Fangs for the Fantasy

Fangs for the Fantasy is run by Renee from Womanist Musings, and Sparky who love all things Urban Fantasy. While we do love Urban Fantasy, we're also social justice bloggers and we try to be aware – and look at the genre from a social justice lens. Whether we love a series or hate it, we look at it through this lens – and critique it in part based on its treatment of marginalised people and issues affecting them. It doesn't mean we don't love the genre – but even the books and programmes we adore have problematic elements and we refuse to ignore that even while we enjoy them..

 

In addition to this blog we also have a weekly Podcast on Mondays

 

Full details can be found on our blog, Fangs for the Fantasy 

 

 

Archangel's Prophecy (Guild Hunter #11) by Nalini Singh

Archangel's Prophecy (A Guild Hunter Novel) - Nalini Singh

The Cascade is rising again, the power swelling and ancient angels starting to influence the world with their ancient prophecies

 

Prophecies which focus a lot on Elena, the only human born angel in existence. She’s gone through many changes - but will she survive how the magic changes her again?

 

But while the world is shaken there’s a more mundane, but deeply personal threat as well. Someone is killing vampires - including an attempt on her brother in law. She and the world may be under threat from magic - but her family is under threat from a killer and Elena refuses to let that go



I find myself clinging more and more desperately to Nalini Singh’s epic worlds because we’re seeing so few of these beautiful epic series. More and more are closing and, damn it, I love me a long epic! More epics! More book series with more books than I have digits!

 

And so we continue to the story of Elena - and I like that we are going back to Elena this book after several books of following more and more of Raphael’s Seven and their relationships, we’re now returning to the original, Elena, the first human born angel and what she means in this changing Cascade world. I like this revisit because we can see so much of how Elena has grown now we’re refocusing on her - another advantage of these long series. Some of this is very personal to Elena which really shows both a lot of her personal growth and journey as well as how she is so very different from other angels. Her relationship with her family, her attitudes towards her brother-in-law, her sister and, above all her father. She has evolved and has some much more mature and nuanced emotions towards her family as she and they have grown. Equally it emphasises she isn’t an Angel - how so many of those angels have no real familial ties of note. But we don’t just see her humanity but also how angelkind has changed her. She looks at angels she thought as cruel and sadistic and now she sees them from a much different perspective - she can see the risks they take with vampires as well as the angel’s cruel response. She’s not as condemnatory even while, at the same time, not quite signing off on it

 

Throughout the book we see Elena elegantly straddling that line between human and angel - and even her ties with the Guildhunters still putting her both part of the organisation but also apart. I also really like how this is never seen as a bad thing - sure she has lost some commonality over the books with some of her friends, but she still has her ties and in a genre where difference is so often seen as exclusionary or isolating, Elena has a really strong friend network. Which I also appreciate in paranormal romance where so many women seem to live lives with few truly close connections beyond that with their love interest. In fact, huge amounts of this book happen with Elena completely separate from Raphael - I would even say he is a bit character in this book, there more for what he represents than his actual presence. I’m not saying Raphael should be sidelined - but it’s nice to see us revisiting characters in a romance and her having a life that isn’t entirely focused on him

 

 

I also love where Elena is, her relationship with the Legion, her home, her habits, her family - she has a full life.

 

The artfulness of this was that by setting up Elena, who she is and how she’s changed it then really raises the stakes over actually losing it - whether that’s the Cascade changing Raphael to make him more powerful - and less human - or the much more immediate and heartbreaking threat of the changes wrought in Elena taking her angelhood from her. This would be a great plot point in any book but that poignant set up makes it all the more powerful because we can see exactly what Elena stands to lose

 

We don’t really expand the world building or the metaplot unduly this book - beyond Cascade shenanigans continue - but we get to see more breadth and depth of the world, little details like what happens when vampires leave their contract, their underworld, a lot of more mundane life on the ground of the city.

 

 

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Source: http://www.fangsforthefantasy.com/2019/01/archangels-prophecy-guild-hunter-11-by.html

Forbidden Witches (Tarot Witches #2) by SM Reine

Forbidden Witches (Tarot Witches Book 2) - SM Reine

Leah has led a sheltered life… she certainly has never attended many concerts. But even she’s pretty sure concerts don’t usually end up with you waking up on the tour bus surrounded by naked people - and sexy werewolves and witches

 

I am going to, again, reference my pledge to read every word SM Reine has ever typed in her entire life ever.

 

One of the mild downsides to this is the Tarot Witches series - because this would probably be a series I would never pick up at any time. It’s a paranormal romance where the romance and sex both is the focus - and it’s a werewolf romance. And for some reasons there’s something about the canine and furry that invites the worst tropes round to play. But with this world, with its complex and overlapping characters, I can’t guarantee some of these characters won’t be super relevant later. Especially since the underlying concept of the Tarot witches is really intriguing - these witches who have some kind of plot to resolve linked to these destiny predicting Tarot cards. All of these women can be extremely different people, facing massively different challenged with this woo-woo bringing the disparate women together. All for a deeper, richer and more mysterious purpose

 

And damn it I want to know what that mysterious purpose is! This is the world with the whole godslayer narrative, an author who has produced some of the most unique and genre breaking storylines I’ve read and a world so complicated and interlinked that I NEED to read all of this to appreciate the vastness and amazingness. Whatever else happens in this series, I will charge through it because I know some of these elements or characters may inform the Dana McIntyre Must Die series or the The War of the Alphas, I want them to be included, I want to see all these vastness come together because there’s so much here I love

 

But… this book really isn’t one of them. It has so many romance tropes I find unpleasant: inexperienced female ingenou vs experience male love interest; Magical Mating Bond that get complete strangers to fall in love without getting to know the slightest thing about it; woman instantly trusting love interest despite the extreme danger she’s in; man barking orders and commands and control over woman; woman giving no more than a token protest to all this. And there’s not even a real story like there was in Caged Wolf. No dark past to escape, no figure to defeat - no, the meaning of her card is, not-even-a-spolier, to basically do what her captors say

 

Yes I said captors. Innocent, naive, Leah, good mormon girl with only a couple of ex-boyfriends and little experience in the rock star lifestyle goes to a concert at the urgings of her Gay Best Friend (yes a gay character. Yes, he’s a walking stereotype. No he does nothing in the book except be Leah’s friend. We even open to him giving her a make over. Actually that’s pretty much all he does). There because of woo-woo she’s given VIP treatment which means getting this very naive woman drunk (at one point tipping her head back and pouring alcohol down her throat when she seems reluctant) after which she gets heavily groped by two men and sat in a bus witnessing. No she didn’t say no. But she was extremely drunk as she makes clear on multiple occasions. This is not ok.

 

And when she falls asleep that bus drives off and leaves the state. And when she expresses a wish to leave she is denied. As we go on she is repeatedly stopped from leaving and even physically picked up and carried by her love interest when she tries to leave. And then tied up. Her protests to this are minimal… and seconds after being restrained they decide her sexy smell is distracting so it’s necessary to make her orgasm. If she’s less horny her smell won’t be distracting, apparently.

