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 

 

 

Blood in Her Veins (Jane Yellowrock short stories) by Faith Hunter

Blood In Her Veins: Nineteen Stories From the World of Jane Yellowrock - Faith Hunter

This is a book of short stories from the Jane Yellowrock world - and it is huge. It may be a collection of all the short stories that there’s ever been in this series.

 

And it is excellent. It’s excellent because Faith Hunter is very very good at her short stories - the majority of them add something compelling to the main series. They add a little something to Jane’s past, to her relationships, flash out some elements of various characters’ back stories

 

I’m not saying they’re all perfect by any means - but the general tone of this whole book is to add a lot of richness and value to the whole series, filling in blanks, adding colour, expanding, adding realness - filling in all those things that would bog down a main book or get in the way or be unnecessary but still have value. That is a perfect use for short stories and compiling them all in one book removes the whole treasure hunt feel you can get trying to find a series’ supporting work.

 

We Sa and the Lumberking previously appeared in Have Stakes Will Travel developing Jane’s history before the series begins and continuing to keep her Native American ethnicity and experiences centreal

 

Similarly The Early Years also touches on another of Jane’s early moments, we’ve heard repeatedly that Jane was brought up in a children’s home but we’ve never really seen - Jane’s history in the children’s home and the people she met there and her first awareness of Beast and what Beast was beyond the ignorant attempts to explain that she got from the foster home. At the same time we get some excellent expositions of the flaws of the foster system and, really, how little it actually did to set up Jane for a successful life; not just because she didn’t fit - and Bobby due to his disabilities.

 

This is continued in Snafu her apprenticeship in security and private investigation, how she gained the skillset she had now, how she grew as a person, as a skinwalker, as a professional and as an adult. These three stories make an excellent arc for Jane’s early years and putting a great foundation of them.

 

This idea of using short stories to tell us how Jane got to where she is now continues with Kits which lays the foundation for one of the most important relationships in this book: Jane and her best friend and witch Molly. Their friendship, loyalty rough times and high times define so much of this series which means this, their first introduction so important. Especially as it really does explain how two people who are, by necessity, so private, managed to open up and really trust one another. Really, it sets the foundation for how Molly and Jane became not just friends, but family, which adds a realness to their relationship throughout the main series. Haints continues this with more looking at the supernatural world, more looking at how Molly fits into it (and, yes, using her witch skills to try and earn some money, even if dangerously. I like this because while Jane charges huge sums for her work, Molly doesn’t and as a mother of two, the extra cash isn’t just a throwaway resource to her). This also appeared in Have Stakes will Travel along with Signature of Death further cementing this awesome relationship and making them almost required reading for the series. But, I have to say like I did in Have Stakes Will Travel that the sheer amount Jane has reached out to Molly makes me even more disappointed when Molly turns on Jane for a couple of books in the same series. Yes there’s good reason - but these short stories show immense life-saving help Jane has given Molly in the past; I feel Jane deserved better than this. Which, of course, makes me even more happy to see them reconciled in later books



Again, this is why this arc is so important - it adds a wonderful texture to these character interactions

 

In theory, I suppose that it would be good to use short stories to do with Bruiser and Jane what was done with Molly and Jane. Sadly, I think this is a weaker element of this book, First Sight feels like a shallow bit of nothing, cheapening their relationship with insta-love and far far far too much sexual drooling. Which moves on to Dance Master which could be an analysis of Bruiser and Jane’s relationship or a nice snapshot of Jane’s daily life but is from Bruiser’s point of view and comes with more drool drool drool sexy drool, jealousy, sparring with Leo blah blah.



Which, I suppose, is kind of what Cat Tats does for Rick LeFleur which I’m sure would be all good and expansive for the character except I’ve always kind of hated him and that’s never really changed. It’s not so much him but as to what a complete mess Jane became around him. Still this story is essential - because so much of Rick’s story you can follow but not truly understand without this entry: explaining his mystical tattoos which would later cause him so much trouble in shapeshifting. Again we don’t just have one short story but a whole arc of Rick, from those tattoos, to then his initial problems and desperation in Blood, Fangs and Going Furry in trying to survive being turned into a wereleopard but unable to shift. Again, things we were vaguely aware of in the main series gain so much more texture following Rick’s arc and seeing the multiple places where Jane made a difference in his life

 

 

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Source: http://www.fangsforthefantasy.com/2017/07/blood-in-her-veins-jane-yellowrock.html

Pocket Apocalypse (InCryptid #4) by Seanan McGuire

Pocket Apocalypse - Seanan McGuire

Alex, the God of Scales and Silence, has been asked by his girlfriend Shelby to help with a problem in Australia - her home where her family still fights to protect Cryptids



They’re having an outbreak of werewolves.


The Lycanthropy-W disease is one of Alex’s worst fears and one of the most devastating things that can afflict a country; especially Australia that has never had an outbreak before.


Of course, while the 36 society has no experience of Lycanthropy, Alex has no experience of Australia - and he has a very healthy respect for how dangerous the continent can be. And that’s aside from Shelby’s family

 

This book takes Alex and Shelby to Australia. I was struck with their being one major, vital point about Australia. There are no Aislinn mice in Australia.


I mourned, I sulked, I pouted, an Incryptid novel without Aisline Mice is clearly sadness. Until:


“One foot bumped my rolling suitcase, which gave out a faint cheer.”


Hail! Hail the God of Scales and Silence! Hail the Airline Smuggled Mice! Hail!


Yes, the glee returns!


Obviously, with the InCryptid series, there are a lot of things I’m going to praise every book, repeating over and over again. I will always praise the world building, the concept of cryptids and how they fit into the world and how they fit into the natural ecosystem. I will alway praise how incredibly creative they are but also how they fit so excellently with the cycles of the world - like how hunting therianthopes caused lycanthrope-W disease to spread because of the clumsy hunting of the Covenant, or how hunting unicorns caused the spread of cholera.


I will always praise the writing with its excellent pacing, the excitement of the action, the awesomeness of the personal relationships, the excellently presented world buildings, and the perfect inclusion of humour among the science and fun. I am always torn between both not being repetive in my reviews while still having to mention this every book because it would be remiss of me not to remind everyone of the awesomeness


And the Aislinn mice. Who are awesome


But aside from the standard awesomeness of all of the above, I also like the exploration of a, well, a morality spectrum, how the 36-ers differ from the Price family in power and resources and in attitude, and an examination of Alex’s own morality and how he has reacted to the 36-ers own attitude

 

 

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Source: http://www.fangsforthefantasy.com/2017/07/pocket-apocalypse-incryptid-4-by-seanan.html

The Mist by Stephen King

The Mist - Stephen King
When a dangerous storm rolls into town, all the residents can think about is the insurance claims they'll have to make and clearing away the debris. What they don't realise is that that the storm will quickly become the least of their worries. It's not long before 80 people find themselves trapped in a grocery store, unable to leave because something primordial and dangerous is living in the mist.  As the claustrophobia threatens to consume them, they must decide whether or not to take their chances with the outside world or get carried away with the hysteria. 
 
