Tag Archives: urban fantasy

Review of Vamp City, by C.D. Brown

I received an Audible code for a copy of Vamp City by C. D. Brown.

Description from Goodreads:

All Sophia Fontanelle wanted was to be left alone. On the run from New Orleans and its vampire council, she heads to Los Angeles to start a new life. But when The Caballero, the ancient peacekeeper rumored to be the great Zorro himself, is murdered, Sophia finds herself caught up in a fight to clear her name. Threatened by a 1950s-era gangster turned vamp by the Caballero himself, can she survive in Vamp City?

Review:

I have really conflicting feelings about this book. In one sense it was pretty good. Certainly, it’s mechanically well written and perfectly readable. Similarly, I’m thrilled to have an ex-prostitute as the main character, an adorkable cinnamon roll love interest, and plenty of varied representation. Ther are white characters, black characters, Latinas, Omni-sexuals, rich, poor, etc. And both black and brown characters get to be good guys.

However, I have two pretty big complaints, both of which hinge on this same varied cast. First, in a very real sense, a lot of the book balances on the author creating opportunities to present the reader with one more quirky vampire subset. We have the vegan, the lispy Catalonian, the punks, the classic Hollywood era vamps, the 1950s gangster vamps, the sassy Latina vamps, the 1990s style gangland vamps, the sharp-tongued lawyer vamp, the “Omni-sexual” glam vamps, the start-up millennial vamps, etc, etc. etc. I very quickly got tired of meeting the newest type of vamp. I understand that being a noir style some of this was expected, but it was a schtick Brown leaned far too heavily on.

Secondly, while I appreciated all the representation in the novel, it was seriously compromised by being INCREDIBLY (and problematically) stereotypical. The Latina was a sassy sexpot. The black characters were gang bangers that didn’t respect women and were questionably trustable. The gay (or omni-sexual) characters were campy. None of them were developed beyond the cliche. And the downside of many of them being on the heroine’s side and therefor having more page-time was that they were given more opportunity to show off their stereotypicalness. Plus, they tended to be louder and more unruly than the white vampire groups. (There was an unmissable in-crowd and out-crowd.) I don’t necessarily think the (white male) author meant it to be this way. But it was. The way the characters spoke, alone, was majorly problematic. So, taken all together it’s cringy to the extreme.

I do think the narrator did as good a job with it as she could. But with so many characters using dated terms like, “babe” and “doll,” it got hard to tell them apart.

Review of The Eddie Lancaster Series, by Sean Stone

I received an audible code for a copy fo The Eddie Lancaster Series, by Sean Stone.

Series description from Goodreads:

My name is Eddie Lancaster. I’ve outfought vampires, out planned seers, taken on the fairy kingdom, and even created my own species. 

I’ve been on the run since I was a teenager. I have the unique ability to siphon magic out of anyone and anything. My former mentor wanted me to put my talents to work for her gain. When I refused she murdered my parents. She’s been after me ever since. 


Description of Warlock for Hire:

He’s annoying, rude and just a little bit sinister. He’s also a warlock. Not just any warlock. He’s a warlock for hire. Need magical assistance? He’s your guy. 

Eddie’s life takes a bit of a turn when he meets Ashley Sheridan. She hires him to help her against a powerful seer who is threatening her family. He agrees to help but not in the way she wants. He quickly lands himself in dangerous waters and those he cares about are put at risk too. The deeper he gets the more he wants to put an end to the psychic’s machinations. 

But how do you beat a man who sees every move you make before you’ve even decided to make it? 

Review:

I thought this was basically ok. I love urban fantasy and Stone has set up an interesting magical world. I appreciated that Eddie isn’t all alpha-male—willing to get beaten up, jokes about only having an average size penis, admitting he’s not good at things. My primary problem (and the reason I say it’s only ok in my opinion) is that I didn’t much like him. His arrogance and casual objectification of women as humor annoyed me. I wasn’t offended or in a feminist rage or anything, I just thought it was uninteresting and boring. Why would I want to read about a guy whose idea of humor is barely above that of the average yabbo? I avoid them in real life, I’m not interested in cluttering my reading with them. 

Similarly, I disliked that while Eddie failed at things he was still presented as capable. The female lead, however, was useless, so weak that she couldn’t even be let in on the plan she’s instrumental to. She is little more than a foil for Eddie to shine before. That’s a pretty big ‘Meh’ inducer for me. 

