Archive for December, 2011

Review – Season’s Readings Wolfsbane & Mistletoe

December 20, 2011 - 11:40 pm No Comments

Wolfsbane & Mistletoe
Author: (Ed) Charlaine Harris & Toni L P Kelner
Publisher: Gollancz
Page count: 416pp
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

Following on from the success of Many Bloody Returns, (a birthday and vampire anthology), Charlaine Harris, author of the Sookie Stackhouse series, returns to Editor duties with this cool collection of stories featuring werewolves and Christmas. Oh yea!

Joining forces with Toni L P Kelner, Harris delivers an anthology of fun, energetic stories, which runs wild with the themes (pardon the pun).

Whilst some of the stories are unlinked to the authors’ previous works, and remain fresh, some of the works are richer if the reader is familiar with the universe. For instance, the story ‘Gift Wrap’ by Harris features Sookie Stackhouse and adds to the True Blood mythology. This story finds Sookie alone and lonely on Christmas Eve wallowing in her loneliness until a surprise present arrives courtesy of a distant relative. The humorous ‘Haire of the Beast’ by Donna Andrews is short and sweet, whilst Simon R Green’s ‘Lucy at Christmastime’ is a poignant and delightfully funny look at the Nightside universe. ‘Il Est Ne’ is a piece featuring Kitty from Carrie Vaughn’s collection of novels and is a very nice seasonal piece, just as Keri Arthur’s story introduces new and old readers to her Para Investigation Squad.

For unrelated material we have ‘The Werewolf Before Christmas’, is a rather amusing tale/tail in which a werewolf gets more than he bargained for after snacking on a certain red nosed reindeer. However, the top giggle award goes to ‘SA’ by J A Konrath. This laugh out loud story is an absolute hoot. I shall say no more other than I bet your bum you will enjoy this one!

So, how does this anthology rate overall? With only two tales falling a little flat, this is a great festive literary feast and well worth investing in at this time of the year. Great fun!

Review – Not quite a glowing review

December 20, 2011 - 11:02 pm No Comments

Author: Amy Kathleen Ryan
Publisher: Macmillan Books
Page count: 385pp
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

Part one in a planned Sky Chasers trilogy, Glow is a young adult SF thriller that follows two spaceships, the Empyrean and the New Horizon, as they travel the stars to New Earth, which they plan to terraform. Waverly and Kieran are two 15 year old inhabitants of the Empyrean, one of the ships on its mission to find New Earth, and are the first children born in space. Now as fledgling adults they have found each other and intend to marry. The morning Kieran proposes to Waverly, their ‘allies’ from the New Horizon attack the Empyrean, kidnapping all of the female children. As the adults fight to repair the dying engine, it is only Kieran leading the male children left on board who can save their ship and hunt for the missing girls.

The narrative is split between the two ships as Waverly and the girls of the Empyrean are forced into a puritanical life onboard the New Horizon. Waverly makes for a strong female character and at least half the novel is written from her point of view as she fights against the new way of life she has been thrown into.

Written in a distinctively YA style, there are adult themes incorporated into the novel such as sexuality, rape and the right to choose. The religious society on New Horizon is reminiscent of The Handmaid’s Tale however some of the religious elements are too overt and a little heavy handed, though this is tempered somewhat by Waverly’s point of view.
Overall, this is a decent YA novel despite the blurb and cover coming across as Twilight in Space. Be assured, it isn’t that soppy!

Review – The ‘law’ according to Redlaw

December 10, 2011 - 12:37 am No Comments

Name Your Link

Author: James Lovegrove
Publisher: Solaris Books
Page count: 319pp
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin
“What the Good Lord doesn’t provide, gunpowder and the laws of physics will”.
So sayeth the law according to Captain John Redlaw of SHADE, The Sunless Housing and Disclosure Executive. The equivalent of cops, Redlaw is the most notorious of Shade officers, who is responsible for ensuring the protection and segregation of Sunless, aka vampires from regular humans or Stokers, who make a habit of dusting Sunless on a regular basis.
Redlaw is not a particular fan of the sunless, but finds himself intent on their protection and involved in a Sunless case when the vamps start rioting for no apparent reason. Redlaw joins forces with Illyria Strakosha, a mythical shtriga (super vamp) in order to get to the bottom of the riots and the political forces playing with both human and sunless lives.
The novel, which is both fun and intelligent, uses the scenario to highlight political issues such as asylum and immigration, whilst still delivering on the action. There is also a religious debate running through the novel as Redlaw confides doubts to his local priest.
The Sunless are a little more interesting than the usual vampire we have come to expect of late (there isn’t a sparkle in sight). In fact, as Redlaw points out, they are us with all of the social veneer ripped out, “the mirror we don’t wanna look at”. Finally, vamps are back and as bloody as they were meant to be, yet they remain sympathetic despite this.
If you like your vamps with teeth (pardon the pun) then this is the book for you.