Tag Archives: demons

Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey

sandman slim coverJames Stark has escaped Hell after 11 long years confined to its depths, fighting in the arena for the twisted amusement of Hell’s denizens. He’s back in Los Angeles, a hell in its own right, and he is *ahem* hell-bent (sorry, I had to) on getting revenge on the man who sent him to Hell in the first place.

I’m on the fence about whether or not I liked this book. Conceptually, it was good. Brand new, interesting system of magic, demons, angels, the battle between Heaven and Hell. The world building was definitely intriguing. But – and if you’ve ever read this blog, you probably know what’s coming – James Stark was a jerk. And it was not OK.

In my last review, I wrote about how Miriam Black in Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig was not a likable character, but that was fine because she wasn’t meant to be. I don’t think this was Kadrey’s intention with James Stark. I think the reader was supposed to believe that Stark turned out the way he did due to the horrors he endured in Hell. Perhaps we were supposed to be sympathetic. Except the way Stark acted didn’t inspire sympathy, for me it inspired annoyance. Sure I could believe being trapped in Hell for eleven years made him unwilling to trust and want his own way. I could buy that he didn’t want to work with the denizens of Heaven. But he didn’t listen to anyone, ever. Not even his friends. In fact, he went out of his way to be an ass towards his friends – and not for any sort of supposedly noble reason, like he wanted to protect them. Nope, he was just a jerk who decided no rules applied to him.

I think the problem with Stark was that we, as readers, didn’t know him well enough to get behind him acting this way. If, for example, this was the third book in the series, and we were totally invested in Stark and believed in him, it would have been fine that he flaunted the rules and did as he pleased. But we barely knew Stark, aside from the fact that he stole cars whenever he pleased and indirectly got his girlfriend killed. It was too soon for these sort of actions from the protagonist.

2 and a half stars

Two and a half stars for this book. Almost three. It was a surprisingly tough choice because I wanted to like this book. I did like the world building. But when you don’t like the person telling the story, its distracting and obviously makes the book less enjoyable. I don’t know if I’ll read the next book or not. Maybe once I get a little farther through the 900+ books on my To-Read list.


The Novice by Taran Matharu

novice cover

Isn’t this cover art spectacular?

Fletcher is a young orphan living in the secluded mountain town of Pelt, a small town in the kingdom of Hominum. Found outside the town gates in the freezing dead of winter , he is taken in by the town blacksmith. Because he is the protagonist in a YA novel, he is bullied by the wealthy teenagers in the town, so life has not been easy for Fletcher. When a old soldier who has been deemed too old to continue fighting the Orcs passes through Pelt on his way to fight the Elves, he gives Fletcher a book he claims belonged to a summoner, a magician who can summon demons and use them for battle. Fletcher is intrigued, sneaks out at night, and reads a spell from the book. He is sure he has no magical talent (of course) but discovers he DOES have magical talent (of course) when a small demon answers his summons. The wealthy bully has coincidentally chosen this night to follow Fletcher out of town and murder him. Fletcher’s new friend the demon takes this badly, attacks The Bully, and Fletcher is forced to flee the town before anyone finds out. He heads towards the capital of Hominum and Vocans, an academy where teens with an affinity for magic and demon-summoning are trained to fight the Orcs. Fletcher makes friends and enemies, learns quite a bit about politics and world history, learns how to use his magic, and struggles to earn a commission into the army to fight in the on-going Orc war.

Overall I thought this was a good book. The world-building was impressive, with at least a 2,000-year history that effected and mattered to the present. The system of magic was particularly interesting, and the way the author chose to give us the “rules” and information about the system of magic really sold the story. Combined, these aspects of the novel made an otherwise fairly formulaic plot and shallow villains work. The questions I have about the next book mostly involve the way the Orcs, enemies of all the other races, use their magic. Not all the humans can use magic–most of the magic users are nobles, due to the complicated way the bloodlines are mixed. Only one elf and one dwarf have magic and therefore a demon. There are quite a bit of difficult politics – dwarves are repressed, but are also the only race that can make guns. Sometimes the elves and humans get along to fight the Orcs, sometimes not. While Fletcher’s story was interesting, and of course you root for him and want to see him succeed, its really all these political battles and questions about the Orc magic that have me wanting to read the next book.

Almost forgot to mention, no love story!! Woohoo!! I’m not saying there aren’t YA high fantasy books out there that have good love stories. See Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass series for a good example of the right way to write YA Romance in a high fantasy series. After reading so many YA books that are almost completely based on a teenaged-love-triangle and everything else is an afterthought, its always refreshing to read YA lit with no romance whatsoever. This one had no romance AND a successful plot. Way to go, Taran Matharu!

Now for the things I didn’t like so much about the book. One of Fletcher’s teachers, named Rook, absolutely hated Fletcher. This has something to do with Fletcher’s suspected parentage, but we hardly know anything about Rook and his reasons for disliking Fletcher are not serious enough to warrant how horribly he treats him. His character reminded me a bit of Professor Snape – but rather than hating him, I was just annoyed by him. I did not think Rook’s hatred was necessary to advance the plot, and I wonder if his character will become more clear in the next novel.

I would have liked this book to be at least 50 pages longer, with less big jumps in time, skipping several months at a time. I wanted more history and more details of Fletcher’s life. I wouldn’t have minded the book being longer in order to get more detailed character analysis and background. It does make me more excited for the next book though, The Inquisition. Hopefully I will be able to get it from my library soon. The novel has quite the online fandom. There’s some gorgeous fan art out there – I didn’t want to share it from Pinterest without giving credit to the artists, but I highly suggest going to Pinterest and looking for it.

