Thursday, September 25, 2014

Coming full circle

Well, nearly 2 years ago, when I started this blog, I was reviewing Seanan McGuire's Ashes of Honor. Now, two days before 2 years, I'm posting my 100th entry on here with her latest October Daye novel, The Winter Long.

So, here we are. As mentioned last time I was in this world, the finale had left the door open for October to grow into a more mature role. As such, this book starts with her promotion to Hero of the Realm, and spends much of the rest of the book dealing with secrets hidden from October for the entirety of her life. That the murder victim from book 1 shows up alive an well early on, as well as Simon Torquill, last seen in book one turning October into a fish for 9 years...

We then spend much of the book on an extended chase, as we learn many of the Luidaeg's secrets, so much more about the progenitors of the fairie kiths.... (Honestly, I was reminded of the antediluvians in Vampire...)

We learn more of October's mother and her new family.

Again, it seems to be another set up to further adventures, since we end with a few new mysteries, plus several antagonists put to sleep for a century or so.

Anyway, yeah, fun read.

Now to figure out what to read next. The one book I have left from the library is a rather heavy tome about the fall of France during WWII, which would not be pleasant to lug to and from work. The two I have on reserve are not in yet, and probably won't show up for a week or so. (One the library has one copy of, and I'm second on the list; the other the library has several copies of, but I'm like 50th in line to get one.) This is good, since I have a backlog of books I've purchased/been gifted with of late, but choosing from among them will be interesting. So, we'll see in a week what comes up on here.

In the meantime, thank you to all of you who've been in and out of here the past few years. I know this has become much more archival than anything else, but it's a labor of love. The divine reader in me salutes and recognizes the divine reader in you.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Hitchhiking Dead

In part 2 of a two-fer (I actually finished The Cat Sitter's Pajamas a few days ago, but it took me a few days to do the write up), we find the Hitchhiking ghost Rose Marshall explaining the role ghosts of the road play in their corner of the InCrypted universe. (Rose gets mentioned very briefly in Half-Off Ragnarok.)

Sparrow Hill Road by Seanan McGuire takes a rather roundabout route in narrating Rose's story. rose herself states in the introduction that the dead's sense of time is off kilter. The narration also is told in a series of vignettes, which doesn't lend itself well to linear narration. The end result starts off very messy, but winds up becoming more and more engaging the further in you get.

In a more linear fashion, rose starts off as poor white trash south of Detroit. A better off boy in her class asks her to prom. The night of Prom, he doesn't show up. Rose decided to go out to his house and confront him. Out on Sparrow Hill road, Rose gets run off the road and dies. Her ghost catches up with her date, who had a car issue and was running late. Given this was the early to mid 1950's, cell phone was not an option.

So, Rose has become a double threat. She's a type of ghost classified under supernatural taxonomy as a Hitcher. She also works as a psychopomp, escorting those that die on the road to their final destination. As a hitcher, she can take a corporeal form if she's offered a jacket (traditional) or some other form of clothing. she can also eat that which is freely given by the living. She has several epitaphs based on ways her story has morphed over the years. (In some, she protects travelers, in others, she kills them.)

Her cosmology can be simplified to Daylight being the normal physical world, the Twilight dwelling of ghosts, and Midnight houses "deeper powers". Other supernatural things exist in here, with the crossroads being where people and people who used to be people can go to barter.

Rose spends much of her off duty hanging out with a Bane Sidhe at the Last Chance Diner.

As the book progresses, we learn that Rose's ultimate goal is to get one Bobby Cross off the road. Bobby being an old film start who bargained at the crossroads for eternal youth. As the price, he now much feed the souls of innocents to his car. Bobby drove the car that drove rose off the road in the 50's.

We also get strange reunions with people she either saved or psychopomped for, old family and friends.... even random strangers.

It's a very interesting, if not quite cohesive, read.  I'm kind of wondering if rose's story will continue or if she'll be relegated to occasional cameos, particularly since McGuire already has 2 series going on, and a third would probably kill quality. On the other hand, the expanded cosmology of the ghost roads is quite fascinating, and something I would love to see explored in more depth.

Dixie Hemingway, Pet Detective

Several years back, Blaize Hemmingway started a cozy mystery series concerning Dixie Hemingway, a former Sheriff's deputy, now working as a pet sitter. Dixie has a tragic past, her husband and daughter were run over and killed by an old man in a parking lot. Her mother abandoned her and her older brother at an early age, leving their grandparents to raise them. As such, Dixie now lives above the car port in her grandparents' house on Siesta Key, a barrier island not far from Sarasota, Florida. Her older brother, Chris, lives with his partner Paco in the house.

Dixie works as a pet sitter to make money, and the books use a certain formula to establish her routine. This also allows us to visit with characters introduced earlier in the series who provide information the narrator can't easily access on her own, or provide a way to help externalize inner monologue for character development.

Now, with Book 7, The Cat Sitter's Cradle, the author seems to have died, and her son John is ghostwriting the series. There isn't that much of a difference in the writing, making me wonder how much John has been writing anyway.

Anyway, the current volume starts with Dixie walking a schnauzer and finding what appears to be a homeless illegal immigrant having just given birth in a park. Whom Dixie rescues, along with a rare Guatemalan bird. She then meets her new client, a wealthy oil executive who needs someone to watch his cat and his tropical fish while he and his wife attend to business in Tampa.

She also has a date with Ethan Crane, a local lawyer of Native American ancestry who's becoming the love interest after the last one left for Louisiana.

While dropping in to check on Queen B, the oil guy's cat, she finds her client at the bottom of the swimming pool. And there begins the plot to figure out who drowned the Oil Exec.

These are short reads, and not necessarily aimed at me in terms of target readership, but the series remains fun and holds attention.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

WTMI, broadcasting at 10000mHz

As I've said in more than a few review on here, Simon R. Green is a little less like reading and more getting swept up in his silliness.

Voices From Beyond, the newest Ghost Finders, again keeps this idea alive.

The difference being, of course, that Ghost Finders focuses on 4 investigators, rather than narration by one particular character. These 4 are less super powered than other Green protagonists, however, they are just as cheeky.

In this case, JC, who's eyes have been changed by powers from Bayonne, finds out his ghost Girlfriend has been working for his boss under his nose. Melody and Happy (she of the super science and he of the telepathy) are still coupled and dealing with Happy's drug habit that would seem to make both Crowley and Leary seem like teetotalers.

We get a preliminary investigation into a suburban haunt where a Professor of Psychology accidentally opens a door to another realm, letting his 4 students get sucked into a rather obscene world. JC and Kim combine like the Wonder Twins to rescue the students and close the door behind them. Which leads into the main scenario of the book, wherein our team gets called out to Radio Free Albion to investigate voices breaking in during broadcasts warning of horrible fates befalling listeners. Needless to say, the staff isn't happy with this development.

We get a heads up of what awaits us, when a future version of JC greets him at the door, bleeding out and missing eyes of any kind. In fact, all the Finders (except Kim), manage to see future versions of themselves, destroyed by some great beast.

It's kind of disturbing in a few places (this particular series is good for that kind of thing), but given most of the mystery revolves around the future and present colliding, one can't help but wonder why no one realized that if they fail, time would loop around for another go, rather than fully manifesting the Hell on Earth people keep seeing.

As it is, and since subtlety is not one of Green's strong points, the story finds a way around the problem of multiple futures eventually. Much in the British tradition, it goes straight there, not hanging around for sub plots or much character development beyond "Oh gee, I still want a body" or "The drugs are killing me, why not let me die?"

It's not a bad read by any stretch of the imagination. It holds attention and is honestly good fun. But it's not exactly undying prose either.