Urban Buffet | Seanan McGuire, Patricia Briggs, & Ilona Andrews Mini-Reviews

4

July 22, 2013 by Heidi

Sometimes you just get so wrapped up in a fast-paced urban fantasy that you sort of neglect the whole review-writing process in lieu of picking up another one.  At least this reader certainly does–I’m easily distracted by boys who change shape and girls who kick butt.  And so here we are–me all stalked up on pure enjoyable goodness and a small stack of quick reviews to get you going on these series I love by authors I adore.

Seanan McGuire

InCryptid Book 1

Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuireTitle: Discount Armageddon [Goodreads]
Author: Seanan McGuire
[Website|Twitter|Facebook]
Standing: InCryptid Book 1
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Published: March 6th, 2012 by DAW
Format: Paperback; 352 pages.
Source: Borrowed from my local library.

So, InCryptid.  It sure didn’t take me long to figure out how some of those readers who never really got into October Daye threw themselves headlong into this new series from Seanan McGuire.  It’s a horse of a very different color.  I adore Toby, but suddenly her world just seems so serious in comparison to the life of Verity Price: friend to cryptids and fighter with four-inch heels.

McGuire’s second full-fledged UF series is unabashedly fun.  From start to finish, Discount Armageddon finds a beat and rocks to it (and so can you–Seanan kindly includes a playlist in the back of the book–who knew I’d forever associate Hammer to the Heart with The Land of the Lost?).  Verity and her crew sport the type of humor and wit that mash-up nerdisms and awesomeness I’ve seen in Seanan’s personality, but that doesn’t really shine through in October Daye.  It’s random, creative, and at times laugh-out-loud funny.  Who among us doesn’t occasionally wish for a congregation of religious mice to praise our every move?  I will admit that it wasn’t perfect.  At times things were beat a little too hard, or something about the rhythm just felt labored or off, but with Verity Price we really hit the gound rooftops running.

October Daye Book 6

Ashes of Honor by Seanan McGuireTitle: Ashes of Honor [Goodreads]
Author: Seanan McGuire
[Website|Twitter|Facebook]
Standing: October Daye Book 6
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Published: September 4th, 2012 by DAW
Format: Paperback; 353 pages.
Source: Borrowed from my local library.
Spoilers!:  This review/book contains spoilers for the previous books in the October Daye series–consider yourself forewarned!

I was never able to sit down and write a coherent full review for this most recent installment for the October Daye series in large part because I was so overwhelmingly happy with it.  This was the book I’d been waiting for, the one that made all of that teeth gnashing and impatience worth it.

Ashes of Honor presents such a beautiful reflection of chaos vs. control, and how easily one can be pushed between the extremes.  Finally Etienne, knight and pure order, reveals himself to be more than Sylvester’s perfect right-hand-man, and in letting go of that image he draws us into one of the most captivating Toby plots yet. Initially, I was getting annoyed with the similarities between the driving forces behind books in these series–so many have revolved around missing children.  However, once I took a step back and realized that this is who Toby has become–someone so consistently lost that she is bent on bringing those other lost things home–it seemed so fitting.  Toby has become more than your average P.I., she’s a woman with a specialty, and one that makes a huge difference to the fae for whom children are so precious and rare.  And for those of you who have been in love with Tybalt since the two first snapped at each other in the alleys of San Francisco back in Rosemary and Rue, you won’t be disappointed.  The King of Cats finally shows his cards, despite the danger it brings to his person and rule, and I left them a very happy reader.

Patricia Briggs

Alpha and Omega .5

Alpha and Omega by Patricia BriggsTitle: Alpha and Omega [Goodreads]
Author: Patricia Briggs
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Standing: Alpha and Omega Book .5
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance
Published: October 20th, 2008 by Berkely
Format: E-book; 86 pages
Source: Borrowed from my local library.
Spoilers!: This novella takes place after the first book of the Mercedes Thompson series.  While you can read it without having read that series, it will contain slight spoilers.  However, this review does not!

As a prequel novella, Alpha and Omega is a surprising and rare must read.  Taking place in Chicago, the plot focuses on Charles Cornick–the marak’s enforcer and son–as he answers the call of one Anna Latham who suspects some missdoings in her pack (the very pack who sent Mac running to Mercy’s doorstep far away in Washington state).

Alpha and Omega came across instantly as much more traditionally romance-focused than the books of the Mercedes Thompson series.  Points of view alternate between Charles and Anna as they uncover the surprising workings of the Chicago pack.  I fell in love with both of these characters instantly, and cannot wait to continue their story in their own series.  Anna is so utterly broken and misled as to the very nature of her existence and roll as an omega–something much more rare and important than the submissive wolf she assumed herself to be.  Charles is outwardly stoic and solid–a veritable stone wall for Anna to lean on.  And for some reason, insta-love never bothers me when there’s all those animal instincts involved.  I have a feeling I’m going to continue to love this pair.  They’re the type of couple that make each other stronger and are more together than the ever were alone, even if they never felt incomplete before.

