay Sands

Under A Vampire Moon

Lynsay Sands

Avon, Apr 24 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780062100207

Forty something divorcee Carolyn Connor vacations with her best friend Bethany on St. Lucia. Also there are life mates Julius and Marguerite Argeneau-Notte. When Marguerite sees Carolyn, she knows the mortal is her son Christian’s life mate.

Marguerite asks Christian to come to St. Lucia. They realize that Carolyn has relationship phobia issues as she still hurts from her divorce and besides she refuses to date a much younger man like Christian. She is unaware that instead of being in his twenties as he looks, he is a several century old vampire. The vamps agree he must go slowly to keep his beloved from bolting. To buy time his cousin Gia comes up with a preposterous plan for Christian to pretend to be gay so she can ask Carolyn to pretend to be his lover allegedly to keep his sexual preference from his family. The only flaw in the scheme is Christian cannot conceal his attraction to Carolyn.

The latest Argeneau vampire romance (see The Reluctant Vampire and The Bite Before Christmas) is a fun tale that has a 1930s madcap comedy (including the dream sex) feeling to the plot. Although Carolyn’s reticence is explained way too late to appreciate why she hesitates through most of the storyline, fans of the saga will enjoy this fast-paced comedy of errors.

Harriet Klausner

Kiss Of Pride-Sandra Hill

Kiss Of Pride

Sandra Hill

Avon, Apr 24 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780062064615

When the Sigurdsson Viking family viciously raid the Lindisfarne Saxon Monastery, God had enough with the race. He condemned the Vikings to cultural assimilation extinction and the seven Sigurdsson sons who committed the seven deadly sins at Lindisfarne to roam the earth for seven hundred years performing good deeds; failure means their souls belong to Lucifer. Archangel Michael suggests they fight the Lucipre vampires. God assigns a chagrined Michael to lead his angelic vampire soldiers.

In Transylvania, Pennsylvania, Count Vikar Sigurdsson purchases a twelve decade old dilapidated castle with plans to convert it into a five star hotel in thirty days. With the centennial Reckoning coming soon for all vangals like him, Vikar is in a sour mood as he has no had sex in a century and the last time was not only crappy, Mike (as the VIKs call Michael) it added two hundred years to his penitence.

World Gazette Managing Editor Ben Claussen sends reporter Alexandra Kelly to Transylvania to interview Vidor. He wants her out of DC as the Mercado brothers go on trial for killing her husband and daughter. Alex and Vikar are attracted to one another while she stays at his dumpy hotel helping him renovate it. When he realizes her obsession with killing those who murdered her family will condemn her to hell, he intercedes. However, the celestial hierarchy gives him a choice if he can control his pride.

This Deadly Angels urban fantasy is an action-packed satirical good and evil thriller that contains the usual suspense and jocularity expected from Sandra Hill. Fast-paced from the moment Vikor and his brother Trond exchange sins and never slowing down, fans who enjoy an irreverent look at angels will want to read this entertaining thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Kiss The Dead-Laurell K. Hamilton

Kiss The Dead

Laurell K. Hamilton

Berkley, Jun 5 2012, $27.95

ISBN: 9780425247549

An old world Master Vampire Benjamin commits heresy when he changes people into fledglings but fails to tie the newbies to him through a blood oath. His actions are a major breach in acceptable vampiric culture.

Preternatural Unit U.S. Marshal Vampire Executioner Anita Blake interrogates and breaks Barney the liberated vampire over the abduction of a fifteen years old human female who requested transformation. Anita and her team go to the address he provides expecting a trap. They enter the abode to find the teen, but to their dismay they find vampire changed children, soccer moms and grannies. Anita uses psychological torture to learn where the other unfettered rookie vamps live.

While Anita works the unpledged vampire investigation, she also has doubts about a relationship with eighteen years old Sin while dealing with the jealousy of ancient Asher. Anita, accompanied by her live-in lovers, were-leopards Nathanial and Micah, enter the Circus Nightclub to spend time with her vampire master lover Jean-Claude. Raging Asher gets into a fight with his male lover in which he injures Anita. Fuming Jean-Claude warns him to leave the St. Louis immediately. At the same a vampire plots to kill Anita, her friends and lovers.