The Mist is a typical Stephen King horror/suspense story.  Everyone has been in the kind of fog where you can only see a few feet away.  It's never a comforting feeling to have darkness descend, particularly in a world that has become accustomed to electricity and convenience. In this case, the mist hides deadly creatures who few humans as prey. 
 
I must admit to picking up The Mist because we are currently recapping and reviewing the television show. I believe it's always important to be familiar with the source material when possible. From the very beginning, even before we are introduced to the mist as hiding real danger, the story feels anachronistic for something published in 2007.  Cell phones may not have completely decimated people's use of payphones yet but making a call for ten cents most certainly wasn't possible. 
 
We meet several characters who are stuck together in the supermarket but the story is told entirely from the perspective of David.  David is an artist, father and husband.  David's one of the first to believe in the danger the mist poses because he's given hard evidence that the world they knew is gone.  Even as the evidence mounts that they are in mortal danger, not everyone in the store is willing to believe.  David's neighbour, who tagged along with him to the market to pick up a few things steadfastly believes that this is all one big prank on him and goes into denial. Norton simply cannot reconcile what he knows to be true. 
 
The people stranded in the supermarket fall into three categories: 
 
  • people like David who accept with difficulty the world as it's presented to them
  • people like Norton, who are determined to imagine that what they are seeing isn't real and that they aren't in any mortal danger
  • people like Mrs. Carmody, who has a complete mental break and goes down a dangerous path of superstition and fear.

It's easy to identify with the fears of all of the characters and put yourself in their place.  I don't know however if I would find Mrs.Carmody, who starts going on about human sacrifice all that appealing, no matter how scared I happened to be.

 

 

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Source: http://www.fangsforthefantasy.com/2017/07/the-mist-by-stephen-king.html

Blood Gamble (Disrupted Magic #2) by Melissa F. Olson

Blood Gamble (Disrupted Magic) - Melissa F. Olson

Scarlett does not want to go to Las Vegas. No, not even if there are two vampires putting on a show that may reveal the old world. No not even if Dashiel is paying her a huge sum of money. She’s not going

 

But Vampires don’t take no for an answer and with Dashiel manipulating her sister-in-law into going she has to try and protect them. But there she encounters something far more deadly than Dashiel expected… she could come home, but who but Scarlett will stop the death toll rising?


I would describe the world building of this book as solid and balanced and… disciplined. That seems like an odd word - but so many books have an anything-goes-magical-world and then decide ALL THE THINGS must be included so you can’t even go to the local shops without tripping over 2 leprechauns, bumping into a kitsune and dodging a Wendigo.

 

This book is excellently focused on the three major supernaturals - vampires, werewolves and witches, while clearly having a world with more out there but not allowing those swamp the book - instead we have nice additions without losing the focus


And I like how he implications of Scarlett, a null, fits into that - from alleviating the werewolf curse which is such a relief at times, to vampires being disturbed by actually feeling cold/hunger etc. I like the nuance of it.

 

What did surprise me about this book is the ending. There are elements I didn’t like - but I will say the whole thing completely surprised me - the twists and turns are completely beyond what I expected. Honestly, the ending and what happened with the characters was definitely not anything I expected as I read along. Throughout the book the plot goes in ways I never expected - the culprits were completely not what I expected. The way Scarlett finds the answers, balancing her friends, the threats and getting to the bottom of things is also a really original unexpected direction.

 

The plot does have moments where I think Scarlett seems to make some pretty huge leaps at times - like the whole Skinners storyline seemed to come from nowhere. Like we went from not even knowing Skinners existed and then suddenly decided they were a major threat without any real indication that they were present.but suddenly everyone focused on them

 

That aside the twists really make this plot. There’s action which is really well done, but not a lot mainly focusing on the investigation since Scarlett has a very unique power which isn’t necessarily a combat monster but definitely dangerous, following leads and balancing just how much Scarlett actually wants to be involved in this dangerous investigation.

 

I like Scarlett’s own development - she has that nice balance between her being duly concerned with her safety and the people she cares for alongside her compassion. I actually kind of like how Dashiel pretty much twists her arm to make her go - yes it’s coercive but we’re not talking a love interest here and, let’s be clear, the Cardinal Vampire of Los Angeles is going to be a ruthless user of people because, hey, master vampires, I don’t expect fluffy fluffy niceness. And Scarlett pretty much recognises this and doesn’t expect more. But I do like that she isn’t going to put herself at risk just because Dashiel says so. I like a compassionate protagonist but being a complete martyr is an overdone trope; especially female protagonists who are often not allowed to seek their own advancement.. Compassion moves her, as does threat and money - and it’s ok for a protagonist to be somewhat self interested. Of course that then falls apart because she’s only gathering a huge amount of money to help pay off her brother’s son’s massive medical bills

 

 

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Source: http://www.fangsforthefantasy.com/2017/07/blood-gamble-disrupted-magic-2-by.html

White Hot (Hidden Legacy #2) by Ilona Andrews

White Hot - Ilona Andrews

Nevada knows better than to get involved in Prime politics - and doubly to keep her magic hidden from the powerful families

 

But when Cornelius pleads for her to find the murderer of his wife, she feels she has to get involved. When a paedophile kidnaps a young girl she feels she can’t not use her magic

 

And when she uncovers a magical conspiracy that may destabilise the entire city if not the whole country she is again pulled in. More and more Nevada is drawn into Prime society.



I love this world - which goes without saying. It’s Ilona Andrews: it goes without saying that the world is amazing. All their worlds are amazing. In every series. No-one beats Ilona Andrews when it comes to amazing worlds.

 

But I think more than the magic world building I love how the politics between the Prime families and how they interact, the rights they have, the privileges. The magic is there and underpins everything which shapes both history and politics which in turn shapes the characters and their experiences-  but it’s more the maneuvering than the shiny powers that drives their actions.

 

Though I love how the powers are depicted, especially the subtle and horrifying impact of Nevada’s own power. As well as the comic and scary effects of her sister. Or how the power to talk to animals can render humans socially awkward. These are all excellently put together

 

I like the thought that has gone into magical intervention as well - how if a powerful magic user intervenes in one disaster they’re then blamed or attacked if a similar disaster strikes and they don’t step forward.

