Supernatural/Contemporary/Urban Fantasy

Discussion in 'Fantasy / Horror' started by Rob B, Nov 4, 2005.

  1. KatG

    KatG Effulgent Staff Member

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    Must Love Hellhounds was supposed to be a good one. I like anthologies, but I only occasionally manage to end up reading them. The stories in them aren't necessarily from the authors' series.
     
  2. Bastard

    Bastard Jack Bauer

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    I've been in quite a funk lately reading UF:

    Hellforged (Deadtown #2) by Nancy Holzner - boring
    Highborn (Dark Redemption #1) by Yvonne Navarro - type of main character that I like, but fairly boring narrative, and inconsistent. Nice surprise ending though.
    As Lie the Dead (Dreg City #2) by Kelly Meding - Didn't like the first book, but gave this series another shot. First half was excellent and I really got into the series. Second half was awful though, but I'm keeping with the series.

    Some I did enjoy:

    Dark Descendant (Descendants #1) by Jenna Black - Overall alright read with decent action, and fast moving. Plot could use some heavy work though, and the book itself didn't tell me much, but it was fine for me for what it was.

    Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride - A YA urban fantasy, and I really enjoyed it. It faltered towards the end, but it was a fun ride with lots of fun characters and a lot of sarcastic fun dialogue which I really enjoyed. Waiting for the sequel now.

    Now that I took that out of the way, let me mention the worst type of UF trash I have read so far, Afterlight by Elle Jasper. As I mentioned in Goodreads, this is a "Twilight wannabe PNR erotic porn". This is the type of book that gives UF the bad reputation among some people because people get conned into reading something in the UF shelves, and yet stumble into this type of crap. Content was bad, writing was awful. And the ending was completely rushed and boring. I only read until the end because I don't like to quit books and I wanted to bad mouth this crap without reservations. There, you have been warned.

    Here are some titles that have come into my attention if anyone is interested:

    Trance by Kelly Meding - looks like a X-Men type of book.
    Hard Spell by Justin Gustainis
    Shaedes of Grey by Amanda Bonilla
    Bloodlines by Skyla Dawn Cameron
    Dead on the Delta by Stacey Jay
    No Hero by Jonathan Wood
    Southern Gods by John Hornor Jacobs
    Hard Magic by Larry Correia
    Awakenings by Edward Lazellari
     
  3. Mister

    Mister Registered User

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    Thanks for the recommendations, Prof. Bastard, and the warning.

    So, um, I don't know quite how to ask this.

    The book trailer for the new Ilona Andrews/Kate Daniels book included a line along the lines of, "It doesn't suck as much as the first book!" And yes, she said her own first book sucked. The word was either suck or sucky.

    And, yanno, I agree with her; the first book sucked. But the series got better as it went along. Much, much better. It's one of my two favorite series.

    The other one is the Dresden Files, which, in my opinion, started out ok, and got better as it went along.

    And it occurred to me, that those are the only two that got better. Some series, like Jane Yellowrock, had a promising first book, only to follow it up with something that read like a rehash of the original, only with less dimension to the characters.

    So I'm wondering if there are other series that get better as they go along. Maybe I even read the first book of a series like that, was underwhelmed, and failed to stick around for the ride.

    Anybody know of any other series that get better and better after the first book?
     
  4. KatG

    KatG Effulgent Staff Member

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    Oh B, did you go and ignore cover copy again?

    C.J. Henderson is coming out with the next Piers Knight mystery fantasy, Central Park Knight. (The first was Brooklyn Knight.) Anyone read these?

    Also Trent Jamison's Managing Death, about Australia's official Death, looks fun. Did you like Mira Grant? Can't remember.

    Tom Holt has a new one in June -- Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Sausages -- which adds to the collection of Holt novels I need to work through.
     
  5. Bastard

    Bastard Jack Bauer

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    It's been my overall experience that UF is the type of subgenre that is tailored towards having books that get better and better mostly because each book adds a layer to the mythology, though not always the case. Of course, the author needs to do his/her work and keep things fresh and interesting and write decent mystery/plots going forward. Just as UF is tailored towards having series get better by the book, it's also tailored towards repetition, which could be good or bad depending on the reader.

