Fantasy – Fiction Book Review: Under Suspicion

Under Suspicion Hannah Jayne

As the only human at the Underworld Detective Agency, Sophie Lawson has the unique gift of immunity to magic. After getting stood up by a client, Sophie suspects foul play when it seems the dragon left her home under duress. Then, when other demons are attacked, Sophie’s suspicions are confirmed – if she could only convince anyone else. But when Sophie is attacked with a wooden stake, she realizes that time is running out to find a ruthless killer.

Sophie and her fabulously eccentric friends are all back for this latest adventure. Though, Alex mysteriously disappears for most of the action. Instead, the heat is evolving between Sophie and her guardian Will. Will seems to be more dependable and trustworthy, which is what Sophie needs. So I’m enjoying their relationship and its progression. Meanwhile, Sophie’s vampire roommate has met a handsome writer and fallen head over heels. The only problem is that his books are all about how vampires and other legendary creatures are not real.

This third installment in the Underworld Detective Agency Chronicles is fast-paced and full of excitement and laughs. The mystery was a bit predictable, but was still suspenseful enough to be thoroughly enjoyable. These mysteries work well as standalone novels. Though it helps to have read previous installments just to get Sophie’s history with the other characters, it’s not a prerequisite to follow this story. Urban fantasy fans shouldn’t miss this fun and captivating series.

Fantasy – Fiction Book Review: Fated

Fated by Benedict Jacka

Alex Verus is a mage who runs a magic shop in London. His forte is precognition, with the ability to see all possible futures by the result of someone’s choice. When Alex is asked by the Council to open a mysterious relic, he turns them down right away. But when other individuals try to recruit Alex for the same relic, he is given a couple offers he can’t refuse and still remain breathing.

Jacka’s urban fantasy world is one of dangerous mages, both light and dark, with a variety of other magical creatures. Alex has a dark past that he escaped, yet still has plenty of baggage. His friend Luna is an integral character who has a unique curse that makes it impossible to get close to anyone literally and figuratively. Jacka’s characters have tremendous depth and are extremely compelling.

Fated is the first in a new series starring Alex Verus. It’s fresh, original and exciting. There is never a dull moment in this fast-paced and action-packed story. Urban fantasy (especially Harry Dresden) fans will want to check out this series with plenty of mystery, adventure and humor. The next installment, Cursed, will release this June and will be a must-read for me.

Fantasy – Fiction Book Review: Tricked

Tricked by Kevin Hearne

Atticus O’Sullivan is the only living druid and would like to stay that way. Some Norse gods want revenge and have hunted down Atticus in retaliation for his recent escapade. So he is appreciative when the Native American god Coyote disguises himself as Atticus and lets the Norse gods murder Coyote in his place. As Coyote can regenerate his body after every death. When Coyote asks a favor from Atticus, he soon realizes it’s not as simple as it seems. And the trickster god Coyote has tricked Atticus into fighting nearby evil skinwalkers for him. And unfortunately, that won’t be the only betrayal Atticus will soon face.

Hearne’s fantastic characters, pop culture references, and satirical wit have made this one of my favorite new series. Atticus’ latest adventure doesn’t take him far from home, but gives him new challenges just the same. His relationship with his apprentice has been handled well. There is attraction there, but their mentoring relationship has made any chemistry between them fizzle and seem awkward.

The fourth installment in the Iron Druid Chronicles is action-packed and even-paced. With overwhelming odds, creative use magic, and his trusty sidekick Oberon – Atticus never fails to entertain. With a new supply of new magical bad guys to fight while trying to hide his presence from the rest, Tricked is another engaging and entertaining read. Don’t miss this incredible urban fantasy series.

Tricked releases from Del Rey on April 24, 2012.

Fantasy – Fiction Book Review: How to Be Death

How to Be Death by Amber Benson

Calliope Reaper-Jones is the new President of Death, Inc., following the murder of her father. She is given her father’s original copy of How to be Death (A Fully Annotated Guide), and is told to keep it safe and hidden since it holds incredible secrets. But Callie must survive the night as a mortal during a formal dinner party and ceremony that quickly gets uncomfortable. Callie’s ex-boyfriend is there with another woman. Then, her book is stolen about the same time someone is murdered in Callie’s bedroom.

How to be Death is the fourth novel in the Calliope Reaper-Jones series. And unlike the previous installments, this reads like a clever and complex whodunit. As always, Callie gets herself in outrageous situations with mostly humorous outcomes. My favorite part of this clever, urban fantasy series is the zany wit and eccentric characters. And this fast-paced, suspenseful mystery is no exception. Full of twists and surprises, I thoroughly enjoyed Callie’s latest escapade. Urban fantasy fans should not miss this light-hearted, exciting series.

Fantasy – Fiction Book Review: Black Night

Black Night by Christina Henry

Madeline Black has only recently discovered that she is a descendant from fallen angels on both sides of the family. But she insists on making her own way in the world and continues her job as escort to the afterlife for the recently departed. But when she happens upon a recent death with no notice, Maddy begins to wonder if another Nephilim may be on the loose. And suddenly Maddy’s powers seem to short out. Then, her beloved bodyguard Gabriel and best friend Beezle the gargoyle disappear without a word. Meanwhile, Maddy is called upon by her grandfather Lucifer to be the ambassador to the fairy queen – a mission that got the last ambassador beheaded.

Maddy is back again with a whole new mess of troubles. Following the events in Black Wings, Maddie has learned more about herself. And her relationship with Gabriel seems doomed. But several of her relationships change in the course of this story. And while I liked Gabriel in the first novel, I found myself wondering why Maddie is still attracted to him by the end. He goes from being her strong bodyguard to being a helpless victim with no backbone by the end. On the other hand, I was fascinated by the surprising J.B. who is just as mysterious as before, but definitely more qualities that Maddie should find attractive. But Maddie certainly has no lack of men in her life to choose from.

Demons, werewolves, fairies, and giant spiders – there is no lack of monsters and enemies in this latest adventure either. Fast-paced and action-packed, this sequel was just as exciting as the first. I was completely riveted, yet again. Fantastic characters, complex relationships, mystery, intrigue, and plenty of magic – urban fantasy fans should not miss this series.

Fantasy – Fiction Book Review: Black Wings

Black Wings by Christina Henry

Madeline Black is an Agent of Death, whose job is to escort the recently deceased to the door to the afterlife. Her new tenant is an extremely attractive, mysterious man named Gabriel. But trouble seems to arrive as quickly as he does. A monstrous demon has been killing, leaving no souls behind to collect. Maddy gets attacked from evil creatures at every turn. And she soon learns she has a dark family history with powers to match.

Maddy is a heroic, likeable character, soon surrounded by attractive men and a loveable gargoyle sidekick. Henry’s world of fallen angels and monstrous creatures is creative, with a dark, complex history. The dark setting and violence is balanced well by quirky humor and a bit of romance. This promising series debut is action-packed and full of mystery, monsters, and magic. I was captivated from beginning to its surprising and thrilling end.

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