Tag Archives: #Demons

Williams, Liz: Snake Agent (Detective Inspector Chen I) (2005)

I know very little about PRC and Singapore. My knowledge has greatly increased since before reading about Detective Inspector Chen Wei, the snake agent, of Singapore 3’s Police department. Singapore 3 is a Franchise city. At the beginning DI Chen wonders whether there is another DI Chen in the other Singapores. I would really like to know what that means.

Obviously, Snake Agent would have to be either on a parallel version of Earth or in the near-future. Snake Agent is in the near future. In this near-future people are just moving away from the electric net to a bio-web. I think this belongs to something called biological systems engineering. The way Liz Williams describes the bio-web is true to real life. There is the glossy brochure that states that all of the participants willing and able and loving their job. Then there is the grosser truth of tubing back and front on the people keeping the bio-web going.

After contact between Earth and the super-natural world became visible, communication between them has bettered. Authorized personnel can f.ex. send e-mails between the Underworld (Chinese Hell) and Earth. Snake Agents from Earth and representatives from the Underworld can travel between the two worlds, which is how three of the characters meet.

Some time ago DI Chen rescued his now wife, Inara, from the clutches of her fiance. She had run away and somehow she and her retainer, a Badger, ended up with him. Inara, Chen and the Badger worry that she is still being hunted by the Underworld. Some of the people who could be on her trail are extremely dangerous to the health of the hunted. Turns out Inara is still being hunted by her power-hungry ex-fiancè. The Minister of Epidemics takes his job seriously and looks it. He is a demon willing to go to any length to increase his power.

Inara being kidnapped happens while DI Chen is on the main chase of Snake Agents. Ghosts of young, virtuous girls are disappearing on their way to heaven. The disappearance of one such girl is what led DI Chen to the rest. Unbeknownst to each other, part of Earth’s and part of Hell’s bureaucracy unite in finding the answer to this problem. DI Chen from Earth and Seneschal Zhu Irzh from the Underworld’s Vice Squad accidentally meet and end up kind of working together. At first the two help each other out without telling their bosses. Their working relationship becomes more permanent during Snake Agent. What the two discover can end up making scape-goats out of them.

I had fun with Snake Agent. It was a great read about the distribution of power, gender and the solving of several crimes. I was entertained from page one and out. Definitely recommended.


Snake Agent available at Open Road

An introduction to living in the Chinese cosmos

Hell in Chinese Mythology

The gates to Taizong’s Hell

Doing business in China vs. Singapore

Cultural differences between Singapore Chinese and PRC Chinese

Williams, Liz: Snake Agent – quote from page 199

Before Inari could protest, he slid his arms around her waist and lifted her up towards the ceiling. She grasped the edge of the opening and hoisted herself through, feeling uncomfortably exposed in the rags of her dressing gown.

“Please don’t look at me,” she said, embarrassed.

“I wouldn’t dream of it,” the demon replied gallantly. She was sure he was lying,”…

Flynn, S. (2014). King’s Folly (Legends of Fyrsta II)

Rape. Such an ugly and common act. Some have likened it to theft, others to a form of murder. Isiilde has become one rape-victim among many on Fyrsta. Having been one such statistic, I am aware of how little understanding the commonness of rape comforts the victim. Before anything comfort is able to reach your mind, you have to work through some of the fear.

Isiilde was an innocent at the time she was raped, a child in most ways, much like myself. Isiilde feels the loss of that innocence keenly and Sabrina Flynn manages to get across how complicated that loss is. Fear is not only complicated but also invasive, probably more so than the act itself. King’s Folly adds to Isiilde’s struggles by bringing her and her traveling companions into one harrowing experience after the other.

Rape is not the only way to gain power over people. Children are highly vulnerable. Even at times and in areas where children have to fend for themselves to survive, children remain the vulnerable ones in our society. Easily ignored and easily used for whatever deeds greedy people might want. King’s Folly does not ignore the challenges such vulnerability brings.

Greed. Hungering for what you do not have, whether that be sex, money or property, can lead people to rationalize themselves into deeds they might claim repulsive if others do them. Especially if “they” do them. Tharios is one of the greedy people whose ability to rationalize is no longer required. He is that far gone. But he holds power over others who do lie to themselves about the necessity of what they are doing.

