alfreda89: 3 foot concrete Medieval style gargoyle with author's hand resting on its head. (Mascot)
The Bowl of Night is the third of the Bast mysteries, and Edghill continues her exploration of the 1990s New York City NeoPagan scene. Bast has been a pagan a long time, long enough that she has finally separated from her coven and is expected to form her own. She keeps postponing that because responsibility is something she doesn’t relish (despite being more dependable than most of her acquaintances.) Early October has arrived, and that means she can use Hallowfest as an excuse to either dodge the question or find a priest to anchor her own role as high priestess of a new group. She’ll sell merchandise for the neighborhood magic store, crush on the manager, who is coming among this year, and in the end, become the go-between for the festival and the local police department when she stumbles across a body.
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Stories of the Raksura, Volume 2: The Dead City & The Dark Earth BelowStories of the Raksura, Volume 2: The Dead City & The Dark Earth Below by Martha Wells

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


The lovely thing about this collection is that even if you have not yet discovered Wells’ magical fantasy adventures about the alien Raksura, you can fall in love with them here. Written with swift yet intricate grace, Wells gives you ground to stand on and open skies for unexpected adventure. The Raksura are shape shifting, flying sentients, their complex society matriarchal, their lives filled with danger around every turn. This world has dozens of disparate sentient peoples, most of them wary and interacting only for trade. The Raksura are among the few who are both cautious and yet open to alliances and even friendship with new peoples.

The collection includes two novellas as well as a scattering of short fiction. Both long stories feature Moon, the male protagonist of the Raksura trilogy; he’s a foundling who finally finds his place in the world. One novella, “The Dead City,” takes us back a few cycles when Moon is still very young, on the run, and has no idea what he is or what name his people use. In it we see him as he cannot see himself—curious, inventive, adaptable, strong. Also bitter, as winged he looks all too much like a species feared the length of his world. He can never stay anywhere for long.

In “The Dark Earth Below,” longtime readers finally get to see Moon handle impending fatherhood, as he is now consort to Jade, the Sister Queen of the Indigo Cloud court. We are given a many-layered tale that weaves together family, external threat, mystery, and claiming a home into one satisfying whole.

I highly recommend starting with the novel The Cloud Roads, but there’s no reason not to try a taste of The Three Worlds through this collection. Looking forward to more Raksura!




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alfreda89: 3 foot concrete Medieval style gargoyle with author's hand resting on its head. (Night Calls)
Lots of people are annoyed with Goodreads right now. I haven't had time to decide what I will do about any new policies (I don't think I have lost any reviews but haven't time to check. I am annoyed enough about politics--I don't need to find out that my review cache has been slashed.) But I am already over at LibraryThing*. I think of it as a place to categorize books, but since I have hundreds at Goodreads, I haven't duplicated it at LibraryThing. When I first found the system, it seemed complicated, the interface hard to read for my eyes damaged by illness.

And I didn't immediately spot any good discussion groups at LibraryThing. I found one today, doing the "looking for reviews" bit writers do when their books first come out. Sandstone78 has a topic and reading thread over there, talking about books I would be interested in reading. It was a happy chance that she read Night Calls and Kindred Rites long ago and enjoyed them.

"Book recommendation: Katharine Eliska Kimbriel's Night Calls has just been reissued in ebook, with a print version soon to follow. I have good memories of this book and its sequel, dark fantasies about a young witch on the American frontier learning to control her Gift and deal with the supernatural (a werewolf in the first book and a poltergeist in the second.) I was pleased to see that a third one is on the way sometime next Spring, and plan to re-read these soon, along with a first read of the author's related chapbook Wings of Morning."

A review doesn't have to be a page long to let others know you like a book. Part of why I review books is to let others know when I find something worth recommending. I so appreciate others who do the same.


* Yes, sadly, my books do need some love over there.
alfreda89: 3 foot concrete Medieval style gargoyle with author's hand resting on its head. (Mascot)
When a librarian likes your book, it's especially lovely.

"It takes talent to build a world so rich and lush that the reader cannot imagine it ever being differently, but that is exactly what Ms. Kimbriel has done. Readers are invited into Alfreda’s world, and will not want to leave. Alfreda herself is a joy to get to know and to follow as she starts along the path of a Practitioner. Her love of her family, her fascination and dedication to her craft, and the adventure she finds herself in the middle of all make her a magnificent protagonist that will appeal to young and old alike."