 

Consent is not something that is considered

 

 

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Source: http://www.fangsforthefantasy.com/2018/12/forbidden-witches-tarot-witches-2-by-sm.html

Lies Sleeping (Rivers of London #7) by Ben Aaronovitch

Lies Sleeping - Ben Aaronovitch

The Faceless Man, Martin Chorley, is moving closer and closer to his mysterious but doubtlessly destructive final goal. But the Folly has gathered all its resources, all it connections to begin Operation Jennifer which will final stop him once and for all

 

And Peter Grant, detective constable and apprentice wizard, boyfriend to a river goddess is going to be in the centre of the front line



I like Peter a lot, as a character. There’s so many aspects to him which are so refreshing and fun to read. Perhaps most surprising of them is he’s a person. A real person with a life. He’s a police detective and a wizard but he also goes home to his mum for dinner and fending off her massively spicy Sierra Leonian cooking. He has a pint. He goes home to Beverley. In a genre where so many people, especially detectives, seem to just exist for the drama, he actually has a home life. He’s not sitting there declaring “I am Police! My Life Is Fighting The Crime!”

 

I also like that he’s a good man - and how he’s a good man. Peter isn’t naive. He knows there are times when being a bit of a bastard would be more effective and safer. He overtly thinks that there would be a better way to do things - but those would involving not caring for people, not following the rules and, ultimately, not being a good man. Peter isn’t a fool and is aware that he is sometimes actively making his life more difficult and dangerous -but these rules matter to him. But nor is he self-righteous, he doesn’t think he’s better than other people, he isn’t judgemental. He’s hopeful without being naive and he’s cynical without being bitter. He doesn’t expect the world to be better but he is determined to make it better. And oh my gods, can I say how much I love seeing a fictional police officer who cares about the rules? It seems to be a staple of fiction to have the police break the rules gleefully and we’re supposed to support it. I like to see a fictional police officer who actually cares about the law. I really like how Lesley stands as counterpoint to him - because again she isn‘t super demonised as all evil - but because maybe she just doesn’t have his same lines. And she maybe has a point? These rules and laws have been put in place for completely non-magical people and do they even apply, can they?


And he’s extremely funny and fun with a lot of very wry observations which were hilarious. I love Peter, I love his voice, I love how we get this incredible hard balance of being a good person without being naive or bitter is just hit perfectly. He’s wonderful.

 

He also fits the world - this wonderful setting in London, full of research and knowledge and pure love of the city - but that love is the same as Peter’s goodness. It’s love that is mixed with cynical knowledge of reality - whether it’s Lesley’s angry retort that London sucks all the wealth and attention from the rest of the country or Peter’s cynical knowledge of London Traffic, funding, neglected areas, some truly awful architecture and more - he sees ALL of it and loves it despite it.

 

 

The whole book, the whole series, has some truly excellent takes on police procedure and the city. It’s rueful, snarky, funny, real and manages to make a lot of very boring procedure seem funny. It’s nice to see all the paperwork, it’s nice to see them uploading leads, chasing leads down, attending dull dull meetings, doing risk assessments, checking procedure etc etc. It’s excellent and fun and sarcastic - and both does an excellent job of poking many things without necessarily saying they’re bad or wrong. A procedure can be irritating and mockable while still being important or necessary.

 

Top this off with the supernatural, the glorious romp of fae, arthurian legend, magic, dubious practitioners and a whole lot of fun woo-woo. And I really love how there is a lot of research in this - from the work of archaeologists, to what early London looked like and bringing that history together into a really complicated and fascinating plot involving the old enemy Punch. I also really like how it’s clear there are holes in their knowledge of the supernatural, a whole lot is fudged and Peter, who has a scientific mind, is fully aware of how arrogance, ignorance and prejudice has informed the scholarship of people who came behind.

 

The plot as I’ve touched on, is excellent with a great combination of careful pacing, frustrating, when the police work is, fascinating and fun.

 

I also really like how this book approaches mental health - after all everyone here is doing a really hard job in very high risk conditions literally facing the complete unknown. I liked how they explored that, yes, some of these characters couldn’t take it and needed help,. I liked how no-one judged him as weak or fragile and even felt their own failures for not recognising he needed help. I like how when discussing policies they realised this is an important thing they need to pay attention to, I like how mental health is high on everyone’s priority and concern and it’s openly advocated

 

 

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Source: http://www.fangsforthefantasy.com/2018/12/lies-sleeping-rivers-of-london-7-by-ben.html

Diamond Fire (Hidden Legacy Novella) by Ilona Andrews

Diamond Fire -  Ilona Andrews

 

It is time for Nevada’s wedding and, if her little sister Cataline has anything to do with it, Nevada won’t have to worry about anything except her poor taste in bouquet

 

But with intolerant, demanding extended family with a ridiculous amount of secrets, a jewelry thief. Oh and a poisoner

 

Most weddings don’t have this much drama



It’s an Ilona Andrews book. I will now run around, chuckling with glee. There is no such thing as an Ilona Andrews book I don’t love - their work is designed to make me lose sleep because putting their books down is impossible.

 

This story continues the deadly magical and political world of the Primes - with a wedding. Nevada and Rogan’s which, unfortunately, also involves a whole lot of Rogan’s less than stellar relatives who are trying to ruin things in various ways

 

Our protagonist is not Navada for once, but her little sister Catalina - and it gives me hope that maybe we will be able to see future books with Catalina in the lead because she is such an interesting character

 

I think it’s an excellent contrast between Catalina and Rogan’s rich, spoiled cousins - contrasting their entitlement with her hard work. But also contrasting how young they are in comparison to her - how inept their plotting is, how basic their plans are and how they clearly wouldn’t have worked. We see how mature and competent Catalina is


And I think that really has to be emphasised. Catalina is competent, she’s extremely capable, experienced and knows a great deal about her work as an investigator. She’s a professional despite her young age and it shows everything about her skill and character - I like her

 

 

She also grows. We’ve seen the Baylor family go through a lot - now exposed as having several Primes and being acknowledged as an actual house in their own right. I like seeing how Catalina is adapting to this - her fears and confidence, her ability and her doubts but most of all her relationship with her magic. She has spent her whole life being afraid of her magic but is now expected to embrace it - and with that having to leave her own shell. Her growth through this book, of her magic, her confidence and her courage in the face of the disdain of the wealthy relatives all works so well

 

 

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Source: http://www.fangsforthefantasy.com/2018/12/diamond-fire-hidden-legacy-novella-by.html

Silver Silence (Psy/Changeling # 16 Psy/Changeling: Trinity #1) by Nalini Singh

Silver Silence: Psy-Changeling Trinity Series, Book 1 - Nalini Singh, Angela Dawe, Orion Publishing Group Limited

Silver Marcant is the scion of the power, influential, Marcant family. She is also the assistant of Kaleb Krycheck, de facto leader of the Psy. She also runs the global emergency response network


She is a busy woman

 

She has little time for people trying to kill her, or big clumsy werebears trying to insert themselves into her life



This book marks the transition of the Psy/Changeling series into the new series, the Trinity era - and I really have to praise how excellently this has been structured, as I referred to in Allegiance of Honour the transition book in the series. That book excellently summed up where nearly everyone was in their lives, the position of the world and what would be the new conflict coming forwards. The overarching story of the last 15 books has been the fall of Silence

