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review 2017-12-13 23:51
Flame in the Dark (Soulwood #3) by Faith Hunter
Flame in the Dark (A Soulwood Novel) - Faith Hunter

Nell continues to work with PsyLED, the supernatural crime fighting organisation. And more and more she is drifting away from her insular church routes, leaving behind its thinking and training. Her magic is also growing as her insight and power is becoming more and more of an asset to PsyLED

 

But when they become embroiled in a supernatural murder case that involves a United States Senator, Nell may have to draw on her power more deeply than ever before: with the risk she may lose all of the new freedom and experiences she has discovered


I do like more of Nell’s self-growth and awareness this book; her acknowledgement and clear labelling of her experiences as abuse and how that has changed her. How this affects her views of current relationships, how it has scarred her and how it colours her interactions in real life.

 

I also like how she’s even applying this to the “saviour narrative” that she learned and is more and more challenging. Like she acknowledges her family tried to save her from abuse and that marrying John saved her from a far worse fate. But she equally can see how her relationship with John was abusive and twisted her own experiences and expectations of relationships. Just as she loves her family and knows they tried to help her, equally she has little faith in them keeping her little sister safe against the church. Her whole complicated relationship with her family is fascinating- her love and faith in her family tempered with her deep, wary awareness of what they’re part of. And even the family recognises that - the confines they live in that they can’t seem to break: they rely on Nell with her outsider ways to do things they will

 

Then there’s the love triangle - and for once a love triangle I actually like: because of what it recognises for Nell. The conflict of old versus new, safety and familiarity over what could be and, ultimately, who Nell is and who she has become

 

Equally I love how Nell is both fiercely confronting anyone else who would treat her in a patronising or sexist manner, and challenging her own church instilled attitudes while also realising that not everything that’s happening around her fits in that lens: especially with the wereanimals and other supernaturals.

 

Nell is the gem of this story: her growth her, experiences, her interactions with the others really makes this series. And on top of that we have her unique supernatural nature, how her powers control and lure her, the dangers of them, the alienness all add up to something quite unique.



On top of this we have an excellent world setting with some intriguing supernaturals that do not occur in many other places - but at the same time the plurality and breadth of the world doesn’t impose on the story. The focus is far more on the current unknown than the hugeness all around and it is an excellent setting to have a the police investigation, with a lot of grunt work, following evidence, dead ends, red herrings, more grunt work and general, despite all the woo-woo, a very realistic look at an actual investigation

 

On top of this I like that Nell actually lives in between her investigation. She is concerned with food, she cooks, he has family commitments, she gets stuck in traffic, she commutes. She sleeps.

 

Which also brings in the supernatural and the complexities that came from this revelation, including conflict within Psyled and the difficult questions about what to do with dangerous and potentially hostile supernaturals: can you even judge an entire species? I like this, I like it a lot. But… yes, there are moments when I stopped and thought “hey, wait, what just happened? Who is this? Why? What?”. Sometimes I did get lost in the cast of characters.

 

We do have some diversity as well - in addition to Nell’s battle against partriarchal norms, she has a number of women around her: 3 members of Psyled are women, including the second in command of the unit, JoJo, a Black woman (who is, interestingly, the only member of of the group who isn’t a supernatural. Her usefulness to the group isn’t special powers - but intelligence and accomplishment and education. This is particular noteworthy because her value is one that is literally based on her own achievement rather than the special magical woo-woo she happened to luck into and it’s a wonderful subversion of the POC-as-source-of-woo-woo trope), the ultimate head of Psyled Soul, a witch and Nell herself. We have a female Asian vampire who doesn’t play a major role but is definitely an influential force because of what she represents

 

 

 

Read More

 

 

Source: www.fangsforthefantasy.com/2017/11/flame-in-dark-soulwood-3-by-faith-hunter.html
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-12-13 20:38
Great sequel to a wonderfully written duology
Our Dark Duet - Victoria Schwab

***Possible spoilers below. You’ve been warned***

 

The plot was off to a pretty slow start in this one. Before I start, I’d have to recommend you read This Savage Song before going to this book. You would need the foundation that was set up in This Savage Song to really benefit and enjoy reading Our Dark Duet.

 

As mentioned before, the plot was off to a slow start. Kate and August are on both different ends of the spectrum but have changed drastically. They’ve definitely ‘grown up’ so to speak. Kate becomes monster hunter extraordinaire. August leads his own squad in the FTF. Kate’s part of the story was definitely more interesting. Despite trying hard not to warm up to people she manages to have her small group of friends (but of course, shuns them anyway despite one of them trying to reach out to her numerous times). I love this quality in Kate. It makes her so much more realistic and puts her way from the group of those ‘stone cold butt kickers that apparently have no soul’.

 

That being said about Kate. Oh. Lord. That ending. Kate dying with August nearby got my stomach into knots and twists. I can’t believe it. It was beautifully written though and a suitable ending for her. Kate was pretty much a pariah and a lone wolf. August was one of the few that was able to get to know Kate at a more deeper level. It was only fitting that she meets her end with that one person by her side. Beautifully done.

 

I didn’t really think the romance scene between Kate and August was necessary. It was a minor filler that didn’t need to be added. I never saw August and Kate that way. They were too different and didn’t have that nice ongoing chemistry together. Fighting partners, yes. Partners in love? No I don’t think so.

 

So more about characters dying. Am I the only one that felt a punch to the gut when Ilsa died? Ilsa was a character I really loved in these two books. She went down in a blaze of glory though (albeit, a shocked blaze of glory.)

 

You have to admit, Sloan is one of the better villains I have read in a long while. I like him teaming up with Alice even though villains they are, they are looking out for themselves. He’s creepy, malicious, calculating, and cunning. He’s a perfect villain.

