Tag Archives: supernatural creatures

The Devious Dr. Jekyll by Viola Carr

The Devious Dr. Jekyll is the second book in Viola Carr’s Electric Empire series. I initially picked up the first book in this series, The Diabolical Miss Hyde, because I saw the cover in a bookstore and it looked really cool. The cover for this installment was equally awesome. As the title of the books suggest, they are a play on the story of Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde. Main character Dr. Eliza Jekyll is the daughter of Henry Jekyll, and because Dr. Jekyll was using his infamous elixir when Eliza was, *ahem* conceived, Eliza has what you could call a split personality. Her “other half” so to speak is Lizzie Hyde.

**This review will contain some mild spoilers for the The Diabolical Miss Hyde.**

devious dr jekyll coverEliza is a well-respected female doctor who often helps the police solve their cases and who dates the dashingly handsome Captain Lafayette. Captain Lafayette works for the Royal Society, a group dedicated to wiping out everything even remotely supernatural in England. This should include Eliza, which makes their relationship a bit tricky – until Lizzie discovered Captain Lafayette has his own secret – he’s a werewolf. Eliza and Lafayette mutually decide to keep each other’s secrets, but their relationship remains complicated. Lizzie meanwhile is not just another personality. When Eliza drinks her elixir – or Lizzie breaks out on her own – her whole body changes, down to her hair color. She looks completely different, wears different sized dresses, and speaks with a different accent. Adding complication to Eliza’s relationship with Captain Lafayette is the small matter of Lizzie sleeping with him, and continuing to harbor feelings for him after he tells her he loves Eliza only and can’t be with her anymore. I’m not sure if this qualifies as a love triangle or not, haha.

These books are interesting reads for me, because most of the books I really like I enjoy because I can become emotionally invested in the characters. I don’t particularly like Eliza Jekyll or Lizzie Hyde. Eliza is too proper, and she makes some outrageously stupid decisions for a person smart enough to become a doctor. Lizzie is more crude than I can handle. The plot is good though. In this novel, Eliza and Captain Lafayette are searching for a murderer who is killing his victims using a horrifying ritual. I like steampunk novels, and I think Eliza’s talking mechanical dog is adorable and a nice touch by the author. So far, the books are fine.

Now here’s the part that really makes me want to read these novels: Viola Carr’s imagery is SPECTACULAR. I should have made notes of some specific examples, but of course I didn’t think of that at the time, and now the book is back at the library. The one moment I remember because it was so brilliant was Carr’s description of the sunlight as “gritty.” There was much more to the description of the scene than just this one word, but this stuck with me, because while it is not a word you generally associate with the sun, I understood exactly what she meant. Every single one of her descriptions is this perfect. It really takes her story writing to the next level, and it inspires me to make my own writing even better.

Overall, I give this book 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it to fans of steampunk, the supernatural, and really brilliant imagery. The third book in the series, The Dastardly Miss Lizzie, was just published in April and I looking forward to reading it.

Dark Currents by Jacqueline Carey

Here is the summary from the inside cover-flap of Dark Currents, first book in the Agent of Hel series by Jacqueline Carey:

dark currents coverThe Midwestern resort town of Pemkowet boasts a diverse population: eccentric locals, wealthy summer people, and tourists by the busload; not to mention fairies, sprites, vampires, naiads, ogres and a whole host of eldritch folk, presided over by Hel, a reclusive Norse goddess.

To Daisy Johanssen, fathered by an incubus and raised by a single mother, it’s home. And as Hel’s enforcer and the designated liaison to the Pemkowet Police Department, it’s up to her to ensure relations between the mundane and eldritch communities run smoothly.

But when a young man from a nearby college drowns—and signs point to eldritch involvement—the town’s booming paranormal tourism trade is at stake. Teamed up with her childhood crush, Officer Cody Fairfax, a sexy werewolf on the down-low, Daisy must solve the crime—and keep a tight rein on the darker side of her nature. For if she’s ever tempted to invoke her demonic birthright, it could accidentally unleash nothing less than Armageddon.

Up until now, being Hel’s liason has basically meant chasing off the occasional nasty fairy and doing extra paperwork down at the police station. But thanks to a recent murder that appears to have eldritch involvement, Daisy must step in to solve the case. Partnered with long-time crush and closet werewolf Cody, Daisy must solve the case before the “regular” humans decide the eldritch community is too dangerous and throw them out of Pemkowet forever.

I absolutely loved this novel. Daisy was a wonderful character that I really connected with. She was young, smart, knew her weaknesses, and worked hard to fix them. Since giving into temptation and choosing to be like her demon father instead of her human mother would cause Armageddon, this was a pretty big deal. She was also willing to admit her mistakes and fix them, like telling Cody not to date her best friend Jen, which caused quite a bit of friendship drama.

