ABOUT TIME! THE UNDEAD POOL – KIM HARRISON

If, as I have, you’ve been following this series from the beginning, this book has been a long time coming. Rachel Morgan has traveled an enormous distance — professionally and personally — since she first decided to leave the I.S. and become an independent runner. She has transformed from witch to day-walking demon and repeatedly saved the world.

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Not that the world has been particularly grateful. She keeps pulling the world’s bacon out of the fire and the world continues to whack her over the head. A simple thank you would do!

Ivy has moved on to a genuine relationship — fragile but real — with Nina. Jenks has (apparently) finally recovered from the death of his wife, Matalina. Bis, the baby gargoyle, isn’t such a baby any longer. He’s coming into his own and may just live up to the name he bears amongst gargoyles — Worldbreaker.

Then there’s Trent. Rachel and Trent have been dancing around each other through a lot of pages. Approach, back off, sashay left and do-si-do. Finally all the waiting pays off and we get some long hoped-for romance.

This is a deeply satisfying book on many levels. Kim Harrison not only gives us what we’ve waited for, but she does it so deliciously. The characters — even background characters like Trent’s irritating fiancé Ellasbeth — are fully fleshed out. Great characters who have been MIA for a while, such as David and his were-pack, are back and ready to mix it up. Hail, hail! The gang is here!

Will Rachel save the world again? You bet.

A quick summary: Living vampires are rebelling. Their undead masters are asleep, apparently unable to waken. The world is being overwhelmed by wild Elven magic and Rachel is at the center of the maelström. There’s no question she has been chosen by the Goddess. Why? For what exactly? Where does Newt fit in?

Although not every question is answered in this next-to-last book in The Hollows series, it answers a great many of them. Things you’ve been waiting for through eleven books finally happen in this, the twelfth volume. It is about time and was absolutely worth waiting for.

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There’s a lot of exposition in the first half of the book. Action explodes in the second half. The momentum picks up to such an extent I found myself backtracking and rereading to make sure I didn’t miss a critical event or piece of information.

I have loved every book in this series and it was inevitable I would love this, too. Unlike many long running series, there’s nothing tired about this book. It’s as fresh, exciting and rich as it was in the beginning and in many ways, more so. I’m going to read it again. And probably, again after that.

Do not — please — read this if you haven’t read the rest of the series. You need the background of the characters not to mention a lot of development of relationships. And history. If you haven’t read the series, read it. It has been my favorite series for all the years I’ve been following it and has never disappointed me. It won’t disappoint you, either.

Marguerite Gavin is the narrator on the Audible download, as she has been for almost the entire series and does her usual perfect job.

This is, in my opinion, the best urban fantasy series. Period.

It’s available from Amazon (and other outlets) in hardcover, paperback, Kindle, CD and from Audible.com. 

TOP 3 SEARCHES ON MY SITE LAST WEEK

Seriously — who are these people and how did those searches land them on my site?

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What does this mean? Picture of a sick face? What do you mean by sick? And why did it end up here, on Serendipity? Who are you calling sick?

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All I can say is huh? What? No idea what this means. Oh, wait. I bet it’s The Undead Pool, the new book by Kim Harrison coming out next month. I’m looking forward to it … but surely this search should have taken them to Kim Harrison’s blog or Amazon? Why me?

Doesn’t the inability to spell the title disqualify the search?

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I swear I have never written anything about Wyatt Earp’s clothing. I mentioned his gun I think. A long time ago. In context of a review of Tombstone. But I never said a word about his pants. Or any other article of clothing.

So was it the gun you think?

THE HOLLOWS RETURNS, FEB 2014 — THE UNDEAD POOL by Kim Harrison (Review by Annie Tegelan)

See much more about this book, this review and all things Hollows-related on KIM HARRISON’S DRAMA


Reviewed by Annie Tegelan
Posted January 1, 2014

Paranormal

Welcome back to the Hollows! In THE UNDEAD POOL, the twelfth book of the series, Kim Harrison gives readers exactly what they have been wishing for.

Witch and day-walking demon Rachel Morgan has a new set of problems wreaking havoc on Cincinnati. Spells are misfiring everywhere, but the origin of the glitch seems to be her ley line. Which makes Rachel responsible for cleaning up the mess. The timing is bad, to say the least. The union of humans and Inderlanders is shaky and Rachel wonders if this task is too big even for her. With undead master vampires in the mix, it could become war. There’s no time to waste.

