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Review – Journey to Hart's Halo October 10, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 3.5 stars, Sci-Fi, Young Adult.
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Title: Journey to Hart’s Halo

Author: Lou Hood

Publisher: we(e)press

Publication Date: January 20, 2012

ASIN: B0070YHQCE

Available at: Kindle

From Goodreads:

JOURNEY TO HART’S HALO is a near-future fantasy adventure, set in 2033 on the world’s first international space colony.

The project of eccentric technology billionaire Dr. Oliver Hart, Hart’s Halo is about to be populated by Zero Colony. Space-crazy twelve year old Davey Randolph’s dream is to win two of the twelve spots, for him and his mom, in a global lottery to spend five years aboard the Halo.

Constructed as a puzzle-propelled mystery, Davey needs the help of an international cast of clever and quirky pre-teens, and to conquer his own feelings of being an outsider, to solve the puzzles that will lead to a shocking discovery about the true fate of his missing father.

With new quantum physics from The Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, futuristic technology, and space travel and habitation, it is a modern myth of epic scale.

Review:

Davey Randolph has Halotisis. He’s desperate to get on Hart’s Halo. He even enters the Hart Lottery by hacking into his mother’s email account. What he never dreamed of was winning the lottery! Now, thanks to his puzzle solving skills, he’s on his way to the space colony itself!

This was a fun book. I didn’t think I’d get so engrossed in it. The puzzles were fun. Davey was cute and so was Grace, his young friend. There was nothing new about a space colony but the puzzles did keep it fresh. Somehow Hood managed to keep the story going despite the recycled plot as well.

The characters were endearing and I think that’s what really drives the story. Davey was a good kid with a lot of smarts. He wasn’t aware of how smart he was which made him all the more appealing. He wasn’t particularly geeky either. He just liked puzzles and learning. Neither was Davey particularly mature for his age like most authors make out young characters to be in books these days. He acted his age and it was fun.

His friend Grace was the same way. She acted her age and they both had a lot of fun. There were some sobering moments as well. I didn’t respond to them as well as I did the lighter moments. But the kids reacted as I would expect they would.

The end plot was a little crazy. It was backed by a little too much by hard talking science that I found a little hard to take. It was basically introduced in conversation and it amounted to a monologue by one of the characters with only interjections of “Cool!” by the other participants. If you’re not into science you may not be too interested in it. I just kind of skipped it.

The book ended a bit too abruptly for me. I suppose it’s because there’s going to be a series.  I would have liked a bit more closure though. I felt like it was a bit too rushed.

I had a fun time with this book. The puzzles were inventive. The characters were fresh. I look forward to seeing where Lou Hood takes this series.

Review – Journey to Hart’s Halo October 10, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 3.5 stars, Sci-Fi, Young Adult.
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Title: Journey to Hart’s Halo

Author: Lou Hood

Publisher: we(e)press

Publication Date: January 20, 2012

ASIN: B0070YHQCE

Available at: Kindle

From Goodreads:

JOURNEY TO HART’S HALO is a near-future fantasy adventure, set in 2033 on the world’s first international space colony.

The project of eccentric technology billionaire Dr. Oliver Hart, Hart’s Halo is about to be populated by Zero Colony. Space-crazy twelve year old Davey Randolph’s dream is to win two of the twelve spots, for him and his mom, in a global lottery to spend five years aboard the Halo.

Constructed as a puzzle-propelled mystery, Davey needs the help of an international cast of clever and quirky pre-teens, and to conquer his own feelings of being an outsider, to solve the puzzles that will lead to a shocking discovery about the true fate of his missing father.

With new quantum physics from The Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, futuristic technology, and space travel and habitation, it is a modern myth of epic scale.

Review:

Davey Randolph has Halotisis. He’s desperate to get on Hart’s Halo. He even enters the Hart Lottery by hacking into his mother’s email account. What he never dreamed of was winning the lottery! Now, thanks to his puzzle solving skills, he’s on his way to the space colony itself!

This was a fun book. I didn’t think I’d get so engrossed in it. The puzzles were fun. Davey was cute and so was Grace, his young friend. There was nothing new about a space colony but the puzzles did keep it fresh. Somehow Hood managed to keep the story going despite the recycled plot as well.

