Welcome to yAdult Review, a space where two girls review novels from across the genres, from YA and MG, to fantasy and sci-fi, to historical fiction and mystery, with a sprinkling of non-fiction too. We hope you enjoy your stay here as much as we enjoy ours.

Tag Archives: genre: urban fantasy

keeperVanished (Greywalker #4) by Kat Richardson
Release Date: August 4, 2009
Publisher: Roc Hardcover
Source: Library
Rating: starstarstarstarblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

The toughest case yet for Greywalker and P.I. Harper Blaine, “a great heroine” (“New York Times” bestselling author Charlaine Harris), has arrived.
Harper Blaine was your average small-time P.I. until she died-for two minutes. Now Harper is a Greywalker-walking the line between the living world and the paranormal realm. And she’s discovering that her new abilities are landing her in all sorts of “strange cases.”
But for Harper, her own case may prove the most difficult to solve. Why did she-as opposed to others with near-death experiences-become a Greywalker? When Harper digs into her own past, she unearths some unpleasant truths about her father’s early death as well as a mysterious puzzle. Forced by some very demanding vampires to take on an investigation in London, she soon discovers her present troubles in England are entangled with her dark past back in Seattle-and her ultimate destiny as a Greywalker.

Kat Richardson ranks right up there with Ilona Andrews for me in terms of well-written urban fantasy and strong female protagonists. I love a good lady PI (as evidenced by my love of Veronica Mars) and adding in ghosts, vampires, and other creepy-crawlies of the supernatural variety only makes things more interesting for me. (Good luck convincing Veronica Mars that ghosts exist.) In this fourth novel of the Greywalker series, we see some familiar faces (Quinton, for one, Harper’s transient boyfriend), but as Harper is forced to travel to California to confront her past, more new faces crop up. Harper’s mother is suitably vain and terrible, though it all seems to stem from a deep self-consciousness and fear of being alone, which made me feel sorry for her, really, and we learn some hard facts about Harper’s father as well, ones Harper did not know herself. Throw in a dead ex-boyfriend or two, and Harper’s poor brain is thrown all out of whack. Now, I am a desensitized reader. While I don’t really enjoy gore, I am not usually freaked out by supernatural happenings in books. This one, even in the very beginning, actually scared me. The descriptions of “the watchers” made me turn all the lights on in my bedroom while reading at night. Is there anything creepier than faceless forms watching you from the shadows? Ah!

So right off the bat, Harper is taken out of her comfort zone (literally, as she takes a job from Edward and heads to London) and is confronted with uncomfortable feelings that she doesn’t really want to deal with (grief for her father and grief for and anger toward a man who misled her during their relationship). It turns out there’s quite a bit of weird death in her family, and Harper is afraid she’s starting to have premonitions, despite being assured by Mara Danziger that Harper is in no way psychic. London is always a good choice for all things fantasy, given its long, and sometimes violent, history. I mean, if anywhere is infested with ghosts, it’s London, right? And as always, I love the way Richardson describes the Grey and its inhabitants, twisting, reforming, “steam-shapes” that range from merely curious to indifferent to dangerous. I also enjoy the mythical creatures, the names of which Harper rarely knows, and how terribly gross they usually are in the Grey. I like the loose supernatural basis on “real” creatures (or creatures that exist in our mythology, anyway). I am not really a stickler on lore; as long as the author creates something that makes sense, I enjoy it. So seeing so many different legendary names in one place was interesting and seeing how each new person or personality was handled is always more important to me than sticking to the rules. I loved Sekhmet, which is sort of unusual due to my relative disinterest in all things ancient Egyptian, but she was maybe the most intriguing of the supernatural creatures we meet in the first half. I also have a soft spot for impatient, somewhat homicidal goddesses (what that says about me, you decide).

There’s a big focus on vampires and their Egyptian origins in this one, and that’s what I like. Vampires coming from Egypt? Seems counterproductive with all the sun, right? But I like this departure from the standard Eastern European lore, and Richardson makes interesting an ancient culture that I, in particular, have no real interest in (outside of cat worship. I practice that everyday). I am also a bit of an Anglophile, so the London setting did it for me. The story kept me engaged and interested, especially since Harper seems to be learning a lot of new, pertinent information. I plan to read the new Kate Daniels novel before moving on to the next in the Greywalker series, Labyrinth. I’m looking forward to it!