Kimbriel_NightCalls133x200And a NetGalley Professional Reader enjoyed Allie, too! Whee!

"...well-written, lovely character development, and a magic system that has real costs and dangers as well as rewards. I'm looking forward to reading more.

Highly recommended."
alfreda89: 3 foot concrete Medieval style gargoyle with author's hand resting on its head. (Red Cascade)
ScandalousScandalous by Patricia Burroughs

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a darling little piece of fluff! Scandalous is a short romance, originally a Loveswept, with Christmas and couture and longtime scandals, and the delightful layer of history that all good fiction possesses.


Paisley Vandermeir was born on a hippie commune, transplanted at all of seven years old to high society Manhattan, and mentored by her wild Aunt Izzy, whose Roaring 20s exploits still tarnish the family name. Paisley has never had a chance to be respectable, because Vandermeir women are expected to cause scandals. But Paisley has taken care of something she needed to do. Only one more thing is left -- cause the scandal everyone has been waiting for, and then go past it and find her own future.

Christopher Quincy Maitland, the spitting image of Aunt Izzy's scandalous lover, appears safe, dependable, and scandal proof. A touch of flirtation, a spin with all that high society does not expect her to touch, and then Paisley will be free.

But is Chris scandal proof? And can Paisley free herself from a man whose very glance sets her pulse fluttering in a fashion that is entirely foreign to all her experience?

An enjoyable evening -- Recommended!

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No, it's not available anywhere except this website (yet) but I cannot keep it to myself any longer. Recommended for anyone interested in heartfelt tithing -- she addresses this from the perspective of other faiths and no faith as well.

book_SimpleTithing


The back of this tiny, heartfelt booklet says it all – tithing from the heart is elegant and easy. It is something that many faiths embrace, it does not need to be organized in any way unless you want a framework, and you can start today.

Laura Faulkner has known success and tragedy in her life, and throughout all of it, she has continued to tithe of her funds and her time. Her brief, tightly written chapters tell of instances of trust, charity and profound grace that she has been privileged to both give and receive. I could not read this tale without occasionally being moved to tears.

This would make an excellent discussion vehicle for an adult or even teen study group. Simple Book of Tithing would also make a lovely gift to anyone great of heart. There is a FAQ section in the back, allowing a conversation of a type with her readers.

“Keep it simple. Keep it real. Breathe easier.”

http://simpletithing.com/

ISBN 13: 978-0-9846961-0-9
ISBN 10: 0-9846961-0-9
alfreda89: 3 foot concrete Medieval style gargoyle with author's hand resting on its head. (Default)
Jen Stevenson has a new book coming from Musa Publishing -- Slacker Demons 1: It's Raining Men.

I really enjoyed this. We're talking perfect light romance/fantasy beach book! Out July 13! Here's my take on it:

Lovely Chloe is trapped in a dead-end existence, dating bums and working demo girl for a glitzy liquor distributor.

Her friend and secret crush Archie is the hot bartender with a secret -- he's a sex demon.

No, really.

Archie botched a big job for Hades, so he's got to make amends. Chloe was hurt by a bunkhouse of incubi, so she's up for victim's compensation. If she can keep Archie and his slacker pals out of REALLY hot water, things are gonna start looking up.

Because just for her, Archie's promised a shower of good guys, a rainbow of possibilities.

It's gonna start raining men.

Chloe's hoping that Archie is one of them.
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Apocalypse to Go (Nola O'Grady, #3)Apocalypse to Go by Katharine Kerr


My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this quirky contemporary fantasy from Katharine Kerr, the sequel to License to Ensorcell and Water to Burn. Psychic Agent Nola O’Grady works for a very special agency, one of those ones even the CIA doesn’t know exists. Born into a large Irish-American Catholic family of eccentrics, Nola came into her power in her mid-teens, and discovered that nothing would ever be the same again. Now she works for the preservation of Harmony – balance in the Universe. It’s not working for Good – it’s recognizing that things can go seriously wrong in the universe when there is not a balance.
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The Serpent Sea (Books of the Raksura #2)The Serpent Sea by Martha Wells


My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Welcome to a panorama of world building that you may not have seen for a while. Martha Wells always takes us places we haven’t been before, and in her Books of the Raksura, her new series from Night Shade Books, she’s brought us a story that is wonder, exploration and adventure all rolled into one. Most people would call this fantasy, because there is indeed magic here, but the peoples of this world are so well thought-out anthropologically that sometimes this feels like SF.

