I knew it was hopeless, but I charged. The giant laughed. I braced myself to die. Suddenly the giant's body went rigid. His expression changed from gloating to surprise. Right where his belly button should've been, his T-shirt ripped open and he grew something like a horn—no, not a horn—the glowing tip of a blade. The ball dropped out of his hand. The monster stared down at the knife that had just run him through from behind. He muttered, "Ow," and burst into a cloud of green flame, which I figured was going to make Babycakes pretty upset.
Standing in the smoke was my friend Annabeth. Her face was grimy and scratched. She had a ragged backpack slung over her shoulder, her baseball cap tucked in her pocket, a bronze knife in her hand, and a wild look in her storm-gray eyes, like she'd just been chased a thousand miles by ghosts. Matt Sloan, who'd been standing there dumbfounded the whole time, finally came to his senses. He blinked at Annabeth, as if he dimly recognized her from my notebook picture. That's the girl—" Annabeth punched him in the nose and knocked him flat.
Kids were still running around screaming. I heard sirens wailing and a garbled voice over the intercom. Through the glass windows of the exit doors, I could see the headmaster, Mr. Bonsai, wres-tling with the lock, a crowd of teachers piling up behind him. The doors burst open and the adults came pouring in. Annabeth gave him a look of distaste that I didn't quite understand.
That left me standing alone in the middle of the burn-ing gymnasium when the headmaster came charging in with half the faculty and a couple of police officers. Bonsai said. He focused on me with a look of terror. He set the whole building on fire. Coach Nunley will tell you! He saw it all! I knew they would never believe me, even if I could tell them the truth. I grabbed Riptide out of my ruined jeans, told Tyson, "Come on! She pulled Tyson and me off the sidewalk just as a fire truck screamed past, heading for Meriwether Prep. Now, under different circumstances, I would've been really happy to see her.
We'd made our peace last summer, despite the fact that her mom was Athena and didn't get along with my dad. I'd missed Annabeth probably more than I wanted to admit. But I'd just been attacked by cannibal giants, Tyson had saved my life three or four times, and all Annabeth could do was glare at him like he was the problem. He can hear you, you know.
Why don't you ask him? I couldn't believe she was being so rude. I examined Tyson's hands, which I was sure must've been badly scorched by the flaming dodge balls, but they looked fine—grimy and scarred, with dirty fingernails the size of potato chips—but they always looked like that. He tried to touch it, but she smacked his hand away. The monsters in the gym. They're a race of giant cannibals who live in the far north. Odysseus ran into them once, but I've never seen them as far south as New York before. What would you call them in English? No, what about Grover?
What were you dreaming about? But what kind of trouble? Something's wrong. We have to get there right away. Monsters have been chasing me all the way from Virginia, trying to stop me. Have you had a lot of attacks? But how Son of the Sea God? I didn't know how I could explain, but I figured Tyson deserved the truth after almost getting killed.
They kind of follow Western Civilization around, living in the strongest countries, so like now they're in the U. And sometimes they have kids with mortals.staging.vclean.life/who-we-are-in-christ-a-to-z.php
BeyBlade Burst: The Sirens: Chapter 1, book by SkiesTheLimit13
Kids called half-bloods. And whenever monsters pick up our scent, they attack us. That's what those giants were in the gym. He didn't seem surprised or confused by what I was telling him, which surprised and confused me. Now he looked confused. A police car raced past our alley. If he freaked out on a regular playground with reg-ular bullies, how would he act at a training camp for demigods? On the other hand, the cops would be looking for us.
Now come on. Together the three of us sneaked through the side streets of downtown while a huge column of smoke billowed up behind us from my school gymnasium. She fished around in her backpack. Her chin was cut. Twigs and grass were tangled in her ponytail, as if she'd slept several nights in the open. The slashes on the hems of her jeans looked suspiciously like claw marks. All around us, sirens wailed. I figured it wouldn't be long before more cops cruised by, looking for juvenile delinquent gym-bombers.
No doubt Matt Sloan had given them a statement by now. He'd probably twisted the story around so that Tyson and I were the bloodthirsty cannibals. Thank the gods. It had Zeus's likeness stamped on one side and the Empire State Building on the other. She'd said: Stop, Chariot of Damnation! That didn't exactly make me feel real excited about whatever her plan was. She threw her coin into the street, but instead of clattering on the asphalt, the drachma sank right through and disappeared.
For a moment, nothing happened. Then, just where the coin had fallen, the asphalt dark-ened. It melted into a rectangular pool about the size of a parking space—bubbling red liquid like blood. Then a car erupted from the ooze. It was a taxi, all right, but unlike every other taxi in New York, it wasn't yellow. It was smoky gray. I mean it looked like it was woven out of smoke, like you could walk right through it. The passenger window rolled down, and an old woman stuck her head out. She had a mop of grizzled hair cover-ing her eyes, and she spoke in a weird mumbling way, like she'd just had a shot of Novocain.
Siren – Archive Files Guide
She opened the cab's back door and waved at me to get in, like this was all completely normal. What was it? Pick-on-Big-and-Ugly-Kids Day? Reluctantly I got in the cab. Tyson squeezed in the middle. Annabeth crawled in last. The interior was also smoky gray, but it felt solid enough. The seat was cracked and lumpy— no different than most taxis. There was no Plexiglas screen separating us from the old lady driving Wait a minute.
There wasn't just one old lady. There were three, all crammed in the front seat, each with stringy hair covering her eyes, bony hands, and a charcoal-colored sackcloth dress. The one driving said, "Long Island! Out-of-metro fare bonus! A prerecorded voice came on over the speaker: Hi, this is Ganymede, cup-bearer to Zeus, and when I'm out buying wine for the Lord of the Skies, I always buckle up!
I looked down and found a large black chain instead of a seat belt. I decided I wasn't that desperate The cab sped around the corner of West Broadway, and the gray lady sitting in the middle screeched, "Look out! Go left! Give her the eye? I didn't have time to ask questions because the driver swerved to avoid an oncoming delivery truck, ran over the curb with a jaw-rattling thump, and flew into the next block.
I want to bite it. The middle one, Tempest, screamed, "Red light! Instead, Wasp floored the accelerator and rode up on the curb, screeching around another corner, and knocking over a newspaper box. She left my stomach somewhere back on Broome Street. I looked at Annabeth. One eye total. Anybody got a garbage bag or something? I looked over at Annabeth, who was hang-ing on for dear life, and I gave her a why-did-you-do-this-to-me look. You remember him? That was three thousand years ago! That was your turn! She punched the gas and we shot up the Williamsburg Bridge at seventy miles an hour.
The three sisters were fighting for real now, slapping each other as Anger tried to grab at Wasp's face and Wasp tried to grab at Tempest's. With their hair flying and their mouths open, screaming at each other, I realized that none of the sisters had any teeth except for Wasp, who had one mossy yellow incisor. Instead of eyes, they just had closed, sunken eyelids, except for Anger, who had one bloodshot green eye that stared at everything hungrily, as if it couldn't get enough of anything it saw.
Finally Anger, who had the advantage of sight, managed to yank the tooth out of her sister Wasp's mouth. This made Wasp so mad she swerved toward the edge of the Williamsburg Bridge, yelling, "'Ivit back! They're really very wise. We were skimming along the edge of a bridge a hundred and thirty feet above the East River. Immediately her sisters pummeled her from either side, screaming, "Be quiet! Be quiet! He didn't even ask yet! I'm not seeking any—" "Nothing! It's nothing!
There was a sickening pop and something flew out of Anger's face. Anger fumbled for it, trying to catch it, but she only managed to bat it with the back of her hand. The slimy green orb sailed over her shoulder, into the backseat, and straight into my lap. I jumped so hard, my head hit the ceiling and the eyeball rolled away. Get it! The whole car shud-dered, billowing gray smoke as if it were about to dissolve from the strain.
Get the eye! We hurtled down the bridge toward Brooklyn, going faster than any human taxi. The Gray Sisters screeched and pummeled each other and cried out for their eye. At last I steeled my nerves. I ripped off a chunk of my tie-dyed T-shirt, which was already falling apart from all the burn marks, and used it to pick the eyeball off the floor. Sure enough, trees and cars and whole neighborhoods were now zipping by in a gray blur. We were already out of Brooklyn, heading through the middle of Long Island. We'll just keep accelerating until we break into a million pieces.
