Category: faries and fae


I’ve got a review written this week, and it’s even on time! This one’s thanks to the awesome folks at Tor, here is R. S. Belcher’s The Night Dahlia. Enjoy!

The Night Dahlia cover

Caern Ankou has been missing for several years. All the trails are cold and have been for quite some time. In desperation, her father brings in Laytham Ballard the only former Nightwise in the organization’s history. It’s simple, find the girl, save the soul of his lost love. Thing is, if Ballard wants to find Caern, he’s going to have to chase her across the world to do so. He’ll have to face former friends, old enemies, even the case that’s left him haunted ever since. Nothing to it.

The Night Dahlia is an interesting book in that it earned its way up from a one star read to a three star read and then back down to a two. There were cool ideas, yes, some of the ideas here were really cool. Some of the scenes were cool, but for every cool or impactful scene there are three that nullify anything that could have worked with them.

In a lot of ways, The Night Dahlia doesn’t feel confident. There’s this feeling like Belcher wasn’t comfortable with the emotive weight of key scenes and felt the need to hammer them home shortly after to make sure that the reader gets it. That lack of confidence killed a lot of moments for me, especially towards the end where the story hit a lot of what should have been big character moments only to fritter them away. It all winds up being a bit too neat considering how much of a mess the protagonist is supposed to be.

Laytham Ballard himself is also a big part of why a lot of scenes didn’t work. His whole deal is that he’s a bad man, a fallen hero driven rogue by one bad case. But then he spends enough of his time drunk or high or generally running away from himself and the plot that I could believe that he’s washed up, as so many minor characters tell him, but I have a hard time seeing him as more than that. He can come across as the creepy guy at the occult shop, insisting that he just knows a girl is a sensual creature just by looking and describing nearly every woman he runs into’s breasts. He can come across as slimy for the same reasons, plus his constant dodging of the rules of his contract. But Ballard doesn’t come across as the wicked fallen hero that he seems to want to be. There’s a scene that shows what could have been, where he’s legitimately kind of frightening and inflicts a pretty awful curse on a number of people because one of them annoyed him, but that’s once.

That actually feeds into a lot of my issues with The Night Dahlia and Laytham Ballard in particular.  It might be due to missing some of the set up in Nightwise, but a lot of the book just doesn’t land for me. Ballard makes a big point of talking about how his magic style is a mutt thrown together with stuff that works best for him, that could be really cool. But then, when he uses magic, his big thing is using his chakras and pushing energy through them. He uses the specific names of the chakras he’s using but then doesn’t generally explain what that means and the magic isn’t given sensory detail often beyond boiling or bubbling up through whichever chakra he’s using, so it winds up feeling lazy and a little disorienting.  Things just sort of pop up that could have been interesting concepts but either aren’t gone into or just feel too out there. Like Ballard having a random musical interlude at a bar while out looking for clues, he just sort of gets pulled into playing a set with some local band. Everyone there knows his old band and is just super pumped for this random guy to jump on with the band they actually came to see. A lot of it feels like is exists in service to Laytham Ballard rather than the plot.

There’s this really great bit about half way through that shows us a younger Ballard on the big life ruining case. It contextualizes him, gives a foundation to a lot of the things he does in the present day of the story. There’s still messy bits to the writing itself, but it does a lot to make me care about that version of Ballard. But then we jump back to the present and a Ballard who is still in the middle of his bad decisions and is still more about doing things his way than getting to the bottom of things. There’s a character arc here, but it’s done in a way that feels sort of fractured. Like I mentioned about, scenes that should have emotional impact happen but either only sort of land or don’t feel like they have any consequences.  Of course things not landing makes everything feel less impactful.

That’s where I’m left with The Night Dahlia. It had some nifty ideas, some moments that could have been super solid, and some just odd stuff. But it never landed right. It’s a book that felt like it had earned a single star up to around the half way mark and then nearly earned its way back down. It sort of always felt like I was just a touch out of the loop or hadn’t done my homework. The Night Dahlia gets a two out of five.

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Alright, I gave her a couple of extra days because I was late with the announcement, but I haven’t heard back from Loverofbooks. That said, Antane is the new winner!

Alright, I’m more than a little late posting this, and for that I am sorry, but we have a winner!

Loverofbooks, please email me your mailing address to receive your copy of The Exile.

So, I’ve been gone for awhile.  Work and all that, but I’m back and I bring tidings of good reads!  Thanks to the lovely people at Tor, I’ve got one copy of C. T. Adams’ new book The Exile up for grabs for readers in the United States and Canada.

This is a really cool sounding book about a half Fae witch living in the human world, selling magic trinkets and the occasional spell, unaware that in the relm of the Fae an ancient prophesy is coming to pass that will place all that she loves in danger.

To enter, post a comment on this post and tell me about what you look for in urban fantasy and a way to contact you if you win.

The winner will be randomly selected on Friday, March 6th and will have three days to get back to me with their shipping address.

Alright folks, lets do this thing.  Halloween is in three days and I’ve got a couple of books ready to find new homes.  This is a short one, three days two prizes, and the usual two ways to win.

Prize one is a once read review copy of C. Aubrey Hall’s Crystal Bones, a teen fantasy novel.

Prize two is a new copy of E.S. Moore’s Blessed By A Demon’s Mark, the third Kat Redding novel.

To enter, follow my blog and comment on this post telling me which prize you want and something that you really enjoy about Halloween.  For a second entry you can follow me on twitter @Tymp3st.