If things aren’t sufficiently complicated, there’s the ongoing, always tentative relationship between Rachel and Trent. They’ve been dancing around it for what seems — forever? As they circle one another, giving hints and kisses, readers are on the tenterhooks while Harrison addresses the burning question: “Will Rachel and Trent finally get together?”

Harrison’s writing and amazing world-building are second to none. It’s no wonder this series has gained such a passionate following. The characters continue to grow, the world is constantly changing — and the plot in each book feel fresh and new. THE UNDEAD POOL is without question the best of the series!

In Pale Demon, Rachel Morgan saved the demon’s Everafter from shrinking and ultimately disappearing. But it came at a high cost. Strange, dark magic is attacking Cincinnati and the Hollows. Spells backfire or go horribly awry. The truce between Inderlander and human is breaking up. Rachel must stop the dark necromancy before the undead vampire masters — those who keep the rest of the undead under control — are destroyed bringing an all-out supernatural war.

Rachel knows of only one weapon with the power to ensure peace: ancient elven wild magic.  Which carries its own perils.

And painful experience has shown Rachel that no good deed goes unpunished . . .

Marilyn Armstrong‘s insight:

My favorite series is drawing to a close. This isn’t the final book. There will be one more ( I keep hoping for even more). In the meantime, I’m experiencing advance withdrawal pangs!

See on freshfiction.com

HAPPY SOLSTICE TO ALL!

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‘Twas the Night of the Solstice

by Kim Harrison

‘Twas the week before Christmas, and up in the Hollows,
Solstice bonfires were burning, to toast the marshmallows.

The pixies were snug in their stump, even Jenks,
Who claimed he was tired, and needed some winks.

 So I in my parka, and Ivy in her boots,
Were toasting the season, with thirty-year hooch.

When out in the street, there came such a crash,
I thought that it had to be ‘coons in our trash.

Away to the gate, I trudged through the snow,
While Ivy just said, “If it’s Kist, say hello.”

I lifted the latch, and peered to the street,
My face went quite cold.  We were in it thigh deep.

‘Twas a demon, who stood in the headlamps quite bright,
With his coat of green velvet, and his uncommon height.

His eyes, how they glittered, his teeth how they gnashed,
His voice, how he bellowed, his tongue, how it lashed

The street wasn’t holy, so on Big Al came,
As he bellowed, and shouted, and called me by name.

“Morgan, you witch.  You’re a pain in my side.
“Get out of your church.  There’s no place to hide!”

Like hell’s fury unleashed, he strode to my door,
Where he hammered and cursed, like a cheap jilted whore.

But Ivy and I, we circled round back,
To stand in the street and prepare for attack.

“You loser,” I shouted.  “I’m waiting for you.”
And the demon, he spun, taking on a red hue.

Ivy stood ready, and I whispered, “Okay . . .
“If he wants to get rough, I’m ready to play.”

With nary a word, us two girls got to work,
Putting foot into gut, of the soul-sucking jerk.

I circled him quick, with a few words of Latin,
While Ivy distracted him with lots of good wackin’

“Get back!” I yelled out when my trap was complete,
And Ivy somersaulted right over the creep.

My circle sprang up, entrapping him surely,
Al fussed and he fumed, like a demonic fury.

The neighbors all cheered, and came out of their houses,
Where they’d watched the whole thing, like little house mouses.

So Ivy and I, we both bowed real low,
Then banished Big Al, in an overdone show.

But I heard Al exclaim, ‘ere he poofed from our sight
“You won this time witch, but I’ll get you one night!”

- – - – -

Kim Harrison, December 14th, 2005

Ever After, Kim Harrison – Fantasy Comfort Food of the Literary Kind

When I began reading Ever After, by Kim Harrison – on the day of its release — I read it first on Kindle. Next, to get the full flavor, I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Marguerite Gavin. Oh my. I just sank into it, the same way I sink into my bed … with a sigh of sheer delight. How good it felt to be home again.

Home again? In Cincinnati? When I’ve never been to Cincinnati and probably never will be? Where witches consort with vampires and pixies and a powerful elf rules the political world? Where you can hire a werewolf as a body-guard and you must take care to avoid demons and banshees?

Yup, Cincinnati. I feel like it’s the home town of my wistful soul, a world that somehow makes more sense than the reality in which I live my real life.

