Stories That Stand Out In The Crowded World of Urban Fantasy (The Downside Series, The Immortal Empire Series, The Hunter Kiss Series)
Chess Putnam rocks my world. The Downside Series is original, well written and beautifully developed. Chess Putnam is a Debunker in the dangerous underbelly of a world constantly under attack by violent ghosts. Chess’ job is to determine if the cases that are reported to the new governing body, The Church, are actual hauntings or scams. Chess possesses a natural talent for magic that is further developed by The Church when she is recruited as a young adult.
Unlike most of her colleagues, Chess carries a secret that could ruin here career and her life. Chess is hopelessly addicted to drugs. While this revelation might give you pause, Kane does such a brilliant job of creating a brave, intelligent and resilient character in Chess her addiction is realistically treated as a condition not a definition. With each book, we watch Chess grow in her powers, her trust and her ability to love. Some of the most memorable characters and events I have ever read populate this series – Terrible, Bump, psychopomps.
The first book in the series, Unholy Ghosts, is a little complicated but hang with it because the series improves with each title. 5 of the 6 books in the series have been released, but the publish date for book 6 is still TBD. The books do not have cliffhangers which make them all the better.
THE AFTERLIFE IS ONLY THE BEGINNING.
The world is not the way it was. The dead have risen and constantly attack the living. The powerful Church of Real Truth, in charge since the government fell, has sworn to reimburse citizens being harassed by the deceased. Consequently, there are many false claims of hauntings from those hoping to profit. Enter Chess Putnam, a fully-tattooed witch and freewheeling Debunker and ghost hunter. She’s got a real talent for nailing the human liars or banishing the wicked dead. But she’s keeping a dark secret from the Church: a little drug problem that’s landed her in hot and dangerous water.
Chess owes a murderous drug lord named Bump a lot of money. And Bump wants immediate payback. All Chess has to do is dispatch a very nasty species of undead from an old airport. But the job involves black magic, human sacrifice, a nefarious demonic creature, and crossing swords with enough wicked energy to wipe out a city of souls. Toss in lust with a rival gang leader and a dangerous attraction to Bump’s ruthless enforcer, and Chess begins to wonder if the rush is really worth it. Hell, yeah.
Bottom Line: If you enjoy Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance with a heavy touch of rockabilly style, this series is for you. Don’t be surprised if you end up with Terrible Fever.
A three-book series in a steampunk paranormal world. Xandra Vardan is our impetuous heroine. Headstrong and brave, Xandra is trained as a royal guard and assassin. Bursting with world building and bravado in a distorted Victorian setting, The Immortal Empire Series includes vampires, werewolves, and goblins. Most of the action revolves around Xandra, her family, and her love interest, as they join together to unite the supernatural factions against a war that would guarantee their demise. Life-altering secrets are revealed as the series unfolds. In spite of all the action and gore, the series manages to be a light read in comparison to the typical steampunk fare.
The Victorian Era never ended. It’s 2012 and her Ensanguined Majesty is still on the throne,
the vampire ruler of the British Empire. There are werewolves too. And Goblins. All brought about by mutations caused by the plague.
Xandra Vardan is a half-blood, the daughter of a vampire and a human courtesan. A member of the Royal Guard, she’s supposed to keep the aristocrats (those of plagued blood) safe, but then her little sister goes missing and Xandra stumbles upon a secret that not only changes her life forever, but just might end it if she’s not careful.
And just what’s going on at Bedlam Asylum for the Insane?
Bottom Line: If you enjoy Paranormal Romance and Steam Punk wrapped in a happily ever after for a brave young heroine this is the read for you. If you like a darker more tormented story with lots of angst, look elsewhere.
This series is dark and trippy. Our stoic heroine Maxine Kiss is running out of time. Descended from a long line of female demon hunters, Maxine is the only force holding the demon hordes back from destroying our world. The pages of these novels explode with nightmarish imagery and cryptic messages. Maxine is aided in her duty by the immortal demons who cover her skin during the day and come to life at night. Sworn protectors of her family line, these demons are an enigmatic blend of sage guardians and killer pets.
Liu creates a world where demons are everywhere and the odds seem insurmountable. Maxine is a dedicated soldier who never shirks her destiny or falls into a world of self-pity. This series is just as much an exploration of relationships between courageous mothers and the dreams they hold for their duty bound daughters as it is a demon slayer fantasy.
A cross between Whedon’s “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” (without the snarky comments) and the dauntless commitment of warrior mom Sarah Connor from “The Terminator”, The Hunter Kiss Series is a psychedelic trip into the evil that lies in the dark. There is a love story in between the pages, but it is not a major plot point.