 

The last half of the book, which was filled with action, blood, explosions and all the good stuff set the pace for the great ending to a wonderfully written duology. I know fans out there are asking for more, as it’s not the end of the adventures for August and Soro. For me, it’s just enough and it’s a perfect ending. Well done Ms Schwab! Now I’m off to read your other works!

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review 2017-12-13 18:45
The Ghost Club: Newly Found Tales of Victorian Terror by William Meikle
The Ghost Club: Newly Found Tales of Victorian Terror - William Meikle

 

Picture the scene: Victorian London. A smoky club. A group of literary icons. The price to join this group? A story of the supernatural. The scene is now set.

 

Imagine the tales these writers of old would share. Stoker, Dickens, Wells, James, and Stevenson, among others. What price would you pay to sit at that table? Unfortunately, the opportunity to sit there in person is gone, but thanks to William Meikle, you CAN now be privy to these stories and anything else these authors have to say. The entrance fee for you? Quite reasonable!

 

The standout tales for me were:

 

WEE DAVIE MAKES A FRIEND (in the style of) Robert Louis Stevenson. This was the first story and my favorite of the collection. Young Davie is an unwell boy and is often bedridden. The gift of a new toy changes his life.

 

ONCE A JACKASS (in the style of) Mark Twain. A Mississippi steamship captain makes a terrible mistake and unfortunately, all of the passengers and crew pay the price.

 

THE SCRIMSHAW SET (in the style of Henry James) I adored this tale of a haunted (?) chess set. This was my second favorite tale in this collection and I've just read that the author is planning to write more about this set in the future. I can't wait!

 

TO THE MOON AND BEYOND (in the style of Jules Verne) A super cool story about a man, his rocket and a trip to the moon. What was found there and what did he bring back with him? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

BORN OF ETHER (in the style of Helena Blavatsky) A man embarks upon a supernatural journey to freedom.

 

I was not familiar with a few of the authors here, Helena Blavatsky included, but I think the author did a stellar job of emulating their writing styles. These tales were entertaining, well written and I loved the framework within which they were presented.

 

For these reasons, I highly recommend this gem of a collection!

 

You can get your copy here, (your price of admission, rather than a story):

The Ghost Club: Newly Found Tales of Victorian Terror

 

*Thanks to Crystal Lake Publishing and the author for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review. This is it!*

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review 2017-12-13 16:14
"Flame In The Dark - Soulwood #3" by Faith Hunter
Flame in the Dark (A Soulwood Novel) - Faith Hunter

The Soulwood series is probably the most original Urban Fantasy series that I've come across.

 

It shares the same world as Jane Yellowrock and was introduced through a Jane Yellowrock short story but, over the course of the first three books, it has established a strong, independent identity.

 

Nell Ingrams, the main character in the books, is not human, at least not anymore. Fighting for her freedom from the polygamous church she was born into and from men who wanted to seize the land she inherited when she became a young widow woman, has caused her to draw upon her connection to Soulwood, her land, in ways that have made her less and less human.

 

She is a now a probationary Special Agent in the part of the FBI set up to deal with parahuman cases. The cases themselves are fascinating but the power of the books comes from Nell's development as a person, living in a world where she has to make hard choices that will define who she will become.

 

"Flame In The Dark" sees Nell and the other members of Unit 18, faced with a series of attacks that may be political or parahuman or both but which always include fires at the scene of the attacks and are committed by an attacker who scorches and kills the land he steps on.

 

Discovering what this is about and trying to bring the bad guys down provides an entertaining, action-packed mystery that is the source of about half the pleasure I got from this book. I didn't guess where the mystery was going but I did believe the outcome. This is the hallmark of a good mystery for me.

 

The rest of the pleasure I got from the book was watching Nell grow and change in unique and unpredictable ways while still remaining recognisable as the Nell I met in the first book. In this book, Nell confronts the fact that she is not human and works through what this means. She starts to build closer links to the people in Unit 18 and becomes more confident in her work. She also makes some decisions about the relationship that she will have with her family, especially her younger sister who is the same kind of non-human as Nell, and with the Church she left but cannot fully leave behind. As the book progresses, Nell's non-human nature becomes more apparent, yet her appeal as a person gets stronger.

 

I think Faith Hunter has struck gold with this series. I hope she gives us many more opportunities to follow Nell's path through life.

 

I recommend listening to the audiobook version of "A Flame In The Dark" which is skillfully narrated by Khristine Hvam.

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review 2017-12-12 18:35
Audio Book Review: Dark Tempest (Red Winter Trilogy #2) By Annette Marie
Dark Tempest - Annette Marie

 

This sequel was amazing! I love how the mythology is playing such a big part in the story with all these powerful beings. I also love how dynamic it's grown because it shines a light on how almost human and petty these, for lack of a better word, "gods" can be for world domination.

 

I like Emi's feisty nature and her quick retorts, but everything seems to come almost miraculously to her. She's also on death's door a lot. Her adventures, or should I say misadventures, move the story along, but it's something that's easy to overdo and I've met my quota for it.

 

Shiro has his true identity revealed in this novel and it was both exciting and devastating. His story is way more tragic than was visible in the first book. At this point, he almost seems to literally have battling personalities inside his head. I'm shipping Emi and Shiro, so it's bittersweet, to say the least.

 

I have a few theories as to how this series will end and I'm hoping I'm wrong on everything. I've never wanted a happy ending for a pair of characters like I want a happy ending for Emi and Shiro, preferably together. 

 

The Audio Book:

 

The narration was great, but I still wish Emily Woo Zeller had a larger overall range of male voices so I could tell everyone apart easier.

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