Alternative Worlds: Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Reviews

03rd April 2015

Fantasy and sci-fi book reviews

Alternative Worlds 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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Latest Reviews

October 31, 2013

Midnight’s Promise-Donna Grant

Filed under: Author: G,Fantasy,Title: M

Midnight’s Promise
Donna Grant
St. Martin’s, Oct 29 2013, $7.99
ISBN: 9781250017291

After centuries giving up everything to battle evil, weary Malcolm Munro knows he is mentally in trouble as he is losing hope that he will find a place in this shitty world to end his abject loneliness. Recently the Warrior’s depression has begun to affect his self-control over his powers.

Druid descendent Evangeline Walker is on the run as she believes her paranoia that she is being pursued is real. In Scotland, she and Malcolm meet when he rescues her from a car accident. Both feel the attraction though he struggles with his need after hundreds of years with none and she deals with her expectation of living her life alone. As they fall in love, she may trust him with her soul, but not that of her sibling Brian; so Evangeline turns to the darkness to rescue her brother.

The eighth Dark Warrior romantic fantasy (see Midnight’s Kiss, Midnight’s Captive and Midnight’s Temptation) is a taut action-packed tale starring two fascinating troubled protagonists. The fast-paced storyline focuses on whether two distrusting doubters, whose “… hearts they beat as one; no more love on the run” (Caribbean Queen by Billy Ocean), can depend on love to strengthen their resolve if they are to survive their confrontation with overwhelming evil and Death.

Harriet Klausner

September 18, 2013

Cain’s Blood-Geoffrey Girard

Cain’s Blood
Geoffrey Girard
Touchstone, Sep 3 2013, $25.99
ISBN 9781476704043

In Pennsylvania, six young subjects escape from the Dynamic Solutions Technology Institute, but not before they massacred most of the staff and took a few as prisoners. Also missing is Dr. Gregory Jacobsen who led the cloning experiment and probably abetted the escape by the six clones of notorious serial killers.

Special Ops veteran Shawn Castillo leads the search for the murderous clones starting at the DSTI facility and then Dr. Jacobson’s home. He quickly learns that the scientists created more subjects than they reported with some adopted by unaware caring families. Jacobsen kept one child with him, Jeffrey who recently learned that his true sire is Dahmer. With Jeffrey as his sidekick, Castillo hunts the killers.

This is a taut DNA thriller filled with insight and asides into cloning that enhance the horror of what Jacobson and others have wrought though the lead geneticist is no regretting “Modern Prometheus” (Mary Shelley). Once again as with the YA companion piece Project Cain, the underlying premise that the military would consider using serial killers seems wrong; as besides being loners psychologically unfit for a cohesive unit, consider the PR from news media telling grieving moms that their child died from a Dahmer clone in a friendly fire incident. Still this is an action-packed suspense that makes a strong cautionary case when it comes to cloning humans.

Harriet Klausner

May 13, 2013

The World of the End-Ofir Touché Gafla

Filed under: Author: G,Fantasy,Title: W

The World of the End
Ofir Touché Gafla
Tor, Jun 25 2013, $24.99
ISBN: 9780765333568

As an expert epilogist, Ben Mendelssohn understands the importance of the right ending to a book or movie. Considered a brilliant “righter” he is in demand to write the climax to fiction.

When his beloved wife Marian dies unexpectedly during odd circumstances, Ben cannot accept that finish to their relationship. Unable to cope with her death, he creates the perfect ending to their romance when he commits suicide to be with her in the afterlife. The bullet in his head leaves him in The Other World; a place with cities filled with the deceased living a second existence expertly managed by the “aliases.” Ben finds the Mendelssohn clan all over the place and rejects Marilyn Monroe, but no Marian anywhere. Understanding the need for an expert, a desperate Ben employs the Mad Hop known for finding missing people; unprepared for what he finds out.

The World of the End is a profound twisting parable that looks deep into a person’s soul. Readers will relish Ben’s trek through the afterlife as he wonders whether the love of his first life is meant to be with him in his second. Filled with humorous encounters, this entertaining metaphysical thriller leaves fans wondering about relationships accepted during life, ended with death and questioned in eternal life when one party wants renewal and the other hesitates.

Harriet Klausner

April 2, 2013

Shadow’s Edge-Jami Gray

Filed under: Author: G,Fantasy,Title: S

Shadow’s Edge
Jami Gray
Black Opal Books, Nov 2 2011, $12.99
ISBN: 9781937329150

In Portland, Taliesin Security Wraith, Kyn-human hybrid, Raine McCord kills purebred Quinn, who murdered two college students, but not before she took a wound from his magically enhanced blade. Her biggest fear is when she reports his death to their boss, Type A control freak Ryan Mulcahy the head Fey in the Northwest, who told her bring him in.