Moon was a young orphaned adult adrift in a world not his own, hiding a dangerous secret – he had another form, and he could fly. In The Cloud Roads, Wells’ first Raksura novel, Moon finally found out what he was, if not who he is. His journey took him from loss to hope and finally, in the end, found him belonging and love. But no adventure covering so much ground is without risk, or continued conflict. In The Serpent Sea, Moon, a rare fertile male of his people, has found a clan and a queen. But he is discovering that the intricacies of Raksura culture still leave him the odd Raksura out. Moon has kept himself alive for over forty of his planet’s turns, and his strengths and chameleon-like gifts are far from the norm among Raksura consorts.

In this novel, the Indigo Cloud court has chosen to return to the forests their people sprang from, to the mountain tree that was their greater clan’s home. But this journey has unexpected twists. They find the tree abandoned, and worse, desecrated, its heartstone missing, the tree blighted. Moon and his queen Jade have no choice but to pursue the faint traces of a trail that leads to the Serpent Sea and beyond. Without the heartstone, they are homeless, and may cease to exist as a court.

As before, this volume has many different sub-themes. We see among many patterns conflict and friendship between different peoples (who in these books are literally different peoples!) belonging, alliances with Others for mutual benefit and protection, and fighting for life and freedom, just to name a few. The strongest thread in the weaving is still Moon’s ongoing battle to truly belong to a court, and help his people solidify their home.

Highly recommended!


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Tricks of the Trade (Paranormal Scene Investigations #3)Tricks of the Trade by Laura Anne Gilman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Tricks of the Trade is the third of the Paranormal Scene Investigations, as the publisher calls the urban fantasies about Bonita Torres, Talent (that’s a human magic-user to you) and now a PUPI, a Private Unaffiliated Paranormal Investigator. That unaffiliated part is important, because Bonnie, her teammates and two bosses are trying to create something that has never existed before – people who evaluate the Facts of a magic crime, taking no side.

Less than a year into this grand experiment, there are a few people who grudgingly admit their skills might be useful, people (and I use the word loosely) who are deeply suspicious of the idea, and people who bitterly oppose their venture and are doing everything they can to undermine it.

This time out we have several things being worked on – a theft at a rich man’s estate, a murder for the NYPD, and a fantastic creature who most certainly exists and will not be easy to stop. On the personal front, our team works at knitting their group together, dealing with prejudices from neighbors who aren’t wild about weirdness in their burg, and the fact that whatever magical stuff is going on between Bonnie and her boss Ben Venec cannot be ignored or suppressed. Stosser and his angry sister are seen in action as the powerful, charismatic magicians they are, reckless yet solving problems, willing to lay their lives on the line for answers. We understand why Stosser cuts her such slack in their ongoing battle over PUPI’s existence.

Bonnie and her cohorts are all twenty-somethings, and the things they learn about magic, and about human nature, hit with force because the first lessons are often the hardest. This time is no different – sometimes justice does not come from a court, and the group is both uncomfortable with that solution and accepting of their part in it.

If you enjoy the CSI style of story, if you like urban fantasy, if you like strong characterization, chances are you’ll like this book. Don’t read it as a romance (although a strong attraction is being fought in here) and don’t expect the crime to be tied up in a bow. Nothing is that simple in a Gilman novel, and her fans wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Looking Up At The Bottom Line: The Struggle For The Living WageLooking Up At The Bottom Line: The Struggle For The Living Wage by Richard R. Troxell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Did you realize that 25% of the homeless people you walk past every day are veterans? Did you realize that our economy wastes literally billions of dollars annually retraining workers -- workers who move from job to job, trying to find employment that will pay them a living wage with only 40 hours of work a week?

Richard Troxell argues that we have no time to waste — we must recognize the need for a universal wage linked to government housing data, namely the FMR, Fair Market Rent calculations used for Section 8 government housing. Our armed forces recognize the need for different amounts for different locations – they use the FMR to determine base housing allowances.

We can’t just decide to raise the minimum wage to, say, $10.00 an hour and say that will cover expenses. That will penalize small businesses in rural America, giving a surplus of money to their entry-level workers – while doing nothing to allow urban workers a chance to secure any type of safe, affordable housing.

