Review: Killing Rites

Well, we finally know for sure who the Black Sun’s Daughter is –and Jayné has some really tough decisions to make. Now that she realizes she is carrying a rider within her, her first impulse is to get it out. But things are much more complicated than a simple possession. This entity has saved her bacon over and over again. Jayné must struggle with the true nature of the spirit and she questions the right course to take.

Ex is a big force in this story. Aubrey and Kim have been phased out. Chogyi Jake is still recovering and is absent through the first half of the book. Only Ex has been at Jayné’s side as she comes to terms with the source of her strength. And he is the one who introduces her to the priests who set out to perform an exorcism. The priests are a big part of Ex’s history and in spending time with them, Jayné learns alot about what has shaped Ex into the man he is today.

I’ve been waiting and waiting for Jayné and Ex to make the connection I’ve always thought was simmering beneath the surface. The guy is clearly in love with her, but just because his heart is in the right place, that doesn’t mean he has all the right answers. This book is markedly different from the last in that the lion’s share of it is an internal struggle, as opposed to an external one. Jayné has to figure out her true nature; who she can trust; and what she wants for her future. Not every question gets an answer and that’s frustrating. So many things happened in the last book. This one is more about her realizations. Ex and Chogyi Jake have important roles and even the old vampire Midian shows up, but mostly it’s just about Jayné –and the Black Sun’s Daughter.

It was slower, but good. It was important for the series. But I wish I had the next book in my hands to read. I want to see what Jayné will do with what she’s learned. And I want her to get with Ex, dammit. (My patience is not without limits.) 4 stars.

*ARC Provided by Pocket Books

Click to purchase: Amazon or The Book Depository
Killing Rites
by MLN Hanover (Daniel Abraham)
Release Date: November 29, 2011
Publisher: Pocket Books

Review: Vicious Grace

Sometimes over the course of a series, you think you’ve got things figured out. When I started this book, I knew who I thought Jayné was and was not supposed to be with; I thought I knew there was more to that tattoo than a drunken night of debauchery; and I thought I knew what it meant for Jayné to be the Black Sun’s Daughter. But still, I wasn’t prepared for how it all went down.

As the story begins, Jayné is happy in love with Aubrey. The two of them are training with Ex and Chogyi Jake, when Aubrey’s ex-wife Kim calls for help. Something strange is going on in the hospital where she works and she’s out of her depth in how to handle it.

A really long story short, a big bad was trapped beneath the hospital decades ago and now it’s on the verge of breaking out. But it seems Jayné’s Uncle Eric was actually working to make that happen before he died. Over the course of the book, Jayné learns some shocking truths about Eric. She makes big sacrifices; she suffers loss; and she loses an innocence that she didn’t even know she had.

There were a lot of twists and turns. And even when those things I thought I knew came to pass –sort of– it didn’t feel like I expected. It was sadder than I thought it would be and more emotionally resonant. (And I’ll admit, there were definitely some developments I never saw coming at all.) There was also a lot of action and some really gripping scenes, especially in the climax at the haunted hospital. Each installment of this series draws me in more and more. 4 1/2 stars.

*Review copy provided by Pocket Books

Click to purchase: Amazon or The Book Depository
Vicious Grace
by MLN Hanover (Daniel Abraham)
Release Date: November 30, 2010
Publisher: Pocket Books

Review: Darker Angels

The more I read of this series, the more I like it. This second installment picks up about six months after the events of Unclean Spirits. Jayné, Aubrey, Ex, and Chogyi Jake have spent that time learning as much as they can about the evil-fighting legacy that Uncle Eric left behind. But a call for help on Eric’s old cell phone has the crew jumping out of research mode, into a mission in New Orleans.

Karen Black is a former FBI agent who worked a case with Eric years ago. It was serial killer they were after, but more than that, it was man possessed by an evil spirit, a rider. They captured the man, but the spirit got away. Now Karen says she has tracked it, but needs help capturing it.

Jayné has grown some since she began walking in her uncle’s footsteps, but in many ways, she is still an unsure young woman. She second guesses herself and her choices. She is sometimes rash and pays the price for it, but her heart is in the right place. I find her likeable, but her youth and inexperience are parts of her character that can be frustrating.

There are a lot of twists and turns in the story. And I ended up confused by the particulars of the demonology from time to time. But it was a good story, with a distinctive New Orleans flair. Once again, the secondary characters give the story an added layer of depth. I like Aubrey, but I still maintain that Ex is the man for Jayné. And we’re beginning to learn that he thinks so too. I liked it alot. A little more than 4 stars.

P.S. I’m still fixated on the title of the series. Jayné must be the Black Sun’s Daughter… It’s got to have something to do with her mom, right?

*Review copy provided by Pocket Books

Click to purchase: Amazon or The Book Depository
Darker Angels
by MLN Hanover (Daniel Abraham)
Release Date: September 23, 2009
Publisher: Pocket Books

Review: Unclean Spirits

Unclean Spirits puts a new twist on the standard urban fantasy fare. Yes, it’s got vampires, lycans, and demons of a fashion, but the ideology is different. Here, otherworldly spirits can transcend out of their own world into ours and latch on a human. They become “riders” –taking over their host’s body and wreaking havoc.

