Anyone who follows my blog knows how much I like S.M. Reine. Well, here are some more wonderful books by one of my favorite authors!
Anyone who follows my blog knows how much I like S.M. Reine. Well, here are some more wonderful books by one of my favorite authors!
Ah! César and friends are back again – and this time, his murder case may just kill him. That is, if his boss doesn’t kill him first. After the action in the second in the Preternatural Affairs series, Silver Bullet, César is in big trouble. He used a cell phone he shouldn’t have, and the VP of the Office of Preternatural Affairs is out for César’s guts – literally. And if César doesn’t pass his Aspis exam, to become Shield to Director Fritz Friederling, she just might have said guts for garters.
Could things get worse? Well, sure they can! For there is a vicious demon on the loose, a demon strong enough to kill a Kopis by simply being in the area. With more bodies dropping, all brutally savaged, the race is on as César, his partner Suzy, Isobel the necrocognitive, and Fritz all scramble to find the demon. A demon who may be unkillable.
As always, Reine does a wonderful job of writing a tight narrative that keeps you on the edge of your seat, using a level of creativity that I truly admire. There is terror and blood, but also a great deal of subtle humor in Reine’s works. I enjoyed the first two in the series, and can hardly wait for Sara’s next César book!
Highly recommended. If you haven’t read the first two, I would suggest reading them first. They are really good books, but if you haven’t read them, you can catch up easily enough in this volume. However, it won’t be nearly as much fun!
I received Hotter Than Helltown from the publisher in return for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own.
Hi everyone! My name is Sara, and I’m the NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY Bestselling author of urban fantasy known as SM Reine. I collect swords, cat hair, and typewriters (which I do use for writing!). You can usually find me writing on my treadmill desk at 2am on any given day.
If you would like to know the instant I have a new book available, you should enlist in my Army of Evil! I’ll only email you when I have a new release, which is generally no more than once a month. I can’t write any faster than that. 🙂
List of my series, including title reading order:
SEASONS OF THE MOON (completed)
Six Moon Summer
All Hallows’ Moon
Long Night Moon
Gray Moon Rising
THE CAIN CHRONICLES (completed)
New Moon Summer
Blood Moon Harvest
Moon of the Terrible
Red Rose Moon
Of Wings and Wolves
THE DESCENT SERIES (completed)
The Darkest Gate
Deadly Hearts (prequel short story)
THE ASCENSION SERIES (completed)
Sacrificed in Shadow
Oaths of Blood
Ruled by Steel
Caged in Bone
Lost in Prophecy
Torn by Fury
Sins of Eden
PRETERNATURAL AFFAIRS (in progress)
Hotter than Helltown
Shadow Burns(coming soon!)
TAROT WITCHES (in progress)
Forbidden Witches (coming soon!)
I don’t know. There are parts of this book I really liked. And it is odd how I came across it. On the Goodreads Urban Fantasy discussion group Dennis brought up the topic, “Dresden Files without the fairy dust” and I thought it was interesting, as did several others. We came up with several possibilities, Green, Del Franco, Henderson, Anderson, and others. Then, that same day, I came across an advertisement for a series by Robert J. Crane, an author I haven’t read before. “Called” is the first in the Southern Watch Series.
The beginning told me that this might be something that Dennis would find interesting. “A drifter, a broken-down hitchhiker blown through Midian (TN) on the prevailing winds. . . and Hendricks is carrying a sword.” Of course, it excited me also, as I am a huge Dresden Files fan as well. I passed the info along, and then discovered that the story is part of the four book anthology, “Sinners & Sorcerers: Four Urban Fantasy Thrillers”. I eagerly picked it up, as it has not only Crane, but also the amazing S.M. Reine, Daniel Arensen, Scott Nicholson, and the astounding J.R. Rain. And it is only 99 cents, so what a deal!
After reading “Called”, I am, again, of two minds. The concept is good. Demon hunter Lafayette Jackson Hendricks strolls into town and immediately runs into his first demon. And things go downhill from there. Archibald “Arch” Stan, ex-football hero and now a deputy sheriff, lives a quiet, boring and ultimately unfulfilling, and yet goodhearted, life – until he runs across Hendricks slaughtering a demon on the town square. Arch’s life will never be the same. Things are different now, in more ways than having the blinders ripped off. For where once only a single flare might show up on the map around the world, there are currently fourteen flares, more than ever before, hot-spots which “pull in demons like the light on a bugzapper – but without the zapper. . .” which as often as not leave whole cities ghost towns, no bodies to be found. And where Hendricks would once have had multiple demon hunters to back him up, suddenly there is only him – well, and Arch.