I give this book 3 out of 5 stars, and recommend it for those who enjoy YA high fantasy. I’m looking forward to reading more in the series.

Reap the Wind by Karen Chance

Reap the Wind is the seventh installment in the Cassandra Palmer series by Karen Chance. When I first got into this series, I devoured the books. Cassie was one of my favorite characters of all time, and the world building was right up there witreap the windh the Mercy Thompson series and the Kate Daniels series. I could not get enough…I actually BOUGHT the sixth book, Tempt the Stars (reviewed here). And I was disappointed. The series had reached the point where there was too much action and yet not enough action. Pages of action sequences, like running/fighting/shifting through the demon realms, without any advancing of the plot. I was getting tired of Cassie going round and round with Pritkin and Mircea as well. Reap the Wind was finally different.


I’m not necessarily spoiling the plot here, but I am going to give away some of Cassie’s character development in this novel. Read on at your own risk.

In previous novels, Cassie spent her time being pushed around by various individuals. Whether it was Tony, the vampire who originally “owned” her; Pritkin, who bossed her around in the process of training; Mircea, who sure became her sort-of-husband but was also a high level Master vampire and bossing people around is what Master vampires DO; Jonas, leader of the Circle who believes he should control the Pythia; even Agnes, former Pythia who had a plan for how she wanted Cassie to follow in her footsteps. Cassie threw her power around and expressed some strong opinions, but never really stood up for herself – more so complained when people didn’t do what she thought was right or ethical. Not anymore. Cassie comes to the realization that while she may control the Pythia power, it hasn’t magically (pardon the pun) earned her the respect of all the people trying to boss her around. This major turning point finds Cassie taking charge of her life, making decisions for herself, and forcing the people around her to take her seriously. It was refreshing, and the Cassie I have been looking forward to for several books.

Now the bad news is: Chance leaves us with yet another cliffhanger. Not as bad as the last few books maybe, but a cliffhanger all the same. Worst is that her publishing company announces one date of publication for the next book, and then pushes it off at least 6 months, sometimes longer. It didn’t bother me as much as it may have since I was expecting it, I just sort of sighed and moved on with my life. Maybe someday Chance will actually resolve something in this series. I still love the characters and the world (more Kit Marlowe please!), and I’m going to keep reading them. From a library. I won’t be spending any money on them and I’m not in a hurry to get the next one.

Ever After by Kim Harrison

ever after coverRarely do I cheat and borrow someone else’s summary of a book, but I tried three times to summarize this one and couldn’t do it justice without major spoilers. So here’s Goodreads.com’s summary, which is the same as the inside cover flap of the book.

The ever after, the demonic realm that parallels the human world, is shrinking. If it disappears completely, so does all magic. It’s up to witch-turned-daywalking-demon Rachel Morgan to avert catastrophe and keep life from changing… for the worse.
While saving the world is important, it isn’t Rachel’s only motivation. There’s also the small fact that she caused the ley line to rip in the first place, setting off a chain reaction of unfortunate events. That little mistake has made her life forfeit unless she can fix it. It’s also made her more than a few enemies, including the most powerful demon in the ever after—a terrifying entity who eats souls and now has an insatiable appetite for her. He’s already kidnapped her friend and goddaughter to lure her out, and if Rachel doesn’t give herself up soon, they’ll die.
But Rachel has more than a few impressive and frightening skills of her own, and she isn’t going to hand over her soul and her life without one hell of a fight. She’s also got a surprise: elven tycoon Trent Kalamack. With this unlikely ally beside her—a prospect both thrilling and unnerving—she’s going to return to the ever after, kick some demon butt, rescue her loved ones… and prevent an apocalypse before it’s too late. Or, at least that’s the plan..

Finally comfortable with who she is, Rachel is using her unique talents to save the world (again). This time, more than her life hangs in the balance, and she is responsible for the lives of everyone she loves. As usual, it’s not easy. It seems like everyone is against her, and even her allies aren’t being honest with her. But Rachel is used to overcoming terrible odds, and she doesn’t let them scare her. I think this is the first novel where I can really say I liked Rachel. Usually, she is making bad choices and Ivy (her powerful vampire roommate), Jenks (her dangerous pixie sidekick), and even Trent (manipulator, genius, playboy, and savior of the elven race) and Al (demon and Rachel’s teacher) have to save her. But now she is taking responsibility for her actions and thinking through her responses and how they will affect others before she acts on them. It only took 11 books, but Rachel has finally grown up and doesn’t get on my nerves every time I read about her.

shiloh wha

Wha? Lap cats don’t sit on lap tops?

I’m curious to see how many books are left in this series. I almost wonder if this is the last, though it didn’t wrap up quite neatly enough to be the last book in the series, and I think they are too popular for Harrison to let them end. But almost every character we have ever met in the Hollows was at least mentioned in this novel, even if they weren’t present. 666t777777cxxxxx (Sorry, my kitteh Shiloh wanted her opinion heard.)

I can never decide, when it comes to these books, whether it bothers me or not that every single one of Rachel’s problems becomes a fate-of-the-world problem. Often, a character in the books I read might have a problem that affects the entire werewolf population, or everyone that person is related to, or everyone in their particular location. Sometimes characters who constantly have the weight of the world on their shoulders gets a little tedious and boring. It’s just not believable that this is the only person that ever has problems, or is ever in a position to right the wrongs and save the world. It didn’t bother me so much in this particular novel, but it has before. It’s almost like as Rachel gets more mature the novels do as well, which I like, keeps me from wanting to give up on this series.

No word on when the next Hollows novel will be published yet, but I am excited to see what sort of trouble Rachel gets herself into and out of in the next book. And of course, what happens to her love life with Trent. That’s going to be very interesting.

Happy reading,