The Qwillery | category: Doreen | (page 3 of 7)


The Qwillery

A blog about books and other things speculative

Review: Darkness on his Bones by Barbara Hambly

Darkness on his Bones
Author:  Barbara Hambly
Series:  James Asher Vampire 6
Publisher:  Severn House, October 1, 2015
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 256 pages
List Price:  $29.95  (print); $24.99 (eBook)
ISBN:  9780727885234 (print); 9781780106762 (eBook)

Review: Darkness on his Bones by Barbara Hambly
Simon. Something frightful has happened to Jamie. Please come . . .

When James Asher is found unconscious in the cemetery of the Church of St. Clare Pieds-Nus with multiple puncture-wounds in his throat and arms, his wife, Lydia, knows of only one person to call: the vampire Don Simon Ysidro. Old friend and old adversary, he is the only one who can help Lydia protect her unconscious, fevered husband from the vampires of Paris.

Why James has been attacked – and why he was called to Paris in the first place – Lydia has no idea. But she knows that she must find out, and quickly. For with James wavering between life and death, and war descending on the world, their slim chance of saving themselves from the vampires grows slimmer with each passing day . . .

Doreen’s Thoughts

In the late 1980s, I read two books by Barbara Hambly about James Asher*, a professor who also doubles as an English agent; his wife Lydia; and the vampire Don Simon Ysidro. The books were fast-paced and more realistic than many vampire books of that time. These vampires were never glamorized, but they were almost more human than many of the other characters in the books. I loved Hambly’s language and her ability to describe the politics and history of the early 20th century.

Imagine my surprise and joy when I discovered not one, but four more novels written about the same characters and the same period! I quickly devoured the next three and was able to finally snag an early copy of this one from the publisher (via NetGalley).

Hambly writes just as well, if not better, than I remember from the late 80s. Her language is lyrical, almost poetic at times, and she uses unusual, sometimes archaic words, which match the century which she is describing. It is obvious that she has thoroughly researched the Paris that she describes of both pre-WWI and the 1600s. I could almost picture walking through the churchyard and down in the underground.

In this novel, Lydia has been notified that her husband, supposedly at a folklore conference, has been found unconscious and drained of blood in Paris. Despite concerns about a war erupting between France and Germany, Lydia travels to Paris to care for her husband and contacts their somewhat friend, Don Simon. As Paris begins sending men and supplies to the front, Lydia and Don Simon must protect James from the Paris vampires, who appear to have splintered into at least two factions.

While Lydia and James deeply love one another, it is obvious from these novels that there is a romantic attachment between Lydia and Don Simon. In several books, he has “declared” himself at her disposal, even unto true death. The fact that a vampire, who has killed hundreds of humans to prolong his life, is capable of such deep feeling is unusual, especially among the vampires themselves. What is interesting is the fact that Lydia, in some fashion, returns such feelings, despite knowing of his horrific crimes and despite still thoroughly loving her husband.

Hambly’s characters have always been truly human, with foibles and problems just like we readers have. Her descriptions are ornate and detailed, almost to the point where a reader could draw out the path that her characters follow. Not only that, she is able to set a mood for Paris herself – first jubilant as every man joins the army to defeat the Kaiser and then terrified as the wounded stream back home and the city prepares for attack. This is how I have always loved to learn about history – from stories such as these.

I love Darkness on his Bones and can only recommend the entire series to everyone. Hambly was my favorite author in the 1980s, and she is rapidly becoming one of my favorite authors today.

Review: Bitter Bite by Jennifer Estep

Bitter Bite
Author:  Jennifer Estep
Series:  Elemental Assassin 14
Publisher:  Pocket Books, February 23, 2016
Format:  Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 400 pages
List Price:  US$7.99 (print and eBook)
ISBN:  9781501111273 (print); 9781501111280 (eBook)

Review: Bitter Bite by Jennifer Estep
Which is stronger: blood ties or a battle-tested friendship? That’s the question Gin Blanco asks when a friend’s long-lost relative strolls into town. The suspicious reunion is a surprise for everyone—and a big problem for Gin. Book fourteen in the New York Times bestselling urban fantasy series RT Book Reviews calls “unbeatable entertainment!”

It’s not easy being queen bee of an underworld abuzz with crooks and killers. Wielding my potent Ice and Stone elemental magic will only get me so far—my real secret is my tight-knit makeshift family, a motley crew of cops and criminals, dwarves and playboys. My foster brother Finnegan Lane is my right-hand man, but when his suddenly not-dead relative comes back into the picture, I’m the one on the outside looking in.

It’s funny how life works: one minute your best friend is rock-steady, and the next he’s doe-eyed and buying into this whole loving-relative routine to the point of ignoring you. I’d like to be happy for Finn, I really would. But all of my instincts are telling me that beneath the syrupy sweet demeanor and old-fashioned charm, this sudden interloper is planning something. The whole shtick leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. This person might have avoided the grave once, but I’ll put anyone who hurts Finn in the ground—for good.

Doreen’s Thoughts

In this 17th* outing with Gin Blanco, the Elemental Assassin, Jennifer Estep once again places one of Gin’s extended family in jeopardy. Gin continues as the queen of the underworld, when she is not cooking at her restaurant, the Pork Pit, or for her family. Her extended family includes her sister, her foster brother, her lover, and various other characters that she has adopted along the way. As an Elemental, Gin has the ability to control both Ice and Stone, which gives her an edge in the assassin business.