The latest Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter urban fantasy (see Bullet) is an excellent entry as there is a much better balance between her law enforcement work and her personal life. The nightmarish fledgling issue is a strong counterpoint to her sensual lovemaking; Anita empathizes for these victims but knows what she must do while her trysts reflect an inner serenity that showcases she has come a long way baby as she mentally hugs her need for multiple paranormal partners. Laurell K. Hamilton is the reigning queen of the urban fantasy world.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, April 13, 2012

Dog and Dragon-Dave Freer

Dog and Dragon

Dave Freer

Baen, Apr 3 2012, $14.00

ISBN: 9781451638110

Seventeen years has passed since Fionn knocked down the South-Eastern tower that contained the void (see Dragon’s Ring). Over that time, paramatter has mixed with real matter.

The Earl of Carfon and Guardian of the Southern Marches Lord Alois demands the young woman identify herself even as he tries to kill her. Her screams lead to other men arriving at the anteroom who tackle Alois. With some of his guards dead outside the room, Prince Regent of Lyonesse Medraut ap Corrin asks the female who she is. She says she is called Meb but her true name is Anghared. Stunned Medraut has doubts until Alois states she used magic to get inside the impenetrable walls of Dun Tagoll. Meb points out her screams saved the prince’s life from Alois.

Medraut wonders if Meb is the prophesized Defender. She is taken to meet the Mage Aberinn, but he and Medraut are frustrated and confused with how she suddenly got inside the castle. At the same time, Fionn the black dragon and Dileas the sheepdog search for Scrap, the name they have given Meb as they head towards Lyonesse.

The second Lyonesse dragon fantasy is an action-packed thriller that grips the audience from the opening scene in which Meb cannot explain her arrival or how a window, which became a wall, reverts back to a window. From that entreating hook, the story line moves out nicely on two fronts as Meb tries to stay alive while Aberinn believes she is the enemy, and on the dangerous trek by Fionn and Dileas. Fans will feel dace Freer soars with this exciting tale.

Harriet Klausner

Tiassa-Steven Brust


Steven Brust

Tor, Apr 10 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9780765333063

After serving as a top rate assassin for the House Jhereg Vlad Taltos has fled for his life. He sneaks into his hometown to visit his family, but runs into dangerous imperial captain Khaavren of the Phoenix Guards.

Vlad has found the Tiassa singed feline silver statue that he plots to use in a con. Khaavren seeks the magical statue as the Empire plans to deploy it against their enemy the Jenoine. Meanwhile the Jherg schemes to employ the statue as a means to trap and punish their renegade former employee.

There are three interconnected subplots in the latest exciting Vlad thriller (see Iorich). There are the hero’s activities countered by Khaavren point of view re similar events. Finally, there is an interlude involving Vlad’s estranged wife Cawti. The cat and mouse encounter between the protagonist and the star of the 1990s tale The Phoenix Guards is a witty intelligent contest. The Cawti segue gives some insight into her dysfunctional relationship with her husband, but detracts from the prime chess match between two grandmasters. This Taltos tale is overall terrific as he competes against a worthy opponent.

Harriet Klausner

The Mural-Michael Mallory

The Mural

Michael Mallory

Borgo Press/Wildside Press, Feb 5 2012, $17.99

ISBN: 9781434444349

In California, Marcus Broarty sends structural engineer Jack Brody into the woods to find the legendary Depression Era Wood City. Annoyed that he is doing his incompetent boss’ work, Jack finds the ghost town. Inside a dilapidated building, Jack locates a mural that he assumes dates back seventy-five years and may have some value.

However, Jack will quickly learn his error as did Colonel Henry Jackson Breen over seven decades ago. The mural contains evil demonic Legion. The ancient horde attacks Jack and anyone within two degrees of him. He survives and with others, who so far, have overcome the ordeal on an astral soul level, begins a counter assault physically to destroy the mural.

This is great throwback good and evil horror tale. Jack is a terrific protagonist who stumbled into the role of hero as he leads other brave souls in a do or die mission. However, it is Wood City and its malevolence that makes for a tense exhilarating thriller as Michael Mallory breathes life into the ghost-town and death into its mural.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Under Suspicion-Hannah Jayne

Under Suspicion

Hannah Jayne

Kensington, May 1 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780758258946

In San Francisco Underworld Detection Agency’s only human Sophie Lawson starts to report to her superior that three of her clients failed to make their appointment with her, but stops when she learns her new boss is Vlad LeShay as he is the latest vampire promoted to top management by Dixon Andrade. She decides to check up on Mrs. Henderson the demon and two teenage children, but finds blood and destruction at their home. Nauseous she calls fallen angel Alex Grace who is on his way to Buffalo

No one at UDA seems interested in the Henderson case or the fact that more demons have disappeared as Sophie fears paranormal ethnic cleaning. However, when someone tries to kill Sophie, her stiff necked guardian Will, peers and management finally take notice.

