Monday, October 22, 2007

Publishers Weekly genre review round-up
(October 22 issue)

La Gringa is still not functioning on all cylinders this evening. (We would like to kindly suggest that the tiny men with sledgehammers please refrain from pounding upon our eyeballs, thank you very much.)

To summarize: Imodium + Pepto Bismal + Gatorade in copious amounts + Advil = a more fully functioning La Gringa.

Okay, so here's yer Publishers Weekly round-up. As always, if you'd like to read all the fiction reviews, click here.
The Unnatural Inquirer: A Novel of the Nightside by Simon R. Green (Ace): "The engaging eighth book in Green’s popular offbeat Nightside series (after 2006’s Hell to Pay) drops another paranormal mystery in the lap of series hero John Taylor, a PI in the shadowy realm of Nightside. Pen Donavon, who claims to have a DVD depicting actual footage of the afterlife, has vanished shortly after signing an exclusive deal with the tabloid Unnatural Inquirer. Various factions seeking to control the Nightside are leaving a considerable body count behind as they hunt for him. Accompanied by sexy half-demon reporter Bettie Divine, Taylor navigates the treacherous terrain with his typical skill before tracking down the real force behind Donavon’s disappearance. Green skillfully blends action and humor, and shows no sign of running out of ideas. This installment will undoubtedly rope in new readers who enjoy his blend of dark humor and the supernatural." (Jan.)

Shadowbridge by Gregory Frost (Del Rey): "Orphaned 16-year-old Leodora, a talented puppeteer and storyteller, is forced to hide her identity and gender as she travels the spans and tunnels of the ocean-crossing Shadowbridge in Frost’s exciting first of a diptych. Stubborn and god-touched, Leodora feels nearly friendless until she meets a youth with similar gifts. Diverus, an enslaved simpleton, is endowed with intelligence and uncanny musical abilities when an unpredictable deity visits his span. When Diverus plays and Leodora performs, their synergy creates magic and brings them instant fame. Only Leodora’s mentor, the perpetually drunken Soter, realizes that their brilliance attracts dangerous chaos energy, and he must protect the young pair while keeping long-held secrets about the deaths of Leodora’s parents and the dangers of her talent. Frost (Fitcher’s Brides) draws richly detailed human characters and embellishes his multilayered stories with intriguing creatures—benevolent sea dragons, trickster foxes, death-eating snakes and capricious gods—that make this fantasy a sparkling gem of mythic invention and wonder." (Dec.)

Borne in Blood: A Novel of the Count Saint-Germain by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro (Tor): "If Anne Rice is the celebrity journalist of vampires, Yarbro is their domestic chronicler. The meticulous 20th entry in her Count Saint-Germain saga (after 2006’s Roman Dusk) finds her 4,000-year-old hero in the Swiss countryside of 1817, helping the struggling locals recover from the Napoleonic wars and severe winters. By this period, Saint-Germain is a cultured and compassionate figure, occupied with the spread of knowledge through publishing and the child custody struggles of his lover, Hero Corvosaggio. His greatest threats come from discharged soldiers turned bandits and an abused debutante turned murderer, whose blood-obsessed guardian he lectures on the difference between heredity and destiny. Monsters are made, he knows, not born. Yarbro piles on the historical detail, giving an intimate look at the households of early 19th-century Europe and the commerce and travels of its inhabitants. Letters, with headnotes on their delivery methods and times, litter the text, adding to the period feel. Intimate, too, describes Saint-Germain and Hero, whose relationship is explored in fine-grained emotional as well as physical terms." (Dec.)

Dark Wisdom by Gary Myers (Mythos): "The 12 simply narrated tales of terror in Myers’s second collection (after 1975’s The House of the Worm) perfectly accommodate their stripped-down Lovecraftian themes. In “The Web,” two Web-surfing teens get more than they bargained for when they hack into an online edition of the Necronomicon and activate one of its spells. “The Big Picture” tells of an ordinary guy whose fascination with stereoscopic games and picture puzzles sensitizes him to horrors that lurk behind the facade of the visible world. In “Understudy,” a Hollywood special effects artist who sculpts lifelike rubber monster outfits saves the day on an underwater monster flick when he brings in his living model to body-double for the movie’s star. “What Rough Beast” chronicles a terrified hitchhiker’s flight from the eerie cult leader who arranged her impregnation. Myers often leavens the horror with wry humor, avoiding the cardinal horror sin of overdramatization. Fans of the Cthulhu mythos will welcome this new compilation from one of horror’s most able contemporary practitioners." (Dec.)

The High King’s Tomb: Book Three of Green Rider by Kristen Britain (DAW): "Karigan G’ladheon was hoping for a break from adventure after the breakneck escapades of First Rider’s Call (2004), but this action-packed third Green Rider volume gives her no time to rest. Sent on what she thinks is a mundane errand for the king of Sacoridia and the captain of the royal messenger corps known as the Green Riders, Karigan begins having strange dreams that may hold hidden meaning. Then she receives a cryptic message from the ghost of a would-be magician. Karigan finally accepts that she’s destined for the extraordinary when the magnificent black horse Salvistar, the steed of the god of death, beckons her to ride with him among the stars. Britain keeps the excitement high from beginning to end, balancing epic magical battles with the humor and camaraderie of Karigan and her fellow riders." (Nov.)

Dancing with Werewolves by Carole Nelson Douglas (Juno): "While the millennium revelation in this fantastic first of a new paranormal series might not be a shocker for urban fantasy fans—i.e., vampires, werewolves, witches and zombies come out of the closet after Y2K—Douglas (Cat in a Red Hot Rage) handles the premise with such spectacular style, it feels fresh. Delilah Street, who was only 11 in 2000, is now 24 and works for WTCH, a Kansas TV station, as a paranormal investigative reporter. When Delilah angers an undead co-worker and is demoted, she moves to Sin City in hopes of finding a possible blood relative seen on CSI Las Vegas V. She gets a job with Hector Nightwine, the show’s producer, and falls in love with Ric Montoya, a former FBI agent who finds corpses by dowsing. Douglas spices the action with fabulous characters: Quicksilver, Delilah’s protective dog; CinSims (Cinema Simulacrums), dead celebrities recreated via science and magic; the oldest living vampire in Vegas, once a famous aviator; and Cocaine (aka Snow), a devilish albino rocker. Readers will eagerly await the sequel." (Dec.)

Demon’s Kiss by Maggie Shayne (Mira): "The latest from bestseller Shayne (Prince of Twilight) is an interesting, inventive tale of vampires with a world that’s almost too fully realized, occasionally suffering from plot overload. Before he became a vampire, Reaper worked for the CIA; now he works solo, as a hired assassin. Reaper’s latest commission is the rogue vampire Gregor, who along with his followers is leaving a trail of blood-drained corpses that may, if unchecked, reveal the carefully hidden world of vampires to the blissfully unsuspecting mortal masses. Complicating Reaper’s mission is Seth, a newly turned vampire he’s compelled to bring along on his assignment. Unfortunately for the self-proclaimed “lone wolf,” that opens the door to other unwanted partners: Roxy, a Wicca healer; the vampiress Topaz; and a shape-shifter called Vixen, each of whom has her own reasons for wanting Gregor stopped. Shayne crafts a convincing world, tweaking vampire legends just enough to draw fresh blood. Though her attention to a number of subplots can frustrate, they’ll also suck in an audience for the inevitable sequel." (Dec.)

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