    Looking at my list now, and I thought I would have more to offer, but I guess not.

    Connor Grey by Mark del Franco - Indifferent for the first book, books 2-4 I thought were quite good. Book 5 took a bit of step back, but had a very interesting ending, so looking forward to the rest.

    Black Sun's Daughter by MLN Hanover - Only read 2 books, and I enjoyed the 2nd one far more, and I think I've read that the 3rd one is even better. But don't hold me to it.

    October Daye by Seanan McGuire - I thought books 2 and 3 were letdowns, but book 4 redeemed the series for me. Some would say the series has gotten better by the book, so worth mentioning.

    Elemental Assassin by Jennifer Estep - Not really getting better by the book, but quite steady, though a bit predictive and straightforward, I still find it quite fun with lots of good action. Last one was my favorite since the first book, and the 5th book will finish the 5 book arc and it looks quite promising. I have a gut feeling that after this arc is over it'll get better since I think the straightforward nature and overall predictability is holding it back a bit.

    I got quite a few sequels coming up throughout the year so we'll see if there's something to be added to the list.

    Mercy Thompson and Kitty Norville might be worth mentioning, but overall up and down book to book. Also keep an eye out for The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne which should fit the bill, but only read the first book so far myself. Also only read the first book so far, but maybe Marla Mason by TA Pratt.

    Maybe someone can talk to you about The Hollows by Kim Harrison which seems like a series that could also be included, but I haven't read it.
     
  6. Bastard

    Bastard Jack Bauer

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    I actually liked the cover for Afterlight (I think I mentioned it earlier in this thread), and trust me nothing in that cover would prepare you for the trash of book it was. PNR people would probably love it though, and the Twilight crowd (though I think the fanatics will hate it since they'll claim the book copied from it, and I think in some instances they might have a bit of a case with some key phrases). Plus it was getting a few good reviews (probably from PNR fans who don't care to distinguish between UF and PNR). What really clued me in was the sample page that gets included in the book and I already knew this book was not going to work for me, but I gave it a shot anyways with the mental preparation that I might stumble to quite a bit of romance, which was fine because I knew it before starting the actual book. And I had high hopes for the main character. But it was just bad through and through. I've read UF books that incorporate quite a bit of erotica/romance in it, and even though I don't like those portions, the books themselves are damn good (like Kara Gillian by Rowland), but this book was just pure trash.

    Haven't heard anything good about CJ Henderson's UF series, and plenty of bad. But I'm curious about it, seems like something I should try out.

    Read Trent Jamieson when it came out, and didn't like the first book. Got the sequel so I might give it another shot later on. He finished the series, which ended up being a trilogy. I'm actually looking forward to his new series which starts with Roil.

    Haven't read Mira Grant, though she's Seanan McGuire's pen name (I don't know which is her real name) for Horror stories which she's using in her Newsflesh series. Heard good things about it. I think here Seak likes the series if not mistaken.
     
    Last edited: May 30, 2011
  7. Contrarius

    Contrarius You talkin' to me??

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    IMHO it's a series that improved for a book or two, and then plateaued. I'm quite fond of it as a whole, but I also wasn't all that thrilled with the last installment (Pale Demon). I don't think it is aging as well as, say, the Dresden books. But I do like it enough that I've listened to the complete series twice. :)
     
  8. Bastard

    Bastard Jack Bauer

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    Finished Magic Slays, the latest in the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews it was another great book in the series. Though Dresden is still my top series in UF, Kate Daniels is not a far second. Kate is just one kickass character through and through. Too bad that I heard that the series will only be a couple of books more, hopefully they'll find a way to extend it (though I also heard a couple of spinoff books, maybe a spinoff series is in the works).

    Now going to the 3rd book in the Urban Magic (Mathew Swfit) series by Kate Griffin, The Neon Court.
     
  9. Arkeus

    Arkeus Registered User

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    Yeah, Magic Slays was really good. Will be sad if it finishes soon.
     