 

Silence is over. Silence is done, that chapter is closed and with Allegiance of Honour setting up the new foundation we have the new conflict: what happens now? Where is the world? Especially as it becomes apparent that the different races need to be more united than ever

 

Behold the Trinity - where Silence has fallen and the whole world has changed - and with it the whole tone of the series is much broader as well. The previous series felt more focused… we had a couple and the werewolf pack/psy group they were part of. And it was pretty much localised. Yes there was the fall of Silence, but largely the battle against Silence for most of the Psy characters for most of the books has been survival. Even the Arrows, the Shapeshifter packs, Devraj Santos’s hidden group, are all stories of survival (well and romance, obviously). Survival against the evils of Psy Society, against discovery and occasionally about their survival against their own exploding psy abilities. Yes society is changing in the background but that’s more a side effect of their quest for survival rather than a goal they’re actively pursuing until the last few books


And so now we have Trinity and I think branching a whole new series was the ideal way to do that and emphasise how the foundational theme of the series has changed. Trinity, forged from the Humans, Changelings and Psy to create a more hopeful, united future. And paradoxically, a more diverse one (in terms of factions): the Psy have somewhat broken or, rather, with the fall of the Council the divisions have become more relevant. We don’t have “the psy” we have the Arrows and the Empath Collective and the Nightsky group and Kaleb’s faction suddenly being more individually defined even as they work together. Or the shapeshifter packs who are distinct entities rather than the unity of the Wolves and Leopards. I think they’ve always been so divided but rarely were they all so involved in the close, personal focus of the previous books.

 

Which brings me to the excellent choice of Silver as the protagonist for this book - Silver Mercant so nicely bridges all of this and brings the new collective focus on several factions since she’s the head of the global emergency network while she herself is both perfectly aligned with Kaleb Krycheck while at the same time being a member of the powerful Mercant family which is allied with him but definitely not in his pocket. Silver represents the different factions being balanced but ultimately acting in unity that truly defines this new series. She’s an excellent choice of protagonist to herald in this new era


In addition she has all the qualities of Psy that are so powerful - powerful psychic abilities, cool collectiveness and a fierce, insightful competence that is impressive to behold. But she also has a deep vulnerability stemming from her powers - one that Silence saved her from, a nice and important reminder that Silence wasn’t imposed on a whim but because it was literally trying to save the Psy race and, if it is discarded, then there will be problems from that. I love Silver, she’s a microcosm of everything the new Trinity faces.


And then we have her love interest because it is a romance. And I’m kind of torn. I have said again and again over the last 15 books that I am not a fan of these repeated shapeshifter males poking distant Psy women, crossing their boundaries, pushing touches on them, invading their homes, bypassing her security and generally ignoring everything she wants until she gives in

 

 

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Source: http://www.fangsforthefantasy.com/2018/12/silver-silence-psychangeling-16.html

Caged Wolf (Tarot Witches #1) by S.M. Reine

Caged Wolf - S.M. Reine

Ofelia is hiding. After her horrendous past she has fled as far as she can and now lives in Lobo Norte, the almost unknown hamlet in Mexico near the US border

 

There’s not much there - but bikers come for drugs, for the local prostitutes and for the cage. The cage matches are massively popular and the lifeblood of this small town

 

But when a different gang comes to town, werewolves with their own agenda, the cage matches become much more important and much more dangerous. But despite Gloria’s insistence on keeping her head down, Ofelia is drawn out - both the promise of money and the unnatural attraction she has for one of the bikers. But drawing attention to herself is the last thing a hiding woman should do

 

 

 

As I mentioned in a previous review, I am on a mission when it comes to thisauthor’s world. I will read them, in something resembling a reasonable order.

 

And when I picked up this book, the first in the Tarot Witches series, I have to say I had some regrets. And part of that is simply because erotically charged Paranormal Romance isn’t my thing per se and I’d likely have skipped past it if I weren’t on the mission.

 

The sex comes hard and fast in this book (literally and figuratively) in a way that I find more irritating than titillating. Woman sees man and he hasn’t even opened his mouth to speak and already everything is hot and wet and moist and throbbing and pumping and zomg this is the hottest guy there has ever been ever and she can barely think. And this may work for a 14 year old ingénue raised by nuns seeing a man for the very first time. But she’s a sexually experienced, sexually adventurous stripper and former sex worker in her mid to late 20s and it just feels tired.

 

And it’s not just burning lust, we’re rapidly shoved forwards to Connor (or “Trouble”) being jealous of Ofelia, calling her his, giving her orders, being protective of her, willing to face down his pack for her, being drawn to her on a full moon, risking his life for her. And she, with less highhanded possessive dominance and jealousy, doing the same to him – deciding he’s hers, planning to run away with him, willing to fight a werewolf for him, ignoring his nearly biting her, getting all hot and bothered when he tells her what to do or seems angry when she disobeys.

 

I have no idea why these two characters like each other, let alone are madly-in-love-willing-to-run-away-together level attached. I don’t even know why by the end of the book, I think they’re literally willing to die for each other and they’re still complete strangers. It makes the whole romance painfully boring because there is no romance there. They find each other hot to the point of not being able to keep away from each other and that’s it. There’s no other connection, nothing, no reason for them to be this attached and no reason for me to care about their relationship one iota – or Trouble for that matter who is just a blank sexy slate with an impossibly big cock (of course).

 

Ofelia I have a little more time for – and when you clear Trouble OUT of her story, we have something interesting. In fact, her story was even getting really good before he and his unnecessariness pulled her out of things. Her discovering a Tarot card with dire meaning was interesting. Having a paranormal romance or an urban fantasy with a sexually active and charged main character was interesting and fun, complete with her lack of hang ups and, despite being badly scarred, with a strong body image. That last one is pretty unique. She has a tragic past and though it motivates her to hide and drives her to anger and vengeance, it’s integrated into the character as a defining and essential moment rather than an all consuming element of all she is. Her relationship with Gloria, who runs Lobo Norte’s bar, was excellent, all gruff and loving



Aside – I love Gloria, give me a book of Gloria. In fact, no, I want Gloria to just be taken and dropped into any book anywhere just to have her listen to the protagonist’s latest nonsense and have her say “blah blah blah, all I’m hearing is ‘Gloria, I am stupid’”. More Gloria would have helped this book so much because her slap upside the head and scathing tongue has no time for over dramatic romantic  nonsense. Every book needs a Gloria.

 

 

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Source: http://www.fangsforthefantasy.com/2018/11/caged-wolf-tarot-witches-1-by-sm-reine.html

Paradise Damned (Descent Series #7) by S.M. Reine

Paradise Damned - S.M. Reine

Elise is trapped within the Garden of Eden - and it is time for the godslayer to finally comfront God himself. Or at least try to survive his presence...

