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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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Jennifer Fallon

Rift Runners, book 1

Harper Voyager (2011)

ISBN: 9780732290849

Reviewed by Tehani Wessely

I had a very bad experience at the end of Jennifer Fallon’s last series (the Tide Lords) and was very reluctant to take on her new book, because of my extreme disappointment with how that quartet was finished. However, fellow ASif! reviewer Lorraine Cormack expressed her enjoyment of this new series, and I trust her judgment, so I thought I’d give it a try.

Psychic twins Rónán and Darragh were separated as small children by a rogue Druid – Rónán was thrown through a rift in reality to a world that appears to be pretty much modern day Earth as we know it, while Darragh was left behind to try to hold his rightful place as the Undivided, without his twin.

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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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Karen Healey

Allen & Unwin (2011)

ISBN: 978-1-74175-881-8

Reviewed by Tehani Wessely

When three teenagers discover a pattern of suicides among older brothers who visit the perfect tourist town of Summerton, they begin to investigate the possibility of a serial killer. But Janna, Sione and Keri uncover far more than they could have imagined on their quest for the truth, with high stakes meaning their own lives are now at risk. Can they save the next victim, or even themselves?

Healey made a stunning debut last year with Guardian of the Dead, a startling New Zealand-set story with sinister undertones. In The Shattering, she again brings New Zealand to life, as the country takes on its own role in the story. The setting is integral to the work, as much as the characters, providing a meaningful backdrop to the cast and the storyline. I really enjoyed the characterisations of Janna, Keri and Sione, who were three dimensional and well-rounded. There’s something very real about them, and I’m sure most readers will find something about at least one of the three to identify with.

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Karen Healey

Allen and Unwin

ISBN: 9781741758818

Reviewed by Tansy Rayner Roberts

Guardian of the Dead, by Karen Healey, was one of the most interesting YA debut novels last year, with its mixture of serial killer horror and Maori mythology, featuring contemporary New Zealand teenagers with both snark and substance. I was delighted to receive an early copy of Karen Healey’s follow up novel, The Shattering – so much so that I took it as my inflight entertainment for the Aurealis Awards weekend, at which Guardian of the Dead ended up winning Best Young Adult Novel!

Set in an idyllic New Zealand tourist town, this book has a very simple premise at the heart of it – teenagers uncovering supernatural wrongdoings – but it becomes something far more crunchy and intriguing thanks to the complex, diverse protagonists and Healey’s sensitive handling of some pretty major issues, including teen suicide, grief response, mental health, bullying and coming out to your parents. The absolute heart of the novel is the friendship between the three main characters, who all bond over the shared grief of losing an elder brother to suicide, and decide to investigate whether there is a more sinister reason behind their loss. I loved each of these characters deeply and enjoyed how flawed they are as well as how strong. I also adored the fact that, while there is romance here, the novel took a very pragmatic attitude towards teenage love stories, and that the central triad (two girls and a boy) was about as far from a love triangle as it is possible to get.

Original, fast paced and richly detailed, The Shattering is a powerful second novel from a writer whose narrative choices are never dull.

Paul Haines

Brimstone Press (2011)

ISBN: 978-0-9805677-1-7

Reviewed by Guy Salvidge

Paul Haines’ third collection of stories, The Last Days of Kali Yuga, was recently launched at Swancon Thirty Six in Perth. I had the pleasure of attending the launch and hearing Haines read from his story “The Past is a Bridge Best Left Burned”. Having recently read the author’s earlier collection, Slice of Life, I was eager to get my hands on this latest collection from Perth-based Brimstome Press, and it didn’t disappoint. The Last Days of Kali Yuga firmly establishes Haines as one of Australia’s best horror writers (yes, I know he’s from New Zealand originally).

Haines warned me when he signed my copy of this book that the material was dark and perhaps disturbing in nature. I guess it says as much about me as it does of him, but I didn’t find anything particularly objectionable in these pages, although it’s true that some stories were very provocative. The writer Haines reminds me of most is M. John Harrison, whose work is similarly sardonic and sometimes vicious. A number of recurrent themes run through many of Haines’ stories, including but not limited to: the pressures and angst of urban living; sexual frustration and jealousy; and the cycle of seemingly inevitable violence. The author pulls few, if any, punches in his depiction of the more sordid side of life, and he keeps us close to the edge as readers. William S. Burroughs once said that ‘writing should have the immediacy and danger of bullfighting’; Paul Haines is certainly a writer whose work fits that bill.

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Nalini Singh

Book 2, Guild Hunter Series

Gollancz (2010)

ISBN: 978-0-575-09474

Reviewed by Mitenae

Elena has been awake for three days after spending a year in a coma and is still getting used to the idea she has wings. Raphael is having to get used to the fact – whether he likes it or not – that she is not his toy, plaything or possession. True love doesn’t work that way.

