Monday, March 21, 2011
On the Prowl by Patricia Briggs, et al
These little anthologies some of the urban fantasy publishers are putting out are quite nice in one way - they let you get a sampling of some lesser known authors with the "hook" of a new work by an established writer. I discovered Tom Sniegowski that way just recently, but now that I've found him, I've found it hard to find more of him, so to speak.
This anthology led off with Alpha and Omega, by Briggs, which I'd already read as a stand-alone, so I skipped on to the next story as soon as I realized what was going on. You can read my review of it on the blog by clicking the link above. It was followed by Inhuman, by Eileen Wilks.
Inhuman seemed a little mysterious to me. I don't know if that was what the author intended, or if I've once again walked in on the middle of an ongoing story. One of the common themes in urban fantasy these days is of "racial" discrimination, and Wilks gives us a taste of one such scenario here. Normal folks are just naturally skeptical and suspicious of anyone who has powers they don't understand, and often indulge in either overt or covert race-baiting and persecution.
Kai, and her two friends Jackie and Ginger, seem to have some paranormal talents that would brand them as "The Other", and so does Kai's friend (it becomes immediately obvious that they're not more than that yet, but will be by the end of the story through some not subtle foreshadowing), Nathan, a county mountie who's only partially out of the proverbial paranormal closet. When bodies start turning up in the neighborhood, the witches are an obvious set of suspects, and when a local barfly testifies that he saw Kai leave the night before with the latest victim, well...
This is a quick read, with a wee bit different slant on beasties and boggins. I especially liked what type of creature Nathan turned out to be; there's some potential there. We'll see if something else by Ms. Wilks turns up in the mailbox one of these days.
Buying Trouble, by Karen Chance was the third bit of fun here. You see, there's this girl named Claire, who works in an auction house. The auction house has a reputation for coming up with very interesting artifacts, sometimes authentic, and ocassionally possessing strange powers. Claire's function, besides prettying things up around the place, is that she is a magical null, and while people are close enough to see and bid on the offerings, they are unable to use magic to steal them, or any other bit of mischief. The non-magic trouble is what you hire big bouncers for.
Claire was very nearly sold as a child slave to a visiting band of elves who wanted her for their own nefarious reasons, but she managed to escape their plans. The elves took it quite badly, killing her father over a bad faith deal gone awry, and she's been avoiding the rest of the clan ever since. Her brother shows up at this auction, having tracked her down, and is hoping to finally make good on his father's bargain, getting power and money for himself in the process.
As much as she distrusts elves, given her history, she finds she has no choice but to band together with one to escape the mayhem that ensues when the bidding gets out of hand. They flee to the land of the Fey, where Claire finds out a bit more than she bargained for about her magical nature and her family history. Good action, worth looking Ms. Chance up for a second round some day.
The Final story, Mona Lisa Betwining, by Sunny, very rapidly was revealed to be pretty much a PNR dressed up as UF. Didn't make it more than a couple of pages before the steamy longings reared their ugly thighs, and not more than twenty before the bodices were ripped with all due tradition and ceremony. I'll pass on more of the same...in my readings anyway.