Sunday, December 26, 2010

Strip Mauled

Series: Supernatural Suburbia (#2)
Genre: Anthology (favoring Comedy)
Author: Various (edited by Esther Friesner)
Publisher: BAEN

"Alas, poor werewolves," writes Esther Friesner in the introduction to Strip Mauled. "Forever doomed to be Avis to the vampire's unassailable fang-hold on Hertz, Pepsi to their Coke, Burger King to their McDonalds!" To which LupLun replies, "Where you been? Antarctica?"

I shouldn't be mean. Strip Mauled was published in 2009, meaning that said intro was probably penned in 2008. At which point, yes, the bloodsuckers did rule the roost. But, the wheel turns. Over the past two years, we've seen two debuting werewolf series' make the bestseller lists, a number of more established series being rediscovered, and lest we forget Team Jacob was trouncing Team Edward pretty soundly until the latter started firing the canon. The vamps remain on top, but they're slipping. You're as likely to see parodies of vampire romances than straight examples on the bookshelves these days. Clearly, brooding immortals with cold skin and neck fetishes don't do it for the modern fangirl. She wants someone who romances her, as Trent Reznor put it, "like an animal." So, an anthology with a stated goal being "helping our long-suffering lycanthropic brethren to lay claim to their rightful bite of the American Dream" seems almost quaint these days. Our moon, after all, is already waxing.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Moon Called

Series: Mercy Thompson (#1)
Genre: Adventure
Author: Patricia Briggs
Publisher: Penguin Group

About a dozen pages into Moon Called, a character addresses heroine Mercy Thompson as "Mercedes, the Volkswagen mechanic." I was immediately reminded of that other annoying-to-the-subject running gag, "Kitty, the werewolf". I have to say that this is a first impression that never really went away. Although there are differences in tone, the two series share a similar focus on character and setting over strong plots. Patricia Briggs has produced a solid reading experience, painting an image of a vibrant world inhabited by compelling characters. But when our heroine has to get down to brass tacks and actually solve the mystery of a murder/kidnapping, the writing gets dicey.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Shadow of the Moon

Series: Dark Guardian
Genre: Romance
Author: Rachel Hawthorne
Publisher: HarperTeen

Word from the author’s website is that Shadow of the Moon is the final book of the Dark Guardian series, which is a shame. All this time following the Shifters of Wolford, I’ve been waiting for Rachel Hawthorne to fully realize the potential in her concept. Now, she finally has. In Shadow of the Moon she’s constructed a solid story with appealing characters and a tight plot that has appeal both on the surface and on a deeper level. And only now is the plug pulled. Damn.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Curse of the Wolf Girl

Series: Kalix MacRinnalch (#2)
Genre: Comedy/Adventure
Author: Martin Millar
Publisher: Underland Press

Lonely Werewolf Girl was one of those books that made you struggle to figure out which genre it belongs in. In hindsight, however, I think the best comparison would be a webcomic in it's early stages. It had a continuing storyline, which appeared to have been sketched out in broad strokes. The details were being made up as the author went, with no going back to shore up earlier bits. Instead it embraced an episodic structure, which ensured that every chapter was meant to be read for what it was, not for things that would happen down the road. Along the way it experimented with a lot of different plot developments, characters, and tones, keeping what worked and casually discarding the rest. The resulting story, if not exactly to everyone's taste, was at least unique and unpredictable. Now it's sequel time, and Millar hasn't changed the formula much. He has, however, refined it so as to weed out some of the thornier problems in the first book.