Isek’s betrayal is difficult for Marsais to handle. As a seer, Isek’s betrayal hit his blind-spot because such behavior did not fit with the kind of person Marsais had thought Isek to be. Ironically, Isek soon discovers that Tharios would not hesitate to betray him. Now survival becomes a challenge for Marsais’ old friend.

Oenghus is loyal and nuts. Both Oenghus and Marsais are a little insane. Oenghus’ variety comes mainly through his berserker nature while Marsais has gained his through some awful choices he has had to make. Being a seer does not seem to be an ability to strive for and I imagine any person with a true ability would do their utmost to keep knowledge of it from the public. People do not seem to like it when they are told the truth about themselves.

I did only the necessary life things yesterday evening and today. Other than that, I read. King’s Folly was well-written, dragging me screaming and kicking (yeah, right) into its stream. Sleep was a duty I did not want to embrace. Definitely recommended.

King’s Folly available at Smashwords

My review of A Thread in the Tangle

I was given King’s Folly to review

Harrison, Kim: The Witch with No Name (Hollows XIII) (2014)

For the insider, The Witch With No Name brings Hollows to an end with loads of action, death, betrayal, idiocy and heroism.

Master vampires have no sense of other people’s boundaries. They take psychopathy to its extreme. Seriously scary people. Anyone in their right mind would be afraid of them. Perhaps even seasoned demons. Young ones, like Rachel (the only young demon around), need to keep master vampires away from themselves altogether. Often fictional lives do not work out that way.

When a master vampire, like Cormel, wants something, he does not care at all about anything but what he wants. He utilizes anything he thinks will work to get Rachel to do his bidding. Hell, he’ll even use the tools at his disposal even if he doesn’t think they will be effective.

By now Rachel has come to love such an amount of people that Cormel can pick and choose who he wishes to hurt Rachel with. He wants the souls of the undead re-united with their bodies. Whether that is a good thing or not for the vampires, himself even, he cares not. My will be done! So be it! Lord and emperor in one is how he sees himself.

Psychopaths are seriously frightening people and noone wants them in their lives. But at least they are consistent in not caring, in abusing and in being bad for you. The rest of us though. All of us who deal in shades of grey. Man, we are the ones to be worried about. Some of us try to be half-way decent, while others of us tend to lean more towards deviousness and anarchy, but we are all unpredictable. These are the people who will do the most harm to Rachel and her loved ones.

Perhaps people can help it, but I haven’t seen signs of it yet. We do what we think will benefit ourselves and those we care for. It may be detrimental to all the involved parties, but somehow we find ways to justify godawful choices. Some of Trent and Rachel’s enemies are like that. They want what they think is best for themselves and those they wish on their side, even if part of them has to know (it just has to) that they are doing something stupid. Boy is their choice dumb, idiotic, beyond comprehension, yet oh, such a normal thing.

How does a person fight such people? Sometimes you can’t and sometimes you just have to do your best. In Rachel’s case her best can be pretty impressive. While Kim Harrison manages to convince me that Rachel is afraid and all of that, Rachel is way beyond my abilities – not thinking about the magic stuff now. She is simply brave. Brave and loving and dangerous and stupid. But she tries her best to make life better for her loved ones. Since this story is about her and her coterie, she is the one that matters to me. Forget the rest. LET THEM BURN. Or not. Fortunately it just so happens that what is good for Rachel and her people is also good for the rest of the magical population.

And so it ends. Definitely recommended.

The Witch With No Name available at


My review of:

Bennett, Jenn: Kindling the Moon (Arcadia Bell I) (2011)

Cover design by Tony Mauro
Cover design by Tony Mauro

I’ve been trying to think of an entirely selfless reason to have children. You know, I cannot think of a single one. Not a single one. Listening to the expectations that parents have of their children (myself included) makes me wonder how sane parents are. For some strange and bizarre reason we combine a sperm and an egg and expect that cocktail to fulfill some kind of need in us.

Arcadia Bell‘s (Selene Duval/Mother of Ahriman) parents expected Arcadia to turn into The Moon-Child. At the time of her conception they had followed some sort of magical ritual overseen by a Frater Blue. Conceiving in this manner was supposed to have given them a child with a special kind of magick (we only get a glimpse at what this magick might be). But Arcadia does not seem to inhabit these powers.