Now give us the eye! Almost to camp! I could see Half-Blood Hill ahead of us, with its giant pine tree at the crest—Thalia's tree, which contained the life force or a fallen hero. I threw the eye into Wasp's lap. The old lady snatched it up, pushed it into her eye socket like somebody putting in a contact lens, and blinked. The taxi spun four or five times in a cloud of smoke and squealed to a halt in the middle of the farm road at the base of Half-Blood Hill. Tyson let loose a huge belch. At the crest of the hill was a group of campers. And they were under attack.
This time what I saw up there was even worse: two bulls. And not just regular bulls—bronze ones the size of elephants. And even that wasn't bad enough. Naturally they had to breathe fire, too. As soon as we exited the taxi, the Gray Sisters peeled out, heading back to New York, where life was safer. They didn't even wait for their extra three-drachma payment. They just left us on the side of the road, Annabeth with nothing but her backpack and knife, Tyson and me still in our burned-up tie-dyed gym clothes.
What worried me most weren't the bulls themselves. Or the ten heroes in full battle armor who were getting their bronze-plated booties whooped. What worried me was that the bulls were ranging all over the hill, even around the back side of the pine tree. That shouldn't have been possible. The camp's magic boundaries didn't allow monsters to cross past Thalia's tree. But the metal bulls were doing it anyway. One of the heroes shouted, "Border patrol, to me! Border patrol? I thought. The camp didn't have a border patrol.
She was one of the biggest bullies at camp. The first time we'd met she tried to introduce my head to a toilet. She was also a daughter of Ares, and I'd had a very serious disagreement with her father last summer, so now the god of war and all his children basically hated my guts. Still, she was in trouble. Her fellow warriors were scat-tering, running in panic as the bulls charged. The grass was burning in huge swathes around the pine tree. One hero screamed and waved his arms as he ran in circles, the horse-hair plume on his helmet blazing like a fiery Mohawk.
Clarisse's own armor was charred. She was fighting with a broken spear shaft, the other end embedded uselessly in the metal joint of one bull's shoulder. I uncapped my ballpoint pen. It shimmered, growing longer and heavier until I held the bronze sword Anaklusmos in my hands. I don't want you taking any more chances. He got lucky with the dodge balls but he can't—" "Percy, do you know what those are up there? The Colchis bulls, made by Hephaestus himself.
We'll get burned to a crisp. Why didn't I bring it? It just made me more confused. It was a good idea. The few who were listening lined up shoulder-to-shoulder, lock-ing their shields to form an ox-hide—and-bronze wall, their spears bristling over the top like porcupine quills. Unfortunately, Clarisse could only muster six campers.
The other four were still running around with their helmets on fire. Annabeth ran toward them, trying to help. She taunted one of the bulls into chasing her, then turned invis-ible, completely confusing the monster. The other bull charged Clarisse's line. I was halfway up the hill—not close enough to help. Clarisse hadn't even seen me yet.
The bull moved deadly fast for something so big. Its metal hide gleamed in the sun. It had fist-sized rubies for eyes, and horns of polished silver. When it opened its hinged mouth, a column of white-hot flame blasted out. Whatever else you could say about Clarisse, she was brave. She was a big girl with cruel eyes like her father's. She looked like she was born to wear Greek battle armor, but I didn't see how even she could stand against that bull's charge. Unfortunately, at that moment, the other bull lost interest in finding Annabeth.
It turned, wheeling around behind Clarisse on her unprotected side. Bull Number One crashed into her shield, and the phalanx broke. Clarisse went flying backward and landed in a smoldering patch of grass. The bull charged past her, but not before blasting the other heroes with its fiery breath. Their shields melted right off their arms. They dropped their weapons and ran as Bull Number Two closed in on Clarisse for the kill. I lunged forward and grabbed Clarisse by the straps of her armor. I dragged her out of the way just as Bull Number Two freight-trained past.
I gave it a good swipe with Riptide and cut a huge gash in its flank, but the monster just creaked and groaned and kept on going. It hadn't touched me, but I could feel the heat of its metal skin. Its body temperature could've microwaved a frozen burrito. We were on the inside slope of the hill now, the valley of Camp Half-Blood directly below us—the cabins, the training facilities, the Big House—all of it at risk if these bulls got past us. Annabeth shouted orders to the other heroes, telling them to spread out and keep the bulls distracted. Bull Number One ran a wide arc, making its way back toward me.
As it passed the middle of the hill, where the invisible boundary line should've kept it out, it slowed down a little, as if it were struggling against a strong wind; but then it broke through and kept coming. Bull Number Two turned to face me, fire sputtering from the gash I'd cut in its side. I couldn't tell if it felt any pain, but its ruby eyes seemed to glare at me like I'd just made things personal. I couldn't fight both bulls at the same time. My arms already felt tired. I realized how long it had been since I'd worked out with Riptide, how out of practice I was.
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I lunged but Bull Number Two blew flames at me. I rolled aside as the air turned to pure heat. All the oxygen was sucked out of my lungs. My foot caught on some-thing—a tree root, maybe—and pain shot up my ankle. Still, I managed to slash with my sword and lop off part of the monster's snout. It galloped away, wild and disoriented. But before I could feel too good about that, I tried to stand, and my left leg buckled underneath me. My ankle was sprained, maybe broken. Bull Number One charged straight toward me. No way could I crawl out of its path.
Annabeth shouted: "Tyson, help him! Suddenly Tyson was there, barreling toward me, yelling: "Percy needs help! The blast swirled around him like a red tornado. I could only see the black silhouette of his body.
I knew with hor-rible certainty that my friend had just been turned into a column of ashes. But when the fire died, Tyson was still standing there, completely unharmed. Not even his grungy clothes were scorched. The bull must've been as surprised as I was, because before it could unleash a second blast, Tyson balled his fists and slammed them into the bull's face. Two small columns of flame shot out of its ears. Tyson hit it again, and the bronze crumpled under his hands like aluminum foil.
The bull's face now looked like a sock puppet pulled inside out. The bull staggered and fell on its back. Its legs moved feebly in the air, steam coming out of its ruined head in odd places. Annabeth ran over to check on me. My ankle felt like it was filled with acid, but she gave me some Olympian nectar to drink from her canteen, and I immediately started to feel better. There was a burning smell that I later learned was me. The hair on my arms had been completely singed off. Annabeth pointed down the hill.
Clarisse had taken care of Bad Cow Number Two. She'd impaled it through the back leg with a celestial bronze spear. Now, with its snout half gone and a huge gash in its side, it was trying to run in slow motion, going in circles like some kind of merry-go-round animal. Clarisse pulled off her helmet and marched toward us. A strand of her stringy brown hair was smoldering, but she didn't seem to notice. Annabeth grumbled, "Good to see you too, Clarisse.
Even Clarisse cared about the soldiers under her command. I stared at Tyson. Came to help. Disobeyed you. I had to let Tyson cross the boundary line to save you. Otherwise, you would've died. I mean Ignore the Mist, and really look at him. I knew it could fool demigods too, but I looked Tyson in the face. It wasn't easy. I'd always had trouble looking directly at him, though I'd never quite understood why. I'd thought it was just because he always had peanut butter in his crooked teeth. I forced myself to focus at his big lumpy nose, then a little higher at his eyes.
No, not eyes. One eye. One large, calf-brown eye, right in the middle of his forehead, with thick lashes and big tears trickling down his cheeks on either side. Probably why he couldn't get past the boundary line as easily as the bulls. Tyson's one of the homeless orphans. Children of nature spirits and gods Well, one god in particular, usually No one wants them.
They get tossed aside. They grow up wild on the streets. I don't know how this one found you, but he obviously likes you. We should take him to Chiron, let him decide what to do. How—" "He's a Cyclops. They have to be immune to fire. That's what I was trying to tell you. How had I never realized what Tyson was? But I didn't have much time to think about it just then. The whole side of the hill was burning. Wounded heroes needed attention. And there were still two banged-up bronze bulls to dispose of, which I didn't figure would fit in our normal recycling bins.
Clarisse came back over and wiped the soot off her forehead. We need to carry the wounded back to the Big House, let Tantalus know what's happened. And where's Argus? He's head of security. He should be here. You two have been gone too long. Things are changing. He's trained kids to fight monsters for over three thousand years. He can't just be gone. What hap-pened? She pointed to Thalia's tree. Every camper knew the story behind the tree. Six years ago, Grover, Annabeth, and two other demigods named Thalia and Luke had come to Camp Half-Blood chased by an army of monsters.
When they got cornered on top of this hill, Thalia, a daughter of Zeus, had made her last stand here to give her friends time to reach safety. As she was dying, her father, Zeus, took pity on her and changed her into a pine tree. Her spirit had reinforced the magic borders of the camp, protecting it from monsters. The pine had been here ever since, strong and healthy. But now, its needles were yellow. A huge pile of dead ones littered the base of the tree.
