Posts Tagged With: supernatural

Royal Street (Sentinels #1) by Suzanne Johnson

Title: Royal Street (Sentinels #1)
Author: Suzanne Johnson
ISBN: 978-0755397655
Publisher: Headline
First Published: 27 September 2012
No .of pages: 432

Rating: 3/5

Synopsis (from Fantastic Fiction):
As the junior wizard sentinel for New Orleans, Drusilla Jaco’s job involves a lot more potion-mixing than sniffing out supernatural bad guys. DJ’s mentor, Gerald St. Simon, is the wizard tasked with protecting the city from anyone or anything that slips over from the preternatural beyond. Then Hurricane Katrina hammers New Orleans’ fragile levees, unleashing more than just dangerous flood waters. Now the undead and the restless are roaming the Big Easy, and a serial killer with ties to voodoo is murdering soldiers sent to help the city recover. To make it worse, Gerry has gone missing, the wizards’ Elders have assigned a grenade-toting assassin as DJ’s new partner, and an undead pirate wants to make her walk his plank. DJ will learn the hard way that loyalty requires sacrifice… and duty mixed with love creates one bitter gumbo.

Review:
I tend to enjoy fiction with a paranormal / supernatural slant, but in recent years there seems to have been something of a glut of them, all of a very similar ilk.

This one’s different.

Royal Street, the first in the new Sentinels series, is set in New Orleans and focuses on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The big “What if?” here is “What if a natural disaster happens in a place where the veil between the worlds is already very thin and rips open the borders, leaving our world open to those from the Other Side?” In such a disaster, there is a tragic loss of life, but when you add a supernatural element to some of the deaths, you need someone who is trained in dealing with those from The Beyond and make sure the death toll doesn’t continue to rise.

Dru Jaco is a feisty character and her will they / wont they working relationship with her Enforcer partner and his cousin is a lot of fun. There’s also an unusual mix of the usual preternatural creatures (vampires, werewolves, wizards, fairies, etc) with the wonderful addition of the “Historic Dead” which can include anyone of note who has passed on. Let me lay it out for you. We get pirates! How cool is that? Never did I think I’d ever see the day when pirates, wizards and voodoo Gods would all be included in the same plot line.

It’s an exciting start to what promises to be a series that can proudly stand up beside the likes of Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampires series and still stand out form the crowd.

Reviewed by Kell Smurthwaite

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The Synchronicity Factor by Stephen T Hancock

Title: The Synchronicity Factor

Author: Stephen T Hancock

ISBN:
978 1848746 637

Publisher: Matador / Troubador Publishing

First Published: 2010

Rating: 3/5

Synopsis (from Amazon.co.uk):

Following his wife’s death and his dismissal from the Argento Corporation, micro engineer Dr Andrew King undergoes a mid-life crisis. Driven by unknown forces, he creates a remarkable timepiece of unimaginable beauty. His life begins to change in strange and subtle ways as he discovers that the timepiece, with its powerfully symbolic engravings encapsulates the mysterious principle of Synchronicity

Review:
All the online product descriptions I found of Stephen T Hancock’s debut thriller, The Synchronicity Factor, likened it to Dean Koontz and Ian Fleming, which had me worried at such an odd mix, as I love Koontz, but hate Fleming. Fortunately, Hancock seems to have a good handle on the blend and I found his novel rather enjoyable.

It’s a little slow to start, with lots of seemingly unconnected episodes that take some time to come together, but I found myself being drawn into proceedings on an almost unconscious level and I quickly cared for the lead character of Andrew King who is very personable.

With this kind of plot, there’s always a danger that the flow of the story will get bogged down in a lot of technical and/or mystical jargon, but the necessary information is relayed in a natural way so that the revelations are made to both the characters and the reader without it feeling like one is wading through a textbook and being tempted to skip pages to get back to the narrative.