 

And the romance. This is generally where I say how much the romance is a distraction and how I hates it and, well, if you’ve read my reviews you know the drill of my annoyance. However, here is the mold being broken -ok i do think we, perhaps, spend a little more time on the romance than is ideal considering there is so much plot and world to get through but I can recognise that as a personal preference thing. What I do like is the conflicts between them - because they’re reasonable and sensible and don’t require one or both parties to lose their ever loving minds in order to have a disagreement.

 

Rogan is ridiculously rich and powerful and he decides he wants to protect Nevada - but in trying to do that he is using his vast wealthy to control her and the land and people around her. He sees this as defending her while she, rightfully, rejects this as it gives her a ridiculous amount of power over her, completely removes any chance of having an equal relationship - it’s not just that he has so much more wealth and power and influence than her but he’s willing to use it without consulting her of helping her.



Nevada is clearly right on this front - his control over her, his arrogantly deciding he knows what is best for her is clearly a problem. He’s right that she’s vulnerable and the political forces that are set to prey on her are more than she can defend against - so he’s not exaggerating or just making up a threat, but equally that measure of command and control without consulting her. There’s an excellent quote:

 

“For any kind of relationship to work, I have to have the choice to walk away from it”

 

Which is an excellent point on consent we’ve talked about before and I love to see it here.

 

On top of that arrogance there’s Nevada’s unwillingness to be a fling to him and his reluctance to push for an actual relationship are red lines for her. There are conflicts between them, but they are not unreasonable or foolish nor do they consume their story or make them unable to work together or co-operate. And when they start to come together it’s only after these issues have been aired and they begin to be addressed as something that matters

 

 

 

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Source: http://www.fangsforthefantasy.com/2017/07/white-hot-hidden-legacy-2-by-ilona.html

The Sight (Devil's Isle #2) by Chloe Neill

The Sight - Chloe Neill

Claire continues to split her time before running her family shop out of the Zone - he magic struck heart of New Orleans - and working with Liam as a bounty hunter to bring in lost wraiths to Containment - and their prison for paranormals

 

Increasingly she sees the injustice of Devil’s Isle - not least because of her own carefully hidden magic. But all of Containment are at risk when a charismatic human preacher starts rallying people against the remaining imprisoned supernaturals. The war ended 7 years ago, but someone is trying to start it again



Like the first book in this series, I have to say what really stands out here is the world.

 

The concept of a war zone created by magical invaders, of the prisoners of that war - so many supernatural creatures - locked away. Of permanent scars left on the land due to the influx of magic and then people trying to scratch a living in that land, in battle scarred New Orleans, in the shadow of that prison, dealing with shortages and magic and the constant threat of wraiths but also the oppression and intrusion of Containment interference.

 

The magic invaders themselves are divided, not just by creature type and magic but also by faction - the invading Court and the ordered Consularis who were forced into the fight. Then this book brings in lots of extra complexity around Sensitives - humans who have absorbed magic, gained abilities but now risk imprisonment and worse. As well as human hate groups blaming the remaining imprisoned paranormals for everything that is wrong in the Zone.

 

That was also something that mildly frustrated me - or not so mildly. Like we’re told there’s a difference between the Consularis and the Court and the Court forced the Consularis to fight - ok, fair enough but can we go to that in more depth? See some actual divisions? Maybe meet one of the court? It’s suggested the Court were ruled by the Consularis - were they escaping what they considered oppressive rule? We’ve already had the words “consularis” and “order” even strict order bandied about a lot - maybe expand?

 

Or expand a bit more on the numerous supernaturals we see? What are they? What powers do they have? What cultures? We alluded to some having troubles adapting to Earth - let’s see that

 

Or how Ezekiel and his anti-paranormal movement in part succeeds because there’s a lot of very poor, desperate people living in the now 7 year old refugee camps - can we explore their lives and struggles? Or how some are willing to live in the camps because New Orleans itself is so heavily monitored and policed by Containment.

 

This book, this world lays out a thousand and one fascinating plot points and they’re strewn around and I beg, BEG to follow any one of them up.



And, like completely unnecessary pineapple on an otherwise delicious pizza, we have Liam and Claire’s romance. And…. whyyyyy? We have this world, this amazing world, an excellent brewing conflict pointing out plenty of other nice hooks and still lots of thing about the world that I really want developing a whole lot more and we have this romance in the middle. And I know I harp on about unnecessary romance a lot - it’s just I’ve seen an awful lot of excellent adventures and worlds fall into the background while we focus on the bland love. Which is what gets me - see if Liam and Claire had met, declared each other hot, decided they were going to work together, found they had similar values, had hot sex, liked each other, agreed with each other, became closer through their adventure, shared interest and mutual passion, I’d be there for that. But instead we have yet another couple brought together through proximity and hotness but NO they cannot be together because CONVOLUTED REASONS and then sexual tension, woe, sexual tension, woe, rince repeat like we’ve read in a 100 other books, introduce another guy who is kinda-sorta competition (hi Malachi) for some jealousy. When they finally hook up then we have drama that splits them up again.

 

Which is what we have here - it’s such a text book paint by numbers romance (right down the the cajun love interest and if you’re in New Orleans you simply have to have a cajun love interest, it is known) and it stands out as extra cliched because the rest of the book is so imaginative and creative. When you have a world with such original concepts, the central romance being so typical with a love interest who feels so meh just stands out sharply

 

 

 

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Source: http://www.fangsforthefantasy.com/2017/07/the-sight-devils-isle-2-by-chloe-neill.html

Booke of the Hidden by Jeri Westerson

Booke of the Hidden - Jeri Westerson
Kylie is ready to make a new start - moving across the country to set up her own business and reboot her life. She meets her new neighbours, sets up her shop - and finds a book
 
Opening the book releases many dark forces into the world - and Erasmus Dark. possibly a demon, possibly a dark force, and almost certainly untrustworthy but Kylie’s only guide and help, along with a local coven of very inexperienced wiccans, to putting the monsters back where they belong
 
 
I am… just kind of bemused by the plot and actions of, well, most of the characters but especially Kylie Strange (yes, Kylie Strange).
 
I mean she has a bad break up with an arsehole boyfriend so decides to move and have a fresh start. Hey that’s reasonable. So she moves from California to Maine, to a town she’s apparently not even visited to set up a business selling herbs and teas in a rural town where she’s done no real market research and doesn’t even know who heads up the local business association or anything else about this place. It looks like she just picked a place on a map and decided “this town needs artisanal tea”.
 