As Estep usually does, the last novel ended with the reveal of a new threat to Gin’s world. This time, the threat is aimed at her foster brother, Finn. Unfortunately, while Gin is investigating this new person, Finn is cozying up to one of his new clients, Mama Dee, and before Gin has a chance to prepare Finn, she reveals herself to be his long-lost mother. However, her story of why she disappeared does not fit with the story that Finn’s father left for Gin, and nothing Gin says can dissuade Finn from falling for this woman’s charms.

By now, the stories should feel formulaic, but Estep keeps her writing crisp. Her fight scenes generally last for several pages and are tightly written. You can almost feel the knives slashing and the blood flying. The interactions between the characters seems realistic, and it is easy to sink into the magic of Asheville.

I particularly love that Gin is a cook, first and foremost. When something upsets her world order, her instinct is to fix food, the world’s number-one comfort. I almost wish that Estep would include recipes for some of the meals that Gin prepares for her family and at her restaurant, but that would undermine the seriousness of the tales. Make no mistake, Gin also is an assassin who won her way to the top of the underworld.

I also enjoy the relationships that Gin has with her extended family. When the novels first began, Gin was a relatively solitary soul, with just Finn and a few others. However, she has grown during the course of the series and become more involved with people.

Overall, Estep continues to churn out good solid stories that surprise and delight. As mentioned, she usually sets up her next novel by leaving some hint at the end, and she does so again here. It turns out that the underworld that Gin knows may not be the whole underworld – there appears to be a larger group that masterminds everything. Even worse, it appears that Gin’s mother may not have been the innocent victim that Gin thought she was – but that’s another story.

*14 Novels and 3 Novellas

Review: A Deafening Silence in Heaven by Thomas E. Sniegoski

A Deafening Silence in Heaven
Author:  Thomas E. Sniegoski
Series:  Remy Chandler 7
PublisherRoc, October 6, 2016
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 448 pages
List Price:  US$15.00 (print); US$9.99 (eBook)
ISBN:  9780451470027 (print); 9780698157811 (eBook)

Review: A Deafening Silence in Heaven by Thomas E. Sniegoski
From the New York Times bestselling author of the Fallen series comes a new Remy Chandler novel.

He was once known as the angel Remiel. But, generations ago, Boston PI Remy Chandler renounced Heaven and chose to live on Earth, hiding among us humans, fighting to save our souls…

Remy Chandler is hovering on the brink of death, surrounded by friends who are trying to ward off those who would take advantage of his vulnerability. Unbeknownst to them, the greatest threat to Remy is one they can’t fight—God himself. The Almighty dispatches Remy far beyond their reach, to an alternate universe where there has been an apocalyptic catastrophe: the Unification.

Only as he hunts down the source of this calamity, it becomes clearer and clearer that the person responsible for the tragedy may have been none other than Remy himself.

And while he searches for a way to stop his world from following in the footsteps of the doomed alternate reality, enemies are massing in his universe. For the Unification is at hand and, this time, Remy may be powerless to affect its outcome…

Doreen’s Thoughts

Thomas E. Sniegoski has written seven novels about Remy Chandler, a Boston private investigator who also is the angel Remiel. His idea of an angel renouncing heaven and coming to earth to live life among the mortals is an intriguing one, and I have been following it through this latest book. As someone raised in a parochial school, I relish his archaic biblical stories and myths about angels and demons. The world he has created seems solid to me, and Remy as a character is about as human as one can be.

More than any other character in the book, however, Marlow captures the essence of Sniegoski’s genius. As an angel, Remy has the ability to speak to all the creatures of the earth, and Marlow is his beloved lab. Marlow is a gentle soul who can be driven to protect his beloved humans, and his observations about humanity are spot-on.

In this particular outing, Remy has been wounded by an assassination attempt from a group of assassins who never give up and will not be called off of their assignment. As he lays unconscious, his friends must protect his body while his mind is directed to an alternate history – where Heaven and Hell has failed to reconcile and everything has fallen apart. For the first time, Remy’s extraordinary skills cannot save him – he has to rely on his friends, some human and some not, to keep the assassins away and to help restore him where he belongs.

I really enjoy the characterizations in these novels. Remy is unique in that after thousands of years, he still is not familiar with all the human emotions. For the past 60 years or so, Remy has been married to his soul mate. Since she dies in the first novel, Sniegoski explores grief and its effects during his tales. More than once, Remy debates whether it is worth experiencing all that human life has to offer and considers returning to heaven. His disillusionment with the Great War, where Lucifer was struck down for his jealousy over God’s attention to mankind, is understandable when you consider that brother fought brother, much like during our Civil War. As Remy has started dating again, the idea of finding love once more seems almost unimaginable.

In addition to biblical figures and mythological creatures, Sniegoski is quite talented at creating all new species for his stories. In particular, the assassins’ guild that attempts to kill Remy is rather unique, in that they are creatures totally born and bred to fulfill their contracts through killing. The symbiotic relationship between the assassins and their weapons is rather different as well.

Overall, Sniegoski writes good mysteries, using old-time religious doctrine within his fantastical stories. Anyone will enjoy A Deafening Silence in Heaven, even without a background in catechism, although it is probably best to read the prior novels to fully enjoy the threads that the author started seeding earlier. Bible tales were never this wildly entertaining when I went to school!

Review: Fool's Quest by Robin Hobb

Fool’s Quest
Author:  Robin Hobb
Series:  The Fitz and the Fool Trilogy 2
Publisher:  Del Rey, August 11, 2015
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 768 pages
List Price:  $28.00 (print); $13.99 (eBook)
ISBN:  9780553392920 (print); 9780553392937 (eBook)
Upcoming Format:  Mass Market Paperback, July 26, 2016

Review: Fool's Quest by Robin Hobb
Ranking alongside George R. R. Martin as a groundbreaking master of fantasy, Robin Hobb delivers the second book in her long-awaited Fitz and the Fool trilogy.

