Review: This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

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In some far future in what used to be the midwest of the United States, monsters walk the streets of V-City at night. If a human commits violence, a monster comes to life as a result of the crime. The Corsai are violent maulers, and the Malchai are emaciated vampires. The mysterious Sunnai, that most rare of monsters, eat souls. Not only are they the most destructive, no one knows what they look like, and that makes them the most dangerous monsters of all.

Kate Harker is a human who wants to be a monster. The daughter of the crime boss who rules half of V-City, she’s gotten herself kicked out of six boarding schools so she can return to be with her father. She’ll prove one way or another that she’s a Harker, her father’s daughter, and worthy of his time and attention.

August Flynn is a monster who wants to be human. He lives on the other half of V-City, the side where humans decided to fight the monsters rather than pay exorbitant fees for Callum Harker’s protection. August and his two siblings look human but are all Sunnai, and they live with the man who runs the task force dedicated to monster hunting and crime prevention. August is tired of being who he is and the things he’s capable of doing when he doesn’t eat for too long.

Kate and August are two sides of a coin, and they are both able to see the city for what it is, and each other as the people they truly are. As the power structure in V-City teeters and threatens to make collateral damage of Kate and August, the two of them are on the run for their lives to save the city, themselves, and each other.

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Review: Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner

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“Let the fairy tale begin on a winter’s morning, then, with one drop of blood new-fallen on the ivory snow: a drop as bright as a clear-cut ruby, red as the single spot of claret on the lace cuff. And it therefore follows that evil lurks behind each broken window, scheming malice and enchantment; while behind the latched shutters the good are sleeping their just sleeps at this early hour in Riverside. Soon they will arise to go about their business; and one, maybe, will be as lovely as the day, armed, as are the good, for a predestined triumph…”

So opens Swordspoint, subtitled A Melodrama of Manners, the first novel set in the fictional world containing the City with its neighborhood Riverside, long ago abandoned by the nobility and now the home of the city’s more disreputable citizens—such as swordsmen.

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Review: Midnight Taxi Tango by Daniel José Older

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I was rewarded in securing Midnight Taxi Tango so soon after finishing Half-Resurrection Blues. The second book in the Bone Street Rumba urban fantasy series is a significant step up in terms of characters and plotting. In addition to Carlos Delacruz’ POV, readers have the pleasure of reading the POVs of not one, but two female characters, whose sheer wonderfulness and badassery rendered Carlos the least interesting of the three POVs. (Sorry Carlos.)

Warning: this review will be going into spoilers for the ending of Half-Resurrection Blues.

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Half-Resurrection Blues by Daniel José Older

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I really enjoyed Half-Resurrection Blues, the first book in the new Bone Street Rumba urban fantasy series, in a way I wasn’t expecting to. Similar to Prairie Fire, Half-Resurrection Blues felt so comforting to read, the kind of book about a strong, enmeshed community and group of people always looking out for each other that I could slip into and bask in the shared feelings of love, affection, friendship, brotherhood, and community.

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Magic Shifts by Ilona Andrews (Kate Daniels #8)

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This won’t be a proper review. Magic Shifts is the eighth book in a long-running urban fantasy series written Ilona Andrews (otherwise known as Ilona and her husband Gordon), meaning that several plot points have been met since they were first introduced and a few characters have already died. So instead I’m going to use Magic Shifts to talk about the series as a whole.

A bit of background: I love this series. Love it. It is my go-to escapist comfort/crack series. I love the protagonist Kate Daniels (a snarky badass fighter and magic user) and while I’m not as into her love interest Curran (a werelion known as the Beast Lord of the Pack, an autonomous governing group of shapeshifters), I love Kate and Curran together. I love how magic works in this universe (semi-post-apocalyptic future set in Atlanta in which magic and technology vie for dominance in “waves”—when the magic is “on,” technology is “off,” and vice versa), I love the endgame the series is leading up to, and I love love love the cast of characters that make up this universe.

Now that that’s established, I will give some actual specifics of what I love about these books. Needless to say, there will be ginormous spoilers, particularly for the previous book Magic Breaks.

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Book Review: The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard

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It’s late-20th century in an alternate version of Earth, and Paris lies in ruins. The Fallen, angels cast out of Heaven for reasons they themselves have no memories of and condemned to live out the rest of their long-lived lives on Earth, rule the city through their own set of imposed hierarchies. Several Grand Houses exist within the city limits, each comprised of Fallen and human dependents who, in return for their sworn loyalty, are bound to their Houses and granted both magical and mundane protection. Decades ago, the Houses fought each other in a war with spells that destroyed Paris, forever fouled the river Seine, and reduced the might and power of the Houses to a mere fraction of their former glory. Yet the Houses remain the most dependable, promising source of safety and security for those under their protection, leaving the rest of Paris to scrape a livelihood as best they can out of the ashes. Continue reading