It’s been a difficult couple of weeks and I realized … I need a fix. I need to go home to Cincinnati and visit the gang at the old church. I started listening to it again last night and of course, I loved it as I have each time before. Maybe I’ll reread some of the earlier books I haven’t read in a while because there’s a new book in the series coming out and I want to be psyched. Like I wouldn’t be :-)

I have loved every book in the series, though I have loved the last three or four even more than the first group. The characters have matured, come into themselves, their powers. They are grabbing hold of their destinies, moving into their futures.

One of the signs a book may deserve  the label “classic” is when rereading it is — no matter whether it’s the first reread or the 10th — is like reading it for the first time. Maybe better. I was barely past the first few paragraphs when I realized it was as if I’d never left. I was back in the Hollows, home in magical Cincinnati and the church where Rachel, Ivy and Jenks live. My friends were waiting for me.

Ever After was new all over again. I relived the adventure, relishing each twist and turn of the plot, each character’s development. I was happy for Ivy, finding her own life at long last but sorry not to have her with me on this journey. Glad that Jenks was still involved and Biz is coming into his own. Delighted with the direction of Rachel’s relationship with Trent, sad at the loss of beloved characters. Bemused at the changes and growth in the world of demons as they evolve from caricature bad guys to people with memories of better days, their own private griefs and joys.

I keep discovering new layers to the story. This is a great book. I know it’s genre urban fantasy but it is far superior to most of the stuff I read in any genre. The consistent, careful development of characters and plot are outstanding. Kim Harrison never drops a stitch. Knowing  something about Kim Harrison’s process has given me a better understanding of how she achieves this remarkable, near-perfect construction. It has improved my writing. Following her blog is a good thing for writers. She is unusually forthcoming about how she does what she does. I continue to be fascinated by how excruciatingly precise she is, how very careful. No wonder there are not lapses in continuity, no strange leaps in time. She is careful, organized. Compared to my writing style, she’s downright anal compulsive and probably why she is able to keep such a high standard of quality. I don’t have that kind of dedication. Which is why she is a best-selling author and I’m not.

If you’ve never checked out her blog and you write, I highly recommend it. She answers questions about anything other than the details and plot of upcoming books.

She is an extremely focused and precise writer. She plans every detail of the plot, every twist of the story. No “off the cuff” writing. She doesn’t depend on obvious answers nor use genre clichés.

There’s nothing raw or unfinished in any of her books. Ever After would be a fine novel be any standards. If it weren’t urban fantasy, it would be good literature.

In my opinion, most of today’s creative authoring is happening in fantasy and science fiction. General fiction, of which I have read a great deal recently, has become drab and unimaginative. Very little new territory is being explored in “serious literature.” If you want to read something that’ll knock your socks off, visit another genre.

Kim_Harrison_06lrI have heard a lot of complaints about the popularity of science fiction and fantasy, that people don’t want to read anything that doesn’t have supernatural creatures or time travel as part of the plot. But those who complain might consider the paucity of good books coming out of “main stream” fiction. It doesn’t have to be dull, but it so often is. And bleak. And depressing. It’s no wonder that many of us don’t want to go there.

The thrill of reading isn’t gone but it has just moved to a different part of town. Read Jim Butcher‘s Harry Dresden series and check out Kevin Hearne‘s Iron Druid. Discover Carol Berg. Pick one of her books or series; you can’t go wrong. Move right into the book world with Jasper Fforde‘s Thursday Next series. If you haven’t already read it, Stephen King’s 11-23-62 is one of the best books of the decade — maybe any decade — and it’s pure science fiction.

Try some of Connie Willis‘ works. This is an area of fiction where creativity is running rampant. You’ll find books to entertain you and fill your mind with ideas. And you won’t be bored, not for a moment. There are lots more wonderful writers waiting for you to discover them. It’s not a whole world. It’s many worlds and they are all yours to explore.

Ever After is a very satisfying read. Magic, love, passion, battles. Complicated relationships, love in bloom, hope, loss, and danger. I mourned the fallen, exalted for the living and dreamed about the future. It’s not the only good book I’ve read recently, but it sure is among the top few.

If a witch, an elf and a demon can come together to save the world, anything is possible.

All of the Hollows are available as paperbacks, on Kindle and as audiobooks.

A happy slave to books

Half a dozen times during every month of the year, I see the sun rise and hear the birds sing the morning in. It’s not insomnia. I am in the thrall of a good book and I just can’t stop reading. I’ve been a book junkie since I was a very young child and its an addiction I have no interest in breaking. It has been my inspiration and my refuge, my world away from reality, my alternate universe of choice.

