Department 19 (Department 19 #1) ★✬☆☆☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Department 19
Series: Department 19 #1
Authors: Will Hill
Rating: 1.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Pages: 379
Words: 133K



Synopsis:

From the inside cover

Jamie Carpenter’s life will never be the same. His father is dead, his mother is missing, and he was just rescued by an enormous man named Frankenstein. Jamie is brought to Department 19, where he is pulled into a secret organization responsible for policing the supernatural, founded more than a century ago by Abraham Van Helsing and the other survivors of Dracula. Aided by Frankenstein’s monster, a beautiful vampire girl with her own agenda, and the members of the agency, Jamie must attempt to save his mother from a terrifyingly powerful vampire.

Department 19 takes us through history, across Europe, and beyond – from the cobbled streets of Victorian London to prohibition-era New York, from the icy wastes of Arctic Russia to the treacherous mountains of Transylvania. Part modern thriller, part classic horror, it’s packed with mystery, mayhem, and a level of suspense that makes a Darren Shan novel look like a romantic comedy.

My Thoughts:

I went into this hoping for a rollicking good ride of monster killing. Instead, I get the following:

  • there was no profanity EXCEPT taking God or Jesus’ name in vain. It was a constant barrage of breaking the 4th Commandment. It had me close to dnf’ing on that alone
  • whiny 16 year old boy “knows things” (not even psychically, but just because he said so) so they must be right and everybody acts on it, even when they say they won’t
  • He’s never fired a gun in his life and has been physically bullied by other teens, but once he’s had 24hrs of training, he’s a vampire killing machine that sets a new record in the “simulation”
  • a vampire girl is supposed to kill him and then lies and deceives him for her own purposes, but she really loves him and they make out, so she’s all ok
  • a 200 year old super secret military organization just lets him requisition troops, guns, helicopters, whatever and ignores him instead of locking him up whenever he throws a teenage tempter tantrum “because of his mom”

I think that’s enough. I knew this was Young Adult (definitely not middle grade due to the graphic nature of some of the violence) but I was kind of hoping it would be Monster Hunters International for teens. Nope. What I got was Anakin Skywalker (mommy issues and all) hunting vampires. The final nail in the coffin (because a book this bad needs at least one good/bad joke) was how Jamie kills the boss vampire in the end. Now, you have to remember that vampires have been shown, IN THIS BOOK, to have super hearing, are super fast and strong and can survive being dropped from an airplane and crashing headfirst into the ground. So Jamie uses a crossbow to pull a big cross onto the most powerful vampire in the world and the vampire doesn’t realize what he’s doing, doesn’t hear the cross creaking and falling, nor does he move out of the way and once it brains him, he just lies there, dead. It was the most ridiculous thing I had (almost) ever read.

I don’t recommend this for Christians because of the blasphemy, I don’t recommend this for teens because of the graphic violence and I don’t recommend it for adults because of how stupid it is.

So much for this series!

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.

Hard Day’s Knight (Black Knight Chronicles #1) ★☆☆☆☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Hard Day’s Knight
Series: Black Knight Chronicles #1
Authors: John Hartness
Rating: 1 of 5 Stars
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 230
Words: 62K



Synopsis:

From the Publisher

Children are missing.

The police are stumped.

Halloween is coming, and an ancient evil is on the horizon.

The vampires are the good guys.

This is not your ordinary fall weekend in Charlotte, North Carolina. Vampire private detectives Jimmy Black and Greg Knightwood have been hired to save a client from being cursed for all eternity, but end up in a bigger mess than they ever imagined.

Suddenly trapped in the middle of a serial kidnapping case, Jimmy and Greg uncover a plot to bring forth an ancient evil. Soon, they’ve enlisted the help of a police detective, a priest, a witch, a fallen angel and a strip club proprietor to save the world. This unlikely band of heroes battles zombies, witches, neuroses and sunburn while cracking jokes and looking for the perfect bag of O-negative.

My Thoughts:

Ranting and theological oriented stuff ahead. Read at your own rist.