When we meet her, Arcadia is about to turn 25. I’m impressed that she runs her own bar at such a young age along with her friend Kar Yee. The sign at the entrance of Tambuku states “Enter at your own risk” for a good reason. Humans (savages) are a minority customer at the bar. Most of the clientele are earthbound (mix of demon and human) and strange things happen every night. Arcadia is part-owner, enforcer and nonsavage human. All three play a part in our story although it is her abilities as enforcer and nonsavage that holds the most prevalent place.

Having been on the run since she was 17 years old has made Arcadia lonely. Not lonely because she is without company, but lonely because she has to hide who she really is from others. But salvation comes in the form of 13 year old Jupe. Jupe is the kind of teen-ager that is practically impossible to dislike. He grows on Arcadia “like mold” and so does his father.

Lon Butler is the third main character. He helps Arcadia search for the answer to who got her parents blamed. Because of his abilities with empathy, Lon is able to puzzle out what kind of person Arcadia is and she intrigues him. He intrigues her, so I guess they are even. The two of them are also the romantic element of this story.

We get plenty of action and hints that ought to lead you in the right direction as to the answer to Arcadia’s hunt for an answer. Kindling the Moon is a fun read, and I recommend it.



The English Struwwelpeter / Pretty stories and funny pictures

Lost Colony of Roanoke

Ten worst dads in literature

Ten worst mothers in literature


Jackson, Ros: Diabolical Taste (Kenssie II) (2014)

Cover art: Laura Hollingsworth
Cover art: Laura Hollingsworth (really like this cover)

Diabolical Taste is funny, sad and exciting. Satire often seems to bring out those feelings in me. The relationship between Rak and Kenssie is definitely an abusive one. Kenssie is the only one who can walk the painful journey of accepting that her illusions are just that. The whole demonic thrall system reeks of abuse.

Rak and Kenssie perfectly illustrate the lies we tell ourselves about ourselves and the people we have chosen to love. Coming to realize that one’s relationship is a destructive one must be excruciatingly difficult. As with all addictions, the first and most difficult step has to be acknowledgement.

Kenssie’s power to “eat secrets” seems to be an incredibly powerful tool. She is only 16 years old and still trying to figure out the powers she began fully utilizing in The Secret Eater. This eating of emotions and thoughts to nourish themselves is a great way of getting across the importance of our inner lives.

We meet some cool and dangerous characters in Diabolical Taste. Otis the human is particularly interesting. Toward the end of the story we discover something funny about him. Seneb, the love demon, is another character I enjoyed. Feeding on love as a demonic power is fascinating yet perhaps strange. Grief, on the other hand, is a perfectly understandable demonic meal. We also have a fear eater in our story. Both made me take a closer look at myself.

I loved reading Diabolical Taste. It left me with a sense of sadness and pride for the demon Kenssie had become.

Ros Jackson provided me with a copy of Diabolical Taste in return for a review.

My review of The Secret Eater

McDermott, J.M.: When we were executioners (2012)

I want to understand why writing a review of When We Were Executioners is so difficult.  Part of it has to do with how invested in the lives of Jona and Rachel I have become. Not only they, but also the two Walkers of Erin seem to have a profound effect on me. There is this area from my solar plexus to the tip of my chin that becomes warm and weepy just thinking about the quartet. Sometimes art does this to me. Whether I am dealing with happy art or sad art does not seem to make a difference.

When We Were Executioners falls within the last category. From the beginning of the serial Dogsland we know that Lord Joni doesn’t survive. We soon come to expect the same with Rachel, and in When We Were Executioners it seems impossible that her brother Djoss will make it either.

People die all the time. They die all the time in the city/town Dogsland – a city of crime if there ever was one. Drugs are its mainstay. Drugs come into the city and are sold and traded on to the citizens of Dogsland and other places. JM McDermott shows us the darker side of drugs, both from the point of view of the users, the dealers and lords – sometimes one and the same person. It is a path that many tread both in fantasy and in the real world. Addiction.

But then I suppose we all suffer from one sort of addiction or another. Some of us will do anything for affection while others will stop at nothing to get another shot of their drug of choice. It is all the same, and oh, so very sad. Maybe evolution needs us to be this way to keep the human race going.