The characters were endearing and I think that’s what really drives the story. Davey was a good kid with a lot of smarts. He wasn’t aware of how smart he was which made him all the more appealing. He wasn’t particularly geeky either. He just liked puzzles and learning. Neither was Davey particularly mature for his age like most authors make out young characters to be in books these days. He acted his age and it was fun.

His friend Grace was the same way. She acted her age and they both had a lot of fun. There were some sobering moments as well. I didn’t respond to them as well as I did the lighter moments. But the kids reacted as I would expect they would.

The end plot was a little crazy. It was backed by a little too much by hard talking science that I found a little hard to take. It was basically introduced in conversation and it amounted to a monologue by one of the characters with only interjections of “Cool!” by the other participants. If you’re not into science you may not be too interested in it. I just kind of skipped it.

The book ended a bit too abruptly for me. I suppose it’s because there’s going to be a series.  I would have liked a bit more closure though. I felt like it was a bit too rushed.

I had a fun time with this book. The puzzles were inventive. The characters were fresh. I look forward to seeing where Lou Hood takes this series.

Review – Vessel October 3, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 3.5 stars, Fantasy, Young Adult.
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Title: Vessel

Author: Sarah Beth Durst

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Publish Date: September 11, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-1442423763

Available at: Amazon Kindle Barnes and Noble

From Goodreads:

In a desert world of sandstorms and sand-wolves, a teen girl must defy the gods to save her tribe in this mystical, atmospheric tale from the author of Drink, Slay, Love.Liyana has trained her entire life to be the vessel of a goddess. The goddess will inhabit Liyana’s body and use magic to bring rain to the desert. But Liyana’s goddess never comes. Abandoned by her angry tribe, Liyana expects to die in the desert. Until a boy walks out of the dust in search of her.

Korbyn is a god inside his vessel, and a trickster god at that. He tells Liyana that five other gods are missing, and they set off across the desert in search of the other vessels. For the desert tribes cannot survive without the magic of their gods. But the journey is dangerous, even with a god’s help. And not everyone is willing to believe the trickster god’s tale.

The closer she grows to Korbyn, the less Liyana wants to disappear to make way for her goddess. But she has no choice: She must die for her tribe to live. Unless a trickster god can help her to trick fate—or a human girl can muster some magic of her own.

Review:

I have mixed feelings about this book. On one hand I really loved it. The desert culture. The girl raised to be the vessel for her goddess. The trickster god! On the other hand, Liyanna was too obeisant to Korbyn in the beginning of their relationship and I felt no spark of kinship with her. In fact, I didn’t really connect with her until much later in the book. The only female character I really connected with right off the bat was Raan, another vessel from another village. She had a streak of rebellion in her that I could relate to.

The pace of the book is methodical. I didn’t have too much of a problem with it but some readers found it slow. In fact, I enjoyed the pace of the book. What I did have a problem with was the Emperor. I thought the way his story was inserted was jarring and incongruous. I also didn’t find it very interesting. There’s also a romance in the book that I didn’t find very romantic. There’s a love triangle in the book, but it came off all wrong.

I did love Korbyn, the trickster god. He was enigmatic at times yet open and available as a child at others. He was so multi-layered, you could continually peel back the layers like an onion and discover more facets to his character. He was sexy and charming. He was wise. He was definitely my favorite character.

This is most likely a stand-alone book as most questions are sufficiently answered in the end of the book. Sarah Beth Durst is an author I will definitely look out for as she’s written other books in this genre.

Review – The Blinding Knife October 2, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 3.5 stars, Fantasy.
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Title: The Blinding Knife

Author: Brent Weeks

Publisher: Orbit

Publication Date: September 11, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-0316079914

Available at: Amazon Kindle Barnes and Noble

From Goodreads:

Gavin Guile is dying.

He’d thought he had five years left—now he has less than one. With fifty thousand refugees, a bastard son, and an ex-fiancée who may have learned his darkest secret, Gavin has problems on every side. All magic in the world is running wild and threatens to destroy the Seven Satrapies.

Worst of all, the old gods are being reborn, and their army of color wights is unstoppable. The only salvation may be the brother whose freedom and life Gavin stole sixteen years ago.

