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Archive for the ‘Paranormal’ Category

joeIf you’ve ever picked up a book by Mike Mignola, author of the Hellboy series, you will know what to expect: a Victorian gothic adventure set against crumbling ruins with elements of steampunk and the supernatural. This is the second book Mignola has co-authored with Christopher Golden. The first, Baltimore, or, The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire, has also been released as a series of graphic novels that are definitely worth checking out. Both Joe Golem and Baltimore are billed as illustrated novels, which mean the images are less integral to the consumption of the story compared to graphic novels, but they enhance the atmosphere of the narrative.

In this alternative history, New York City is hit in 1925 by several cataclysmic earthquakes, flooding half of the city three stories deep. Wealthy residents who survived the tremors moved up to the higher part of town, called Uptown. The lower, waterlogged Downtown section is often referred to as the Drowning City. Those poorer residents who remain Downtown eke out a living as best they can, navigating the broken, fallen buildings and the canals created between them.

By necessity, residents of the Drowning City are self-reliant, and 14-year old Molly McHugh is certainly a product of her environment. A magician called Felix Orlov, who works under the stage name Orlov the Conjuror, employs her. Orlov is retired from the stage, but still accepts clients interested in his talents as a psychic medium. When a séance goes wrong, Orlov is abducted by strange human-like creatures wearing masks, leaving Molly terrified, but determined to free her friend.

Fleeing from one of the monsters, she runs into Joe Golem, an imposing man built like a boxer, with grey eyes and a stony countenance. Joe knows little of his past, but he and his partner, Simon Church, keep watch on the paranormal activity in the city and they do not like what they have been seeing lately. From here the story takes a decidedly Lovecraftian turn, and Molly has to figure out whom she can trust, and who can best help her free Orlov.

This novel is an enjoyable, quick read. Recommended for fantasy and horror readers, both adult and YA.

Check the WRL catalog for Joe Golem and the Drowning City.

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Real estate agent Melanie Middleton specializes in selling old homes. But she doesn’t like old homes. They smell of beeswax and mothballs and are a lot of work to refurbish. And then there’s the ghosts that tend to linger among the living…

Melanie was expecting the visit to the house on Tradd Street to be like any other. An elderly homeowner was moving someplace more manageable, and hopefully would list the house with her. She wasn’t expecting to see the shadow of a woman in the garden pushing an empty swing. Nor was she expecting Mr. Vanderhorst to have had a connection to her grandfather. And she certainly wasn’t expecting to have the house bequeathed to her a few days later when Mr. Vanderhorst died, leaving a mystery for her to solve about the disappearance of his mother, Louisa, many years ago.

To complicate things a little more, handsome writer Jack Trenholm contacts Melanie and wants information on the house so he can write a story about the disappearance of Mrs. Vanderhorst in 1929. He’ll even help her with the renovations if she’ll let him poke around the house.

So three days after being told the house was hers if she accepted the terms of the will, Melanie finds herself “the owner of an antique pile of rotten lumber, and encumbered by a dog, a housekeeper, and a guilt trip as long as the Cooper River.”

Melanie soon realizes that there are actually two spirits in the house—Louisa and an evil presence that wishes her harm. As she gets closer to solving the mystery of Louisa’s disappearance, the element of danger rises as well. Someone or something doesn’t want the truth to get out. But the disappearance of Louisa isn’t the only secret the house holds tight.

It’s a good story with interesting twists. With more than a gentle spirit at work, it’s exciting, but not stressful enough to have to sleep with the lights on. The mystery is engaging and the living characters are contemporary and fun.

The House on Tradd Street is the first in a series featuring Melanie and her ghost-seeing abilities.

Check the WRL catalog for The House on Tradd Street.

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Ann-Marie from Outreach Services reviews a new fantasy title:

 I am not a big reader of fantasy novels but the tag line on the cover of The Rook drew me in and I decided to pick it up—“On her Majesty’s Supernatural Secret Service.”  I’m so glad I did. The Rook was a lot of fun to read!

The book begins with the heroine Myfanwy Thomas (Myfanwy rhymes with Tiffany) waking up in a London park surrounded by dead people all wearing latex gloves.  She has no memory of what happened or how she arrived at the park.  In fact, she has no memories at all.  Myfanwy does find two envelopes in her pocket addressed “To You.”  In the first letter, the “new” Myfanwy finds out that the letter is from her former self and gives instructions on getting to a safe house where she is to open the second letter.  From the letters from her “old” self, Myfanwy discovers that she is a high-ranking official called The Rook in a secret government agency call the Checquy.  The purpose of the Checquy is to protect England from supernatural threats.  Of course, some of the members of Checquy have supernatural abilities themselves, including Myfanwy.