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It’s my all time favorite drug. It’s not illegal, although it has cost me a lot of sleep and a fair bit of money.

I read. Constantly. I read on my Kindle, I listen to audiobooks. I read regular books. I often read several books at the same time: an audiobook by day, a print or Kindle edition at night in the delicious comfort of my bed.

I’m addicted to books and not just a single genre. I read straight history, with a particular passion for the 14th century, perhaps because it seems to have been the turning point of western civilization, the rise of central government, the creation of free peasantry and what we now call the middle class.

There was the Black Death, the schism the created two popes … one in Avignon and the other in Rome … which for the Christian world was calamitous. There was endless war, brigands who roamed the countryside, burning, raping, despoiling and destroying what pitiful remnants of communities that survived other simultaneous catastrophes. Inflation rendered money worthless. Many regions were effectively depopulated leaving no one to tend fields and grow crops … and famine followed. The 20th century, with all its horrors, could never top the 14th. I find that strangely comforting.

I read thrillers and mysteries and police procedurals. I read courtroom dramas … lawyers, district attorneys, victims, criminals and trials. Then, when the world is more  real than I am willing to bear, I read science fiction and fantasy, immersing myself in places that could never be, in futures that might be, and vicariously pursue magic and sorcery. Books are my escape. Take away everything else, but leave the books so if I cannot physically fly away, I can escape in spirit.

Ever since I got my first Kindle, I feel like I’ve been given ultimate freedom. I’ve spent my live traveling with trunks full of books. Now, I can bring a whole library with me to the dentist’s waiting room. And since I got my amazing Bamboosa Lap Log, I have achieved electronic reading Heaven.

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I am, for the moment, discovering new favorite authors. All of my previous favorite writers seem to be in that never-never land between the last book and th next in the series. Since they are still creating and waiting has never been something at which I excel, I put these months to good use and seek out more authors to feed my hunger for books, to try to discover a new world, a new voice, a new piece of time to explore. In case you are looking for something to read, here’s an updated bunch of my favorite authors and books. Please feel free to tell me about your favorites because they may very well become mine, too! It’s through readers’ suggestions that I’ve discovered most of the authors I love best. I count on you!

Bamboosa with closed Kindle HD in its hard case.

Bamboosa Lap Log with closed Kindle HD in a hard case.

Barbara Tuchman is my favorite writer of history, though by no means the only history author I love. Most of her books are wonderful, but my two favorites are A Distant Mirror and The Guns of August. David McCullough and Doris Kearns Goodwin are rapidly overtaking her, however … especially Ms. Goodwin who writes very serious history, but also some wonderful memories of growing up in Boston with the Red Sox. I always have a special place in my heart for local kids who made good!

Don’t miss the Hollows Rachel Morgan books by Kim Harrison. I think it’s the finest of the all urban fantasy series. If you haven’t discovered Jim Butcher‘s Harry Dresden series – a gumshoe who can throw a mean spell, but takes a loaded gun, just in case — dive in. Check our The Iron Druid series from Kevin Hearne.

Lap Log with Kindle HD (7") open and on.

Lap Log with Kindle HD (7″) open and on.

Connie Willis‘ time travel books including The Doomsday Book, Blackout, All Clear, and To Say Nothing of the Dog are among the best books of this genre ever written. Her humorous short stories and novels, from Bellwether to All Seated On the Ground are among the funniest, smartest books and stories I’ve ever read.

And, speaking of time travel, Stephen King‘s 11-22-63 is exceptional. It is not a horror story, but true science fiction. The prose is sometimes so beautiful that it brings tears to your eyes.

In the sometimes grim and gory world of fantasy, take a look at Ben Aaronovitch‘s Peter Grant series, Richard Kadrey whose Sandman Slim keeps me fascinated and also awake at night. Mike Carey’s Felix Castor in a world filled with the dead and demons.

Recently, I discovered Carol Berg. I completed the final of her various series last night … and am now holding my breath in anticipation of her next book.

I love just about everything written by James Lee Burke. If Faulkner had written detective stories, he’d be James Lee Burke. His Dave Robicheaux series is a long running favorite, but his other books are great too.

I’ve read all of John Grishoms books, almost all of Richard North Patterson‘s novels, and most of Nelson Demille.

