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Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan

Allen & Unwin (2012)

ISBN: 978 174237 839 8

Reviewed by Jason Nahrung

I read this 350-page book in a little over two days – it’s a hoot. The authors have taken the premise that’s popular of late – a vampire in a high school – and made it palatable. Reasonable. Understandable.

I love the simplicity and sensibility of Team Human’s world, where vampires are a part of life though removed from it, as befits people – they’re definitely people – who do not age, do not eat and do not laugh. Vampirism is regulated, and becoming one carries the risk of death or being left a zombie if the transition fails.

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Nalini Singh

Guild Hunter, book 4

Gollancz (2011)

ISBN: 9780575113473

Reviewed by Stephanie Gunn

Archangels’ Blade is the fourth book in Nalini Singh’s paranormal romance Guild Hunter series.

In the world of the Guild Hunter books, angels exist, with the most powerful of them, the archangels, ruling sections of the world. Vampires also exist, and are Made by the angels, and subsequently bound to those angels for a period of indenture. Hunters are humans who have the ability to sense vampires, and are employed to seek out rogue vampires who break their contracts with their angels.

The first three books in this series followed the Guild Hunter Elena and her relationship with the archangel Raphael. Archangel’s Blade departs from this storyline, instead following the vampire Dmitri, Raphael’s second-in-command, and his relationship with the hunter Honor. Some readers and fans of the previous books will no doubt be disappointed with this change of focus, especially since both Elena and Raphael only serve very small parts in this book.

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Charlaine Harris

Gollancz (2012)

ISBN: 978-0-575-09658-5

Reviewed by Lorraine Cormack

Deadlocked is Charlaine Harris in a return to the form which first hooked me on the Sookie Stackhouse novels. None of the novels in this series have been bad, but a couple of the recent ones seemed to focus on character development or advancing the overall story arc at the expense of a plot complete within the novel. Deadlocked offers an interesting self contained plot, important character developments, and a step forward in the overall story arc.

Lynda Hilburn

Kismet Knight, Vampire Psychologist, Book 1

Jo Fletcher Books (2011)

ISBN: 9780857387196

Reviewed by Tehani Wessely

The most interesting thing about this book is that it was originally self-published, apparently selling over 200,000 copies on Amazon before being picked up by the Jo Fletcher Books imprint of Quercus Publishing. I’m not too sure why they chose to do that – surely there are other, more interesting books out there that have not already reached a vampire-saturated market that Jo Fletcher could have taken on?

Kismet Knight (excuse me while I throw up a little at the name) is a moderately successful psychologist experiencing early career ennui – she has a solid practice, a nice apartment, and no social life, despite her oft-described attractiveness. Her only real relationship ended badly (and was pretty woeful anyway), and she’s almost ready to dip her toe in the dating waters again, at the same time seeking a new angle for her psychology to be revitalised by.

Enter vampires. Well, vampire wannabes at least. Kismet meets a patient who seems to wholeheartedly believe in the creatures of the night, and not only that, wants to become one. As a rational human, Kismet sees only the mental health issues associated with such a delusion, and considers this a perfect direction to focus her work on. Soon, however, Kismet finds herself meeting unusual people who do things she can’t quite justify. Oh, she tries hard (over and over and over) to explain away evidence that suggests vampires are actually real, but in the end, she has to admit that there is more to the world than she had ever imagined.

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Charlaine Harris

Sookie Stackhouse, Book 12

Gollancz (2012)

ISBN: 978-0-575-09658-5

Reviewed by Tehani Wessely

For me, the Sookie books are a bit of fairy floss; they are easy to digest, comfort reads that don’t ask too much of me, intellectually, and sometimes give a bit of sustenance (did my metaphor get lost? Ah well.) I have to say, I get a bit annoyed with how over the top they are at times – I liked Sookie far more in the early books, when she wasn’t so embroiled, enamoured and empowered (by that, I mean empowered with supernatural power, not empowered as a woman, because that’s always been one of the GOOD things about her!). I keep reading the Sookie books, but I don’t adore them.

Deadlocked sees Sookie adjusting to the fact that all her friends are settling down, and still trying to come to grips with her relationship with Eric, and the other supernaturals around her. When an unexpected visit from the vampire King of Louisiana, Nevada and Arkansas ends in the death of an unknown girl, Sookie finds herself once again in the middle of a murder investigation, while at the same time dealing with her boss’s psycho girlfriend who wants to kill her, a bunch of displaced fairies who are struggling to find a place in the human world, and a rival for Eric’s affections. Just another day in Bon Temps really.