The tension builds slowly and then almost explodes, which leaves the ending feeling just a tiny bit deflated, but not so much that it mars the enjoyment of the novel overall. The concepts are intriguing and the characters are written in such a way that one is never quite sure when someone completely likeable might turn out to have ulterior motives of a darker nature.

This is a very promising start to Hancock’s writing career and I will look forward to reading his future works.

www.stephenthancock.co.uk

Reviewed by Kell Smurthwaite

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Dead to the World by Charlaine Harris (Southern Vampires 4)

Dead to the World by Charlaine Harris (Southern Vampires 4)
Rating:
4/5 – Excellent
You might like this is you like: Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld series; vampires, paranormal/supernatural

Synopsis:
Sookie comes to the rescue of a naked, amnesiac vampire – and ends up in the middle of a war between witches, werewolves and vampires! Sookie Stackhouse is a small-town cocktail waitress in small-town Louisiana. She’s pretty. She does her job well. She keeps to herself – she has only a few close friends, because not everyone appreciates Sookie’s gift: she can read minds. That’s not exactly every man’s idea of date bait – unless they’re undead – vampires and the like can be tough to read. And that’s just the kind of guy Sookie’s been looking for. Maybe that’s why, when she comes across a naked vampire on the way home from work, she doesn’t just drive on by. He hasn’t got a clue who he is, but Sookie has: Eric looks just as scary and sexy – and dead – as the day she met him. But now he has amnesia, he’s sweet, vulnerable, and in need of Sookie’s help – because whoever took his memory now wants his life. Sookie’s investigation into what’s going on leads her straight into a dangerous battle between witches, vampires and werewolves. But there could be even greater danger – to Sookie’s heart, because the kinder, gentler Eric is very hard to resist.

Review:
This is actually my favourite of the first four books in the series. Seeing a vulnerable, sweet Eric is wonderful – it’s a whole new side of him that we haven’t seen before (of course, is it really him when he has no memory of who he is? Or is this actually the real Eric?), and who could blame any hot-blooded female for softening towards him? I know I certainly would!

But amnesiac Eric isn’t the only draw – there’s such a lot going on in this installment that it’s real seat-of-the-pants stuff: We have Witches, Weres and Vamps all battling it out and poor Sookie is caught right in the middle of it; Jason going missing is another major event that will change the course of his and Sookie’s lives (as well as the course of the series) completely; and Sookie has to really step up and do things she never thought she’d have to do – she really shows she’s made of steely stuff!

It really is jam-packed full of a plot so good I didn’t want it to end and it’s left me gasping for more, so I’ll be going right ahead and continuing with the rest of the series instead of taking a little break as I had planned!

Reviewed by Kell Smurthwaite

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Club Dead by Charlaine Harris (Southern Vampires 3)

Club Dead by Charlaine Harris (Southern Vampires 3)
Rating:
4/5 – Excellent
You might like this if you like:
Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld series; vampires; paranormal/supernatural

Synopsis:
There’s only one vampire Sookie Stackhouse is involved with – at least voluntarily – and that’s Bill. But recently he’s been a little distant – in another state distant. His sinister and sexy boss Eric has an idea where to find him, and next thing Sookie knows she’s off to Jackson, Mississippi, to mingle with the underworld at Club Dead. It’s a dangerous little haunt where the elusive vampire society can go to chill out and suck down some Type O – but when Sookie finally finds Bill caught in an act of serious betrayal she’s not sure whether to save him, or to sharpen some stakes.

Review:
For me, this is where the series really starts picking up the pace! More happens in this installment than in either of the previous two and its damned exciting to boot!

For a start, we get a little more of Eric (sexy, brooding, mysterious vampire), less of Bill (Sookie’s slightly dull vampire boyfriend), and the introduction of Alcide (sexy werewolf who’s just a tad more “normal” than the vampire crowd Sookie has been hanging around with!). All this adds up to some great sexual tension – who will win Sookie’s attentions, if any of them? There’s also another appearance made by Bubba (who, although not a main character is one of my personal favourites!), which always adds a little sparkle to the storyline, even in the instances where he’s only there for a few pages.