Ok I’ll run with that. I’ll also run with her deciding to take a sledgehammer to one of her walls because it’s made of brick because, hey, alcohol. But when magic and woo-woo rise she turns to the local wicca coven - and thankfully this town has one and they all merrily introduce themselves to her on first meeting. As one does. Hey local-doctor-who-is-a-plasterer, want to discuss your non-traditional religion with me, a complete stranger, when you already face some level of hostility in the town because of it.
 
And weird odd choices like joining a knitting circle to raid someone’s library. Oh and some kind of dog monster which everyone seems to forget about?
 
We have a love triangle. Kind of. I mean, sort of. I mean, it’s like someone’s checked a list and realised “damn we need a love triangle! It’s required” but wasn’t especially invested in this or going to put much into it. I mean we have sheriff… so-and-so. I mean I could look up the name but really sheriff so-and-so is kind of the limit of his role. Ok, it’s nice for local law enforcement not to be the enemy for once, but if we’re setting him up as the nice human challenge to the supernatural love interest it’d be nice if he was actually presented as remotely, well… compelling.
 

Oh but let’s look at the supernatural love interest. Erasmus Dark (and you have NO idea how hard I am trying not to snark Erasmus Dark and Kylie Strange) apparently a demon (whatever that means because no-one ever asks or explains. I mean, which mythology? Demons are very different in different mythologies - and don’t tell me we can assume Christian when we’ve just established that half the main cast are wiccan!) in charge of watching over the book or helping the book holder. Which he does by spending half the book raging at Kylie. And it’s such a place holder: he complains she knows nothing, she asks questions, he refuses to answer them. Then he mocks her ignorance again. And again answers no questions.
 
 
 
 
 
Source: http://www.fangsforthefantasy.com/2017/07/booke-of-hidden-by-jeri-westerson.html

Sunchaser (Smilodon Pride #2) by Beryll & Osiris Brackhaus

Sunchaser (Smilodon Pride Book 2) - Osiris Brackhaus, Beryll Brackhaus

Roen is a loner, a weresmilodon who doesn’t like to spend too long in the same place. He wanders as the mood takes him, alone and working as little as he has to

 

He certainly doesn’t rescue imprisoned and abused werewolves or go on the run with said werewolf and a local woman from a small town in New Mexico

 

And so began the weirdest road trip he never asked for - with a dangerous unknown supernatural chasing them and some very angry cops looking for her



This book is so much fun

 

What I love above all else is Betsy. Amazing, awesome, human Betsy. Throughout this book Roan makes assumption after assumption about Betsy. He assumes she’ll be weak, vapid, shallow, selfish, self-absorbed, whiny - and every single time she awesomely challenges him.

 

But at the same time she doesn’t subvert and shatter (because she does way more than challenge his assumptions) his assumptions by being an action girl underneath the dye and make up (and it is a sad trope that is so common in Urban Fantasy that for a woman to be kickarse and awesome she most run screaming from anything reminiscent of traditional femininity) - she is just awesome complete with the dye and make up. She’s kind and compassionate, she’s smart and she’s tough. She isn’t a dangerous fighter or lethal nor is she filled with rage or jaded or cynical (other so very common tropes for the Appropriate Urban Fantasy Female). She’s hopeful and positive and pro-active, she wants to change her life and she will.

 

She makes some pretty silly and sheltered assumptions largely because her connection to the supernatural has been entirely through fiction (and there’s some really subtle but quite snarky poking of tropes there, and I do love a good trope poking), but she doesn’t cling onto these ideas past them being proven wrong or disputed. She thinks in stories, some of them very twee indeed, but she deals with reality - whether that’s a brutal firefight with drug dealers or stealing a car or handling the reality of wereanimals around her. Above all she tries - completely out of her element, having to learn really quickly, she keeps moving, she isn’t stunned, or incapable - she learns, she tries, she keeps on plugging and not with even the slightest sense of martyrdom. She doesn’t persevere and learn and try while being suffering and noble - she does it because she’s got this and she can do this. She’s the gem of this book.



This book does a good job of challenging a lot of Roan’s assumptions which I really quite like since he has a  - justly - bitter and cynical world view in many ways and he is shown several times, not just through Betsy, that there are good people out there. But at the same time it’s not done in a way that invalidates the racism that makes him assume the worst, it’s acknowledged that many of these acts of kindness are the exception. There are excellent calls outs of both subtle racism and the more overt hostility he both faces and expects

 

Roan is mixed race, part Native American and part Brazilian (not clear racially, but he is described as “darker” than most Native americans). He grew up on a reservation, but it’s clear his woo-woo - his ability to turn into a werecat, isn’t actually anything to do with his father’s Native American heritage (and nor did his mother chose his father because of woo-woo but because of the fact he lived more off the grid). However, while his experiences are shaped by racism, I don’t think he carries much of his Native American upbringing: more than anything, Roan is a feline by nature and culture (same as his mother) than a human being which does rather erase cultural markers. The description of his preferred type of women also feels fetishistic of Black women (he isn’t into Betsy because “ebony skin” turns him on - which feels reductive)

 

Seeing the cat challenge the werewolf is fun, because he is so very cat like. There’s this constant sense of superiority, arrogance and “I’m-just-doing-this-because-I-want-to” sense that any cat owner will know.

 

I also quite like the idea of a werewolf who doesn’t really know how to be a werewolf. And a werewolf that’s a big lazy dog that keeps pancaking whenever he can and would much rather take the car.

 

 

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Source: http://www.fangsforthefantasy.com/2017/06/sunchaser-smilodon-pride-2-by-beryll.html

The Rebirths of Tao (Lives of Tao #3) by Wesley Chu

The Rebirths of Tao - Wesley Chu

There has been a major shift in the battle between the two alien factions: the Prophus and the Genjix. They’re still in opposition - but humanity now knows they exist and is hunting them ferociously.

 

It has managed to save the Prophus from complete defeat, but the Genjix are still pushing towards their plan to radically change Earth - even while rent with internal conflict and the human opposition. Prophus must fight them - while keeping under the radar of the human authorities.


This book is excellent because it brings so many different storylines and balances them all perfectly

 

We have the conflict of the Tan family discussing Cameron’s upbringing and questioning what they did for their child, what his future looks like and how alien he may be because of that.

 

We have Cameron and Alex with the teen love affair and poor Tao lamenting the horror of human puberty (and frequent threats to jump off a cliff in his sleep). I loved how it ended, the reality of it and how it didn’t become sickeningly twee or consume the book.

 

We have Cameron - and I really love Cameron. He is incredibly skilled, extremely dangerous and even as a 15 year old far more dangerous than nearly anyone around him. He’s been backed from a very young age with vigorous training and the brilliant insight of a million year old alien full of knowledge and wisdom. It would have been so easy to turn this character into a juggernaut of Gary Stu dangerousness. It would have also been easy to turn him into a character who mopes around “woe is me why can I be normal”.