In the second letter, the “old” Myfanwy explains that the “new” Myfanwy has two choices—she can escape England and establish a new identity or she can stay and assume the “old” Myfanwy’s position in the Checquy.  By staying in England, the “new” Myfanwy will need to track down her enemies and save the Checquy from a hostile takeover, which means she’s saving England too.  To help her, her old self has left her a series of letters explaining her job, the organization, and the events that took place up to the unsuccessful attempt on her life in the park.  By choosing to stay, “new” Myfanwy’s begins a series of adventures as she encounters a large assortment of both normal and supernatural beings.  The supernaturals range from Gestault (one personality who inhabits four bodies) and the Barghests (supernatural soldiers) to one of the Grafters (the enemy) who inhabits a large and apparently portable fish tank.  While there might be supernatural beings and happenings in Myfanwy’s world, the English setting and everyday life are still recognizable to those of us who are mere mortals.

Both the “old” and the “new” Myfanwy earned my respect.  The “old” Myfanwy impressed me with her foresight and organization as her letters become poignant and reflective as she faces the loss of herself. The “new” Myfanwy impresses you with the way she tackles each obstacle with strength and humor as she learns her way around her new world, as well as how she learns to deal with her own special power.

To me The Rook reads like a thriller that just happens to have a fantasy element. The author moves the plot along smartly and I found I couldn’t put it down.  Readers who like stories with a touch of the paranormal will like this book, but readers who like thrillers might also wish to give it try.

Check the WRL catalog for The Rook

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“Sorry-in-the-Vale, Sorriest River, Crying Pools,” said Jared. “Is the quarry called Really Depressed Quarry?”

“Yes,” Kami answered. “Also I live on the Street of Certain Doom.”

Many young children have an imaginary friend, but not many teenagers. Kami Glass doesn’t advertise the fact that she hears someone else’s voice in her head. She doesn’t want the rest of her home town, Sorry-in-the-Vale, to think she’s crazy. She’d prefer they think of her as an intrepid investigative reporter tracking leads for her next big story. But her latest act of journalism, an investigation into the aristocratic Lynburn family—just returned to their ancestral manor after a generation’s absence—brings her face to face with someone even she didn’t believe existed: Jared, the guy who’s been sharing her thoughts for seventeen years.

For someone she’s been talking to her whole life, Jared isn’t what she expected. And although she’s predisposed to trust him, everyone else, even the boy’s mother, is warning her about his mysterious past and his violent temper. Meanwhile, something’s going on in Sorry-in-the-Vale: foxes killed in the woods, young women attacked in town. The investigation is getting deadly, and Kami really needs to know who she can trust.

Kami as telepathic Nancy Drew is a great, self-rescuing heroine with an entertaining entourage of friends. As she demonstrated in the Demon’s Lexicon series, author Brennan writes great villains of all stripes, some absolutely steeped in villainy and others conflicted with twinges of regrettable morality.

Set among the woods and lakes of the English Cotswolds, this first of a series plays with all of the elements of Gothic novels: the town full of secrets, the brooding rebel, and the foreboding house, with its motifs of drowned women and doorknobs shaped like clenched fists. If you were filming it, you’d have a hard time choosing one color palette: the atmosphere varies from lighthearted, Scooby Doo-style clue-hunting to shadow-drenched menace. The combination of adventure, smart-aleck commentary, heady emotional confusion, and one very dysfunctional family reminded me of Holly Black’s Curse Workers series, and readers of one should definitely try the other.

Check the WRL catalog for Unspoken.

You might also enjoy Brennan’s posts recapping, with loving mockery, the great Gothic novels and lady sleuths who inspired this series. Try Jane Eyre for starters.

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I’m a sucker for books about strong, but initially unequipped, heroines who battle supernatural forces—usually with a dose of humor, maybe some romance, perhaps a little mystery thrown into the mix.  I found another new (to me) author to try this week.

Sophie Lawson lives in a world where magic and supernatural creatures exist, though most humans aren’t aware of it.  She’s unusual because she is  a “breather,” but is also immune to magic.  She can’t get charmed by the fairies, cursed by the witches, glamored by the vampires… which makes her perfect for her administrative job working for the UDA (Underworld Detection Agency).  The UDA keeps track of all the supernaturals, finds them jobs, helps them with benefits—sort of a DMV, Social Services, Employment Agency rolled into one.

After a typical day on the job—Sophie had to calm down a fire-breathing dragon—human Detective Parker Hayes enters the office needing to speak to her werewolf boss.  Sophie finds Detective Hayes tongue-tyingly attractive.  Hayes needs help with some unusual murders that seem to point to the supernatural.  Sophie offers to help with the cases, and because of her knowledge of both the magic and nonmagic worlds, Hayes reluctantly agrees.

The mystery is interesting, though not profound or overly graphic.  There is quite a large cast of supernatural characters in the book.  A variety of creatures make brief appearances, many with a humorous slant, but not even her vampire roommate plays a large role in solving the whodunit.  Sophie doesn’t come into magical powers or realize she has a hidden talent for weapons—she stays pretty average the whole time—which in a way was refreshingly original.  And of course, the attraction between Detective Hayes and Sophie adds another level of enjoyment to the story.