Richard Troxell knows what he’s talking about. He’s dedicated his life to solving the problems of homelessness in America. Troxell is the only person to ever get former Texas governor and then President George Bush to authorize a grant for a jobs component bill. The program was successful right up to the last step – and faltered because there was no safe, affordable housing for minimum wage workers.

Don’t read this book expecting a polished tale – read it for information and passion. In his idiosyncratic style, Troxell discusses the struggle for a minimum wage in America. This book picks up where others end, and is a call for change. If you want to know what is going on with over one million homeless persons in America, read this book! Then check out the web sites, www.universallivingwage.org and www.housethehomeless.org, for more information.

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alfreda89: (Books and lovers)
Guardian of the Vision (Merlin's Descendants, #3)Guardian of the Vision by Irene Radford

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you love big historical fantasies, Radford's Pendragon novels are right up your alley. Radford has created a style that has echoes of the way her period characters would have thought and written, without interfering with the understanding of a modern audience.

One thing you can count on in this book is character change and growth. There is space and more for these transformations, as we see enough of the harshness of the period to let us understand the characters and some of their choices. This is not a simple good character/bad character book. Good people make mistakes and do bad things, things that would have been passed over as conventional in the time. Magic works its intent, for good or ill, and characters struggle with the religious and political questions of the age.

One thing that is striking -- it's hard to read books about Queen Elizabeth I of England and Mary Queen of Scots without the author loving one ruler and hating the other. Here Radford shows them as supporting characters of the story, their actions dictating the actions of the heroes. They are neither good nor evil, but educated women of their time, both pawns and ruling queens, and all the more interesting for their flaws.

If you need protagonists who are saints or always right, this may not be the book for you. But if you want a story you can sink your teeth into, with questions that are not so easily answered, you're in the right place!

This book will be coming out from Book View Cafe soon as an ebook, so if you have a reader, put this one on your list!

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alfreda89: (Books and lovers)
Snake Agent (Detective Inspector Chen #1)Snake Agent by Liz Williams

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

With lush language and intricate world building, SNAKE AGENT takes us to a future world that may or may not be Earth. Our hero is Detective Inspector Chen, the “snake agent” of the Singapore Three police department. He’s the go-to person for any crime remotely connected to the supernatural or mystical.

Chen’s an overworked man with a lot of problems – his colleagues don’t trust him, his patron goddess appears to be offended by something he’s done, and his demon wife is bored staying home alone. Now, to make things worse, he’s been paired with a vice officer from Hell itself – Seneschal Zhu Irzh – to investigate the illegal traffic in souls.

As their search is blocked by both big money and big politics, it becomes apparent that the answers must be sought in Hell itself – and without the protection of Chen’s patron goddess. When his wife’s freedom is suddenly in peril, Chen’s cup runs over with more trouble than any individual should have to navigate.

This book is an occult thriller, if you will, with magic and SF swirled together to create a place you probably have never been before, but might be glad to visit – but only with a native guide. SNAKE AGENT has a steady horror that has little to do with boo-scares, and the characterization is wonderful. I found it hard to put down, and look forward to other adventures with the characters.

Recommended!

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Magic Gifts (Kate Daniels, #5.4)Magic Gifts by Ilona Andrews
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This novella is a holiday gift from the authors to their readers, so get over there quickly! The 35,000 word novella takes place after Magic Slays and alongside the forthcoming GUNMETAL MAGIC, the next Kate Daniels book (and the latter is from Andrea's POV, so we have new worlds to explore!)

I don't want to give anything away, so let me say that it's from Kate's POV, and begins simply. Kate and Curran (The Beast Lord and now Kate's mate/husband/sweet babu) are going off for a date -- a simple, uncomplicated meal at a place Curran likes.

But there they witness a strange magical tragedy -- and the follow-up is even worse. Suddenly Kate and Curran are racing against time to try and save the life of an innocent child. Of course it becomes complicated -- and very dangerous.

But it's also humorous, too. We get drunk Vikings calling people out, attack lawyers and undead complicating the issue. We will see the Andrews' wonderful skill at convincing us that some magical foes are Scary in ways we can barely perceive. We also get some hints about GUNMETAL MAGIC, and a few of the threads from other tales are woven into this tapestry as grace notes.

If you find this review after the free zone has passed, don't despair -- it will be an extra in the back of GUNMETAL MAGIC when that book comes out.