An Unrelated Note: Man, I have been a bad blogger. Circumstances have been difficult for me this year, plus I’m having a baby in five three weeks (omg), so my presence continues to be sporadic. Ashley does a great job managing the blog herself and keeping it going; I want to give her a huge round of applause and say thanks for all she does. ❤

kgtwKitty Goes to Washington (Kitty Norville #2) by Carrie Vaughn
Release Date: July 1, 2006
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Source: Library
Rating: starstarblank_starblank_starblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

Celebrity werewolf and late-night radio host Kitty Norville prefers to be heard and not seen. So when she’s invited to testify at a Senate hearing on behalf of supernaturals, and her face gets plastered on national TV, she inherits a new set of friends, and enemies, including the vampire mistress of the city; an über-hot Brazilian were-jaguar; and a Bible-thumping senator who wants to expose Kitty as a monster. Kitty quickly learns that in this city of dirty politicians and backstabbing pundits, everyone’s itching for a fight. – IndieBound

Before I start, I want to inform everyone that my 2014 reading challenge involves adult urban fantasy, some YA sequels, a few new YA novels from authors I love, and A LOT of classic literature and non-fiction. No ARCs for me this year (there might be a few exceptions). Everything has to come from the library or from my own shelves. Expect some middle-grade too. I might also be moving soon (cross your fingers!), so reviews might stay at this little trickle for awhile.

I should have reviewed the first Kitty Norville novel, Kitty and the Midnight Hour, first, because it was better than this one. I just want to be honest right off the bat. Admittedly, I was in the middle of a reading slump, but it took me SIX WEEKS to read this. Let that sink in. This one struggles with Second Book Syndrome, in a way, and we spend a lot of time with Kitty in a congressional chamber or an office, with much less action or shapeshifting than the first one. HOWEVER, that does not mean this one was bad, as it was kind of fascinating to read about the far-right senator’s reaction to the emergence of supes, PLUS I like politics so that also helped. Kitty has definitely grown a spine and come into her own, which is an accomplishment in the extreme considering her rape and subsequent poor treatment by her old pack. She’s still not very strong as a wolf, but as a woman, she’s done quite well.

Another thing I like about these is the sort of hands-off approach to romance. There were steamy sex scenes in the first novel that became less steamy as we realized what kind of man Carl was. Cormac is this skulking, mysterious assassin, Ben is a smart-mouthed lawyer. And, oh yeah, Kitty has a few pretty hot encounters with a werewolf whose name I can no longer remember. (I have a note that says “He drives a MIATA? :(“) The best supporting character was Roger, a reporter from an Enquirer-like magazine. He’s super enthusiastic and he really believes. I hope there’s more of him as the series continues. Because, despite the low rating, I will be continuing. I love urban fantasy, and Vaughn writes a smart character and interesting conflicts, this one was just too slow and boring for me.

Next up is Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson, so make sure to check back for what I’m sure will be a tear-soaked review!

aonAny Other Name (The Split Worlds #2) by Emma Newman
Release Date: May 28, 2013
Publisher: Angry Robot
Source: NetGalley
Rating: starstarstarstarblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

Cat has been forced into an arranged marriage with William – a situation that comes with far more strings than even she could have anticipated, especially when she learns of his family’s intentions for them both.

Meanwhile, Max and the gargoyle investigate The Agency – a mysterious organisation that appears to play by its own rules – and none of them favourable to Society.

Over in Mundanus, Sam has discovered something very peculiar about his wife’s employer – something that could herald a change for everyone in both sides of the Split Worlds.

God, I love this series! The first novel blew me away with how intricately the world was set up and how twisty the plot turned out to be. I loved learning about mirror Bath, Aquae Sulis, and in this one, we get to learn more about mirror London, Londinium. I like any book that doesn’t let its heroes out of their problems too easily, and Newman certainly isn’t doing Cathy any favors. Cathy and William Iris are now married, and Cathy continues to fight her role in Society. Now, we all know I’m a feminist and a lot of this Victorian sensibility crap is really annoying, but if Cathy would stop complaining and try, she might have an easier time of it. Just saying. And I really liked how Cathy’s crazy idea that she’s the only one who has ever felt oppressed by Society is thrown back at her by Lucy. Of course other women have felt restrained and hated it. Why does Cathy think she’s special or unique? The other women just know how to hide it better. I liked Cathy’s little insight into her father as well. It explained a lot and I think it helped her a little too. William is learning how to navigate Londinium with a wife who doesn’t even try and a mistress whose good name has been forever ruined. Lord Poppy is on his way out, but not before demanding Cathy make good on the painting she’s supposed to give him. Lord Iris scares Cathy so much she lets William comfort her later. Lady Rose is just gone.