Review:

As the Color Prince marches onward, Gavin loses another color. He sends Kip to the Chromeria. As Gavin tries to ready the Seven Satrapies for war, Kip begins to train for life as a Blackguard.

Let me just start by saying this was a long book and it felt like a long book. It had a complicated plot that was hard to keep up with at times. In the end it was worth it though. There was a lot of scheming on both war fronts. The plotting on both sides was worth keeping track of. If you read the first book, then you were already familiar with the elaborate magic system in place. It was still another complicated web to keep in order.

There were a myriad cast of characters and it could have become confusing but Weeks manages to pull it off successfully. The story was written from a lot of different perspectives yet it still comes together seamlessly. The action picks up towards the end of the book which is a relief.

Kip was resilient and despite being overweight and out of shape, he perseveres through his Blackguard training. He’s insecure but manages not to show it. He also manages to get lucky which is key to his success.  He really won my heart in this book. The way he didn’t quit despite being on the bottom of his class showed how tough he was.

Kip did make a friend in Teia. I really liked Teia. She accepted her life as a slave yet she also fought for her freedom. How she managed this juxtaposition was puzzling but she still managed to convey this. Teia remained optimistic despite her harsh life. She had a lot of brains and she could fight. If anyone deserved to be a Blackguard it was Teia.

I’m not sure I liked Gavin in the beginning of this book. He was pig-headed and a bit too slick for me. He had a tendency to look at the big picture and ignore the people close to him. I guess it proved what a complicated character he was.

I think the reason the book was so long was because there was a lot of things that needed to culminate. It was worth it in the end yet at the same time there were points in the book that seemed to drag on.  Another thing that left a bad taste in my mouth was the abrupt end. There are cliffhangers and then there are cliffhangers. I felt like this one was one of those that deliberately left the reader hung out to dry.

This book is still a good read and worth the time to take. The characters and plot are engaging. The magical system is unique and intriguing. I’m still interested enough to keep on going with this series. I guess the cliffhanger worked!

Review – Wake August 22, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 3.5 stars, Fantasy, Young Adult.
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Title: Wake

Series: Watersong

Author: Amanda Hocking

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Publication Date: August 7, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-1250008121

Available at: Amazon Kindle Barnes and Noble

From the publisher:

Gorgeous. Fearless. Dangerous. They’re the kind of girls you envy; the kind of girls you want to hate. Strangers in town for the summer, Penn, Lexi and Thea have caught everyone’s attention—but it’s Gemma who’s attracted theirs.  She’s the one they’ve chosen to be part of their group.

Gemma seems to have it all—she’s carefree, pretty, and falling in love with Alex, the boy next door.  He’s always been just a friend, but this summer they’ve taken their relationship to the next level, and now there’s no going back.  Then one night, Gemma’s ordinary life changes forever.  She’s taking a late night swim under the stars when she finds Penn, Lexi and Thea partying on the cove.  They invite her to join them, and the next morning she wakes up on the beach feeling groggy and sick, knowing something is different.

Suddenly Gemma is stronger, faster, and more beautiful than ever. But her new powers come with a terrifying price.  And as she uncovers the truth, she’s is forced to choose between staying with those she loves—or entering a new world brimming with dark hungers and unimaginable secrets.

Review:

This is definitely a young adult novel. The characters in this book definitely have the maturity of teenagers. Not that it’s a bad thing. I’m  just making a note of that. Having done that we can move on.

Gemma truly does have everything but the other thing she does have is a domineering older sister. At age eighteen, Harper tried to be too much to Gemma. When she should have been having fun and dating she was making sure her father had her lunch at work and that Gemma  didn’t stay out past her curfew. She was doing all this because their mother had gotten into a car accident years ago which left her brain damaged and unable to live with them. Eventually I got used to Harper and her ways, but I’m not sure Gemma ever did.

Once Gemma got in trouble with involved with Penn, Lexi, and Thea, there was nothing Harper could do. Gemma was spinning out of Harper’s control. As their relationship deteriorated  so did many other aspects of Gemma’s life. Like Alex and Gemma’s relationship.