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Heather Killough-Walden

The Lost Angels, book 1

Headline (2011)

ISBN: 9780755380374

Reviewed by Tehani Wessely

Four archangels, living on Earth for thousands of years, with only one true purpose – to find their soulmates. Brothers in spirit, after so many centuries the four have begun to despair they will ever find the women they seek, the archesses made to complete them – until one finally appears.

When the archangel Uriel (the Angel of Vengeance), presently making a living as a Hollywood movie star playing (flavour of the month) a vampire, meets Eleanore Granger, he instantly knows she is the one he has been hunting for. For centuries, the quest to find his soulmate has consumed him – now he just has to convince HER they belong together. And Ellie’s own independent nature is not the only thing standing in their way. There’s the mysterious Sam, rich, powerful and desperate for what the archangels may finally have. And there’s also the strange agency that has been chasing Ellie her whole life – who are they and why are they so anxious to claim her, and her unusual power?

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Alyxandra Harvey

Bloomsbury (2012)

ISBN: 978-1-4088-1132-0

Reviewed by Lorraine Cormack

Stolen Away is a standalone novel by the author of the Drake Chronicles (to date, My Love Lies Bleeding, Blood Feud, Out for Blood and Bleeding Hearts) and Haunting Violet.

Stolen Away has much the same strengths and weaknesses as Harvey’s other novels. It seems that she’s not changing much as an author; she’s found her rhythm and is sticking to it with little improvement (or degeneration). But the result is a set of entertaining, pleasant enough novels; and if she’s happy and her audience is happy, does she really need to push herself?

Eloise Hart is a pretty ordinary teenage girl. She doesn’t fit with the cool kids, but she does have her good friends – notably, Jo and Devin. She has her share of insecurities, but she’s also pretty comfortable with who she is. Her family is a bit unusual – her single mother dresses like a rockabilly and tends bar, and her aunt appears every year for around six months and then disappears completely for another six. She’s not even contactable during those six months.

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Gail Carriger

Parasol Protectorate, book 5

Orbit (2012)

ISBN: 9780316127189

Reviewed by Alexandra Pierce

The last Parasol Protectorate book, Heartless, bugged me because of its snobbish attitudes towards the middle class. I was very pleased to see that this was not quite such an issue here, mostly because there is little real interaction with the middle classes. So that was one problem cleared up.

This review contains spoilers for the first four books, but NOT this one.

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Alyxandra Harvey

The Drake Chronicles

Bloomsbury (2011)

ISBN: 978-1-4088-1497-0

Reviewed by Lorraine Cormack

Bleeding Hearts is the fourth book in the Drake chronicles, following on from My Love Lies Bleeding, Blood Feud, and Out for Blood. Like its predecessors, Bleeding Heart is an enjoyable and well written young adult novel.

The Drake Chronicles follow a clear pattern. In each novel one of the seven Drake brothers falls in love. The Drake family are vampires; they are unusual in that they are not “turned” by another vampire – instead, when they turn sixteen they also turn into vampires. This significantly reduces the yuk factor when it comes to their becoming vampires; it also provides a credible explanation for the existence of an entire family of vampires. (There are some flaws if you think too hard, such as the question of why their father doesn’t look sixteen; but generally this is a well constructed world.) Importantly, it also means that we are reading stories of vampires who are either the same age as or only a few years older than the teenage girls they fall in love with. For me, this is less creepy than all those vampires who are one or two hundred years old and still fall for sixteen year olds.

Mine to Possess (Psy-Changling #4)

ISBN: 9780 575 10000 8

Hostage to Pleasure (Psy-Changling #5)

ISBN: 9780 575 10003 9

Kiss of Snow (Psy-Changling #10)

ISBN: 9780 575 10568 3

Nalini Singh

Gollancz

Reviewed by Helen Merrick

Nalini Singh’s best-selling Psy-Changling series is now up to its tenth book, with no sign of ending soon. Obviously Singh has legions of fans who eat up her successful formula of paramornal romance, spiced up by a bit of crime, suspense and a hefty dose of fairly explicit sex. The Psy-Changling books now have an established pattern, with each novel centred on the coming together of an unlikely couple who, despite challenges and obstacles end up in each others arms (and much more) by the finish. Along the way, each book further develops the broader plotline which occurs in an alternate world where alongside humans live two powerful races – the Psy and the Changlings. The Psy are, not surprisingly, a race with psy powers such as telepathy and telekensis, who dominate the world’s economic and political systems. They are also supposedly without emotion, a condition known as ‘Silence’ which was self-induced a century ago to prevent the increasing damage done by mentally unstable Psy. The Changlings are a very different race, part human and part animal who morph into their animal form at will and carry the heightened strength and senses of their animals while in human form. The key changling groups in the series are the Dark River Leopard pack, who effectively run San Fransisco, and the Snowdancer wolf pack, with whom they form an alliance as the threat from the Psy grows stronger.

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