Contest will end at midnight Standard time on the 31st.  I’ll have winners posted on the first.

Remember folks, may the odds be ever in your favor.

Hi all, this is me popping in sometime after midnight with a review and much mumbling about missed sleep. I’m rather excited lately as classes seem to be getting off to a good start and I finally managed to find some red bean mochi and enough espresso Monsters to keep me for a couple of weeks.  Going to be job hunting for the next while, so my review schedule will still be a bit patchy for until I find employment.  That said, on to the review.

Agent of Death Madeline Black can’t catch a break, deaths are happening outside of what should be, she faces attacks from both inside her own family and without, and dear old Granddad wants her to go on a diplomatic mission for him.  A diplomatic mission to the faerie court where the last, better trained, diplomat was beheaded.  Add to that her bodyguard’s disappearance and what’s a girl to do?

In reviewing Christina Henry’s Black Night I really wish that I’d taken the time to also read the first novel in the series, Black Wings.  It wasn’t so much that this book didn’t stand on its own as that I felt a bit like the new person in a social group who has to have all of the in-jokes explained to them a few times before they get it.  The first person may have had something to do with that, Madeline’s speech patterns can get a bit formal in places and she has a tendency to repeat her opinions regarding other characters every time they’re mentioned. Not that either of those are bad necessarily, just that they have the potential to throw a reader out of the narrative flow.  There was a side plot involving werewolves dying outside of the natural order of death that could have been expanded on easily for another novel that was mostly left alone.

I’m going to admit that some of the sympathy for the devil aspects of the book threw me big time, this is one of the main reasons I wish I’d read Black Wings first.  Madeline seems completely not freaked out that her father is a fallen angel and her grandfather is Lucifer himself.  She gets bothered by their methods and the fact that they want to use her as a playing piece in some vast power play, but what they are doesn’t really seem to play into her reactions too much.  I would have liked to have seen her initial reaction to finding this out.

There was enough courtly intrigue to make me really want to see the faerie queen, Amarantha, take a long walk off a short pier along with just about every other named faerie.  Really, the faeries here seem to pretty well be an entire race of jerks with over inflated sense of self worth.  I can’t say that I was a big fan of most of the side characters, but I did enjoy reading Beezle and Madeline’s interactions.  Gabriel was probably supposed to be sympathetic, but he just came across as a bit of a nothing character or a pretty piece of scenery for Madeline to worry over.  I’d want to see more character development for just about everyone down the road.

So, what’s the verdict?  I enjoyed Black Night while reading it, but it isn’t terribly memorable.  I get the feeling that I would have enjoyed it more as part of the series because the writing is fairly solid, but as a standalone novel it’s kind of bland.  I give it a three out of five and a check through the local bookstores for the first one

I got a book in the mail today out of no where.  The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynn M. Valente may very well get the longest title of the year award, but I’m not quite sure where I got it from.  I’m guessing Goodreads since I’m fairly sure that I didn’t request it and there were no publicity things in with it.  But yeah, I’ve also been playing too much Echo Bazaar lately.

What’s this? A review posted on time?!  Wow, looks like it is.  End of Spring Break, I’m not going to post much here so I can get back to being around my family.  Enjoy the review!

Crystal Bones by C. Aubrey Hall is the second of the Marshall Cavendish books I was sent to review.  It is the first of a trilogy of teen fantasy novels featuring the half fae twins Diello and Cynthe.  It is also, again, aimed at a younger audience.

It all starts the night before the twins’ thirteenth birthday when Diello hears a voice in the storm calling his mother.  This is, of course, foreshadowing into their parents’ deep dark past, as mentioned in the blurb.  Diello is then disappointed when his father gives him a useful gift for his birthday rather than the traditional fun present and both twins are sent out to do their chores unlike any previous birthday they’ve had. The first few chapters seem to be pretty well dedicated to reminding the reader that growing up sucks.  There are however magic herbs in the morning milk which apparently get the fae either high or drunk and the fair is that day.  But they’re told not to go because of the dangers of being around humans.  It follows that an errand for their mother leads them right into the thick of the fair and straight towards danger!  The deck is stacked against our heroes, will they survive and figure out the mysteries surrounding their parents’ pasts or are they doomed to failure?

I’m going to say right off the bat that I got caught up in Crystal Bones about halfway through, where the meat of the story started.  Up until then had been mostly lead up, background, and foreshadowing which, while necessary to the overall plot, wasn’t particularly different from any other coming of age fantasy novel that I’ve read.  There were also some points where it felt like Cynthe could have been omitted from the book, while both twins were billed as the heroes in the blurb it  is very much Diello centric.   She does get some moments of awesomeness but, all told, could have been removed in favor of making Diello a bit more three dimensional. Hall also seems to think that if humans hating half fae isn’t mentioned every time the twins run into a human the reader will forget.  This leads to a ton of fantasy racism which can make the book a bit hard to read at times.  Crystal Bones gets better as it goes, once I got to the meat of the story I was hooked.  Unfortunately it also cuts off rather abruptly in an almost painful sequel hook, leaving a rather unsatisfying ending and a year long wait to find out what happens.

As a final note before I rate it, Crystal Bones seems to be Hall’s first novel so I’m sure that most of the kinks will be worked out for the second book.  It’s also worth noting that, any issues aside, I did enjoy the book it’s just that most of what I enjoyed probably constitutes spoilers and I don’t want to ruin anything for other readers.  That said, I give it a three out of five and a note to myself to keep an eye out for the next one.