Sam, meanwhile, is growing further away from his wife (who we learn interesting things about), and is trying to get back into Exilium to save the kidnapped blonds from the first novel. This doesn’t go very well, and Sam is required to basically be a slave to Lord Poppy for five years of his life in exchange. He’s also spending a lot of time with Max, who is still trying to figure out what happened to the destroyed Chapter. I really like Petra. She’s capable and smart, and she keeps the sorcerer in line. Ekstrand is crazy, plain and simple. The gargoyle continues to be hilarious, though he seemed a little more like hokey comic relief in this one. I’m still really interested in finding out about the corrupt Chapter and what role the Gallica-Rosas had in it. That was probably the storyline I followed the most closely, despite really appreciating Cathy’s women’s lib aspirations. Cathy actually grew a lot in this novel, I think, and that made me happy because while I felt for her in the first novel, I also found her selfish and whiny. William is another who seemed to grow and change, though in little ways. He continues to let himself be led by his patron and Patroon. Terrible things are happening, and treachery is everywhere. This one was just as engrossing and thrilling as the first, and the third novel, All Is Fair, comes out in September. You better believe I’ll be reading it.

bttBetween Two Thorns (The Split Worlds #1) by Emma Newman
Release Date: March 7, 2013
Publisher: Angry Robot
Source: NetGalley
Rating: starstarstarstarblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

Something is wrong in Aquae Sulis, Bath’s secret mirror city.

The new season is starting and the Master of Ceremonies is missing. Max, an Arbiter of the Split Worlds Treaty, is assigned with the task of finding him with no one to help but a dislocated soul and a mad sorcerer.

There is a witness but his memories have been bound by magical chains only the enemy can break. A rebellious woman trying to escape her family may prove to be the ally Max needs.

But can she be trusted? And why does she want to give up eternal youth and the life of privilege she’s been born into?

Wow. When I first started reading this one, I wasn’t sure I would like it. There are a lot of twisty threads, three alternating points of view, three different settings, Fae, long-lived humans, and mundanes (you and me). You’re kept in the dark for the first quarter, but it’s all so intriguing, and suddenly all the threads start to be woven into an understandable picture. This is some of the smartest urban fantasy I have ever read. We first meet Sam, who has a bit of a disastrous first meeting with “men,” who wipe his memories. Then we meet Cathy, a run-away from one of the Fae-touched Great Families, which are stuck in the Victorian era, complete with sexism. And finally we meet Max (and his gargoyle), who is sort of a detective for magical crimes, and a man who feels no emotion. I loved following Cathy around Manchester, the impending doom of her family finding her dogging her every step. And watching Max’s mystery unfold had me very tense. I couldn’t put this one down.

This is one of those novels that gets better and better as you progress. Threads start connecting, and you start figuring things out without needing the narrative to spell it all out for you. I hated the Victorian society of Aquae Sulis, but I wish Cathy had been a little but of a better actress. Things could have been a lot easier for her if she’d pretended to go along with things. I enjoyed seeing Max from both inside his own head and how Cathy saw him. That’s the benefit of multiple points of view, if done right. And Newman does nearly everything right.

It’s hard to detail the plot because it’s so intricate, and giving small details either won’t make sense or will give too much away. There’s a major cliffhanger at the end, so prepare for that, but otherwise this is honestly one of the best beginnings to an urban fantasy series that I have ever read. Another cool thing about this series is the sequel, Any Other Name, appears to be slated for publishing very soon, and there is a list of short stories set in the Split Worlds universe here. I highly recommend reading them and running out to buy this book, which is on shelves now!

gmGunmetal Magic (Kate Daniels World #1) by Ilona Andrews
Release Date: July 31, 2012
Publisher: Ace
Source: Library
Rating: starstarstarstarblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

After being kicked out of the Order of the Knights of Merciful Aid, Andrea’s whole existence is in shambles. She tries to put herself back together by working for Cutting Edge, a small investigative firm owned by her best friend. When several shapeshifters working for Raphael Medrano–the male alpha of the Clan Bouda, and Andrea’s former lover–die unexpectedly at a dig site, Andrea is assigned to investigate. Now she must work with Raphael as her search for the killer leads into the secret underbelly of supernatural Atlanta. And dealing with her feelings for him might have to take a back seat to saving the world…

