A very satisfying follow-up to Greg van Eekhout’s CALIFORNIA BONES, PACIFIC FIRE picks up ten years later when a collective of loosely allied osteomancers finally decide to fill the power vacuum created by the death of the Los Angeles Hierarch. Unfortunately for Daniel Blackland, former thief-turned-fugitive, their plan for mass destruction requires the sacrifice of the boy Daniel has spent a decade trying to protect. PACIFIC FIRE opens van Eekhout’s world of bone magic a little wider, and is still populated by the sorts of characters that made the first book so much fun to read. Once again, it’s a slow build leading into a hurried ending, but it’s a ride definitely worth taking.
THERE WILL BE LIES isn’t the typical book you’d find here on All Things Urban Fantasy, but I felt it was one worth sharing. With this thriller, Nick Lake has written a book that is really difficult to review without spoilers, but I’ll do my best.
THE DARKEST PART OF THE FOREST is the perfect update to the fairy tale worlds of childhood. A little darker, a little sexier, and with heroes and heroines just a half step away from what is expected.
In THE WITCHES OF ECHO PARK, Amber Benson introduces us to the Southern California “blood sisters” who, along with other covens across the globe, keep the world in balance. When coven leader Eleanora informs her great-niece that she’s dying, Lyse abandons her life in Georgia to fly to Los Angeles – and, unknowingly, to take her great-aunt’s place as an Echo Park witch. Benson channels Alice Hoffman in this novel, painting the Echo Park neighborhood in a way that should delight locals, and inform strangers. Though I found the first half of the book a little overly descriptive, the narrative overall reflects the dreams that are central to the story – including that feeling that the dream never quite reaches its conclusion.
A creative take on a fairy tale retelling, PRINCESS OF THORNS follows the daughter of Sleeping Beauty, Aurora, as she treks through the kingdom to rescue her brother. With elements of other fairy tales brought in (Niklaas’ curse comes to mind), PRINCESS OF THORNS is a wonderful continuation of a beloved fairy tale. Plus, the entire first half of the book has Aurora dressed up as and acting as a boy – a trope I can’t resist – and in this case, it was done well.
THE FAIRYLAND MURDERS was a interesting mixing of noir detective stories with fairy tales. With this mixture of a gritty murder mystery with light fanciful fairies and princesses you get an at times bizarre world filled with some hilarious interactions between characters. There are some neat references to fairy tale characters and fairy tales.
SUSPICION by Alexandra Monir, is pitched as a modern version of the classic thriller Rebecca, and it definitely creates that vibe, along with a pretty solid mystery, and a dash of The Princess Diaries. Between that and the romance of reconnecting with a first love, this book didn’t need anything else – but it’s ‘urban fantasy,’ and so magic must appear. It’s rare for me to wish a story lacked a supernatural element, but with SUSPICION (a nonsensical title for the novel) enough is happening that the subplot about an ancestor with an unusually green thumb and the inheritance of “Elemental” powers just unbalances the plot.
WOLF’S FALL presented a protagonist with PTSD due to a torture incident with a vampire which was a pretty interesting problem to load onto a character. While I don’t know to much about what PTSD is like I thought it portrayed the struggles of someone who has gone through a heavy trauma very well.
Though it started out a bit slowly, MORTAL HEART was an excellent series conclusion to the His Fair Assassin trilogy. With the usual politics, action and intrigue that we’ve come to expect from the trilogy, MORTAL HEART offers an ending that should satisfy readers who’ve followed the characters from GRAVE MERCY.
In this retelling of ‘Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves,’ Danielle Ackley-McPhail and Day Al-Mohamed have mixed a little machinery with magic while delving into the Arabian culture, and bringing us a protagonist whose heroism is in his dedication – dedication to his craft, his family, and his desire to to what’s right. BABA ALI AND THE CLOCKWORK DJINN is a breath of fresh desert wind, and if the book suffers from some plotting and pacing missteps, it’s still a charming oasis for fantasy lovers looking to enjoy something a little less Western.