is a science fiction and fantasy book review site, written and published by accomplished reviewer Harriet Klausner. For more information, please check the About page.
Please feel free to use the links below to navigate to book reviews alphabetically, either by Author Name, or Book Title, or else use the main left-hand links to main genres, or most recent reviews.
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April 4, 2013
Let the Dead Sleep
Mira, Mar 26 2013, $24.95
In New Orleans, Danni Cafferty is in a hospital room as her father lies near death. Heartbroken she tells her dying dad she loves him and needs him to stay with her. He abruptly tells her he failed her when he delayed telling her of her inheritance; as he allowed his love for her to let her live a little longer as a normal. Before collapsing, her father insists she keep his curio shop she inherits and protect his ancient lore tome.
Not long after her father’s death, a distraught woman enters the shop to demand Danni take away an evil statue that killed her husband and will kill her next. Danni arrives at the woman’s home to learn she committed suicide and meets former NOPD cop turned private investigator Michael Quinn; the statue is gone. After informing her he collaborated on cases with her late dad, Michael further explains to her he is looking into strange deaths related to a Renaissance statue stolen from the grave of a malevolent monster. They team up in search of the missing artifact though both fear what will happen to them if they obtain this evil without precautions like having Catholic and Voodoo priests accompanying them.
The first Cafferty & Quinn romantic urban fantasy is an engaging tale though the love subplot between the protagonists seems more of an intruding sub-genre requirement. The New Orleans hunt for the malevolent killing relic is fun to follow even without a Krewe of Hunters for readers to rely on; as Heather Graham opens up her new series with an entertaining paranormal thriller.
March 4, 2013
The Golem and the Jinni
Harper, Apr 23 2013, $27.99
In Konin near Leipzig Polish Jew Otto Rotfeld was arrogant, feckless and lonely. He destroyed in a short time the thriving family furniture business he inherited; making him even less marketable to women. A desperate Otto visited Yehudah Schaalman, an extremely old man who dabbled in the Kabbalah to ask the dark mage to create for him a golem. In 1899, Rotfeld leaves on the steamship Baltika accompanied by his golem. On the trip over, the Golem’s master dies while the crew assumes she is his widow. In New York City Rabbi Avram Meyer, realizing the supernatural clay essence of Mrs. Rotfeld, internally debates whether to kill her before she brings destruction or help her; he names her Chava and gets her a job in a bakery.
In Manhattan tinsmith Boutros Arbeely frees a jinni from a millennium old copper flask. He names the jinni Ahmad, who becomes a metalworker. Ahmad misses his ancient Syrian Desert fiery birth place especially the palace, which he knows is long gone. When Ahmad and Chava meet, they are attracted to one another though her master is dead while his Ibn Malik lives on.
This is a strong historical fantasy that weaves together the story of two supernatural beings from different mythos. Although the desert coda feels abrupt, the key to this super thriller is the support cast the protagonists encounter as each of these souls’ respective tales brings depth to the storyline.
February 28, 2013
The Goddess Inheritance
Harlequin Teen, Feb 26 2013. $9.99
Kate Winters spent the nine months of her pregnancy in captivity. For most of her incarceration, her beloved Henry was led astray by Walter and Ava to believe Kate accompanied James searching for the missing Rhea. Kate believes her Henry finally knows the truth re her fate. Everyone seemingly wants the unborn as perhaps the most powerful being ever since Cronus the Titan claims the fetus is his (though Henry sired the child) and the Queen of the Gods Calliope makes sacrificial plans for Kate’s baby once born.
Kate knows she can do nothing against either super God as Calliope takes away her newborn Milo. Cronus offers her a deal he knows that she cannot refuse. He will spare her and her newborn Milo and limit human collateral damage in the war of the gods if she pledges her total loyalty to him. She understands the cost of committing to Cronus means Henry, her mother and the Gods will die; failure to pledge means Milo is gone forever and she, much of mankind and her loved ones will probably die.
The final Goddess Test urban fantasy (see the Goddess Test and Goddess, Interrupted) is a strong twisting ending to a fabulous series as a distraught Kate finds herself caught between the love of her family and saving the world by self-sacrifice. Fast-paced and loaded with action, fans of the trilogy will enjoy the final confrontation though they will question Kate’s terrible decisions even factoring in the protagonist’s Olympus levels of stress and depression. Still Aimee Carter provides an engaging end to an entertaining thriller.