The harrowing adventures of FitzChivalry Farseer and his enigmatic friend the Fool continue in Robin Hobb’s triumphant follow-up to Fool’s Assassin. But Fool’s Quest is more than just a sequel. With the artistry and imagination her fans have come to expect, Hobb builds masterfully on all that has gone before, revealing devastating secrets and shocking conspiracies that cast a dark shadow over the history of Fitz and his world—a shadow that now stretches to darken all future hope.

Long ago, Fitz and the Fool changed the world, bringing back the magic of dragons and securing both the Farseer succession and the stability of the kingdom. Or so they thought. But now the Fool is near death, maimed by mysterious pale-skinned figures whose plans for world domination hinge upon the powers the Fool may share with Fitz’s own daughter.

Distracted by the Fool’s perilous health, and swept up against his will in the intrigues of the royal court, Fitz lets down his guard . . . and in a horrible instant, his world is undone and his beloved daughter stolen away by those who would use her as they had once sought to use the Fool—as a weapon.

But FitzChivalry Farseer is not without weapons of his own. An ancient magic still lives in his veins. And though he may have let his skills as royal assassin diminish over the years, such things, once learned, are not so easily forgotten.

Now enemies and friends alike are about to learn that nothing is more dangerous than a man who has nothing left to lose.

Doreen’s Thoughts

Fool’s Quest is the second novel in Robin Hobb’s third trilogy* about FitzChivalry Farseer and his Fool. With just as much violence, politics, and magic as George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, all of Hobb’s novels are all set in her same exotic world, which ranges from Buckkeep Holding to the Rain Wild Forest, with bonding wolves and swimming dragons. Her sword fights are realistic and well-orchestrated, and the magic of the portal travel is well constructed. She writes complex, conflicted characters who grow and change. More importantly, though, after eight novels following the same characters, she still has new things to reveal about Fitz’s world and his life.

At the close of the first novel, Fool's Assassin, Fitz had found the Fool lying in the street of a nearby town. Unfortunately, he had attacked and stabbed the Fool, seeing him only as a filthy beggar holding onto his daughter, Bee. Once he recognized the Fool, he had sent Bee home with Lant and Shun while he carried the injured through the portals back to Buckkeep for help and healing. Fool’s Quest opens with the Fool in perilous health, desperate for Fitz to travel with him back to the White Island and eliminate those who had tortured and harangued him.

For the first part of the story, Fitz himself remains totally unaware that his daughter, Bee, has been kidnapped and his home destroyed by a dangerous new enemy. It takes several chapters before he is informed of the grievous loss, and until then, he settles into royal life much as he ever had as directed by Chade. The intrigue of the royal life still remains as tangled as ever, while the King and his wife negotiate treaties and contracts with various other kingdoms. Fitz, however, remains as aloof as ever, simply playing the role of a spy in his own home, never having been thoroughly accepted by his peers and family.

Once Fitz becomes aware of Bee’s kidnapping, the story moves much more quickly. As with Fool’s Assassin, the story alternates several chapters from Fitz’s perspective with a chapter from Bee’s perspective. Through her observations and through the Fool’s storytelling, the reader becomes aware of why the Whites have stolen Bee and their intents long before Fitz himself accepts the truth.

Here is where Robin Hobb really shines. She has taken characters and scenes that she has explored in-depth at least twice and added enough spice and intrigue to make them all new again. There is a relationship between the Chaldaceans and the Whites that needs to be explained, and the Whites’ agenda must be established. Fitz must take on an entirely new role in his family, one for which he is ill-prepared by everything else that has gone on before.

In addition, Hobb’s storytelling still can bring a reader to tears. The scene where Fitz expects to be chastised for his actions and instead is helped to grieve for little Bee tore me up inside. Fitz was honored and astonished to see the new and former queen’s actions to support his grief.

In the other books, Fitz has always been able to rely upon the Fool and his mentor, Chade; yet both of these characters suffer greatly and are not expected to recover. Fitz feels he is on his own to rescue Bee. However, both Lant and the little horse boy, Perseverance, persist in their efforts to force Fitz to include them in his plans. While both are young and untried, this is an opportunity to Fitz to mentor as well.

Overall, I sped through Fool’s Quest and can hardly wait for the next novel. However, reading this story reminded me of the other two trilogies and the actions and prophecies that occurred in those. I may just have to pull out those older books and reread them while I wait.

*The Farseer Trilogy

1.  Assassin's Apprentice
2.  Royal Assassin
3.  Assassin's Quest

The Tawny Man Trilogy

1.  Fool's Errand
2.  Golden Fool
3.  Fool's Fate

The Fitz and the Fool Trilogy

1.  Fool's Assassin
2.  Fool's Quest

Review: Led Astray: The Best of Kelly Armstrong by Kelley Armstrong

Led Astray: The Best of Kelly Armstrong
Author:  Kelley Armstrong
Publisher:  Tachyon Publication, September 15, 215
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 384 pages
List Price:  $16.96 (print); $9.99 (eBook)
ISBN:  9781616962029 (print); 9781616962036 (eBook)

Review: Led Astray: The Best of Kelly Armstrong by Kelley Armstrong
With her signature twists and turns, #1 New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong (Otherworld, Cainsville, Darkest Powers, Age of Legends) always gives a fresh spin on city-dwelling vampires, werewolves, and zombies. She is equally exciting when traveling further afield, to a post-apocalyptic fortress, a superstitious village, a supernatural brothel, and even feudal Japan.

