Category Archives: Urban Fantasy

Pale Demon by Kim Harrison

Pale Demon is the newest installment in The Hollows series by Kim Harrison. I have written about Harrison many times on this blog, and I am happy to give her books another plug as I have just finished Pale Demon and loved it.

Book Description: Banned from the flight lists, Rachel teams up with tycoon Trent Kalamack, headed for the West Coast for his own mysterious business. Can a witch, an elf, a living vampire, and a pixy in one car survive for over 2,300 miles?  And that’s not counting the assassin on their tail.

This video is from the author’s website and explains The Hollows!

http://bcove.me/dewoeguq

Happy Reading!

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Top Ten Urban Fantasy Writers

I haven’t read Urban Fantasy long (maybe only a year or so), but I began with Kim Harrison, and she hooked me. Urban Fantasy is fantasy in a city-setting. Many are contemporaries (though they can be historical or futuristic), and the ones I like all contain supernatural elements. Most of them include a strong female protagonist that kicks serious supernatural butt! Here are some of my favorite authors in this category.

Ilona Andrews
“Ilona Andrews” is actually married couple Ilona and Andrew Gordon. They have two series that would qualify in this category, the Kate Daniels series and the Edge series (which I have not read). The Kate Daniels series is described on the authors’s website with The world has suffered a magic apocalypse. We pushed the technological progress too far, and now magic returned with a vengeance. It comes in waves, without warning, and vanishes as suddenly as it appears. When magic is up, planes drop out of the sky, cars stall, electricity dies. When magic is down, guns work and spells fail. It’s a volatile, screwed-up world. Magic feeds on technology, gnawing down on skyscrappers until most of them topple and fall, leaving only skeletal husks behind. Monsters prowl the ruined streets, werebears and werehyenas stalk their prey; and the Masters of the Dead, necromancers driven by their thirst of knowledge and wealth, pilot blood-crazed vampires with their minds. In this world lives Kate Daniels. Kate likes her sword a little too much and has a hard time controlling her mouth. The magic in her blood makes her a target, and she spent most of her life hiding in plain sight.  But sometimes even trained killers make friends and fall in love, and when the universe tries to kick them in the face, they kick back. The books are

  • Magic Bites
  • Magic Burns
  • Magic Strikes
  • Magic Bleeds
  • Magic Slays (coming out this year)

Patricia Briggs
This author’s Mercy Thompson Series is described with Mercedes is Volkswagen mechanic living in the Tri-Cities area of Washington. Her native american heritage has gifted her with the ability to take the form of a coyote at will. She’s surrounded by far more powerful supernatural beings, including werewolves, vampires and an assortment of fey. The books are

  • Moon Called
  • Blood Bound
  • Iron Kissed
  • Bone Crossed
  • Silver Borne
  • River Marked (this month)

Rachel Caine
Caine has several series in this category, but the one I have read is the Weather Warden series. The author’s website describes it with Only the Wardens stand between the wrath of Mother Earth and the clueless masses of humanity around the world … and Joanne Baldwin is one of the best. Pity she’s on the run for her life … The series has nine books:

  • Ill Wind
  • Heat Stroke
  • Chill Factor
  • Windfall
  • Firestorm
  • Thin Air
  • Gale Force
  • Cape Storm
  • Total Eclipse

Suzanne Collins
Collins was mentioned on my YA list, but to reiterate she is the author of the Hunger Games trilogy.