 

James has run to the rescue - but he is trapped and lost in endless limbo. While on Earth forces gather, the Union, hunters and even demon/angel hybrids as a cataclysmic event is predicted



This book is an odd book. There is plot but for the most part it doesn’t progress and go anywhere. We follow Elise almost exclusively now she is trapped in The Garden with her long nemesis - Adam, God. The god, the god that she, the godslayer, was always intended to face

 

But while in that garden she experiences a great deal - but, through sheer powerlessness doesn’t do a great deal or move the plot forward. And I think that works and is very necessary to convey just how very powerless and lost Elise is at this moment - how her just surviving and continuing to go forwards in a realm that is inimical to her very being in the face of a being of literally omnipotent power. Being frustrated, being stuck, seeing no way out but fighting on anyway is the core of this book and Elise herself

 

And while that happens we have the revelations - oh the revelations and truly fascinating world building and take on the ancient Adam and Eve mythology. The nature of Adam/God, the very different nature of Eve (which definitely flips the power scale before Adam ruined everything) the nature of Lillith, the birth of angels, of demons of humanity, why the whole idea of sacrificing women to the clearly dangerous and broken god keeps working, Metaraon and his motives towards all the events in the series so far, including the shape of this coven - so much is here.

 

On top of that we have nice moments from Nathaniel (James’s son), Elise’s mother Arianne and James himself all adding new shades to their characters both now and going forwards as well as more flashbacks of Elise’s past which helps understand her a bit more. I especially appreciate, after my previous complaints, that Elise and James have a major confrontation over the information he has been hiding from her - and it’s neither dismissed nor swept up. In fact it’s a nice contrast how she kind of rebuilds a lot of bridges with Anthony after their deeply broken relationship after they were both emotionally reeling - but such a neat resolve is denied James

 

The book ends with epic. And I think it needed to - after so longer with Elise captured and helpless we needed reminding of her awesome strength, we needed reminding that just because she was so helpless in the face of an impossible force doesn’t make her weak. It worked - and I think it worked even more that we had a sort of mini epilogue to basically say that it isn’t over That despite the whole massive, world changing hugeness that just happened, life still goes on and it goes on in quiet, sad and often mundane ways

 

One odd side effect of all the epic hugeness this is that Lucas, Malcolm and Anthony, making their way to Oymyakon, seeing the Union getting up to various shenanigans is a very fun romp (and I will always kind of love Malcolm, the quintessential rogue) but also jarringly out of place and bizarrely mundane next to all the epic world building and revelations out there - but at the same time the only part of the story that is actually moving forwards

 

 

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Source: http://www.fangsforthefantasy.com/2018/11/paradise-damned-descent-series-7-by-sm.html

The Mane Squeeze (Pride #4) by Shelly Laurenston

The Mane Squeeze (The Pride Series) - Shelly Laurenston

Bears!

 

Werebears! Why do we have so few shapeshifter books about werebears? We need more werebears!

 

Big clumsy snuffling, curious werebears that just want to know how things work and then end up breaking them because they’re just big, hulking, strong goofy people who are just adorable!

 

And all the bears want is plenty of honey and salmon and sleeping a nice long time all in peace without the other shapeshifting species getting in the way.

 

While those other shapeshifting species view them as massive engines of destruction to be poked at your own risk. And I think that’s a nice element; I mean we have big scary wolves and lions but when it comes down to it, a grizzly bear is a grizzly bear and every other predator is better off leaving it alone.

 

So we have Lock, our big, sexy, lumbering bear with his ice cream and honey and nice long sleep in and his quietly perfectionist carpentry, being generally exasperated by the manic antics of all the other shapeshifters around him. Oh and he knows that lions, tigers or bears, a Philly girl is apparently scarier than anything else, which amuses me muchly.

 

And those antics include the Wild Dogs which may still be my favourite shifters in this series because they’re goofy and silly and they have fun and they play and they chase their tails but are still probably more united and more serious and even more dangerous than the other packs. I love their whackiness, their geekiness, their squabbles and how they leave the poor bears thoroughly thoroughly confused by all that energy, random weirdness and big tearful eyes if they need to get there.

 

And I like Gwen and her story - I like her struggles for independence in the face of her mother’s plan for her - and her brother’s interference. I like that, even though she has the skills and knowledge to follow in her mother’s footsteps, she’s pursuing something else she wants to do. She faces a lot of discrimination because she’s a hybrid - a child of two different shapeshifters: She’s a Tigron, half tiger half lion. I think more could have been made of her Tigron nature and what it means - same as her best friend Blayne who is part wolf part wild dog. But I think it’s interesting that they didn’t emphasise any supernatural difference: because it’s not necessary or even accurate - and instead focused on how they were treated differently. A lot of supernatural prejudice involves a group facing discrimination but it turns out that, yeah, there’s a good reason for that. This managed to emphasise both the direct hatred they faced AND the subtle, not-feeling-welcome feeling that Gwen’s family gave her felt more real.

 

Gwen and Blayne have a great mutually supportive relationship covering their mutual plumbing business (which is excellent) through to calling each other out on their ridiculousness, through to roller derby. They work really well together and have an excellent us-two-against-the-world vibe.

 

 

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Source: http://www.fangsforthefantasy.com/2018/11/the-mane-squeeze-pride-4-by-shelly.html

Nightshift (Midnight Texas #3) by Charlaine Harris

Night Shift - Charlaine Harris

People are committing suicide at the Midnight crossroads. Once is tragic, twice unlikely and three times definitely more than a coincidence

 

There’s a dark presence under the crossroads. It’s been there for centuries - but it’s waking up. The inhabitants only clue to what it is and what it wants is in a book that none of them can read. They’re running out of time and the dark voice Fiji hears is growing louder

 

Meanwhile Olivia’s family may have finally caught up with her - with lethal repercussions and increased suspicion about the true motives of her neighbours




I really do like the concept of Midnight - a small town in rural Texas where the supernatural gathers, where people with secrets gather to build their new life. Over the last few books this has developed further as the members of the community have grown closer together. And this is something Charlaine Harris has always been very very good at: building a community, building all those little social interactions, those visits and family histories and little gossips that gives a real sense of community

 

This does, in some cases, slow the pacing as various characters discuss their issues with each other, then discuss those issues with other characters and all pry into each other’s business - especially since we have a lot of characters all with their own back stories and issues (which I, again, really like). But it works here because the overall story of this small town is the community that has been built here. So I don’t mind that we spend what appears to be a truly unnecessary amount of time discussing Lemuel’s human life even though it adds absolutely nothing to the plot. Or that we have Manfred’s old cronies from Las Vegas living nearby. Or the time spent gossiping around tables discussing what Chuy and Joe are (which is not known for most of this book and these are somewhat peripheral characters - which is a little weird given what they’re facing). It works because that’s what these books are.

 

I do think Olivia’s story is a little…. Weirdly convoluted. But hey, it’s not completely out there so I can run with it.

 

At times it seems the characters are somewhat distracted from the main plot, largely waiting for Lemuel to translate a convenient book he’s found - convenient in that it has all the answers and plot convenient in that it’s written in a convoluted ancient language for no good reason (and, honestly it makes little sense and really is just a method of drawing out the main plot so they can focus on the smaller side plots and relations. But it works).

