Posts Tagged ‘urban fantasy’

Demonslayer (Book 2 of The Psychonaut Trilogy)
by Tom G. H. Adams
Writing in Starlight Publications

I’d be lying if I didn’t say I hadn’t been waiting for this book for a while. I originally reviewed the first book in the trilogy, The Psychonaut, back in 2016, and to say that this is a strong follow-up is an understatement. I’ll also come out and say that yes, you really do need to read the first book in the series to make heads or tales of what is going on in this book.Demonslayer: Book 2 in The Psychonaut Trilogy by [Adams, Tom G.H.]

It picks up where the last book left off. Merrick Whyte, former corporate negotiator, has come into his own power as a Psychonaut, one that can traverse different realms and can use the power of his mind to well… kill people. A new threat is on the horizon, however, as a demon threatens to Uncreate everything. Meanwhile, there is an anti-occult group with designs on Merrick and his friends, and there is a police officer who has decided that Merrick must die, damn the collateral damage.

What follows is an intricate story that weaves between the colliding plots and subplots. Demigods, fanatics, and the end of the world (isn’t it always?) combine to make a truly thrilling tale that will keep readers on edge. And yes, having some knowledge of Thelema and Aleister Crowley does help with a deeper appreciation of the story.

The biggest downside for me is I really wished Adams had developed some of the secondary characters a bit more. Also, there are some momentous events that occur that get little more than a summation by the characters. Obviously, there are always choices to be made in writing, but I for one hope to see more of Adams’ cast of characters rounded out.

As always, Adams does not shy away from the grotesque, but DEMONSLAYER wasn’t nearly as graphic as THE PSYCHONAUT, but his villains still manage to feel threatening.

Highly recommended if you enjoy thrillers and urban fantasy that weighs heavy on the occult.

DEMONSLAYER is available on amazon.

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This week’s challenge was either:

  1. The Road to Hell is paved with good intentions.
  2. Doing a good thing sometimes means being evil.

I went with a bit of both, really. Also, sees me going back to the Nightshades well.

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This week’s challenge: write about rebellion. Fury (and Crowe) are old friends I’m looking to pick back up again, probably a similar serial as what I’m doing with No Honor Among Thieves and The Serpent’s Map. Consider this a small taste.

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This week’s challenge- insomnia. That’s about it. Decided to go a bit different with the piece this time, not quite as stripped down as I usually write. As always, comments are welcome and appreciated (and replied to)!

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The Psychonaut (Book One of the Psychonaut Trilogy)
by Tom Adams
Writing in Starlight

Occult societies. Global conspiracies. Multiple worlds.

Yeah, I’d say this book is right in my sweet spot.

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This week, pick a title and go! I’ve used Blake before in a bit of flash (“Nothing Like Getting Rained On“) though if I’m being honest this is more vignette than flash. Ah well, and so it goes. I think I’ll come back and flesh this out, give it a proper plot.

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A bit of urban fantasy (or maybe even a street level superhero story). The challenge this week was to go with one of the seven deadly sins and write a story based around it. So this one is mostly Lust with maybe a dash of Wrath. A bit over the limit of 1,000 words, but just by a tetch.

Comments, as always, are welcome.

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This week’s challenge– pick one of ten predetermined titles and write a story with it. Target goal was about 2000 words. I ended up with a bit over 1700.

I’ve used Carlisle before, and he’s a character I’m playing with a bit, getting the feel for him and what he’s about, so I’m grateful for the chance to take him out for a spin again.

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Trail of the BeastThe Trail of the Beast
By Matt Spencer
Damnation Books LLC

Sequels are hard. They need to live up to all the hype of the first book, continue the story, and keep the reader on the hook for the third piece. All while telling a concise story in and of itself.

While “The Night and the Land” (the first book of Matt Spencer’s Deschembine Trilogy) set up the expectation of an epic urban (for want of a better term) fantasy, “Trail of the Beast” is where he delivers. No longer are the main protagonists, Rob and Sally, figuring out their place in the world and with each other. They’ve grown comfortable with each and their lot, and perhaps a touch complacent. It’s this complacency that Spencer upends in dramatic fashion- starting with the abduction of Sally from her and Rob’s new home.

Whereas the first book had a sense of the personal, of a greater conflict encapsulated within the struggles of a few, here Spencer let’s events spiral dangerously out of control. Other players are dragged in. The status quo is dramatically changed, altered, and the very landscape is upended as a result.

Where Spencer is strongest though, continues to be the relationships, the drives, of his main characters. How their actions, especially Rob’s roaring rampage of revenge, affect the larger world is hinted at in places, but the reader doesn’t ever get a full sense of the chaos that’s going on in the world outside of a few hints. Pulling the focus off the characters a bit, going to the bigger picture for context, would probably have been useful to show that not only are Rob and Sally not in Kansas anymore, but the entire world has been irrevocably changed.

Spencer continues to excel at brutal combat situations, and he isn’t afraid to let his characters get as good as they give. The fights are brutal, and gory and reminiscent of the best of Joe Abercrombie and Matthew Stover.

Over all, I highly recommend “Trail of the Beast” to anyone who enjoys a vicious revenge tale, urban fantasy, and stories where another world lurks just underneath the surface of what they can see.

5 out of 5 stars.

Killing Pretty

Killing Pretty

By Richard Kadrey

In many ways, this book, the seventh in Richard Kadrey’s Sandman Slim series is a return to form, while simultaneously a step forward for James Stark, the eponymous Sandman Slim.

Gone are the world destroying powers. Gone is the ultimate escape clause. It’s a noir story in the sense that there is a mystery to be solved, powerful people to shake down, and the main character isn’t nearly as clever as he thinks he is.

Kadrey does a masterful job tapping into the California noir tradition of LA Confidential and Chinatown, and despite the supernatural elements of angels, Hellions, magic, and Death, the overall tone is kept grounded by the very real problems of managing relationships, holding a job, and dealing with local politics.

Where the book really shines, however, is in deconstructing the main characters’ usual modus operandi. Yes, going in without thinking gets results, sometimes even positive ones, but, at the end of the day it costs him more than he gains. It’s a lesson not just for life, but for other writers, in looking at the anti-hero character and seeing where it comes up short. It was also refreshing to see Kadrey spend more time on the characters surrounding Stark including Candy, his monster-girlfriend, Julia, the ex-Marshal turned private investigator, and Kasabian, the head on a robot body who runs the video store he and Stark co-own. (My biggest complaint? Not enough of the immortal French alchemist Vidoq, who probably could carry a series all by himself.)

So if you like high octane urban fantasy, if you like your heroes to come in shades of grey, and most importantly, if you enjoy noir, I highly recommend you pick up KILLING PRETTY.