Under Wraps is Hannah Jayne’s first in the “Underworld Detection Agency Chronicles.”  I’m interested to see how Sophie’s character develops as the series continues—and if Detective Hayes continues to play a role in her life.

Check the WRL catalog for Under Wraps

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In 2009 author Anne Rice was quoted in The Guardian as saying, “Angels are the new vampires of the literary world.” Maybe author Nalini Singh thought so as well, because that’s when she wrote the first of the Guild Hunter series, Angels’ Blood.

In Elena Deveraux’s world, humans can petition Angels to turn them into Vampires. In accepting the deal, the human becomes semi-immortal and agrees to serve the angel for a hundred years. Sometimes the vampires want out of their contract and try to escape. That’s where Elena comes in. She’s a vampire hunter. She’s good at her job. In fact, she may be the best.

When the archangel Raphael needs someone to track a renegade, he requests Elena’s help. It’s an offer she can’t refuse, even when it becomes obvious that she’s tracking a renegade angel. And not just any angel, one of the most powerful Archangels.

In addition to the engaging personality conflicts of the two, strong-willed main characters, the story has a page-turning, fast-paced chase through Manhattan to stop the insane angel from killing humans in a blood-thirsty frenzy.

This book has lots of action and plenty of vampires. Powerful, sexy, dangerous vampires—but the baddest of the bad are the Angels.

It took me a while to warm up to Raphael. But like Elena, I did eventually find qualities to admire. There are some fresh ideas here that raised this novel above the “same old, same old,” and it has me hooked.  The characters are well-developed and the backstory of the Angels,  their powers, and the hierarchy was interesting. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the Guild Hunter series.

Check the WRL catalog for Angels’ Blood

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This is the first in Kelley Armstrong’s young adult Darkness Rising trilogy.  It’s a compelling story about a teenager who seems to be developing some special abilities.

Maya lives in Salmon Creek.  The town was built by a medical research facility to house the employees and their families.  There are less than 70 students in her entire school.

For her sixteenth birthday, her parents agree to let Maya get her paw-shaped birthmark inked in as a tattoo.  Instead of being a happy occasion, Maya has a strange encounter with an old woman at the tattoo parlor who calls her a witch.

With the exception of the tragic swimming accident that killed her best friend, growing up in the small community has been pretty normal for Maya.  All that is about to change — and I don’t want to give too much of the plot away.

As Maya searches for answers about what the old woman said she experiences a stronger than normal connection to animals: dreaming about running with cougars, feeling the memories of a wounded animal she’s nursing back to health, experiencing heightened senses.  Her friend Rafe offers her an answer that seems too impossible to believe.  But when she sees the impossible with her own eyes, how can she doubt the truth?

The Gathering has a very exciting ending that leaves you breathless for the next story – The Calling

I listened to this on audiobook and enjoyed the reading by Jennifer Ikeda.  Her voice fit perfectly with what I thought Maya would sound like.  And that’s what I liked most about the book — Maya.  She is smart and likeable.  Her relationships  seem like real relationships — from her overprotective best friend to the girl she doesn’t get along with so well.  This is definitely a book setting up a paranormal situation, but none of the characters’ decisions or plot twists made me roll my eyes in disbelief.  I’m looking forward to seeing how this develops through the next two books.

Check the WRL catalog for the audiobook of The Gathering

Check the WRL catalog for The Gathering

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Lord Benjamin Archer has wanted to possess Miranda Ellis from their first encounter in the dark streets of Victorian London. But her youth, innocence, and father force Lord Archer to bide his time before claiming his heart’s desire. With all the time in the world, Archer patiently waits, and three years after their first meeting he arranges to make Miranda his bride. Reminiscent of many historical romance novel plots where a powerful older man of title seeks to make a nubile, young woman his possession, in Firelight not everything is as it seems.

Miranda Ellis is a beautiful, intelligent, and strong-willed woman, but she is also born with a curse that sparks her family’s ruin and destroys any chance she has to make a good life for herself. Lord Benjamin Archer is a rich and powerful man but is cursed with a disfigurement that relegates him to living in the shadows and hiding behind masks. The two feel a powerful attraction for each other, and their courtship is filled with seductive tension and verbal jousting, but the secrets they keep threaten their one chance at happiness.

Callihan has written an engrossing story that crosses all boundaries, weaving together romance, mystery, historical, and paranormal. The tension comes not only from two captivating characters but also from the magic and murder that surround them. As you fall under the spell of Miranda and Archer, Callihan slowly lets clues to their secrets creep from the shadows. Callihan gives you just enough to keep you coming back for more. Nothing is what you expect. You will come to the point where you think the suspense will kill you and want to skip to the end, but don’t—keep reading, because there’s not another paranormal on the market like this and you should savor the anticipation to the end.

Check the WRL catalog for Firelight.

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