This type of book is the EXACT reason I don’t read much urban fantasy. If imams were portrayed the way most priests are, you can bet your bottom dollar there would be riots and violence and other imams going full on mufti and screaming out death notice fatwas faster than you could eat a porkchop from Willie Jewels Barbeque! In fact, the author would be in danger of having his head cut off or being gunned down at his business (just look what happened to the Charlie Hebdo publication in France!) Heck, if Hartness had written it that way and gone to Malaysia, the government itself might just cut off his head, or at best beat him until he promised to not write like that anymore. But do you see hordes of roman catholics beating down Hartness’s door, or Cardinals (the guys just lower than the Pope) sic’ing the Jesuits on him? No, you don’t. What you get is bloggers like me sighing and rolling their eyes at the absolute stupidity and lack of knowledge exhibited here.

The older I get the more I care about how Christianity is portrayed in fiction. Not because it bothers me personally but because of how many people take their cue from fiction. If you were to ask the average Joe or Josephina on the street if a priest who was truly devout would have a comparative religions breakfast with the leader of a coven of witches every month so they could genially compare theological notes, they’d probably wonder why that would be a problem at all. And that is the least of the things I had a problem with in this book. For that example, it wasn’t that the priest was friends with a witch. He should be. You can’t show Christ to people if you refuse to be their friends and don’t interact with them. But it was the “comparative” part coupled with the truly devout. On matters of theology, a Christian is not going to come together with people of other faiths and claim that they’re all equal. Only one of those faiths is genuine and since the Bible declares itself to be the Word of God Himself, a devout Christian is going to treat it as such.

Then you have stuff like demons vs fallen angels vs angels. There were no angels in this story. Just a couple of demons and a fallen angel. Who ends up being allowed to go back to Heaven “because he just had to ask”. I barely even know where to start with what is so wrong with ALL of that. Angels and demons are not just amped up humans with a pair of wings of either dovelike or batlike appearance. You cannot ascribe human emotions and reasoning to them because THEY ARE NOT HUMANS!!! That’s just the tip of it for that issue and I’m already holding my head in my hands (which is quite a feat as I’m also typng this!). I think that is enough from me. Any more and I’ll just start upsetting myself and there’s no need for that.

In conclusion, I won’t be reading any more in this series and I’ll be avoiding Hartness as an author in general.

Rating: 1 out of 5.

The Infernal Express (Adventures of the Royal Occultist #3) ★★★✬☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The Infernal Express
Series: Adventures of the Royal Occultist #3
Author: Josh Reynolds
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 199
Words: 68.5K



Synopsis:

St. Cyprian is coerced into taking the remains of Dracula and giving them to the Turks and jannissaries, Dracula’s ancient enemies. A cult of Dracula wants the remains for themselves so as to raise their lord from the dead. The jannissaries also want the remains as they don’t trust St. Cyprian to be able to keep the remains safe from others. And finally, the secret vampire society wants the remains so they can lock them away and keep Dracula from ever rising again. Oh, and Lucy Harker, a half-vampire, thinks she’s the only one who can deal with her daddy’s remains.

All of this ends up taking place on a train towards Constantinople, through land barely over World War One. St Cyprian is an idiot and gets infected by Dracula so he has to contend with enemies within and without. Eventually he, his protege Ebe and Lucy get the remains to a sacred monastary with a pool of holy water. St Cyprian cleanses himself from the vampire taint and then throws the remains of Dracula into the holy water, which while not eradicating him, will hold him captive.

During all of this Dracula shows St Cyprian a future where the Old Ones have returned to Earth and humanity is on the brink of extinction, not from fighting the Old Ones, but from worshiping them. St. Cyprian has seen this vision in the previous stories so he knows Dracula isn’t making this up. So St Cyprian must find a way to prevent this future without allowing a monster like Dracula to use it for his own ends.

My Thoughts:

Another fun entry in the Royal Occultist series. At the end of the book was the prologue and chapter 1 of Book 4, which was untitled. When I contacted the author, he told me there had been issues with the publishing company so book 4 was never published and he didn’t know when it would be. I’m guessing rights were involved.

