Saturday, September 3, 2011

Review of 'Succubus Revealed' by Richelle Mead

It's always a bittersweet thing when you come to the end of a series that you love.  I stayed up the better part of the night finishing this book and though I am tired, it's a happy kind of tired.  I have to say that this is the first paranormal romance story that I have loved from beginning to end. It was filled with erasure that took the form of no GLBT characters whatsoever and extremely limited roles for people of colour, but in spite of all of that I could not help be embrace the characters.

Succubus Revealed basically involved the big showdown between heaven and hell, the importance of true love and the value of a single soul. In my review of Succubus Heat, one of the issues that I found problematic was the declaration of love between Seth and Kincaid because in actuality they had only been dating for the three months.  The I lurve you for evah and evah based on nonsense, is a common trope in urban fantasy and it often reduces the strength of an emotion like love.  Mead directly confronted this trope by setting up Kincaid and Seth as lovers who had met and fallen in love over 10 lifetimes.  This is why it makes sense that after only three months, that they were so drawn to each other. I really liked this take on love and it really made the interaction between Seth and Kincaid real.

For me, one of the most beautiful parts of this story was Carters description of a human soul. On page 236 Carter says, "It was actually for two souls, since you and Seth were both saved. But even if it wasn't, it still would've been worth it.  Do you know the price of one soul Georgina?  It's beyond rubies and diamonds, beyond any mortal reckoning.  If it had taken me a dozen more angels to help me, it all would have been worth it."  It warms me to read that there is something intrinsically good and pure about us all. 

Friday, September 2, 2011

Review of "Cheat the Grave" by Vicki Pettersson

To be honest, I have been struggling with this series.  It started off wonderfully engaging, with a world that was absolutely unique in urban fantasy, and then somewhere along the way, it seemed to lose focus, that is until Cheat the Grave.  This book reminded me of why I fell in love with the Zodiac books to begin with.

Now that Joanna/Olivia is mortal, the forces of light see her as useless, and to make matters worse, Solange has sent Mackie the piano player from Midheaven to kill her.  If the Tulpa and the shadow hunters figure out who she really is, they will kill her.  Everywhere she turns, someone wants her dead except for the rogue agents (the greys).  Somehow she must protect the mortals she loves, and chief among her concerns is stopping Suzanne from marrying someone she suspects has nefarious intent.

The fifth sign of the zodiac was filled with the world building that the last two books lacked.  We learn more about why Hunter was such a threat to Warren, and a bit about Warren's motivations.  He was still not painted as a sympathetic person, and in fact -- we understand even more clearly that he is no different from the Tulpa.  Warren only saw himself as better, because he is fighting on the side of the Light, but if you are willing to sacrifice people, erase memories, and manipulate lives for a single minded purpose, does it really matter what the goal is?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews, Book 1 of the Kate Daniels Series

Kate Daniels is a mercenary. A sword for hire ready to kill, find or save whatever people pay her to in a world that has gone mad.

And it well and truly has. After centuries of technological domination, magic swept in on a wave of destruction. Technology failed, skyscrapers collapsed and now the world lies in flux between them – when magic fails the tech works and spells fade – then the magic rolls in spells surge – and technology ceases to work. In among that, lycanthropes, vampire-piloting necromancers and so much more vie for power in a world that is still finding its feet.

And in among all this, Kate's guardian, the closest thing she has to family left living, is brutally murdered. Having to step into the light, deal with people far further at the food chain than she ever wanted to work with all while trying to keep her family secret hidden, she has to find the killer – and avenger her loss.

Fright Night: I Got 99 Problems and the Bitch Ain't One

For the purposes of disclosure, I must admit that I have not seen the original Fright Night starring, Chris Sarandon, William Ragsdame and Amanda Bearse.  I went into this movie not really knowing what to expect and I have to say that while I enjoyed it, Fright Night will not go down as one of my favourite urban fantasy books.

The story is set in Las Vegas and surprise, surprise, there isn't a single  GLBT person. Sandra Vergara who played Ginger Peter, Vincent's (David Tennant) girlfriend is the only person of colour. How is it that a story can be set in an area like Vegas and have so much erasure?  It is not only ridiculous, it is irresponsible. Vergara did not play a major character, and much of the time she spent on screen, she was scantily clad and coarse. Unsurprisingly, she quickly became the victim of the vampire.

The plot begins in a high school, but what is an urban fantasy movie these days without a dose of good ole fashioned teen angst? Teenagers go missing, but no one seems to care because Vegas is a transitory town.  Ed figures out that people are being killed by a local vampire, who just so happens to live next to Charley Brewster.  Ed plays upon Charley's history as a geek and blackmails him into checking out a kid that has gone missing. Charley dismisses Ed, until he finds out the next day in school that Ed is missing.  Charely does some research and determines that Jerry, his neighbour, played by Collin Farrell, is indeed a vampire.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

White Night, by Jim Butcher, Book 9 of the Harry Dresden Files

Magical practitioners are dying. Not Wizards, not members of the White Council, but lesser talents are dying not just in Chicago but across the US – their deaths a series of tragic suicides. Harry's looking to find out who and why – and whether his brother is involved or not.

Caught up by White Court machinations he also finds himself further enmeshed in the vampire politics behind the war. To complicate matters, he also has to balance teaching his new apprentice, the machinations of Lasciel, the Fallen Angel that has taken up residence in his mind and the ever-worrying presence of the mob boss, Marcone who always plays his own very dangerous game. Oh, and his ex shows up. Never simple, is it?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

True Blood Comics Give Away

I am sure that many of the readers here are fans of True Blood, and so it is my pleasure to announce our second official give away.

