Beneath the Sugar Sky—Living Statues and Soda Seas

Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire book cover
Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire

Beneath the Sugar Sky, a novella by Seanan McGuire, finds us back in Eleanore West’s Home for Wayward Children—where the children who go to another world and then come back to ours go in hopes of finding their way back to that other world. When a girl in a cotton candy dress falls out of the sky and into the turtle pond, the students find their questing days aren’t yet over. 

1—The Quest

Rini—the girl who fell out of the sky—has come to get her mother Sumi and bring her back to the world of Confection—except was murdered in the first book in the Wayward Children series. Rini, Kade, Cora, Nadya, and Christopher decide to go on a quest to resurrect Sumi before the Queen of Cakes—whom Sumi was supposed to/will defeat—comes back from her own death to oppress Confection. Also, so Rini can exist in the first place—pieces of her keep disappearing. But first they have to find all the parts of Sumi—her bones, her soul, her shadow/nonsense. And to do that, they’ll have to travel to various worlds that aren’t quite home—but might be closer to home than Earth is. Continue reading “Beneath the Sugar Sky—Living Statues and Soda Seas”

The Affair of the Mysterious Letter—Mysterious and Weird, As it Should Be

The Affair of the Mysterious Letter by Alexis Hall book cover
The Affair of the Mysterious Letter by Alexis Hall

The Affair of the Mysterious Letter, by Alexis Hall, is a mashup and mixup of Sherlock Holmes fiction and Weird fiction. The reserved expatriate ex-solider John Wyndham takes rooms with the profligate sorceress Shaharazad Haas. Shortly thereafter, one of Ms. Haas’s former lovers comes to her demanding Shaharazad find out who’s blackmailing her.

1—The Mystery

Told in the first person as the reminiscences of John Wyndham, this is the tale of his and Shaharazad’s first adventures together. Miss Eirene Viola comes to Shaharazad believing it to be she who’s sending Eirene notes threatening to expose her past to her fiancé, Miss Cora Beck, thus ending their engagement. When convinced Shharazad has nothing to do with it, Eirene plies her former lover to help. Mostly out of boredom, Shaharazad agrees. Thus does John find himself dragged all over the city of Khelathra-Ven and beyond. Continue reading “The Affair of the Mysterious Letter—Mysterious and Weird, As it Should Be”

Dracula—the Book—A Slow Start but Worth the Effort

Dracula, by Bram Stoker, is a gothic horror novel from 1897, told in epistolary format—that is, as a series of journals, telegrams, letters, and newspaper clippings, etc. It’s the tale of those cursed to have a vampire come after them. It starts with the journal of Jonathan Harker, sent by his employer to the wilds of Eastern Europe to help Count Dracula with legal matters in purchasing property in London, England. Things go spectacularly wrong from there.

(Watch Overly Sarcastic Productions’s summary and commentary on Dracula, it’s great.)

1—Coincidence Upon Coincidence

The first coincidence is that Dracula’s ship crashes into the beach of the town where Jonathan’s fiancé Mina is staying, along with her friend Lucy. The next coincidence is that all Lucy’s would-be fiancés are friends. The chosen fiancé Arthur Holmwood asks Dr. John Seward (I know, Jonathan and John, but it’s not too hard to keep them separate) to look in on a sick Lucy. Seward, not being a medical doctor himself, calls on his old mentor. Seward just happens to have been the favorite student of doctor and metaphysisist Professor Abraham van Helsing, who just so happens to have the knowledge of—and an open enough mind to believe in—vampires. And the initial property Dracula bought, the dilapidated Carfax Abbey, just happens to be behind the sanitarium Seward runs. Also, Seward just happens to take a special interest in a zoophagous patient, Renfield, who just happens to have a connection to Dracula. And all this in the first third of the book. Continue reading “Dracula—the Book—A Slow Start but Worth the Effort”

Dead Until Dark—The Dead, the Undead, and a Serial Killer

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris book cover
Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

Dead Until Dark, by Charlaine Harris, is a paranormal cozy mystery romance. It’s told from the first-person perspective of Sookie Stackhouse, a waitress and mind reader in the little southern town of Bon Temps, and her first encounter with a vampire—who she falls in love with. Of course, said vampire is a suspect in some local murders, as is Sookie’s brother.

1—Sookie

Sookie thinks of her mind reading ability as a disability. It makes it difficult to interact normally with people, difficult to concentrate on anything much more than just keeping other people out of her head. She’s careful not to invade people’s privacy, especially her boss Sam’s. She likes her job as a waitress at Merlotte’s and doesn’t want to have to give it up. So when Bill comes in and she can’t read his mind, Sookie immediately takes to him. Continue reading “Dead Until Dark—The Dead, the Undead, and a Serial Killer”

Ciaphas Cain: Hero of the Imperium—Echoes of the Tomb and Caves of Ice

Ciaphas Cain: Hero of the Imperium by Sandy Mitchell book cover
Ciaphas Cain: Hero of the Imperium by Sandy Mitchell

Ciaphas Cain: Hero of the Imperium is an omnibus volume containing the first three Ciaphas Cain books, as well as three short stories. They’re by Sandy Mitchell. Part of the Warhammer 40,000 universe, this is a lighter take on the series that coined the term “Grimdark” —note that it’s still pretty damned bleak, but as these are the private memoirs of the titular Ciaphus Cain, we know at least he survives.