  • Book 1:Twenty-four are forced to enter. Only the winner survives. In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Each year, the districts are forced by the Capitol to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the Hunger Games, a brutal and terrifying fight to the death – televised for all of Panem to see. Survival is second nature for sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who struggles to feed her mother and younger sister by secretly hunting and gathering beyond the fences of District 12. When Katniss steps in to take the place of her sister in the Hunger Games, she knows it may be her death sentence. If she is to survive, she must weigh survival against humanity and life against love. WINNING WILL MAKE YOU FAMOUS. LOSING MEANS CERTAIN DEATH.
  • Book 2: After winning the brutal Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen returns to her district, hoping for a peaceful future. But Katniss starts to hear rumours of a deadly rebellion against the Capitol. A rebellion that she and Peeta have helped to create. As Katniss and Peeta are forced to visit the districts on the Capitol’s cruel Victory Tour, the stakes are higher than ever. Unless Katniss and Peeta can convince the world that they are still lost in their love for each other, the consequences will be horrifying…  The terrifying sequel to The Hunger Games.
  • Book 3: Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she’s made it out of the bloody arena alive, she’s still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And what’s worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katniss’s family, not her friends, not the people of District 12…

Jeaniene Frost
Frost is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author of the Night Huntress series (among other things). I haven’t read them all, but what I have read is interesting.

  • Half-Way to the Grave
  • One Foot in the Grave
  • At Grave’s End
  • Destined for an Early Grave
  • This Side of the Grave (recently released)

Kelly Gay
Gay writes the Charlie Madigan series. There are two books so far. And, evidently, Gray is now publishing a YA series as Kelly Keaton. Charlie Madigan is a divorced mother of one, and a kick-ass cop trained to take down the toughest human and off-world criminals. She’s recently returned from the dead after a brutal attack, an unexplained revival that has left her plagued by nightmares and random outbursts of strength…

Kim Harrison
Rachel Morgan’s world in The Hollows, a fictional version of Cincinnati, is what Harrison writes about. I have blogged about each book in this series, beginning on May 12 of last year with Dead Witch Walking. As I blogged, I didn’t expect to like this book or series, and it hooked me so much so that I now look for new Urban Fantasy to read (as long as the focus is not solely vampires). I have not read the newest one, but it has been purchased, downloaded, and added to my eReader so that it is in line TBR (to be read) soon, very soon. Harrison also has a YA series and some traditional fantasy that I have not read. The Rachel Morgan books are

  • Dead Witch Walking
  • The Good, the Bad, and the Undead
  • Every Which Way but Dead
  • A Fistful of Charms
  • For a Few Demons More
  • The Outlaw Demon Wails
  • White Witch, Black Curse
  • Black Magic Sanction
  • Pale Demon

Devon Monk
Monk writes the Allie Beckstrom series. I blogged the first in this series here, and I blogged the others when Book 5 came out here. Books 3 and 4 are my favorites. I have not read the short story in this series.

  • Magic to the Bone
  • Magic in the Blood
  • Magic in the Shadows 
  • Short story – The Sweet Smell of Cherries in CRIME SPELLS
  • Magic on the Storm
  • Magic at the Gate
  • Magic on the Hunt (Coming Next Month!)

Kat Richardson
Richardson is the bestselling author of the Greywalker paranormal detective novels. I added them to this category instead of the paranormal one because the setting for Private Investigator Harper Blaine’s work is Seattle even though she moves between worlds (the “normal” world and the “grey” world) as she investigates paranormal threats against the grey world.

  • Greywalker
  • Poltergeist
  • Underground
  • Vanished
  • Labyrinth

Nalini Singh
Singh has two series that might count in this genre, though the second one more so.

Psy/Changeling Series

  • Slave To Sensation
  • Visions of Heat
  • Caressed By Ice
  • Mine to Possess
  • Hostage to Pleasure
  • Branded By Fire
  • Blaze of Memory
  • Bonds of Justice
  • Play of Passion
  • Kiss of Snow

Guild Hunter Series

  • Angels’ Blood
  • Archangel’s Kiss
  • Archangel’s Consort

I was reaching with this last one. I haven’t read it, but I didn’t want to not have 10! <SMILES> If you know of great authors in this genre, please let me know. Happy Reading!