In the center of the trunk, three feet from the ground, was a puncture mark the size of a bullet hole, oozing green sap. A sliver of ice ran through my chest. Now I understood why the camp was in danger. The magical borders were fail-ing because Thalia's tree was dying. Someone had poisoned it. Like some helpful person hi, Mom has tried to "clean" it, and suddenly you can't find anything? And even if nothing is missing, you get that creepy feeling like somebody's been looking through your private stuff and dusting everything with lemon furniture polish?
That's kind of the way I felt seeing Camp Half-Blood again. On the surface, things didn't look all that different. The Big House was still there with its blue gabled roof and its wraparound porch. The strawberry fields still baked in the sun. The same white-columned Greek buildings were scattered around the valley—the amphitheater, the combat arena, the dining pavilion overlooking Long Island Sound. And nestled between the woods and the creek were the same cabins—a crazy assortment of twelve buildings, each repre-senting a different Olympian god.
But there was an air of danger now. You could tell something was wrong. Instead of playing volleyball in the sandpit, counselors and satyrs were stockpiling weapons in the tool shed. Dryads armed with bows and arrows talked nervously at the edge of the woods. The forest looked sickly, the grass in the meadow was pale yellow, and the fire marks on Half-Blood Hill stood out like ugly scars. Somebody had messed with my favorite place in the world, and I was not As we made our way to the Big House, I recognized a lot of kids from last summer.
Nobody stopped to talk. Nobody said, "Welcome back. The camp felt like a military school. And believe me, I know. I've been kicked out of a couple. None of that mattered to Tyson. He was absolutely fas-cinated by everything he saw. If they don't know who your Olympian parent is, they put you in the Hermes cabin—that brown one over there—until you're deter-mined.
Then, once they know, they put you in your dad or mom's group. No, just me. The embarrassing truth: I was the only one who stayed in that cabin because I wasn't supposed to be alive. We were more powerful than regular half-bloods. We were too unpredictable. When we got mad we tended to cause problems The "Big Three" pact had only been broken twice—once when Zeus sired Thalia, once when Poseidon sired me. Neither of us should've been born.
Thalia had gotten herself turned into a pine tree when she was twelve. I had nightmares about what Poseidon might turn me into if I were ever on the verge of death— plankton, maybe. Or a floating patch of kelp. When we got to the Big House, we found Chiron in his apartment, listening to his favorite s lounge music while he packed his saddlebags. I guess I should mention—Chiron is a centaur. From the waist up he looks like a reg-ular middle-aged guy with curly brown hair and a scraggly beard.
From the waist down, he's a white stallion. He can pass for human by compacting his lower half into a magic wheelchair. In fact, he'd passed himself off as my Latin teacher during my sixth-grade year. But most of the time, if the ceilings are high enough, he prefers hanging out in full centaur form. As soon as we saw him, Tyson froze. Chiron turned, looking offended. You're not Chiron was like a second father to her. Chiron ruffled her hair and gave her a kindly smile. And Percy, my goodness. You've grown over the year! Lord Zeus was most upset. The tree he'd created from the spirit of his daughter, poisoned!
D had to punish someone. Just the thought of the camp director, Mr. D, made me angry. Chiron's face darkened. He stuffed a Latin-English dictionary into his saddlebag while the Frank Sinatra music oozed from his boom box. Tyson was still staring at Chiron in amazement. He whimpered like he wanted to pat Chiron's flank but was afraid to come closer.
I am a centaur. Some venom even I have never seen. It must have come from a monster quite deep in the pits of Tartarus. Kro—" "Do not invoke the titan lord's name, Percy. Especially not here, not now. This has to be his idea. He'd get Luke to do it, that traitor. The tree has only a few weeks of life left unless The whole valley is feeling the shock of the poison. The magical borders are deteriorating. The camp itself is dying. Only one source of magic would be strong enough to reverse the poison, and it was lost centuries ago.
He pressed the stop but-ton on his boom box. Then he turned and rested his hand on my shoulder, looking me straight in the eyes. I told your mother I did not want you to come here at all this summer. It's much too dangerous. But now that you are here, stay here. Train hard. Learn to fight. But do not leave. I can't just let the borders fail. The whole camp will be—" "Overrun by monsters," Chiron said. But you must not let yourself be baited into hasty action!
This could be a trap of the titan lord. Remember last summer! He almost took your life. I also wanted to make Kronos pay. I mean, you'd think the titan lord would've learned his lesson eons ago when he was over-thrown by the gods. You'd think getting chopped into a mil-lion pieces and cast into the darkest part of the Underworld would give him a subtle clue that nobody wanted him around. But no. Because he was immortal, he was still alive down there in Tartarus—suffering in eternal pain, hunger-ing to return and take revenge on Olympus.
He couldn't act on his own, but he was great at twisting the minds of mor-tals and even gods to do his dirty work. The poisoning had to be his doing. Who else would be so low as to attack Thalia's tree, the only thing left of a hero who'd given her life to save her friends? Annabeth was trying hard not to cry. Chiron brushed a tear from her cheek. The prophecy—remember it! If they dismiss you from camp—" "Swear you will do your best to keep Percy from danger," he insisted. Thunder rumbled outside. He seemed to relax just a little. Until then, I go to visit my wild kinsmen in the Everglades.
It's possible they know of some cure for the poisoned tree that I have forgotten. In any event, I will stay in exile until this matter is resolved Chiron patted her shoulder awk-wardly. I must entrust your safety to Mr. D and the new activities director. We must hope I hadn't realized how late it was.
It was time for the campers to assemble for dinner. I will contact your mother, Percy, and let her know you're safe. No doubt she'll be worried by now. Just remember my warning! You are in grave danger. Do not think for a moment that the titan lord has forgotten you! Don't go! Now it was too late. The best teacher I'd ever had was gone, maybe for good. Tyson started bawling almost as bad as Annabeth.
I tried to tell them that things would be okay, but I didn't believe it. The sun was setting behind the dining pavilion as the campers came up from their cabins. We stood in the shadow of a marble column and watched them file in. Annabeth was still pretty shaken up, but she promised she'd talk to us later. Then she went off to join her siblings from the Athena cabin—a dozen boys and girls with blond hair and gray eyes like hers. Annabeth wasn't the oldest, but she'd been at camp more summers than just about anybody. You could tell that by looking at her camp necklace—one bead for every summer, and Annabeth had six.
No one ques-tioned her right to lead the line. Next came Clarisse, leading the Ares cabin. She had one arm in a sling and a nasty-looking gash on her cheek, but otherwise her encounter with the bronze bulls didn't seem to have fazed her. But nobody in her cabin was bothering to tell her about it.
After the Ares kids came the Hephaestus cabin—six guys led by Charles Beckendorf, a big fifteen-year-old African American kid. He had hands the size of catchers' mitts and a face that was hard and squinty from looking into a blacksmiths forge all day. He was nice enough once you got to know him, but no one ever called him Charlie or Chuck or Charles. Most just called him Beckendorf. Rumor was he could make anything.
Give him a chunk of metal and he could create a razor-sharp sword or a robotic warrior or a singing birdbath for your grandmother's garden. Whatever you wanted. The other cabins filed in: Demeter, Apollo, Aphrodite, Dionysus. Naiads came up from the canoe lake. Dryads melted out of the trees. From the meadow came a dozen satyrs, who reminded me painfully of Grover. I'd always had a soft spot for the satyrs. When they were at camp, they had to do all kinds of odd jobs for Mr.
D, the director, but their most important work was out in the real world. They were the camp's seekers. They went undercover into schools all over the world, looking for potential half-bloods and escorting them back to camp. That's how I'd met Grover. He had been the first one to recognize I was a demigod.
After the satyrs filed in to dinner, the Hermes cabin brought up the rear. They were always the biggest cabin. For a while, before Poseidon had claimed me, I'd lodged in the Hermes cabin. Luke had befriended me Now the Hermes cabin was led by Travis and Connor Stoll. They weren't twins, but they looked so much alike it didn't matter. I could never remember which one was older. They were both tall and skinny, with mops of brown hair that hung in their eyes. They wore orange CAMP HALF-BLOOD T-shirts untucked over baggy shorts, and they had those elfish features all Hermes's kids had: upturned eyebrows, sarcastic smiles, a gleam in their eyes whenever they looked at you—like they were about to drop a firecracker down your shirt.
