Tag Archives: Piatkus

Retro Review: Succubus in the City (2008)

Nina Harper

Piatkus (2008)

ISBN: 978 0 7499 2922 0

With paranormal fiction all the rage, it’s no wonder that authors decide it’s a good idea to cross fandoms. Well, kind of. Succubus in the City is pretty much Sex in the City, with demons. Much of the book is given over to discussions of how wonderful it is to be young and good-looking in New York City, particularly if you’re a demon, and happen to be one of Satan’s best friends, and while this works to a certain extent, I wanted to see more story than setting, and was left wanting in the end.

Lily, our main character, is one of Satan’s favourite girls, a succubus whose only duty is to have sex with men of sin (just about anyone really) and send them to hell. However, for whatever reason, Satan’s minions also hold down day jobs – in Lily’s case, a prime position with a fashion magazine – and not only do their paranormal duties, but work in the real world as well. Sure, there’s perks to both jobs, but really? Why would several thousand year old demons want to work two jobs? I’m pretty sure it was for the shoes, but I digress. Lily’s many centuries of sex working have finally waned in their appeal, and she now yearns for the love and companionship of a human man, and a “real life” along with it. Unfortunately for her, the details of her contract with Satan mean that she can only be released from service if someone who knows her true nature truly loves her. Not likely, right?

Lily and her girlfriends find themselves embroiled in a situation where it seems their demon natures will be exposed, and Lily is set to work to find out where the situation stems from. Amongst it all, she meets private investigator Nathan Coleman, and Lily begins to fantasise about a possible true love. But Nathan may not be everything he appears, and Lily must discover the truth about his background, and about how much he really knows.

I’m not a fan of Sex in the City – I don’t think I’ve even seen one full episode of the show, and that may be why Succubus in the City really didn’t appeal to me. The endless name dropping of places and brands, and the motions associated with shopping and eating out filled up more of the book than the core of the story itself, to the point where I was left completely unsatisfied by the ending. The book is marketed as a standalone novel (no mention of series anywhere on the cover or endpapers), but the story is incomplete and thus must be part of a series, which is frustrating for the reader. However, others may enjoy the character of New York, and if you’re looking for something more chick lit than paranormal, this might suit you.

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Retro Review: The Darkest Kiss / Moon Sworn

Keri Arthur

Piatkus (2008)

ISBN: 978 0749939250

Riley Jenson #6

There is a danger with an ongoing series that the magic of the earlier books will wear thin; the combination of characters and situations will become stale; the author will start to stretch the friendship with more and more outlandish and unbelievable events. Luckily, although The Darkest Kiss is the sixth book in the Riley Jenson Guardian sequence, Keri Arthur has not yet run out of fairy dust to sprinkle through the pages.

While Arthur follows somewhat down the path beaten by fellow paranormal author Laurell K Hamilton in amping up the sexual situations as the books progress, at the same time this author amps up the suspense and crime-solving aspects as well, nicely balancing the “otherness” of the story with a solid detective yarn.

For those who came late, Riley Jenson is a rare half breed in a world where the supernatural exist among us. She and her twin brother, Rhoan, are half vampire and half werewolf, a combination that gives them unusual powers. These powers assist them in their jobs as officers for the Directorate of Other Races, which often means acting as sanctioned assassins of rogue supernatural entities. Added to her natural talents, Riley was previously subjected to experimental drugs that caused emerging changes in her abilities and physiology, changes that no one can predict an outcome for. Riley is unique, even among supernatural creatures, and this uniqueness has its own costs.

Central to the strength of the novel is the rich characterization and pacy plot. Although Riley is growing in power and becoming more comfortable in her role with the Directorate, she still struggles with the issues her changes bring with them. Arthur handles this conflict well, developing it without descending into the whiney “poor me” attitude such heroines can be inflicted with in other such novels (not mentioning any names.). Riley accepts and embraces her nature, and while she may be frustrated with the situations it places her in, including those to do with relationships, she finds ways to deal with it.

Set against a modern-day Melbourne background, Keri Arthur avoids the parochialism that sometimes invades Australian-set stories, and instead offers an insight into the city without a colonialism accompaniment, which is as it should be in today’s world!

In this sixth book we come across a number of familiar characters from the previous books as Riley tracks not one but two supernatural serial killers. Characterisations are expanded and relationships rearranged during the course of the story, while Riley continues to come to terms with her changing ability and searches for the answer to her ongoing relationship concerns.