  10. Mister

    Mister Registered User

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    I enjoyed Magic Slays, but not as much as some of the others before it. They set a very high standard. I hope the series lasts a good long while, too.

    For those who may be caught in the throes of Magic withdrawal, Ilona Andrews has set a number of short stories in the same world, often with the same characters.

    * "A Questionable Client" is a prequel short story, detailing how Kate first became acquainted with Saiman. There is Russian magic here. In the anthology, Dark and Stormy Knights. I enjoyed this a lot.

    * "Curran," written entirely by the male half of Ilona Andrews, is a group of short pieces from Curran's point of view, one for each of the first four books. These don't have the feeling of being complete stories, but they add depth to the characters and the world. Available for free at ilonaandrews.com.

    * "Curran II," also written by the male half, is available free at ilonaandrews.com. I haven't read it and don't know what it's about.

    * "Magic Mourns" is from Andrea's point of view. It involves her romance with Raphael, and occasionally takes breaks to tell a story about Cerberus and the Greek angels of death. In the anthology, Must Love Hellhounds.

    * "Magic Dreams" is from the point of view of a shapeshifting tigress named Dali Harimau. I haven't read this. Available in the anthology Hexed.
     
  11. Contrarius

    Contrarius You talkin' to me??

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    I just finished listening to Magic Bites this afternoon. It was okaaaaaaaay, not the best thing I ever read but mostly a fun read. Unfortunately, the narrator constantly sounded so awe-struck --- oooooo, this is all so sigNIFicant -- that it was a little hard to detect the author's intentions beneath the narration.

    The semi-post-apocalyptic world building was interesting, I liked a lot of the ideas, and I liked the way that the author (authors) did NOT explain everything to the reader. OTOH the prose didn't strike me as terribly skilled, the plot seemed kinda lame in places, and I thought they hit too hard on Kate's hostility quotient. But I know this was their first book, so I'm definitely allowing for the possibility of improvements in future books. I'll read at least one or two more of the series, eventually.
     
  12. Mister

    Mister Registered User

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    I hated the first book, for the exact reasons you mentioned here -- especially the hostility quotient. I might consider it among the worst books I read in 2010. But the series got better, and not just a little better; it became one of my favorite series. I hope your experience is similar.
     
  13. Bastard

    Bastard Jack Bauer

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    Quality of the writing improved substantially from book 1 to book 2.
     
  14. Contrarius

    Contrarius You talkin' to me??

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    Ever since I started reading Dresden I've been more generous about allowing for improvement in a new author. I almost gave up on Butcher, except that other folks encouraged me to keep reading -- and now I'm a die-hard fan. I've also heard on other boards that the Daniels series improves, and I'm willing to believe it!
     
  15. Mister

    Mister Registered User

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    I've read them all now and thought I'd make an update on the Kate Daniels-world stories.

    "Curran II: Fathers and Sons" is an enjoyable, quick read, from Curran's point of view toward the end of Magic Bleeds.

    "Magic Mourns" is my least favorite Kate Daniels-world story, after Book 1. The romance is mind-numbing, the mythology annoying and expository.

    "Magic Dreams," however, was awesome. I said, "Oh no," out loud a few pages in, when I realized who the protagonist was; Dali Harimau appeared in Magic Strikes, and I remember thinking, "working too damn hard to make this character interesting." Dali Harimau is a mythology expert who is also a rare white tiger shapeshifter with bad eyesight who engages in illegal high-speed car racing and keeps on crashing the cars due to her bad eyesight. Yawn. But this story was fascinating. It incorporates yōkai and organ harvesting and gives insight into some segments of Asian American culture in 2040, as well as telling a fun, spooky, mythic story. My favorite short story of this series.

    Still, we've had stories now from Curran's POV, from Andrea's, and from Dali's, and even when the stories are compelling, it's clear to me that no one but Kate can carry the series so far. I'm not excited for the idea some have suggested, that another character will take over the series after Kate's arc ends, unless it's a character who hasn't been introduced yet.
     
  16. Mister

    Mister Registered User

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    Reading Jenn Bennett's debut, Kindling the Moon. She has an entertaining prose style, and the story has been fast-paced and full of luminous imagery so far.