January 19, 2013
Gates of Paradise
Melissa de la Cruz
Hyperion, Jan 15 2013, $16.99
As the London coven has little to celebrate the New Year, Lucifer begins his final assault on the gate of Paradise as he believes victory is now. Supporting him is the powerful sibling angels Abbadon and Azrael, respectively known as Jack and Mimi Force elsewhere, who are assigned by Lucifer to kill their loved ones.
While Lucifer continues his attack, former vampire Bliss Llewellyn and Lawson the wolf team up to liberate his people from hell; Abbadon and Azrael prepare for the right moment for a betrayal. At about the same time Schuyler Van Alen, worried about Jack who she last saw in Egypt, becomes a prisoner in Hell where she thinks the only hope for Heaven and earth resides with doing what Michel refused to do when faced with the same crisis in Ancient Rome.
The final Blue Bloods urban fantasy (see Lost In Time and Bloody Valentine) is a super climax to a strong good and evil saga as the prime subplots are tied up. The cast is powerful from the diabolical Prince of Hell to the Force angels who expect death regardless of the outcome to the heroic sacrificing Schuyler ready to die in hell for a heavenly cause.
October 26, 2012
Great North Road
Peter F. Hamilton
Del Rey, Jan 1 2013, $30.00
In 2004 Kane North uses family money to hire the best geneticists to work a cloning program. Over the next few years three clones of him are born with severe defects. In 2012, triplet clones Augustine, Bartram and Constantine are born. In 2020, Wan Hi Chan’s theory of trans-spacial connection proves instant travel as doable leading to links to rival interstellar programs. In 2034 Augustine, Bartram and Constantine form the Northumberland Interstellar Corps. However, by 2087 the siblings split up with Augustine remaining at Northumberland while his brothers leave the firm becoming rivals.
In 2121 on the planet St. Libra someone slaughters Bartram and his family. The police arrest Angela Tramelo who is convicted and given a life sentence; she insisted she was innocent and that an alien killed them. Over two decades later, an eerily similar slaughter of a North clone occurs in Newcastle, England. Detective Sidney Hurst leads the investigation that he knows will prove a career killer regardless of what he does. He and others also know Angela has the perfect state sponsored alibi. She is freed to search the planetary jungles for the deadly predator as the only survivor of the alien psychopath while he investigates the slaying in England.
This is an exciting futuristic thriller that is at its best when focusing on clone creation, instant interstellar travel and a great murder mystery in Newcastle and on St Libra. The Zanth assault on human colonies at first seems out of place as if Peter F. Hamilton switch the theme, but he shows his skills as an author when he cleverly brings everything together in a taut science fiction detective tale.
October 18, 2012
Sharon Lynn Fisher
Tor, Oct 30 2012, $7.99
Environmentally compared to earth Ardagh-1 is Eden. However, there is one major problem with this otherwise idyllic world: a native species hooks onto a human by taking the form of a dead person the outside knew. The alien spirits are meek followers of their “host”. Psychologically the colonists struggle with a deceased loved one following them everywhere they go. New Seattle Counseling center chief psychologist Dr. Grayson Murphy issues the “Ghost Protocol,” which bans the colonist from interacting with their ghosts.
Dr. Elizabeth Cole arrives on Ardagh-1 to help the unsettling humans with their mental traumas. She thinks the “Ghost Protocol” is a mistake. Additionally the new psychologist is attracted to her supervisor until she realizes that Dr. Elizabeth Cole died due to a malfunction upon landing in the ocean instead of a pad. Her host Dr. Grayson Murphy ignores her existence, but unlike her new docile peers she plans to learn what she has become.
Ghost Planet is a great romantic science fiction with a strong premise that Sharon Lynn Fisher executes perfectly. Elizabeth is a super protagonist even though we (and she) know she died by chapter 2 as she keeps the fascinating storyline focused. Character driven, readers will appreciate this engaging tale.
September 22, 2012
The Greatcoat: A Ghost Story
Atlantic Monthly, Oct 2 2012, $24.00
In 1952, Great Britain still digs out of the horrors of WWII. Newlyweds Isabel and Philip Carey move to rural Yorkshire where he takes over a medical practice. Philip dives into his work as a country doctor while Isabel suffers from loneliness and a sense she does not belong here rusticating.