All in all, I liked Warlock for Hire enough to continue the series, but maybe not enough to be in a hurry about it. Maybe men will enjoy this more than I did. I kind of sense that’s closer to the intended audience. Fair enough


Description of Warlock Wanted:

Eddie Lancaster’s in trouble.
One month ago I killed Killian Myers – he deserved it – and now Inspector Richards is after me. Luckily he’s got no evidence. But that’s not all I have to worry about.

People are going missing from Mote Park. Not usually something I’m interested in bu the circumstances point to the supernatural so I get hired to investigate and resolve the matter. It doesn’t take me long to figure out that what’s going in in Mote Park is far more sinister than a simple kidnapping.

On top of it all, Rachel, a horrible woman from my past, has arrived in Maidstone and she isn’t leaving without me. No matter who she has to kill.

Wanted by enemies on all sides, I have to find a way to overcome the odds before my friends end up dead and I end up a prisoner. Do you see my problem now?

Review:

I felt very much about his book as I did the first book in the series. The writing is fine, the world is interesting, and the narrator did a good job, but I just seriously don’t like Eddie. The fact that he and the author really seem to be proud of the fact that he’s an antisocial, arrogant, misanthropic sociopath grated on my nerves (and says a lot about the mindset of the modern male). It’s one thing to possess these characteristics, it’s another to bask in and brag about them.

What it feels like to me is…Have you ever heard the phrase “give me the confidence of a mediocre white man?” That’s how Eddies’ constant boasting contrasted with his “I don’t care” when he commits an atrocity feels. Not that him being white is at issue, just the mentality of believing his own superiority even in mediocrity.

So, so far this series has been so-so for me. I’ll finish it as I don’t hate it. But I’m not loving it either.


Description of Dark Warlock:

637. That’s the number of children that have been taken in the last thirty years.
All taken by one person. He never leaves any evidence. He never leaves witnesses. He leaves only a name: Mr. Panomie. And Panomie is far from human.

Eddie is hired to solve the case and bring about an end to Panomie’s machinations. He delves into a world, in which magical creatures are in charge. But Eddie has problems of his own. Rachel is in prison but her curse is fighting to take control of Eddie’s mind. And it’s getting stronger. Each time Eddie gives in to the dark urges the curse gains more ground and he becomes more monstrous. With the darkness inside him rapidly growing he has to figure out a way to cure himself before he becomes worse than Rachel ever was. But it’s getting harder to tell the difference between what’s him and what’s the darkness.

Review:

Honestly, I could just cut and paste my reviews from books one and two here. So, there isn’t a lot worth mentioning. I still don’t particularly care for the character, the narrator still does a fine job and the writing is still perfectly readable (or listenable in my case). There is significantly more personal growth here than in previous books. So, maybe he Eddie becomes less unbearable as the series progresses. All in all, I think it’s just a matter of taste and this series wasn’t the one for me.

Review of Lowcountry Incantations, by C. J. Geisel

I received a free audible code for a copy of C. J. Geisel‘s Lowcountry Incantations.

Description from Goodreads:

Quinn Riley has just had her life turned upside-down. Life is about to get worse…and weird.

After losing her job, Quinn Riley goes on the hunt for another boring, nine- to- five when a split-second decision to save a dog turns into a nightmare. The ghost of a stunning young woman in a blue dress starts to follow her, she is forced to move in with a stranger named Caleb, and events in her life have her questioning everything she thought she knew. With the help of Caleb, a new Psychologist turned friend, and a magical root doctor, she navigates the blessings and dangers of her new life. What could possibly go wrong?

Review:

This was ok. The writing was fine and I liked the characters well enough. But I feel like I must have missed the memo that told authors they were only allowed to write one story, the one where sexually sadistic men kidnap, rape and murder women. Bonus points if they can force the woman to flirt or pretend they enjoy it. and, sure, throw a ghost or magic in if they want to stand out. But ultimately be sure to follow the script. The man has to prey on the women and then, after intelligently avoiding the police for a while, has to become erratic in the end. Am I really the only one who sees how frequently this SAME storyline is used and is completely bored by it? I literally finished this book by force of will. When you know exactly what the plot is, point by point, because you’ve read it so many times, it’s awful hard to stay invested.

I also thought there were some problematic stereotypical representations of black characters, especially around language. But I’m not entirely sure if this is in the writing or in the narrator’s choice of how to voice the characters. She did an ok job in general. She had a tendency to pause in odd places in sentences though. Otherwise, it was fine.