Sunday, May 25, 2014

Stray Souls- Kate Griffin

Stray Souls is not necessarily a sequel to Kate Griffin's earlier Midnight Mayor trilogy, but more of an extension into the same dark, wonderful urban fantasy world of London that the Midnight Mayor storyline occurs in. Stray Souls can be read without reading the Midnight Mayor trilogy, but I'm going to make a safe bet that if you like Stray Souls, you're going to wind up reading the Johnathan Swift trilogy anyway, so we're good there.

Stray Souls is for the most part the story of Sharon Li, a young woman of London who hates her job as a barista, is as unsure of where life is taking her as anyone is, oh, and she's a shaman. At least that's what different individuals and thingies keep telling her, and they seem to have an idea of what that means much more than she does, which leads to all sorts of problems. Imagine if Luke Skywalker lived in London and Yoda was a jerk,you get an idea of how the whole shaman business goes for her. Combine her new involuntary career choice with the challenges of handling a support group for Supernatural beings that look to her for guidance she's not particularly sure she can give, and you have the beginnings of a fantastic story. The dangers that come after her and hers, even more fantastic.

Griffin does a wonderful job of continuing the urban mythos she started with the Midnight Mayor, and anyone who enjoyed the previous books of hers, or anyone who likes to see the bar of quality regarding urban fantasy get knocked up a few pegs will not be disappointed. Four stars.

Review: The Faceless One- Mark Onspaugh

The Faceless One is apparently Mark Onspaugh's first book, a fact that brings me no small bit of jealousy. I marvel at people who knock it out of the park with their debut. The Faceless One is a horror story set with Alaskan shamanism as the backdrop with tendrils that reach into present day.An ancient evil (You had me at ancient evil) is released from its eons-old imprisonment in the Alaskan outback, then makes its way across America to cement its power, wreaking havoc and very imaginative bloodshed as it goes. The only ones who can stop it are a backsliding elderly ex-shaman and his best friend who follow messages from the spirit world, and the full picture gets bleaker and bleaker for them as the story goes. Onspaugh has a great gift for writing characters that you feel deeper and deeper sympathy for, especially when they're performing atrocities against their will. He also has a great ability to tie everything together in a 
climactic ending, if this book is any evidence. An excellent first time. Four stars.