Jayne’s third adventure as the only human at UDA (see Under Attack and Under Wraps) is a fun tale though the non-reaction by the heroine’s peers seem unlikely and over the top of the Twin Peaks. The heroine is her usual mix of angst and West Coast shtick as she investigates what is going on amongst the supernatural beings. Fans will enjoy her escapades as she becomes the target of sinister adversaries.

Harriet Klausner

Captivated-Lauren Dane


Lauren Dane

Heat, May 1 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9780425247365

For almost a year, the Imperium imprisoned and tortured Hannah Black. She barely survives by constantly repeating who she is. Still they nearly break her as her hope to escape diminishes over the long captivity. Federated Universes military officer Vincenz Cuomo liberates Hannah.

She begins the mental and physical rehabilitation while Vin and his lover Julian Marsters encourage her. As Hannah heals she becomes their lover too. Refusing to hide in the shadows, she joins her two men on a mission to an outlying lab where she proves her worth by decrypting code that warns them war is about to heat up even as she learns who her rescuer truly is.

The latest Phantom Corps entry (see Insatiable and Mesmerized) military romantic science fiction is an action-packed thriller (in space and on the bed) starring an intriguing ménage a trois. This exciting tale contains a fast-paced plot from the opening rescue, sexual interludes, and fabulous twists including a late stunner. Series readers will be Captivated by the Relentless trio who battle a repressive vicious adversary who is after the blood of especially one of them.

Harriet Klausner

Torn-Lee Thomas


Lee Thomas

Cemetery Dance, Jun 2012, $30.00

ISBN: 9781587672651

Luther’s Bend is a quiet town where violence never happens and even petty crime is rare. Thus when someone kidnaps eleven year old Maggie Mayflower in the park, the townsfolk is shaken. Sheriff Bill Cranston leads the investigation of the abduction his friend Les’ daughter. The only witness, the victim’s tweener friend Emily, gives a vague description of an old man. A posse searches and finds Maggie, but one of the men Arthur is grabbed by what looks like a monster with gray skin and a snout.

Bill assumes the culprit wears a mask but is shocked with how strong he seems. He shots twice hitting the monster, but the beast escapes. The next morning, a man fitting Emily’s description to a T is arrested. In rhyme, Douglas Sykes pleads with Bill to kill him before others like him destroy his town. Though hard to accept, Bill believes the old man and the monster are the same being and that a horde of like him will descent on Luther’s Bend to kill Sykes for afflicting them with his disease and subsequently attack the townsfolk. Bill prepares for a siege, but even he is unprepared for what shockingly occurs.

This is a very creepy macabre horror thriller as the key cast members including the apparently dichotomous Sykes seem real and their behavior (especially the townsfolk) believable. Lee Thomas shows his talent with creating a premise that human interaction leads to at a minimum duality as Bill is a dedicated law enforcement official and a troubled husband with an acrimonious addicted wife while the mythological monster’s twoness is physically blatant. Readers will enjoy this exciting novella as a pack hunting their monstrous creator is coming to tear down Luther’s Bend.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Tricked-Kevin Hearne


Kevin Hearne

Del Rey, Apr 24 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780345533623

The last breathing druid, Atticus O’Sullivan has lived for two millennia mostly by avoiding the Norse Gods whom he has tricked many times over the centuries. He currently hangs out in Tuba City, Arizona while pondering what type of soul dies in a place like this.

His foes find him, but the Native American god Coyote saves his life when the deity turns himself into Atticus, enabling the Norse gods to hack him into small pieces out on the Arizona desert; Coyote regenerates his body. In return for saving his life Coyote asks Atticus reciprocate. However, Atticus realizes why Coyote is known as the trickster as he wants the druid to fight evil skinwalkers while a betrayal leaves him in an even more precarious situation.

The latest Iron Druid Chronicles (see Hammered) is a great satirical urban (desert is more accurate) fantasy as the hero is stalked by the Norse gods, duped by the Trickster, betrayed by a friend, and almost skinned by the skinwalkers. On the other hand he has his loyal apprentice Oberon having his back. Action-packed, this witty thriller is a fun tale as readers learn why the state’s politicans insist they have a horrid illegal alien problem.