Here is the first time that urban fantasy, young adult, mystery, and crime author Kelley Armstrong has had her stories collected from the Otherworld and beyond. From humorous to heart-stopping, and including two original tales, Led Astray showcases Armstrong at her versatile best.

Doreen’s Thoughts

Kelly Armstrong has created several worlds, including her latest Cainsville, her Otherworld, and her Young Adult fantasies. Years ago, she started to post short stories on her website for her most avid readers, and occasionally, she gathers them together and binds them up with other new stories for publication. Here she has put together 23 stories that were published in various unrelated anthologies, combining them for the first time.

Most of the stories center around characters and series that she has set in the Otherworld, one with shapeshifters, vampires, witches, and part-demons. With these, we find out more about various side characters that appear in her major novels. There are three different stories about Zoe, a vampire who appeared once early on in “Stolen.” Several focus on how the Pack acquired various new members, such as Nick, while others center around Clay and Elena’s twins. All of them allow readers to understand more fully the world that Armstrong has created.

Armstrong’s latest series is Cainsville, set in a mysterious city outside Chicago filled with elves who watch over their part-elven offspring, especially those unaware of their own mystical nature. Here Armstrong again offers stories that more fully develop side characters from Cainsville. More important, the stories more fully establish the magic that exists in Cainsville and outline some of the reasoning behind why certain characters act certain ways. “Gabriel’s Gargoyles” tells about the childhood of one of Cainsville’s main characters.

Lastly, Armstrong offers some eerie standalone stories, unrelated to anything else she has written. These are mostly horror stories, ones that make you think late at night about whether your doors are locked. “Suffer the Children” is probably the best of the bunch, set in a bucolic village visited by a mysterious visitor who offers to bring back the dead.

Overall, this anthology really shows the breadth of Armstrong’s writing abilities. Each of her worlds are distinct and separate from one another. Cainsville stories have a different “voice” than stories set in the Otherworld. Her horror stories have a different, more eerie vibe to them than any of the others. Overall, this would be a terrific introduction to Armstrong, but it is absolutely essential to someone who wants to have everything related to a particular series.

Review: Blood in Her Veins by Faith Hunter

Blood in the Veins: Nineteen Stories from the World of Jane Yellowrock
Author:  Faith Hunter
Series:  Jane Yellowrock
Publisher:  Roc, February 2, 2016
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 560 pages
List Price:  $16.00 (print); $9.99 (eBook)
ISBN:  9780451475756 (print); 9780698196988 (eBook)

Review: Blood in Her Veins by Faith Hunter
New York Times bestselling author Faith Hunter presents a comprehensive collection of stories starring everyone’s favorite “smart, sexy, and ruthless”* shapeshifting skinwalker…

In this must-have collection of stories, experience nineteen thrilling adventures from the world of vampire-hunter Jane Yellowrock, including many fan favorites and two all-new novellas. Read about the first time Jane put the pedal to the metal in “The Early Years,” and the last thing a werewolf will ever see as Jane delivers justice in “Beneath a Bloody Moon.” Get a searing look into the pasts of some of the series’ best-loved characters: Beast in “WeSa and the Lumber King,” Rick LaFleur in “Cat Tats,” and Molly Everhart Trueblood in “Haints.”

In the brand-new “Cat Fight,” the witches and vampires of Bayou, Oiseau, are at war over a magical talisman—and Jane must figure out how to keep the mysterious artifact out of the covetous hands of the Master of New Orleans. And in the never-before-published “Bound No More,” Jane welcomes a visit from Molly and her daughter, Angie, who is about to prove she’s the most powerful witch in Everhart history….

From the Big Easy to the bad bayou, from the open road to a vampire’s lair—with Jane Yellowrock, it’s always a given: have stakes, will travel.

*New York Times Bestselling Author Kim Harrison

Doreen’s Thoughts

Blood in Her Veins is a terrific addition to the Jane Yellowrock canon; however, newcomers should probably start with Skinwalker, the first novel in the Jane Yellowrock series. This is a terrific collection of stories that center around Jane and some of her secondary characters. About half of the stories focus on Jane herself, while the others are told from the perspective of others. Hunter has collected stories that were published elsewhere as well as a couple of new stories, and in the process, she elaborates on her best characters.

Jane’s story originally starts in the middle of her vampire hunting days, and memories of her early years have been doled out judiciously throughout the rest of the series. Here are a couple of takes that focus on her life before vampires. In “WeSa and the Lumber King,” we see Jane early in her bond with Bigcat, and while she takes little action herself, she is instrumental in the puma’s actions against the white men who are destroying the best hunting lands. “Snafu” introduces Jane as a new apprentice who is being tested by her employer.

Those stories told from the perspective of secondary characters often center on Jane herself and offer a different perspective of the woman. Several stories have been written from the perspective of Ricky Bo, Jane’s first boyfriend. The stories here explain how he becomes a werecat and how Jane gets him the training that he needs to deal with the change. Recently, however, Bruiser has begun courting Jane, and their interaction is rather sweet. “First Sight” is short, little more than a scene sketch, but it makes shows the reason why Bruiser was interested in Jane from the beginning, even before she was aware of it. “Dance Master” is a terrific little story that looks like nothing more than the description of a dance Jane and Bruiser share, but is really so much more.