This was extremely action packed from beginning to end and it did make me wonder how St Cyprian has lived as long as he has. He certainly doesn’t seem to know half of what he should and as for him trying to teach Ebe anything, that girl seems to think she doesn’t need any teaching. It’s frustrating to read about but also so true to life.

I thought Reynolds did a good job with handling the Dracula lore in such a way that it fit right into the Royal Occultist world but also putting his own unique spin on it. Making Dracula a being that is on par with the archangels in terms of power was clever.

With no more books, I’m done with this series. It was light and fun and if Reynolds ever writes more, I’ll be reading them.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The Jade Suit of Death (Adventures of the Royal Occultist #2) ★★★✬☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The Jade Suit of Death
Series: Adventures of the Royal Occultist #2
Author: Josh Reynolds
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 190
Words: 70K



Synopsis:

St. Cyprian is hired to recover an occultic artifact for one of his acquaintences. Said artifact has been stolen by a group of thugs who appear to have the power of controlling a demon. Turns out one of the occultic clubs has decided to use whatever power they can grab to change the course of history and to make Britain an Empire in perpetuity.

The jade suit encases an original werewolf and the acquaintence was hoping to study it to see if he could cure himself, as he has been bitten himself.

St. Cyprian and his assistant must track down the jade suit and stop the splinter group from peforming an equinox ceremony binding the werewolf to the leader of the group, thus allowing her nigh unlimited power. Of course they succeed.

My Thoughts:

This was another great entry but also brought to light something that had been niggling at me in the first book. Reynolds kind of rushes his endings. The buildup is fantastic. He sets things up great and does a good job of describing everything leading up to the end but the climactic battle and the aftermath, it’s always gone through extremely quickly. I have to admit I suspect it comes from his franchise fiction writing. It really reminded me of how a lot of the Forgotten Realms books/series ended. Other than that, I was perfectly satisfied with how this story went.

The idea that the “plague” contained by the jade suit was out of control lycanthropy was really interesting and definitely turned the expectations of the reader, ie, me, on its head. The inclusion of the “Hairy Hands” and Baphomet as well as the splinter group of rogue occultists definitely made for a full house when it came to villainy. In a lot of ways it didn’t seem so much that St. Cyprian overcame the villains as that he performed magical ju-jitsu and used everyone against the others. He came across as the Millennial Ideal of lets work together instead of the Gen X of One Warrior Overcoming All Odds.

A larger overall threat was hinted at but I’m not sure that Reynolds will be able to pull that off with just one more book. I guess I’ll just have to read it and find out 😀

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The Whitechapel Demon (Adventures of the Royal Occultist #1) ★★★✬☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The Whitechapel Demon
Series: Adventures of the Royal Occultist #1
Author: Josh Reynolds
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 172
Words: 59K



Synopsis:

Publisher’s Blurb & Me

Formed during the reign of Elizabeth I, the post of the Royal Occultist was created to safeguard the British Empire against threats occult, otherworldly, infernal and divine.

It is now 1920, and the title and offices have fallen to Charles St. Cyprian. Accompanied by his apprentice Ebe Gallowglass, they defend the battered empire from the forces of darkness.

In the wake of a séance gone wrong, a monstrous killer is summoned from the depths of nightmare by a deadly murder-cult. The entity hunts its prey with inhuman tenacity even as its worshippers stop at nothing to bring the entity into its full power… It’s up to St. Cyprian and Gallowglass to stop the bloodthirsty horror before another notch is added to its gory tally, but will they become the next victims of the horror guised as London’s most famous killer?

Using the powers of darkness themselves, Charlie and Ebe use the medium who originally brought forth the demon as bait. Charlie uses some magic embued in his house to chase the eldritch horror back into the dark from whence it came.

