License to Ensorcell—Good But Not Spellbinding

License to Ensorcell by Katharine Kerr book cover
License to Ensorcell by Katharine Kerr

License to Ensorcell, by Katharine Kerr, is an urban fantasy told from first person point of view. Set in modern day San Francisco, the story follows psychic agent Nola O’Grady as she seeks out a serial killer of werewolves.

1—Nola

Nola O’Grady works for an organization so secret even she won’t even tell the reader its name. She’s an agent of Harmony tasked with finding and stopping Chaos breaches. Serial killers aren’t usually in her bailiwick but this one is using silver bullets to kill his targets. And of course, it turns out that this same killer is the one who murdered her own brother a year ago. Continue reading “License to Ensorcell—Good But Not Spellbinding”

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Murder on the Orient Express, the Movie (2017)—A Well-Done Version of a Classic

Murder on the Orient Express movie 2017
Murder on the Orient Express

Directed by and starring Kenneth Branagh as the inimical detective, Hercule Poirot, Murder on the Orient Express is adapted from one of murder mystery maven Agatha Christie’s best known books.

1—Well Paced and Characterized

Murder on the Orient Express has a lot to set up in little time, lots of clues and characters to introduce, but neither pacing nor characterization feels cheated. Everything flows naturally, including the gradual shift in tone from the lighthearted beginning to the emotional struggles of the climax. Continue reading “Murder on the Orient Express, the Movie (2017)—A Well-Done Version of a Classic”

Strange Practice: A Dr. Greta Helsing Novel—The Monster Doctor is In

Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw book cover
Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw

Strange Practice, by Vivian Shaw, follows Dr. Greta Helsing, Lord Edmund Ruthven, and Sir Francis Varney as they try to stay alive while being hunted through modern day London by mad medieval monks. It’s a lot of fun.

1—Mad Monks and Blue Light

There’s been a series of killings in London but what no one knows is that the killers aren’t just targeting humans but supernatural creatures as well. At least they don’t know until Varney turns up on Ruthven’s doorstep stabbed half to death and babbling about monks. Turns out there’s a new/ancient order running around “cleansing” the world of the wicked—and everyone is wicked. Continue reading “Strange Practice: A Dr. Greta Helsing Novel—The Monster Doctor is In”

Penny Dreadful Season One—Dreadfully Good

Penny Dreadful tv series
Penny Dreadful

Penny Dreadful is a Gothic horror series that mashes up stories from the 1800s—Dracula, Frankenstein, The Picture of Dorian Gray, etc. The story centers on Vanessa Ives, who along with Sir Malcolm Murray and several others, try to save Sir Malcolm’s daughter Mina from a vampire.

Be aware, there is full frontal nudity of men and women in this show. Not a lot, but it’s there.

1—Monsters

The vampires in Penny Dreadful aren’t the suave sexy kind—they’re grey-skinned, have many sharp teeth, and rip into people, and were never human. The vampire’s human servants are transformed to an extent—white-haired women, all craving blood and fresh flesh. There’s Frankenstein’s Monster, strangely sympathetic for all his murderous ways. It could be said that all the characters are monstrous in their way. There is also a werewolf. Continue reading “Penny Dreadful Season One—Dreadfully Good”

Whispers Under Ground—Trouble Under London

Whispers Under Ground by Ben Aaronovitch book cover
Whispers Under Ground by Ben Aaronovitch

Whispers Under Ground, by Ben Aaronovitch, is the third in the Rivers of London series. This time wizard’s apprentice and police constable Peter Grant is investigating the stabbing death of an American art student who happens to be the son of a senator.

1— Mysterious Places

This book’s adventure sees Peter spending much of his time underground. The murder starts in a subway tunnel and leads Peter to an old ceramics company, and thus to a race of large-eyed pale people living in the sewers. There’s also an art galley and a Goblin Market, both of which places a River Goddess shows up. Continue reading “Whispers Under Ground—Trouble Under London”

Villains By Necessity—Necessary Fantasy

Villains by Necessity by Eve Forward book cover
Villains by Necessity by Eve Forward

Villains By Necessity, by Eve Forward, is one of my favorite books. It’s a stand alone book that works both as epic fantasy and as a subversion thereof. It follows the world’s last villains—an assassin, a thief, an evil sorceress—and a neutral druid (plus one minstrel spy for Good) as they try to save the world by restoring evil to it.

1—The Premise

The armies of Good have vanquished the armies of Evil and sealed the Darkgate, thus ending the influx of evil into the world. This is a problem. The world is now out of balance and going to be sublimated in Light.  Continue reading “Villains By Necessity—Necessary Fantasy”

Night Child—CSI With Mages

Night Child by Jes Battis book cover
Night Child by Jes Battis

Night Child, by Jes Battis, is an urban fantasy set in Vancouver. Tess Corday is an OSI, a member of the Mystical Crime Lab, which is secret from the normal world, even the rest of the police force.

1—Technical Magic

There’s a lot of technical terminology, with enough explanation that I didn’t get lost. Even Tess’s turns of phrase and metaphors tend toward the technical descriptions of the body—blood, flesh, heartbeats, etc. And that’s before you get into the technical terms for magic, like “materia” and “necroid”. I won’t try to remember how she put it, just that there was a sense of poetry to it. Tess is also given to flights of poetic imagination. Continue reading “Night Child—CSI With Mages”

The Good Place Season One—A Good Twist Ending

The Good Place
The Good Place

The Good place is a fantasy sitcom (I think it’s a sitcom) about a woman who accidentally gets into heaven—the titular Good Place—and all the things that go wrong as she tries to keep her secret.

1—A Quirky Sense of Humor

Not that Eleanor is a Quirky Girl (TM). She’s actually a selfish jerk. But with the help of her “soulmate” Chidi, who was an ethics professor in life, Eleanore tries to learn to be a good person who actually deserves to be in The Good Place. Continue reading “The Good Place Season One—A Good Twist Ending”

Midnight, Texas Season One—Supernatural Fun

Midnight, Texas
Midnight, Texas

Midnight, Texas is a tv series based on a book series by Charlaine Harris. Psychic and conman Manfred is on the run and his dead Aunt suggests he hide out in the titular town.

1—Cast of Characters

Midnight is full of people with secrets and supernatural abilities. There’s vampire Lem and his human lover Olivia the assassin. There’s the Reverend Sheehan who runs the town’s chapel and pet cemetery, who’s a were-tiger. There’s husbands Joe and Chuy, a fallen angel and half-demon respectively. Bobo, another human who runs the pawnshop, and who’s missing fiancé turns up dead and kickstarts a bunch of trouble. And there’s Fiji, a powerful witch who’s in love with Bobo. And of course, now there’s Manfred, who has the lay of the town explained to him by local waitress and love interest Creek. Continue reading “Midnight, Texas Season One—Supernatural Fun”