Several of the stories focus on Molly Trueborn Everhart, a witch with numerous sisters, two children, and a large husband. As Jane’s best friend, Molly often gets pulled into her cases and ends up helping magically. During several novels, Molly and Jane were somewhat estranged, and few of those stories focus on that time period. One of the stories actually focuses on two of Molly’s sisters, and Jane only appears briefly at the end.

Overall, these stories are terrific. They fill in gaps that most readers never realize are in the primary novels. Jane herself is very modest, never recognizing the effect she has on others; seeing her through other people’s eyes better fills out her description. Nothing is better than finding a new book in a favorite series, but short stories that occur in between the novels are the next best thing.

Interview with Marshall Ryan Maresca and Review of The Alchemy of Chaos

Please welcome Marshall Ryan Maresca to The Qwillery. The Alchemy of Chaos was published on February 2nd by DAW.

Interview with Marshall Ryan Maresca and Review of The Alchemy of Chaos

The QwilleryWelcome back to The Qwillery! Since the publication of The Thorn of Dentonhill, A Murder of Mages and now The Alchemy of Chaos have been published. How has your writing process changed since The Thorn of Dentonhill was written?

Marshall Ryan Maresca:  The big thing is that I’ve grown far more disciplined in my day-to-day process. Partly because it’s an easier thing to justify (to yourself and others) when writing moves from being a thing you do purely out of hope and faith to having a concrete goal and expectation. I wrote The Thorn of Dentonhill still learning what a novel is and how to structure it, let alone having no idea what its fate might be. I was able to write Alchemy knowing what its destiny was going to be, which made a lot of those “why am I even doing this?” doubts evaporate.

TQWhat do you wish that you knew about book publishing when The Thorn of Dentonhill came out that you know now?

MRM:  That’s a tough one. If anything, it’s to not worry about what I perceive the is going on, not to worry about how other writers or other books are doing. “The race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself.”

TQYou are writing two series set in Maradaine: Novels of Maradaine and Novels of the Maradaine Constabulary. How are the two series related and how are they different?

MRM:  Both series are set in the same city, but in different parts. They’re both fantasy-crime books, but looking at it from very different angles. In Thorn and Alchemy the focus is on street gangs and living in or near these neighborhoods, with Veranix having a foot each in and out of that world. The Constabulary books takes the point of view of the city infrastructure, primarily the police force— but keeping that street-level perspective. Plus there’s some character overlap: a minor character in Thorn appeared in Murder, and a couple minor characters from Murder show up in Alchemy.

TQTell us something about The Alchemy of Chaos (A Novel of the Maradaine 2) that is not found in the book description.

MRM:  Veranix is going to have to deal with several new challenges, including having his secret discovered, facing flamboyant assassins and having to navigate a formal collegiate dinner.

TQWhich character in the Novels of Maradaine (so far) has surprised you the most? Who has been the hardest character to write and why?

MRM:  Surprised me the most? I’m going to have say Jutie, one of the Rose Street Princes. He started as a character that mostly exists for Colin’s sake— to give us someone Colin would have a stake in— but he expanded into being a lot more than that. Hardest to write? Probably Lieutenant Benvin, the constable in Aventil. He’s got to be a adversary for both Veranix and Colin, in different ways, while at the same time I can’t just make him bad. He’s a decent cop trying to do the best job he can in an environment that doesn’t give a damn about that.

TQWhich question about the Novels of Maradaine or the Novels of the Maradaine Constabulary do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

MRM:  “With two separate series running in the same setting, do you have a grander Maradaine plan in the works?”

Yes. Yes I do.

TQPlease give us one or two of your favorite quotes from The Alchemy of Chaos.

“Veranix,” she said coolly. “Come with me to my workshop. Right now. Or I’ll have to let everyone know what you were doing last night.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Veranix said.
“Then let me talk you through it.” Arm still around him, she led him off the walkway so they could face the south lawn. Veranix craned his neck to see Delmin standing petrified in between the two buildings. She pointed to the wall in the distance. “I know you’re the Thorn, I know when you returned to campus right over there from doing Thorn things, and I have proof. Proof that my roommate will deliver to the captain of the cadets if I don’t explicitly tell her not to in two hours. So be a good boy and come with me.”

TQWhat's next?

MRM:  Next up for readers is the second Constabulary book, An Import of Intrigue. Inspectors Rainey and Welling must solve a murder deep in The Little East, the foreign enclaves of Maradaine. After that, there will be third books in both series, as well as launching a third Maradaine-based series.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

MRM:  Thank you for having me!

The Alchemy of Chaos
Series:  A Novel of Maradaine 2
Publisher:  DAW, February 2, 2016
Format:  Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 400 pages
List Price:  $7.99 (print and eBook)
ISBN:  9780756411695 (print); 9780756411701 (eBook)

Interview with Marshall Ryan Maresca and Review of The Alchemy of Chaos
Veranix Calbert is The Thorn—the street vigilante-turned-legend—and a danger to Willem Fenmere, the drug kingpin of Dentonhill. Veranix is determined to stop Fenmere and the effitte drug trade, especially when he discovers that Fenmere is planning on using the Red Rabbits gang in his neighborhood. But Veranix is also a magic student at the University of Maradaine, and it’s exam week. With his academic career riding on his performance, there’s no time to go after Fenmere or the Red Rabbits. But when a series of pranks on campus grow deadly, it’s clear that someone has a vendetta against the university, and Veranix may be the only one who can stop them…

Doreen’s Thoughts

Marshall Ryan Maresca’s third novel, The Alchemy of Chaos, returns to the University of Maradaine and the surrounding neighborhoods. The focus is again on Veranix, the University student learning magic who also is a vigilante against the drug dealer, Fenmere. Veranix is trying to prepare for his finals while dealing with a Prankster at school and rumors of a new drug that may be more threatening than effitte. In addition to Veranix, we also see the perspectives of his cousin Colin, a self-righteous constabulary Benvin, and one of Fenmere’s goons, Bell. The story circulates among the four of them, and readers are able to learn what is happening in multiple parts of the city.