 

Instead while aspects of this are all present and inform his character, none to an extreme. He’s a really balanced character who combines all of these elements while still being very human and really bouncing well off Tao.

 

Then there’s Roen with his former relationship with Tao and the wonderful complexity this brings with both Prophus - since he’s the maverick former commander who doesn’t quite fit into their hierarchy even with Tao. And now he has a son who is possessed by his mentor which brings another whole level of complexity

 

And through that is Jill, effortlessly, perfectly competent in so many ways. There is an edge of the woman/mother/wife as keeper: she becomes super competent and a leader because of the manchild she married needs her to play parent. Jill’s an awesome character but the idea that a wife ends up having to be the caretaker of her husband is a problematic trope.



I have to say i spent a large part of the book vaguely irritated at Roen and co for their hatred of the IETF without ever actually thinking about how… right they are. Honestly, aliens have invaded Earth, they’ve been here since the dawn of human civilisation and they’ve spent pretty much all of that making humanity kill each other. Over and over again for centuries. Humanity, the IETF, have every damn good reason to loathe the Quasing

 

And it’s not like Prophus are necessarily good - they decided humans not fighting may develop the technology they needed to get home: it’s how useful humanity can be. It makes me really glad to see Tao’s harsh summation of his species - as well as adding to this excellent world building; what the Quasing do, how they act on their homeworld and other planets and a really insightful look into what the Quasing actually are and how the Quasing on Earth are so very different from what they were at home on Quasar.

 

 

 

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Source: http://www.fangsforthefantasy.com/2017/06/the-rebirths-of-tao-lives-of-tao-3-by.html

Blood Kissed (Lizzie Grace #1) by Keri Arthur

Blood Kissed - Keri Arthur
Powerful witches, especially from the major families, are considered a major influental part of modern society
 
Except for Lizzie, never living up to her family’s standards, she has gone into hiding with Isabelle, her best friend and familiar, to set up a business in werewolf territory which is more than a little hostile to witches.
 
She intended to fly under the radar - but when a child goes missing she cannot avoid using her magical abilities to find her; even if it did raise the ire of the local werewolf ranger
 
 
The world building of this book pulled me in quickly - which is just what you want for the first book in a series. The first book has to yell at you why this series is different, what this series has to offer that you can’t get elsewhere, something to hook you in - and a well built world is a perfect hook.
 
The werewolf territories and their quasi-independent status. There are the witches who are massively influential in government with their magic meaning certain witch families hold a position of almost aristocracy. We have a nice introduction of things like natural magic which is definitely raising potential for future complexities. We also have the big bad definitely with a different form of magic that is also going to add to the complexity of the world. Throw in some vampires and a nice hidden society and I’m hooked in
 
Lizzie herself I don’t think is going to be that original herself. Scion of a major family but without the major woo-woo? I’m laying odds now that she will turn out to have the super-rare-special magic or she will turn out to be a late bloomer or something. At some point her awesome super powers will become apparent, the tropes demand it! Honestly? This doesn’t bother me. Yes the genre is full of protagonists who deny their magic, jate their magic, don’t realise how powerful they are, think they’re weak and then embrace it all and become awesomely special power. But just because it’s common doesn’t mean it’s not fun or interesting or enjoyable to read.
 

Sadly, we also have her love interest. He’s a werewolf. He hates witches and is mean to her but needs her so they have to work together. And he can’t help being attracted to her and she can’t help noticing how utter hot he is ALL THE DAMN TIME never mind how much he hates her and yes we alllllll know where this is going. Nothing says true love like complete and utter loathing (it’s a pet hate of mine - can we stop driving the train from hate to love without a severe redemption moment on the way? Lusting after someone who loathes you is terribad self-esteem). I quickly became tired of the many times she told me she found hot.
 
Thankfully what isn’t tropes is her relationship with Isabelle her best friend, business partner and familiar is much more interesting, original, touching and with a lot of promise. The combination of prophetic dreams, linked magic, the class difference between them and a whole lot of snark and fun connection made this the most important part of the book to me. These two together are going to be excellent. Their friendship is great, they support each other, are fun, sex positive and joyful. But it’s also complicated by the subservient nature of the familiar bond which definitely makes Lizzie uncomfortable.

 

 

 

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Source: http://www.fangsforthefantasy.com/2017/06/blood-kissed-lizzie-grace-1-by-keri.html

Ashes of the Phoenix (Phoenix Rising #1) by Jess Haines

Ashes of the Phoenix - Jess Haines
Lyra runs a magical book store - despite having no magic herself. Still, she thought she was well protected against most of the tricks wizards can pull
 
Until a man stole one her more valuable books
 
And turned her into a bird. Neither of those are things she’s willing to let go
 
 
This book caught my attention because I haven’t seen a lot of phoenixes in the genre. And a book where the main character spent it entirely as a bird is definitely incredibly different and a completely novel concept. Things like this interest me as it points to an author thinking so far outside of the tropes we’re used to having
 
It’s also really well done - I can see this as the struggles a human would have when forced into such an alien body they don’t know how to pilot.
 
The world setting also is highly promising. Not just phoenixes and demons but a definite range of magic, magical creatures and big differences and implications with which with a clear rich and involved magical world.
 
The concept of the phoenix is also really original and curious - even if it’s only fully realised at the end of the book which is epic and is the main thing about this book that really drew me to wanting to see where this is going. There is a foundation for an absolutely awesome series here - so much can be developed in so many amazing ways
 
I did have an issue though - beyond the complete erasure of POC and LGBTQ people and any other minorities.
 
Unfortunately I kind of feel like a deadline was looming and the author had to get this book to the publisher like yesterday because it feels vaguely unfinished.  I know less is more (except when talking about bacon, of course) but in this case I could have used some more expansion
 
As I said, this book is here to introduce a new world, a new concept and a whole load of new characters. Which is great - and it does a good job of beginning to introduce these people, these concepts and this world (and I’m intrigued) but not enough for me to get fully invested in them (especially the characters). Everything, the world building, the creatures, the monsters, the magic, and the characters (definitely the characters) could use a bit more to get me invested in them

 

 

 

 

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Source: http://www.fangsforthefantasy.com/2017/06/ashes-of-phoenix-phoenix-rising-1-by.html

The Edge of Awakening (The Soul Tamer Series #1) by Alanna J. Faison

The Edge of Awakening - Alanna J Faison
Jasmine died. She died in utterly terrible, awful conditions.
 