I'd always thought it was funny that the god of thieves would have kids with the last name "Stoll," but the only time I mentioned it to Travis and Connor, they both stared at me blankly like they didn't get the joke. As soon as the last campers had filed in, I led Tyson into the middle of the pavilion. Conversations faltered. Heads turned. I glared in their direction, but I couldn't figure out who'd spoken. From the head table a familiar voice drawled, "Well, well, if it isn't Peter Johnson.
My millennium is complete. D sipped his Diet Coke. Well, as you young people say these days: Whatever. With his pudgy belly and his blotchy red face, he looked like a Las Vegas tourist who'd stayed up too late in the casi-nos. Behind him, a nervous-looking satyr was peeling the skins off grapes and handing them to Mr. D one at a time. D's real name is Dionysus. The god of wine. Zeus appointed him director of Camp HalfBlood to dry out for a hundred years—a punishment for chasing some off-limits wood nymph. Next to him, where Chiron usually sat or stood, in centaur form , was someone I'd never seen before—a pale, horribly thin man in a threadbare orange prisoner's jump-suit.
The number over his pocket read He had blue shadows under his eyes, dirty fingernails, and badly cut gray hair, like his last haircut had been done with a weed whacker. He stared at me; his eyes made me nervous. He looked Angry and frustrated and hungry all at the same time. Poseidon's child, you know. And you, Perseus Jackson, I do expect you to refrain from causing any more trouble. Dionysus snapped his fingers. A newspaper appeared on the table—the front page of today's New York Post, There was my yearbook picture from Meriwether Prep.
It was hard for me to make out the headline, but I had a pretty good guess what it said. Like it was my fault the gods had almost gotten into a civil war? A satyr inched forward nervously and set a plate of bar-becue in front of Tantalus. The new activities director licked his lips. Contains: a few violent scenes. Reviewed by Patricia O. KHP Publishers, ISBN Available: eBook Kindle. It is January at the Tower of London. The executioner drives a stake through his heart, then cremates him in a roaring fire.
Witnesses see the Blood King's spirit writhing in flames as their freedom from his rule is completed. The story begins as the current thane's son, Martin, and his fellow guardsman, Sean, hear a Scotsman calls out for sanctuary. The Scotsman brings dire word of war: the Blood King has returned from the dead, and he wants more than conquest. He wants to reestablish the bloodline, and for that, he needs a queen. In this first book in the Watchers trilogy, we follow the adventures of Martin and Sean as they struggle through the beginnings of the vampire conquest.
The fight scenes are fantastic: they are very well thought out and described. The plot was good. I thought it was an interesting situation set along Hadrian's Wall in eighteenth century England. The dialogue was generally good and helped set and reinforce the tone of the work. My criticisms are that there seemed to be a bit of a hole in the plot, as one of the main characters, the Blood King's queen-to-be, was wandering around the countryside with guardsmen in pursuit, and then just sort of appears at the final battle safe and unharmed, with no explanation as to how this happened.
The book also needed editing, as there were quite a few spelling errors, which made it hard to follow the story at times. Contains: sexual situations, gore. Reviewed by Aaron Fletcher. Hyperion, Available: Hardcover, Kindle edition. This book starts off with a summary of the previous two, so this one could be read as a standalone. Joanna Beauchamp is recently reunited with her husband, Norm. Their daughter, the sexy bartender, Freya, has been transported back in time to the Salem witch trials; and their other daughter, the beautiful virgin librarian, Ingrid, is determined to help Joanna fetch Freya back to the 21 st century and save her life.
Joanna and Norm visit the Oracle to learn of the best means of saving Freya, but are alarmed to find that the ultimate sacrifice may be called for. And as series readers already know, each character doubles as a Norse god living out the mythology of Odin, Freyr, Freya, Balder, Loki, and the post-Ragnarok rebuilding of the bridge between worlds. The Norse gods were thrown from Asgard into our mortal world of Midgard and are alive and well in Long Island. Who knew? Are these immortals truly immortal, or can the underworld ultimately take its toll?
The mixing of metaphors-- are they witches or are they Norse gods? Evidently a television series is in the works. Recommended for adult collections. True Grit Publishing, In this vampire crime thriller, Philadelphia mob boss Enzo Salerno trying to track down the killer of one of his beloved associates. The clues Enzo finds indicate that the killer is Eastern European, with fangs that vanish in the blink of an eye. The FBI also investigates the murder, and is struggling with the supernatural clues as well.
The two rival organizations ultimately reach the conclusion that the killer is a vampire. Wanting to end this situation before it gets out of hand, the Mob and the FBI join forces temporarily, and go on the hunt. What follows is blood and death that erupts in an all-out Mob war. Who will win? This was a book that I was really eager to read. However, my reading experience was not as good as I had hoped. The setting was just tasty. The plot line was good. The mood was there. The cast of characters had distinctive enough voices to keep them separate.
The dialogue was pretty good. Unfortunately, the descriptions were overwhelming at times, and the story would have been better served to have the information laid out in dialogue. The book also could have used a stronger editing hand. There were multiple typographical errors, and the sentence structure made it difficult at times to sort out what was going on. These the things held back what would have otherwise been a much better novel.
Grand Central Publishing, Available: November 12, Lincoln Preston and Douglas Child have carved out a unique niche in the thriller genre with their Pendergast series. In White Fire , the thirteenth book in the series, which focuses on the enigmatic FBI special agent Aloysius Pendergast, the authors are hitting on all cylinders, and still manage to show fans something new about their hero.
She finds one in Roaring Fork, Colorado, in the form of a bunch of miners who may have been killed by a grizzly bear over years ago. The town has since been transformed into a ski resort where only the richest come to live and play. When she begins to dig into the mysterious history of the town, she finds that an arsonist is burning down the millionaires' homes - with them still inside, and Pendergast must save her again. What sets this standalone novel aside from other recent entries is the inclusion of Sherlock Holmes as backstory.
It seems that Oscar Wilde once told Arthur Conan Doyle a tale so horrific that it caused the author to become ill-- and also possibly put it to paper. What follows truly elevates this book above mere thriller status and gives the readers a peek into history, accurate or fictitious, as well as further delving into the enigma which is Aloysius Pendergast. The characters are what make a Pendergast novel, with many of them deep enough to become part of the series.
Corrie, a rough and still developing piece of the puzzle, would be a welcome addition to recurring storylines. White Fire comes recommended with twists and turns that follow the historical bent the story takes. Here's to hoping the duo is already working on the next entry to the series. Review by David Simms. McGillicuddy Mystery by K. Koehler Books, Available: eBook Kindle, Nook, Kobo.
This second book in the Mrs. McGillicuddy mystery series starts with Edwin and Eliza McGillicuddy heading across the pond on their six-year delayed honeymoon. Their destination is Whitby Village, in the English countryside, where a lovely old castle owned by Edwin's long-time friend and fellow Vampire Lord Ian Severn awaits them.
Whitby Village, also a popular home for werewolves, has a local legend known as the Wild Hunt-- a cursed night hunt when vampires and werewolves hunt the villagers together and take their souls to hell. Once the happy couple has settled in, Lord Severn meets with Edwin, and reveals that he has been wounded by Fae, White Vampires who are the polar opposites of traditional Vampires, and is deathly ill.
Additionally, The Wild Hunt is not just a legend; it is real. With the rise of the Fae, the time of the Hunt draws nigh. Lord Severn asks Edwin to take over the role of Master of the Hunt, and, with the Werewolf of Whitby, destroy the Fae once and for all. Lord Severn will not take no for an answer. This was a fun read. Like A Clockwork Vampire, the quirky setting worked well to keep the story flowing. The action sequences were really well written and kept the tension and excitement of the plot moving. The descriptions were used well to set up the action.
The only complaint I have is that spelling errors made this work less enjoyable to read, as the flow was interrupted when I had to sort out what the right word was. Other works by K. Recommended for adult readers. Tor, Available: New and used hardcover; e-book. Deep Down is the sequel to Stoker nominee Wide Open. Hallie, the protagonist, is a former soldier who began to see ghosts after she was wounded in Afghanistan. Then, just that quickly, a shadow passes over a pasture on her ranch, leaving a dark magical effect in its wake. Next, she visits her eccentric neighbor "Pabby" Pabahar only to find Pabby's house surrounded by black dogs who call themselves harbingers of death.