 

The plot itself does have those convenience issues and does sort of circle slowly towards the ending rather than run for it - and it has some weird road bumps with Olivia’s story kind of running mundanely across the main supernatural - there’s something dark and evil under the crossroads plot line.

 

 

But the plot was interesting, contained a lot of hooks and some nice diversions and was an excellent vehicle for these characters and the world. Especially Fiji - this book does a really good job of developing the town witch, bringing her past and letting us explore her character but also her growth as she both hardens and decides to live up to her potential: there’s definite character growth there. And her cat is awesome too.

 

I am a little bemused why everyone is super suspicious that Madonna manages to keep her restaurant open with limited custom, yet Bobo has a pawn shop, Chuy and Joe have a combine antiques/nail salon and Fiji runs a new age shop. I mean… there’s not enough custom to keep a restaurant open (despite half the locals eating their regularly) but a magic shop does?

 

There are some… unfortunate lines in this book. I’ve said before that this series has massive improved on the other worlds in terms of less problematic depictions of marginalised people - we have multiple female characters with Olivia and Fiji and even the more minor characters of Madonna and Lenore all feel decent and quite respectful and Olivia and Fiji actually grow together and like each other and may even come close to friends. We have Madonna and Teacher and Chuy and Marie as POC and Joe and Chuy as a gay couple and, while not perfect, they’re so much better than what I’ve seen before. We even have a female vampire who is angry at a man FOR GOOD REASON and this is actually acknowledged as reasonable!

 

 

 

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Source: http://www.fangsforthefantasy.com/2018/10/nightshift-midnight-texas-3-by.html

The Dangerous Book for Demon Slayers (Accidental Demon Slayer #2) by Angie Fox

The Dangerous Book for Demon Slayers - Angie Fox

Lizzie needs an instruction book - being a demon slayer is definitely not a learn-on-the-job profession.

 

But she has no time to study - her uncle has fallen into the clutches of a succubus in Las Vegas. But on arrival there’s far worse than just one man’s life at stake - the entire city is under threat, none of her friends can help and Dmitri, the powerful griffin she loves, is dangerously compromised



The first book in this series has enough plot points to intrigue me - while also having a lot more elements I didn’t enjoy quite so much. I was hoping the balance reset and we saw more of the fish-out-of-water Lizzie trying to establish very normal self in the wild and whacky world of elderly biker witches and demons and griffins.


And… we didn’t really get that?

 

I kept checking to see if I’d skipped a book because Lizzie has suddenly developed a weird level of self-reliance. A major side plot, perhaps the entire theme of this book, is Lizzie trying to drive everyone off and insisting she has to do all this alone… and… since when? By the time line of the book she’s been doing this for about 2 or 3 weeks? But now she’s making multiple comments on how she needs to do all this alone, she doesn’t need help and… this would work in say, book 5? But now it’s odd: where did this come from?

 

It doesn’t help that we don’t have any real revelations of this book - or any development of the world building that would justify this level of confidence. One of the comic relief elements of this book is the fact she’s given a provisional license. That she doesn’t know how to be a demon slayer. She comically fails the test. She has a huge, and good, epic rant about how her mother had all the training and experience and she was just winging it. She even starts writing a book - The Dangerous Book of Demon Slayers - to guide others because they’re so rare and there’s so little guidance. Her approach to other supernatural in this book is, naturally, confusion

 

So why the self-reliance? Why the confidence? When she was asked to levitate her response was literally “I didn’t know we could do that!!!”

 

What matches this confusing lack of character development is a rather equal lack of world development. The witches use magic - which basically means icky things to freak Lizzie out  - and I say again what a shame this is. These witches, all older people, were driven out of their home and away from their own traditions and had to hit the road, developing their own cobbled together magic as bikers, transients, people without herb gardens or supplies. I would loved to have seen more of magic, the witches and their cobbled together need to use floss and mouth wash and road kill etc. This is such an utterly fascinating unique concept while, ordinary-woman-who-throws-shit-at-demons-while-whining-and-has-a-cute-animal-companion is dullllll and done done done.

 

We had ghosts in this book. We had fae. We had people saying fae are discriminated against, we had clearly other supernaturals, a bureaucracy, licensing for practitioners, a fairy godfather and OH MY GODS SHE DOESN’T QUESTION ANY OF IT. It’s just like “hey, this exists” which is great - but we never go beyond that. Give me depth

 

Because without a compelling, developed main character, without a compelling, developed world we’re left with the plot which, I’m afraid, also doesn’t pull me in. Like the characterisation, it’s not actively awful, it’s just lacking anything to drag me in. They arrive in town to find and save Lizzie’s uncle and manage to find and lose him. And then we just have a whole waffly bit in the middle Dmitri is in trouble, Uncle Phil is in trouble and they don’t seem to actually do a whole lot? There’s just a lot of flabby waffle round the centre of this book, lots of fretting over Dmtri (but not fixing it), lots of worrying whether they can trust a demon hunter (but not doing anything to find an answer for this), lots of fretting over the growing number of succubuses…. And there’s a lot of “oh we have no time!!!” DO SOMETHING THEN!!!!

 

 

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Source: http://www.fangsforthefantasy.com/2018/10/the-dangerous-book-for-demon-slayers.html

Allegiance of Honour (Psy/Changeling #15) by Nalini Singh

Allegiance of Honor (Psy/Changelings) - Nalini Singh

This is book pretty unique in the series. Unlike previous books in this long running series, there’s no central couple. Instead we have nearly everyone here. All the previous couples, all the previous major characters are all here to greater or lesser degrees all focusing on the greater development of the world rather than focusing on a single central romance

 

And this is absolutely excellent.


This is the fifteenth book in the series - that’s a long long long series. That’s a lot of characters and, while each book has been a romance, there has also been a truly epic and amazing metaplot burning along. The defections from the Psy Council, the greater rebellions against the Council machinations. The establishment of new factions, new networks and webs of alliances through to the massive change of the Fall of Silence and the creation of The Trinity Accord.


A lot has happened and there needs to be a book to address all of this and establish it without having to work it in around another romance.

 

This gives us the chance not only to establish the world, update us on where it is and further the world building and metaplot but it also lets us catch up on many of the characters who have kind of fallen by the wayside. Like Sascha and Lucas who should be so important in the series but haven’t been prominent for a while after they basically set this in motion (in fact, I think the Leopard pack in general has been neglected compared to the wolf pack). We see more of Faith and see her abilities in use again. Alesha appears again with her scientific skills. Even better, while we revisit a lot of these characters we also see a lot of cross-contact. We see characters talking to each other and forming links that we haven’t necessarily seen before which I think does a really excellent job of bringing these characters together and setting up a greater network and alliance which is what the Trinity Accords are all about. I mean theoretically we know these various characters probably interact but seeing scenes and contacts really underscores the society being developed and remembering all the characters which may have slipped aside.

 

We also have more development of Black Sea, the Aquatic Shapeshifters who run in a very different way to other organisations while still linked with all the caring and love that characterises a shapeshifter pack for even the weakest and least important members. At the same time I like that this contrasts with a shapeshifter pack that has so completely failed to uphold those basic conditions: because it would be so easy for us to go with the idea that Psy = bad while Changelings = good. Similarly I also like the awareness of what humanity brings to the equation - since they’re so often the “and there’s also this” element, and how they are essential to everyone’s survival as well as providing the creativity for society.

