Andrews, Ilona: Kate Daniels

Kate Daniels by Ilona Andrews

“Magic Bites” starts off the series about Kate Daniels, yet another urban fantasy series. As an urban fantasy this series is above average. It follows Kate Daniels, a mercenary with interesting and mysterious abilities, who is exposed to the shapeshifting and vampire societies through various mysteries that she and they have to solve.

We get to see how her relationship to the King shape-shifter, Curran, develops. We also get to follow along on her discovery of her magical abilities and get a look-see into her mysterious ancestry.

Thus far, the books in this series are:

Magic Bites, Magic Burns, Magic Strikes, Magic Bleeds and Magic Slays.

I guess the series would be comparable to Patricia Briggs: Mercy Thompson, Devon Monk: Allie Beckstrom and Jim Butcher: Dresden Files. These are all good examples of quality writing that does not take itself too seriously. It’s ambition is to entertain, and entertain it does.

Leon, Donna: Beastly Things (2012)

Commissario Guido Brunetti is once again out to catch his criminal in “Beastly Things“. The Brunetti series is quite extensive and follows Guido over several years. Leon has managed to maintain a good standard of writing throughout the whole series. “Beastly Things” is a good example of the quality of her work.

Some mystery writers seem to wallow in gore and violence. Leon is NOT one of these. We are made to work for the answers to her riddle. In addition we follow the private life of Brunetti and see his development over quite a few years. The Italian (Venetian) society is revealed in all its glory and corruption.

I like the way Leon has managed to write such an interesting character and maintained my interest over the years.

Meaney, John: Dark Blood (2009)

Dark Blood

The Tristopolis series about Lieutenant Donal is an incredibly warm and tense mystery. In Bone Song, we see Laura (Donal’s boss and lover) ends up deader and Donal with her heart. “Dark Blood” sets out to discover the whereabouts of the magicians responsible and we follow Donal’s journey towards that end.

We get to see descriptions of loyalty, friendship, love, grief, betrayal and a whole lot of magic throughout the novel. John Meaney is a top-class author who manages to portray a world of complexity and three-dimensionality.

Some of the descriptions inside are quite vivid and that makes me recommend this for teen-aged and upwards. Death-sentences in Tristopolis just aren’t carried out as nicely as the ones on this earth.

This is definitely a read-again novel.

Lowe, Helen: The Gathering of the Lost (2012)

The Gathering of the Lost” is book no. 2 of “The Wall of Night” series. Helen Lowe has done an excellent job on the follow-up of the first book in the series “The Heir of Night“. She manages to draw the reader in and does not let go until the last page. As teen-lit this is really good. The story is fairly complex and surprising (perhaps) in its twists and turns.

Through various journeys, Lowe leads us to Malian and Kalan. We get to see where they stand in relationship to each other and to the quest they set out on 5 years previously. Saving the Derai (and perhaps the rest of the world) from the fierce Swarm will not be simple. Discovering where the lost clans are takes time, and time is precious.

As in The Heir of Night Malian’s choices will make the difference in the outcome of the coming battle.

Lowe, Helen: The Heir of Night (2010)

“The Heir of Night” is book no. 1 in “The Wall of Night” series. It’s a typical hero’s quest type of story meant for the age group 10 and up set on another world. This is an excellent example of teen-lit. Lowe’s writing is excellent. She grabs hold of the reader and does not let go.

If Night falls, all fall…

Malian is the heir to the clan of Night. The Wall of Night keeps out the Swarm – a traditional enemy. One night the keep is attacked by members of the swarm and they specifically seek to destroy Malian. During this battle Malian discovers that she has powers that will make her an outcast, and she has to decide whether to use them. This choice is the beginning of Malian’s quest.

Malian’s character is the most interesting one. Kalan, the acolyte, is part of a cast of hated power users (the kind of power that Malian has). His and Malian’s friendship is unexpected to them both and vital to the development of the story. As both he and Malian have to deal with the consequences of her choice, the world of humans is on the edge.


The Heir of Night has won the international Gemmell “Morningstar” Award 2012 for Best Fantasy Newcomer

McBain, Ed: Alice in Jeopardy (2005)

I’ve seen several readers on Amazon  complaining of McBain‘s treatment of “Alice in Jeopardy”. Just because McBain has strayed from his “Precinct” characterization does not mean that the quality of his writing has diminished. It is as it has always been, good quality mystery prose.

This is a fun mystery. The “bad” guy is a surprise and Alice, our heroine, is fairly three-dimensional. Alice’s two children are kidnapped, and this is the story of getting them back and finding the bad guy.

There is plenty of action and psychology, necessary ingredients in a mystery. McBain was truly one of the better mystery writers out there.

Freeman, Lorna: Shadow’s Past (Borderlands III) (2010)

How is it that some authors write a series and as they go along their books maintain high quality and re-readability while others end up with muck in the end. Lorna Freeman’s books are in the first category. Her books continue to be fun to read, leaving me happy at the end of them – glad to have read them.

Shadows Past continues shortly after The King’s Own. Rabbit keeps on being flung into unexpected situations (trouble-magnet that he is), challenging his loyalties and his ability to trust others. He is still delightfully naive yet wise. Everyone has their own plans on how to use Rabbit, but he keeps on being true to himself. When an offer of marriage turns up, King Jussom takes Rabbit to check out the offer.

The Borderlands series has no pretensions of immortality. But this is a series I keep on reading, gaining nuggets of wisdom and good old entertainment.

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