At the accident scene, a mysterious man named Travis Hollowell appears out of thin air. And then there's Mr. Death himself, whose conversation is more unfathomable each time he shows himself to Hallie. By the time Boyd and Beth return to South Dakota, events have escalated to a hellish point, in the most literal way. This plot is shapeless and full of so much incomprehensible woo-woo that it's hard to care about what will happen next. Hallie never really gets a handle on what's going on until the very end of the book, and the ongoing clues from Death and the dog are so cryptic that I gave up trying to figure them out.
The relationship between Hallie and Boyd takes a few steps forward into intimacy, but since they are rarely in a scene together, it's hard to figure out how they've actually gotten their romance going at all. Because of the repetitive twists and turns in the story line, the author relies on the trope of having Hallie pause from time to time to mentally tick off all of the relevant events so that she and we can keep track of what's going on.
The plot is murky and nebulous, with the main characters stumbling around and getting beaten up until they finally are literally pushed and pulled into the final climactic scene, which resolves most of the issues. The novel's main strength is in the character of Hallie, who is trying to deal with the magical consequences of dying and coming back to life back in Afghanistan. That death experience has made her open to all kinds of magic—most of it very dark—and she is living on the edge between reality and The author gets Hallie's blunt, sometimes sarcastic dialogue just right.
If the plot had been better defined, this would have been a much better book. Recommended for libraries that purchased book one of the series, Wide Open. Contains: some graphic violence. Reviewed by: Patricia O. Available: New and used hardcover and paperback; e-book.
Set in northwest South Dakota, this is the first book in a series that follows the adventures of U. Army Sergeant Hallie Michaels, who has been able to see ghosts ever since she was injured in a roadside battle in Afghanistan and was pronounced dead for seven minutes. The series has no vampires or shape shifters, but it does have plenty of ghosts and dark magic. I can imagine that Hallie would get along quite well with Harper Connelly, heroine of Charlaine Harris' mystery series.
Both are stubbornly independent women who follow ghostly clues to solve crimes. As the story opens, Hallie has just traveled home from Afghanistan to attend the funeral of her sister, Dell, who died when she inexplicably drove her car head-on into a tree. As soon as Hallie walks into the Rapid City airport, she sees Dell's ghost and other ghosts turn up as the plot advances.
The ghosts make her feel freezing cold every time they touch her, and she has a tough time getting used to her new ghostly powers. Everyone assumes that Dell committed suicide, but Hallie refuses to believe that her sister would take her own life. Besides, she figures that Dell's ghost wouldn't be sticking around if Dell caused her own death. When the authorities won't discuss the case with her, she investigates it on her own, uncovering some dark magic in the process. None of the characters are fully developed, but that really doesn't matter because this is a plot-driven story.
Hallie just needs to be smart, courageous, and driven, and as we follow her through her investigation, we see that she has all of those traits. The story is told in the third person from Hallie's point of view, and the narrator is reliable through most of the book until the final sequence of events, when Hallie's big plan is not revealed until she actually carries it through.
But the magical elements take this into the paranormal fiction realm and put a twist into the usual horror plot. I am looking forward to the sequel, which will take Hallie and Boyd on a new set of adventures. Recommended for all libraries. A Clockwork Vampire A Mrs. Eliza and Edwin McGillicuddy are a perfect couple. Edwin is a vampire with a clockwork heart that needs to be wound each day.
Eliza, his trusting wife, does this lovingly each morning before she goes to her custom watch repair shop. Unknown to Eliza, he is also Edwin's former vampire master, Lord Foxley. Knowing that such a request cannot be good, Eliza and Edwin refuse the request, as they have plans to go to the opera. This refusal does not go over well. Once at the opera, they meet up with friends and chat about the vampire race trying to get the same rights that humans enjoy. Edwin is called away by another vampire, an Enforcer of Lord Foxley's, who informs Edwin that he must agree to be Lord Foxley's Enforcer for two hundred years.
In exchange Eliza will get to live. Edwin looks to the private box where he had left Eliza and she is gone. I liked this story. It was really interesting. The fusion of horror, futuristic, noir and erotica all rolled together made for a quirky setting. The characters were complex and had unique voices. The dialogue was energetic and fun to read. The action sequences were great. The descriptions were in-depth and set the stage well.
My only criticism would be that the story felt like it dragged a bit towards the end possibly as a result of the descriptions. Doubleday, Available: paperback, hardcover, Kindle, audio book. Available: Paperback and Kindle. One Christmas Day, a sad old couple in rural England opens the door to find their daughter Tara, who disappeared 20 years ago, on the doorstep. Her family and her old boyfriend have been through agony since her disappearance, and experience anger at her almost glib attitude.
As the story unfolds, Tara tells of her experiences with the fairy folk, shares the powers she has gained, is taken to a psychiatrist who attempts to pigeonhole her phenomena into psychobabble, and meets with an old woman in her community who tells of her abduction as a teen by the fairy folk. Ultimately, Tara has to decide whether she is so changed by her experience that she can ever be happy in the so-called real world, and whether her presence might actually be dangerous to her family. The main characters are usually middle-class English families, so real and personable you want to have a cuppa and a chat with them.
Perhaps my favorite book of his is The Tooth Fairy , a coming of age story in which a boy is actually visited by a tooth fairy who winds up controlling his life in more ways than one. The books have a flowing narrative style, and are filled with charming characters, bits of humor, and some steamy sex, all making for some excellent reading. Contains: supernatural occurrences, sex. Dead Harvest by Chris F.
Osprey Publishing, Available: Paperback and e-book. Most soul collectors possess living human bodies, but Sam prefers to possess the newly dead. His is a world filled with demons and angels who battle, respectively, for the bad and the good—or at least that's the way it's supposed to be. Both demons and angels can possess human hosts, but when this happens, their souls—along with their minds and memories—can be irretrievably damaged. Unfortunately, not all of the possessed are sinners; some innocents are possessed as well, which is the point of this book. As the story opens, Sam is assigned to collect the soul of Kate MacNeil, a young girl who allegedly slaughtered her family.
Kate is lying unconscious in a Manhattan hospital, and when Sam reaches into her chest to grab her soul, the darkness that he is accustomed to finding is just not there. Instead, he finds blinding, beautiful light, convincing him that Kate is innocent—that somehow she has been framed.
He believes that the murderer is a supernatural being who possessed Kate, but he has no idea who would do that or what the motive might be. As the story unfolds, Sam and Kate along with two street kids they pick up along the way run, hide, fight, and run again from various demons and police officers who are pursuing them. Because Sam defied his order to collect Kate's soul, both the demons and the angels are now on the verge of an apocalyptic war. Sam himself is a great character who is neither good nor evil. Instead, he's a stubborn pragmatist who doesn't worry too much about collateral damage.
Sam comes across as a gritty, chain-smoking Bogart-esq u e character straight out of hardboiled pulp fiction. The supporting characters are not nearly as well developed. Kate goes from an unconscious victim to a suicidal wretch to a fearless, battle-ready partner too quickly to be believed. The two street boys Anders and Pinch—very Dickensian and the demon Merihem are the most engaging of the supporting cast. This book starts out strong, with a well-constructed mythology, an interesting hero, and terrifically gritty scenic descriptions, but after awhile I wanted more complexity and less mindless run-hide-fight.
Through most of the story, Sam blindly runs from place to place, getting badly beaten up every step of the way. Although Sam veers from one demonic information source to another as he crisscrosses the city looking for information, he never finds any solid clues about Kate's situation. In fact, he and we must wait until the climactic ending to get the lowdown on what is actually going on—and then everything is dumped on us all at once. Perhaps the problem is that Holm has been primarily a short story writer and has not quite worked out his novelistic techniques. Contains: graphic violence and gory descriptions.
Death Warmed Over by Kevin J. Available: Paperback, e-book and Audio. In this alternate New Orleans, life has changed drastically since the Big Uneasy, a fundamental shift in the natural order of things that occurred ten years ago, unleashed ghosts and goblins, vampires and werewolves, zombies, ghouls, and all manner of monsters.
Instead of the French Quarter, human tourists aka naturals stream into the Unnatural Quarter to get a look at the bizarre community of supernatural beings who live there. In this world, one in 75 dead people returns as a zombie, while one in 30 returns as a ghost. The series hero, Dan Chambeaux, was a human private investigator in New Orleans for a long time, but now he's a newbie zombie, having been shot in the head in a dark alley just a month ago.
Since Dan became a zombie, people have begun calling him "Shamble" instead of "Chambeaux. The series opener is constructed like an overlapping set of sit-com episodes as Dan moves from one oddball case to the next. Then, there's Dan's ongoing feud with the owner of Jekyll Lifestyle Products and Necroceuticals, who still holds a grudge against Dan for infiltrating his manufacturing facility and proving that he was putting garlic in vampire hair products.. All of these cases mean that Dan moves from one case-specific scene to another in quick succession.