She arrives home, but has no time for respite as her Wraith co-worker Gavin Durand arrives with a message from Mulcahy that they will team up on an inquiry into Jonah Talbot of the Talbot Foundation who insists someone murdered seven of his associates in seven years and he is next. Mulcahy distrusts Talbot who might be using a ploy to conceal he is the killer; but if innocent one of the Wraiths would be the next best suspect.

The first Kyn Kronicles’ urban fantasy is an exciting action-packed paranormal investigative thriller that deftly enables the audience to believe in the existence of the magical community’s four sentient species. Raine is a fabulous lone wolf protagonist saddled with a partner she does not want especially since she suffers an undesirable attraction towards Gavin. On the other hand Gavin is a typical hunk with a bad boy attitude that irritates the heroine and the reader for the same reason: he distracts her and us from a walk on the dark side of the mean streets of Portland.

Harriet Klausner

March 25, 2013

The Dark Heroine: Dinner with a Vampire-Abigail Gibbs

Filed under: Author: G,Horror,Title: D

The Dark Heroine: Dinner with a Vampire
Abigail Gibbs
Morrow, Mar 5 2013. $14.99
ISBN: 9780062248732

Seventeen year old Violet Lee knows being alone at one in the morning in Trafalgar Square is not a smart move, but clubbing with her BFF Ruby felt wrong after Joel. Violet soon knows there is something worse than being alone at one in the morning in Trafalgar Square when over thirty males with sharpened canes and something else arrive. Prince Kasper Karn kills Claude Pierre, the leader of the thirty men; he and five other teens slaughter the rest of Clan Pierre’s hunters in a flash. Though in the shadows and at a distance beyond normal hearing, Kasper hears Violet whisper jerk; he takes her prisoner though he cannot fathom why he abducts this human Girly instead of either killing or ignoring her.

Kasper gives Girly a choice to either convert from Human to vampire or remain his guest indefinitely until they kill her as her kind can never go back. However complicating matters for His Highness is when he learns who her powerful father is; as murdering Violet is no longer an option if a cross-species war is to be avoided as her dad knows of the existence of his kind.

This is an exhilarating young adult paranormal romance in which the vampire brood is closer to Stoker’s vision than that of Meyer’s. Violet seems insensitive as her stomach never reacts to the blood and gore, and too strong as she never soils her panties upon learning what kidnapped her. Still readers will root for her to come out on top especially against the prince of abusive arrogance.

Harriet Klausner

February 1, 2013

Angel Of Syn-Mertianna Georgia

Filed under: Author: G,Fantasy,Title: A

Angel Of Syn
Mertianna Georgia
ImaJinn, Jan 31 2013, $14.00
ISBN: 9781610261180

The authorities declare Cara Augustine the Synemancer a criminal for committing the capital offence of “enslaving” Tom the werewolf. Her explanation that his becoming her familiar was an accidental by-product of her recently discovered power is no excuse under the law (see Syn In The City).

The Portalkind cops pursue the witch who hides in Beverly Hills; while she deals with a horde of males; many obsess over her binding them to her or want to bind her to them. Besides Tom, bodyguard Azrael the angel of death (assigned by her parents after a sub-demon attack on Cara) wants her. Etiene the werewolf challenges Tom for her though their Alpha Bart banished the familiar from the pack. Tom persuades her to accompany him to Santa Lacuna where his former pack is in trouble although she does not want to go there as her mentor Paul the wizard died saving her life. Finally Roman the Nightkind demands she marry him immediately. While protestors curse Cara for mistreating Tom as an animal (by making him her familiar) not a person who shifts, she and her retinue end up in the Garden of Eden where they find hell not heaven.

The second Cara Augustine urban fantasy is a fun fast-paced tale as the heroine’s male bonding problems continue unabated. The storyline is fast-paced from the moment Cara returns to Santa Lacuna and never slows down especially when they enter “paradise”. Although the protagonist does not seem to have grown from her coming of age debut as her lack of confidence remains tropospheric in spite of her head to head with Texcatlopoca in San Francisco (see Syn In The City), fans will enjoy visiting the Georgian paranormal realm.

Harriet Klausner

January 24, 2013

Demon Hunting In A Dive Bar-Lexi George

Filed under: Author: G,Fantasy,Title: D

Demon Hunting In A Dive Bar
Lexi George
Kensington Brava, Jan 29 2013, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758263131

In Hannah, Alabama, hybrid demon-human Rebekah “Beck” Damian own and runs a dive that employs the gamut of paranormal species serving the gamut of paranormal species; this includes allowing Wampus Kitty inside her establishment though she hurts business with her gloom and doomsday soliloquies frightening the patrons, staff and even somewhat Beck. However her open door policy becomes challenged when Conall Dalvahni demon hunter enters as his kind is at war against her paranormal half.

To their respective chagrin, Beck and Conall are attraced to each other though neither trusts the other. Allegedly Conall searches for a mega-powerful demon-possessed weapon which his prey supposedly possesses that the hunter believes would result in genocide of his kind. As the odd couple fall in love, both know their natural inclination is to kill their beloved and grieve afterward.