As for Alex? I thought he was sweet and I definitely thought that Gemma and his relationship was sweet, but he lacked a certain depth to him. If there was anyone that was swoonworthy, it would have been Daniel. He pursued Harper with a single determination that I didn’t think she deserved. I couldn’t understand it. But he was kind, funny without being cruel, and quick-witted.

The thing that makes this book unique is that Gemma fought becoming mermaid. In most books the heroine delights in becoming a mermaid, but not this book. She fights it every step of the way with disastrous results. You could see the end coming but you didn’t want it to happen! I can’t wait for the next book!

Review – Andor's Awakening August 14, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 3.5 stars, Fantasy.
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Title: Andor’s Awakening

Author: Brendan O’Keefe

Publisher: Brendan O’Keefe

Publication Date: March 15, 2012

ASIN: B007KZ0CQU

Available at: Amazon

Summary:

The Raz are overtaking Shea, city by city. Leaving humanity in desperate straits.

After being rescued by a band of Imperial soldiers, Andor is left with no memory of who he is but for his name. He slowly comes into his powers and realizes he may be Shea’s one hope against the Razian forces. But at what cost?

Review:

I was quickly swept away by the action in this book. Andor woke up and was attacked by a Razian soldier one minute then had to escape the city of Lewe while a Reaper was in pursuit of himself and his comrades, the next. The action was never harried or frenzied. It had a nice pace to it.

The world-building was amazingly detailed. From the different gods to the different countries, each detail was meticulously laid out. I could imagine it all with the help of O’Keefe. I especially liked the scene with the temple. The stone statues of the gods were so well described I could almost feel them.

I couldn’t really connect with Andor. He showed one instance of being remarkably naive that really bothered me.

Tiny spoiler here.

When Andor regained his memory of his family, he somehow expected them to be alive in the face of the mass destruction of Lewe. In the face of the genocide the Razians wreaked in Lewe, he was convinced they were alive. I found that hard to swallow. I understand grief when faced with the reality of their deaths over the conjecture of their deaths. But to obstinately believe they’re alive over all evidence to the contrary? I had a hard time believing that.

Other then that I couldn’t quite put my finger on why I didn’t quite connect with him. I didn’t dislike him. I just didn’t connect with him in any meaningful way. The same goes for the other characters.  I couldn’t really relate to any of them. I didn’t feel any camaraderie with them.  If anything, I liked Mar the most but he was such a minor character in the book that I really didn’t get a chance to get to know him.

There were also grammatical and spelling errors which were annoying and distracting. Amazon indicated that this was a 1.2 edition. I’m not sure if my copy was a 1.2 edition but if it was it still needs some work.

The world-building and the action more then make up for the deficit of the character development, in my opinion. This book will take you on a wild ride you won’t regret.

*A free copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review – Andor’s Awakening August 14, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 3.5 stars, Fantasy.
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Title: Andor’s Awakening

Author: Brendan O’Keefe

Publisher: Brendan O’Keefe

Publication Date: March 15, 2012

ASIN: B007KZ0CQU

Available at: Amazon

Summary:

The Raz are overtaking Shea, city by city. Leaving humanity in desperate straits.

After being rescued by a band of Imperial soldiers, Andor is left with no memory of who he is but for his name. He slowly comes into his powers and realizes he may be Shea’s one hope against the Razian forces. But at what cost?

Review:

I was quickly swept away by the action in this book. Andor woke up and was attacked by a Razian soldier one minute then had to escape the city of Lewe while a Reaper was in pursuit of himself and his comrades, the next. The action was never harried or frenzied. It had a nice pace to it.

The world-building was amazingly detailed. From the different gods to the different countries, each detail was meticulously laid out. I could imagine it all with the help of O’Keefe. I especially liked the scene with the temple. The stone statues of the gods were so well described I could almost feel them.

I couldn’t really connect with Andor. He showed one instance of being remarkably naive that really bothered me.

Tiny spoiler here.

When Andor regained his memory of his family, he somehow expected them to be alive in the face of the mass destruction of Lewe. In the face of the genocide the Razians wreaked in Lewe, he was convinced they were alive. I found that hard to swallow. I understand grief when faced with the reality of their deaths over the conjecture of their deaths. But to obstinately believe they’re alive over all evidence to the contrary? I had a hard time believing that.