My Thoughts:

I have some theological quibbles, which I’ll deal with as I suspect most anyone reading this review won’t have them. First, the Royal Occultist is supposed to protect England/Britian/Whatever from forces Occult, Otherworldy and Divine. Why would it need to be protected from the Divine? The answer of course is that despite saying on several occasions “For God and Country”, there is no God, no Jehovah, just a shell for the story’s sake. So Divine in this case will mean any and all gods, who are all valid. Balderdash. Secondly, Charlie is as involved in the Occult and Occultic Forces as any demon loving secret society, he just happens to use those powers “for good”. Once again, Balderdash. It is quite evident that Reynolds is using the shell of Protestant England without thinking about its depths or anything real. It annoys me to see Christianity used as a prop and in this case, a very poorly made prop.

Other than that, I quite enjoyed this read. It was short, filled that cosmic horror itch I sometimes get (and how much more cosmic horror’ish can it get than an Old One masquerading as Jack the Ripper?) and was fast paced almost to the point of being frenetic. It also has the honor of only being a completed trilogy (even though, from what I can gather, there might be 2 more books after the trilogy, but I’m not sure how they tie in, don’t really care at this point). Short books and short series are like short skirts, they look really good if you’re wearing ♪a looooong jacket♪.

I feel like this type of story is at the other end of the spectrum from the Wheel of Time books. WoT could be compared to a 14 course meal that lasts 8hrs and has little umbrella drinks between courses. This Royal Occultist? It’s driving through the front of a McDonalds, grabbing the burger from the hands of a senior citizen and then backing out and taking out a load bearing wall, collapsing the whole building. But man, that hot greasy burger does taste good. And knowing that you kept somebody’s Grandma from having a triple heart attack, well, it makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside (never mind that you killed her when you took out the load bearing wall and collapsed the whole building on her head. So you should probably actually feel ashamed of yourself. But this is a judgement free zone, so kill all the Grandma’s you want. It’s open season!)

I am looking forward to the next 2 books and hope the pace stays as crazy as this was.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Capital Murder (Arcane Casebook #7) ★★★★☆

Capital Murder

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Capital Murder
Series: Arcane Casebook #7
Author: Dan Willis
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 336
Words: 110K





Synopsis:

Alex Lockerby gets snagged into going to Washington, DC (the capital of the United States of America) with one of the Sorcerous Six. Of course, he immediately gets sucked into multiple investigations, all of which are “Top Priority” by the clients.

Then it turns out his girlfriend Sorsha is involved in one of the cases and the papers are publicly speculating that she can’t solve it without Alex’s help. As a top FBI agent, this doesn’t sit well with her. Placing more strain on an already irregular relationship, Alex and Sorsha have to figure out if they can both have their careers and each other.

The main case ends up involving The Legion, a secret society of Runewrights dedicated to Evil, wanting to abscond with a whole military base’s worth of secret runewright papers. They partially succeed but Alex manages to stop the majority. In doing so, he gets a target on his back from the Legion and the book ends with Sorsha in a coma and an up and coming Legion member preparing to hunt Alex down.

My Thoughts:

Another thoroughly enjoyable entry in the Arcane Casebook series. As convoluted, over the top and larger than life as usual, this hit all the points that continue to intrigue me about this series.

I do hope that Willis can slow down the pace here a bit. Alternate World War II is looming and it’s obvious Runewrights will be largely involved. As I’ve mentioned in previous reviews, I don’t like intensive ramping up of the plot “just because”.

Sorsha and Alex’s relationship hits the skids and while they haven’t broken up and have decided to really make it work, they haven’t addressed the issues that are causing the problems in the first place. I’m concerned that Willis will treat it shallowly. That’s not necessarily a bad thing since the series is pretty light but you can’t treat a heavy subject lightly without a disconcerting dichotomy in your literary tone.

Willis is really churning these out and I’m pretty happy at the pace he’s setting. Book 8 is already scheduled for April of ’22. Yee-haw!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

ps,
the bleeping editor has changed YET AGAIN. I hate wordpress for their continual messing about under the skirts. Having to re-learn the damnable block editor every couple of weeks or months, it’s too much. I need stability in my blogging platform.