That makes the story line humorously cluttered, but not really complicated. Anderson concocts a humorous description and back-story for each quirky character. Each dispute is solved—one way or another—but only one turns into the main story line. This is light-hearted urban fantasy at its best. I listened to several chapters of the audiobook, and Phil Gigante does a great job with the various voices.
He's got them all down perfectly, especially Dan's New Orleans drawl and Sheyenne's sexy purr. Contains: coarse language, profanity, and some not-too-graphic violence. DarkWalker by John Urbancik. Available: New and Used trade paperback and ebook. In this world, we learn there are at least three types of people: the monsters, the watchers, and the hunters. The monsters prey on people, the hunters kill the monsters, and the watchers are witnesses to the monsters and hunters.
The watchers sit there and note everything. In return they are left alone by both the hunters and the monsters. DarkWalker is the story of Jack Harlow, a watcher who falls in love with a woman. Now instead of being virtually ignored, every monster in the area notices him, and they all want to taste him.
What happens to Jack, and how he handles this situation makes for an incredibly tense story. This is highly recommended for fans of urban fantasy, Blade , and other action horror stories. Reviewed by: Benjamin Franz. When she's sober, she does crime-scene documentation for the MPD. Jackie is also a self-destructive mess who seems to destroy every moment of happiness and success she has ever achieved.
The story begins as Jackie buys a used camera from James, a hot guy who is a suspect in the murder of his wife. To get the money to purchase the camera, Jackie sells crime-scene photographs to Michi Mori, an eccentric and very wealthy man who spends his time partying with groups of young gay men in his huge mansion. Michi-san pays Jackie top dollar for her most grisly photos, so Jackie keeps selling them to him, even though she knows they are not hers to sell. As Jackie uses her new camera to photograph the Killer's most recent handiwork, the camera develops a mind of its own, snapping shots with no assistance from Jackie.
Then a female ghost begins appearing in Jackie's apartment, leaving physical evidence of her presence. As the deaths mount, more clues accumulate and the story moves toward its inevitable showdown between Jackie and the Killer. I have mixed feelings about this book. The plot is compelling, but I can't quite believe Jackie as a female character.
Both characters were created by men and are really more male than female in their actions and emotions. Both are drawn as street-tough women, but they don't react to situations or people as the vast majority of women would. In this story, most of Jackie's interior monologues are used to provide a straightforward presentation of personal history without the self-examination and soul-searching that would be natural for a damaged female heroine. Her budding relationship with James is not believable because she never shows any real feelings for him.
Most women are way too body conscious to behave that way. When Jackie does change clothes, she just tosses the dirty ones onto the ever-growing mound on the floor of her shower stall—not something a woman raised in a middle class home in the southern heartland would do, no matter how far she's fallen. Now, go ahead and accuse me of female stereotyping if you will, but the fact remains that I would have enjoyed the story much more if Jackie had been Jack. On the positive side, Crook tells a good story here, with twists and turns that are mostly unpredictable. Red herrings are few and far between, so pay attention to all of the details as you read the story—probably in one page-turning, marathon session.
Last Regress by Rachael J. Amazon Digital Services Available: Kindle. With its needy, addled heroine and its lack of coherent world building, this wannabe horror story lacks the compelling drama and suspense needed for a good story. Her one and only friend is her gay neighbor, Greg, with whom she has developed a close relationship. As the story opens, Alyssa is researching an eight-year-old case in which a man named Cain Andrews died by spontaneous human combustion. She is also having constant nightmares in which she sees huge, dark, scary monsters in her room.
Alyssa believes that the monsters are real, while Greg, of course, thinks that they are hallucinations coming from her depressed mind. Then a strange, ghostly man begins to show up each night to protect Alyssa from the monsters. He is incorporeal, but he can converse with Alyssa and tries to calm her fears. These scenes are supplemented by her arguments with Greg over whether the monsters are real or imaginary. He has a mentor named Nathaniel who is supposed to guide him towards the next, more permanent, realm. In the final quarter of the story, the mythology explodes with new facts about that realm and its politics.
By this point, the characters are spending much of their time in tears of fear and grief as the lives of both Alyssa and the man are in jeopardy. The ending functions as a segue to a second book. This is a plodding story that does not begin to take off until the final chapters. Alyssa is not the smartest heroine in the horror fiction world. She knows exactly what will happen when she turns out all the lights and goes to bed, but she never tries to vary her routine or leave the light on or sleep on the living room couch or have Greg stay over.
She just keeps repeating the same experience every night, and the reader repeats it with her, over and over again. Contains: one moderately graphic sexual scene and one violent torture scene involving meat hooks. Night Fighters by Rob Smith. Available new paperback. It is , and, with England is taking a beating from the German bombing raids, seven vampires are recruited by the Royal Air Force to fly fighter planes at night.
Vampirism, in this case, is a hereditary medical condition—and few view the vampires as anything but freaks. Among the vampires are Crowe, who was abandoned as a child and tortured by doctors; Morgan, who grew up in a wealthy and loving family; and Raithe, who believes vampires are superior and the next evolutionary step for humans. Crowe, Morgan and the other vampires just want to fly, but circumstances may prevent that from ultimately happening.
I think Rob Smith gives a fresh and interesting perspective on vampires in Night Fighters. They are still powerful creatures, but they can die like regular humans…. The character development is excellent and the origin of vampirism is quite brilliant. Some of the characters were kept vague enough to really keep you guessing as to their motives and loyalties. My only real beef with Night Fighters is that the end, although raising some intriguing possibilities, was a bit too neat and tidy for my taste; I generally like my horror messy and unpredictable.
Overall, it is a great story, and something different when it comes to vampires. Contains: violence, adult language and adult situations. Hyperion, ISBN Freya is a sexy bartender; her sister Ingrid is a reserved librarian; and Joanna, their mother, is a talented cook who can raise the dead.
Meanwhile, Joanna is contacted by the spirit of a witch hanged during the days of witch trials and is compelled to try to rescue her. Everything is kept pretty light with humor, the foibles of relationships, girl talk about food and love, and some very charming pixies. I now know that the second book in a series can be better than the first. Where the first book seemed to me chick-witch lit up until the last 40 pages when it changed genres to fantasy, this installment starts out and stays fantasy. Several of the characters have acquired some dimension by now — especially Joanna, who must deal with losing and regaining her husband and children numerous times through the centuries, and who seems the most genuine of the characters.
It is sometimes confusing at the end with mistakes chalked up to memory loss, mistaken identities, the meaning of the serpent, and the corresponding mythological characters. The books seem very Young Adult as opposed to adult in orientation. I think that libraries serving de la Cruz fans will want to add this book and the sequel when it comes out, as readers will want to learn how these modern day Norse gods and goddesses fare.
Desdaemona by Ben Macallan. Solaris, Desdaemona follows the story of Jordan, on the run from his parents, who plan to make him immortal when he becomes of age. While on the run, he helps find other runaways--because who better to find a runaway than another runaway that knows all the best hiding spots and tricks? Enter Desdaemona, or Desi for short, who enlists Jordan's help to find her sister Fay, who has gotten herself mixed up with some very bad immortals.
As their search begins, so do a lot of crazy and dangerous escapades that make Jordan second-guess his decision to help out Desi, despite his raging hormones. Honestly, I had a really hard time getting through this novel. Some sections of the book I really got into, but then others made me wish I was already on the final chapter. I am glad I stuck through to the end, though, as some of the stuff near the end of the book was quite intense, and I really liked one of the characters introduced late in the book. I will most likely read the next book in the series to see how things go now that the characters have been fleshed out.
This first book just felt like the author was struggling a bit with getting his voice and writing style sorted out, but I have hope that in future books this won't be an issue for Macallan, as he does seem to have some really good tales to tell. The fact that he pulls in so many different creatures, going beyond just the typical vampires and werewolves found in urban fantasy, makes him stand out drastically from many of today's urban fantasy authors.
I would definitely recommend giving Desdaemona a try if you can handle a little frustration along the way, as the book does turn out to be well worth it in the end. Reviewed by: Rhonda Wilson. Isis Unbound by Allyson Byrd. Dark Regions Press, Available: Trade paperback. Allyson Byrd is dead set on turning the genre on its ear. Mission accomplished. Isis Unbound is a first-time Stoker winner, and the award is well deserved.