Other then that I couldn’t quite put my finger on why I didn’t quite connect with him. I didn’t dislike him. I just didn’t connect with him in any meaningful way. The same goes for the other characters.  I couldn’t really relate to any of them. I didn’t feel any camaraderie with them.  If anything, I liked Mar the most but he was such a minor character in the book that I really didn’t get a chance to get to know him.

There were also grammatical and spelling errors which were annoying and distracting. Amazon indicated that this was a 1.2 edition. I’m not sure if my copy was a 1.2 edition but if it was it still needs some work.

The world-building and the action more then make up for the deficit of the character development, in my opinion. This book will take you on a wild ride you won’t regret.

*A free copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review – Demon Demon Burning Bright July 18, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 3.5 stars, Urban Fantasy.
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Title: Demon Demon Burning Bright

Author: Linda Welch

Series: Whisperings Paranormal Mystery

Publisher: Linda Welch

Publication Date:  January 12, 2012

ASIN: B006LDZ62M

Available at: AmazonBarnes and Noble

From Goodreads: “I would tear the world apart for Rio. Would you do the same for Royal?”

Royal disappears. He is a demon with inhuman abilities who moves between worlds at will. He could be anywhere. He leaves me a clue that takes me to Bel-Athaer, home of the Gelpha, but the High House councilors kick me out.

I’m going back in. I’ll find the mysterious Seer who sent Royal a message, and while I’m there I’ll do my damndest to save the young High Lord from the Burning Man and find the boy’s missing companion, and at the same time elude assassins who are after my ass.

I need backup, someone as strong and fast as Gelpha. Of all the shit crazy things I’ve done, returning to Bel-Athaer in the company of a Dark Cousin and an egotistical Gelpha is high on the list.

I won’t tear a world apart, but you can bet I’ll turn it on its ear.

Review:

The fourth book of the Whisperings series started out well. Royal has disappeared in mysterious circumstances. I ached to find out why. Tiff was shaping up to be on her best behavior. She set out to find Royal no matter what the cost. She was brave. She was resourceful. She contacted the Dark Cousin Gia and found a way into Gelpha. They’re all set to brave the land in an uneasy truce together.

Everything sounds great right? Until Chris Plowman walks in and all of a sudden he’s stealing kisses from Tiff! Say what? Say again? What the hell? She’s supposed to be determined to find her lover. She’s supposed to be lovelorn! Instead she’s falling into someone else’s lap? I’m really not looking forward to a love triangle!

Gia is as mysterious as ever. A lot of questions about her and the Dark Cousins are answered but a lot of questions are left open. She’ll remain an enigma I suppose.

The world of the Gelpha had one or two landscape scenes that were noteworthy but most of it past by unnoticed. The people were what caught my attention more then anything and I wish that the world building had been a little bit more complete.

The villain was a rather sorry fellow. He turned out to be nothing more then a bag of tricks. I find it hard to believe that the Gelpha were fooled for centuries by sleight-of-hand. I was a little disappointed.

Tiff’s background filled out more in this book and it was definitely intriguing and imaginative. I’m interested in seeing where it goes from here on out. It’ll also be interesting to see what she does with what she knows.

I really enjoyed this book despite its flaws. I enjoyed reading about Tiff as she roared through the Gelpha terrain on a mission to rescue Royal. The book was action-packed and it was fun. There was nice tension to the plot.  The mystery of Tiff’s birth was interesting. There were a couple other sub-plots that were equally interesting making this book a worthwhile read.

Review – The Ravenous Dead July 11, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 3.5 stars, Urban Fantasy.
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Title: The Ravenous Dead

Author: Natasha Hoar

Series: Lost Souls

Publisher: Carina Press

Publication Date: July 16, 2012

ASIN: B00814JT1I

Available at: AmazonBarnes and Noble

From Goodreads: This time the dead are hungry…

Rachel Miller doesn’t just see dead people, she rescues them. As a member of The Order of Rescue Mediums, she spends most of her time helping stubborn spirits move on from the world. But after she learns the details of three brutal murders, she knows the culprit can only be a reaper, an undead monster that relentlessly stalks its victims to feed on their souls.

