Posts Tagged With: Urban Fantasy

Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce

Title: Sisters Red (Fairytale Retellings 1)
Author: Jackson Pearce
ISBN: 978-1444900606
Publisher: Hodder
No. of pages: 368

Rating: 4/5

Synopsis (from Amazon):
The story of Scarlett and Rosie March, two highly-skilled sisters who have been hunting Fenris (werewolves) – who prey on teen girls – since Scarlett lost her eye years ago while defending Rosie in an attack. Scarlett lives to destroy the Fenris, and she and Rosie lure them in with red cloaks (a colour the wolves can’t resist), though Rosie hunts more out of debt to her sister than drive. But things seem to be changing. The wolves are getting stronger and harder to fight, and there has been a rash of news reports about countless teenage girls being brutally murdered in the city. Scarlett and Rosie soon discover the truth: wolves are banding together in search of a Potential Fenris – a man tainted by the pack but not yet fully changed. Desperate to find the Potential to use him as bait for a massive werewolf extermination, the sisters move to the city with Silas, a young woodsman and long time family friend who is deadly with an axe. Meanwhile, Rosie finds herself drawn to Silas and the bond they share not only drives the sisters apart, but could destroy all they’ve worked for.

Review:
Not so much a modern retelling of a fairytale, but a modern paranormal urban adventure with fairytale overtones, Sisters Red gathers together elements of the Red Riding Hood story with Snow White and Rose Red, and sets in firmly in modern-day Atlanta, GA with the wolves being supernatural creatures, and the sisters themselves being anything but victims.

Jackson Pearce has twisted the tale and skewed it in such a way that the feisty heroines are a force to be reckoned with – woe betide the wolf that tries to prey on them! The scarred and battle-weary Scarlet is such a wonderful character that it would be easy to overlook her quieter younger sister, Rosie, were she not so brilliantly realised herself. As for Silas, well a good friend is always an asset and although these girls can stand firmly on their own two feet, an extra pair of hands always comes in handy in the fight against evil.

I’ll not say I didn’t see the big twist coming, because I did spot it quite early on, but I didn’t care because I still wanted to read on and find out where the story would go and what ,exactly, would become of our intrepid trio.

If you like your fairytale heroines practical, with no need to wait for rescue from a handsome prince, then the Sisters Red are the girls for you. Long may the new breed of folk legends and twisted tales continue!

Reviewed by Kell Smurthwaite


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Blood Feud (The Saga of Pandora Zwieback Book 1) by Steven A. Roman

Title: Blood Feud The Saga of Pandora Zwieback Book 1)
Author:
Steven A. Roman
ISBN:
978-0984174102
Publisher:
Starwarp Concepts
First Published:
June 2011
No. of pages:320

Rating: 4/5

Synopsis (Amazon):
Sixteen-year-old Goth girl Pandora Zwieback has a major problem: she’s just discovered that her New York City hometown is the stalking ground for every monster and ghoul out to raise a little hell (literally!) . . . BUT she’s apparently the only one who can see them. That means she can’t tell her friends or family about the dangers around them–not unless she wants to spend the rest of her life locked up in a psychiatric ward. But before Pan has a chance to make sense of her increasingly weird life, she finds herself in the middle of a war among rival vampire clans. Elegant Gothic Lolitas from Japan on one side, silk-suited London vamps on the other, leather-clad hunters from Eastern Europe in the middle, and all after the same prize: a mysterious crate recently delivered to the horror-themed museum owned by Pan’s father. What is the terrifying secret of Item #179? How do its contents tie into an incident from the blood-drenched past of Pan’s new friend, a 400-year-old, shape-shifting monster hunter named Annie? And, more important, will Pan survive long enough to get any answers?

Review:
Attention all monster maniacs, vampire victims, Goths, fans of the macabre and all-out urban fantasy, paranormal and supernatural snapper-uppers – there’s a new series on the market and you’re gonna love it!