Lord Joni and Rachel Nolander are both half-demons and a hunted minority. Perhaps with good reason, for anything their bodily fluids touch (except for each other) ends up disintegrating and sizzling away. Somehow that does not make sense for their fathers had to have sex with their mothers and there is certainly an exchange of bodily fluids at that time. But perhaps what goes for half-demons is not the case with full demons. Even in death Jona and Rachel are deadly. Keeping their remains (especially their skulls) for magical purposes will end up destroying the magician. But in the end that is the way we all go. Death is just another part of life that we try to avoid and forget.

Could this be another reason the Dogsland trilogy thus far has affected me so strongly? JM McDermott makes no attempt to hide death from us. Nor does he attempt to make it more or less than what it is. Thus far the deaths we have seen in this trilogy have been difficult and painful ones. I wonder what my own death will be like?

Definitely recommended.



When We Were Executioners on Amazon USA

My review of: Never Knew Another

Cane, Laken: Obsidian Wings (Rune Alexander IV)

Obsidian Wings

The birds annoyed me. Not because they are were-birds/shapeshifters but because Cree carried a person as large as Shad. My asperger soul was triggered to the point of obsession and that set me off in research mode. That is when it became fun. I adore digging into stuff. While increasing my knowledge on the requirements for flight vs. weight vs. mass vs. pain tolerance vs. … I discovered a couple of things (at least that was the way all of this information was put together inside my head). There is a theoretical possibility of humans being able to fly. For flight to happen the human’s form would have to change drastically making us more like the flying creatures we know and less like humans. Were-birds or genetic tinkering are the only alternatives. Whether this would make Cree able to carry Shad is another matter altogether, and not knowing is now something I feel comfortable with.

I feel I need to thank Laken Cane for handing me this chance to look at the possibility of humans and flight.

Much later, she lay wrapped in his arms and realized she’d never felt more at peace than when she was with the berserker.

It was not a wholly comforting thought.

Sometimes knowing that another person’s presence brings a sense of completion can frighten us. I happen to be married to a man who brings me that sense. Allowing the peace he brought to set roots in my life was incredibly complicated and perhaps even worrying. What would happen to me if my heart gave up that piece of me? Personally, I do not have words for what his entry into my heart brought.

For a person like Rune, with the frightening and lonely background she has had filled with self-harm, self-disgust and self-fear, letting go of part of herself would be an even greater challenge. Yet a choice needs to made sooner or later. And it will be made eventually and during Obsidian Wings.

In the meantime Shad is driving Rune crazy with his over-protectiveness and willingness to fight Owen for her. I have no idea what Owen’s obsession is with Rune. Nor do I understand why Cruikshanks thinks he is unable to stay away from Rune. Three men driving Rune insane with their need for her while all (hah, hah) she wants is for her world to become whole again, Z to live and the twins to be back in the group, giving Ellis his Levi back and Lex her anchors.

I liked the second demon that turns up on the scene. Well, really it is the first demon but in a way it ends up being the second one for a lot of people. That is about as confusing as I can make this statement in my attempt to avoid giving anything away.

So, yes! Once I had resolved my issues with the birds I was a happy one myself and finished Obsidian Wings in no time.

My review of:

  1. Shiv Crew
  2. Blood and Bite
  3. Strange Trouble

Shaman shapeshifting into a bird
Shaman shapeshifting into a bird; By Susan Seddon Boulet

Birds of Paradise project (Cornell University)

If a human were to have wings? (SciFi Forums)

On Shapeshifting (Sarah Ann Lawless)

Shapeshifting (Wikipedia)

Shapeshifting (World of Warcraft)

Tengu: Guildwars (Wikipedia)

Voluntary shapeshifting (TV Tropes)

Why can’t humans fly like birds? (Rhett Allain)

Harrison, Kim: The Undead Pool (The Hollows XII) (2014)


“That’s because pixies think with their hearts,” Quen said, ignoring Trent’s peeved expression. “This decision is already causing problems.”

“Most warriors think with their hearts,” I said, telling the mystics to back off and that I wasn’t angry with anything they could crush or explode. “It’s what keeps them alive through the crap they have to deal with to keep the rest of you safe.”

Quen smiled, deep and full. “Rachel,” he amended, then headed into the hall. “Jenks, a word?”