Crusade (Saint Tommy, NYPD #5) ★★★✬☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Crusade
Series: Saint Tommy, NYPD #5
Author: Declan Finn
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 171
Words: 53.5K



Synopsis:

From the Publishers & Me

Still working abroad, Detective Tommy Nolan has a hot tip that leads him to Germany. Women and children are disappearing from Catholic Bavaria. The local police have their hands tied. Tommy is the last hope for answers.

Yet again, Tommy is in over his head. What starts as a sex trafficking ring turns into a terrorist conspiracy to unleash Hell on Europe. To stop it, Tommy must fight Nazi vampires, terrorists, and a swarm of succubi who want him as their next meal.

With the help of a local german police officer, a jewish rabbi with the secret of the golem at his fingertips and a group of bavarian special forces armed with paintball guns filled with holy water, it’s up to Tommy to put a stop to the rite that will raise Asmodeous the demon. Unfortunately, Tommy doesn’t get there in time and a hell gate is opened. This allows Jade, the succubus who ran the sex trafficking ring to gain incredible amounts of power and become a low level demon herself. She and Tommy duke it out, Tommy wins and they find Asmodeous trapped within a circle. The battle exorcist from the previous book is left to deal with him.

Tommy adopts one of the girls rescued from the sex ring and it turns out she has some sort of psychic powers. With his wife just having given birth to his own biological daughter, Tommy’s family is growing by leaps and bounds,

My Thoughts:

I think the first thing I need to say is that this book doesn’t shy away from some very tough subjects. Sex trafficking is not only happening in Africa or the Middle East or South America. It is happening here in the United States and in all of Europe as well. It is pervasive and evil and Finn doesn’t sugar coat it. He’s not graphic nor describing the horrors in detail, but one woman is raped to death off page as an object lesson to the other prisoners. With that said, lets talk about the more pleasant aspects of the book.

Tommy gets to fight nazi vampire muslim terrorists. No joke. Vampires, unfortunately, play a very small part. They simply crumble to dust when touched by Saint Tommy. The author does go into speculation about pre-history, much as he did in the previous book about the stone and vampires are grouped into that era of lore. There are some seriously cool fight scenes but that leads into the one thing that made me knock half a star off the rating.

Finn is constantly making pop-culture references throughout this book. It was apropos and funny but those things have a very limited shelf life and I don’t like them in the books I read. I find it cheapens them. Most of it was John Wick related this time. I love the movie John Wick and got it all, but in several years, even if the movie has cult status sticking power, people simply aren’t going to know what Finn is referencing. Then there was the golem mecha vs the dragon succubi and I had to roll my eyes at that fight. It was just to over the top for my taste.

I’ve got one more book available to me in this series then I have to decide if I want to continue or not. Finn is up to book 8 and from the reviews I’ve seen he does have an end game plan, but it won’t be for several books after 8. Upon reflection it would seem that my best option is to stop after book 6 and let him finish the series. Good thing I had this little conversation with myself!

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

City of Shadows (Saint Tommy, NYPD #3) ★★★✬☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: City of Shadows
Series: Saint Tommy, NYPD #3
Author: Declan Finn
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 160
Words: 49K



Synopsis:

Tommy, now working for the Vatican as a spy for the New York Police Department, is assigned to go to London, as a new level of darkness seems to be hovering over the city. His “official” assignment is to help recover a lost jewel that was stolen from a museum. With known associates of an imam from the local mosque being shown on video as the ones committing the crime, Tommy thinks it’s going to be an easy peasy piece of cake.

Then the imam accuses him of racism. The cops take his guns away. The cops try to arrest him. He’s attacked by a group of young muslims with bottles of acid. He’s attacked by muslims with what appear to be super powers. He’s attacked by the shadows themselves. And the clients, a Power Couple of low royalty, who hired him to recover the jewel accuse him being in cahoots with whoever stole the jewel. Not a good time for Tommy.