Harriet Klausner

The Prophet-Amanda Stevens

The Prophet

Amanda Stevens

Mira, Apr 24 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780778313397

Amelia “Graveyard Queen” Gray is renowned for her talent to restore lost respect to neglected cemeteries. A prime reason she is adept at what she does is her secret skill, seeing ghosts. As a child her dad gave her four rules to strictly adhere to when dealing with ghosts; but during her travels Amelia has smashed each of them (see The Restorer and The Kingdom).

She vows to obey her father’s admonition. However, this proves difficult when the dead cop pleads with her to find his killer. Clues take Amelia to the darkest evilest sector of Charleston and to haunted police detective John Devlin who haunts her heart. Soon Amelia’s good intentions to undo any damage she may have caused between the realms of the living and dead forces her to choose between her love and her dad’s rules.

This is a superb dark urban fantasy as readers learn more about who Amelia Gray is. Action-packed but character driven, fans will relish the trek into Stevens’ world as a beleaguered heroine finds mending what she wrought a seemingly impossible task even without considering her feelings towards Devlin as Amelia’s soul is at risk if she does nothing, fails or succeeds.

Harriet Klausner

A Wolf’s Heart-Vivi Anna

A Wolf’s Heart

Vivi Anna

Harlequin Nocturne, Apr 17 2012, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373618828

Hybrid vampire- wolf shifter Elise LeRoy the Oscar winning Otherworld actress receives a threatening letter signed by blood drops. She knows not to ignore the unpleasant note. Nouveau Monde police inspector Gabriel Bellmonte the Lycan is assigned to keep Elise safe.

Fifteen years ago they were in love but he failed to keep her safe from a violent attack. Still he knows he loves her and would die for her. She never got over him either but his guilt over failing her rivals the strength of his love for her. Still he knows he must remain focused as someone nasty stalks his beloved.

This is a wonderful second chance at love urban fantasy starring two lead characters with a past that still haunts both of them. The storyline is fast-paced from the moment the heroine deals with her odious co-star during a shoot and never slows down until the final confrontation as Gabriel risks his life to keep Elise safe. Though the villain seems obvious, fans will enjoy this entertaining paranormal romance.

Harriet Klausner

The Witch Thief-Lori Devoti

The Witch Thief

Lori Devoti

Harlequin Nocturne, Apr 17 2012, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373618835

A century and one year ago Amma the witch stole a chalice from its guard dragon shifter Joarr. She left the Chalice Keeper trapped in his dragon form in a room in which he could barely move slightly. She traded her booty to a dwarf.

In the present Joarr needs the chalice to save his race from a deadly plague that kills the fledglings. Joarr captures Amma’s spirit inside a lantern. He demands she tell him who she sold the chalice to or else. Like she did with the princess who stole her spirit, Amma plans to remain patient and in hiding from her frustrated captor who considers burning her and the lantern. Rike arrives accusing Joarr of losing the chalice as disaster has struck their race as he explains the young are dying including his son. The possessor of the chalice leaves a note to the dragons to meet this unknown individual if they want it back. Joarr knows he must venture into the lair of their enemy; Amma comes out of hiding and joins him.

This is superb romantic fantasy starring two strong protagonists who make the world of Lori Devoti seem real. Fast-paced from the moment Amma tricks Joarr and never slowing down, fans will enjoy this engaging tale as the heroes fall in love but partial redemption (each knows they cannot bring back those who died) is what they seek.

Harriet Klausner

The Immortal Rules-Julie Kagawa

The Immortal Rules

Julie Kagawa

Harlequin Teen, Apr 24 2012, $18.99

ISBN: 9780373210510

The plague changed the food chain as humans became cattle while vampires took over the top rung. Inside the walled vampire dominated cities, people like seventeen years old Allie Sekemoto live at the outer Fringe as a food source at night while in the day they are scavengers who better be careful especially if they venture into the Inner City as quislings will sell a peer out to their Masters. Outside the walls are the brutal hybrid Rabids who thrive on human flesh.