Mercy Thompson Book 3

Iron Kissed by Patricia BriggsTitle: Iron Kissed [Goodreads]
Author: Patricia Briggs
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Narrator: Lorelei King
Standing: Mercy Thompson Book 3
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal
Published: November 1st, 2009 by Penguin Audio
Format: Audiobook; 9 hrs, 11 min.
Source: Borrowed from my local library.
Spoilers!:  Slight spoilers contained not only for the Mercy Thompson series, but for this book in particular.  Proceed with caution!

Wow.  I’ve been delving into the world of Urban Fantasy for more than a year now, happily soaking up all of the bite, edge, and badassery it has to offer, but I never expected to be so emotional wrung out and affected by a novel in this genre.  Patricia Briggs, you have left me floored with your third installment of the Mercy Thompson series, and I am left happily shocked by the intensity I experienced through Iron Kissed.  I mean get this: I teared up.  In rage.  These things just don’t happen to cold dead hearts like mine.

Trigger warning: Patricia Briggs deals with the issue of rape and both mental and sexual assault head on in Iron Kissed, and in so doing earned my utmost respect.  Sure, anyone’s experiences with these circumstances will vary greatly, but Briggs’ unflinching ability to face not only the the act itself, but the subsequent fall-out and recovery impressed me to no end.  The plot turns of Iron Kissed shocked me into nausea, but backed those emotions up with an incredibly heartfelt discussion about what it means to be a victim and a survivor.  Sure, I’m pretty happy that the Sam/Adam triangle is nicely solved (if it did seem a bit fast to me in the end), but moreover this installment made me a massive fan of Ben–that British werewolf we were never quite sure we could trust before.

Ilona Andrews

The Edge Book 3

Fate's Edge by Ilona AndrewsTitle: Fate’s Edge [Goodreads]
Author: Ilona Andrews  [Website|Twitter|Facebook]
Standing: Book 3 in The Edge series.
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Romance
Published: December, 2011 by Ace
Format: Paperback; 372 pages.
Source: Borrowed from my local library.
Spoilers!: This review contains slight spoilers for the previous books in the series.

Fate’s Edge may be the weakest installment among the first three Edge books, but it’s still far from weak.  I’m utterly thrilled that Ilona Andrews decided to marry the cantankerous Mar family with the pubescent gems that are Rose’s brothers George and Jack.  Besides which, there was really only one kind of girl Kaldar Mar was ever going to fall for, and that was Audrey Callahan.  Audrey who is every bit as intelligent, conniving, and just plain dangerous as that luck-wielding Mar boy.  Oh, and who really just wants to be left alone. (I also have to point out that she isn’t the physical fighter Rose and Cerise were, which I enjoy–a much more subtle character.)

The overarching plot of The Edge is clearly snowballing to an ultimate close at this point, meaning more action and plotting than romance for this one, but of course Ilona Andrews is no slouch in that department.  Hello sexual tension.  I love the larger roll of the children in this one, their parts as both runaways and compatriots, as well as the fact that with every subsequent installment we’re drifting further into the Weird and closer to strait up fantasy than that thin strip of Edge where we originated.  Admitedly, I read this one in December, and so my thoughts may be scattered and lacking depth, but I remember one thing for certain–I love this series and this world so much that I still can’t bring myself to finish it.  Even though I’ve had the final book in my possession since the day it released.

_____________________________

So there you have it, folks!  Whether your thing is werewolves, fae, dragons, or mutants, these authors have your back.  And now if you’ll excuse me, I can now go read the rest of the books in these series guilt free.

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4 comments »

  1. Angie says:

    I read the entirety of Alpha & Omega in the bookstore one day, stood up, purchased the book, and have happily reread it several times since. I love those two.

  2. Kristen says:

    That is a great set of urban fantasy authors!

    Ashes of Honor is a difficult book to be coherent about! And I’m glad you also found InCryptid to be a lot of fun. After reading the second book, I still prefer the Toby series, but I love the InCryptid world and Verity’s family always entertain.

  3. YES to MT! I’m so glad you loved Iron Kissed – it was fantastic! I really adored the following two books and especially the latest too, so I’m excited to see what you think of those. I was also really impressed by the novella for A&O, though the first book wasn’t as impressive, sadly. Book 2 definitely picked up a lot, though, and Book 3 was amazing – a total emotional ride, that one. I’m excited to see that you’re continuing to love the October Date series – I finally got Book 1!! – not to mention McGuire’s other UF Series. I need to hit those series soon! Wonderful reviews, Heidi! You know I love my UF! 😉

  4. Iron Kissed. I just. I have no words. No kinds of words. I was just so blown away by what she did in that book and how it seemed to transcend the genre in many ways. The reverberations are still felt many books later and that is SO REAL. Ugh, I loved it. I have one more of the already written Mercy Thompson books to go and I can’t bring myself to open it yet. Maybe I’ll turn to A&O in the meantime…

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While the source for each book I review is posted within its review, please assume unless otherwise stated that books reviewed on Bunbury in the Stacks were received free from the author or publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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