Posts Tagged: hanover

Urban Fantasy Review: ‘Killing Rites’ by M L N Hanover

November 27, 2014 Review 0

The fourth in the Black Sun’s Daughter series, written under a pseudonym by Daniel Abraham, and at last things are coming to the boil. Jayne has finally stopped shopping and randomly cataloguing dear Uncle Eric’s many houses, and started to think more carefully, both about herself and what she’s doing, but also about the people who surround her. People who give her (mostly) unconditional love and support, but are also individuals with their own hopes and dreams and murky past histories. And Jayne now knows for sure that she has a rider – a demon residing inside her, who helps her in moments of extreme stress, but who is generally regarded as a Very Bad Thing.

This book leaves behind former lover Aubrey, now trying to reconcile with his ex-wife, and, for most of the time, philosophy-man Chogyi Jake, leaving Jayne with one-time priest Ex, a man she now knows desires her. It’s a sign of how far Jayne has come that she doesn’t fall into bed with Ex, despite the two of them being thrown together in a pretty intense way for some time. But Ex’s intentions are not towards Jayne’s body, but her immortal soul; he wants to exorcise her, to rid her of the rider inside her, and at the same time lay to rest his own ghosts.

This book has a very different tone from the previous horror-fest. There are some dark moments and dramatic confrontations, it’s true, but the heart of the story is Jayne confronting (literally) her inner demon, finding out something about who or what she carries inside her. Jayne also has to come to terms with what she as an individual truly wants. In many ways this is more of a coming of age story than most that call themselves that. Jayne finally grows up.

It’s typical of the author that when he writes urban fantasy, he isn’t content to wheel on the evil beasties and leave it at that. Nothing in this book falls neatly into good and bad. Sometimes the best of intentions lead to terrible outcomes. Sometimes all you can hope for is a least worst option. Sometimes you have to hurt the people you love to do the right thing. Sometimes good things are destroyed along the way. And sometimes you need to join forces with a lesser evil to defeat a greater one.

This book is about trust and faith and doing the best you can and being able to bend when the wind blows. And love. That too. A fine book, and much deeper than urban fantasy has any right to be. Five stars.

Footnote: and that’s it for me. I won’t be reading any more about Jayne Heller and friends. Not because this is the end of the series – it isn’t, there’s a fifth book out. The series was projected to be ten books long, but I believe it was terminated after five. No, the reason why I won’t be reading on is because book five, ‘Graveyard Child’, isn’t out in ebook form. Can you believe, in this day and age, that it’s not possible to get an ebook version of any book still in print? But I don’t read dead tree books any more, so I’ll never know how the series ends. Which makes me sad.

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Urban Fantasy Review: ‘Vicious Grace’ by M L N Hanover

September 24, 2014 Review 0

This is the third of the ‘Black Sun’s Daughter’ series of urban fantasies, written under a pseudonym by Daniel Abraham. The first, ‘Unclean Spirits’, was a bit spotty, overfull of angst, shopping sprees and housecleaning, not to mention a certain amount of breathless sex. The second, ‘Darker Angels’, was a lot better in all respects, and this one picks up even more. The plot revolves around Jayné and sidekicks Ex, Chogyi Jake and Aubrey (yes, yes, the names are terrible, and what makes it worse is that the minor characters have perfectly normal names). Jayné has inherited a vast array of property from her nice uncle Eric, acquired during his career messing around with supernatural nasties, in particular ‘riders’, demons which inhabit human bodies. Jayné and pals have to continue his efforts, while not really knowing what he was up to.

The author expertly reprises the key events of the previous books, so even though it’s a while since I read book 2, and I usually have trouble remembering even something I read last week, I was never floundering in the slightest. That’s a skill that few authors can boast. This book involves a summons from Aubrey’s ex-wife Kim, and since he’s now Jayné’s boyfriend, a certain amount of romantic angsting ensues. There are some revelations about uncle Eric, too, who turns out to have been less than nice. Not at all nice, in fact.

For anyone who is put off by characters agonising over relationships and the distressing consequences of using magic to achieve your nefarious ends, this may not be the book for you. Personally, I found this aspect of the story compelling and emotionally charged, bringing some much-needed depth to the characters and their histories. Jayné has to face up to her situation and make some difficult decisions, and she grows up visibly during the course of the story. She’s come a long way from the shopaholic girl of book 1.

The action part of the story is a corker, too. Without giving too much away, it revolves around a vast hospital complex that conceals a dark secret in its basement, which causes some very disturbing things to happen. There’s a part where the hospital begins to change its very nature to counteract the evil within it which is trying to escape. The result is pure horror, very surreal and unearthly.

And then the ending is very dark. Anyone looking for a light, fluffy read should steer well away from this series. For anyone prepared to ponder the nature of friendship and love and sacrifice, willing or otherwise, this book is deeply rewarding. At the end, Jayné makes a decision which raises a whole otherworld of moral issues. It’s complex, very complex, and I salute the author for not shying away from the questions and not making things easy for Jayné.

This is the best yet in this series, with a compelling surface plot, some unexpected backstory, and hints about the meaning of the series title at last. The final line wasn’t too hard to predict, but it’s still an effective hook into the next book in the series. A very good four stars.

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