While Allie was scavenging for food, a Rabid assaults her. Kanin the vampire gives Julie a choice between dead and undead. Though she loathes vampires, Julie chooses life. She vows to retain her humanity while Kanin mentors her on vampire society. Julie joins human refugees seeking asylum on the mythical island of Eden, but hides her vampiric nature from the wary travelers. On the dangerous trek though the devastated Rabid land, Julie falls in love with Zeke, but fears telling him the truth.

The “legend” of the Blood of Eden teenage saga begins with a strong paranormal romance in a fully developed dystopian world. The storyline is fast-paced from the moment Julie escorts readers around the city and never slows as the band of adventurers run into all types of danger and obstacles. With a nod to Hiero’s Journey (Sterling Lanier), Julie is a terrific heroine who keeps the exciting thriller focused as she, her mates and the appreciative audiences travel the lethal Kagawa world.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Lance of Earth and Sky- Erin Hoffman

Lance of Earth and Sky

Erin Hoffman

PYR, Apr 24 2012, $17.95

ISBN 9781616146153

Captain Vidarian Rulorat desperately opened the gates between worlds (see Sword of Fire and Sea). Now he faces the second order effect as elemental magic is no longer dormant as it had been for centuries. As a consequence of his action, many powerful people like his best friend Ruby died. War between Qui and his homeland Aloria has exploded since leaders in both nations believe the balance of power shifted due to the magic explosion.

The Aloria Emperor orders Vidarian to lead the sky ships in battle against the Qui and to train the demoralized Sky Knights to ride beasts that shapeshift. However, he has two missions besides keeping his country somewhat safe. First he wants his beloved fire priestess Ariadel back in his life and he needs to learn to control his new magical skills. However, Vidarian theorizes the real threat to his empire and their enemy comes from the powerful Alorian Import Company.

The second Chaos Knight fantasy is an engaging thriller that has less action than its predecessor but also provides much more insight into the Hoffman mythos. Although the world contains little freshness, this fast-paced tale will remind readers of the Raymond E. Feist’s Riftwar saga as Vidarian’s struggles with the moral implications of what he wrought.

Harriet Klausner

The Night Sessions--Ken MacLeod

The Night Sessions

Ken MacLeod

PYR, Apr 24 2012, $17.95

ISBN 9781616146139

By 2012, most people have turned their backs on organized religions following the Middle East Faith Wars culminated with nuke strikes at Megiddo. Politicians who seek office avoid any mentioning of religion as the Second Enlightenment has ripped religious posturing from politics though there remain millions of fanatics around the globe.

In Edinburgh, a bomb blows up a small church killing the Roman Catholic priest. St Leonard's Police Detective Adam Ferguson and his sentient robotic aide Shulk investigate the bombing murder. As other incidents occur, he realizes terrorist acts against the maligned mistrusted minority most likely by militant atheists are occurring. However, the evidence soon points to the sinister return of the God Squads trying to reignite the End of Days that never happened during the Faith Wars Armageddon.

This is a great police procedural science fiction that condemns people (especially politicians who send someone else’s child off to war) for invoking God on their side as a rationale for war. The inquiry is terrific as it not only relates a strong whodunit but uses the inquiry to provide insight into the near futuristic world of Ken Macleod. Although the climax is acceptable albeit weak compared to the storyline’s journey, readers will appreciate this action-packed thought provoking investigative thriller.

Harriet Klausner

The Burning Man-Mark Chadbourn

The Burning Man

Mark Chadbourn

PYR, Apr 24 2012, $17.95

ISBN: 9781616146115

Jack Churchill has finally come home after his adventures in time (see Jack of Ravens). However, the world he returns to is not the same world he left when he began his epic adventure. Evil has deployed the Mundane Spell to control people unaware what is happening to them.

Jack enlists trusted friends to help him locate the two keys that can destroy the Mundane Spell. However finding the keys is nearly impossible as the keys are two people who could be anywhere on the globe. He and his team search for power of creation and the power of destruction that can nullify the Mundane Spell. At the same time, the ancient gods, used to human adulation, are awakening.

The second Kingdom of the Serpent fantasy (eighth in the overall saga) is a fast-paced thriller in which the hero learns the Thomas Wolfe lesson that you can’t go home as the home you left no longer exists though in Jack’s case the Void remains the prime villain. Loaded with action, fans of the trilogies will enjoy the adventures to liberate the world at a time when old dangers arise. Although it helps to read Jack of Ravens in order to know Jack, a brief introduction enables fans to skip the previous entry. Mark Chadbourn provides a terrific middle book that has a complete storyline yet also sets up the final novel.

