Monday, December 21, 2009

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 12/19

Another week has come and gone, and I've gotten the usual pile of mail. Actually, it's a fairly small pile; this month has been light in general, probably because a lot of people have better things to do than to worry about sending out review copies to bloggers. But there's still more than enough to write about.

And that leads me to the usual disclaimer: I may sound knowledgeable about these books (or I may not, actually), but that's due to my innate intelligence and cunning, honed by years of publishing experience. I haven't read any of these books yet, and anything that appears to be factual below might be somewhat in error. (Though I generally try to stick to things I already know for sure, or what can be gleaned from the press release and back cover of the book.)

This week is entirely SF/Fantasy, and almost entirely mass-market paperbacks. First among them, and probably the book that I have the most personal interest in reading, is Doppelgangster by Laura Resnick, the first in a new contemporary fantasy series. Resnick wrote an excellent traditional fantasy sequence -- it's not quite "epic,"and was loosely based on the history of Sicily and involved a long-time occupying power and the rebels trying to oust them -- starting with In Legend Born. Doppelgangster sounds like it could be generic -- young woman (actress Esther Diamond) in the big city (New York) with magic (friend Max the Magician) in a relationship with an unbeliever from law enforcement (detective Lopez). But Resnick's earlier books could have sounded equally generic boiled down that far, and she brought a surprising amount of depth of characterization and uniquely realized setting to that series. Doppelgangster will be a January publication from DAW.

Another January mass-market -- this one from DAW's corporate sister Ace -- is Julie Kenner's Turned, third in her "Blood Lily Chronicles," about a young undead woman in the middle of pre-Armageddon scheming by both Good and Evil. The first two books in the series are Tainted and Torn, but I haven't read them. On the cover, our heroine is mostly sensibly dressed, though we can see her lower back tattoo and she's got a leather jacket draped over one shoulder. (No high heels though, and the weapon is a sensible sword with a guard.

The woman on the cover of Deadtown is doubly well armed -- flaming sword in one hand, smoking semi-automatic in the other -- and has both leather pants and heels. However, her shirt actually covers her lower back, so she loses Urban Fantasy Points for that. (And she's doing an odd chicken-wing thing with her shoulders.) This one is set in Boston, the heroine is a professional demon slayer, and her boyfriend is a lawyer/werewolf. The author is Nancy Holzner, attempting to launch a series for the second time (her first novel, Peace, Love, and Murder, was a straight mystery that did not generate sequels), and this is also from Ace in mass-market in January.

Continuing the urban fantasy-ification of everything is Faith Hunter's Blood Cross, first in a new series about Jane Yellowrock. (She's a vampire hunter and skinwalker, check, in New Orleans, check, but there's no mention of an occult beau and she's fully dressed and armed on her cover -- though she does have a serious biker-chick vogue going on, with all her chains, leather, and spikes.) The story sees Jane hired by vampires to kill a vampire, which leads to the usual divided loyalties and danger for those she cares about. This one is from Roc -- but still mass-market in January.

Death's Mistress by Karen Chance is #2 in its series, after the series-titling Midnight's Daughter. Her heroine, Dorina Basarab, is a Dhampir (half-vampire) whose uncle was Dracula. (Blended families can be such trouble, particularly now around the holidays.) There's no sign of a boyfriend in the copy, and it's not clear what she does for a living -- though she is off searching for a "magical Fay relic" in this book, which may be a clue. The cover shows Dorina in a leather bustier, but from the front, so we can't tell if she has a tramp stamp. She is wielding the inevitable smoking gun, and standing in front of the Brooklyn Bridge. This one is from Onyx -- an imprint that tends more to the romance than the fantasy in the urban fantasy-paranormal romance spectrum, and is yet another arm of the Penguin/Putnam/Pearson empire from 375 Hudson Street -- and will be in stores in January like all the rest.

Hastur Lord is the fifth Darkover novel co-authored by Deborah J. Ross, and the sixth Darkover book to be published after author Marion Zimmer Bradley's 1999 death. (2009 also, coincidentally, marked the twentieth anniversary of the last book in the series that Bradley wrote alone, The Heirs of Hammerfell.) It will be published by DAW in January, and, perhaps because of the time since Bradley's death, it contains a dedication (date 7/26/98) and a short Note from Bradley, to prove that -- even if they are digging very deeply into Bradley's notebooks and papers at this point -- that there is still a decent reason to list Bradley as co-author of the book. Hastur Lord continues the current series, slotting in right after The Alton Gift, and presumably continues the story of the telepathic red-headed aristocrats who can eat as much as they like. (Let no one say that Darkover isn't wish-fulfillment!) This one is a hardcover.

And last for this week is a mystery novel from Ballantine -- Charlie Huston's Sleepless. Huston is the author of the Joe Pitt Casebooks --a five-book series about a very hardboiled vampire in New York, which owe much more to crime thrillers and noir than to urban fantasy or any prettier (let alone sparkly) vampires -- and this is another book with a speculative theme. A plague of sleeplessness has spread, leaving millions permanently insomniac, and driving demand for the one thing that can help them rest -- an illegal drug called Dreamer. Huston's main character is a LAPD detective (and ex-philosophy student, the flap copy insists on telling me) working undercover to trace the flow of Dreamer. This one will be a hardcover on January 12th.
Listening to: Pink Floyd - Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun
via FoxyTunes


RobB said...

The Penguin imprints really seem to have the UF market covered, or rather, everything covered except their protagonists's lower back.


Anonymous said...

The Resnick is actually a sequel to Disappearing Nightly (Luna, 2006), which I really liked.

Unknown said...

Blood Cross is the second Jane Yellowrock book, skinwalker was the first.

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