Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Somewhere, over the rainbow

This book is over 30 years old, so I feel minorly confident I won't be spoiling much with this particular graphic, particularly since there are a few movies and stories that follow similar paths to a conclusion.

Anyway, we don't actually get into this until the last third of the book, and they honestly matter less than the humans reacting to them.

We really start with Dom, a novelist who's first novel is getting published. Dom's started sleepwalking, and building shelters while doing so. We also meet Ginger, a Jewish surgical resident in Boston, who starts having fugues at the sight of random objects. And Brendon, a priest who suffers a catastrophic loss of faith right in the middle of Communion.

These three form the center of about eight others who wind up back in Elko, Nevada, where everyone had stayed about 2 years prior. From there, we find that almost everyone in the group suffers from odd dreams and strange triggers. Through Ginger, we find out everyone had been brainwashed. Through Brendon's Rector, we find out the strange gifts of healing and telekinesis that Dom and Brendon share can be passed on to others.

In the mean time, we have Col. Falkirk at Thunder Mountain, who believes that the people involved in the landing are somehow possessed or no longer human and wants to exterminate those who regained their memories.

It's one of Koontz's longest books to come out of the 80's, but it's also one of his best. All the things that became hallmarks of his work, like technophobia the innate evil of mankind are not particularly present here. We only get one mention of infinity transmitters. It's also not nearly as nihilistic as other stuff from the era, as ultimately faith and hope come from the resolution. Worth the investment.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Tying up loose ends by unravelling others

So, Since I guess there's been some local chatter about the drop in posts since the last one, I've had bronchitis, which put me on antibiotics and cough syrup. Neither of which makes me all that excited to focus on anything other than my eyelids. Also, bronchitis fills me with the urge to read Steven King's The Stand, although the only copy I have at the house in the original, not the later complete edition. And believe me there is a difference, although one could only wish that the original had cut some of the journey back to boulder. No, it's just as long and overdone in both version.

None of which has to do with the novel and novella I'm actually reviewing here.

Seanan McGuire wrote another October Daye Novel, The Brightest Fell, which also contains "Of Things Unknown", which concerns April O'Leary of Tamed Lightning.

The big section concerns Toby being sent on a quest not particularly willingly by her mother Amandine. Who wants Toby to find her sister August, who wondered off on the Babylon road about 100 years prior seeking to open the gates to Deeper Fairie and Oberon. In order to guarantee her cooperation, Amy forces Tybalt into Cat form and Jazz into Raven form and locks them in cages.

This requires waking one of her nemesis from elf shot to gain his assistance. That would be Simon, who turned her into a fish for several years at the beginning of the series. Simon is also August's father, and thus the best choice to assist in finding her.

Simon's twin brother, Sylvester does bind him prior to waking, ensuring his cooperation.

From here it gets ugly. The quest takes them from Amy's tower, through pixie land (where we find out Simon had helped relocate the pixies) , to Blind Michael's realm and to Anwyn, last seen being locked off to trap a psycho duchess. In the course of this journey, we catch up with characters still dwelling in these realms. Including a police officer who's been trapped in Anwyn since the realm was sealed again.

And back into San Franciso, where August is eventually found, another deal with the Luidaig is sealed, and some very ugly conclusions are reached.

And then we move into "Of Things Unknown", where in CyberDryad April figures out a way to release the souls trapped on servers to their bodies. What she succeeds at doing will likely have repercussions down the line.

Again, it's a well written a book in a well written series. I'm kind of curious which of the new threads she intends to start weaving with next.

Friday, September 8, 2017

The curious incident with the sapphire dog in the mountains

As I again went digging through the pile of used books I've managed to collect this year, I came across Game of Cages by Harry Connolly, book 2 in his Twenty Palaces series. Mind you, I never read book 1, but hey....

I feel like I missed something in the set up. We start with the narrator, Ray Lilly, working in a grocery store, wondering if vaguely defined events in the last book were a dream. Then Catherine walks in, and we're headed out of Seattle to a small town in Northern Oregon, wherein an auction is taking place. Not just any auction, one where the big prize is something referred to as a Predator, a being from outside normal reality.

Catherine and Ray both nominally belong to some organization known as the 20 Palaces. They kill predators and those who summon them. Ray is something called a Wooden Man for Annalise, who is a Peer in the organization. Catherine is an investigator. (Still not sure oin all the rankings, but near as I can tell, the Peers actually use the sigils that create magic. Catherine has no magic of her own. Ray has protective sigils tattooed on him by Annalise. He also has a ghost know, which is for him, a slip of paper that can cut through anything. It also cuts away aggression when it hits humans or animals. Usually.

So, anyway, in the pecking order, Ray is somewhere under janitor. However, he's street smart.

They arrive after the auction has already ended. However, the winner is dead and the Predator has escaped.

A character who's pretty much Lo Pan from Big Trouble in Little China summons a predator that's a big ball of lightning. And everyone winds up trapped in small town Oregon a few days before Christmas chasing a Sapphire Dog. (Its method of feeding is to enchant humans to want to possess it, then fight over it. Kind of like Needful Things.)

We find out no one can leave town or sound the alarm as the bodies keep piling up. What passes for the local constabulary calls the staties for backup, and instead wishes them a Merry Christmas.

A peer does show up to take care of the issue, but he dies.

Annalise shows up, and she's glorious.

In the end, I begin to understand that we, the readers are looking through Ray's eyes and his complete lack of information on what the Twenty Palaces are. We get a brief glimpse at how magic in this setting works. We find out about other organizations unaffiliated or opposed to the Twenty Palaces.

It was interesting, and I enjoyed reading it. But I think I need to find book one to get a deeper understanding of what's going on here.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Lane closures ahead.

So, I picked up Night Work by Steve Hamilton at one of the clearance sales I went to this year, mainly because the cover art made it look like a good chiller. Which it wound up becoming, other than one thing. We'll come back to that.

The story centers around Joe Trumbull ("JT" to his friends) who lives alone in Kingston, New York. His apartment is one of two above a boxing gym, in what was the Kingston Greyhound. When we meet Joe, he's headed out on a blind date, his first date since his fiance was murdered a little of 2 years ago.

Joe's date goes well, she even forgives him for being a Probation Officer. Or doesn't mind. She doesn't matter, because they find her strangled in a grave yard a few days later, much like JT's fiancee was. (To be fair, fiancee was strangled and left in her bed.)

However, almost every woman JT interacts with over the next few days winds up being strangled, and the State Police discover that JT's necktie and shoelaces were the garottes.

So, needless to say, JT is the prime suspect, particularly since the deaths all resemble that of his fiancee's.

It's a good set up, and the plot moves at a speedy pace. Problem is, when we find out what is actually going on, the entire things falls apart. And not in the way things normally fall apart. More like the answer is mildly understandable, BUT goes so far over the top that it almost completely ruins the build up.

I guess he has a series he wrote that people enjoyed. I may check it out sooner or later, since other than the resolution, this was a good book.