The story assumes that the reader has read the previous novel about Veranix and jumps right into the action again. Since the last story, Fenmere has stopped trying to cross the river into the Thorn’s chosen territory, and Veranix’s life has quieted down somewhat. However, with finals coming, his professor chooses him and his roommate, Delmin, to assist another student to prepare for his Letters presentation. Delmin must calibrate machinery while Veranix pushes numina (magic) at specific levels. This leaves very little time between preparing and taking the tests for scouting the neighborhood. In addition, someone begins playing pranks on the University students, pranks that become increasingly dangerous. These pranks are not entirely magical in nature, but Delmin senses that they have some relationship to magic.

Veranix struggles with whether he should be responsible for solving the prankster danger. He already has his vendetta against Fenmere and has taken responsibility for keeping his part of the City clean of effitte. He questions whether he is capable, let along responsible, for taking on more burden.

There is some cute interplay with his friend, Kaiana, and it is obvious to the reader than Veranix feels more than just friendship for her. His unrecognized jealousy is fun to watch. The story continues Veranix’s friendship with both her and Delmin and introduces Phadre, the student needing practical help for his exams, and Jiarna, a female student who has difficulty being taken seriously in her studies. Colin himself is struggling with his place in the Princes gang, and some of the gang leaders are starting to question exactly who the Thorn might be and where Colin’s allegiance lies. In addition, the overall action scenes are tightly written and fast-paced. The Alchemy of Chaos is another stirring story of magic and mayhem.

Also by Marshall Ryan Maresca

The Thorn of Dentonhill
A Novel of Maradaine 1
DAW, February 3, 2014
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

Interview with Marshall Ryan Maresca and Review of The Alchemy of Chaos
Veranix Calbert leads a double life. By day, he’s a struggling magic student at the University of Maradaine. At night, he spoils the drug trade of Willem Fenmere, crime boss of Dentonhill and murderer of Veranix’s father. He’s determined to shut Fenmere down.

With that goal in mind, Veranix disrupts the delivery of two magical artifacts meant for Fenmere’s clients, the mages of the Blue Hand Circle. Using these power-filled objects in his fight, he quickly becomes a real thorn in Fenmere’s side.

So much so that soon not only Fenmere, but powerful mages, assassins, and street gangs all want a piece of “The Thorn.” And with professors and prefects on the verge of discovering his secrets, Veranix’s double life might just fall apart. Unless, of course, Fenmere puts an end to it first.

See Doreen's review here.

A Murder of Mages
A Novel of the Maradaine Constabulary 1
DAW, July 7, 2015
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

Interview with Marshall Ryan Maresca and Review of The Alchemy of Chaos
A Murder of Mages marks the debut of Marshall Ryan Maresca’s novels of The Maradaine Constabulary, his second series set amid the bustling streets and crime-ridden districts of the exotic city called Maradaine. A Murder of Mages introduces us to this spellbinding port city as seen through the eyes of the people who strive to maintain law and order, the hardworking men and women of the Maradaine Constabulary.

Satrine Rainey—former street rat, ex-spy, mother of two, and wife to a Constabulary Inspector who lies on the edge of death, injured in the line of duty—has been forced to fake her way into the post of Constabulary Inspector to support her family.

Minox Welling is a brilliant, unorthodox Inspector and an Uncircled mage—almost a crime in itself. Nicknamed “the jinx” because of the misfortunes that seem to befall anyone around him, Minox has been partnered with Satrine because no one else will work with either of them.

Their first case together—the ritual murder of a Circled mage— sends Satrine back to the streets she grew up on and brings Minox face-to-face with mage politics he’s desperate to avoid. As the body count rises, Satrine and Minox must race to catch the killer before their own secrets are exposed and they, too, become targets.

See Doreen's review here.

About Marshall

Interview with Marshall Ryan Maresca and Review of The Alchemy of Chaos
Photo by Kimberley Mead
Marshall Ryan Maresca grew up in upstate New York and studied film and video production at Penn State. He now lives Austin with his wife and son. His work appeared in the Norton Anthology of Hint Fiction and Rick Klaw’s anthology Rayguns Over Texas. He also has had several short plays produced and has worked as a stage actor, a theatrical director and an amateur chef. His novels The Thorn of Dentonhill and A Murder of Mages each begin their own fantasy series, both set in the port city of Maradaine. For more information, visit Marshall’s website at

Website  ~  Twitter @marshallmaresca

Review: The Girl with Ghost Eyes by M.H. Boroson

The Girl with Ghost Eyes
Author:  M.H. Boroson
Publisher:  Talos, November 3, 2015
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 288 pages
List Price:  $24.99 (print); $16.99 (eBook)
ISBN:  9781940456362 (print); 9781940456454 (eBook)
Review Copy:  Provided by the Publisher

Review: The Girl with Ghost Eyes by M.H. Boroson
"A brilliant tale of magic, monsters, and kung fu in the San Francisco Chinatown of 1898" —Publishers Weekly, starred review

It’s the end of the nineteenth century in San Francisco’s Chinatown, and ghost hunters from the Maoshan traditions of Daoism keep malevolent spiritual forces at bay. Li-lin, the daughter of a renowned Daoshi exorcist, is a young widow burdened with yin eyes—the unique ability to see the spirit world. Her spiritual visions and the death of her husband bring shame to Li-lin and her father—and shame is not something this immigrant family can afford.