Elena has two months to learn how to use her wings, for Lijiuan is holding a ball and Raphael won’t have them being seen as weak. Only they stumble across a mangled but still alive vampire with a branded chest. And the only way to identify him is by the ring he won from Illium in a poker game.

An angel is challenging and whoever it is, is willing to pit one archangel against another to gain it.

Nalini Singh has managed to not only continue a good series, but to make it even better than the first novel. The world is great, the writing fantastic and the characters are nicely balanced between strong and feminine.

This book is not just for those into paranormal romance, but also for those who have shied away from it and the many clichéd novels currently about. Nalini Singh is proving to be a writer capable of breathing life into, for me at least, a predictable sub-genre.

Nalini Singh

Book 1, Guild Hunter Series

Gollancz (2009)

ISBN: 978-0- 575-09572

Reviewed by Mitenae

Archangel Raphael wants the best, even if the mere mention of his wanting her for a job scares the shit out of Elena Devereax, the best guild hunter there is. Upon meeting him, Elena is forced to walk a fine line between not being manipulated and not being killed by Raphael for her defiance.

Elena learns that she is to track not a vampire nor a human and not even an angel, but an archangel. Raphael won’t tell her why nor will he allow her to tell anyone else about the job. Not even when he begins to fall for her and it threatens to make him mortal.

Nalini Singh is on of those rare writers who is able to take what is the current fad and twist it just that little bit, not only making it her own, but making her work a clear standout above everything else.

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Nalini Singh

Slave to Sensation, Psy-Changeling Book 1 (2006)

ISBN: 978-0-5750-9566-3

Visions of Heat, Psy-changeling Book 2 (2007)

ISBN:9978-0-5750-9568-7

Caressed by Ice, Psy-Changeling Book 3 (2007)

ISBN:978-0-5750-9570-0

Reviewed by Mitenae, August 2010.

Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling series is sure to delight fans of paranormal romance.

In book one, Slave to Sensation, Psy Sascha Duncam – daughter of Council member Nikita – has been given her own project to head, but it means dealing with Changeling Lucas Hunter. As a Psy she’s supposed to be emotionless but she’s flawed and hiding it from everyone. Lucas has aroused her emotions far more than anyone should and it’s threatening to break her shields. What’s more, he’s suspicious. He knows there’s something different about her and with a serial killer on the loose hunting Changelings he’s not about to let it go.

Book two, Visions of Heat, begins not long after book one ends. Faith NightStar is an F-designation Psy. She can foresee the future but spends most of her time casting for the monetary benefits of whoever can pay her. At night, when she sleeps, Faith is disturbed by dark dreams she has no control over; it doesn’t mean much to her until her sister, Marine, is murdered. Then Faith realises that she’s seeing from the point of view of whoever killed Marine. But there’s someone else lurking around her compound who is inextricably drawn to Faith, as she will be drawn to him.

In book three, Caressed by Ice, Brenna has largely healed from her abduction and is having dark dreams. Like Faith, she thinks nothing of them until a wolf-Changeling is found dead, dumped in the den. It’s Judd Lauren, a Psy and former Arrow, who calms her down even as he remains ice cold. Brenna is attracted to him but Judd is more interested in his extra-curricular activities for the Ghost until she begins to wear him down. As he finds himself attracted to her, threatening to break all his control, someone is trying to turn Changeling pack against pack.

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Karen Healey

Allen and Unwin (2010)

ISBN: 9781741758801

Reviewed by Tansy Rayner Robers, May 2010

I’ve been following Healey’s blog for the last couple of months, and was particularly caught by her post about the importance of New Zealand as the setting of her debut novel, Guardian of the Dead. The post came out of her frustration that overseas readers were referring to her and her book as Australian.

I read the book with this in mind, and I have to say that my first reaction was one big ‘what are you people, high?’ I can see why Healey was so outraged, as the book is not just rich in detail about its New Zealand setting, but the plot itself turns on the mythology and experience of that country.

The second thing that occurred to me was… wow. I really know almost nothing about New Zealand. And I mean nothing. Guardian of the Dead paints such a detailed picture of New Zealand culture, mythology and how they blend into the lives of modern New Zealanders, and… I’ve never seen this before. My entire pop culture experience of New Zealand consists of Hercules, Xena, Lord of the Rings, a couple of Margaret Mahy novels and that Worzel Gummidge series. I can’t help feeling deeply ashamed that this is a country so very close to my own, with so many overlapping ties, and I’ll bet there aren’t many 32 year old New Zealanders who don’t have a far more comprehensive understanding of Australia, our popular culture, and what it might be like to live here.

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