 

 

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Source: http://www.fangsforthefantasy.com/2018/10/allegiance-of-honour-psychangeling-15.html

Allegiance of Honour (Psy/Changeling #15) by Nalini Singh

Allegiance of Honor (Psy/Changelings) - Nalini Singh

This is book pretty unique in the series. Unlike previous books in this long running series, there’s no central couple. Instead we have nearly everyone here. All the previous couples, all the previous major characters are all here to greater or lesser degrees all focusing on the greater development of the world rather than focusing on a single central romance

 

And this is absolutely excellent.


This is the fifteenth book in the series - that’s a long long long series. That’s a lot of characters and, while each book has been a romance, there has also been a truly epic and amazing metaplot burning along. The defections from the Psy Council, the greater rebellions against the Council machinations. The establishment of new factions, new networks and webs of alliances through to the massive change of the Fall of Silence and the creation of The Trinity Accord.


A lot has happened and there needs to be a book to address all of this and establish it without having to work it in around another romance.

 

This gives us the chance not only to establish the world, update us on where it is and further the world building and metaplot but it also lets us catch up on many of the characters who have kind of fallen by the wayside. Like Sascha and Lucas who should be so important in the series but haven’t been prominent for a while after they basically set this in motion (in fact, I think the Leopard pack in general has been neglected compared to the wolf pack). We see more of Faith and see her abilities in use again. Alesha appears again with her scientific skills. Even better, while we revisit a lot of these characters we also see a lot of cross-contact. We see characters talking to each other and forming links that we haven’t necessarily seen before which I think does a really excellent job of bringing these characters together and setting up a greater network and alliance which is what the Trinity Accords are all about. I mean theoretically we know these various characters probably interact but seeing scenes and contacts really underscores the society being developed and remembering all the characters which may have slipped aside.

 

We also have more development of Black Sea, the Aquatic Shapeshifters who run in a very different way to other organisations while still linked with all the caring and love that characterises a shapeshifter pack for even the weakest and least important members. At the same time I like that this contrasts with a shapeshifter pack that has so completely failed to uphold those basic conditions: because it would be so easy for us to go with the idea that Psy = bad while Changelings = good. Similarly I also like the awareness of what humanity brings to the equation - since they’re so often the “and there’s also this” element, and how they are essential to everyone’s survival as well as providing the creativity for society.

 

This book just brings so many threads together: while it advances the plot I think the main focus is just to set a baseline after we’ve reached a somewhat new beginning for the series after The Fall of Silence. We began with survival, facing down the Council and now as we’re entering a new era it’s really good for this book to kind of raise a hand and say “This is what we’ve achieved so far!” and recap the vastness of of the last 15 books.

 

 

 

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Source: http://www.fangsforthefantasy.com/2018/10/allegiance-of-honour-psychangeling-15.html

Iron and Magic (Iron Covenant #1) by Ilona Andrews

Iron and Magic -  Ilona Andrews

Hugh D’Ambrey, the great Biblical wizard’s Warlord, has been banished from his presence. For decades, longer, Hugh was Roland’s servant and a lethal, terrifying fighting force and general. And now he doesn’t know who he is

 

But his soldiers rely on him, people hold grudges, his rival Ness especially. They need safety, they need a home - but who would trust them

 

Ilara and her people need protection. They’ve been driven to run for too long but are now secure in an actual castle… but they have no soldiers. And Ness wants their land.

 

It’s not a romantic match… but it is a practical one.



It is so hard to review an Ilona Andrews book. It’s hard because the things that make these books so special - the awesome world building, excellent characters, massively fun storylines and tight, descriptive yet well paced writing are pretty much the same in every book. Early on they set the bar at awesome and kept repeating the same levels of awesome and that leaves me with a happy stunned with joy, grieving because I’ve finished it and then flummoxed on how to produce a review that isn’t a duplicate of the last review

 

This book follows Hugh D’Ambrey - a very different standpoint from Kate given how he has been such a major villain for much of the Kate Daniels Series and how he is, pretty much, The Worst. I admit to having some reservations - I’m not against redeemed villain narratives but all too often they’re done far too simplistically which rarely if ever actually touches real redemption and usually amounts to a handwaving of their past

 

But this worked. Because it didn’t try to redeem Hugh. Hugh is a monumental bastard and always has been. He doesn’t claim to be different, Ilara doesn’t think he’s different, even the fact he wants to preserve his people isn’t presented as making him a good guy. Even exploring his toxic relationship with Roland and how Roland controlled him isn’t used to redeem or excuse him (though it does include some really excellent character growth moments as Hugh basically learns how to be Hugh without Rolan’s overwhelming presence). Even meeting old enemies who are grudgingly willing to work with him isn’t presented as forgiveness, even when he apologises. Even his own levels of self-hatred and self-recrimination: all of this is here but, at the same time, I don’t think the book ever intended me to think “Hugh is a good guy now”.

 

And I really like his relationship with Ilara. Firstly she’s an equal - she has her people and he has his both are the supreme leaders who have earned a vast amount of loyalty and even as the two factions begin to blur, it never happens in a way that undermines either of them. Neither are ever the junior partners and while he clearly has combat advantages over her in some situations, she is equally clearly the one with by far the most powerful magic.

 

And they hate each other which I love. Yes, I know I talked about persistence not being a virtue and love interests whose dislike is worn down by one party’s persistence. But that isn’t happening here - Hugh and Ilara marry for political reasons, so people will believe that their alliance is real (especially since Hugh. under Roland broke a whole lot of alliances). But Hugh and Ilara despised each other from the very first day and their sparring is glorious. Their searing loathing for each other (even as it slowly melts into respect but is never ever not a battle) is hilarious and mutual - Hugh isn’t setting out to win Ilara’s heart and Ilara

 

 

I also like the grounding reality that their conflicts can bring - with them arguing over how much things cost and how large Hugh’s monetary demands are. In fact I love that as an entire branch of the storyline - while fighting the many arcane and terrifying enemies that face the castle, they also take time to make alliances with local authorities, overtures to nearby towns and establish business and trade deals to maintain and increase their wealth. This mix of the mundane with the magical is compelling and also makes them even more cemented as leaders (and helps further them as peers since Ilara is more of an expert in this field)

 

Ooh, bouncing to another thing I love - those myriad arcane threats. In a world setting that has set up an enemy as epicly as the Kate Daniel’s series (there was a moment in a previous book where who and what Roland was was finally spelled out and it was EPIC enough that I couldn’t sit down) but at the same time in this glorious complex and varied world there’s never just one threat or one enemy. I like that there were problems from all sides.

 

The world - oh the world - the shift between magic and tech, the vampires, the various gods and magical beings and magic waves and out of control nature and just EVERYTHING. EVERYTHING. All explained awesomely without info dump or being too sparse. It’s perfect, perfect, perfect.

