Sunday, October 31, 2010

Dark of the Moon

Series: Dark Guardian (#3)
Genre: Adventure/Romance
Author: Rachel Hawthorne
Publisher: HarperTeen

Poor Rachel Hawthorne... she just can't seem to get it right. She's a good writer- not great, but a sound craftswoman. And yet she keeps dropping the ball. The previous two Dark Guardian books have provided enjoyment, but also disappointment. In the third installment, she cleans up the technical problems- Dark of the Moon is well-paced, centers around an appealing couple, and it weaves it's central romance into the overall plot of the series very nicely. Freed of the minor issues, she produces a pretty good teenage love story. But it doesn't fit at all with what her readers have come to expect, rendering it perhaps the biggest disappointment of them all.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Lonely Werewolf Girl

Series: Kalix MacRiannalch (#1)
Genre: Comedy/Drama
Author: Martin Millar
Publisher: Soft Skull Press

Hard-luck protagonists are nothing new, but Kalix MacRiannalch is on another level. We first meet her as a homeless, degenerate junkie living on the streets of London. She's pawned her only means of protection to afford laudanum- her drug of choice. She's evading a guild of Van Helsing wannabes that want her dead on general principles, as well as the members of her former clan, who want her dead for trying to kill her father the Thane. We soon learn she's also illiterate, friendless, pining for a lost love, depressed nearly to the point of suicide, and quite possibly insane. So I was expecting a moody and depressing view of life in the streets of London, but it turns out that- some very dark bits aside- this book veers more towards comedy. By way of literary anarchism.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Kitty and the Silver Bullet

Series: Kitty Norville (#4)
Genre: Adventure
Author: Carrie Vaughn
Publisher: Hachette

The Kitty Norville series has had its ups and downs thus far. The first book was excellent, but rough around the edges. The second mostly treaded water, serving up overall weaker material but remaining entertaining. The third had some serious issues. But with book four, things have turned around dramatically. Carrie Vaughn has gotten back to basics, returning us to the characters and storylines that were left hanging after Kitty and the Midnight Hour. Now the series seems to be heading in a new direction, and it works. In fact, I can confidently say that Kitty and the Silver Bullet is the best of the first four books.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Sisters Red

Series: Stand-Alone
Genre: Adventure
Author: Jackson Pearce
Publisher: Little, Brown, and Company

Our friend Kitty Norville- channeling her creator, Carrie Vaughn- once noted that Dracula is not about vampires. It's about much deeper themes and issues, with the vampire being a representation of the things humanity has to conquer. In a similar vein, Sisters Red is not about werewolves. Oh, there are werewolves here. The old kind of werewolves- nasty, monstrous, remorseless incarnations of the beast inside man. But this isn't really a book about werewolves. Nor is it really a reinvention of the Red Riding Hood myth. It's a story about big issues- love, sex, family, growing up, finding your place in life- all in all a very human story.