There’s also a glimpse at how being part of the supernatural world is affecting Sookie’s abilities to function in the more human one. She’s being taken away from her job at Merlotte’s more often to do work for the vampires; as a result, her finances are suffering a little, so following on from that, Sookie is more than a little tense when it comes to the daily grind (aren’t we all when we have money troubles?). It all goes towards establishing her as being very realistic, and her temper flares reinforce that too – she’s no shrinking violet, nor is she the classical heroine – she’s a gal that has to live in the real world and knows how tough that can be sometimes. These little flashes of “normality” make the thick of the action all the better.

Reviewed by Kell Smurthwaite

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Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris (Southern Vampires 2)

Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris (Southern Vampires 2)
Rating:
3/5 – Very good, well worth a read
You might like this if you like:
Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld series; vampires; paranormal/supernatural

Synopsis:
Cocktail waitress Sookie Stackhouse is having a streak of bad luck. First her co-worker is killed, and no one seems to care. Then she comes face-to-face with a beastly creature which gives her a painful and poisonous lashing. Enter the vampires, who graciously suck the poison from her veins (like they didn’t enjoy it). The point is: they saved her life. So when one of the bloodsuckers asks for a favour, she obliges – and soon Sookie’s in Dallas, using her telepathic skills to search for a missing vampire. She’s supposed to interview certain humans involved, but she makes one condition: the vampires must promise to behave, and let the humans go unharmed. But that’s easier said than done, and all it takes is one delicious blonde and one small mistake for things to turn deadly . . .

Review:
It’s been such a long time since I read the first few books in this series that it really is like coming to them fresh, and it makes not one jot of difference that I’ve been watching the HBO show based on them (True Blood) as the second series deviated rather wildly from the events of the second book, retaining only the basic elements of the plot – removing some parts and developing some areas that were barely mentioned in the source material as well as adding in some other things that didn’t happen in the book at all.

Charlaine Harris has a very easy-to-read style of writing – it almost sounds like an old friend speaking to you in your head and as the plot unfolds, the action rolls over you in waves and before you know it, you’ve read half the book when you only planned to read for 20 minutes or so.

As a lead character, Sookie is instantly likeable and she’s flawed enough that she comes across as being entirely plausible, even with her mind-reading skills. It’s during this book that I begin to find Bill just a touch less likeable. Not that I actively disliked him – it was more a gentle growing of “I’m not so sure about this guy” with nothing really specific on which to put my finger. Eric, on the other hand, becomes more intriguing… Neither of them actually plays a huge role in the plot though, as it focuses more on the humans and the hatred that causes some “religious fanatics” to act in extreme ways. The progress of the story lies squarely on Sookie’s shoulders and she’s a strong enough character to carry it along to its conclusion.

There was one tiny element I felt Harris could have explored further – the Maenad. Her part in the book was almost entirely inconsequential and, in fact, it could have been almost entirely omitted from this second installment. Still, it didn’t detract from what is an enjoyable read that definitely makes me want to continue with the rest of the series.

Reviewed by Kell Smurthwaite

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Dead until Dark by Charlaine Harris (Southern Vampires 1)

Dead until Dark by Charlaine Harris (Southern Vampires 1)
Rating:
3/5 – Very good, well worth a read
You might like this if you like:
Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld series; vampires; paranormal/supernatural

Synopsis:
Sookie Stackhouse is a small-time cocktail waitress in small-town Louisiana. She’s quiet, keeps to herself, and doesn’t get out much – not because she’s not pretty – she’s a very cute bubbly blonde – or not interested in a social life. She really is . . . but Sookie’s got a bit of a disability. She can read minds. And that doesn’t make her too dateable. And then along comes Bill: he’s tall, he’s dark and he’s handsome – and Sookie can’t ‘hear’ a word he’s thinking. He’s exactly the type of guy she’s been waiting all her life for. But Bill has a disability of his own: he’s fussy about his food, he doesn’t like suntans and he’s never around during the day . . . Yep, Bill’s a vampire. Worse than that, he hangs with a seriously creepy crowd, with a reputation for trouble – of the murderous kind. And then one of Sookie’s colleagues at the bar is killed, and it’s beginning to look like Sookie might be the next victim . . .