This is all good. And yet, what drove me NUTS about the story is the pure stupidity that Hendricks shows. It is to be expected from Arch. He really doesn’t have any idea what is going on, if demons are real, or if Hendricks is just some whack-job running around with a sword and a 1911 revolver. I can’t give Hendricks the same grace. Knowing that things are bad, that demons are overrunning the tiny town, and things are really, really not right in the world, he still follows the head between his legs and not the one between his ears, more interested in getting drunk and getting into the pants of the police dispatcher than paying attention to business. And of course, said mindless horndoggedness (yes, I made up that word) nearly costs them everything . . . getting drunk and chasing tail doesn’t really make sense under the circumstances. Between that and unnecessary usage of trash language, I was disappointed. I am no prude about language, but I am much of Earnest Borgnine’s way of thinking “Writers used to make such wonderful pictures without all that swearing, all that cursing. And now it seems that you can’t say three words without cursing. And I don’t think that’s right.”
I suppose it could be that this is a more “male-centric” story, which these days seems to include much more violent, sexual, and foul speaking lifestyle and expectations than I find acceptable. Who knows? I am a true proponent of kindness over what is considered “moral”, and the power of intellect over violence and ignorance. Whichever one prefers, there are things to recommend in Called, and others to abjure. Crane makes a point that I find most appropriate, though I am by no means religious. Arch says, “Side of the angels, huh? I haven’t seen any of them show up to help me yet.” Hollywood, the demon: “And they won’t. Because they don’t get involved, not anymore.” And I wonder whose fault that is?
But that is my opinion; yours may not be the same.
Cèsar Hawke is a witch with the Office of Preternatural Affairs, a special agent in the division whose job is to get warrants, perform arrests, put the suspects on trial, and send guilty parties back to the Hell from whence they came with the travel forms filled out in triplicate. Which is pretty funny, seeing as strong magic makes him sneeze. But hey, it’s a job, right?
But now, things have gone off all cockamamie – and Cèsar is now on the wrong end of the proverbial stick. He has found the body of his favorite waitress from The Olive Pit, his favorite bar, dead in his bathroom. He is the only suspect. And the OPA is more than willing to let him swing.
Escaping from ‘mundane’ jail is easy. Finding out who really killed Erin, the waitress, is much less so. And finding out why those who should have his back, his partners in the OPA, actually don’t is even more confusing. Hell of a night, huh?
Cèsar has no memory of what happened that night, but he does know that the gun on his coffee table isn’t his. And trying to prove his innocence is going to be terribly hard without his memory, and with the police arm of the OPA, The Union, hot on his heels with things like huge guns and graves in the desert on their ‘must do’ list.
In order to find out what happened that night, and to prove his innocence, Cèsar must find Isobel Stonecrow, a purported necrocognative, in order to raise the shadow of Erin. Only by doing so can he find out what really happened that night. And finding Stonecrow isn’t going to be easy. But then, finding out why The Union is out to kill him isn’t all that easy either.
If you haven’t read any of the Office of Preternatural Affairs books yet, you really should. They are creative, exciting, well, just plain awesome!
Highly recommended – you can start here if you like, but you can also enlist in the Army of Evil and read ALL of Sara’s books – they are fast paced action/fantasy novels sure to tickle your braincells!
I finally figured out what was bothering be about Sacrificed in Shadow. As the first book of The Ascension Series, I thought I was getting in on the first of the series. See, I should have looked before I leaped – as The Descent Series is the actual first of the series. Now, I have to go back and read that series before I come back to this one.
It makes sense now that I was lost throughout the book, though I suppose, stepping back, it was actually quite readable without starting at the very first. It was just that niggling feeling that I was somehow lost in the translation, like I should have known more about the characters, should have had a better feel for the interactions between Elise and the kopis, and Elise and the priest, Father Night. And, of course, the world building seemed off to me, not clarified enough. But, I was so into actually enjoying the book itself, and the unusual world it showed, I didn’t let it bother me too much. I loved Elise and how different she is as a character, how well developed she is. And the world itself and it’s mythology? I thought I would just learn more about it as time goes along. And, I have no doubt that, as with many series, if I just read Ascension, I would be fine and happy with the whole thing. It is very interesting, without a doubt.
However, I am stopping and going to the first book of the Descent Series, Death’s Hand and starting over from there. If I am enjoying the story this much without the back-story, how much will I enjoy it with the back-story intact? This is some seriously good storytelling, and it will be well worth going back and starting over. In fact, I am totally excited by the thought! Besides, right now you can get the first three books of the Descent Series, Death’s Hand, The Darkest Gate, and Dark Union FREE at Amazon as a set: http://tinyurl.com/kkske4a so there is no reason not to start there, right?