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Devon Monk’s Magic at the Gate

Magic at the Gate  is the fifth in Devon Monk’s Allie Beckstrom urban fantasy series.  I bought each book in the series for my Sony eReader from the eReader Store.

Description: Allie Beckstrom’s lover, Zayvion Jones, is a Guardian of the Gate, imbued with both light and dark magic and responsible for ensuring that those energies don’t mix. But Zayvion lies in a coma, his soul trapped in death’s realm. And when Allie discovers that the only way to save Zayvion is to sacrifice her very own magical essence, she makes a decision that may have grave consequences for the entire world.

Like the others in this series, this book focuses on Allie Beckstrom and her magical land. It begins shortly after the end of the book 4 (described below) with Allie plunging into Death to bring back Zay’s soul. She makes a huge sacrifice, but she returns to find that several weeks have passed, and the Magical Authority is still at war. The reasons are less clear to her now, though, having witnesses interactions between her father and the Authority’s traitor. Thus, Allie’s choices are less clear with greater consequences.

While I realize my description is vague, I don’t want to ruin the book for other readers, so I am going to leave it at that.  I like Allie’s stories. This one focuses much more on the team effort of the Authority rather than Allie hounding alone or Allie’s interactions with either her father or Zayvion as others in this series have. That means there is a greater and more interesting cast of characters, some of which are developed in very unique and definitely intriguing ways. There is no getting bored with a series that varies the story line and supporting cast as this one does. In addition, I like the way magic is used in this series in that it is unique; the is no “wiccan” Charmed ones or characters even remotely similar (which happens way too often in magical series). Here, everyone has access to magic, though whether they should or not is hotly debated. The originality alone makes this series worth reading. 

 ______________________________

I first read Monk’s work in May; I reviewed book one of this series, Magic to the Bone, on May 28: https://professorstacy.wordpress.com/2010/05/28/magic-to-the-bone-by-devon-monk/. I read the others in the series during June and July when I wasn’t blogging (dissertation crisis–emotionally, anyway). They have not been reviewed here, so I am including their descriptions below.

Book 2 is Magic in the Blood. Description (all descriptions from author’s website at http://www.devonmonk.com/): Working as a Hound-tracing illegal spells back to their casters-has taken its toll on Allison Beckstrom. But even though magic has given her migraines and stolen her recent memory, Allie isn’t about to quit. Then the police’s magic enforcement division asks her to consult on a missing persons case. But what seems to be a straightforward job turns out to be anything but, as Allie finds herself drawn into the underworld of criminals, ghosts, and blood magic.

Book 3 is Magic in the Shadows, and its description is: Allison Beckstrom’s magic has taken its toll on her, physically marking her and erasing her memories-including those of the man she supposedly loves. But lost memories aren’t the only things preying on Allie’s thoughts.

Her late father, the prominent businessman-and sorcerer-Daniel Beckstrom, has somehow channeled himself into her very mind. With the help of The Authority, a secret organization of magic users, she hopes to gain better control over her own abilities-and find a way to deal with her father…

Book 4 is Magic on the Storm and is described with: Allison Beckstrom is committed to her work tracing illegal spells. Now, there’s an apocalyptic storm bearing down on Portland, and when it hits, all the magic in the area will turn unstable and destructive. To stop it from taking out the entire city, Allie and her lover, the mysterious Zayvion Jones, must work with the Authority-the enigmatic arbiters of all things magic-and take a stand against a magical wildstorm that will obliterate all in its path…

Devon Monk is on my authors-to-be-watched list. Her Allie Beckstrom is strong, interesting, and magical–right up my alley! Happy Reading!

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Black Magic Sanction by Kim Harrison

Black Magic Sanction is the most recent book in The Hollows series by Kim Harrison. I purchased it from the Sony eBook store. While I have read several reviews of The Hollows’ books that say book 6 was intended to end the series, I have also read on the author’s website that her contract has been extended to do 12-13 books. So, this is book 8, the most recently published (February 23, 2010).