Although Isis Unbound combines a variety of genres, she never loses track of the horror element. Steampunk, zombies, historical thriller, mythology, and fantasy - all live on and thrive here. In Isis Unbound, the famed Cleopatra and Antony take charge of the world in a parallel timeline and construct an empire with few limits, with the help of the goddess Isis. She assists them in building a kingdom that far outreaches the original Egyptian or Roman empires. Then the story fast forwards to England, where their family still rules, but a wrinkle threatens all; Isis' sister, Nepythys, has murdered her, and with that action, closes off the door to the underworld.
The duo of heroines in the story, Ella and Loli, are the kind of strong females the genre needs more of, and these two live on the page with a fervor. Their jobs as embalmers being trained in the mummification process do not define them, but enhance their personalities. Fans of multi-genre novels such as those by the multi-faceted Tim Powers need to check in here and get reading.
It's well worth the effort. Reviewed by: Dave Simms. Angry Robot, Available in print new and used , e-book, MP3, and audio-CD form. Among the urban fantasy heroines crowding the market, Miriam Black stands out for her indifference to the good-versus-evil conflict that has those other leather-clad tough girls up in arms. Miriam has never worn leather in her life and is pretty sure that she probably is one of the bad guys.
She witnesses their final moments and knows exactly when the death will occur. For several years, Miriam has been traveling the country, hitching rides and sticking around if a death is close so that she can scavenge money and credit cards. The titular blackbirds show up in several variations throughout the book. The story follows Miriam as she meets up with a blackmailing con man and gets dragged into his dangerous world. The story is told in three strands: 1.
In One Week, In Two Weeks – The Call Of The Sirens
A crime spree committed by two assassins Frankie and Harriet as they track down Ashley to punish him for his past crimes against their psychotic mobster boss; 3. This is a terrific beginning for what looks to be a great new series, with imaginative world-building and well-developed characters. Harriet reminded me of Samuel L. The humor is dark and sardonic, filled with pop cultural references that liven up the dialogue. Miriam is a great character, a societal outsider who courageously confronts the world on her own terms while dealing with visions that would drive most people to suicide.
Contains: coarse language, profanity, and graphic violence. The Darkening Dream by Andy Gavin. Mascherato Press, Available: New, Used, e-book. Gavin envelops the reader with his spell-binding imagery fashioning a narrative that will send chills to your very soul. Sarah Engelmann is pious, devout, and spiritual. She leads a life of sincerity, and this dedication leaves no room for imaginary creatures. Her life is turned upside down when she finds a young man who has been grotesquely murdered. Sarah receives visions of bloody trees and hears the haunting voice of a long dead woman as secrets from the past begin to arise.
Sarah, along with her best friends, and her growing romantic interest, soon become wrapped in a -year old fight in which her very life and soul are dependent. By combining her faith and intelligence, Sarah attempts to conquer what others had only dreamed of doing. From the ashes, a new Sarah emerges. Review by Dave Simms. Broods of Fenrir by Coral Moore. Broods of rir can't decide if it's urban fantasy or horror, so of course, I loved it.
Brand is the rightful king of the Broods lines of werewolves but after growing up under the cruel rule of his father, he rejects the Broods to live a solitary life. They force him to return using his one weakness—protecting women. Of course, one has to wonder how a man raised in such a horrible, violent environment manages to survive with any respect for women or men. Broods is engaging, vivid and energetic. And moody. Definitely recommended. Contains: Rape situations, violence, language, sex.
The series features female werewolf Ayla Hammond, a former lone wolf who has recently returned to her pack, and her human girlfriend Shannon. Dark Hunt follows on from Silver Kiss , and sees the couple travelling to Paris to recover and relax following the horrors of the previous story.
- Physical acoustics, vol.12: principles and methods;
- Constitutions, Courts and History: Historical Narratives in Constitutional Adjudication.
- The Crystal Necklace - The Primary Instructions for Removing the Darkness;
No sooner have they arrived, however, they are drawn into another adventure — this time dealing with the mysterious creature known as Le Monstre , which has been stalking the streets of Paris. Torn between wanting to spend some time together and repair the damage done to their relationship by the events of the previous novel, and the loyalty Ayla feels to the Parisian werewolves they meet, Ayla and Shannon are once again tested physically, mentally, and emotionally, as they investigate the true nature of Le Monstre.
Dark Hunt is also a thriller, and offers a quirky take on some standard paranormal story devices. One criticism would be that the plot is not resolved in as satisfactory way as Silver Kiss , and the ending seems rather abrupt and hurried. However, the final showdown is climactic and brutal, and the narrative flows well until the final chapters. Contains: Some sex and violence. Reviewed by: Hannah Kate. Biting Dog Publications, Part of my initial love for the original book was that it came out when I was involved in live action role playing, so I gleefully imagined some of the characters I had to deal with in the game getting into a showdown with Sonja Blue.
Now Biting Dog has released a White Wolf-free version of A Dozen Black Roses , which makes it less like a shoe-horned effort to keep a star author like Collins writing while also pushing White Wolf role playing games, and more like an actual Sonja Blue novel. Collins' vampire hunting vampire, Sonja Blue, was one of my first loves in horror although now the books might be considered urban fantasy. She's a unique character, from her creation story, to her split personality, to her punk rock attitude. Collins is known for her loving descriptions of ultraviolence, and easily keeps up in a genre that seems to be boy territory.
In fact, Sonja shaking up the old boy's network is a key theme in this book, making it all the more fun. In A Dozen Black Roses , Sonja faces down the two vampire lords of Deadtown, vicious vampires who barely even notice humans, except as pawns in their quest for power and personal indulgence. Highly recommended for public and private collections. Contains: violence, language, drug use, rape. Switchblade Goddess by Lucy A. Switchblade Goddess is the third book in Snyder's Jessie Shimmer series. I strongly advise you start with the first one, not just so you know what's going on, but also so you understand the extremely graphic nature of the author's style.
In the last book Jessie faced down Miko, a half-demon daughter of the Japanese death goddess. In Switchblade Goddess , we get a good look at Miko's past, and learn that as bad as she is, she's only an instrument in an eons-old battle for human souls, a battle in which Jessie is now a prize.
The Jessie Shimmer books outrageous and enjoyable, total standouts from the rest of the urban fantasy scene. They're a hardcore, punk view in a middle class genre not that there's anything wrong with UF in the first place. Recommended for public libraries with strong audiences for horror fiction and dark fantasy.
Contains: Sex, violence, language, rape. Odd Hours by Dean Koontz. Bantam Dell, Odd Thomas is a Shakespeare-spouting protagonist who, after losing his true love, longs for a quiet life. Yet, peace is kept out of reach due to his extra sensory abilities, including communicating with the dead.
He is led by a haunting dream of a destructive red tide to protect the mysterious stranger Annamaria. With help from his ghostly friends Elvis, Frank Sinatra and pooch Boo as well as a few earthly angels, Odd faces tough opposition. Whimsical characters initiate high action in the very first chapter. Attacks from police chief Hoss Shackett and his assorted evil comrades provide suspense which never wavers in this fast- paced spin, encompassing less than a day.
Odd Hours is a recommended purchase for young adult 9 th grade and older and adult patrons of public libraries. Harper Voyager; Original edition, Available: New. The German army has introduced a new weapon to the battlefield; a gas that turns the dead into zombies hungry for the flesh of the living, who can be controlled with electrical collars. When legendary Allied pilot Major Jack Freeman is shot down by a zombified Red Baron over enemy territory and taken captive by the Germans, Captain Michael Burke, a seasoned veteran of trenches, is recruited to lead a small party to go in and rescue him.
What Burke uncovers during his mission could spell the end of the Allies and lead to German victory. Joseph Nassise offers up a compelling alternate history novel that combines zombies, mysticism and a little bit of steampunk, all set during the First World War There is plenty of action that will keep readers turning pages and the characters have been well thought out that will leave readers rooting for Burke and Freeman. By the Blood of Heroes is a must for library collections, as it is not only well written, but crosses multiple genres and will have wide appeal.
Nassise has scored a hit with the first book leaving readers wanting more. Contains: violence, murder, some gore. Blood Rights by Kristen Painter. Orbit, Available: new and used trade paperback, mass market paperback; e-book. Mal lives on a rusted-out ship with Fiona, a ghost, and Doc, a cursed shifter who used to be a leopard but now can only shift into a house cat. Then they and their friends go off to rescue Aunt Maris, who has been kidnapped by the villainess, Tatiana, a powerful ancient vampire who is in league with the Castus Sanguis —fallen angels with demonic qualities and enormous power.