“What the hell is it with you people?” Jenks griped as he followed him out. “Can’t you make a decision without talking to the pixy?”

“Warriors build empires around the kernel of truth that others overlook,” came Quen’s soft voice …

Who are the warriors? Well, in the world of The Undead Pool the warriors are pretty much all of Rachel’s friends. They save the world from the chaos caused by others and sometimes themselves (unintentionally). Some of them crave the adrenalin that comes from the fight while others fight for what they believe even though they are frightened half to bits.

When you take away the trappings of fantasy, you quickly see that Rachel Morgan is like many of us.

She grew up a sickly child. Her father died while she was young and her mother lost it for a while after that. Rachel was an outsider and bullied for being different. As she grew up Rachel learned to keep to herself and was afraid of bonding with others. But her personality was of one that stands up for what she believes in and one that fights for the weak in society. In time the force of her personality drew people to her and because of Rachel’s willingness to sacrifice for others those bonds became strong. Due to her fear of intimate relationships, Rachel had a tendency to choose lovers who spoke to her self-destructive side. But eventually her choices and the choices of others opened her eyes to the fact that it is OK to choose a partner who will be just that – a partner.

What Rachel has learned is that life is about so much more than surviving our pasts. In letting people into her life and taking the chance of being hurt further, Rachel has opened up for possibilities that would not have been there otherwise. In her fight for the protection of the weak, Rachel now has support that enables her to do what has become her “job”. She is still an outsider, but no longer is she alone.

Then we add the trappings of fantasy and we have a rip-roaring yarn told by one of my favorite authors.

  • Series: Hollows
  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Voyager; First Edition edition (February 25, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061957933
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061957932
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.4 x 1.6 inches

My review of Ever After

Somogyi, Jeffrey M.: Some Summonings Are Suspect (2011)

Some Summonings are Suspect

What should have been a brief, bloody battle wound up lasting for hours – partially due to the Robes’ fervor and zealotry in defending their cause and partially because of the Armoreds’ fervor and zealotry to their cause… but mostly because no one remembered to bring weapons that night.

It was a grisly scene of hand-to-hand combat. Since neither of these factions was all that skilled in personal, up-close, manual de-life-ing, the majority of the battle resembled high-school slap-fights. And it takes more than a little bit of time to slap someone to death.

These two paragraphs best describe why I enjoyed Some Summonings are Suspect. All 13 pages are pretty much this irreverent and silly. Not smiling was impossible and it feels really good to finish a story with a smile and a giggle. I love it when authors treat us humans as the silly creatures we are. Humans aren’t the only ones who are treated with humor. Mr. Somogyi‘s demons are a treat. I had a fun time with this short story.


First published as “An Indifferent End” in Cthulhu Sex Magazine Volume 2, Issue 22, 2005

Harrison, Kim: Ever After (The Hollows XI) (2013)

Ever After - 3 covers

Ever since I read the first novel in this now 11 book long series about Rachel Morgan I have been hooked. How Ms. Harrison manages to keep up the quality of her writing is beyond me.

In Ever After the story is mainly about Rachel, quite a bit about Trent and Jenks with some Quen and Al thrown in. The rest of the players have minor parts this time and some of them are only mentioned in passing.

I have been wondering if I would be able to make decisions based on “the greater good”. Could I harm an individual I knew/liked/loved to save the many? Rachel faces this choice in Ever After. She faces this same choice in just about every single one of Kim Harrison’s stories about her.

Rachel is an interesting person. She is an outsider among outsiders, the peg having to accept that she will never fit into any of the holes. If I was going to choose a main theme for the series it might be how to figure out how to accept your inability to fit in. I felt Rachel managed to do that in The Undead Pool. Like all people who get to that point, the Rachel we now meet is safer in her knowledge that she is who she is. That helps when trouble keeps on following her around.

In many ways Rachel’s life stinks royally. Yes, she is an adrenaline junkie. As with all other addictions, I am assuming that your fixes need to be larger over time. If there is one thing Rachel cannot complain about in Ever After, it is the dose of trouble Ms. Harrison feeds her. Ka-boom, ka-boom, ka-boom. From one fire to the next Rachel tries to keep up dragging along her leaking bucket. Ms. Harrison loves doing that to her Rachel.

