Review: Dead Witch Walking, by Kim Harrison

This is the first book in The Hollows series, an urban fantasy series where the various Inderlanders (everything from pixies to vampires) were revealed when they proved immune to a pandemic that wiped out a good chunk of humanity years ago. It’s a first person tale told by Rachel Morgan, a witch who has had her fill of working for the magical cops of Inderland Security.

So, she’s off on her own, or at least she would be if she wasn’t joined by two partners, a pixie named Jenks and her old partner Ivy, a living vampire. Being a magical private investigator is not technically illegal, but her bosses at I.S. aren’t the kind to just shake hands and say goodbye. So, in addition to setting up shop and trying to track down her first case, she’s got her old bosses trying to turn her into a grim warning to anyone else foolish enough to follow in her footsteps.

The world was interesting, and her first case was a reasonably good exploration of it. I liked the characters for the most part, though I found the vampire and pixie to be a little too stereotypical. That is, the vampire was a touch too brooding, and the pixie was annoyingly perky and excitable. The story kept things moving, but I thought it was a slow take-off with too much world-building narrative in the early chapters.

Still, it finished strong and left enough open questions to lure me into the next book. It’s evidently quite a long series now, and a friend of mine is quite happy with the later books. So, I guess I’ll be digging into them soon enough.

Review: Avalon Revisited, by O.M. Grey

I originally checked this one out because I knew the author through a mutual friend and because I was curious to read some steampunk:

This is another one where I have to throw out a disclaimer or two. First, I now know the author, and I think she’s a great person, so there might be a little personal bias here. Second, the only other steampunk I’d read before this was The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife, so I’m no expert on the steampunk genre.

Now, having said all that, I had a lot of fun with this book. The premise is that there’s a vampire in London in the steampunk Victorian era of the 1800’s, but rather than just blithely hunting down his next victim, he falls prey to a weakness he thought he had purged in his first life: love. Yep, he falls in love with a remarkable woman, and of course, this woman wants nothing to do with him.

That, by itself, might not have been enough to pull me along, but this particular vampire is no ordinary undead charmer. No, he’s the older brother of wife-decapitating Henry VIII. Now, Henry and his six wives are long-dead by the time this story rolls around, but his older brother Arthur is still around and sucking blood. Having just watched The Tudors last year, this was an amazing twist, because in addition to dealing with his current life in London, Arthur has plenty of fresh reasons to ruminate on the aftermath of his original death.

On top of that, the writing was good, I cared about the characters, and the plot twists were surprising without being completely out of left field. It also had some pretty sexy passages as well. It wasn’t quite one-handed reading material, but I will say this: I read two of the sexier bits in bed with company… with very pleasant results.

So, this one gets the thumbs up. If vampires, steampunk, or the Tudor dynasty are your thing, give it a look.