Angst levels are high for just about every character. Mal, in particular, is forced to relive some horrific scenes from his past. The book is weakened by its many one-note scenes with the evil Tatiana, as she does one graphically horrific thing after another. Chrysabelle is supposed to be years old, but she comes across as an immature adolescent, with lots of whiny sullenness. Her weapons training occurred during her pre-patron days, when she was very young.
That training is a century behind her, but she still has impossibly great skills—hard to believe. The relationship between Chrysabelle and Mal is believable, with both having very different pasts with lots of secrets. For me, this book had a number of first-book weaknesses, but an interesting mythology. Contains: graphic, bloody violence. Reviewed by: Patricia Mathews. Flesh and Blood by Kristen Painter. Orbit The othernatural world is coping with the break in the ancient covenant between humans and othernaturals. Each character is struggling with the situation. Doc crosses a few scary lines in his efforts to bring Fiona back to her ghostly, semi-amorphous form.
In this book, we also learn how Doc was cursed and are introduced to the witches who were involved. The plot line combines all of these story threads in a final climactic scene. One problem with this series is that the characters are so self-serving. Some may do a few good deeds, but each one has his or her own personal agenda, and not one of them is totally trustworthy. Chrysabelle continues to behave like a spoiled young girl.
Bad Blood by Kristen Painter. As usual, there are several story threads woven through the plot. This involves a side trip to New Orleans, where they have adventures with various Fae. Another thread follows the ghost girl, Fiona, and her lover, the leopard varcolai Doc, as Doc deals with the compulsion spell put on him by a witch after he walked through her witch smoke in the previous book. The witch wants the ring of sorrows, and she also wants a mysterious half-vampire child that Doc first saw in the final pages of the previous book. The mayor is just beginning to realize that powerful othernaturals are running amok in her city, and she enlists the aid of Creek and Doc to help her control the growing bloodlust—particularly during Samhain.
A fourth story line follows the antics of the power-mad Tatiana as she sends her vampire minions to try to capture Chrysabelle and Mal. Both Tatiana and the witch have several interactions with one of the Ancients, who also wants both the ring of sorrows and the vampire child. The plot is, obviously, extremely dense with subplots, emotional and physical trauma, and actions and reactions from just about every character.
At this point, the series is much stronger than it was back in book 1. All of the characters are better developed, and most have their own back stories and motivations. Chrysabelle is not so whiny and sullen this time around. Mal loves Chrysabelle deeply and plans to do everything he can to assist her, while trying desperately not to give in to his voices and drink her dry. Tatiana has to adjust to a major change in her family life while still maintaining her power base. If you plan to start reading this series, you should definitely begin with book 1 so that you can keep up with the history from book to book.
Chizine Publications, Available: paperback and multiformat ebook. Sharp, dark, and with a drug-induced dystopian flare, Katja From the Punk Band is the story of chemical dealers, druggies and dreamers, all on a quest to escape their island prison. An unconventional collection of anti-heroes and antagonists, it's remarkably similar to the gritty tales of Sonja Blue by Nancy A. It's a toss-up whether the sheer violence wins out over the theme of the struggle to find a better life.
But it's all good, dark and fast-paced, like being stuck in a trunk during a drunken joyride. Recommended for horror collections looking for something outside of the same old authors and styles. Contains: violence, language, drug use. Reviewed by: Michele Lee. Dead Iron by Devon Monk. Roc, ISBN: X. Available: new and used trade paperback; e-book. This is the first book in The Age of Steam series, which begins in the isolated town of Halleluljah, Oregon in the late s. Hallelujah has pinned its hopes for prosperity on the new railroad that is inching its way toward them. In this steampunk world, daily life is much as you would expect it to be in the Old West, except that gadgetry is everywhere, with gizmos called matics, or tickers, doing much of the busywork.
The matics are made of brass and other metals, and run by gears, usually powered by steam. The people who create the matics—almost always men—are called devisers. The primary source of evil in this world is the Strange, which is made up of evil spirits who cause trouble in a multitude of ways.
The villain is the seemingly human Shard LeFel, a wealthy railroad tycoon who was banished from his Strange homeland and is desperate to get back before the next waning moon. LeFel has set up his headquarters in three specially built railway cars. Shunt, a Strange who is ensconced in a matics body that appears to be human. In order to go through a portal and back into the Strange, LeFel needs the blood of a dreaming child, a wolf, and a witch. The plot follows his efforts to attain all three while the good guys try to stop him.
The story is filled with action, with murderous matics, bullying drunks and a witch-hating mob. After the climactic ending, the surviving characters head East for their next adventures. The mythology is fresh and inventive, and the characters are complex and well drawn. By the end, I found myself eager to know what will come next for each one. Contains: high levels of graphic, bloody violence. Blood Bound by Rachel Vincent.
Mira, Available: mass market paperback: e-book: audio CD. This is the first book in the Unbound Trilogy , an urban fantasy series. In this world, there are no shifters or vampires or demons. Instead, there are the Skilled—people who are born with special magical Skills, including Tracking locating a person or object through blood or full name , Seeing forecasting future events , and Binding binding people to magical contracts that, if broken, result in pain or death.
The general public is aware of these Skills and use them behind the scenes, which has led to the growth of a black market in which mob leaders attempt to recruit and control as many of the Skilled as they can. The two major mob leaders are Jake Tower and Ruben Cavazos. Liv is bound to the cruel and vicious Cavazos, a powerful Binder. She has been unsuccessfully searching for 18 months, and she has just six more months before her contract ends. The scenes between Liv and Cavazos are disturbing, with physical violence on both sides, but with Liv always getting the worst of it. The chemistry between Liv and Cam is sizzling, with just the right amount of sexual tension running through all of their scenes.
She also forces Liv to partner with Cam for the investigation. Liv and Cam must try to get around the various oaths that bind them so that they can rescue the girl. Blood Bound is told in the first person, switching back and forth in point of view from Liv to Cam. This is confusing the first time it happens, but then you get used to it. Vincent handles the difficulties of first person narrative with the ease of a veteran.
Each character has a back story that creates empathy on the part of the reader, and no one is all good or all bad. Even Cavazos and his crazed wife, who are awful human beings, have some good in them. The plot is intricate, and it plays out in a compelling manner. Contains: graphic violence and sexuality. Shadow Blade by Seressia Glass.
Pocket, Available: Mass market paperback and multiformat digital. Kira's life is scarred by magic. Unable to touch others because of her power, she is educated both in history and in the skills necessary to becoming a slayer of the creatures of the Shadow. Now, as an adult, she's a powerful Shadowchaser, a fighter for a secret organization dedicated to preserving the balance between Chaos and Light.
As a follower of Ma'at, balance is very important to Kira. A friend brings a powerful—and evil—ancient blade to her for protection, and then ends up dead in an alley. His death exposes connections to Kira she didn't even know they had, and she feels the loss even more keenly. Then a mysterious and sexy Nubian warrior claiming to be the blade's owner appears, and when Kira discovers he can touch her without suffering the death that most people do, it changes everything for her. Shadow Blade is a fantastic Egyptian-themed urban fantasy with a lead character who's the strong, calm type.
Shadow Blade a fun, enjoyably complex read. Definitely recommended for urban fantasy fans and public collections. Contains: sexual situations, violence, language. The Hunter by Theresa Meyers. Zebra Available: new and used mass market paperback; e-book. This is the first book in the Legend Chronicles steampunk series, which the author describes as a mash up of the TV show Supernatural and the movie Wild Wild West. In this alternate Old West world, the three Jackson brothers Winchester, Remington, and Colt are trying to track down the ancient Book of Legend, which has been broken into three parts and hidden away.
The brothers must find all three parts so that they can close the Gates of Nyx, which are currently open, allowing demonic creatures of the Darkin to enter the mortal world. In Darkin legend, the Jackson brothers are the Chosen ones, who will to bring down the Darkin and save the mortal world.
Since the brothers were raised to hunt down and kill all supernaturals, the fact that their sweethearts are all supernatural leads to countless angst-filled interior monologues, both for the brothers and their soul mates. As the series begins, Colt, the youngest brother, is the only one who knows the importance of the Book.
When Colt explains the Darkin problem to Winn and Remy, they agree to help him. This world is filled with the usual steampunk gadgetry, goggles, and guns. Unfortunately, the steampunk elements serve primarily as props rather than being an integral part of life. We just see the brothers using various gear-driven widgets or steam-powered thingamajigs to get themselves out of tight spots.
Related The Sirens (The Midnight Eye Files, Book 2)
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