The writing of Anne Golon wrote (and is still writing) an amazing series of historical novels about a fictional woman named Angelique. They take place during the time of Louis XIV. This series was one of the significant influences on my life,. Angelique lived a life she chose and never accepted defeat. Her story piques my interest in history and she also inspired me to a personal courage I might not have found without her. The English language versions of the books are long out of print (though you can occasionally find them on Ebay and book search sites) but recent ones — Anne Golon is well into her 80s — are available in French and maybe some other languages too, but sadly, not English.

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I cannot close this without referencing two authors that have given me great joy, the incomparable Douglas Adams, and Jasper Fforde whose world I long to enter. I still mourn Douglas Adams. He should have had many more years. Douglas, you died way too soon. Jasper Fforde writes with a similar wonderful lunacy in a fantasy world where fiction is real and reality isn’t.

This doesn’t even begin to cover everything. It would take me days to begin to remember everything … and way more pages than anyone would have patience to read … but this is a tickle for you. Maybe you too are searching for something to fresh to read, a new world to discover. These are some of my favorite places … I’d love to hear about yours!

There are so many way to keep yourself up at night … and I recommend them all. Books are still, page for page, the best entertainment of all because no one can do special effects like you can with your own brain.

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The 20 Best Paranormal Fantasy Novels of the Last Decade

See on Scoop.itBooks, Writing, and Reviews

We are in the midst of a glorious Golden Age of paranormal fantasy—the last ten years, specifically, in genre fiction have been nothing short of landscape-changing. The days of rigidly defined categories (romance, fantasy, horror, etc.) are long gone. Today, genre-blending novels reign supreme: narratives with virtually limitless potential that freely utilize elements of fantasy, romance, mystery, horror, and science fiction.

I’ve been asked to compile a list of the best paranormal fantasy novels of the last decade (2003–2013): a virtually impossible task, considering how many iconic series and authors have risen to prominence during that period—Laurell K. Hamilton, Jim Butcher, Kim Harrison, Patricia Briggs, Richard Kadrey, Kat Richardson, Stacia Kane, Nicole Peeler, and Jaye Wells, to name just a few.

I did a comparable list back in 2009 and, while researching this post, I realized how radically paranormal fantasy has evolved in just a few short years. The list below includes 20 novels that are not only extraordinarily good, but have also dramatically influenced—and continue to influence—the course of the genre.

20. The Nymphos of Rocky Flats, by Mario Acevedo (2006)
This is the first book in Acevedo’s Felix Gomez saga, a series that went a long way toward redefining the genre when it was released in ‘06. And talk about great opening lines: “I don’t like what Operation Iraqi Freedom has done to me. I went to the war a soldier; I came back a vampire…”

19. Pride Mates, by Jennifer Ashley (2010)
The first book in Ashley’s Shifters Unbound saga, this was a transcendent read for me—it was the first paranormal romance that worked just as well as a paranormal fantasy. This remains one of the most wildly erotic novels I’ve ever read.

18. No Hero, by Jonathan Wood (2011)
This sadly underrated début is one of the most audacious novels I’ve ever read. The novel’s main character, Oxford police detective Arthur Wallace, is obsessed with Kurt Russell. Throw in conjoined triples, an antisocial ninja assassin, prophesying twin girls who live in a pool with octopi, battery-licking sorcerers, grimoires hidden in Peruvian temples, killer cats, and more tentacled monstrosities than you can shake a sword at, and you have an unforgettable read!

17. Rosemary and Rue, by Seanan McGuire (2009)
The first book in McGuire’s October Daye saga, this series is an utterly readable fusion of dark fantasy, mythology, and hard-boiled mystery. It’s a profoundly deep series that is at times filled with starkness and existential angst and at others with breathtaking images of magic and beauty.

16. Moon Called, by Patricia Briggs (2006)
The first Mercy Thompson novel, this series has experienced a few ups and downs in the last few installments, but for my money, Moon Called has to be on this list. A sexy, tattooed shape-shifting auto mechanic, Mercy is arguably one of the most memorable paranormal fantasy heroines ever created.

15. Already Dead, by Charlie Huston (2005)
Huston’s first novel featuring vampire Joe Pitt, this series expanded the boundaries of paranormal fantasy. In my review, I described this novel as “a savage and sardonic novel that blends blood-sucking fantasy and horror elements with the hard-boiled style of noir thrillers.”

14. And Falling, Fly, by Skyler White (2010)
White’s debut novel was an intensely passionate, sublimely poetic, soul-rending work of art. The entire novel—which revolves around the relationship between a vampiric fallen angel named Olivia and Dominic, a neuroscientist with a “bizarre” affliction—reads like dark ethereal poetry. Unforgettable.