Yes, this is an unedited version. Deal with it!

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alfreda89: 3 foot concrete Medieval style gargoyle with author's hand resting on its head. (BVC button)
Dead of Light (Northern Lights)Dead of Light by Chaz Brenchley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When Ben Macallan finally left home, it was a relief for everyone. "I’m disinvesting" he told them, and did not plan to return. Ben is the odd man out in his family, the only one with no recognizable "talent." A clan that runs a city and beyond using an arsenal of magical "talents" (think small scale Mafia) doesn’t need any dead weight cluttering up the scenery.

But then one of Ben’s cousins is murdered, ruthlessly and painfully. Evidence suggests that the murderer also possesses magic - powerful, corrosive magic. Ben has been a decent student at university, but the chief lesson here is, you can’t turn your back on family. As the murders continue, Ben notices that it is those perceived as weakest who are being picked off first. And if he doesn’t figure out what’s going on fast, odds are good he’ll soon be a corpse himself.

This is my first book by Chaz Brenchley, but it won’t be my last. The man has enormous depth as a writer, giving us a searing portrait of a young man who has never lived among normal people, and has no idea how relationships are carried out. His family ties are shaky at best, and when breakthrough is finally achieved, and he discovers that he has an unknown form of talent, he scarcely knows what to do with it.

It’s possible that a skilled reader of suspense will see where the book is going earlier than I did, but I was so caught up in the protagonist’s POV I arrived at the answer when he did. This book also has horror aspects - the deaths are not soft-pedaled, and I confess to jumping over some of the details. But if you like your fantasy mixed with strong characterization and suspense, with a dollop of genuine horror (and the magic may be the least of the horror, in the end) then you must try a Brenchley novel!


I discovered this as an ebook at Book View Café.
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Bayou Moon (The Edge, #2)Bayou Moon by Ilona Andrews
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Welcome to The Edge, a weird strip of land circling our globe and protecting us, if you will, from The Weird, where magic rules. Think Louisiana swamps with magic, and you’d be right at home. Our world is known as The Broken, because magic doesn’t work here, and people with magic literally feel it run out of their body like blood when they cross the border between Edge and Broken.

Not everyone can cross, which is where the Edgers often make their living. They can move between the Edge and the Broken, working, living the lives of illegal immigrants, with just as many problems and injustices.

The team of Ilona Andrews has done a great job creating a gritty new pocket of magic that feels very real. We recognize these private, uneducated, fearful people, getting by as best they can. The tough young woman who stars in this story quickly takes shape in our minds. Her family is unique, and crucial to the story on more than one level, making this modern fantasy with a sheen of romance, not a paranormal romance.
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NOTE: I save five stars for classics or any kind, either ones that history calls classics (and I agree) or books I still feel strongly about many years after first reading them. Four stars out of five is generally my highest rating the first time around.

Magic Slays (Kate Daniels, #5)Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Kate Daniels is a scarred, PTSD heroine, and she may earn your respect before you like her. But the city of Atlanta, devastated by the Burning that announced the return of magic to the world, rises like a phoenix from the ashes, painting a post-apocalyptic world unlike any other. We have a group reminiscent of the Mafia that controls most necromancy and creates most vampires – soulless, mindless killing machines that are piloted by necromancer-navigators. We have wer-animals of many types banding together for strength and stability, a quasi-military order enforcing their humanity as they live by their own Rules. We have groups who kill out-of-control magical creatures – some of their members are mercenaries, maybe part of a guild, maybe not, and others are Knights and knights-in-training, members of still another organization that tries to put names and rules on the new world order. Some of these characters are human...or mostly human. We don't see very many people not touched by the brush of magic.
Continued )
Recommended to all lovers of action-packed urban fantasy, but this is probably not the best place to start the series. Things have finally gotten weighty enough that you’ll get more subtext starting with an earlier book.

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alfreda89: (Peppermint Peach Tree)
If you've never read the adventures of Master Li and Number Ten Ox, chronicled in the fantasy novels Bridge of Birds, The Story of the Stone, and Eight Skilled Gentlemen, you've missed one of my favorite series of books in all of fantasy. They take place in "a China that never was," and Barry Hughart was inspired to write them when he discovered that some gods and goddesses of ancient China actually were born in stories.