This jewel, according to legend, was given to Pharoah by a god and is supposed to contain enough power, once properly charged with hatred, despair and death, to destroy a city, or control it. The imam wants to wipe London off the map, the Power Couple want to control England and Tommy wants the jewel destroyed. By the end of the book nobody gets what they want.

Tommy does save London, cleanses the jewel with a baptismal font’s worth of holy water and gives it over to be hidden away in the archives of the Vatican.

My Thoughts:

This was probably the most action packed book so far. There’s a riot scene where the muslims are out burning, looting and raping and Tommy bilocates many, many, many times to save anyone he can and ends up dying over and over and over in horribly gruesome ways. They don’t just fade away, they are him and he feels it.

The author also makes a lot of hay, with my FULL support, about the ridiculousness of the London “knife” laws they have on the books. The main point wasn’t that Authority had taken away the citizens right to defend themselves but that they had voluntarily given it up. It was depressing. At the same time Finn makes sure to focus on the fact that the real fight isn’t against people but against the powers and principalities of this world, ie, demons. Tommy never makes the mistake of making even the iman his enemy. Right up until they confront a trio of the angelic host he tries to give them the chance to repent and at the end, they simply reject it. And suffer the wrath of archangels in consequence.

I did get a good laugh when he takes a poke at Evangelicals as self-righteous know it alls, because you’re going to meet people like that and I’ve met them. The problem is, he ignores the fact that those same exact kind of people also are part of the roman catholic church. And I’d like to make one point here, while this is advertised as a “Catholic Adventure” series, it is really a “Roman Catholic Adventure” series. While Finn would say there is no difference, as a 7th Day Adventist, there is a world of difference.

I continue to enjoy this action packed series with a more realistic look at what urban fantasy would look like from a Christian perspective. It also makes me thankful for the relative peace and quiet that I enjoy where I live.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Wonders of the Invisible World ★★★★☆


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Wonders of the Invisible World
Author: Patricia McKillip
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 276
Words: 98.5K



Synopsis:
  • “Introduction” by Charles de Lint
  • “Wonders of the Invisible World” (from Full Spectrum 5, Aug. 1995) – a researcher goes back in time to record Cotton Mather’s religious visions, finding his ravings not what they expected.
  • “Out of the Woods” (from Flights: Extreme Visions of Fantasy, Jun. 2004) – a reflection on how magic is often missed by those searching for it.
  • “The Kelpie” (from The Fair Folk, Jan. 2005) – a story of courtship and obsession illustrating the overlap between life and art.
  • “Hunter’s Moon” (from The Green Man: Tales from the Mythic Forest, May 2002) – a seductive, chilling encounter with the dangers of Faerie.
  • “Oak Hill” (from The Essential Bordertown, Aug. 1998) – an ugly young woman on the way to Bordertown is trapped in a terrifying cityscape known as Oak Hill, and explores it in search of magic.
  • “The Fortune-Teller” (from The Coyote Road: Trickster Tales, Jun. 2007) – a young woman thieves a pack of strange cards from an unconscious roadside fortune-teller.
  • “Jack O’Lantern” (from Firebirds Rising: An Anthology of Original Science Fiction and Fantasy, Apr. 2006) – a young girl struggling with the impending marriage of her sister seeks out magic during a picnic, fearing it will her last chance before she grows up.
  • “Knight of the Well” (from A Book of Wizards, May 2008) – a society built around the veneration of water finds that element inexplicably rejecting them.
  • “Naming Day” (from Wizards: Magical Tales from the Masters of Modern Fantasy, May 2007) – a teenage witch who cannot decide on her magical name is compelled to chase after an imp during the titular Naming Day Ceremony.
  • “Byndley” (from Firebirds: An Anthology of Original Fantasy and Science Fiction, Sep. 2003) – a man who once escaped the world of faerie seeks to return that which he stole.
  • “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” (from A Wolf at the Door and Other Retold Fairy Tales, Jul. 2000) – a macabre retelling of a traditional fairy tale.
  • “Undine” (from The Faery Reel: Tales from the Twilight Realm, Jun. 2004) – a water spirit falls victim to her own prey.
  • “Xmas Cruise” (from Christmas Forever, Nov. 1993) – a surreal tale that follows two couples aboard an environmentalism cruise.
  • “A Gift to Be Simple” (from Not of Woman Born, Mar. 1999) – a fictional pseudo-Christian religious faction realize that their numbers are dwindling and decide to take drastic action.
  • “The Old Woman and the Storm” (from Imaginary Lands, Dec. 1985) – an allegory.
  • “The Doorkeeper of Khaat” (from Full Spectrum 2, Apr. 1989) – a science fiction tale regarding two alien species with very different cultures, and the poet who attempts to cross that divide in search of meaning and art.
  • “What Inspires Me: Guest of Honor Speech at WisCon 28, 2004”
My Thoughts:

I was sure that when I read Harrowing the Dragon last year that that was my last McKillip read until I started the cycle again. I’m not even sure how I stumbled across this book of her short stories but stumble I did and so I have one final McKillip to read and review.

McKillip is an odd duck when it comes to short stories. Some of them are so fantastic that you wonder why she doesn’t stick with the format. Then you read some others and are like “Oh, that is why”. Some of these just ended, like she’d taken a butcher’s knife to the story. It was very disconcerting. Others, you could see the same genius flitting about the story that she exhibits when writing her novels.

I did enjoy the final chapter where she talks about her life and writing. Now, as many of you know, I am firmly of the camp of “Authors are not People” so I was surprised by how much I enjoyed reading her recollections. I do need to track this down in hardcover and get a copy for my collection.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Infernal Affairs (Saint Tommy, NYPD #3) ★★★★☆


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Infernal Affairs
Series: Saint Tommy, NYPD #3
Author: Declan Finn
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 182
Words: 51K



Synopsis:

From Amazon.com & Me

Detective Tommy Nolan is having a bad day. Gunfights are no longer a rare occurrence in his life. Not since he caught a serial killer demon and destroyed a death cult. He’s already had to relocate his family once. If things don’t settle down soon, he might have to leave New York for good.

And the NYPD can’t keep ignoring all the chaos and slaughter around Tommy. Add a murdered priest, a SWAT team raid, an internal affairs investigation and a million-dollar bounty into the mix, and Tommy’s whole week is ruined.

Every demon, monster, and gangbanger in New York and New Jersey are crawling out of the pit to claim the reward on Tommy’s head. It’s hard enough to fight demons when they’re breaking the law. But what can you do when they’re hiding behind it?

Turns out the Mayor is the mysterious Warlock and he wants Tommy dead to pay off his spiritual debts, of which the mayor has run up a lot of. With enough power, the mayor can turn New York City into a living hell and pay for his powers with the misery until the end of time.

Tommy’s not about to let that happen! When the mayor takes a direct hand in attacking Saint Tommy, the bodies fly. But when the mayor’s debt comes due, Hell doesn’t care if he has Tommy in his grasp; the bill is due NOW and nothing is going to stop the demons from taking payment.

Tommy is saved to fight another day.

My Thoughts:

Another great action packed volume. And we get vampires. Well, to be honest, Tommy sees them and when they touch his blood they go up in smoke, so they disappear. I’m hoping we get more of them in later books. You get some demonic drones too.

It has been a couple of months since the previous book and life for Tommy and his family has settled down. Once the bounty goes out though, Tommy puts his family with D (the “good” criminal) and goes hell for leather with his partner. When he realizes he can’t single handedly take down the Warlock due to the scumbag hiding behind the law, Tommy brings in the Feds. This has the affect of bringing Tommy to the attention of a single individual who seems to be doing what Tommy does, but on a national or international scale. Definitely opens up the literary vistas for us to explore.

Another thing I like is how short these are. At under 200 pages, I can read them on a weekend afternoon or a snow day and still have time left over to start the next book in my rotation. Makes me feel like I’m A Powerful Book Lord (more than I already am I mean).

Rating: 4 out of 5.