Jayné knows nothing about riders or magic. But when her Uncle Eric dies, she inherits his home and his money; his secret life is an unexpected part of the deal. Eric fought the riders. When he died, he was trying to take down the leader of a powerful group of the creatures, Randolph Coin. Jayné gets a crash course in reality as she begins to meet Eric’s associates. And it’s only a matter of time before she takes up her uncle’s mantle and seeks revenge on his killer.

Jayné may not know everything about her uncle’s world, but she is not totally naive. She manages to take a lot of shocking information in stride. She has to let go of her old life and embrace her new one, which takes strength. And while the whole shtick about the pronunciation of her name (zha-NAY) got a little old, I found that I liked her. She grows a lot over the course of the book.

I also enjoyed the secondary cast of characters. While Jayné makes a little love-connection with one man, I get the feeling that her true intended is going to be someone else entirely (yes, Ex, I am talking about you.) There is a tiny bit of sex – enough that it wasn’t left out entirely, but I probably would have enjoyed a bit more. And speaking of supporting characters… I really ended up kind of fascinated with the vampire Midian and I wonder what the future holds for him.

I liked this book. And I liked the ending. There is good resolution, but the door is opened wide for future installments. I still don’t get the series title “Black Sun’s Daughter,” but maybe that will be explained in the coming books. A little more than 4 stars.

*Review copy provided by Pocket Books

Click to purchase: Amazon or The Book Depository 
Unclean Spirits
by MLN Hanover (Daniel Abraham)
Release Date: December 2, 2008
Publisher: Pocket Books

Series Reading Order: The Black Sun’s Daughter

This is the reading order for The Black Sun’s Daughter series by MLN Hanover (Daniel Abraham):

Giveaway: Black Sun’s Daughter Series

Thanks to the awesome folks over at Simon & Schuster, I have an entire series to give away! Check out the details on the Black Sun’s Daughter books by MLN Hanover:

When Jayné Heller’s uncle Eric died, she inherited a fortune beyond all her expectations — and a dangerous mission in a world she never knew existed. Reining in demons and supernatural foes is a formidable task, but thankfully Jayné has vast resources and loyal allies to rely on. She’ll need both to tackle a bodyswitching serial killer who’s taken up residence in New Orleans, a city rich in voodoo lore and dark magic.

Working alongside Karen Black, a highly confident and enigmatic ex-FBI agent, Jayné races to track down the demon’s next intended host. But the closer she gets, the more convinced she becomes that nothing in this beautiful, wounded city is exactly as it seems. When shocking secrets come to light, and jealousy and betrayal turn trusted friends into adversaries, Jayné will soon come face-to-face with an enemy that knows her all too well, and won’t rest until it has destroyed everything she loves most….

When Jayné Heller’s uncle Eric died, she inherited a fortune beyond all her expectations — and a dangerous mission in a world she never knew existed. Reining in demons and supernatural foes is a formidable task, but thankfully Jayné has vast resources and loyal allies to rely on. She’ll need both to tackle a bodyswitching serial killer who’s taken up residence in New Orleans, a city rich in voodoo lore and dark magic.
Working alongside Karen Black, a highly confident and enigmatic ex-FBI agent, Jayné races to track down the demon’s next intended host. But the closer she gets, the more convinced she becomes that nothing in this beautiful, wounded city is exactly as it seems. When shocking secrets come to light, and jealousy and betrayal turn trusted friends into adversaries, Jayné will soon come face-to-face with an enemy that knows her all too well, and won’t rest until it has destroyed everything she loves most….
For the first time in forever, Jayné Heller’s life is making sense. Even if she routinely risks her life to destroy demonic parasites that prey on mortals, she now has friends, colleagues, a trusted lover, and newfound confidence in the mission she inherited from her wealthy, mysterious uncle. Her next job might just rob her of all of them. At Grace Memorial Hospital in Chicago, something is stirring. Patients are going AWOL and research subjects share the same sinister dreams. Half a century ago, something was buried under Grace in a terrible ritual, and it’s straining to be free. Jayné is primed to take on whatever’s about to be let loose. Yet the greatest danger now may not be the huge, unseen force lurking below, but the evil that has been hiding in plain sight all along—taking her ever closer to losing her body, her mind, and her soul. . . .

Jayné Heller has discovered the source of her uncanny powers: something else is living inside her body. She’s possessed. Of all her companions, she can only bring herself to confide in Ex, the former priest. They seek help from his old teacher and the circle of friends he left behind, hoping to cleanse Jayné before the parasite in her becomes too powerful.

Ex’s history and a new enemy combine to leave Jayné alone and on the run. Her friends, thinking that the rider with her has taken the reins, try to hunt her down, unaware of the danger they’re putting her in. Jayné must defeat the weight of the past and the murderous intent of another rider, and her only allies are a rogue vampire she once helped free and the nameless thing hiding inside her skin.

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