Posts Tagged ‘urban fantasy’

Tithe by Holly Black

Tithe is another young adult book and again is about a teenage girl who can see faeries. I suspect the recommendations for this and Wicked Lovely probably came from the same place.

Sixteen year-old Kaye has spent her life moving from town to town with her mother’s band. When her mother is attached by her boyfriend they return to Kaye’s childhood home to live with her grandmother, a place were Kaye used to see faeries. She finds herself drawn back into their world and, as with Wicked Lovely, we see that the faerie world isn’t all (or even mostly) sweetness and light.

Though there are obvious similarities with Wicked Lovely the tone is quite different, and Kaye’s story is very different from Aislinn’s. Many elements of Kaye’s real life are as seedy as the faerie world, it’s quite gritty in comparison to Aislinn’s and I’m clearly become very shockable in my old age as I was surprised to read of a sixteen year-old smoking (quite why I don’t know, apparently you really do forget what being a teenager is actually like. This is probably a good thing). She is drawn to the faerie world rather than resisting, being a more willing participant in her adventures, although she does get more than she bargained for.

For reasons I can’t quite put my finger on I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as Wicked Lovely – I warmed to the characters in the latter a lot more and felt like I knew them better by the end of it. However it’s still a very good book – I enjoyed it a lot and will be seeking out the sequel.

Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr

Again this was one of those “if you liked x, you may also like” type recommendations, I can’t remember where it came from but was probably based on some of the urban fantasy stuff I’ve been reading.

This is another book I really enjoyed. I was immediately drawn in by the blurb (well, that’s what it’s for, but this particularly grabbed me) describing the three rules Aislinn, our heroine, has been taught to live by:

Rule 3: Never stare at invisible faeries.

Rule 2: Never speak to invisible faeries.

Rule 1: Don’t ever attract their attention.

Aislinn has always been able to see faeries but has carefully built up the ability to pretend she can’t, because she knows how dangerous they are. Unfortunately she does unwittingly attract the attention of Keenan, the Summer King, and once she does there’s no going back really.

The faeries in this world aren’t the happy fluffy tree dwelling type at all and that’s one thing I really liked about the book. Aislinn is great, her relationship with Seth is really well described and you do end up rooting for them. The faerie world is great, creepy but in a way that makes you want to learn more about it.

The book is young adult fiction and there are a couple of places – but only very minor points, where that shows. Towards the beginning the exact track that Aislinn chooses is mentioned which jarred a bit, it’s a really minor thing and I’m not sure why it stood out so much but it did. Aislinn’s concerns about her virginity stuck out too, although again I’m not sure why, probably because I’m much older! But they’re realistic concerns for a girl of her age. However I wouldn’t let the fact that it’s a YA book put you off – it’s really well written, a good story and gets pretty dark in places. I was initially surprised at the age recommendation on the back (13+) but I ended up thinking even 13 might be a little bit young (it’s a long time since I was 13 though).

I’ll probably be picking the sequel up over the weekend, and am now following the author on Twitter, so definitely hooked!

Bitten by Kelley Armstrong

I can’t remember where I got the recommendation for this from, but it popped up on the basis of me liking the Sookie Stackhouse books.

Elena is a journalist living in Toronto with her boyfriend Philip, living a reasonably normal life. At least, as normal as you can when you’re the only female werewolf and somehow have to balance that with city life, a job, a relationship etc. Elena left The Pack, rebelling against the whole werewolf thing, but they need her help and summon her back.

I really enjoyed this book, possibly even more than Sookie Stackhouse. It’s a bit darker than that series and Dead Witch Walking, and somehow I warmed to this more than Dead Witch Walking although I can’t really put my finger on why. Elena was great, similar personality traits to Sookie and Rachel Morgan (the aforementioned witch) but equally she has her flaws, so you don’t always approve of what she’s doing. Her relationship with Clay does a great job of holding your interest without getting too sappy, and the central plot is definitely gripping. I did get slightly frustrated waiting for Elena to come to the fairly obvious conclusion about what she’s really looking for out of life, but that had to wait until the end of the book really and, intelligent though she is, she’s also really stubborn, so that delay isn’t particularly unbelievable.

I recommend giving this a go.

Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Philips

This book is about the Greek gods who are still around, and living in London, but are growing increasingly weak, and what happens when two perfectly ordinary mortals manage to change things for them.