Another thing Rachel has discovered she needs in these past few years is friendship. Being friends with Rachel is difficult but rewarding. Once you have her for a friend it takes an awful lot to lose her. All you have to do is ask Nick. He has done his utmost to turn her against him (although he does not see it that way). Nick is one of those persons who is never at fault – never. He and Ku’Sox are alike in that regard and as such make a pretty good team (or maybe not).

What must it be like to think that you are never to blame for anything? I get that most things in life are plain luck of the draw while others are a direct result of what we have done. From what people say to me, the majority seems to find it incredibly easy to see its own flaws. I’m finding myself completely mystified at how a person is able to accept absolutely no blame but be glad to take credit for good things happening. Narcissism is one of the weirder disorders out there and Nick fits the bill in so many ways.

As usual, you get no synopsis from me. There is as always with Rachel Morgan action, character growth, justice, unfairness, tragedy, mystery, love and closure. You can read Ever After without reading the other novels in the series, but why deprive yourself of that much fun?


Rowland, Diana: Fury of the Demon (Kara Gillian VI) (2014)

Fury of the Demon
Cover art by Daniel Dos Santos
Cover design by G-Force Design

I’ve thought somewhat about a paragraph in Fury of the Demon:

It was a story as old as time, and Rasha had played the role of disapproving elder with fervor. And even though her intent had been noble – to protect her granddaughter from an untrustworthy man – she paid the price with crushing loneliness so deep that she’d risked death or injury to …

To what lengths will we go to avoid feeling lonely?

The first five novels in the Kara Gillian series shows how far she has been willing to go to avoid that feeling. Now she experiences a sense of belonging she had never thought possible.

Loneliness is a concept I have spent much time contemplating. I’m kind of a misfit with most people. We can talk a bit, but when it comes to wanting to spend more time with me or me wanting to adjust to their expectations of “proper female behavior” – well, it just ain’t happening. In the past I have done stupid things to stop feeling lonely. I genuinely like being in my own company and sometimes find the presence of others intrusive. Even my dog and my husband. But it has been lonely growing up being a person like me. Thankfully, loneliness is no longer a factor in my life.

The other side of the loneliness coin that some people choose is that they would rather be alone than risk facing their own inner demons. Mzatal used to be like that. Then Kara and Idris came along and opened up the cracks of his emotional armor. This I really understand.

Emotions are confusing and illogical. They follow no rhyme or reason and appear when most inconvenient. I used to hide mine in a large chest that only I held the key to. Then patience and acceptance came my way through my husband and tiny emotion-elves started picking that lock.

Sometimes we all have need of a person in our life that sets off our tiny emotion-elves. Kara found several of them in her posse, and Mzatal found his through his protegés. Now both of them just have to figure out how to want to keep those positive influences in their lives.

As a compliment to Ms. Rowland’s writing, I found myself stupidly reading, and reading and reading through the freaking night. Her writing becomes better with each production. I love it when I can follow an author in their progression as a writer.



  • Series: Kara Gillian (Book 6)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: DAW; 1 edition (January 7, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 075640830X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0756408305

My review of: Touch of the Demon

Quotes about loneliness

Angell, Lorena (co-authored by Joshua Angell): The Diamond Bearers’ Destiny (The Unaltered IV)

The Diamond Bearer's Destiny

As with the previous covers for The Unaltered serial (need to read them in order) I really like this cover. As the very good thief I am, I stole a compilation of the three others from Angell’s site:

The unaltered series

Once upon a time a human became Crimson. She was the first human with a jewel inserted into her heart. Then came Mathea and later on others. With the abilities brought on by being Diamond Bearers these people were able to help humanity survive and to look for unaltered people. Unaltereds are the only ones who can become a Diamond Bearer and the only way to be an unaltered is to have no special powers at all. In the world of Calli Courtnae, Chris Harding and the rest just about every person has some degree of super-natural ability.

Then along comes Freedom (Henry) and General Harding (Chris’ father). Sometimes the combination of two people can bring about amazing results. In Freedom and General Harding’s case these results were amazingly destructive for people who have more than a smidgen of power. Trouble looms.