Review:
Well, that’s my first book of the year finished. As this was a re-read it went a lot more quickly than I think it would ordinarily have done, but it was great fun revisiting “old friends” and refamiliarising myself with the residents of Bon Temps. I think I’m going to enjoy re-reading the first four books, but I can hadly wait to progress to the subsequent sequels!

It’s not as full-on sexy as the TV series (True Blood) but there’s still a fair old bit of steamy romping, although Harris doesn’t go into minute detail (she doesn’t need to!) and it plays an integral role in the plot, so it’s not gratuitous.

Sookie could have been a “too-good-to-be-true” type of goody-goody, but she’s not and I love that she’s so flawed (she has something of a temper on her at times; she’s stubborn, wilful and headstrong) and although the mind-reading is important to the plot, it’s not dwelled on too much – it’s just accepted that this is part of who Sookie is and that she often finds it something of a chore to deal with. Anyone who has ever felt like an outsider will instantly identify with her.

As with my first reading, I found Bill a little tedious (I also do with the show, to be honest) and find the mysterious Eric a lot more interesting and fun, but he’s still quite likeable, despite his coldness and stand-offish nature.

And I had almost completely forgotten about Bubba – it was such fun to be reminded!

If you’re a fan of supernatural fiction you could do a lot worse than to pick up at least this first book in the series. Harris has a touch that is light enough for the funnier moments but strong enough for the darker ones too – it’s a fine balance, but she hits the mark and keeps you hooked into the action from start to finish.

Reviewed by Kell Smurthwaite

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Grave Sight by Charlaine Harris

grave-sight

Synopsis from Amazon:

Harper Connelly had a lucky escape when she was hit by lightning: she didn’t die. But sometimes she wishes she had died, because the lightning strike left her with an unusual talent: she can find dead people – and that’s not always comfortable. Everyone wants to know how she does it: it’s a little like hearing a bee droning inside her head, or maybe the pop of a Geiger counter, a persistent, irregular noise that increases in strength as she gets closer. It’s almost electric: a buzzing all through her body, and the fresher the corpse, the more intense the buzz. Harper and her brother Tolliver make their living from finding the dead, for desperate parents, worried friends . . . and police departments who have nowhere else to look. They may not believe in her abilities, but sometimes the proof is just too much for even the most sceptical of police chiefs to deny. But it’s not always easy for someone like Harper, for the dead *want* to be found – and too often, finding the body doesn’t bring closure; it opens a whole new can of worms.

I really enjoyed this book. It is the first Harris book I have read and I was gripped. We are introduced to Harper Connelly and her step-brother Tolliver. Having been struck by lightning at the age of 15 Harper was left with a unique gift – she finds dead people. This talent takes her to Sarne to find the body of a missing teenager. When found however, the town goes nuts. To separate Tolliver and Harper, Tolliver is arrested and thrown in jail, and Harper has several attacks on her life. In the midst of this, she does some investigating work, and this small town reveals some dark secrets…

This is the first book in the Harper Connelly series, and if all the books are this good, we will be in luck! This is an exciting, engaging and gripping book. I really enjoyed how Harris wrote. Even though Harper’s talent is questionable, I found myself pulled into the story and believing what was written. I was trying to solve the mystery too.

I enjoyed reading all the characters and the setting. I chuckled at the fact Sarne had been written as the stereotypical hill-billy small-town, with in-breeding. That did make for a fun read! I thought the way Harper and Tolliver were written were great. I connected with both of them and liked how Harris wrote in their history so we understood them better.

I don’t have any complaints about this book – I loved it. This is a must-read.

10/10

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