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Tracy Deebs

Walker Books (2011)

ISBN: 9780802722317

Reviewed by Helen Merrick

I’m a great fan of YA speculative fiction, but to date have read little in what I suppose is now a whole genre of teen romance. In many ways, Deeb’s Tempest Rising could be seen as the little sister of the enormously popular paranormal romance genre. There are fantastical creatures, magic, prophecies and a fair amount of heavy-breathing fuelled longing for an inappropriate love object. There is, however a lot more to this book than either simple romance, or teen angst.

Tempest McGuire is just about to turn 17 and is dreading her birthday. For her it signals not just another step towards adulthood, but will force upon her an impossible choice: to become a mermaid, or stay human. Until now, her life has apparently been that of an average American teenager focused around school, friends, and boyfriends, complicated by the fact that her mermaid mother walked out on her family when Tempest was 10. Tempest is also not quite your stereotypical girl: her passion is for surfing, and much of her social life centres around catching waves with a group of surfer boys, including her boyfriend Mark.

Still smarting from her mother’s abandonment, Tempest is furious at the choice she faces between her world and her mother’s world of which she knows nothing beyond the note her mother left behind. As the story opens, Tempest is terrified by the changes beginning to become apparent – a flash of a mermaid tail appearing, growing gills, and the sense that some dark force under the ocean intends to claim her. To further complicate her life, a mysterious, beautiful stranger called Konea appears to challenge her feelings for Mark and her steadfast desire to remain human. Read the rest of this entry »

Charlaine Harris

Sookie Stackhouse #11

Piatkus (2011)

ISBN: 9780575096530

Reviewed by Stephanie Gunn

Dead Reckoning is the eleventh book in the Sookie Stackhouse/Southern Vampire Mysteries series by Charlaine Harris, now filmed as the television series True Blood.

Sookie Stackhouse, telepathic waitress and part fairy, is now involved with the vampire Eric and sharing her house with two of her fairy relatives – her cousin Claude and great-uncle Dermot. After much tumult, her life has achieved something like stability. But this is Sookie, and that stability is never going to last for long.

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Lynda Hilburn

Jo Fletcher Fiction (2011)


Reviewed by Lorraine Cormack

The Vampire Shrink is part of that fast-growing sub-genre, vampire chick lit romances. None of those elements are necessarily bad, but it’s a field that’s getting so crowded that originality is starting to become a rare thing. Despite that, Hilburn does manage to inject some freshness into her setting and some of the scenarios, although many elements of the plot seemed a bit routine to me.

Kismet Knight is a psychologist looking for an idea. She needs to write her next book, and keep her profile up. She wants something interesting, and original, and maybe a little sensational too. But nothing has really caught her imagination. Then she meets her new client, Midnight. A teenage girl, Midnight has been referred by her family. They’re worried about her fixation on an older man, and more precisely about her desire to become a vampire like him. While Kismet is genuinely concerned about Midnight, she also becomes entranced by the idea of people who genuinely believe that they – or other people – are vampires. She wants to protect Midnight from the presumed predator who appears to be grooming her, but becomes distracted by the idea of becoming the Vampire Psychologist. Kismet will counsel “vampires” and wannabe vampires, and at the same time gather material for a truly original book.

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Edited by Charlaine Harris

Orion (2011)

ISBN: 978-0-575-09753-7

Reviewed by Lorraine Cormack

I tend to eye “guides” and “companions” with some suspicion; too often they seem designed for people who have crossed that fine line between dedicated fan and obsessed geek. However, this particular volume offers enough new material to avoid that trap. As the name suggests, it’s a companion to the Sookie Stackhouse books (such as Dead in the Family, reviewed here.)

The companion is edited by Charlaine Harris, the author of the novels, and she’s at pains in the introduction to be clear: it’s a companion to the Sookie Stackhouse novels, not the TV series True Blood which is based on the books. If you’ve tried both then you’ll know that they are very different. Harris does include a few nods to the TV series, most notably an interview with series creator Alan Ball. Appropriately, many of the questions focus on differences between the books and the TV series.

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Andrea Cremer


ISBN: 978-1-907410-27-7

Reviewed by Lorraine Cormack

Night Shade is a young adult novel which focuses on Calla Tor, a young werewolf. When the novel opens, she is a few months away from turning seventeen, and on her seventeenth birthday she will marry Renier Laroche, another werewolf. Their union has been decreed by the Keepers, their masters. Calla has known since she was five that she was destined to be mated with Ren and that together they would create a new pack. And Calla has accepted that, just as she’s accepted that it’s fine for Ren to sleep with every girl in school but she must remain pure until their union. She’s also accepted that the Keepers dictate their lives, and that the Packs (known as Guardians) must serve the Keepers in their fight against the Searchers.

But Calla isn’t entirely happy about all this. She resents the way others run her life and tell her what to think and what to do. She’s drawn to Ren, but isn’t sure she loves him. And there’s much about the way the Keepers treat the Guardians that makes her uncomfortable. Everyone around her seems to accept it, and so Calla falls in line – but she couldn’t really say that she’s happy.