 

 

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Source: http://www.fangsforthefantasy.com/2018/10/iron-and-magic-iron-covenant-1-by-ilona.html

The Alchemist's Illusion (The Accidental Alchemist #3) by Gigi Pandian

The Accidental Alchemist - Gigi Pandian

Zoe Faust has lived for centuries as an alchemist, wandering the world to hide who she is. But since arriving in Portland and with her new housemate, Dorian the immortal living gargoyle, she’s starting to put down roots, make friends and even a family.

 

But one of the cornerstones of her wandering is that her old friend and mentor, the alchemist Nicholas Flamel, abandoned her. Now she learns he may have been imprisoned over the centuries - centuries waiting for her to rescue him. She has to act, even under the shadow of a suspicious death and through some very shady art dealing



This series probably epitomises “cozy mystery”. It’s not action packed. It’s not full of death defying feats and we don’t even have a huge amount of scary tension - albeit still with a few to maintain the stakes and not remove from the fact it is a murder mystery

 

That’s not because it’s boring - far from it - but because it’s story doesn’t rest on blood fizzing and massive drama even while we still have carefully maintained threads. It’s not a book that nails you to your seat, but it is a book you can coil up in your seat and relax

 

I really like how Zoe and co manage to be pulled into the murders of this series. A lot of the time with cozy mysteries it’s a little weird how we get these protagonists involved in the mystery - and why the police even tolerate their presence - or why they don’t mind their own business, especially when Zoe has such a big secret to keep - her immortality and, therefore, fraudulent identity.

 

But by linking the murders to Alchemy and, more importantly, giving the characters a mystery that is more relevant to them (the abduction of the famed Alchemist, Nicholas Flamel) we get a  lot more personalised motive to actually get involved in the mystery. At times it seems odd compared to the rest of the genre - because there’s a murder and Zoe & co all seem far more interested finding a painting which may lead them to Nicholas than they are about the dead man. It almost feels callous - until you remember just how ridiculous it is for the man in the street to decide to just muscle their way into a police investigation (especially lacking appropriate investigative skills despite Dorian’s enthusiasm). Instead they involve themselves where they should be and where they are the most invested and where they have the relevant skills

 

Zoe and Tobias struggle with protecting their secret identities and have a very good reason to avoid police scrutiny with them being decades or hundreds of years old and Tobias’s identity definitely frays around the edges. This book also follows on the previous two books of Zoe trying to put down roots, make friends and have an actual home. We saw this building over the last two books and this time it grows further - but Tobias is a walking warning as to how hard that can be, newly bereaved after the death of his wife, grieving but having to desperately do so in secret or at least hiding the identity of who his elderly wife was. Zoe herself is opening her life considerably - with old friends coming back, with Tobias present and with her secret being known by more people, Zoe’s life is changing a lot. But how much in her control and how much safely is still to be seen. Zoe is definitely launching into a very uncertain future.

 

 

I do like how the age of these characters factors in - we have Zoe’s suspicion, inability to necessarily connect with modern technology along with her many memories that interspace the story. We have Tobias and his history as an escaped slave and the scars he still lives with. Even subtle elements like Dorian not accepting the idea that a teenager is a child and shouldn’t be treated as an adult or assume the dangers as an adult. We also have some really interesting flashbacks which address alchemy, art - but also class and gender as well.

 

This all combines with some really beautiful writing about art (which I found fascinating despite my general disinterest in art) and a general artful pacing which managed to not be full of action and tension but is still compelling and interesting and fun to follow.

 

Tobias is a Black man as well as Zoe’s old friend and fellow Alchemist with different skills. What I like especially is not only is he a prominent Black character and a clear and valued friend of Zoe’s but he also doesn’t always follow her lead, will sometimes do his own thing and will often not feel the need to consult or otherwise work with Zoe when pursuing his own leads. We also have more expansion of Max’s role, Zoe’s boyfriend and an Asian man, including his very excellent mother and sister. What is less ideal is that these two women actually feel far more fleshed out than Max himself. I get that Max loves Zoe… I get that Zoe loves Max and I get that Max is moderate sceptical when it comes to the supernatural. But that’s kind of all I know about him and it feels like he’s still a blank slate. I feel more connected to the new female detective who teamed up with Zoe and was more than a little awesome.

 

There are no LGBTQ characters

 

This series continues to be fun. It’s an amusing read with great characters and a really original concept - from the sentient gargoyle to the very idea of basing the series on alchemy. Having a supernatural system with very little in the way of overt magic but a more subtle low key use of power - and on the third book we are opening up new directions of investigating, widening the series which I think is very necessary when a book series begins to develop. I look forward to see where this develops from here. I’m still following this series and enjoying it immensely

 

 

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Source: http://www.fangsforthefantasy.com/2018/10/the-alchemists-illusion-accidental.html

Dead Handsome (Buffalo Steampunk #1) by Laura Strickland

Dead Handsome: A Buffalo Steampunk Adventure - Laura Strickland

Clara has a gift - she can raise the dead. It’s not a talent she uses often - but when she needs a husband to keep her home and protect the children she keeps safe she can think of no other way to get a man quickly

 

Though he turns out to be far less pliable than she imagined.



Steampunk! Sign me up

 

Steampunk with magic! Sign me up twice! I do so love a paranormal steampunk.

 

This is a moderately low-key steampunk and magical setting though. The central premise is that Clara does have the power to raise the dead. And I can see you looking at me now and questioning how “low key magic” and “resurrection and necromancy” can actually co-exist - but this, so far, seems to be the sum total of the magic of this book. Clara doesn’t have an army of zombies in the basement, but she can raise the recently dead so long as they’re not too beat up. And she uses this ability, for the first time, on Liam - because she needs a man. But after that she doesn’t use it much nor does she have other magic to fall back on to help her in her hour of need. The battle instead rests far more on the limited resources they have at their disposal with a lot of that limited by the prejudices and injustices of the world and time they live in

 

Clara has turned her house into a haven for the dispossessed. Most of them are children- abused by parents or employers, poor, injured and disabled from industrial accidents and generally desperate in a time when there’s no support and no care for the weakest and most vulnerable in society - including child labourers and the extremely lethal factories that were so common in the Industrial revolution. We also have Georgina, a Black woman and a former slave who has also joined the household - who is clever, honest, tough and deeply valued by Clara. She also has a whole side storyline of her romance with Clara’s lawyer and the whole scandal of that atr the time

 

Liam himself is Irish and is considered both inherently criminal and utterly disposable by many of the wealthy and powerful characters in this book.

 

The central conflict of the book - trying to fulfil the legal requirements to keep the house feels a little… odd. I mean the terms her grandfather set is that she has to be married by the age of 21 or she is evicted. Granddad clearly wants this and will maliciously pursue kicking her out… but… why? I mean, why set the condition in the first place? Why even stick to these conditions? I want to see these legal papers that the grandfather has signed that legally compel him to give a house AND annual income to his granddaughter which he doesn’t have the power to just tear up and declare “nah”. And if he was so against his daughter’s husband and his granddaughter, why even give them anything at all? If it’s social status and a fear of being seen kicking his family out onto the street, why doesn’t he fear this still? I mean, in these sexist times, a wealthy patriarchy kicking his unmarried 21 year old granddaughter into the street doesn’t exactly look good either.