13. Four and Twenty Blackbirds, by Cherie Priest (2005)
Priest’s debut and the first of her Eden Moore novels, this haunting and poetic read marked the fledgling steps of a writer who has become one of the most innovative—and significant—figures in genre fiction. This novel and its two sequels are vastly underrated.

12. Blue-Blooded Vamp, by Jaye Wells (2012)
The concluding volume of Wells’s stellar Sabina Kane saga, this is how you end a series! This novel is chock full of shocking plot twists and bombshell revelations. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: this series will go down as one of the best paranormal fantasy sagas of all time. It’s that good.

11. The Taken, by Vicki Pettersson (2012)
This was just an amazing read. From my review: “This novel transcends genre categorization—yes, paranormal fantasy readers will LOVE this novel but so too will hardcore mystery and romance fans and, most importantly of all, mainstream fiction fans. This is Vicki Pettersson’s coming out party—and we’re all invited.”

10. A Rush of Wings, by Adrian Phoenix (2008)
Phoenix’s debut novel—and first installment of The Maker’s Song saga—is one of the edgiest series out there. I mean, c’mon! How can you go wrong with a duo that includes an undead rock star and a sexy FBI agent? A hugely under-appreciated series.

9. Dead to the World, by Charlaine Harris (2004)
The fourth book in Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse series, this is when the series really got good for me. You can say what you want about the HBO series True Blood but, regardless, this is an iconic series featuring an iconic heroine.

8. Tempest Rising, by Nicole Peeler (2009)
The beginning of one of the most beloved paranormal fantasy series on the shelves, the novels are powered by selkie-halfling heroine Jane True, who is in many ways the antithesis of the conventional paranormal fantasy heroine. She’s short, not exactly athletic, socially awkward, works in a bookstore, and instead of wearing stiletto heels and leather miniskirts, Jane rocks comfortable jeans and purple Converse. I love this series!

7. Cerulean Sins by Laurell K. Hamilton (2003)
LKH’s Anita Blake saga is easily the most divisive saga on the shelves. This long-running—and historically significant—series has had its ups and downs over the years, but a high point for me was Cerulean Sins, still my favorite book in the series.

6. Greywalker by Kat Richardson (2006)
Richardson’s debut novel and beginning of her Greywalker saga, one of my all-time favorite series. Featuring Seattle-based private investigator Harper Blaine, who can see into the realm of the dead, these novels are exceptionally written and almost flawless in their execution. Classy and classic, this is one series that will stand the test of time.

5. Blood Blade by Marcus Pelegrimas (2009)
The Skinners novels read like a cool, supernatural-powered video game—nonstop action, ghastly monsters, unique weapons, intriguing and well-developed protagonists, and plot twists around every turn. But the series is so much more than that. It’s a highly addictive blend of splatterific horror, dark fantasy, mystery, supernatural thriller, and sardonic social commentary. I’ve called Pelegrimas “the Bram Stoker of the 21stCentury” for good reason.

4. Unholy Ghosts by Stacia Kane (2010)
The first novel in Kane’s Downside saga, this is the most socially significant fantasy saga I’ve ever read. From my review: “Never before in paranormal fantasy have I read a series that features the combination of grand-scale world building, labyrinthine mystery, superb character development, and social relevance. Stacia Kane’s Downside saga is taking paranormal fantasy to another level…”

3. Dead Beat by Jim Butcher (2005)
Butcher’s Dead Beat—the seventh installment in his Dresden Files—was a blockbuster book when it was first released. Not only was it the first Dresden Files novel to be released in hardcover, it was a clear indication of just how much the series had expanded to embrace mainstream fiction readers. The first printing sold out in a just few days! The commercial success of the Dresden Files paved the way for countless other noteworthy protagonists, including Charlie Huston’s Joe Pitt and Mario Acevedo’s Felix Gomez.

2. Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey (2009)
An in-your-face fusion of fantasy, horror, and hard-boiled mystery. It’s Kadrey’s biting wit that makes this novel so unforgettable. His blunt and acerbic writing style makes for simply addictive reading. For example, here’s how he describes Los Angeles: “L.A. is what happens when a bunch of Lovecraftian elder gods and porn starlets spend a weekend locked up in the Chateau Marmont snorting lines of crank off Jim Morrison’s bones. If the Viagra and illegal Traci Lords videos don’t get you going, then the Japanese tentacle porn will.” Classic.