Subterranean Press has released a new compilation of the three books, The Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox. There's also a previous collection done by Dreamhaven Press/Bookstore, as well as the individual novels. In the course of their journeys, I laughed out loud a lot, and I wept. I was too young when I found Bridge of Birds, and it just didn't pull me in, so I set it aside. A relative picked it up, loved it and encouraged me to give it another try. I am so glad I did.

I think you'll find it worth a try, too.

Yes, of course there will be ebook editions. I think the Kindle is already available. (It is, but to get the third book, you need to buy the compilation. Only the first two are available on Kindle separately.) A Nook version is coming, too.
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Blood LineBlood Line by Lynn Ward

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Heartsick over her son’s death years before, treading water as Security Chief on the biologically important backwater world Krhyllan, Lauren Pell is one of the few who have learned the language and customs of the technologically primitive, ritual-obsessed natives. Once her son and the crown prince played together. Now, she spends her days keeping up appearances for the alien, god-fearing Krhyllans and also for the Pan-Galactic order – a power that can help Earth expand into the galaxy or stop it cold.

Suddenly, a tiny act of political tinkering by her lover, doctor Peter Chen, becomes the seed of war and even genocide. Turns out the Krhyllans may not have high technology, but primitive they aren’t. Their history is not forgotten, their society is a house of cards, and almost everything they have ever told Lauren Pell – and all Terrans – is a lie.

Now Lauren Pell and Peter Chen are all that stands between the crown prince and death. In a society where the most powerful entity is a secret cult of assassins, and it’s almost impossible to figure out who hired them – and who can stop them – a young man may be called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice to save an entire society.

It’s been a while since someone has woven an alien culture as convincing as this one. This is a first novel that fans of cultural SF should check out. Blood Line tightens slowly, precisely, like a well-built watch, and then springs to a wonderful finish.


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Well, I thought I posted a review of this, but I can't find it, so here it is:

Blood MaidensBlood Maidens by Barbara Hambly

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


True vampire lovers should know about Hambly’s wonderful books about John Asher, Oxford don and formerly of His Majesty’s Secret Service, and the ancient Spanish vampire Don Simon Ysidro. The series starts with Those Who Hunt the Night, and continues with Traveling with the Dead. In Blood Maidens, we are eighteen months further into the marriage of James and Lydia Asher. It’s 1911, and they have gone on with their lives since the last time vampires and humans were forced to work together.

But Don Simon is powerful enough to slip into human dreams, and he calls James to him to tell him of a disturbing rumor. There may be a rogue vampire working with humans to create a vampire capable of walking in daylight. And the Kaiser of Germany would be very interested in such an agent.

James Asher is no innocent. He knows that his own government would be just as interested in such a thing, and that a terrible war looms on the horizon. Don Simon knows that such a meeting of vampires and humans would be an abomination, a nightmare let loose on the world. But he has no more information – the vampire who wrote to warn him of such a possibility has disappeared.

Don Simon would go to see if his friend is still free, living the vampiric life she chose (though he refused to give it to her, so she found another willing to bring her over into unlife.) But he can not travel without assistance, not without safe places to pass the day. Asher can no longer travel as he did for His Majesty – the other vampires know of him, and most want him dead.

But together? Together they can seek answers to many questions. And in the end, Lydia’s skills as a researcher will be needed as well.

This book has come out from Severn House. It may not have been picked up first by the trades because it starts slowly, intricately, placing you into the atmosphere and time of Hambly’s story. The story is heading for the sub-arctic capital of old Russia, with the White Nights eminent. Few vampires chose to live in the far north, where only the strongest can stay alive during the few hours of darkness of their summer. The names of the cities are evocative, and Hambly uses names proper to the place and time – Köln, Neuehrenfeld, Charlottenstrasse, Bohemia, Ragojskaia Zastava. We slip back and forth between the Gregorian and the Julian calendars, which are still at odds in the story’s time.

Hambly is not sentimental about vampires. They are predators, their few “attractive” traits lures to help them secure prey. Once again, we see that Don Simon is rare in that he still is interested in anything beyond the next hunt. But Hambly as always asks interesting questions about the nature of life and death, of how people use the time they have. Her characters consider the possibility of immortality of a kind, and choose where they will stand when vampires behave as humans, and humans as monsters.

A beautiful, historical look at one view of vampires. You will care about the Ashers and Don Simon, and how it all falls out. I'd recommend starting with the first book, if you can -- I think the layering of the plot will work better for you that way.

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