Read Recently — January — Urban Fantasy

Hunting Ground by Patricia Briggs

Sequel to Cry Wolf. This time, Charles and Anna are sent to Seattle to meet with a delegation of werewolves from Europe. Bran, the leader of North America’s werewolves, intends to announce to the world that werewolves are real (just as the Fae came out of the closet some years before), and he feels that the European wolves deserve their chance to hear what he plans and be heard themselves, though it is not a negotiation–he doesn’t need their permission to do this. Though the peace of the meeting is guaranteed by the powerful Fae whose territory Seattle is, violence is almost certain to occur: France’s leading werewolf is Jean Chastel, aka the Beast of Gevaudain (note: that Wikipedia entry references this book), a vicious killer of humans and his fellow werewolves.

But then, while sight-seeing under the protection of members of the local pack, Anna is attacked by Vampires using werewolf-style magic (which they should not know how to do). She and her guards survive, but others aren’t as lucky (or skilled). Is one of the European wolves responsible? Or is someone trying to start a war between the North Americans and the European werewolves?

Briggs packs a lot into a thin book. I haven’t even mentioned the werewolf who thinks he’s the reincarnation of King Arthur, or any of the Faerie types the our heroes encounter as they move around the city. Charles and Anna continue to be interesting characters, though I have some problems with the werewolf aspects of their relationship, I like them both and I overall enjoyed this book. Recommended.

Rosemary and Rue: an October Daye novel by Seanan McGuire

At the start of the book, Toby Daye, PI, is on a stakeout. She has a pretty good life, with a husband and daughter who love her, as well as a good employer, Duke Sylvester Torquill, Lord of a Faerie realm that includes part of San Francisco. Toby is one of his knights, and as we meet her she is trailing his twin brother, who she believes is responsible for the kidnapping of Sylvester’s wife and daughter. Toby, who is a half-breed, has no powerful magic of her own, but she knows enough tricks to keep up with the more powerful fae right up to the point where he confronts her in a park and turns her into a koi and leaves her to die on the edge of a pond. A helpful mortal throws her into the water, and there she lives as a fish.

When the spell breaks it’s 14 years later, and Toby’s life is in tatters. She was already declared dead, and of course she can hardly explain what she has been doing for all this time. Her family want nothing to do with her. She’s hiding in the mortal world, taking crap jobs like night check-out at a grocery store (night because day is hard on her and her magic) when an old acquaintance–one of the people who helped her put her life back together(in so far as she has) after the pond–is murdered and her last words are a call to Toby’s answering machine, first begging for her help, and then demanding it. With a death curse attached if Toby doesn’t solve the crime.

Now she has to go back to the world she has been trying to avoid, fixing several broken relationships along the way. All the while, though, the curse presses on her. Her detective skills rusty from 14 years of unuse, can Toby solve the crime?

I liked this one. It’s a bit dark, but Toby’s a good viewpoint character, and there is a nice selection of backing characters to round the world out. Some good faerie lore, tweaked to make it McGuire’s own. Recommended.

Trick of the Light: a Trickster novel by Rob Thurman

Trixa Iktomi is bartender/owner of a small place just outside Las Vegas. She hangs out in the bar, helps her friends, Zeke and Griffin, two orphans she sort of adopted (Zeke is a functional sociopath. Grffin and Trixa are about the only people he really cares for. He and Griffin ran away from foster care together), and every now and then goes out in the evening and amuses herself by burning down a local bar belonging to a demon.

Yes, though this is set in the same world as Thurman’s other series, it’s concerned mostly with the battle between heaven and hell. Zeke and Griffin work as low-level soldiers (closer to freelancers) for Eden House, a human organization that fronts for heaven. Trixa, meanwhile, is hunting for the demon that killed her brother.

That quest, though, is about to get a bit side-lined, as she’s about to get pulled into the quest for “the Light of Life”, an impenetrable defense against both heaven and hell that both sides would love to get hold of. Naturally, everyone wants it, and since Trixa seems about to get closest to finding it, she can name her own price. And of course, everyone has their own agenda . . .

This was okay. I much prefer the Cal Leandros stories, since here I found our heroes a bit annoying at times. And the story involves at least three major plot twists that pretty much have to come out of nowhere, which makes them feel a bit deus ex, if you know what I mean. Still, within her oeuvre, Thurman’s a good writer, the characters are all interesting, even if occasionally annoying, and this is different enough from the other works in the subgenre to keep you guessing. So, recommended.

Necrophenia by Robert Rankin

Did you ever wonder what the secret origin of the Rolling Stones was? Or who Elvis Presley’s evil brother was? Or where all the zombies wandering the earth these days came from? I can’t really say much about this book without spoiling things, but it’s typical Rankin, which is to say hilarious urban fantasy and highly recommended.

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