REVIEW SUMMARY: A deliriously smart and funny beginning to a new urban fantasy series about dragons in the ruins of Detroit.
PROS: Fantastic and memorable characters; spectacular world building; fast paced adventure; snappy dialog with a lot of humor; completely unique magical system.
CONS: Would have liked more info about the rest of the world after the magic apocalypse.
BOTTOM LINE: A compelling first volume in a new series that will knock your socks off so hard they’ll leave smoking holes in your wall.
REVIEW SUMMARY: A novel with a lot of big ideas that fails to deliver on its exciting premise and ultimately falls flat.
PROS: Fascinating “Greatcoats” concept; very well choreographed sword fight scenes.
CONS: Very muddy middle; little to no pay off on the potential in the first half of the story; characters chase a MacGuffin around for no reason; the ending is full of several deus ex machina plot points; vague world building and even vaguer characters.
BOTTOM LINE: While Traitor’s Blade is bursting with potential, it never becomes more than a mediocre fantasy outing. The ending is a huge let down.
The second I read the blurb for Sebastien de Castell’s Traitor’s Blade, I knew I had to read it. There is nothing I love more than a fantasy novel with some swashbuckling rogues looking for adventure and redemption. Traitor’s Blade sounded like a rousing fantasy version of The Three Musketeers and you can’t imagine my disappointment when the book failed to deliver. This book had so much potential but as it dragged on it got harder and harder to forgive it.
REVIEW SUMMARY: The explosive, glorious finale of Bach’s incredible trilogy where all questions are answered and all fates are decided.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Devi Morris is beaten and broken, but she’s not down for the count yet. She has one last job that will decide the fate of the universe if only she can stay alive long enough to fulfill all the promises she’s made.
PROS: Intense final volume; heavy on action and moral quandaries; moments of genuine terror and heartbreak; a sharply written conclusion to an already great series.
CONS: A few loose ends that don’t get sufficient answers.
BOTTOM LINE: Masterful storytelling will make this series a classic of the genre. This trilogy deserves a standing ovation!
REVIEW SUMMARY: The second volume in Bach’s sci-fi series raises the stakes to insanely high levels.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Devi Morris has some massive new problems: her memory has been tampered with, she’s starting to hallucinate little glowing bugs and a lot of people want her dead. She has to sort through the mess in her head and figure out who the bad guys are before it’s too late. The fate of the universe rests on her mech shoulders.
PROS: A satisfying middle book in the trilogy; adds more details about the universe and the shady agencies that run things behind the scene; moments of intense action with awesome fight scenes and more of Devi’s brand of sarcasm.
CONS: Suffers a little from second-book syndrome; tons of enemies thrown in at once and who is good or bad changes frequently; Devi makes some choices that left me scratching my head.
BOTTOM LINE: Another great book in the Paradox trilogy that leaves you desperate to learn all the answers.
Devi Morris has problems. She’s missing huge chunks of her memory, she’s beginning to see things and everyone seems to want her dead. Just another day in the life of the universe’s best mercenary.
REVIEW SUMMARY: Thrilling new science fiction series which lays waste to tired old sci-fi tropes and stereotypes.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Devi Morris is a mercenary with the ultimate goal of becoming an elite guard in her planet’s military. When she learns of a position on a ship that could fast track that dream she signs up despite all the rumors about the ship being cursed. Things swiftly go downhill from there.
PROS: Fast-paced, intense action; excellently written characters; outstanding, believable romance; completely original take on worn, old military science fiction tropes.
CONS: A touch slow going at the beginning but a packed thrill ride once things start rolling.
BOTTOM LINE: A spectacular action-packed story that even people who don’t like sci-fi will adore.
Devi Morris has a plan. She wants to become a Devastator, the highest military order on Paradox. She’s done her time as an elite mercenary and an army grunt and now she has her sights set on the impossible. Unfortunately, the Devastator’s won’t look at anyone who doesn’t have a certain amount of experience. Devi can’t stand the idea of doing merch work for another five years so she signs up to be security on a ship called the Glorious Fool. One year on the Fool is worth five years experience to the Devastators. Despite rumors that the ship is cursed and has a very high mortality rate for the crew, Devi is overjoyed at the opportunity to reach her goal faster. Things start out quiet on the Fool but everything quickly goes to hell when she starts to learn the real secrets of the ship and its odd crew.