    The protagonist, Arcadia Bell, lives in a world of demons and magicians. She's a magician, but possibly something more. She's been on the run for seven years.

    Seven years ago, a number of people were murdered. The police think Arcadia and her parents were responsible -- the police think they're serial killers. But they cast a spell that made everyone think they had died. Arcadia's parents left the country, and she hasn't heard from them in years.

    Arcadia has changed her name and now she runs a demon-friendly tiki bar, where the clientele play drinking games centered around paranormal-investigation tv shows. One night when the crowd is gathered to watch, the show is interrupted by a news bulletin: the police have arrested Arcadia's parents. The police thought they were dead, and now the police are wondering if their daughter is alive as well.

    But this kicks off a number of mysteries. Why did her parents return? Why now? She's trying to learn what she can, and maybe unravel the secrets of her past, while the police and supernatural organizations are trying to find her.

    It's a superfun read so far.
     
  17. Bastard

    Bastard Jack Bauer

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    I had this in my wishlist but completely forgot about it, so will be interested in see how it went once you finish it.
     
  18. KatG

    KatG Effulgent Staff Member

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    Those of you who have taken up the work of Steven R. Boyett know that he wowed all with his first novel, Ariel, in the 1980's, did a bit more in novels and short fiction and then largely disappeared into the worlds of computers and music, occasionally popping up with a short work or collection like Sasquatch sightings.

    But that doesn't mean the man wasn't writing and in 2009, he brought us the poignant, bestselling Elegy Beach, the generational sequel to Ariel. And he worked some more on a novel he's rewritten 30 times and now we have that one too: Mortality Bridge, coming out this Sunday. It's a view of the tale of Orpheus in a different way:

    Decades ago a young rock and blues guitarist and junkie named Niko signed in blood on the dotted line and in return became the stuff of music legend. But when the love of his damned life grows mortally and mysteriously ill he realizes he's lost more than he bargained for--and that wasn t part of the Deal.

    So Niko sets out on a harrowing journey from the streets of Los Angeles through the downtown subway tunnels and across the redlit plain of the most vividly realized Hell since Dante, to play the gig of his mortgaged life and win back the purloined soul of his lost love.

    Mortality Bridge remixes Orpheus, Dante, Faust, the Crossroads legend, and more in a beautiful, brutal--and surprisingly funny--quest across a Hieronymous Bosch landscape of myth, music, and mayhem; and across an inner terrain of addiction, damnation, and redemption.


    And the early reviews (the release date got pushed up so they're coming in more slowly,) have been excellent.

    It is, however, coming out from Subterranean Press and they're doing one of their quality signed limited edition thingies. There's no e-book yet. If you're in the States, you can get it cheaper on Amazon. But I'm hoping there's going to be a wider offering down the road because I don't want a Boyett book doing any Sasquatch hiding. Those of you who undertake reviews and get early copies might want to take a gander.

    [​IMG]
     
  19. Rob B

    Rob B \m/ BEER \m/ Staff Member

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    NECRO THREAD....

    I know there are quite a few threads in our forums dedicated to this subgenre but since I created this specific thread and there are quite a few good recommendations in it I figured I'd add to it.

    I'll drop one name in her Chuck Wendig because his latest book The Blue Blazes published recently, I reviewed it and I absolutely loved it. "think one part Hellboy, one part Mathew Stover, one part Big Trouble in Little China, and throw in a dash of The Sopranos, the film The Wrestler and pulp sensibilities, and you might have an idea of what a great stew of fun this novel really is."

    Chuck's been writing away for years, but over the past couple of years his work is seeing the light of day, mainly through the fine folks at Angry Robot Books who published The Blue Blazes as well as his Miriam Black novels Mockingbird and Blackbirds. Chuck is extremely active on twitter and has one of the best writing blogs out there: Terrible Minds. He's the type of writer you read once and you want to devour everything from him.
     
  20. KatG

    KatG Effulgent Staff Member

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    I second that. I just read Blackbirds. Now I have to read Mockingbird.