I liked the world building in this novel, and how the supernatural was mixed in with the normal. A city needs a functioning “underworld” controlled by a deity in order to sustain the eldritch–supernaturals–who live there. The underworld in Pemkowet is controlled by Hel, norse goddess whose body is half beautiful woman and half decomposing corpse. It threw me off at first to read about a relatively nice goddess Hel. In most of the books I read that feature Hel, like the Iron Druir Chronicles by Kevin Hearne, Hel is an evil goddess out to kill everyone and take over the world. I’m not sure what I thought about this incarnation of her, but it worked alright, and it wasn’t like she was cute and playing with kittens or anything, which would have been really unbelievable.

This book just seemed so fun and easy to read, and I couldn’t find many faults with it. I met a character I really liked, and visited a world where I could picture myself living. No complaints, and I’m really looking forward to the next book.

Happy reading,

-Branwen

Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs

frost burns patricia briggs coverMercy knew Black Friday shopping at midnight was a bad idea. But she did it anyway, to take her new step-daughter Jesse–daughter of her mate and Alpha of the local werewolf pack Adan Hauptman–shopping. Mercy doesn’t expect shopping to be fun, but she certainly doesn’t expect it to be dangerous, which is exactly what it becomes when Mercy has a panic attack and gets into a car accident. But that’s not the dangerous part. The dangerous part is that afterwards, she can’t reach Adam or any of the pack members through her mate-bond. The entire werewolf pack has been abducted, and it’s up to Mercy and her small group of remaining allies to find them and rescue them, before it’s too late.

If I could switch bodies with one heroine in literature–any literature, not just fantasy–it would be Mercy Thompson. She can painlessly shift into a coyote. She is mated to the extremely sexy and formidable Alpha of one of the most powerful werewolf packs on the West Coast. She has an awesome step-daughter. She has fae and vampire friends. She can fix cars, and is not girly in any way. She thinks for herself, but isn’t afraid to depend on people when she needs to. She may not always make the smartest decisions, but who does? Frankly, she’s just awesome.

Additionally, Mercy lives in the best world. I love the dynamics between all the different supernatural creatures in Briggs’s Mercy Thompson world. The best part is, no one group is 100% “good” or “evil” which I think happens sometimes in other fantasy worlds. Werewolves are generally good, but some do occasionally go crazy and eat people. There are good witches and bad witches. Vampires are generally evil, but a few (like Mercy’s friend Stefan) aren’t so bad. The fae are in a league of their own, some being good and wanting to help humans (like Mercy’s friend Zee and his half-fae son Tad) and others are lunatics and hate humans. There’s balance, and yet drama. It’s great.

This was one of my most-excited-about-books-of-2013, and boy it didn’t disappoint! In this particular novel, we get to see Mercy solving problems while her werewolf friends are mostly absent. Instead of Adam and the wolves coming to her rescue, Mercy must work to rescue them. She enlists the help of Kyle, lawyer mate of a Mercy’s werewolf Warren (as mate to the Alpha, all the werewolves belong to Mercy as well as Adam, whether they like it or not), her friend Zee’s half-fae son Tad, and her vampire ally Stefan (he can’t really be called “friend” at this stage in the series, though he has been in the past). I really like Kyle, and I really enjoyed his presence in this book. He doesn’t always react to things the way you would expect a regular human to react (although Kyle would probably be offended if he heard me call him a “regular” human) and it makes things more interesting. Actually, Briggs managed to bring almost every character we ever knew from the series into this novel, which was cool. I did miss Sam and Bran, but after the last few books I wasn’t expecting to see much of Sam, and we get to see more of Bran in the Alpha and Omega series (same world, different main characters) so I didn’t mind his absence in this book so much either. Heck, I like all these characters so much I would read a book describing them eating breakfast, that’s how interesting and emotionally invested in them I am. I want them all as friends, even Ben the werewolf (well, I would like Ben as a friend now, not two books ago, haha).

Another really cool thing about this novel: We got to hear part of the story from Adam’s perspective! Being inside Adam’s head was not what I expected, but it really made sense, and really gave the reader an insight into Adam’s character. We learned more about his past, his struggles in dealing with his wolf, and how strong his feelings toward his pack and toward Mercy really are. I am almost certain (I can’t quite remember the previous book, I read it awhile ago) Briggs has never let us in Adam’s head before. It was a nice touch.

Briggs simply can’t write these Mercy Thompson books fast enough for me. I want the next one to be published, like, yesterday. If you haven’t started this series yet, start now!

Happy reading,

-Branwen