Category Archives: Urban Fantasy

Utopia, Iowa by Brian Yansky

Reviewed by Teri Davis

Utopia, Iowa “I wanted to write about a magical Midwestern small town and a boy who will have to leave that magical town to chase his dream of writing the movies. There’s murder, mystery, and mayhem in this novel, but at the heart is the struggle of a boy to leave family, friends, and home behind to pursue his dreams.”

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For Jack Bell, who is entering his senior year in high school, life is not easy. Jack’s mouth tends to have a life of its own and he enjoys the trouble he causes, even if it means numerous detentions. He has big dreams of being a screen writer and believes that this will be his last year living in Utopia. His life next year will need to be in California.

Speak of Ashes by Christine McGovern

Speak of Ashes

Reviewed by Gina R. Metz

Gwen Hawthorne barely survived an attack by an Infernal who killed her friends. Infernals are immortal, supernaturally strong and feed on the energy of living souls. Gwen lives in Ash that is surrounded by a border that most believe keeps them safe from the Infernals. When Gwen was attacked most believed her story of a demon attack as a lie but the Church knows the truth that the border isn’t keeping the Infernals out. Infernals look just like any other human and only attract the Church’s attention when they get sloppy and start leaving bodies behind or people start going missing around them.

The Rook by Daniel O’Malley

The Rook Reviewed by Douglas R. Cobb

“The body you are wearing used to be mine.” This is the first line of the amazing, page-turning, suspenseful paranormal thriller The Rook, by Daniel O’Malley, coming to a store near you in January of 2012. It’s destined to be one of the most-used first lines in book reviews, and one of the most memorable first lines of any book so far in this decade. To describe the novel as being “way cool,” is accurate, but it downplays just how cool the novel actually is, and it isn’t really a descriptive synopsis of it. This first line comes from a letter that Myfanwy (rhymes with “Tiffany”) Thomas writes to some person whom she hopes will occupy her body and carry on her work after she has died, though at the time Myfanwy writes the letter, it is far from assured that whomever wakes up in her body will decide to expose her killer(s).

The plot interweaves letters that the Rook Myfanwy Thomas (a high-ranking operative of one of England’s paranormal secret government agencies, the Checquy) has written and the efforts of the person who has taken over her body to convince everyone around her that she is Myfanwy, and expose the traitor in the agency who murdered her. Myfanwy (well, the person who now is in her body) awakes in a London park surrounded by dead bodies all wearing latex gloves. She is battered and has two black eyes, but is alive, which is more than can be said for the bodies around her. Yet, the person inside of Myfanwy has no recollection of who she is, or was, before her rebirth.

She reads a letter in an envelope marked #1, and like in the movie the Matrix, she is offered a choice: to be established in a safe, comfortable new life with all the money she desires; or, to still be very wealthy, but to live a life of danger as a Rook, one of the most psychically powerful Rooks and members of the Court of the Checquy (though generally speaking, she’s also one of the meekest) who has ever lived, and discover who within the agency has tried to eliminate her.

Mystic Investigators: Bullets & Brimstone by Patrick Thomas and John L. French

Mystic Investigators:  Bullets & Brimstone Reviewed by Douglas R. Cobb

The combination of a great paranormal mystery novel with one that is also an urban fantasy is a hard one to beat. Bullets and Brimstone, the wondrous concoction of a novel that successfully combines these two genres, is the latest book in the Mystic Investigators series by the talented duo of Patrick Thomas & John L. French. Though it is a relatively short novel, at 115 pages, it is packed with enough page-turning suspense and LOL humorous writing to make it well worth buying and adding to your reading list.

What’s Bullets & Brimstone about, you may well ask; and, how did this highly creative dynamic pair get together to write it? Both Patrick Thomas and real-life crime scene supervisor John L. French have their own series. Thomas is the creator of the Mystic Investigators’ series featuring the diminutive but feisty Detective Bianca Jones of Baltimore, a.k.a. Charm City. She’s had several run-ins with the paranormal before, and has managed to cheat the Devil out of more than one soul. That’s why you’d think it an unlikely pairing for her to team up with John L. French’s character Negral, an all-but-forgotten Sumerian god and Hell’s Detective, who is employed by the Devil. But, it works very well, despite the animosity between Bianca and Negral’s boss.