A reaper once consumed the soul of Rachel’s mentor as she watched frozen in fear. Now, Rachel is in the role of teacher to Kit Elkeles, a rodach just learning to control his wraithlike powers. After Kit and Rachel rescue a half-vampire, they work to protect him while searching for a way to stop the reaper. But when Rachel realizes who the monster is really after—and just what kind of dark magic she’ll need to stop it—will she be able to do what is necessary before it devours one of her friends…or even herself?

Review: (If you haven’t read Book #1 this review may contain some spoilers.)

The Ravenous Dead is a story with a kick. Kit, the Rodach and Rachel, the Rescue Medium make an unexpected team. Kit is something of a protege to Rachel and she feels very protective towards him. Yet at the same time he provides her with some much needed friendship and he could provide her with something more.

Luke of the Upper Coven adds new tension to the mix. Whether or not the author does more with the love triangle in the next book is something we’ll have to see. Whether or not she does a good job of it is also something we’ll have to see as well. I”m not normally a fan of love triangles. I didn’t particularly care for this one either although I’ve read worse.

Luke’s backstory was vaguely sinister. It provided you with enough mystery to make you wonder. At the same time it felt rather cliched with the cloak and dagger routine. I’d have liked to have seen a different execution. It was like a bit of Bourne Identity thrown in the middle of the book. In the end, I was intrigued by what they were saying so much that I wasn’t as annoyed by their delivery.

The reaper in this story is an exceptional multi-layered character. He’s both a sympathetic and a horrific figure. I truly felt for his plight but was revolted by his actions. I think it’s a rare villain in which so many emotions are evoked.

The adventures were kept up at a brisk pace. It kept going at a steady stream and didn’t let up. It was a fantastic ride with magic and paranormal action. It kept me reading on!

On the whole this was a strong book. It just had a couple of minor flaws. I’m intrigued enough to look forward to reading the next book in the series!

  *I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Review – The Stubborn Dead July 10, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 3.5 stars, Urban Fantasy.
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Title: The Stubborn Dead

Series: Lost Souls

Author: Natasha Hoar

Publisher: Carina Press

Publication Date:  January 23, 2012

ASIN: B006BVTFT4

From Goodreads:

Available at: AmazonBarnes and Noble

From Goodreads: Rachel Miller thought her next job was a run-of-the-mill haunting. As a member of the Order of Rescue Mediums it’s her duty to release trapped spirits from the earthly realm. But when called to client Sylvia Elkeles’s house, she finds a wraith who doesn’t act like he should.

The Order considers the wraith an extreme threat and Rachel may be forced to use a barbaric ritual to free him—a ritual that comes with a heavy personal price. If she fails to humanely release the wraith, she’ll have her supernatural abilities bound.

When Janus Ostara—local supernatural mob boss—shows up demanding her attention, and Sylvia keeps secrets that may place Rachel in mortal danger, she doesn’t need her abilities to know something darkly sinister is at play.

Between uncovering Sylvia’s disturbing motives, and avoiding Janus, Rachel has enough on her hands without dealing with a wraith who may not realize he’s supposed to be dead…

Review:

This was a short story of only 20,000 words but it was complete and full in and of itself. You never got the sense that anything was abbreviated. There was a full cast of characters that were nicely developed. The plot was well paced and Rachel was nicely fleshed out.

Rachel is a hard nosed, motorcycle riding Rescue Medium. She’s conned into dispatching a wraith that is unusual in its behavior. She might have to go to extreme measures to dispatch it. You can see her wrestling with her conscience over what she needs to do and what she wants to do. The conflict provides nice tension in the story.

Sylvia was the perfect foil to Rachel. Selfish and spoiled, she was the contrast to the selfless Rescue Medium that Rachel was. Her character had room for some pity but pity is something I never felt for her.

There was a cloak and dagger bit that I didn’t care for but I can see where it was needed. The story stands up on its own without needing a sequel except for a few unanswered questions that I feel are minor. There are some spots that I felt were very cliched.  I was able to read on through them though as the plot was still very intriguing.

On the whole a good story, just with some minor flaws.