1—Echoes of the Tomb

This is the short story wherein Ciaphas first encounters the necrons. The tech-priests have discovered some archeotech on a deserted, dead planet that somehow has some breathable atmosphere. They shortly discover a strange machine that isn’t as dead as it should be. It’s a creepy little story, and everyone but Cain dies. It also ends rather abruptly, but I’m willing to forgive that in a short story. Continue reading “Ciaphas Cain: Hero of the Imperium—Echoes of the Tomb and Caves of Ice”

Some Girls Bite—Vampires Come Out of the Coffin and Into the Limelight

Some Girls Bite by Chloe Neill book cover
Some Girls Bite by Chloe Neill

Some Girls Bite, by Chloe Neill, is told from the first-person perspective of Merit, a newly minted vampire. Having been attacked by a rogue vampire and nearly killed, she was saved and changed by Master vampire Ethan Sullivan and now has to contend with a new and unexpected life.

1—Merit

Merit is having a hard time adjusting to her new life as a vampire—she was unimpressed when they came out to the public and shared their existence. Merit doesn’t want to be a vampire, which surprises Ethan Sullivan. She doesn’t want to be attracted to Ethan, who also doesn’t want to be attracted to her, but is. Merit doesn’t want to be kicked out of school, or to have to dress in formal black attire the entire time, or…the list goes on. And to top it off, the day she’s to swear allegiance to Ethan and Cadogan House is coming up fast—and Merit doesn’t know if she’s going to give her oath or become an outcast Rogue for the rest of her very, very long life. Continue reading “Some Girls Bite—Vampires Come Out of the Coffin and Into the Limelight”

Kitty and the Midnight Hour—Werewolves on the Radio

Kitty and the Midnight Hour by Carrie Vaughn book cover
Kitty and the Midnight Hour by Carrie Vaughn

Kitty and the Midnight Hour, by Carrie Vaughn, is about the titular Kitty Norville, a werewolf who works in radio. She accidentally turns her music show into a talk radio show for the supernatural and it throws her life into chaos.

1—Pack Politics

There’s a lot of politicking going on that Kitty isn’t initially aware of, but it soon threatens her life. The first threat comes in the form of an assassin, whom Kitty talks out of killing her, while staying on the air of course. The next threats come from within the pack. And finally, there’s a werewolf serial killer on the loose, and since Kitty’s alphas won’t do anything about it, she teams up with the aforementioned assassin to stalk the serial killer out herself. Continue reading “Kitty and the Midnight Hour—Werewolves on the Radio”

Warlock Holmes: A Study in Brimstone—The Beginning of the End of the World

Warlock Holmes: A Study in Brimstone by G. S. Denning book cover
Warlock Holmes: A Study in Brimstone by G. S. Denning

Warlock Homes: A Study in Brimstone, by G. S. Denning, is a fantastic, comedic take on Sherlock Homes, and is just as ludicrously fun as it sounds. Being the journal of one Dr. John Watson, it chronicles his first cases with the bumbling but powerful Warlock Holmes, and starts with John’s apology for ending the world.

1—The Characters

I loved the characters in this book. There is, of course, Dr. Watson, who narrates. Watson is observant and sarcastic—not to most of the people he speaks with, but to his reader, and, once comfortable with him, to Warlock. Next there’s Warlock Holmes himself, who is less than observant, and yet endearingly so. There’s Vladislav Lestrade, a nihilistic vampire and Scotland Yard detective, as is Torg Grogsson, an honorable ogre with a love of ballet dancers. There’s also a host of characters that don’t repeat from story to story, each with their own individual quirks. Continue reading “Warlock Holmes: A Study in Brimstone—The Beginning of the End of the World”

The Devil You Know—Ghosts, Demons, and the Exorcist Caught in the Middle

The Devil You Know by Mike Carey book cover
The Devil You Know by Mike Carey

The Devil You Know, by Mike Carey, follows the first-person perspective adventures of exorcist Felix Castor. Felix—Fix to his friends—hasn’t been doing his job lately. After a botched exorcism on his best friend Rafi leaves Rafi intertwined with a demon, Fix looses the will to do what he was born to do. But when his dear friend and landlady Pen needs some rent money badly, Fix reluctantly takes on a job—a job that turns out to be much more than a simple ghost.

1—The Worldbuilding

The worldbuilding is done well, woven into the narrative, never too much at once but always building your understanding of the world Fix inhabits. The dead have risen in sufficient numbers that people can’t just ignore them anymore so there’s plenty of work for the few people with the talent to be exorcists. Besides your garden variety ghosts, there’s zombies—where a dead person re-inhabits their dead body—and loup-garou—where a ghost inhabits an animal and reshapes its flesh into their lost human image. Continue reading “The Devil You Know—Ghosts, Demons, and the Exorcist Caught in the Middle”

Deadpool 2—Family and Lots of Death

Deadpool 2 movie poster
Deadpool 2

Deadpool 2 is a little hard to describe succinctly. Wade Wilson, Deadpool, is a super non-hero who finds himself suicidal after the death of the love of his life, but due to his mutant healing ability, he can’t die. The movie is funnier than it sounds. Also, like its predecessor, NOT for kids. Graphic violence and sex jokes abound.

1—They Kill Vanessa, Goddamnit

I liked Vanessa, she was well developed and fun. Even the beginning credits call out how cruel it was to kill her just as she and Wade were about to start a family. That doesn’t mean she’s absent from the movie—Wade keeps seeing her as he almost dies—but I still miss her. Continue reading “Deadpool 2—Family and Lots of Death”