Product Description: Rachel Morgan has fought and hunted vampires, werewolves, banshees, demons, and other supernatural dangers as both witch and bounty hunter–and lived to tell the tale. But she’s never faced off against her own kind . . . until now. Denounced and shunned for dealing with demons and black magic, her best hope is life imprisonment–at worst, a forced lobotomy and genetic slavery. Only her enemies are strong enough to help her win her freedom, but trust comes hard when it hinges on the unscrupulous tycoon Trent Kalamack, the demon Algaliarept, and an ex-boyfriend turned thief.

It takes a witch to catch a witch, but survival bears a heavy price.

The episode in Rachel’s story picks up where the previous left off, which does suggest to readers that it would be hard to begin reading this series with anything but book 1. Rachel has been shunned. Why? She is a “missing link” of sorts between demons and witches. Her children will be demons who can walk on this side of the ever-after. Because of this, Rachel must agree to castration or she will be imprisoned. This book details her journey to fix that because she agrees to neither, and our love of Rachel and belief in her is reinforced when we see “good” witches do “bad” things, things much worse than Rachel and not earn smut. We learn that Rachel’s choices have been limited, and we wonder if the universe is really treating her fairly by exacting such a cost from her for her decisions.

The cast of men in Rachel’s life is resolved a bit in this book, leaving us hating Nick even more and glad that he is not part of Rachel’s life. The issues between Ivy and Rachel appear to have been resolved and are not revisited (thank the goddess; it was getting old). Trent is still a very complicated jerk. Lee is much more interesting than we thought. And, Jenks suffers a tragedy that brings tears to the eye.

This book was not as good as book 6, but it was definitely better than book 7. I look forward to book 9 sometime next year.

Happy Reading!

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White Witch, Black Curse by Kim Harrison

Because I liked the last book in the Hollows series by Kim Harrison (see yesterday’s post /review), I purchased the final two (to this point) from the Sony eReader Bookstore. Book 7 is White Witch, Black Curse, and while it wasn’t as fabulous as Book 6, it was certainly better than Book 5 (reviewed June 30).

Product Description: Some wounds take time to heal . . . and some scars never fade.

Rachel Morgan, kick-ass witch and bounty hunter, has taken her fair share of hits, and has broken lines she swore she would never cross. But when her lover was murdered, it left a deeper wound than Rachel ever imagined, and now she won’t rest until his death is solved . . . and avenged. Whatever the cost.

Yet the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and when a new predator moves to the apex of the Inderlander food chain, Rachel’s past comes back to haunt her.

Literally.

I liked that this book began with psychologist Ford, introduced in the previous book, as an empath. His character is interesting enough to carry a huge plot burden in this installment of Rachel’s interlander saga that takes on an emotion-sucking banshee. This plot develops and aligns with previous novels well as we learn how the Banshee has a connection to Rachel’s partner Ivy, and we meet Rachel’s leprechaun.

This book, though, introduces a character that was supposed to be really important to Rachel, despite the fact that we are seven books into the series before we learn about him. In addition, we are just now introduced to a magical governing body (it has been mentioned but not in a way in which we could expect it the kind of power it wields in this book). This governing body “punishes” Rachel for who she is and what she does, with no real scaffolding. I wasn’t expecting it or the consequences. I did like the length of the book but I was really surprised by the number of subplots and new introductions. And, I have to say, I was very disappointed in who the killer was. The potential for that person’s identity was lost completely. The dialog was interesting, and the resolution of Ford’s problem and that of the banshee’s was intriguing.

Happy Reading!

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Kim Harrison’s The Outlaw Demon Wails

As I said yesterday, The Outlaw Demon Wails is absolutely my favorite of the Hollows series by Kim Harrison. I purchased it at the same time as the previous book (For a Few Demons More) from the Sony eReader Bookstore. And, I almost didn’t read it. I’m very glad I did.