Ilona Andrews is the best urban fantasy author out there (she and her husband write as a team). Kate Daniels is one of my personal heroines, because she’s badass, magical, not afraid to kill, and she doesn’t really do guilt. My big problems with the Anita Blake series turned out to be Anita’s guilty conscious due to her Christian beliefs and necromantic skills. That annoyed me! Kate Daniels never annoys me, not really. This one isn’t about Kate, but that’s okay. Andrea is just as cool, despite having trope-y, boring commitment issues. She grew up in a bouda pack that abused her and her mother, so she has a lot of deep scars when it comes to Pack logic or unity. She doesn’t want the Pack, but now that she’s out with the Knights, she might be forced to reconsider. The whole thing with her and Raphael is stupid, in my opinion. They both did stupid things, they’re both too stubborn to get back into it, and Andrea is acting like she’s not a shapeshifter. Whatever. I ignore the romance in most urban fantasy, because the plot is always better. It bugs me that the summary focuses so much on the romance when the plot is so interesting!

What I love about Andrews’ writing in this particular world (because I did not like their YA series AT ALL) is how lushly she describes post-apocalyptic Atlanta. I’ve never been there, but I imagine it evokes the same feelings as reading about a torn up Chicago in Divergent did. I love when a character goes to Centennial Park, the witches’ park, when the magic is up, because it always makes me think of Rivendell or Lothlorien. Magical. And Andrews is so good at weaving a twisty, snarly mystery that I almost NEVER figure out. The fights scenes are also really well-written, with people getting hurt and all that reality. I’ll be honest, I prefer being in Kate’s head over Andrea’s, but I love the character development of Ascanio, who I hated in the original series, but he’s growing on me. I also really like the further development of some secondary characters we saw during Kate’s series.

I love the twisty mythology in every Andrews novel, and this one’s no different, showing us the god Anubis and his demon Annit. We see all kinds of creatures you’d expect to see near the Nile, and discovering things through Andrea’s fresh eyes was a lot of fun for me. The fight scenes with these animals are crazy, and I found myself really getting into it. The ending wrapped things up nicely, but there is always room for disaster in Kate Daniels’ Atlanta! You can read this one without reading the Kate novels, so dive right in!

tcsThe City’s Son (The Skyscraper Throne #1) by Tom Pollock
Release Date: September 8, 2012
Publisher: Flux
Source: NetGalley
Rating: starstarstarstarblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

Running from her traitorous best friend and her estranged father, graffiti artist Beth Bradley is looking for sanctuary. What she finds is Urchin, the ragged and cocky crown prince of London’s mystical underworld. Urchin opens Beth’s eyes to the city she’s never truly seen-where vast spiders crawl telephone wires seeking voices to steal, railwraiths escape their tethers, and statues conceal an ancient priesthood robed in bronze.

But it all teeters on the brink of destruction. Amid rumors that Urchin’s goddess mother will soon return from her 15-year exile, Reach, a malign god of urban decay, wants the young prince dead. Helping Urchin raise an alleyway army to reclaim his skyscraper throne, Beth soon forgets her old life. But when her best friend is captured, Beth must choose between this wondrous existence and the life she left behind.

I was sort of confused when I first started this one, because it really appears as though Urchin/Filius* hunts the ghosts of old trains, which only made me think of Railsea. This book could not be more different from Railsea, though, so it took me a little time to get my bearings. The book begins with a kind of “cold open,” so to speak, and we’re thrust right into the story. You know what though? This one is fun. Lots of fun. And because of the whole train ghost thing, I thought this might be another fun, but silly, urban fantasy novel, but things get pretty heavy for everyone involved in this tale, and I loved it. Trigger warning, there is implied statutory rape, first mentioned in the first quarter of the book. (*I’m not sure if it’s because I got the ARC, but Beth only refers to Filius as “Urchin” once or twice in the beginning, so I’ll be calling him Filius from now on.) Despite the obvious sci-fi elements in this one, it’s also fantastical, like when we meet three sisters made of electricity, who live in streetlamps. For some reason, I imagined them as Calder’s sisters from Lies Beneath. For the first third of this novel, I was confused about the setting, confused about the characters’ motivations, and confused just in general about what was happening, but after Beth and Fil visit Reach’s graveyard, the action starts to pick up.

My favorite part of the first half was the Mirror People and how very touchy they are. Their snobbery made me laugh a lot, and so did Beth’s reaction to them. I also liked that Beth seemed to realize her sudden loyalty to Fil was unusual, as she addresses it in her narrative. I liked that Beth could, and did, hold her own, and that this wasn’t insta-love. Fil and Beth are together for a whole half a book before I was even sure if they liked one another! Meanwhile, Pen has her own individual storyline and if Pollock wants me to hate her, he did a very bad job of it (though I don’t think that’s what he was going for :) ). I ached for Pen throughout the book, even during the scene in which Beth figures out Pen betrayed her. But…I had to stop about a third of the way through because I was bored. I mean, I liked the premise, I like Fil and Beth and Gutterglass, but nothing was happening. It was just Fil and Beth running around, failing to gather any significant support for Mater Viae’s cause. I took like a 10 day long break from this one and came back to it feeling a little more refreshed.

