Singer of Souls—Dark and Magical

Singer of Souls by Adam Stemple book cover
Singer of Souls by Adam Stemple

Singer of Souls by Adam Stemple is an urban fantasy novel given to me by a friend. Street musician Douglas “Doc” Stewart moves to his grandmother’s in Scotland trying to keep his heroine habit kicked when he meets an Elf woman who gives him a gift, the ability to see the Fey. Trouble soon follows.

1—Slow Build

Singer of Souls was an interesting read, different from most other urban fantasies I’ve read. It’s a slow build to the fantastic parts, about a quarter of the book until we start seeing the magic. And then there’s still world building to be done before the plot really takes off halfway through. I was never bored or impatient though. There are shorter term conflicts to keep the action going, and Douglas’s musical perspective on the world around him is interesting and fun. That said, this is a dark story.

2—A Dark Story

Major spoilers in this section. You’ve been warned.

Despite the magic it turns out Douglas has, he spends much of the book helpless to do much beyond survive, largely because he doesn’t know how to wield said magic. He gets beaten to all hell, and there’s a serial killer priest who preys on Fey. Not that I’m sympathetic to the Fey creatures as they kill humans for ingredients and steal babies to be raised as slaves. But the Father Croser’s basement is disturbing as fuck. Then There’s Grandma McLaren’s gruesome death. And while the book ends with victory, there’s not much humanity left in Douglas.


I enjoyed the book, with Stemple’s musical descriptions, even though I don’t know music well enough to put notes to them. And while not a typical happy ending, there is something satisfying about a vengeful triumph. Singer of Souls is a beautiful, dark, satisfying story.

Rat Queens Volumes 1 & 2—Damsels who Cause Distress

Rat Queens volume one Sass and Sorcery

Rat Queens The Far Reaching Tentacles of N'Rygoth
The Far Reaching Tentacles of N’Rygoth

Rat Queens is a comic by Kurtis J Wiebe with art by Roc Upchurch and later Stjepan Sejic, and published by Image Comics. It follows the adventures of the titular group in and around the town of Palisade. Volume 1: Sass and Sorcery, and volume 2: the Far Reaching Tentacles of N’Rygoth comprise a full story arc which is why I’m reviewing them together. Plenty of fights, some nudity and sex, and lots of cursing—in both senses of the word—Rat Queens is great fun but not for kids.

1—The Characters

The world of Rat Queens has a D&D RPG flavor to it, medieval-ish look with lots of magic, and lots of humor. The back of Sass and Sorcery describes the Rat Queens as “Hannah, the Rockabilly Elven Mage, Violet the Hipster Dwarven Fighter, Dee the Atheist Human Cleric and Betty the Hippy Smidgen Thief.” Hannah, the leader of the group, is the most violent of the bunch, with Violet a close second. But whereas Violet is more professional about it, Hannah is definitely having too much fun. The most tactful, prudent, and introverted of the Rat Queens is Dee, who actually saves some of her earnings instead of spending it all on booze and drugs, and stays sober during parties. And Betty, who brings drugs and candy for dinner, and also plucks out eyeballs—not as a hobby, just the once…that we’re shown, anyway. Continue reading “Rat Queens Volumes 1 & 2—Damsels who Cause Distress”

Miss Peregrin’s Home for Peculiar Children—Enchanting and Visceral

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a unique YA (young adult) novel as part of the tale is the vintage photographs scattered throughout the book.

1—A Peculiar Tale

I wasn’t certain what to expect when I opened Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children but what I got was subtle magic threaded through with both wonder and unease, punctuated by brutal violence. The story opens with Jacob finding his grandfather brutally killed and from there the story is a journey of discovery—equally a mystery and an adventure—about who his grandfather really was.

Continue reading “Miss Peregrin’s Home for Peculiar Children—Enchanting and Visceral”

Imprudence—The Spotted Custard Returns

Imprudence by Gail Carriger book cover
Imprudence by Gail Carriger

Imprudence, the second outing of The Custard Protocol series by Gail Carriger, is a fun supernatural steampunk adventure with a dash of romance. I love Ms Carrger’s turns of phrase and wit as well as her plotting, and I was not disappointed by this latest novel.

1—The Adventure

We are again following Rue and her crew, this time to Egypt. Rue (short for Prudence, which is also the title of the first book) needs to transport her parents there, into the zone of effect of the God-breaker Plague before her father, a werewolf, goes mad from Alpha’s curse. Of course that isn’t the only complication. Rue’s navigator and head engineer are in a academic snit—a snit which naturally leads to fisticuffs—over who published what discovery without crediting the other. And of course there’s the attacks of unknown source on Rue’s ship. And did I forget to mention the quest to find a lost pride of werelionesses? Continue reading “Imprudence—The Spotted Custard Returns”