Pandora Zwieback is such a regular kinda gal (well, apart from her “monster vision”, that is) that you can’t help liking her. As teens go, she’s one of the good ones and although she can pack a punch and is a little troubled, she’s not the kind of kid you want to slap every five seconds and that can make all the difference when you’re reading a novel where she’s the star of the show, so to speak. She’s grounded enough that one can readily accept the concept of her having what she calls “monster vision” as she’s so sceptical of it herself.

It’s written in such a way that the excitement kept me riding high the length of the novel, and it wasn’t till the end that I realised there was no sex (and, in fact, no romantic scenes at all), which makes a nice change from all the soft-focus, mushy, vampires-just-want-to-be-loved stuff that’s flooded the market after the unaccountably popular Twilight saga. There is also surprisingly little violence, considering we’re battling legions of the undead here, and minimal gore, which means it’s safe for readers from the mid-teen range upwards.

Actually, it’s one of those fabulous books that manages to straddle the young adult / adult fiction divide without doing the splits and ending in a prat-fall that would ruin many others, catering equally for teens and more, ahem, “mature” readers alike with a light touch that makes it a joy to read.

To top it all off, it’s left wide open for the sequel and then doesn’t give any teaser chapters at the end, which is great because, and here’s where it triumphs, it doesn’t need them! Yes – I already know I want to continue reading The Saga of Pandora Zwieback and I didn’t have that horrid let-down when I realise that, far from having several chapters left, the story has been cut short to make way for an introduction to sucker you into the sequel. Thank you Mr. Roman!

I know the cover art might put some people off buying it (I’ve heard several comments along those lines, but personally, I love the cover!). Please don’t let that prejudice you against it. I promise you that if you ignore the art at the beginning, you’ll be so engrossed in the pages between the covers that you’ll forget you ever disliked the picture in the first place.

I, for one, can hardly wait for the next installment to be published!

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Black Swan Rising by Lee Carroll (Transworld Book Group)

Title: Black Swan Rising (Black Swan Rising Book 1)
Author:
Lee Carroll
ISBN:
978-0553825572
Publisher:
Bantam
First Published:
2010
No. of pages:400

Rating: 3/5

Synopsis (Amazon):
New York jeweller Garet James has her fair share of problems: money, an elderly father, a struggling business. One day she comes across an antiques shop she’d never noticed before. The owner possesses an old silver box that’s been sealed shut. Would she help an old man and open it, perhaps? She does…and that night strange things begin to happen. It’s as if her world – our world – has shifted slightly, revealing another, parallel place that co-exists without our knowledge: the world of the Fey…

Garet learns that one of her ancestors was ‘the Watchtower’: an immortal chosen to stand guard over the human and the fey worlds – a role that she has, it seems, inherited from her mother. But the equilibrium between these two existences is under threat. The 16th-century magician and necromancer Dr John Dee has returned, the box has been opened and the demons of Despair and Discord released. In a race against time and impending apocalypse, it is Garet who must find Dee… and close the box.

Review:
I desperately wanted to like this more than I did. I love dark urban fantasies, especially where vampires are involved, but I found I wanted this to be darker and edgier than it was.

That’s not to say it’s not good – it is good. There’s a fascinating blend of fact and fiction, with real historical figures borrowed from their own times to lend credence to those from folklore and legend. And the characters are pretty solidly written too. I really liked Garet she’s fallible and real – but there was something missing for me. She just didn’t come across as a take-the-reigns kind of girl and I wanted her to be more forceful.

Garet’s training also seemed to happen very quickly with not much happening as a result of it, which is a shame, because I felt it was a trick missed. Perhaps (and I can only hope I’m right) her newfound skills will come into play a bit more in the sequel.

Overall, Black Swan Rising is a nice bit of escapism and if you like urban fantasy, this could be just the ticket for you. There’s certainly enough to keep one entertained and maybe just enough to hook you for the second installment.

Reviewed by Kell Smurthwaite

You can find out more about the Transworld Book Group HERE.

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