As I said, Sacrificed in Shadow was quite good on it’s own. Secrets, betrayal, hatred and love, all embroiled in a dark and sensual story of angels, demons, witches, and wolves. Ultimately, I was quite satisfied with my reading, but will be much more satisfied when I have the first series under by belt, so to say. Being that person who always goes back to read the first books in a series before reading the next to come out, I feel like a kid in a candy store, figuring out the series. Or, should I say a bibliophile at the end of the world, living out her life inside the New York Public Library, no worries, no interruptions, and all the books I could ever hope to read?
“Some have said that angels possess the innocence and heartlessness of childhood for eternity.”
This quote from Sara Reine’s Of Wings and Wolves touched, exactly, on why I have never really gotten into the ‘Angel’ urban fantasy novels that are nearly as popular as vampire novels. Angels, by their very being, have never struck me as capable of being anything other than heartless. The preternatural creations of an omnipotent, uncaring god, all powerful, and yet removed from any sense of mortality or human “morality”.
I remember, from long ago, reading something to the effect that (and I won’t get this perfectly – it is an old memory) “God no longer listens – “he” is too narcissistic, too enamored with his own reflection in the mirror, lost in the worship of his followers”. (And if anyone can help me with where that quote comes from, I would be forever grateful. It has driven me mad for years.)
As a result of these feelings, I was somewhat hesitant to accept Ms. Reine’s request that I read her book and contribute a review. However, I decided that, no matter my problems with the concept of Angelic interaction, I would give it a shot. And I am not in any way unhappy that I did. I am always glad to be proven wrong in my prejudices, and Sara does a fairly good job of it.
This is an unusual novel. From the beginning, she pulls away your suppositions, leading you in directions both unexpected and curious. The main character and her twin are apparently normal young people, living in a ‘fairy tale’ cottage in the woods with their grandmother. But all is not what it seems. For one, Summer is, apparently, the sole were in the world. A world that becomes more strange and complex as times goes along. Enter a dark and mysterious stranger (yes, with buckets of money and looks to die for – well, would we love a urban fantasy male lead who wasn’t the uber total of all our own most hidden and closely held fantasies? I certainly wouldn’t be all that interested in a 5’6” pudgy, zitty geek with halitosis. I can get over it.)
With the entry of the stranger Nashriel, Summer’s life begins to change and flow, turning into something she no longer comprehends. A world of bitter pain. The story moves smoothly, well written, with a tight storyline that, in urban fantasy terms, doesn’t stretch the imagination. Rather, it flows into an area that is not often explored in UF in a way that is highly believable in many ways. The story is a good set-up for further novels, not overreaching in it’s tone or leaving you with a cliff hanger that is ultimately dissatisfying.
As with many of the novels of the genre, the romance of the story is extremely rushed – but that is to be expected in many ways. With romances and UF, the main characters seem to have that whole ‘love at first sight’ thing going on, which I always have difficulty with. I much prefer the romantic elements of authors such as Ilona Andrews Kate Daniels series and Faith Hunter’s Jane Yellowrock. The personal relationships take time to grow and develop, something that is missing in this book.
In my opinion, the love at first sight thing was uncomfortable for me on several different level. That whole “innocence and heartlessness” thing, in my mind, precludes this type of ‘immediate love connection’. In the words of another author, whom I immediately identified with, which referred to the thought processes of an Aspergers Syndrome victim (Carolyn McCray/Ben Hopkin “9th Circle’) “She found a baby bird that fell out of the nest. You helped her put it back, while I kept walking.” In a way, Nashriel is very much an angel in this – the pain of others is not, when you are viewing those around you on the scale of an entity who has existed since the beginning of time, worth notice. And the situation of an entity such as Nashriel, especially in the situation he finds himself, makes me question, deeply, the underlying meaning of the connection. Meh. That’s just me.
All in all, Summer is a strong new female lead, and takes the various body blows she is given, one after the other, picking herself up, dusting herself off, and going forward. She doesn’t let herself fall into the whole “I’m a Victorian heroine who needs a big, strong man to rescue me, even though I have teeth and claws and can whip you deadly” sort of female lead that certain other, who shall not be named, authors fall into. One thing that I look forward to in the next books is watching Summer grow and develop into her strengths, learning about who she is and what she can do to succeed in her new life.
This novel pinged on some of my aggravations, but all in all, the story begins well, takes a new twist on its UF legacy, and has overall promise. Something happens at the end that I hope doesn’t drag down into ‘typicality’ of the genre, but I am more than happy to preorder the next installment – and go searching for Sara’s other works to learn more about her writing. All in all, I am quite pleased that Sara asked for my opinion, and hope to follow through with other reviews on my on dime.