That's right, the True Blood Tainted Love series by Andreyko, McMillian and Corroney.  I know that with the season winding down, and a new book not due out until next spring, the ache of the impending loss of one of our favorite series, has got to be setting in. One lucky winner is going to receive comics one through six, to help them make it through the impending hiatus.

This contest is open to Americans and Canadians.  All you have to do is follow us (not like) on Facebook (underneath the word networked blogs, there's a big blue button marked "follow"), Goodreads  or Blogger.  If  you already follow us, on one of the aforementioned sites, simply send us a short to note to let us know that you would like to enter and where you already follow us.  When you are done, leave your email address in the comment section of this post, along with where you have chosen to follow us, or send us an email at fangsforthefantasy (at) gmail (dot) com. Without contact information, your entry will be deemed invalid.  This contest closes September 12, 2011 and we allow only one entry per person. The winner will have 48 hours after being selected to contact us, or a new winner will be selected.  Good luck everyone and stay tuned for our next exciting give away.

Contest is now closed

Turned, by Morgan Rice. Book 1 of the Vampire Journals

Caitlin is a high school teenager trying desperately to lead a normal life with her absent father and abusive mother. Moved yet again to a new school she tries to find a new balance before having to move yet again – but things are even more complicated now than before. Overcome with powers she doesn't understand and never had before, and a hunger that is all consuming she desperately tries to keep her life working.

Facing a confused boyfriend, a new school, and an uncaring parent would be complicated enough – but instead she finds herself over the body of her first victim, hunted by the police and caught between 2 vampire covens, one of whom determined to capture and possibly kill her – to say nothing of Caleb, and ancient and handsome vampire who seems to care for her – and thinks she may be the Chosen One for all of them

Cassandra Clare proves that all Inclusion isn't Good

There are two problems we see a lot in looking at Urban Fantasy from a social justice mindset. One is the defenders of books and series rushing in to decry any criticism of their precious - and I can understand that. We fanpoodle in Kevin Hearne’s name after all. But when fanpoodles deny that there are problematic and prejudiced elements in their favourite works, they diminish and demean the damage these portrayals can cause and internalise them without thinking

The second is the repeated acceptance of token characters - even high problematic token characters - as being proof of inclusivity. Just having a POC/GBLT/Disabled/Female character is proof that the book/programme is inclusive and wonderful. Would that it were true, but as we’ve discussed before sometimes erasure is better than some inclusion.

Which brings us to Cassandra Clare’s novels that are repeatedly hailed for their gay inclusion and any questioning of the portrayals has been vehemently opposed. And as we did with similar sentiments expressed about Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake, we have to speak on this. Because this inclusion? This is not all good.

Alec exists to serve the straight people around him. Despite being older, he has far less kills than Issy or Jace (and Clary mocks him about this as a sign of him being weaker) and it is said this is because he exists to protect them - gay people existing to protect and serve straight people is no less problematic than gay people being weaker than straight people. There are at least 2 occasions in the books where he severely risks his own life to protect Jace. On top of that, Alec being gay is used as a reason for him to fawn after Jace - be jealous of Clary and desperate for Jace's attention - the gay man pining pathetically after a straight guy is an old trope and it’s a dull one that needs to end.

While Alec is portrayed as self-effacing, whiny and weak - especially compared to Jace and Issy, Magnus embodies different tropes. For a start, if Magnus were portrayed as any more flamboyant he’d wear rainbows and shoot unicorns. And, like Alec, he is there to serve. We are told repeatedly that Magnus is an extremely powerful being but. when the straight people call (Jace and Clary) he is quick to not only respond to their requests, but comply obediently. Like Alec, he exists to serve the straight people even though he normally charges a considerable amount for his services. The only time he is portrayed as dominant is when he is juxtaposed to Alec, thus making fulfilling the endless trope of having him the top and Alec the bottom.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Fangs for the Fantasy podcast, Episode 30

This week we discuss True Blood "Burning Down the House", Jennifer Estep's Elemental Assassins, Richelle Mead's Succubus series, Morgan Rice's Turned, and Kelley Armstrong's Otherworld series

True Blood: Burning Down the House

Last night was a bit of relief after last week.  I was actually beginning to wonder why I continued to watch this show. It was a relief that this episode had less obvious fail. 

Sookie was irritating as usual this week.  She stops Eric from killing Bill my a magical burst of fairy power but later tells him that she still loves Bill and never promised to his.  Okay, here we go again with the ongoing triangle.  I know I should be caught up in this, but the truth is I am just plain tired of it.  Perhaps, it's because Sookie gets on my last nerve.  
Bill gets into it with Nan because she is only concerned about she is going to spin what happened at the hotel rather than actively proactively to fight Antonia.  Finally, he decides to blow up the emporium.  I have mentioned previously that it makes absolutely no sense that the vampires have been so passive.  Antonia has the potential to be deadly but she is no king Russel and the vamps acted far more proactively when he was a threat. I have to say that I am with Bill on this one.

Speaking of Antonia, it turns out that Marnie is the one in control and is using Antonia's power to exact her revenge.  I find this to be very convoluted.  From almost the beginning of the season, we have repeatedly watched the replay of Antonia being savagely raped and then murdered by vampires to establish causation for actions and yet when it is revealed that Marnie is the one truly in control we are given no reason beyond the fact that she has hurt fee fees. Ummm really?  Don't we deserve a little bit better than that?