Then one day Calla meets Shay, a human boy, and breaks more than a few rules to save his life. And then Shay begins to attend her school, and turns Calla’s world upside down. Perhaps she doesn’t have to do what the Keepers say. Perhaps she doesn’t have to do her duty, mate with Ren, and form and lead a new pack. As Calla deals with the turmoil Shay has brought into her life, she also starts to realise that perhaps she’s been lied to all her life – and that perhaps all the Guardians have been lied to. The relationship between the Keepers and the wicked Searchers may not be as the Guardians have been taught.

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Gail Carriger

The Parasol Protectorate, book 4

Orbit (2011)

ISBN: 9780316127196

Reviewed by Alexandra Pierce

This is the fourth book in the Alexia Tarabotti/Maccon series, The Parasol Protectorate. As such there are spoilers for the first three (Soulless, Changeless, Blameless), but there are NO major spoilers for Heartless.

When a ghost turns up in front of Alexia and mentions that there is a plot against the queen’s life, Alexia naturally flings herself into uncovering and halting it. Even if she weren’t muhjah and therefore responsible for such a thing, she could hardly help herself from meddling and being all Miss Marple-y. In the course of her investigations, Alexia must of course deal with the supernatural set – werewolves and vampires mostly – of London, have hair-raising adventures, and drink a great deal of tea. All of this while she is eight months’ pregnant. Oh, and her life is being threatened on a regular basis, too.

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Nicole Murphy

Dream of Asarlai, Book 2


ISBN: 9780732 291624

Reviewed by Lorraine Cormack

Power Unbound is the second novel in the Dream of Asarlai trilogy. Like Book 1, Power Unbound is a pleasant read that engages the reader and keeps you interested for the length of the novel, without necessarily being compelling.

The trilogy follows several members of a secret race known as the gadda. Magic users, some live among humans and many choose to live a more isolated life. All are required to keep their existence a secret from humans, and a sort of ruling council – the Guardians – help to keep the secret and keep the gadda in line.

In Secret Ones, the first novel, Maggie Shaunessy found the love of her life in Lucas Valeroso, and was elevated to the ranks of the Guardians at a time of crisis. The Forbidden Texts have been stolen and dreadful things are happening as a direct consequence. Power Unbound focuses more on Maggie’s best friend Ione Gorton. A widow with a small child, Ione has stayed well away from romantic entanglements, fearing that it wouldn’t be good for her son. Quick flings are fine, but a more lasting relationship will have to wait until Jack is older. But then Ione meets Stephen O’Malley. He urgently needs a place to stay while preparing to sit the sixth-order test to be allowed to use his powerful magic at a higher level. Ione is happy to offer help, but is unsettled when her reaction to Stephen suggests he might be far more than a casual fling.

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Nicole Murphy

Dream of Asarlai, Book 1


ISBN: 9780732 291617

Reviewed by Lorraine Cormack

Secret Ones is the first novel in the Dream of Asarlai trilogy. Although there is a whacking great loose end in the novel, to serve the plot which runs through the three novels, there is also a complete story in this volume. The result is a satisfying read which nevertheless will leave many readers looking forward to the next instalment.

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Jessica Shirvington


ISBN: 978-0-7344-1184-6

Reviewed by Lorraine Cormack

Embrace is a novel that will appeal strongly to Twilight fans. It’s not a copycat by any means – for a start, there’s not a vampire or a werewolf in sight – but both are romantic fantasies aimed at young women, and there are striking similarities between the strengths and weaknesses of these novels.

Violet Eden is about to turn 17. She’s never been a big fan of birthdays, largely because her mother died on the day she was born. This birthday is shaping up to be more difficult than usual, too, as quite a few people seem to think that 17 is important. And for Violet, it is; she will discover her Grigori heritage and be faced with life-changing choices.

Angels, it seems, are real. They are there to guide humans, and are not necessarily either good or evil in themselves, although some lean one way or another. But when an angel leaves their own dimension and comes to earth, he or she essentially becomes wicked – their lust for power overwhelms them and they become a danger to the humans around them. As a result, the Grigori were created – humans whose duty it is to find rogue angels and despatch them back to their own realm. These humans are given supernatural powers when a parent dies within a few days of the child’s birth, leaving a gateway for an angel to impart some of their own essence to the child. These Grigori children come into their power when they turn 17, but they must consciously choose to accept the power and responsibility for it to flower completely.

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Chloe Neill

A Chicagoland Vampires novel

Gollancz (2010)

ISBN: 978-0-575-09405-5

Reviewed by Tehani Wessely

Being made into a vampire against your will isn’t every girl’s dream. But if you have to be turned, becoming a powerful creature that quickly gains a strong position in your vampire “family”, along with the adoration of a bunch of male vamps, can’t be such a bad thing. Merit finds herself in just such a position, torn between her Master and the vampire he’s thrown her at, and forced back into the fold of her human family for the benefit of her House. But Merit’s relationships are all under pressure while she tries to find out who is behind threats to her House – will she manage to hold it all together?

This is a fairly generic urban fantasy – in fact, I don’t think it deserves that designate, as urban fantasy is generally grittier and tougher than Friday Night Bites manages, but nor does it fit the markers of paranormal romance.

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