When a sorcerer cripples her father, terrible plans are set in motion, and only Li-lin can stop them. To aid her are her martial arts and a peachwood sword, her burning paper talismans, and a wisecracking spirit in the form of a human eyeball tucked away in her pocket. Navigating the dangerous alleys and backrooms of a male-dominated Chinatown, Li-lin must confront evil spirits, gangsters, and soulstealers before the sorcerer’s ritual summons an ancient evil that could burn Chinatown to the ground.

With a rich and inventive historical setting, nonstop martial arts action, authentic Chinese magic, and bizarre monsters from Asian folklore, The Girl with Ghost Eyes is also the poignant story of a young immigrant searching to find her place beside the long shadow of a demanding father and the stigma of widowhood. In a Chinatown caught between tradition and modernity, one woman may be the key to holding everything together.

Doreen’s Thoughts

The Girl with the Ghost Eyes is a terrific fairytale, filled with magic and martial arts. Set at the end of the 19th Century in San Francisco’s Chinatown, the story centers around Li-lin, the widowed daughter of the local exorcist. The world is filled with spirits, ghosts, and monsters, and Li-lin’s father is responsible to eliminate those for his tong (gang). However, one of the tongs is dissatisfied with the distribution of power in Chinatown and is willing to use black magic to change that.

Normally, Li-lin’s father would handle the situation by burning his paper talismans, but someone cast a spell on Li-lin, and he sacrificed his eye to bring her back from the spirit world. Now he is injured and Li-lin must step up and try to fill his shoes. In the beginning of the novel, Li-lin is certain that her father is, at best, burdened with her. In Chinese culture, all parents desire a boy who can care for them in their old age; as a girl, Li-lin believed she was a disappointment to her father. In addition, her husband Rockie had been killed in a confrontation with a white policeman, so she was forced to return to her father’s home, yet another disappointment.

However, through the novel, Li-lin discovers that her father loves her more than she knows. My favorite character in this story was Mr. Yanqiu. He is a spirit in the shape of an eyeball, basically the result of Li-lin’s father sacrificing his eye. He is fussy and wise, with all of the best characteristics of any father. The banter between Li-lin and Mr. Yanqiu is humorous, and one can tell that Mr. Yanqiu is the manifestation of a father’s love for his daughter.

M. H. Boroson does an excellent job integrating Chinese culture, language, and beliefs into the story. The descriptions of Li-lin burning her paper talismans and releasing spells are precise and exact. There are several kung fu action scenes in the story as well. Boroson describes and names the forms so well, you can almost see the action.

Ultimately, from appearing to be the weakest person in the story, Li-lin ends the story as the strongest character, especially in keeping her word to the many allies that she makes throughout the novel. Her father, who appeared to be so strong, is revealed to be less perfect than Li-lin expected. Overall, Li-lin grows up and begins to see her father in a more realistic light. In fact, all of the men that Li-lin believed to be superior to her are in actuality less than she is. Li-lin takes her place in a world that is halfway between reality and myth, with everyone, including herself, finally acknowledging her strength and power.

Review: Nevermore by Rob Thurman

Author:  Rob Thurman
Series:  Cal Leandros 10
Publisher:  Roc, December 1, 2015
Format:  Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 352 pages
List Price:  $7.99 (print); $7.99 (eBook)
ISBN:  9780451473400 (print); 9780698184985 (eBook)
Review Copy:  Provided by the Publisher

Review: Nevermore by Rob Thurman
People die.

Everyone knows that. I knew it intimately as everyone in my life died thanks to my one seemingly harmless mistake. I’d brought down Heaven, lifted up Hell, and set the world on fire, all due to one slip of the memory.

I forgot the pizzas…

Caliban is a dead man. The Vigil, a group devoted to concealing the paranormal from humanity, has decided Cal has stepped out of the shadows once too often, and death is the only sentence. They plan to send a supernatural assassin into the past to take down the younger, less lethal Cal.

But things change when The Vigil makes one last attempt on Caliban’s life in the present—and end up destroying everyone and everything he cares about.

Now, Cal has to save himself, warn those closest to him, and kill every Vigil bastard who stole his world. But if he fails, he and everyone in his life will be history…

Doreen’s Thoughts

Rob Thurman has rapidly become one of my favorite authors. Nevermore proves this to me even more than her last novel. This series focuses on Caliban and Niko, a pair of brothers who have one foot in this world and one in the supernatural one. Caliban is half human, half Auphe (an old species of monsters who hunted dinosaurs), and he has hidden for most of his adult life. However, from time to time, despite his best efforts, he is forced to use his special abilities, like his gating teleportation, within full view of human beings. Because of that, the Vigil has decided that he must die. The Vigil is an all-human group of warriors whose entire purpose is to keep humans from learning about the supernatural creatures that live among them.

There are few authors who can include time travel or reincarnation effectively in their work; Thurman uses both. Despite Caliban having destroyed the Vigil, the group manages to send their master assassin back into the past to kill Cal and his family. Caliban uses alien technology to transport himself to the past to try to prevent the assassination and destroy the master assassin. In doing so, he contacts Cal (the younger version of himself), Niko, and Goodfellow in an effort to warn them not only about the present problem but also about future ones. However, through his contact, he only entices the heroes into becoming involved themselves instead of avoiding trouble by lying low.