REVIEW SUMMARY: Explosive first book in a brand new urban fantasy series about an amnesiac hitman who can’t die.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Dying Is My Business is the story of Trent, underling to a Brooklyn crime boss, who just can’t stay dead. His invulnerability to death makes him an asset in the New York underworld until a job gone wrong lands him in the middle of a secret, magical war.
PROS: Fast paced story; solid world building; interesting utilization of underused magical creatures; an atmospheric, violent and all-out-fun time.
CONS: Felt a touch too short and ended without resolution to some plot points.
BOTTOM LINE: A frenetic, breakneck paced novel that’s half hardboiled New York City crime story and half spectacularly realized fantasy novel. Both sides mix well together, resulting in a very satisfying story with enough twists and turns to keep even the most jaded of urban fantasy readers on the edge of their seat.
What would you do if you couldn’t die and your memory only went back a year? If your answer is grab a gun and work for a Brooklyn crime boss named Underwood, then you’re most likely Trent, the anti-hero in Dying Is My Business. Blessed (or cursed, depending on how you look at it) with the inability to die, Trent uses his odd ability to do small jobs and petty theft for his boss. He’s kept on a short leash with the promise that Underwood is searching for answers into Trent’s past. Everything comes tumbling down when he accidentally gets himself caught up in the middle of an ancient battle between good and evil.
Halloween is one of the best holidays out there. It’s a perfect excuse to curl up with a hot beverage of your choice and read a spooky novel. Perhaps you break out some H.P. Lovecraft to get your yearly quota of monsters or maybe you grab a classic like Dracula or The Hound of the Baskervilles. What if I told you there was the perfect Halloween book out there that combined all these things and more?
Let me introduce you to the best Halloween book you’ve never read.
REVIEW SUMMARY: A great new urban fantasy series that falters a little but still manages to be a rollicking good time.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Meet John Charming, part of a long line of Templar Knights that hunt down things that go bump in the night. Unfortunately, one of those things is now John himself and he’s constantly running to keep one step ahead of those who wish him harm. Everything comes to a head when a beautiful blonde walks into his bar and turns his life upside down.
PROS: Interesting new world with original magic systems mixed deftly with folklore and fairy tales; good characters hold the story together; lots of black humor and pun-tastic chapter titles.
CONS: Hindered by muddled action sequences and dialog that sometimes misses the mark.
BOTTOM LINE: This first book in what will become a series has some stumbling blocks right out of the gate but is nonetheless a riveting story that left me anxious for more.
REVIEW SUMMARY: A well-written addition to an established series, The Crown Tower is a perfect example of a fantasy epic done right. An impressive outing for already beloved characters that does double duty as a warm introduction for readers unfamiliar with the author’s earlier works.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Outstanding prequel to an already outstanding fantasy series, this new adventure shows the auspicious beginnings of the partnership between Hadrian Blackwater and Royce Melborn as they tackle their first assignment; steal a book from the highest tower in the land without killing each other first.
PROS: Incredible, fascinating characters; smart, well written dialog; superb world building.
CONS: A weak second act makes the story drag slightly in the middle.
BOTTOM LINE: A prequel that doesn’t disappoint or dilute the already-established series, it’s a delight to reconnect with these characters and discover their humble beginnings. It’s a worthy addition to the previously published adventures of Hadrian and Royce that will leave old and new fans alike craving more.
Michael J. Sullivan’s excellent Riyria Revelations was one of the most satisfying fantasy series I’ve ever read. The adventures of Hadrian Blackwater and Royce Melborn unraveled during the course of six books (gathered into three omnibus collections) and ended so strongly that I actually gasped out loud on a packed bus full of people when I reached the last page. The series was exceptionally well written and contained complex characters who you couldn’t help but love and root for. While on the surface it may look like another entry into the already glutted “thieves and assassins” fantasy genre, the Riyria Revelations manages to stand apart thanks to Sullivan’s precise world building and the cast of characters he created. At its core, the Riyria Revelations are about the friendship between Hadrian and Royce and The Crown Tower shows us how it all began.