But for Jasmine death is not the end - she has a destiny and a mission to train for as she and her allies prepare for the battles ahead
 
But how much was her family hurt by this destiny?
 
 
 
This book is a spin off series of the Rayne Whitmore Series, following Rayne’s dead sister, Jasmine. Jasmine is destined to become a Soul Tamer, joining a team of other new Soul Tamers, trained by Micah and other mentor Soul Tamers into their powers, skills and missions.
 
This adds a whole lot of interesting world building to this already excellently rich world. I think it’s an excellent idea to use a new protagonist to do this as Rayne couldn’t exactly stretch to cover this without severely distracting her own story and generally slowing things down
 
Instead using a new character and a new world we have an excellent chance to build into more world building, using the first book in a series to have the usual introduction to a series without derailing an already ongoing plot line.
 
And this world building is extremely good and interesting - the general use of ghosts and demons, the different powers and abilities and how they work and interact. I really like the little nuances like how simply being the most powerful doesn’t make you the most effective.
 
But more than the general world building is the personal stories of her fellow Soul Tamers - albeit some of the needing more development. All of them are young and all of them have had tragic pasts - but their pasts point to a lot of terrible injustices in the world, from starvation and poverty to hate crimes that starkly covers a lot of this diverse cast.
 
A lot of this book covers their training and I do like some of the interractions - probably Cas and Rayne the most because they do strike sparks - there’s respect and competitiveness and they’re probably not a great fan of each other but it’s not full on girl hate we see quite often in urban fantasy and young adult.
 
Her closest companion is probably Jayce, but Jayce is the LGBTQ representation in this book and it’s not really done well (another character may be a lesbian or bisexual but she also may be asexual, it’s not clarified yet). At one point he calls someone out for assuming bisexuals are just looking to have sex with anyone all the time - which is great. If that pretty much wasn’t the sum total of Jayce’s character. He exists to hit on guys, and that’s basically his characterisation even when said guys are not interested in him.
 

Her mentors and fellow Soul Tamers come from many different races - Micah is biracial and from segregation America, Dorian is Middle Eastern, Kenji Japanese and Atara, one of her peers is described as having brown skin
 
We also have minor passing characters not part of Jasmine’s group who are also racially diverse
 
Jasmine herself is Black.
 
This is an extremely racially diverse book and we do not have racial stereotypes or tropes clinging to them and that diversity extends from both minor characters to the protagonist herself
 
There’s also some brief looks at class as Jasmine is very aware of her family’s great wealth that she became so used to and stands out starkly against her fellows who faced hunger and debt.
 
I do think that Jasmine’s mentor etc were both not very forgiving and kind of dismissive about what she went through. How she died, how she became their chosen one, the implication that they were behind her “earlier” death. There seemed to be little acknowledgement that she was only 14 or how her death deeply affected her sister and led her to take some very severe risks. Yes, everyone has had a tragic past - but hey that kind of makes me question the way they treated everyone, rather than think Jasmine needs to suck it up and move on. While there’s a lot of bonding there’s also a real sense of judgement at times where they’re quite harsh, make no allowances expect a lot of her and even a little gaslighting. Like they seem to use the team to guilt her for feeling, for hurting, for feeling angry. It had an edge of manipulation that made me considerably suspicious of the powers that be here and I’m not sure I was meant to regard them with this level of suspicion - because part of me is kind of expecting them to get a severe call out or be revealed as a villain. But I think I’m getting the utter wrong end of the stick there.
 
 
 
 
 
Source: http://www.fangsforthefantasy.com/2017/06/the-edge-of-awakening-soul-tamer-series.html

Half-Off Ragnarok (InCryptid #3) by Seanan McGuire

Half-Off Ragnarok - Seanan McGuire
Alex Price is following his family tradition of Cryptizoology. He is living with his non-human grandparents (he has a complicated family tree), working as a zoo keeper in the reptile house and continuing his research

Of course, the zoo authorities don’t know that his research is into the breeding habits of basilisk and tracking whether the local fricken population is changing. All the while trying to juggle a relationship with the big cat keeper, Shelby while keeping all his secrets
 
Then people start dying - turned to stone. With his basilisks, a local gorgon population and a cockatrice running around, there are several possible culprits.
 
 
Hail! Hail the God of Scales and Silence!
 
Yes, every book review in this series is going to start with a homage to the Aislinn Mice who are made of utter awesome. And my main complaint about this book is there wasn’t nearly enough Aislinn mice. More of the mice!
 
I have to admit I went into this book with an immense amount of hostility - because the protagonist was changed from Verity to her brother Alex. And it is Change and I liked Verity so I opened this fully prepared to say how wrong and unjust and awful this is and, in the name of the mice, we must bring Verity back.
 
Thankfully I was wrong - or, rather I was overreacting. I liked Alex as much as I liked Verity - even though they are very different people - and I like that, that they were clearly different people with very different approaches to their family legacy (while Verity is conflicted, Alex embraces it despite the frustrations). His focus on science, breeding and studying crytpids in the wild with a focus on reptiles and amphibians is very different from Verity and her urban focus. But he was still so interesting, utterly invested, scholarly (same as Verity with a different focus) and a whole lot of fun. I am happy with Verity and Alex
 
I also really like how we explore their unconventional childhood and how that has affected their relations with others and the constant
 
But even better is Shelby the Designated Love Interest who is so many more times more interesting than Dominic. It would have been easy to make her less scholarly or educated or science based than Alex, especially since he’s the geek and she is blonde and attractive - but I love how that is definitely challenged and she is more than happy to stand toe-to-toe with him intellectually or action-wise. They work really well together, are great fun and she has a nice developed history and a clear personality. I liked her a lot.
 

Of course, the star of all this is the world building. The way cryptids work alongside natural world - both the non-sentient and the fully intelligent. I love the little nuggets like why cockatrice and basilisk petrify. I love the careful world building - like how a gorgon community cannot have livestock because they’ll petrify the animals. It’s little details like that that really make the world
 
As well as bigger elements that point to a really well detailed and carefully designed world: like the fact the Covenant, which hates all things Cryptid, basically declared war on all Australian wildlife- because Australian wildlife. Which again is an insight on Cryptozoology in different parts of the world (like the Australian concern for invasive species). It’s these details and development that make this world truly special
 
On top of that I love how the cryptozoology meets standard zoology and Alex’s concern that the Fricken - a feathery frog - is going to be discovered. I like that there are concerns around cryptids that doesn’t just concern how dangerous they are or people they’re killing - it adds an extra level of Cryptic management to the Price family’s mission
 
 
 
 
 
Source: http://www.fangsforthefantasy.com/2017/06/half-off-ragnarok-incryptid-3-by-seanan.html

Shield of Winter (Psy-Changeling #13) by Nalini Singh

Shield of Winter (A Psy/Changeling Novel) - Nalini Singh
While Silence is falling, it may be too late to save the Net. The infection of the PsyNet is growing and catastrophic collapse is imminent - a collapse that could kill thousands. As it gets closer there are more and more Psy infected by darkness, driven to unreasoned and uncontrolled violence even as Psy society is learning how to live without Silence
 
Kaleb, leader of the net and former Councillor, can think of only one way to save the Psy - the key must be the Empaths.
 