 

Still running with it isn’t hard and it’s still fun if you don’t dwell on that which isn’t hard as it isn’t overly that central. The internal logic of the McGuffin doesn’t matter so much as the journey

 

An element I just can’t get past is the examination of Clara’s morality. It’s very good that we have this moral hand wringing from Clara about whether she is a terrible person in how she decided to use Liam for her own well being. Treating him as a blank slate because she needed him to keep her home rather than viewing him as a person or considering whether he has any kind of history at all. I mean this is all extremely good debate and we see Clara repeatedly make some really difficult decisions as she considers the easiest path that would save them all but be morally reprehensible. There’s one thing she doesn’t consider

 

 

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Source: http://www.fangsforthefantasy.com/2018/10/dead-handsome-buffalo-steampunk-1-by.html

Lake Silence (The World of the Others #1) by Anne Bishop

Lake Silence - Anne Bishop

Vicky DeVine has just manages to escape a viciously abusive marriage and in the settlement she was granted ownership of the Jumble. A house and a collection of dilapidated cabins on the banks of Lake Silence. A beautiful location for a holiday - but she only owns the cabins. The terra indigene own the land and have set strict rules on how it can be used.

 

Vicky DeVine, building her new life is learning and adapting quickly to what that means.

 

But other people have seen her land and all the potential it has - and all the money they can make if they can just get Vicky out of the way… but you ignore the Others at your own peril



This book has a lot of parallels with original The Others series. And I’m torn. Because I do wonder if perhaps there are too many close parallels…?

 

The protagonist is Vicky Divine. She is a very vulnerable woman who is also inclined to breakdowns. She is threatened by a human force that want to use, abuse and threaten her but she makes connections with the Terra Indigene, the Others, who are willing to protect her. She is acting, in some ways, as a liaison between the Terra Indigene and humanity, her position as landlord of the Jumble, a Terra Indigene settlement/human holiday resort, brings her into close contact with the Others. She’s also being used by the Terra Indigene who want to learn about humanity and what it means to be human. Alongside we have some police desperately trying to stop some foolish humans from provoking the Others into violent retaliation

 

Which sounds a lot like The Meg… a vulnerable woman who is inclined to breakdowns who was threatened by humans that want to use, abuse and threaten her. She makes connections with the Terra indigene, living in a Terra Indigene settlement,as their liaison with humanity, helping humans coexist with the Others and allowing the Others to learn more about humanity. Along side there were police desperately trying to stop some foolish humans from provoking anti-human genocide (and… kind of failing)

 

The parallels are… really strong

 

But is that a problem? I mean, while there are issues, I love The Others series. I really love it. It’s one of my favourite series and Renee and I both looked forward eagerly for the next book of The Meg. This book having many very similar elements to a series I already loved feels like something I SHOULD consider negative but honestly I kind of love it. The Others series is over… it’s gone. But here it is, rising again and the series being very similar feels like a good thing to me.

 

I love this book. I love the old series. I love Vicky learning about the idiosyncrasies of the Others around her. I love them learning about her. I love the focus on Aggie Crowguard who is so much fun. I love Grimshaw trying to stop something happening that will provoke a lethal response from the Others in the lake and wild country.

 

There is less focus on the interaction between The Others - Ilya Sanguinati, the main force in the area is far more aware of humanity than Simon Wolfguard was - he’s a lawyer and he even tries to work within human law to fight against those encroaching on Vicky’s land and the wild country. It’s an excellent, exciting and really funny balance between “here is my injunction” and “the fire elemental will turn you to ash.” And it works, it really works. That balance is struck.

 

 

It’s also quite unique how it works - along with how The Others worked in that our protagonists’s allies are so powerful that I was reading away gleefully waiting for the bad guys to be killed and eaten. And that isn’t a spoiler, from the very beginning we know that’s an option. This series is never about “will the Terra Indigene win” so much as “how bad will the fallout be”? In some ways it’s why the police in these series are such fascinating characters - upholding the law, while also knowing that all that law will be irrelevant if the Terra Indigene decide they are Done. Dealing with humans who you are literally trying to stop from killing themselves with their own damn foolishness, always aware that another extinction level event could easily happen.

 

I think it was stronger in this book because we had far less of the confusion between Vicky and the terra Indigene, far less of them learning about humanity and Vicky learning about them than we had with Meg and Simon Wolfguard

 

I also like that the book acknowledges the previous events of the first series - how the culture of the Terra Indigene has changed from generally ignoring humanity to paying way more attention. And there suddenly being a lot more demand for Terra Indigene to understand humanity more. And there being radically changing culture in human settlements as so many people died or moved. Even the core - that humans who were used to ignoring the rules, rules the Terra Indigene probably didn’t care all that much about before and are now SHARPLY paying attention.

 

Another excellent commonality this book had with The Others series was how the protagonist is vulnerable and weak but not derided for that. Vicky is a woman who has left an extremely abusive relationship - emotionally abusive not physical. She has no self esteem, she hates herself, she’s very very nervous and she suffers from severe anxiety attacks. She can easily be broken or manipulated by angry, violent, shouting men and is easily intimidated. She also doesn’t feel like the most intelligent of women, being quite naive and even quite slow at times. But that isn’t used to present her as useless: she is capable of doing her job, she has friends who respect her and the fact she can’t handle conflict isn’t used to belittle her. I also like how her reaction to abuse is also mirrored in Julian Farrow, ex-cop, who has his own stress and anxiety from their terrible experiences. Grimshaw, Julian, Ilya Sanguinati and even good friend Ineke (who is awesome in her own right) are all protective of her without it feeling belittling. Ilya is actually concerned that his protection may be seen as disrespectful or implying she’s helpless.

 

I do think the antagonists in this book are… a little cartoonish. I can see why - when your “good guys” are monsters who are literally going to eat people over a property deal you have to make those property developers pretty damn terrible to stop the readers thinking “ok… is breaking planning laws really worthy of a terrible death?”. And I think the book does kind of gloss over things like the death of employees or police who are not directly responsible for the whole badness but are still brutally murdered. I think that them being terrible and murdered is more SATISFYING to read on an emotional level, but that the book could be more thoughtful - and darker - if we’d looked at these deaths more closely or saw the terra indigene hunt people that maybe we wouldn’t see as deserving of it. Like the teens who tresspass on the lake to swim and manage to escape with, at most, minor injury. It’s played off as a joke but that stops us examining “hey, some kids nearly got eaten for swimming…” element. The terra indigene are this big, terrifying threat but they’ve never FELT threatening to me because you have to be TERRIBAD AWFUL for them to murder you. The fact that the dead all so richly Had It Coming removed the horror from it

 

We do have several poc in the small town of Sproinging though there is little examination of this are we’re far more focused on human vs vampire/evil fish monster/avatar of the concept of fire. Still, only a very bit part music teacher sticks in my mind. We have no LGBTQ people (someone is running to the comments to mention the euphemistically referred to Simple Life men. Don’t).

 

 

 

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Source: http://www.fangsforthefantasy.com/2018/09/lake-silence-world-of-others-1-by-anne.html