This novel is both darker and more funny than any previous one in the series. In this, Caliban is grieving deeply for his loss in the present and trying desperately not to cling too tightly to those in the past. The interaction, competition, and pure “snark” between Caliban and Cal (the younger) are the highlights of the story. I also appreciate the insight that Caliban brings to his younger self’s actions, explaining from a more mature perspective some of the attitudes and mores that affected him before. I particularly love the various sayings that he writes on the T-shirts that he goes through – unfortunately, none of them are appropriate for sharing!

Once more, this novel can be read separately from the other books in the series, but there is such rich depth to reading them in order. My only gripe with the book was the ending – it came too quickly and abruptly for me to appreciate – quite frankly, it was a cliffhanger, which I despise. Now I am left desperately waiting an entire year for another chapter to come in this saga. Sign me up for more Cal Leandros!

Review: Owl and the City of Angels by Kristi Charish

Owl and the City of Angels
Author:  Kristi Charish
Series:  Owl 2
Publisher:  Pocket Star, October 5, 2015
Format:  eBook, 304 pages
List Price:   $5.99
ISBN: 9781476779881
Review Copy: Provided by the Publisher
Trade Paperback available March 1, 2016

Review: Owl and the City of Angels by Kristi Charish
The wild second adventure for unforgettable antiquities thief Owl—a modern-day “Indiana Jane” who reluctantly navigates the hidden supernatural world—from the pen of rising urban fantasy star Kristi Charish. For fans of Kim Harrison, Jim Butcher, Jennifer Estep, Jenn Bennett, and the like. The series also includes Owl and the Japanese Circus and Owl and the Electric Samurai.

Alix Hiboux, better known as Owl, international antiquities thief for hire, is settling into her new contract job for Vegas mogul Mr. Kurosawa, a red dragon with a penchant for ancient, supernatural artifacts. And now he has his sights set on some treasures of the mysterious Syrian City of the Dead that are sitting in a recluse’s private collection.

There’s just one wrinkle. To stop the resurrection of an undead army that could wreak havoc on Los Angeles, Owl must break into a heavily guarded archaeological sight [sic] in one of the most volatile regions in the world. A detour through Libya and a run-in with Somali pirates sends the clock ticking hastily toward total paranormal disaster.

Meanwhile, Alexander and the Paris vampires have stopped stalking Owl’s apartment, but they have by no means forgotten their death grudge against her. To top everything off, Owl finds out the hard way that there is nothing heavenly about the City of Angels...

Doreen’s Thoughts

In her second novel, Owl and the City of Angels, Kristi Charish brings back her character, Owl, working full-time now for the dragon who hired her in the prior book. As an international antiquities thief, Owl reminds other readers of Indiana Jones, but I have always thought of her as Lara Croft. She is still on the run from the IAA, the group that monitors archaeological sites across the world, particularly those with a supernatural twist. In between avoiding the IAA and performing jobs for Mr. Kurosawa, Owl likes to keep her hand in with picking up treasures of her own.

The story starts in Egypt, with Owl attempting to steal a Medusa head, when the IAA appears to up its efforts to capture Owl. Apparently, someone else has been impersonating Owl and stealing antiquities from banned sites, those with supernatural elements that are too dangerous to be exposed to an unsuspecting world. The unknown thief chooses targets and uses techniques that are too similar to Owl’s to be coincidence, and the IAA is determined to shut her down for good. Her research brings Owl to a dig site in the Middle East, where Owl must face the professor who double-crossed her and set the IAA on her trail in the first place.

Owl and the City of Angels is a rollicking story, with adventure after adventure being thrown at Owl. She faces mummies, Somali pirates, and zombies. She still games heavily with the elf, Carpe, and we find that the World Quest maps are key to her finding where certain antiquities are hidden. Her friends, Nadya and Rynn, are more heavily involved in her life these days, which is a good thing, because Owl needs more people in her life. In addition, she still has her cat Captain, the Egyptian Mau that hunts vampires. She also meets Rynn’s cousin, another incubus but seemingly less benevolent than Rynn himself. These people all help the readers figure Owl out through her interactions with them.

Charish does a great job with descriptions, not only of the archaeological sites and treasures themselves, but more importantly, of the actual physical adventures. One can picture how Owl dangles above a sarcophagus, with rats running over her legs and water rising to cover the Medusa head she must rescue. Sometimes, Charish’s inventions run almost too comical, as with the Somali pirates kidnapping Owl and a zombie apocalypse in Los Angeles, but somehow Charish is able to pull it off.

As a strong female character competing in a male world, Owl is a great role model for young girls. This book can probably be read as a standalone, because Charish does a great job of reintroducing characters and stories from the earlier novel; however, I enjoyed seeing the character development of Owl from one novel to the next. She started out as a solo thief, alone but for her cat, and has grown into a key member of a team, including Nadya and Rynn. I look forward to seeing what other adventures Owl can have.

Review: Darkness on his Bones by Barbara HamblyReview: Bitter Bite by Jennifer EstepReview: A Deafening Silence in Heaven by Thomas E. SniegoskiReview: Fool's Quest by Robin HobbReview: Led Astray: The Best of Kelly Armstrong by Kelley ArmstrongReview: Blood in Her Veins by Faith HunterInterview with Marshall Ryan Maresca and Review of The Alchemy of ChaosReview: The Girl with Ghost Eyes by M.H. BorosonReview: Nevermore by Rob ThurmanReview: Owl and the City of Angels by Kristi Charish

Report "The Qwillery"

Are you sure you want to report this post for ?