He collects Empaths into a camp to learn how to overcome the trauma of being suppressed in the Net and try to find the extent of their powers after so much knowledge has been lost. And who better to protect them in a hostile net than the Arrow Squad?
 
Led by Vasic - broken by the demands the Arrows have placed on him, he is slowly awaiting death and not valuing his own life. But if anyone can reach him it’s the Empaths - specifically Ivy
 
 
 
While we followed so many trope laden romances over this series, in the background there has been another story developing - the Arrows. The Arrows have always been a really fascinating element to this series because they are the very epitome of what Silence was for - and the damage it did. All of them are Psy with lethal combat abilities - the very Psy who rely on extreme Silence training to control their lethal abilities. At the same time they are the Psy used and abused by the Council to enforce their reign, causing so many disappearances and deaths. Seeing them turn from Silence, even as they relied on it’s training was an excellent parallel to the actual fight for the future of the Psy Net. Seeing Aden worry about his people and trying to lead the Arrows to a new future and a new life - independent from those who constantly use and abuse them is, again, a wonderful microcosm of the actual net and the Psy race in general. There’s also Vasic, bowed, broken and wounded from the terrible deeds the Council has forced upon him, now just looking to end a life he no longer sees as worth living. Again - an excellent parallel to the wounds of the Psy Net and the many broken and damaged Psy who have been so torn by Silence
 
Their story, interlinked with Kaleb, the new de-facto ruler of the Psy, also shows the growing evolution of the Psy themselves - and not just in the loss of Silence or the battle against the Darkness Infection of the net. But simple things - in a society where inconvenient people are just disappeared (because actual Psy criminals would expose the lie of Silence), what does it mean in a new age when justice must be done in the light? When justice happens where everyone can see it? When you have a society where the most powerful and ruthless have always ruled, where people’s power is denoted by their inherent woo-woo, what does that mean for future rulership, what does a government look like? In a society where obedience and conformity has been ruthlessly enforced for nearly 100 years, how do they adapt to allowing actual dissent and disagreement? Where are the lines drawn?  In some ways  wish there were no romance at all in this book and we focused on the Arrows and Kaleb and Sahara alongside the other Councilors actually looking at what the future of the Psy should actually look like - because that is fascinating and just the elements that are hinted at here
  
I have to say i was also annoyed by this romance because of Vasic and Aden. We have seen repeatedly how deeply Aden and Vasic care for each other, how close they are - we have seen how worried and sad Aden is that Vasic is embracing death, how determined he is that Vasic won’t die, determined to show Vasic he is valued and cared for. I was looking forward to see them growing closer, for that love to become clearer, for Aden, who knows more than anyone exactly what Vasic has had to endure and suffer, to be the comforting arms that Vasic could fall into and be lifted up and…
 
And Designated straight love interest Ivy appeared. Oh. yay. And we had another book - now book 13 - without a single LGBT character so we can tell the same trope laden straight romance again and again.
 
And I have to complain yet again about the archaic gender roles in this series because they’re cringe worthy. How come the man always has to be the big dangerous alpha in control one? How come he’s usually the one with the big dangerous powers? Even when a woman has strength and power - like Mercy or Adria - she has to be paired with an even MORE Dominant man. And when she’s dangerous that means she’s desperate and fragile and needs a big strong man to save her like Sienna (note that the big strong dangerous men - Judd, Vasic - don’t get big, extra-dominant women to order them around. No, they get sweet, gentle, delicate and sometimes fragile women to shelter and be all protective and gentle with. Even Sienna was more dangerous to herself and had to be paired with The Most Dominant. I cling to Indigo, though even her and Andrew’s dynamic was hardly a subversion.

Not only have we got Shapeshifter biology supporting this rigid binary with big Alpha possessive males and “matriarchal” females but now the Psy are getting in on the action as well: apparently most Empaths are female. Because lovey-emotions-soft-gentle-healing while most telekinetics are male because big-strong-destructive-dangerous-heavy-lifting-chest-hair.
 
Why couldn’t there be a big dangerous telekinetic woman who is breaking things and covered in the blood of all she has slaughtered saved by the gentle, loving, patient Empathic man to find her heart and emotions. This is a world with amazing imagination, incredible world building, awesome character development, a history that is truly fascinating and is generally excellent in so many ways - so why - with all this excellent proof of imagination and creativity, are the romances and gender roles so cliched and tired and limited?
 

In addition to the whole gender roles thing, there was just nothing about this romance that stood out to me. Ivy in particular felt really under developed - I mean she’s had major issues with her broken silence, being rehabilitated, being Silent - but where is this? Beyond having a pet, where is Ivy? Who is this basically hollow she-cares-and-finds-Vasic-hot-despite-his-brokenness woman. Because we’ve seen pretty much that with Sahara (and Sasha, really maybe even Mercy - only these women had a but MORE to them than that).
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Source: http://www.fangsforthefantasy.com/2017/06/shield-of-winter-psy-changeling-13-by.html

The Final Plague Vol. 1 by JD Arnold (Author), Tony Guaraldi-Brown (Illustrator)

The Final Plague Vol. 1 - JD Arnold, Tony Guaraldi-Brown
The Final Plague begins in Lehigh Iowa on May 4, 2012.  As someone who hates any kind or rodent, this was not a good comic for me to read.  It begins when a small farming family finds that their home has become infested by rats. Helen is tough as nails and ends up killing the first one after a battle on her front porch. Helen is forced to use a shovel to decapitate it and even then, the damn thing still twitches.
 
The second rat attack happens in New York City on the same date. A homeless man is drunk in an alley when he is attacked by what can only be described as a horde of rats. There are so many rats, they quickly overpower the drunk and consume his alive.
 
The third incident happens on the same date in a lab in New Jersey. Jeremy is working with the rats and he notices that some of them have bloodshot eyes and assumes they are blind. Because he believes the rats to be sick but not contagious, Jeremy does not follow along with proper quarantine protocols, much to the disgust of fellow scientist Carol. Of course it's not Jeremy is hurt but a fellow when the rat sprays blood at her which lands in her mouth. Finally, it's decided that the rats need to go into quarantine and be dissected so that the scientists can figure out exactly what the hell is wrong with them.  
 
