Tag Archives: magic

Review of Soul Breaker (City of Crows #1), by Clara Coulson

I picked up a free copy of Clara Coulson‘s Soul Breaker from Amazon on the recommendation of someone in a Fans of Urban Fantasy group.

Description from Goodreads:
There’s a hideous monster on the loose, crushing heads and taking names.

But Detective Calvin Kinsey is on the case!

Two years ago, Cal Kinsey was an up-and-coming cop in the Aurora Police Department. But during a fateful nighttime stakeout in search of a prolific killer, Cal witnessed the darkest corner of his dreams come to life. A rogue vampire slaughtered his partner — to put it nicely — and introduced Cal to the supernatural world he never knew existed in the shadows.

Now, Cal is a newly minted detective at the often mocked Department of Supernatural Investigations. By day, the agents of DSI are called “Kooks” by local law enforcement. By night, they’re known as “Crows,” reviled by the supernatural underworld.

Mere weeks out of the academy, Cal catches his first real case, a vicious murder at a local college. An unknown sorcerer has summoned a powerful creature from the Eververse, a realm of magic and mayhem that borders Earth, and set it on a dangerous warpath through the city.

Between butting heads with his grumpy team captain, stirring up ill will with the local wizards and witches, and repeatedly getting the crap beaten out of himself, Cal must find a way to stop the Eververse monster and send it back to the hell it came from…

…preferably before Aurora, Michigan runs out of coffins for the dead.

Review:
I seriously did not expect to enjoy this as much as I did, so it really was an awesome surprise. Cal, while 22 and ready to be a hero, is also self aware and willing to be inspired by those around him, including several badass women. (Women who were martially badass without reading like men-with-tits characters). He’s inconsequentially bi-sexual, meaning it’s no big thing or in need of explaining. He’s bi, just like he’s brunette, no need for further drama about it (this isn’t a romance, after all). He shows emotion, including grief and tears and then gets up and does his job.

Of the side characters you have several powerful women, who aren’t using sex to get ahead. A 40+ year old women still allowed to be sexy, have sex and enjoy it, (So often ‘older’ women’ seem to have lost this aspect of themselves in literature.), man in authority who is grieving and showing physical pain but still functioning, an academic who is basically saving the day with research and being appreciated, and racial and sexual diversity.

All in all, I really liked this and look forward to more. I did think Cal made a couple leaps of logic that were a little too keen to follow and despite saying he’s scared and such, he was a tad close to Marty Stew perfection (but not too close). I’ll be looking for more books by Clara Coulson.

Review of The Queen of Lies (Architects of the Grand Design #1), by Michael J. Bode

I received a free copy of The Queen of Lies, by Michael J. Bode for signing up to Queer Sci-Fi‘s mailing list.

Description from Goodreads:
Maddox is a mage with dreams of immortality and a drinking problem. Heath is a faithless priest working as an assassin for hire, paired with a sentient sword. Jessa, the last daughter in a long line of Thrycean tyrants, is a timid young woman seeking to escape her domineering mother, Satryn.

Rivern, the greatest city in the Protectorate, is a place of arcane magic and mechanical wonders that has stood for five hundred years as a bulwark against the tyrannical Stormlords of Thrycea. But Riven’s strong foundation is beginning to crack. People are dying in their sleep, the dead are walking the streets, refugees are flooding the city, and a mysterious Harbinger has returned with dire omens that could mean the end of the Protectorate.

Murder, magic and politics create a menacing tangle that the three must resolve before the Protectorate is crushed. But first they must save each other.

Review:
This took quite a long time to come together, but eventually it did and I enjoyed it. I liked a lot of the characters and I didn’t immediately figure out the mystery villain, which is always a bonus. Having said that, I never felt overly connected to anyone as we’re only ever given a shallow understanding of them. The coda felt extraneous (for a lot of it I wasn’t even sure it was connected to the primary story at all), there is quite a lot of anachronistic language, and the book really needs another editing pass. All in all, an interesting, though not perfect read.

Review of The Library, the Witch, and the Warder (Washington Warders #1), by Mindy Klasky

I’m on vacation this week, so my posts might not be regular. But I read a book and a half on the way here and I have internet connection at the moment, so, I’m taking advantage of it and posting a quick review or two.

I won a copy of Mindy Klasky‘s The Library, The Witch, and the Warder (Washington Warders) (Volume 1) through LibraryThing.

Description from Goodreads:
Former warder David Montrose has a problem. Or two. Or three.

He’s been fired from his job protecting the witches of Washington DC. Now, he’s stuck working a dead-end job at Hecate’s Court while he tries to redeem his reputation and put his life back together.

Which would be a decent plan if things weren’t so…complicated. His new boss is a tyrant. His father says he’s disgraced the family name. And instead of sympathizing, his best friend is trying to drag him onto the front lines of an all-out supernatural war.

Just as David gets a glimpse of the elusive work-life-magic balance, he’s summoned back to warder status. His unexpected new charge is a captivating witch who possesses the strongest powers he’s ever seen. David already has enough on his plate. How can he possibly juggle work, warfare, and warding Jane Madison?

He’d better figure things out soon. Jane’s safety—and all of magical Washington—depends on him!

Review:
This was fluff, but enjoyable fluff. Don’t go in expecting anything heavy or substantial, but just float along for the ride. Klasky has a fun writing style and I found myself liking all the characters. Though I did find some of it cheesy and cliche (the black cat familiar named Neko, the pocket protector/smudged glasses/bad fashion sense/pudgy antagonist), though I think some of that might have been purposeful on Klasky’s part, playing with tropes.

This is labeled a cozy mystery, but with it’s magic element I think it’s a sort of urban fantasy, though not gritty enough to actually carry the title. For those looking for urban fantasy bordering on paranormal romance, look elsewhere. A warder and his witch is a platonic relationship, so no romance here (maybe later in the series going by the clues dropped, but not in this book). But I didn’t feel denied. I like the way things turned out.

Lastly, this is apparently the flip perspective of Girl’s Guide to Witchcraft. Meaning it’s the same story from the male lead’s perspective, while GGtW is from the female lead’s perspective. This is normally something I dislike. Who wants to read the same story twice? But in this case I can see how it might work. Jane’s situation is only a small part of what David has going on in this book. Honestly, if a quarter of the plot focuses on her I’d be surprised. So, there is plenty the reader doesn’t see of Jane. I actually have GGtW. I think I picked it up as a freebie. So, if I ever get around to reading it, I’ll update this review. But in the mean time I don’t think the two would feel too redundant and The Library, the Witch, and the Warder doesn’t make me want to avoid it.