With the multitude of paranormal crime, romance and fantasy books being published at the moment, it’s a challenge for any author to produce a novel that grabs you, pulls you close and suspends your disbelief for over 300 pages. Arthur continues to achieve this feat in her sixth Riley Jenson venture, and I continue to look forward to the next instalment.

Keri Arthur

Piatkus (2010)

ISBN: 987-0-7499-4227-4

Riley Jenson #9

 

I’ve really enjoyed the Riley Jenson series. It’s been a year or two since I’ve picked one up for some reason, but I’m really glad to have got back into these books. Riley is a great character; Arthur has managed to keep her interesting without being overpowering (literally and figuratively) and the situations the books find her in are credible and well-crafted. It’s Australian urban fantasy at its best, and holds its own against the big overseas names in this genre impressively.

In this, the ninth episode of the Riley books (and the last, I think, although apparently there will be an offshoot series), Riley is wrestling with the decision of whether to quit her death-dealing job and concentrate on her family, or continue in a role she excels at. The forthcoming birth of babies that will tighten the ties between Riley and the men in her life, the loss of her soul mate, and the harsh toll that her job takes on her body, and those around her all make her question the way she lives. Then without warning, she loses it all, and is suddenly on her own, in a way that is baffling and strange. With none of her usual support mechanisms, Riley must figure out why she suddenly feels so strange in her life, and find the way home.

Riley is a fabulous character and Keri Arthur works the characters and story beautifully, crafting a detailed and plausible plot populated by appealing people. I’m impressed with the way this series has been sustained through nine books without losing momentum or becoming overdone., no easy thing to do. I haven’t yet had the opportunity to read any of Keri Arthur’s other series novels, but now that Riley has wrapped up, I’ll be looking out for alternatives!

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Retro Review: Fish Out Of Water (2008)

MaryJanice Davidson

Piatkus (2008)

ISBN: 9780749909079

The Mermaid Series #3

Book 1: Swimming Without A Net
Book 2: Sleeping With The Fishes
Book 3: Fish Out Of Water

Given that I am a fan of MaryJanice Davidson’s Undead books, I was amazed to discover she had written a mermaid trilogy and I didn’t know about it! Sure, vampires are far more prevalent in the paranormal genre than mermaids, but still, you’d think someone would have told me!

Fish Out Of Water is the third and final book of the Fred the mermaid trilogy. Not having read the others didn’t really impact on my reading of this one, although I imagine my emotional investment in some of the characters and the events happening to them would have been stronger if I had read the first two.

In this book half-human, half-mermaid Fredericka Bimm, media liaison to the merfolk – who have only recently “come out” to the land-dwelling humans – struggles to balance this role with her new engagement to the undersea Prince Artur and her friendships on land. Add to this strange merfolk disappearances, her own inadequacies as an undersea citizen, and her unresolved feelings for the lothario marine biologist Thomas, and Fred has a lot on her fins.

Davidson’s writing is as flippant and engaging as always. Irreverent banter between characters is a trademark of her style, and I enjoyed the quick pace of the story very much. Davidson manages to employ a lighthearted style without telling a shallow story, and is always highly readable.

While the novel did stand up to being read out of sequence, I would recommend starting at the beginning of the series (Sleeping With The Fishes and Swimming Without A Net are the first two books – there is also a novella in the anthology “Dead Over Heels”). You will get more MaryJanice Davidson fun, and the sense of character will no doubt be better too. A thoroughly enjoyable, speedy read, and a great break from fat fantasy!

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Retro Review: Greywalker (2007)

Kat Richardson

Piatkus (2007)

ISBN: 9780749938963

There are such a lot of paranormal and supernatural romance/thriller/crime novels around these days that it is with some trepidation I approach a new series. Especially a series written by a first-time novelist. However, publisher Piatkus is producing some fine paranormals, so I left my mind open and threw myself into Greywalker.

Harper Blaine becomes a Greywalker after a vicious assault during a routine investigation (she’s a private investigator). She “died” for a few minutes, and as she recovers, she starts to experience strange visions. The doctors tell her it’s just the recovery process, but one – less hide-bound than the others – suggests some people she might talk to, as he considers that what Harper is experiencing might be something else. Something other. Continue reading

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