On a lonely night, Isabel finds an RAF greatcoat buried in the top of a cupboard by apparently their landlady Mrs. Elizabeth Atkinson. To keep warm on this freezing evening, Isabel puts on the coat and falls asleep. Not long afterward, the ghost of the owner of the coat Alec, a late RAF officer, taps from the outside on the flat’s window. The isolated woman and the dead pilot begin a tryst.
This is an exciting 1950s ghost story that switches between the “present” (1952) and WWII as Isabel obsesses over her new “friend”. Although none of the triangle protagonists are fully developed beyond their prime role, fans will appreciate the tale of the Greatcoat.
September 15, 2012
Ghosts of Memories
Roc, Oct 2 2012, $7.99
Vampire Eleisha Clevon lives among humans without killing them as she adheres to the Four Laws. Her “life’s” goal is to mentor her species to live in harmony with humans. Thus, Elisha, accompanied by her vampiric protector Philip Branté and their human friend former police psychologist Wade Sheffield, search for other vamps.
Meanwhile Julian Ashton the raging vampire continues his hunt for elders using Eleisha and her associates as his unwitting guides. At the same time in the Seattle area, Christian Lefevre masquerades as a psychic who makes contact with the deceased loved ones of his affluent clients; after each session his customers are left extremely weak.
The latest Vampire Memories urban fantasy (see Memories of Envy and Hunting Memories) is an engaging tale as readers learn much more about the psychology of being a vampire as most live for ages as loners with powers superior and vulnerabilities in comparisons to their sustenance species. Readers find out more about what motivates evil Julian and goodness Eleisha as both are wired differently than the humans that surround them. Filled with action in Wales and Puget Sound, Barn Hendee provides a deep look at what being a vampire feels like while swimming upstream in a human ocean.
August 29, 2012
Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson with Tim Waggoner
Gallery, Oct 9 2012, $15.00
In late October at a bookstore in Exeter “the most haunted town in America” books suddenly fly off the shelf like missiles killing employee Tonya Jackson. At about the same time, the Ghost Trackers (Trevor Ward, Drew Pearson and Amber Lozier) arrive in Exeter to give a presentation at the “Dead Days” convention and sell some books.
Soon other mysterious deaths occur that has the three Ghost Trackers concluding that the Dark Lady is behind the paranormal serial killings. This follows by realizing who awakened the dormant Dark Lady; as the trio must choose whether this individual is a friend or foe while a town filled with locals, visitors and three Trackers face death.
The latest Ghost Trackers paranormal mystery is an engaging tale with the protagonists searching for a deadly ghost. Some of the breathing support cast is stereotypical, but the lead trio and the key ghosts are fully developed. Fans will enjoy the hunt for the lethal spirit and the twist of who is the catalyst as this is a fun ghost hunting and busting thriller.
August 19, 2012
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Guile of Dragons
PYR, Aug 24 2912, $17.95
In the Whitehorns, the Longest War between the Seven Clans of dwarves of Thrymhaiam and the dragons went unabated seemingly forever beneath the Northhold. When the dragons gain new allies in the dead kings of Cor and the masked gods of Fate and Chaos, victory seems imminent as they cut off their enemies from the Graith of Guardians as they kill many dwarves; take numerous prisoners; and change some with their evil dragonspells. The dwarves’ stronghold Northhold is on the brink of collapse.
The last hope for the dwarves is Morlock Ambrosius, son of traitor Merlin Ambrosius (and Nimue Viviana). However, Summoner Earno thinks Morlock betrays the dwarves like his sire did when shipments stop and Guardians vanish. Morlock and his foster father Tyr syr Theorn try to discover who is betraying the dwarves when the lad learns the true secrets of the Longest War.
The first book in the latest Morlock Tournament of Shadows fantasy is an exhilarating prequel thriller that showcases the escapades of the hero as a young dwarf (before his later adventures – see The Wolf Age, Blood of Ambrose and This Crooked Way). In many ways Morlock is more fascinating in this epic as he considers himself a son of syr Theornthan the legendary Merlin. Readers will appreciate the action-packed storyline as Morlock may be the last savior of the dwarves but has to constantly prove his loyalty.