Harriet Klausner

The Wind through the Keyhole: A Dark Tower Novel-Stephen King

The Wind through the Keyhole: A Dark Tower Novel

Stephen King

Scribner, Apr 24 2012, $27.00

ISBN: 9781451658903

Roland Deschain the gunslinger and his fellow travelers (Jake, Susannah, Eddie, and Oy) cross the River Whye on their way to the Outer Baronies when a monster storm strikes. The band takes shelter. While waiting for the nasty weather to pass, Roland tells his companions about an incident from his past.

In the year after his mother died, Roland’s father orders his teenage son to investigate the rumors of a homicidal shape-shifting “skin-man” in Debaria. Roland meets teen Bill Streeter, the only witness to the horrid serial killer’s rampage. To calm the frightened lad, Roland tells Bill the legend of Tim Stoutheart from the Magic Tales of the Eld that his late mom used to read to him.

This is a brilliant return to the completed adventures of the Dark Tower as Stephan King deftly slips in a tale that occurs between books 4 and 5 (see Wizard and Glass, and Wolves of the Calla). Mindful of F. Paul Wilson’s Young Repairman Jack’s Secret Histories, this exhilarating clever tale inside a tale works nicely as each story is well written, totally contained, does not alter the end of the saga, yet also brings thrillingly to life the teen years of Roland.

Harriet Klausner

Circle of Cranes-Annette LeBox

Circle of Cranes

Annette LeBox

Dial, Apr 12 2012, $16.99

ISBN: 9780803734432

Travel agent Lao from Fuzhou arrives in the remote mountain village of Cao Hai, China. He explains to the townsfolk that he escorts people to the Gold Mountain – America for a fee of fifty thousand dollars, which is an investment as the villager who goes with him will send home a fortune. To ease the fee, he offers a migrant loan, which the leaders accept. They choose thirteen years old Zhu Suyin to go over her objection.

Zhu, who is connected to the village cranes, and her fellow young female passengers cross the ocean on a terrible too crowded ship that appears ready to sink any moment. In New York City, the girls work fourteen hour-days in a horrific Chinatown sweatshop without wages. Suyin, who has the magic of the Crane Sisterhood, fears she is the last one and if she fails at her mission to save the Crane Queen the magical crane women will become extinct.

Targeting tweeners, this is an entertaining contemporary fantasy that focuses on the horrid working conditions of young illegal migrants from China. The fantasy elements are fun while insight into China's ethnic minorities enhances the tale although the diversity of these different groups is lost behind the dumbing down Chinese stereotype Miao. Based on real human trafficking news, Circle of Cranes is a profound tale that looks at an inconvenient aspect of illegal immigration ignored by those in power except when an incident occurs.

Harriet Klausner

The Mailman: 20th Anniversary Special Edition- Bentley Little

The Mailman: 20th Anniversary Special Edition

Bentley Little

Cemetery Dance, Apr 2012, $60.00

ISBN: 9781587672699

For many years reliable Bob Ronda delivered the mail to the residents of Willis Arizona. He was so dependable; his customers took him for granted. However, for no apparent reason, Bob commits suicide.

On the day of Bob’s funeral, his replacement John Smith is dressed in his postal blue uniform, which looks silly. Schoolteacher Doug Albin meets Smith and has a creepy crawly omen about the newcomer. Not long afterward, Doug thinks Smith tampers with the mail as bills fail to arrive and bad news is not delivered. Out of the blue Doug receives a letter informing him that his Bronco's power train warranty is extended for a year without charge; his wife Tritia obtains a free subscription to the Fruit-of-the Month Club; and their son Billy gets letters from his grandmothers containing money.

Soon their phone stops working, the power goes out and their water cut off. Doug goes to the water and power departments only to learn they received a letter signed by him to cut off his water and power because they are moving. Not long afterward, all the good mail turns ugly with nasty letters arriving. Doug knows the mailman is the cause, but unsure what he can do about this.

This is a reprint of a great Bentley Little 1991 horror thriller that focuses on an outside force negatively impacting a somewhat isolated town. Though some readers might feel the electronic explosion makes the storyline obsolete, the theme of what otherwise civilized good neighbors will do to one another when under extreme pressure remains strong. Family man Doug is the prime opponent of the Mailman, but his early warnings make him sound paranoid as everyone scoffs at his fears.

Harriet Klausner