I immediately liked the premise of this book and wasn’t disappointed when I read it. It’s a fairly light, fluffy read, and Neil Gaiman covers a similar topic in a much meatier way in American Gods. Having said that I don’t think this novel was meant to be similar and I enjoyed it for what it was, plus I’m much more familiar with the mythology surrounding these gods than I was with those Gaiman wrote about so I got more of a kick out some of the jokes and references.

The gods are painted well I think – they’re very spoiled and childish in some ways, as most of us probably would be if we’d had to share the same house with the same people for thousands of years. The love story is very chick-lit, but I’m quite partial to that. The book is fun and enjoyable, great weekend reading when your week has been as busy as mine was!

Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison

I’m running out of Sookie Stackhouse books so have been looking for a similar series for a bit of light reading, and this came up on Amazon’s recommendations.

Rachel Morgan works for Inderland Security, Inderlanders being the supernatural beings that live alongside humans (vampires, witches,werewolves etc) and always have, but humans haven’t known for that long and are a bit twitchy about it. One day she quits, but it’s not the kind of organisation you can quite and they soon have their people after her. So Rachel is starting up her own company, trying to avoid the assassins and working on a scheme to pay off her IS contract. She’s a busy lady.

I didn’t enjoy this quite as much as I enjoy the Sookie Stackhouse series, I think because Sookie is basically an ordinary girl in an ordinary small town. This book focussed very much on the Inderland community. That said it was a good, enjoyably read. The characters are likeable, Rachel kicks ass (obviously) but there are a number of interesting supporting characters. The story moves along nicely, and I particularly like some of the little touches that demonstrate how different Rachel’s world is (she wears amulets for pain relief, and at one point is given Aspirin which she’s a bit suspicious of…) I’ll be looking out for the rest of the series.

Conjugal Rites by Paul Magrs

I’ve been waiting for this to come out in paperback for ages, and I rushed out to buy it at the first available opportunity, which was yesterday, and finished it today. It was definitely worth it.

Conjugal Rites is the third in a series of books starring Brenda and Effie, two formidable old ladies who live in Whitby and find themselves drawn into solving mysteries, usually involving supernatural goings on. Throughout the books you learn more about Brenda’s mysterious past along with the mysteries, and get to watch Brenda and Effie’s friendships develop, and there’s a lot of humour alongside the supernatural stuff.

The three books are very different. The first does have a story running through it, but each chapter is also a mystery in its own right. I often describe it as being structured a little like the Treehouse of Horror episodes of The Simpsons. It sounds disjointed but actually works very well to introduce Brenda, drop some hints about her and prove that Whitby really does attract some odd things. Books 2 and 3 revolve much more about one central story, with 2 delving much more into Brenda’s history and 3 more on her future.

This book has been my favourite with 2, although very good, probably the weakest in the series. There is the return of some familiar love-to-hate characters, some old friends and one long-awaited appearance. I can’t go into too much detail without giving a lot away but it’s a brilliant adventure and Whitby is the perfect setting, with Brenda (especially) and Effie being some of my favourite characted ever. I can’t wait for the next one (but I’ll have to).

Practical Demonkeeping by Christopher Moore

I think I picked this up because it was recommended on one of those “if you like this you might also like…” things on either Amazon or Library thing.

It’s set in the fictional town of Pine Cove, California. Travis travels there with Catch, the man-eating demon he accidentally found himself saddled with and is desperately trying to get rid of. All kinds of silliness ensues.

I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would, but I think maybe I wasn’t really in the right mood for it. It was a good read, funny and entertaining but with a storyline as well so it doesn’t just hang on the jokes. I don’t know why I never really felt absorbed in the book because there’s nothing about it that I shouldn’t have liked more, but having said all that I did enjoy it.

I will be looking up some of his other books before I work out whether to stick with the author but I think I probably will.

Definitely Dead by Charlaine Harris

This is book six in the Southern Vampire Mysteries series, on which the TV show True Blood is based. I haven’t actually seen the show, since it’s only on in the US, but read about it and decided to try the books while I wait. I love this series – it’s fun, I really like the main characters and there’s lots of supernatural goodness.

In this installment Sookie has to go to New Orleans to clear the apartment of her vampire cousin, who is now definitely dead. My main criticism of the book is that it seems to assume you already know this bit of backstory and, unless you read some of the short stories outside in the various anthologies outside the series, you don’t. That said it’s easy to catch up.

It doesn’t go smoothly, obviously. There’s a bit more exploration of Quinn from the previous book, comparitively little Bill and Eric, which is a shame in one way but the book doesn’t feel like it’s missing anything, and a witch called Amy who I’m hoping will appear again. There’s a lot going on but it works well and is an enjoyable admission to the series.