1. For a Few Demons More, by Kim Harrison (2007)
The fifth installment of Harrison’s phenomenally popular Hollows saga featuring endearing gray witch Rachel Morgan and company, this novel was the first hardcover release in the series and, at least for me, heralded its ascension to élite series status. With only two novels to go until the series concludes, there is no doubt in my mind that the Hollows saga will go down as arguably the very best paranormal fantasy series ever written.

What are your favorite paranormal fantasies?

Tags: best of × paranormal fantasy × roundups

Marilyn Armstrong‘s insight:

Don’t Miss any of these, but especially Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden series and my absolute all-time favorite, Kim Harrison’s Hollows series. It is wonderful.

See on www.barnesandnoble.com

Dresden Files: Fool Moon Vol 2, Jim Butcher, Mark Powers & Chase Conley

Dresden FilesFool Moon Vol 2

Jim Butcher, Mark Powers and Chase Conley

Diamond Book Distributors
Publication Date: Mar 12 2013

I grew up in a world where comic books were ubiquitous. I loved them and read a lot of them, though I strongly favored DC over Marvel and had a particular passion for Superman.

I’ve had to do a bit of mental gear-changing to wrap my head around comic books as “graphic novels.” As far as I can tell, these are comic books in all but name. They are more expensive, have much nicer covers, far better bindings, a significantly higher class of illustration and more complex stories to tell. They are also have more pages.

For all that, I look and see a really expensive comic book. It doesn’t mean I don’t buy them. I do. I have an almost complete set of Asterix, several graphic novels by Kim Harrison and the full Tin-Tin series. This kind of thing is not new. It’s been around a while. What’s new is nomenclature, not concept.

All of the preceding is to explain I am familiar with the genre and not saddled with prejudice toward it.

I love the Dresden Files and have read all of the books. This was the first graphic version of Harry Dresden I have seen and the events in the story were familiar and taken from the novel of the same name.

This is part two of a graphic presentation of “Fool Moon.” I didn’t read part one, but I don’t think that’s the issue either. It’s the writing.

I am a Jim Butcher fan. I love the way he writes. I love Harry Dresden, his crazy quirky personality and the strange, wonderful world he lives in.

Much of Jim Butcher’s charm as an author is his cleverness and wit. In the midst of violence and chaos, with blood and death raining down in every direction, Harry has a sense of humor. He is funny, always ready with a wisecrack and a joke . It’s a significant characteristic of his writing and his character. It’s a big part of what makes the books special. The sharpness of the writing makes the stories addictive and great fun to read.

The graphic version seems to have had a humor excision. The wit, puns, literary allusions are gone … leaving violence and gore. Yes, it’s Harry Dresden. It certainly looks like Harry. Everything is beautifully drawn, lots of attention to detail … but the author is MIA.

So, as a big-time Harry Dresden fan, I might buy the book if I got it very cheaply. Otherwise, I would probably skip it. Liking the illustrations — and I do — is fine and dandy, but the words are for me the essence of a book. I dare say I am not alone in this. Readers may like pictures too, but first and foremost, we love words.

I don’t see why the quality of the dialogue could not be improved. I can think of a lot of ways at least some narration could be added. It doesn’t need to be hundreds of pages, just something to make it feel like Jim Butcher played a role in the production. His name is listed as one of the authors, but I don’t feel his magic.

I am sure this book (remember, this is part two of two) will find a niche amongst his many ardent fans of which I count myself as one, but for me, this wasn’t Harry Dresden or Jim Butcher.

I wanted to love this book. It’s not awful. The illustration is classy, if a trifle cluttered, but felt true to the material. From a purely visual point of view, it’s a pretty good representation of Harry Dresden. But as a book — for me — it fell rather flat.

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Into The Woods: Tales from the Hollows and Beyond, Kim Harrison

Into the Woods: Tales from the Hollows and Beyond by Kim Harrison

As a matter of personal and very subjective taste, I’m not a fan of short stories even by authors I love. I read them anyway, but  I read too fast to fully engage with them. By the time I get into a story, it’s over. This being Kim Harrison, I made an exception. There are only a few authors for whom I will make this exception: Jim Butcher, Kim Harrison, Connie Willis, Jasper FForde, James Lee Burke … and a few others.

This is what I would call a  mostly very good collection. I would have been shocked had it been anything less. I don’t love everything this author has written, but even her less-than-best work is far better than most writers … and the older and more mature her work becomes, the better it gets. A few of these stories are exceptional (no I won’t tell you which … you should decide for yourself based on your own taste), but it’s a very mixed bag in terms of style, time and place, “world,” and thus offers a somewhat bumpy ride, as literary excursions go. The material ranges far and wide, making it difficult to judge it as a single book.