The Diamond Bearers’ Destiny starts off with an information dump that lets Calli know why Chris acted as he did in The Diamond of Freedom. For the length of the novel the info-dump is too long. I like the manner in which it was done – by having Calli read Chris’ memories.

Calli meets Crimson for the first time when she meets up with Chris and ends up reading his memories. Crimson tries to make Calli understand just how important she views the freedom to choose. Crimson’s explanation of her world-view is not too long in and of itself. On top of the information dump it is. Once Angell spread the philosophical moments with action we once again started moving into the action/thrillerish nature of the other three Unaltered novels.

The Unaltered serial is definitely for young adults. Both violence and romance is kept extremely innocent. I think even the strictest parents would allow their children to read this kind of content.

Although Brand doesn’t get to be as fun this time around, he does get to show off a bit. For those who are interested in romance, there is even some of that. Chris and Calli are a bit mushy for me, but then they have been all along. Very few romantic descriptions avoid my mushy label.

I found the consequence for Diamond Bearers who tried to go against nature interesting. Whether Calli stuffing the diamond into Jonas’ chest qualifies as one such action is a worry for Crimson (and Calli once she gets to know how serious something like that is).

In The Diamond Bearers’ Destiny Deus Ex and General Harding’s are both obsessed with having their own diamonds. Both are driven by fear of some other person being more powerful than themselves. Aahhh, the ever-present lure of power.


My review of:

  1. Diamond in My Pocket
  2. Diamond in My Heart
  3. The Diamond of Freedom

McNally, M. Edward: The Sable City (Norothian Cycle I) (2011)

The Sable City
Cover art by Edward M. McNally

The Sable City is a winner. It is full of humour, tension and action. You know, it is strange how placing a few words on a piece of paper (e-book in this case) can bring such joy to a person like myself.

At the beginning of “The Sable City there was an episode that convinced me that this was a novel for me:

“Matilda Lanai was among them, though at the time Block knew her vaguely by face but not name. Of about typical height for a young Miilarkian woman, she was however paired against a fellow Block recognized and even knew by name as Kauna, a full-blooded Islander with a creamed-coffee complexion and a mass of black hair to his waist. While of only moderate size for a water buffalo, Kauna was an excessively large human. Block had known enough Island men of the type to suspect that later in life the big fellow ran the risk of turning astonishingly fat, but at nineteen years of age he was a chiselled mountain of a man. Stolid in nature, but capable of accidental bursts of breathtaking power.

That hot day last Fourth Month, Matilda Lanai had found herself on the business end of just such a burst.

Block’s attention had been elsewhere, but everyone in the room heard Kauna cry “Tilda!” in sudden alarm. The dwarf turned and saw the big man frozen with one knee on the mat and his arms fully extended, watching wide-eyed as the bare feet of his sparring partner kicked the air. This did nothing to prevent her sailing out head-first through an open cargo door, and dropping out of sight. Four stories up.

Block was on the other side of the room, and well past his sprinting days. As he crossed to the cargo door the dwarf had time to think at least she went out on the water-side, but then he also had time to wonder just how far the timber cart path extended out around that base of the building the hand pier-like over the water. Pretty far, he reckoned.

As everyone converged the one apprentice who had been next to the open doorway gaped, then cheered. She alone had seen Tilda clear the wooden edge of the pier forty feet below by the narrowest of margins. One more inch, as the girl laughingly told the crow later, and Tilda would have lost nose, nipples, and kneecaps.


Her classmates cheered, but the young woman with the sodden mop of black hair plastered to her face and shoulders did not look up. Nor did she flop gasping onto her back, as Block expected. Instead, she paused on all fours for only a moment. Then she was up, and running, along the warehouse and around the corner toward the nearest door giving backing inside. She left a trail of wet footprints slapped across the hard wood her nose had missed by a hairsbreadth.

The apprentices blinked after her, then looked around at each other. Their eyes finally settled on Kauna, who had stood up straight but not yet taken a step closer to the doorway out of which he had pitched his classmate.

“She’s all right?” the big Islander finally stammered at everyone, but one man with Varanchian-blond hair answered.

“You are going to find out in about two minutes.”