And then I was mad that I quit at all because when this book gets good, it gets great. I couldn’t put it down once I got past the 50% mark, and I loved how Fil and Beth’s adventures intensified, and I felt the horror of what was happening to Pen. Things started happening rapidly after the recruitment of the Blankleits and Sodiumites, and sometimes it’s horrific. It’s some of the best urban fantasy YA has ever offered, in my opinion. The second half of this book made me add back a star I’d dropped. Everything starts getting real, so to speak, and no one pulls any punches in this one. A lot of people just come out and say the hard truths and it’s so refreshing. And when Beth leaves Fil, before their romance even becomes anything other than a tingle, I exulted, because in this novel, our protag values her close female friends more than the guy she just met.

The ending to this one is kind of bittersweet and it made me a little angry, but this book isn’t about the ending, it’s about the journey. London. About the living, breathing streets and stop signs, the cruelty of construction and barbed wire, and overcoming horrific circumstances to not only find yourself, but also those who love you. If you can stick with it through that first half, you’ll discover a whole new world nestled within our own.

umUnholy Magic (Downside Ghosts #2) by Stacia Kane
Release Date: July 6, 2010
Publisher: Del Rey
Source: Library
Rating: starstarstarstarblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

ENEMIES DON’T NEED TO BE ALIVE TO BE DEADLY.For Chess Putnam, finding herself near-fatally poisoned by a con psychic and then stopping a murderous ghost is just another day on the job. As an agent of the Church of Real Truth, Chess must expose those looking to profit from the world’s unpleasant little poltergeist problem—humans filing false claims of hauntings—all while staving off any undead who really are looking for a kill. But Chess has been extra busy these days, coping with a new “celebrity” assignment while trying on her own time to help some desperate prostitutes.

Someone’s taking out the hookers of Downside in the most gruesome way, and Chess is sure the rumors that it’s the work of a ghost are way off base. But proving herself right means walking in the path of a maniac, not to mention standing between the two men in her life just as they—along with their ruthless employers—are moving closer to a catastrophic showdown. Someone is dealing in murder, sex, and the supernatural, and once again Chess finds herself right in the crossfire.

Time for more urban fantasy! I hope you’re all as excited as me, because I really love this series. I know I said that last time, but now, having read two of the books, I can say it definitively. I love Stacia Kane and Downside Ghosts. I loved Chess’s celebrity case and the utter weirdness of all involved. I loved Arden, the daughter of Chess’s wealthy clients. I noticed how Kane makes careful comparisons between Lex and Terrible, weighing their pros and cons, relating their abilities to those of Chess. The prostitute murders involve not only grisly death, but a creeping sense of foreboding, and also tempts the gangs to war. I think Chess is becoming a little more uncomfortable with her “arrangement” with Lex, though that has nothing to do with her actual drug habit, which she has no motivation to quit. I like her more for her drugs; they make her seem more human, more fallible, less sanctimonious than a lot of UF heroines.

I’m not going to talk much about the plot in this review; I find it’s hard not to spoil mysteries during the process. One thing I noticed about this one is how Kane is priming us for the Terrible/Chess relationship by really hitting us over the head with how wrong Lex is for Chess. He has not a lick of magical awareness, Chess states over and over that talking to Lex with clothes on is weird, how sleeping with Lex with clothes on is weird, basically that Chess knows this is a bad relationship but just isn’t thinking on it too hard. Since there are two more books after this one, I was pretty sure we were being set up for something pretty horrible in store for Chess and Terrible. I tried to steel myself as best I could.

And it was horrible when it came. Chess messes up in so many ways in this one that it was hard to concentrate on the story! She’s had a hard life and sort of fears love, and she just ruins things beyond all comprehension. She faces so many consequences that it was almost uncomfortable to read. The villains in this one used “sex magic” and just reading about Chess becoming aroused against her will made me so uncomfortable. Not uncomfortable in a bad way, but uncomfortable in a way that means the story got to me. I love it. I’ll be reading the next book ASAP, and I can’t recommend them enough. If you like urban fantasy, you’ll most likely love Chess Putnam!