Some stories are not new; if you’re a fan, you probably have read them before. If this is your introduction to Kim Harrison, I’m not sure how it will present to you. I’ve been reading her books for a long time and loved them from the first, but I started with one of the early books of The Hollows … and was immediately sucked into that world. This is a different kind of experience, and the worlds in it vary quite a bit. Maybe they would be a good introduction to the world of the Hollows for some people (though not all the stories are from that world). Personally, I’d recommend reading “Dead Witch Walking” first.

It’s more than just a personal preference. I think the novel is a much stronger example of Kim Harrison’s writing. She creates characters that are three-dimensional and complex. In a genre not renowned for fully fleshed out characters, hers really are. In fact, that is one of outstanding literary qualities: her characters are so well-drawn you feel as if you’ve known them for years. They are more than stereotypical non-human urban fantasy “types.” They are people and carry a lot of personal history. I don’t think “Into the Woods” is necessarily representative of her finest work and thus not a fair way to judge the author. But …. to each his or her own.

Of the new material, some stories are clearly “test balloons” for possible new directions after “The Hollows” series is finished. Some of the stories were published previously in other places and forms so fans are likely to have already read them. But — kind of like the prize in the Cracker Jack box — there are a couple of long stories that fill holes in the back stories of earlier books, material that has been hinted at but never explained. If you’re curious, for example, about what Jenks and Trent did while on Trent’s quest to retrieve his daughter, you’ll get the whole story here.

I would have bought any book by Kim Harrison published anyway and this gave me my “fix” while waiting for the release of “Ever After.” “Into the Woods” prevented me from chewing the desk after finishing my third rereading of “Perfect Blood. Today I am at peace knowing I’ll have the book in hand in about two weeks. I was grateful this collection became available when it did. For reasons that I can’t explain, it was a period when all my favorite authors were between releases … and since I’m not a George Martin fan (sorry guys, I tried very hard to like the books but I don’t) and what has turned out to be a very long wait for the final book in Brian Sanderson’s conclusion to Richard Jordan’s “Wheel of Time” epic. Jim Butcher had not yet released “Cold Days,” though he too tossed me a bone via a set of short stories (thank you).

Since the end of November, the books I’ve been waiting for have begun to be released.

“Cold Days” came out (see my review and other Jim Butcher related material), “The Woman Who Died a Lot” was released (Jasper FForde) and between these two, I survived the holidays. Now, “Ever After” will be out on January 22 and in three more days, “A Memory of Light,” the final piece of The Wheel of Time will be here.

Meanwhile, these stories are worth reading, especially if you like short stories. It’s perfect reading for bedtime because you can finish a story before you drift off. I do recommend the book. It’s worth your time.

As so many series I’ve been following wind down, I wonder what will come next, what the authors I love best will serve up to feed my voracious appetite for books. Reading is my nourishment of choice. Believe it or not, I worry about this stuff. Okay, I am a bit odd. But you knew that, right?

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Pale Demon, Kim Harrison

Pale Demon (The Hollows, #9)Pale Demon by Kim Harrison

The next to the last (so far) in this great series. I’ve come to love the characters so much that they feel like personal friends … and come to feel like the world Kim Harrison creates is as real as the one I live in. Almost.

Most books in this genre are fun, but not especially well-written, Not true of Kim Harrison (or her alter ego, Dawn Cook). Her writing is elegant, beautifully crafted. She doesn’t count on sex to keep you reading. She does it with interesting characters who grow and develop. With complex plots crafted with as great a skill as any mystery writer ever has. These are not just “chick” books. There are GOOD books.

This book falls late in the series. You do need to read from the beginning. Do not start with this book. The relationships between characters are based on long history and shared experiences, and to appreciate them, you must have been there too. For you mid-westerners, the entire series is based in Cincinnati.

The plot in this story, as it does in all the books in this wonderful series, moves briskly along. You will laugh and cry at the same time. If you’re looking for sex, you won’t find it. Romance? A whiff, a hint, a tease. More action and mystery-thriller intertwined with magic and myth than romance. Which I appreciate. She does it all by writing well rather than via steamy sex. Not that I have anything against steamy sex.

There will only be another few books in the series, so I’m gearing myself up for going cold turkey when they are done. GREAT series, read them all!

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