The one thing that is certain is that rats aren't acting the way that rats are supposed to. Normally, a rat would shy away from a human being if it encountered them but these rats are bold enough to actively attack humans when they come into contact with them. We later learn that it's not just the rats and that in fact all of the furry rodents are doing damage to humans when they encounter them. The red eyes suggest some sort of infection which is making the rodents more aggressive than usual. Alan, the exterminator posits that all of the pesticides that humanity has been using has emboldened the rats and changed their behaviour.  Of course, Alan finds out the hard way when he succumbs to the rats when he tries to exterminate them at the farm.
 
The Final Plague Vol I  quickly establishes the idea that rodents aren't behaving normally and are attacking and consuming humans. As someone with a deep fear of rodents this comic rises to the level of horror for me.  It does however make historic sense. We know for instance hat the bubonic plague was carried by fleas on rats which is estimated to have killed 50 million people.  Rodents are nothing to joke about because they carry disease, so the idea that the end of humanity might come at the paws of rodents makes perfect sense. It's particularly true in a city like New York city, where the rat population is enormous. Think about what it would mean for humanity if the rats suddenly started working in a swarm to attack humans. And since they can slip into a hole as big as a quarter and quickly reproduce, this would be a true nightmare because not only have to deal with the diseases which rats carry, we'd be attacked as prey.


What is less believable than a plague caused by rats that quickly moves onto other animals is just how quickly society falls apart. From beginning to end, it takes 24 hours before cities are burning, the main lab must be abandoned and a significant portion of society is either dead or infected. I appreciate seeing the beginning of a dystopian society; however, having society fall apart so quickly is just ridiculous, even if we are all surrounded by animals to some degree. 
 
We really haven't been introduced to a lot of characters so far. The most prominent female characters are Helen, who is a wife, mother who is dealing with a cancer diagnosis and Carol who is a scientist.  What both Carol and Helen have in common is that they read like harpies.  It's Carol and Helen who demand that the men in their family and work space do something about the rats. It is suggested to each woman in turn that they are overreacting. Jeremy in particular is dismissive of Carol concerns, claiming that his name is on the research grant as well. Common sense should have suggested to Jeremy that rats with red eyes are a no go but instead what we have is a man bucking against being told what to do. It's particularly grating since Jeremy is the reason the plague exists in the first place. Jeremy's name may be on the research but it's Carol who is the head researcher and such it's Carol who takes responsibility for Jeremy's actions and creations.  So not only was Jeremy a fool who did't take proper precautions and caused the plague in the first damn place, it's Carol who is going to be held accountable.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Source: http://www.fangsforthefantasy.com/2017/06/the-final-plague-vol-1-by-jd-arnold.html

Legion (Talon #4) by Julie Kagawa

Legion (Talon Saga, Book 4) - Caitlin   Davies, Julie Kagawa

The Talon has prepared for a long time to finally bring down the Order of St George and remove all of their competition to become dominant in the world. They have a Legion

 

Cloned dragons, without souls or personalities, just automata of dragons designed to fight and die. Finally Talon has numbers: and Dante is the conflicted master of them to unleash them

 

But behind that the Elder Wyrm continues to have another sinister plan – which directly involves Ember.

 

Ember is faced with being directly in opposition with her brother, having to protect an organisation bent on her destruction and dodge the machinations of a dragon who has lived for a millennium.

 

 

 

Broken record moment? I really really do feel that this series has really missed a lot of opportunity to properly develop the character of the dragons. We still have Ember and Riley referring to their dragons as if they were separate entity. Again, these characters aren’t weredragons – they are dragons who shift to human form to hide, but their natural form, their real form, is that of a dragon. So Ember struggling with her inner dragon or being conflicted about what her dragon wants, or struggling between her human side and dragon side feels wrong – like a narrative has been cribbed from an entirely different story. What human side? Why does she even have a human side? Why is she even attracted to a human? Why does she even want to do things like kiss? Why is a dragon distracted and pole-axed by the presence of a naked human? Why is a male dragon not looking at a naked woman and not thinking “mammary glands, which my egg laying species has no real concept of. Also, no cloaca”.

 

Yes, I am making you imagine sexy cloacas. My mind went there, so you have to suffer as well.

 

It’s like the concept hasn’t been fully realised and we get a simplistic depiction that mirrors a lot with other were-animal narratives out there but doesn’t really fit with the world as it’s presented/

 

I feel this reflected again with the world building – this sense of not quite seeing things through. Like Talon has been designated as The Evil and so it is The Evil. This is the antagonist, so be it.

 

But, again, there’s so little examination of the reason behind Talon. It didn’t happen because Dragons decided they wanted to be The Most Evil – it happened because the Order of St George was literally driving dragonkind to extinction: and is still trying to achieve this. They’re just the bad guys who need to be stopped

 

And Talon comes up with a plot to wipe out the Order of St George and there’s so little actual examination of the fact this is an organisation that wants to make dragons extinct. An organisation that wants to kill every character here. But killing the Order is presented as a terrible difficult conflict without any acknowledgement that Talon has a point. I feel like because Talon has been designate as The Evil then no-one’s allowed to acknowledge the grey and the complexity that is built into the very world building of this world.

 

 

They go on to even decide to work with Talon to try and save some of them – and again we have a grossly simplified meeting. This is an organisation that exists to murder dragons. The members are recruited from childhood (Gerret has is an experienced solder with them at the age of 17 – and that’s not YA’s love of improbably young people in dubious situations); they have an almost religious loathing of dragons. This is quite literally their reason for being. But actually forming an alliance between the Order and dragons happened ridiculously quickly and easily.

 

Or the fact that, because of Improbably YA youth, pretty much all the dragons Riley works with are hatchlings and there’s no real discussion of these being children they’re pressing into this war. We want young protagonists so there’s little real questioning of the ethics of this.

 

This is the problem with the series- the concept is so incredibly creative and original, but the actual execution is so simplistic. Conflicts are resolved without a lot of questioning, the complexity is approached from a very very simplistic fashion but it somehow works out. It all feels very convoluted and that there are large amount of issues and potential plot lines that are being very glossed over while the characters themselves just feel so very flat. They’re basically such cookie-cutter clichés of what they are: from our three main characters (there’s also a side Dick Van Spike who, again, is simple in terms of characterisation) who are more consumed by their love triangle than the greater complexities of their world.

 

 

 

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Source: http://www.fangsforthefantasy.com/2017/06/legion-talon-4-by-julie-kagawa.html