Archive for February, 2010

Review: Black Magic Sanction by Kim Harrison

February 25, 2010

Black Magic Sanction, the 8th installment of Kim Harrison’s Hollows series, is an action packed thrill ride. The witches’ ruling coven who shunned Rachel Morgan, a witch with the ability to kindle demon magic due to a childhood illness, decides to get rid of her any way possible. The attacks put Rachel’s friends and partners in danger. To make matters worse, Trent Kalamack offers to help her as long as she signs a contract to work for him–forever. As the student of the demon Algaliarept, Rachel is becoming more easy with twisting curses. With the help of Ivy, Jenks and his brood of pixies, Glenn, the former ghost Pierce, Al, the witch Lee (who can also kindle demon magic), and even her ex-boyfriend Nick, Rachel fights for survival and tries to find a way for everyone to just leave her alone.

I absolutely loved Black Magic Sanction. It may be my favorite of the series. There were so many developments, not all good–I even cried at one point. The cast of characters are always growing and becoming more complex. No one is completely good or evil. Rachel is learning to trust, forgive, and not judge so quickly, everything is not black and white. Al plays a big part in the novel, giving deeper insight into his character. I really like Al now, even though he is a demon who tries to snatch people to sell in the ever-after. Rachel even tries to learn why (and if she should) she distrust Trent, my favorite character of the series.

The ending was perfect. It showed how much Rachel has grown. I cannot wait until the next in the series to see the interaction between the characters now that Rachel is learning to trust and understands others (namely Al and Trent) more.

For those new to the series, amazon.com and bn.com have the first, Dead Witch Walking, available for free as an ebook. Kim Harrison also writes the Madison Avery young adult series. The first, Once Dead, Twice Shy, has already been published with the second, Early to Death, Early to Rise, coming out May 25th. Under the name Dawn Cook, she writes the Truth series (the first two have lovely new covers), beginning with First Truth, and Princess series, beginning with The Decoy Princess, both of which I highly recommend.

I’ve been to three of Kim Harrison’s author signings. If you ever get a chance to attend one, you’ll have a great time. Kim Harrison is an extremely nice and funny lady. Plus you’ll get some goodies, too, maybe even a t-shirt. Last year she gave away tomato seeds (with the Angel name to tie into the series).

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Review: Unshapely Things by Mark Del Franco

February 23, 2010

Unshapely Things by Mark Del France begins with a running start and does not slow down throughout. The first in the series, Unshapely Things sets up an inventive alternative universe where the fey live in the open with humans. A string of murdered fairy prostitutes in the Weird, all with their hearts cut out, brings Connor Grey, a druid, on the case as a consultant for the Boston PD. Connor, once a high profile member of the Ward Guild, now lives on disability checks and an occasional check from the Boston PD. A black mass blocks his access to his essence due to an accident caused during his time with the Guild. Grey works to solve the murders and prevent more with his limited abilities and the help of Detective Murdock, a flit who goes by Joe, druidess Briallen, as well as others in the colorful cast of characters.

I liked the fact that Connor is not the typical sorcerer/elf/vampire/etc. Having a druid as the main protagonist makes for an intriguing read. I particularly liked Joe/Stinkwort, a flit who reminds me of Jenks from Kim Harrison’s Hollow series. Though Unshapely Things is similar to the Hollow series and Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden series, it does manage to set itself apart. With a unique universe, cast of characters, races, and racial politics, Mark Del Franco’s series has found a place on many readers’ shelves. I cannot wait to read more about Connor Grey and maybe the cause of the black mass in his mind.

Mark Del Franco currently has four Connor Grey books in publication, along with the first in a new series, Skin Deep.

Review: Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier

February 8, 2010

While Juliet Marillier’s Daughter of the Forest, the first in the Sevenwaters series, has been out for years now, I have only recently got around to reading it. After finishing the story, I could not believe I had been missing out on such a great series for so long. If you have not read it yet, I recommend giving it a try.

Daughter of the Forest is a retelling of the fairy tale “The Six Swans.” Sorcha is the seventh child of an Irish lord around the 8th century. Her mother died after giving birth to her, leaving Lord Colum devastated with the constant reminder of his loss in his seven children, especially Sorcha who looks just like her mother. Sorcha and her six brothers grow up taking care of and relying on each other. Each have their own special gift that makes them unique. However, their lives are disrupted with the appearances of a new stepmother who happens to be a sorceress. She turns the family against each other. When they finally join together to fight her influence, she casts a spell on the six brothers, turning them into swans. It is up to Sorcha to break the spell through her silence and pain, making thread and shirts of a thorny plant. She has a destiny, set up by the fairy folk, that takes her far away to the land of her people’s enemy on a difficult path fraught with danger and loss.

I loved that Juliet Marillier took a fairy tale and made it into a full fleshed tale with historical context. The land and the family’s connection to it were beautifully depicted. Sorcha’s sacrifices were heartbreaking, making me wince and cry in sympathy. The Briton, Red (Lord Hugh), was a perfect match for Sorcha. He was compassionate and protective when his people would have had him abandon Sorcha. I also recommend The Dark Mirror for those who enjoy Daughter of the Forest.