Matilda Lanai was of the mixed-stock know in the Islands as “Ship People.” Lighter in complexion than a Full Blood but with features typical of an Islander, with a rounded chin, broad mouth, and flashing eyes of a brown so deep the occasionally looked black. The looked that way now as she skidded to a halt, swiped her clinging hair out of her face and over her shoulder, and locked her narrowed eyes on Kauna’s wide-open ones. Tilda’s chest heaved and she stood with her feet apart, silent except for her breath and the drops of water pattering the floorboards. She held her hands loose at her sides, arms toned by boundless youth and a hard year of Guild training.

Kauna looked at the silt, then back at Tilda, then around at his classmates. They now stood father away from Kauna than was Tilda, for the young Guilders-in-training had been drifting away steadily since she appeared, with nary a squeak from the floor.

The big Islander nodded once, twice, then straightened to his full lofty height. He gave Tilda a short bow. Kauna turned, took two long strides into a dead run, and launched himself out through the open door with a great whoop, arcing majestically out over the pier and falling feet first into the water below.”

Map Sable CityAnd that was how Captain Block found his travelling companion. Captain Block himself is a dwarf of the traditional fantasy type. His loyalty lies with house Deskata, one of the merchant families of Miilark. When the last living leader of the merchant family asks him to bring back their sole blood-line heir (who just happens to have been exiled), he and Tilda go off to the continent to find the proverbial “needle in the haystack” and end up having to follow the mercenary Dugan around to find the lost Islander.

Most of the story is told from Tilda’s point of view and much of it deals with personal and physical journeys.  Getting to know Tilda has been fun. She shows us that she is capable of changing her attitudes while holding on to her values. Perhaps being trained as an assassin (among other things) has given her an extra appreciation for the sacredness of life that I know I do not have. Her love for Captain Block shines through. Perhaps he is some kind of father figure to her while away from home. Block also lets his love for Tilda shine through his gruffness. Being centuries old has made it necessary to keep a certain distance to the people he encounters, but Tilda seems to be able to reach through to him and give him back a part of his life that he had not known that he was missing.

I liked Duggan and the lessons he brought into Tilda and Block’s lives. His ability to annoy and charm the two of them is admirable. He might not be the rapscallion he tries to convince them of but there is certainly a ruthlessness there that his mercenary life has left with him.

But The Sable City is not only about the trio. Other people turn up, as is only proper during a quest that ends up in a fabled city supposedly full of treasure.

Axman Zebulon Baj Nif ends up being saved by a Samurai, Uriako Shikashe, and a Far Western healer, Amatesu, from certain death after they had attacked his unit to find him. They bring him with them so he might be a translator for their mistress – Nesha-Tari. This quartet end up adding another member in Phineas of the wizard circle. They are all going to the Sable City along with a couple of other characters who end up being gorgeous Brother Kendall Heggenauer and Father Luis Coralle of the Brothers of Jobe along with the daughter of a duke. Finally, there are dragons, mercenaries and a likeable demon by the name of Lord Dalin.

The Sable City is the kind of fantasy that has its roots back to the days of The Odyssey. As such it is a recipe for writing that has stood the test of time. It is strange that I keep on reading new novels in this genre considering how many of them I have read. But I never seem to tire of them – as long as the author writes well.



  • File Size: 899 KB
  • Print Length: 478 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: BNL Enterprises; 1 edition (February 25, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English

Jackson, Ros: The Secret Eater (2013)

Ros Jackson
Cover art by Rick Parsons
Editing by Anna Genoese

I was given a reviewer’s copy of The Secret Eater. I promise that I have not included either “bomb-making instructions” or “the directions to” Ros’ house in this review. When contacted by Ros Jackson I went to her website to check out the background info on the novella and was sold when the words “Nigella Express” appeared.  I did the elegant snort laugh that I do sometimes and said I would love to review it.

Kenssie, the demon (of the secret-eating variety), is an insecure girl with a tendency toward denial. She loves what she is in a world of demons, hybrids and humans. As usual, we humans are oblivious to the “others” around us, something that makes us perfect prey. But we aren’t the only prey around it seems. Denial is a wonderful tool of survival in a world where a poor girl wants to believe herself more included than she really is.

The way Ros Jackson has portrayed the demons and hybrids of her world makes them seem a perfect complement to our fears, insecurities, greed and anger. Using humour and satire as a tool to comment on the world is done in the way only Brits are able to.

I liked this first novella of Ros Jackson.