Entries in urban fantasy (48)

Monday
Jan282019

Vultures

It's the final book in the Miriam Black series and it is a fantastic end to this series. Wendig totally nails the landing. If you're already a fan of the series, you won't be disappointed. If you've been waiting for the series to end before you start reading, now is the time and this series is worth it!

You can find my review of the first book, Blackbirds, and the previous one, The Raptor and the Wren. Chuck wraps up all the threads in a satisfying way that's true to the dark grit of this series. I have a 6-book hangover now.

The book is gritty, gory, hard-hitting and snarky. Everything you expect and love about the series.

Miriam doesn't have much time left to stop the Trespasser and save both Gabby and the baby. She meets a delightful ace/aro trans dude named Steve who is an absolute cinnamon bun and totally made the book. He's like that rug in The Big Lebowski. Ties the room together.

Steve and Gabby are Miriam's sidekicks while she tries to save them all, get rid of her powers, and stop a new serial killer.

And that's all I'm going to say spoiler free, because it's hard to talk about a book like this without spoilers. You don't like spoilers, stop reading now.

Anyway, at the end of the last book, Miriam is pregnant and sees that her baby is going to die. This book starts with her waddling miserably through the shitshow nightmare of pregnancy. It is a morbidly un-sentimental take on pregnancy and motherhood and is so much the way I felt through pregnancy that this book could have been written about me.

There are so many things to love in this book, but I love that pregnancy doesn't really slow Miriam down. That motherhood doesn't fundamentally change who she is. That, much like me, she ends up teaching her kid context (don't swear in school) rather than quit swearing. (haha, yes, there's a spoiler, the kid lives)

Wren's 5-second cameo was SO GOOD, though it did leave me a little baffled. I know there's a side novella about her out there somewhere that I'm probably going to need to read to be less baffled about how she ended up where she did and when she did. It felt a touch deus ex machina, but I also don't have all the info.

But anyway, as dark as this series is, the ending is a hopeful one. True to the series, but still full of hope. Get out there and read it!

Tuesday
May292018

Beneath the Sugar Sky

This is the third book in the Wayward Children series, though chronologically, it comes after Every Heart a Doorway. While this book didn't capture the same book hangover as the first book did, it's still fantastic and I enjoyed every bit of it.

So in the first book Sumi is murdered, but her adult daughter, Rini suddenly drops in (literally) to the pond behind the school, desperately in need of help to resurrect her mother. The Nonsense world Sumi and Rini are from is beginning to suffer from Sumi's death.

Rini comes from what is technically Sumi's future, and the timeline is a little wibbly-wobbly, but if you don't think about it too hard and just roll with it, it's fine. Rini has been granted the ability to open any door to any world, so the kids helping her set off through doorways.

There are some return favourites in this book, including Chris, Kade and Nancy, and a new addition I really loved, the former (and hopefully once-again) mermaid, Cora.

I think I love Cora so much because I see so much of myself in her, which isn't something I usually get. Cora is fat. But like me, dieting does little to change that, and she's still athletic as fuck. While I don't have Cora's occasional self-esteem issues (I am made of spite), I still really get her frustration at moving through a world that infuriatingly sees us as lesser-than simply because of our size.

Anyway, this book is full of whimsy and adventure and emotional gut-punches. The ending was a little predictable but still satisfying. I highly recommend checking out this series.

Thursday
Mar292018

Every Heart a Doorway

This is the first time I've ever read anything by this author and I'm really really glad that I did. This book hit me hard, in all the good ways. It's crawled inside my brain and my heart with its weird beauty. I can't remember the last time I was so disappointed to see a book end and so relieved to see there were so many more in the series.

So this book is... I guess you could say it's like Harry Potter, but for damaged kids coming back from portal fantasy adventures. Like if the Narnia kids or Alice came home to the regular world so unable to cope they needed special group therapy. That's where this book is set, this is who these characters are. Kids come back from fairyland too broken at the loss of adventure to do real life anymore. So they're sent to a special home to recover, though the recovery might not be quite what their parents expect.

And they find love and solace and friendship in each other, even as something is horrifically hunting them down. The story is spooky but fun and the characters are so rich and wonderful as they pool their talents and the knowledge they took away from their separate adventure worlds to find the killer and save their fellow weirdoes.

It's dark and whimsical and beautiful and I wish I didn't have so much else to do right now or I would binge the other books in this series. It's a short, quick read so I highly recommend giving it a try.

Friday
Mar162018

Siege Line

This is the third and final book in Cole's re-awakening trilogy (which starts with Gemini Cell) about undead soldier Jim Schweitzer. The whole trilogy is about the rise of magic in the world and how it's being militarized. It's a prequel trilogy to Shadow Ops, which examines the full militarization of magic.

I like the book and the characters, though I didn't really connect with anyone in this book like I have in others. This book focuses less on family, the way the others have, and more on what it means to be human and to be truly alive. The entire trilogy can be read as an allegory for coping with PTSD.

In this book, Jim brings the fight to Canada, in a tiny village in the Northwest Territories. The Dene sheriff there, Wilma Mankiller, is a bonafide badass and I definitely loved her character the most. I really wish she'd gotten more "screen time" in this book. I can't say how well Cole did in representing this particular indigenous culture, but I liked the story and the setting and the new characters that came with it.

There's an excellent twist in learning who the Gemini Cell's mysterious Director really is, this very same man (and organization) responsible not only for Jim's death but his resurrection.

I've got to say the end bothered me a lot and I think it's the story's biggest weak point. A lot of the action took place off screen. Jim didn't have enough of an active hand in any of it. I didn't think it wrapped up enough of the subplots (though reading the rest of the Shadow Ops books might answer some of those questions). And now I'm going to talk about spoilers.

Part of the end (or near-end) involved a specific kind of sorcerer (and the McGuffin for this whole book) putting Jim's soul in a living body. Okay, fine. But the Dene sorcerer (who happens to be Wilma's grandfather) puts the soul of a white man into the body of a braindead indigenous man.

I'm not expert on appropriation, but that's a move that makes me uncomfortable. Given the amount of respect (and research) the author gave to Dene culture, I don't believe he meant harm with it. I don't know if the way it's handled is problematic or not, as I'm neither Dene nor indigenous, but it definitely gave me a WTF moment.

Overall, I liked the book, I loved Wilma, and I liked the ending Jim got, even if it has some problems. It's still a hopeful ending. I look forward to getting back to the Shadow Ops trilogy.

Tuesday
Feb202018

The Raptor and the Wren

I've finally cleared enough backlog from my life to get back to a proper reading schedule and I just finished this newest release from Chuck Wendig. This is the 5th (and penultimate) book in the Miriam Black series and it packs a serious punch.

If you like foul-mouthed, hard-hitting anti-heroines, then this series is worth checking out. Start with Blackbirds. The series only gets better from there.

I didn't find anything about this book terribly shocking. Wendig does a good job of laying the groundwork for the plot's many twists. And while I wasn't surprised by what happened, I was caught off guard by how. And when. And by who. It's got a wallop of a final page. I hate that I have to wait a year for the final book's release!