Product Description:  To save the lives of her friends, Rachel did the unthinkable: she willingly trafficked in forbidden demon magic. And now her sins are coming home to haunt her. 

As Rachel searches for the truth behind a terrifying murder, an even greater menace threatens, for the demon Algaliarept will stop at nothing to claim her, and the discovery of a shocking family secret throws Rachel’s entire life into question. If she is ever to live free, Rachel must first walk willingly into the demonic ever-after in search of long-lost ancient knowledge. 

But when you dance with demons, you lay your soul on the line . . . and there are some lines that should never be crossed.

Book 6 has a lot less whining and much more cowboy-ing up (to keep with the Clint Eastwood western movie theme of the titles) from Rachel, and that really appealed to me in a way the previous books had not. Rachel acts and has agency and makes decisions instead of being a victim of circumstances or a passive recipient of the universe’s aggression. She is feeling kicked and down and she is grieving, but she stands up and says this is who I am and this is what matters to me. I can expect no more from a hero.

I have really struggled with what to say in this post because I don’t want to “ruin” the book for you by providing too many details and spoilers. So, I will say that all of the previous characters and plot twists appear in this book. In this action packed, emotionally full, ass-kicking book, each character’s role in Rachel’s life is explored, explained, and expanded, and each character is more fully developed and complicated. Each (sub) plot from the previous books is addressed and connected to Rachel’s immediate life and concerns. For example, one of the most involved character developments and plot connections has to do with Rachel’s mother, who until this point had been basically dismissed as a bit flighty or crazy and unreliable. She is a vital and important part of Rachel’s life and her actions are explained to us in a mostly believable (shocking?) plot twist. She’s a great character (now), and I think you will like her.

If you have read any of this series at all, you have to read this one. I hope you are as intrigued by the gargoyle as I am.

Happy Reading!

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Kim Harrison’s For a Few Demons More

After a much needed break / vacation, this blog returns today with a review of book 5 in The Hollows series by Kim Harrison.  I purchased and downloaded the book from the Sony eReader Bookstore. For a Few Demons More was absolutely my least favorite of the series.

The book description reads: Despite dating one vampire and living with another, Rachel Morgan has always managed to stay just ahead of trouble . . . until now.  

A fiendish serial killer stalks the Hollows, claiming victims across society, and the resulting terror ignites a vicious Inderland gang war. And while the ancient artifact Rachel is hiding may be the key to stopping the murderer, revealing it could also create a battle to the death among the numerous supernatural races that live in and around Cincinnati. 

For every action has its price, and when the vampire master Piscary is set free and the demonic Algaliarept dares to walk openly under the sun, even Rachel Morgan can’t hide forever.

By time I read this book, I had had my share of demons in the series. In an urban fantasy setting, there are so many more antagonists possible than just demons, but this was the third in a row to latch on to the demons and not let go. It just didn’t do it for me. Yes, the book attempts to wrap up issues left hanging from previous books; Trent returns; Ceri is further developed, and David plays a larger role. All of those things are interesting. But the plot was unbelievable and over the top. Most of the action takes place off stage and then is reported to us (show not tell, remember?) and even then it doesn’t always make plot sense.

An example of this (spoiler alert?) is that while Rachel is on a bus on the way home, Al supposedly wreaks havoc on the city and the city holds a council meeting and decides that they must let Piscary out of prison to catch him since “Rachel won’t”–wow, that quickly huh? How’s that timeline work? There are other weird plot elements, such as a fixation on convincing Rachel to have sex with Ivy despite the fact we were led to believe this issue was put to rest several books ago since Rachel is not into sex with women. Then, the ending is bam! an unexpected tear-jerking plot twist.

Had  I not already purchased the next in the series, I wouldn’t have after reading this, especially since “demon” is also in its title. That would have been a mistake. Book 6 is the best in the series. I will be reviewing it for you tomorrow. Until then,

Happy reading!

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