Thursday, December 26, 2013

Back in Little Niflheim...

I've spent most of Christmas week knee deep in Pemkowet, Michigan and its troublesome eldritch community. (again, I'm not sure why people use that word in a supernatural manner, while it's picked up connotations of supernatural goings on, it still means green.) Which can only mean I'm back in Jaqueline Carey's Agent of Hel series. The second book, Autumn Bones, came out recently, and I found it a much more balanced read than the first installment.

Again, we have out half demon with a tail protagonist, Daisy, working part time as a file clerk on Pemkowet's X-Files at the police station. She's sort of dating Sinclair, the Jamaican by birth supernatural tour guide who moved to Pemkowet from Kalamazoo at the beginning of the first book. This leads to issues, as Sinclair's twin sister shows up on Labor Day to drag him back to Jamaica The twin sister he never told Daisy about. The one who serves to balance Sinclair or vice versa.

Emmeline, the sister, is an Oxford educated lawyer, working with Sinclair's mother to get her elected to Jamaica's parliament. Sinclair has no desire to go back with his sister, since under the laws of the Obeah, the further into the light he goes, the further into the dark Emmeline goes.

This causes quite a bit of grief, since Sinclair has no desire to watch his sister pull an Anakin Skywalker.

Emmeline and her mother (also Sinclair's mother) show up with an ultimatum. Come back to Jamaica or else. Mommy dearest refuses to take no for an answer, so she unleashes Sinclair's grandfather's spirit on the town, thus creating a duppy.

Most of the book revolves around this particular conflict, which gets resolved in a very satisfying manner on All Hallow's Eve. (Hel herself mentions to Daisy that she has until midnight on Halloween to fix the issue before the wall between the living and the dead collapses because of the duppy.)

In the mean time, Daisy gets it on with Sinclair following a very amusing Satyr party at the gay bar in Pemkowet, then later mambos with long time crush and co-worker Cody, who happens to be a werewolf.

We also learn more about Bethany, Daisy's best friend's sister, who lives out at Twilight Manor trying to become a vampire, as well as Stephan, a ghoul working with Daisy on her anger management issues. (Her anger acts a bit like Stephen King's Carrie. It also could cause her to claim her demonic birthright and break the Inviolate Wall.)

And we get a fairy creature, Jojo, who I came to love, if only because she started throwing out Shakespearean insults at Daisy because Daisy dared to love Sinclair. While she never broke out the Painted Maypole comment from A Midsummer Night's Dream, she did work "scullion" into several conversations.  

Another new character is Lee (nicknamed "Skeletor". He evidently had as many issues in High School as I did.) Lee designs video games and helps Daisy build a searchable database for the X-Files in exchange for an audience with Hel herself.

Improved upon in this is Casimir, the gay shaman and head of the local coven. In the last book, he came off as a sissy sorcerer. In this one, he's much more fleshed out and not as bloody stereotypical.

With a few plots introduced to carry on into the next book, this one gets my award for most improved series writing. I look forward to seeing what comes next.