Review Catch-up: Exile, Indexing & Broken Monsters

(Oh my!)

Ahem.

Yes! So, I’m back on the blog to finally catch up on some overdue reviews, and my poor little drunk-on-holidays brain has decided that this is the only acceptable method of doing so. So, here’s a round-up of what I’ve read recently, and what I’ve thought of it all!

DORNBUSCHCOVER

Genre: Fantasy | This format: eARC | Publisher: Night Shade Books | Publication date: February 2013 (Hardcover/ebook); July 2014 (paperback) | My rating: 4/5

Draken vae Khellian, bastard cousin of the Monoean King, had risen far from his ignominious origins, becoming both a Bowrank Commander and a member of the Crown’s Black Guard. But when he is falsely condemned for the grisly murder of his beloved wife, he is banished from the kingdom and cast upon the distant shore of Akrasia, at the arse-end of the world.

Compared to civilized Monoea, Akrasia is a forbidding land of Moonlings, magic, and restless spirits. It is also a realm on the brink of a bloody revolution, as a sinister conspiracy plots against Akrasia’s embattled young queen – and malevolent banes possess the bodies of the living.

Consumed by grief, and branded a murderer, Draken lives only to clear his name and avenge his wife’s murder. But the fates may have bigger plans for him. Alone in a strange land, he soon finds himself sharing the bed of an enigmatic necromancer and a half-breed servant girl, while pressed into the service of a foreign queen whose life and land may well depend on the divided loyalties of an exiled warrior . . .

This was an interesting one. Taken by its blurb alone, you might reasonably think this book is one of the Nothing New variety in epic fantasy. It sounds very familiar, and in a lot of ways, it is. What I really liked about it, though, and what gives it that four-star rating at the end of the day, is the central relationship between what I thought of as its main characters – Draken and Osias, the necromancer mentioned in that blurb. Under the top crust of battle and rebellion and conspiracy to murder the young queen, there’s that relationship, which grows not so much in leaps and bounds as in much more interesting fits and starts, throughout the book. Draken is distrustful of magic at first, and Osias wields one of the most dangerous types there is (regardless of which fantasy world you’re reading). Confession: I love me a good dose of necromancy on occasion, and Osias makes very interesting use of his…

There’s also the thread of a potential romantic entanglement there, which definitely interested me. It eventually doesn’t seem to come to much, which is an acceptable outcome, but also a bit of a disappointing one – it felt a bit underused, as opposed to reaching any sort of natural conclusion or even highlighting why, in Draken’s case, it was a factor worth mentioning at all…

Or maybe that’s just me. In any case, I am definitely taken with these two characters and their story, and I like to think I’ll be back for book two.

 

Indexing

Genre: Urban fantasy | This edition: Kindle serial (compiled)| Publisher: 47North | Publication date: May 2013 | My rating: 4/5

“Never underestimate the power of a good story.”

Good advice… Especially when a story can kill you.

For most people, the story of their lives is just that: the accumulation of time, encounters, and actions into a cohesive whole. But for an unfortunate few, that day-to-day existence is affected – perhaps infected is a better word – by memetic incursion: where fairy tale narratives become reality, often with disastrous results.

That’s where the ATI Management Bureau steps in, an organization tasked with protecting the world from fairy tales, even while most of their agents are struggling to keep their own fantastic archetypes from taking over their lives. When you’re dealing with storybook narratives in the real world, it doesn’t matter if you’re Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, or the Wicked Queen: no one gets a happily ever after.

Now, this one was right up my street. If I rely on Seanan McGuire for any kind of story, it is a screwed-up-fairytale kind of story. Or maybe straight-up-fairytale is a better description…?

Because anyone who looks twice at them knows that fairytales don’t need a whole lot of help to be twisted. Seanan McGuire is very good at twisted, and the delight she takes in it shines through here.

Originally told in serial style, Indexing is the complete collection of ‘season one’ of this urban fantasy story (and it was recently confirmed by the author that there will be a season two, which pleases me immensely) and for fans of UF with a lemony-sharp twist, this should be on the Unmissable list.

Oh hey, I rhymed. Heh.

If there was one little nitpick I feel I should raise, it’s that the run-up to the finale was a little bit of a struggle, I think mostly because there were a few aspects of the fairytale side that I was less than familiar with (Rose Red, for example) and so the intricacies threatened to leave me behind here and there. But I persevered, and the ending is definitely worth it.

So, yes! Do read this if you haven’t already. Go on. Do it. *Watches intently* Are you doing it yet?

 

Broken Monsters

Genre: Crime/horror/mystery | This edition: ARC | Publisher: HarperCollins | Publication date: July 31st 2014 | My rating: 5/5

Broken city, broken dreams

In Detroit, violent death – along with foreclosure and despair – is a regular occurrence. But the part-human, part-animal corpses that have started appearing are more disturbing than anything Detective Gabriella Versado has ever seen.

As Gabriella works the case, her teenage daughter Layla embarks on a secret crime-fighting project of her own – hunting down online paedophiles – but it all goes horribly wrong…

TK has learned how to make being homeless work for him and his friends, but something evil is threatening the fragile world he’s constructed on the streets…

Ambitious blogger Jonno is getting desperate. The big four-oh isn’t that far away, and he’s still struggling to make his mark. But then he stumbles across some unusual and macabre art, which might just be the break he needs to go viral…

Broken Monsters lays bare the decaying corpse of the American Dream, and asks what we’d be prepared to do for fifteen minutes of fame, especially in an online world.

This book is seriously creepy. Seriously. Possibly even more so than The Shining Girls was, and for me that’s saying a lot. If Stephen King has any sort of competition nowadays, it’s Lauren Beukes.

This book takes several distinct character threads, each one as engaging and disturbing as the last, spins them out and weaves them together for the finale with nothing short of tension-wringing aplomb. Any one of these characters and their own individual story would make a good read. Lauren Beukes makes them all work, and she does it masterfully. For such a relatively new writer, the fact that she’s doing so makes her a joy to read. And I’ve only read two of her books. She has more and I am bloody well going to read them.

Sidenote: she takes her mystery-writing damned seriously, too. I finished reading this book weeks ago and I’m still thinking about it, still trying to figure little things out. If you’ve read it and you’ve got theories, the comments are wide open, folks.

Honestly. Anything else I could say about this book would just be borderline fangirly weeping. Buy it. Read it. See for yourself.

Okay! I think that’s the round-up for now. Normal service will resume soon, because goodness knows the reading hasn’t stalled. Stay tuned…

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “Review Catch-up: Exile, Indexing & Broken Monsters

  1. Hi, I found your blog while checking out the other participants for Sci-Fi November this year. 🙂

    I liked your review of Broken Monsters, and I am really excited to read something of Lauren Beukes, especially with the comparisons to Stephen King people have been making. I have had her Shining Girls on my Kindle for awhile, and I am thinking it might be my creepy Halloween read this year. And if that isn’t creepy enough for me (I have been reading a lot of King this year, lol), I’ll have to check out Broken Monsters!

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