Negral’s love of film noir flicks like Humphrey Bogart’s detective movies is demonstrated by the attire he wears: a dark suit, fedora, and light-colored trench coat. He also seems to dig old gangster movies, like Little Caesar, a fact that Bianca puts to good use at one point in the novel by sending him off to view a gangster movie marathon to get him out of the way and allow her to pursue a couple of leads in the case he brings her.

Vampire Career (A Turning Vampire Novel) by Phoebe Matthews

Vampire CareerReviewed by Douglas R. Cobb

Georgia, weak and sickly for the eighteen years of he life, discovers she has a fatal disease. Though her doctor recommends she does something fun, like travel to Hawaii to spend the last remaining days of her life, she decides to enroll in college instead. That’s because she has a plan to evade the rapidly approaching Grim Reaper: she decides to become a vampire! This is the premise of the first novel in Phoebe Matthew’s Turning Vampire series. Available either as a paperback or as an e-book, it is an entertaining, page-turning take on the traditional vampire legends and myths, with a nice dose of romance thrown in to spice the plot up.

With the help of her parents, she moves to the Olympic Peninsula of Seattle, Washington, to attend college. The real reason she has chosen that area is that she’s heard rumors of a substantial population of vampires there, and she desperately wants to find one to turn her into a vampire, herself, so she won’t have to face dying at such an early age. She takes a light course load her first semester, only four classes, with her illness as an excuse.

At night, Georgia hits the bars, searching for a person who might conceivably be a vampire. She scores when she attracts the attention of the handsome Dominic. He is taken aback by Georgia’s forthrightness and her desire for him to turn her, as he tells her he’s never turned anyone into a vampire, and he doesn’t want to cause anyone pain or kill them. He needs to sustain himself by drinking the blood of humans, but he and the other vampires he associates with just take the blood they need, and move on to other victims. The experience, involving first a kiss on the lips, causes his victims to fall asleep. When they awaken, they believe they’ve had great sex, and everyone seems to benefit from the arrangement.

Awakenings by Edward Lazellari

AwakeningsReviewed by Douglas R. Cobb

Awakenings by Edward Lazellari is a stunning debut novel of Urban Fantasy that is part crime drama, part a magical tale of recovered memories and fantastical lands, and is all a spell-binding, page-turning novel that you won’t want to put down. It’s the first book in Lazellari’s Heroes of Aandor series, and if it’s anything like the books that will follow, I believe it could turn into one of the most popular contemporary fantasy series ever written. By the title alone, it’s hard to tell what the book will be about, but give it a chance, buy it, and I believe that you, also, will become a fan of it and the series.

The cover is cool, but might make you think, when you see the picture of a policeman in the foreground, that the novel you just picked up might have accidently strayed into the science fiction/fantasy area of your local bookstore from where it truly belongs, in the mystery/thriller section. And, reading the prologue of the book, about a rather disreputable detective being offered a case, this feeling might be reinforced. That is, until you realize that the people who are offering the detective the case, involving finding someone who has been very difficult for them to locate, are not your ordinary, everyday sorts of humans, and are, in fact, not really humans at all. They’ve come from an alternate dimension where magic flourishes and time runs differently than ours, and they have no compunctions about doing things like ripping the beating hearts out of people and storing them away in velvet sacks with drawstrings, to ensure the cooperation and loyalty of those they meet. This is also the fate that awaits the crooked PI and his secretary.

Who are the beings that come to the PI and hire him? Who are they trying to locate, and why? They come from the world of Aandor, and they want to make sure that the order of succession goes their way. If they can find the person who they are searching for, Cal MacDonnell, a captain and a descendant of kings in Aandor but a New York City cop here (unbeknownst to them at the time), their mission will be accomplished. If they can find him before he recovers his memory of what his life was like, memories that have been lost to him for thirteen years, Cal MacDonnell will prove to be easy prey. But, if others, also from Aandor but who are loyal to the past king get to him first, and help him to recover his memories, their task will be much more difficult, if not impossible.