The third Demon Hunting urban fantasy (see Demon Hunting In Dixie and Demon Hunting In The Deep South) is a fabulous action-packed thriller due to Lexi George’s ability to make her paranormals appear genuine. The star-crossed lovers are beloved enemies as everyone knows that a demon hunter and a half demon make war not love. While the protagonists fall in love, the overarching theme also moves forward as Beck’s brother Tommy would testify. Filled with danger and jocularity, fans will enjoy stopping at an equal opportunity dive bar in Sweet Home Alabama (Lynyrd Skynyrd).

Harriet Klausner

December 15, 2012

The Keepers: L.A. – Keeper of the Night-Heather Graham

Filed under: Author: G,Fantasy,Title: K

The Keepers: L.A. – Keeper of the Night
Heather Graham
Harlequin Nocturne, Dec 18 2012, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373885619

Musician Rhiannon Gryffald relocates to Los Angeles as the new Keeper of Southern California; a tough place to enforce peace amidst the Others and the human species as Hollywood is loaded with performers. Her first major assignment as the Keeper to the stars is serial murders in which the evidence points towards a rogue vampire. Her investigation leads to Elven police detective Brodie Mac who is undercover as an actor on a show working the same case.

Rhiannon and Brodie agree to work the case together. They soon connect the victims to Brodie’s show. Believing they know the predator personally though not the identity of whom he/she is as the culprit remains hidden in plain sight; the pair tries to focus on ending the homicides though their attraction makes concentration on the killer difficult.

The first of a new Keepers series (future tales by Harley Jane Kozak and Alexandra Sokoloff) is an entertaining entry as the Los Angeles paranormal realm seems genuine with Brodie as an Elven cop anchoring the realism. The whodunit is cleverly designed as a combo matchmaker and Hollywood Homicide inquiry as the protagonists know they must solve the case quickly (with timeouts for kisses) without revealing the truth of the Others residing among the humans. Readers will enjoy Heather Graham’s tour of the SOCAL night life.

Harriet Klausner

November 25, 2012

Midnight’s Warrior-Donna Grant

Filed under: Author: G,Fantasy,Title: M

Midnight’s Warrior
Donna Grant
St. Martin’s, Nov 27 2012, $7.99
ISBN: 9780312552596

A decade has passed since Tara Kincaid thought she could rely on Declan Wallace to have her back at a time when her family went to the dark side of druid magic and became Drough. When she realized he betrayed her with his scheme to manipulate her into turning into a Drough, she fled. For the last ten years she has been in hiding in Scotland looking back over her shoulder for deadly Druids and the wicked Warriors.

Now a tour guide, Tara fears that Wallace and his minion have found her. However, she remains ignorant that the Warriors have also located the skittish Tara. Powerful Druid Warrior Ramsey MacDonald is assigned to protect the reluctant Tara who trusts no one. As they fall in love, he knows he owes the truth about his extraordinary hybrid magical skills but fears his beloved will flee into the night at a time when Dark Warriors, Darker Drough and the darkest Druid Declan come for her.

The latest Midnight’s Warrior continues the Dark Sword spin off series (see Midnight’s Lover and Midnight Masters) with another terrific wicked Wallace entry (see Midnight’s Seduction). The protagonists are a fascinating pairing as each is motivated as much by their respective fears as by love; Tara is afraid that love weakens her chance of survival and Ramsey is afraid of deploying his full power. Although the threat by the evil Declan does not seem different from his assault by the lead avengers of Midnight’s Seduction, series fans will relish adventures of Midnight’s Warrior and his reluctant Druid.

Harriet Klausner

October 26, 2012

Midnight’s Seduction-Donna Grant

Filed under: Author: G,Fantasy,Title: M

Midnight’s Seduction
Donna Grant
St. Martin’s, Oct 30 2012, $7.99
ISBN: 9780312552503

Three years ago, the evil Druid Declan Wallace captured the Druid-seer Saffron Fletcher. He tortured and blinded her as he did what he wanted to her to break her spirit as Declan planned to exploit her rare seer skill.

Three years after her captivity her friend Danielle Buchanan the Druid helps Saffron regain her sight as Declan’s dark spell is broken. At MacLeod Castle, Saffron struggles with her sight and her freedom. She also obsesses over revenging her trauma by destroying Declan and his evil ally Deidre the Drough Druid. Finally there is her unwanted desire for Camdyn MacKenna. He offers to help her as he too seeks to avenge what Declan did to him. Additionally both struggle to ignore their attraction for one another as vengeance may be served cold but each believes that comes before the warmth of love.

The latest Dark Warriors (see Midnight’s Lover and Midnight Masters) continues the Dark Sword spin off series with an awesome entry starring two individuals who fear love weakens their chance for avenging affronts committed by the devilish Ds. Midnight Seduction is another winner.

Harriet Klausner

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