This is one of those series that is borderline a guilty pleasure for me at the moment. I can tell that this is one of those series that was 1. Maybe hurt by the hype train and my inability to read books in a timely fashion so things end up getting kind of spoiled, and 2. That it’s also one of those series that only really gets good come the third or fourth book. In “Crown of Midnight” Celaena is firmly the King’s Champion, though she’s fairly good at not having to assassinate anyone for an assassin. The King gives her a list of people she needs to eliminate, and she goes off and pretends like she does, but things get complicated when the King wants her to kill a blast from her past because he suspects that he’s leading a rebellion. This person is a courtesan of sorts, and Celaena doesn’t believe her old friend would have the guts to do something like the King claims given the life of luxury he leads. So, on her quest to figure out who is really involved in this rebellion, Celaena uncovers more secrets in the impossibly large underground passages of the Glass Castle—like seriously, there’s at least 3 castles within this one castle that are just completely abandoned. Ultimately, this is very much a book about moving pieces and characters into the right places so the main plot of the series can finally begin.
“Kingdom Come” is a bit like Supernatural, or, rather Shadow Hunter Academy with God and Christ in the forefront. If there are demons, they are Satan’s creatures plain and simple. Unlike some of the other paranormal books out there that use demons as their villains without any religious aspect to them, that’s not the case in this novel. Our main character is part of an elite demon hunting academy based in Vatican City, developed by the newest Pope Quintus. Their goal is simple and straight forward: kill all demons, and go where the Church needs them to battle the forces of evil. Everything from complex exorcisms, to full out war for the Vatican, the DH is there, each team with their own unique characters and powers, reminiscent of a video game class system. Jason struggles to find his place on the team, often insubordinate when his instincts tell him to act, often with dire consequences. He’s a character on a journey all in the service of God. So, obviously, if you don’t want or like Christian Speculative Fiction mixed in with your fantasy, this won’t be the book for you, because Coogle never shies away from the fact that his book is all about the glory of God.
We’ve all heard the tale of King Arthur. How his Knights of the Round Table fought against Morgana le Fey and her army of darkness. Arthur eventually perished, becoming a legend of what chivalry was supposed to look like, how knights were to behave, and the romanticized version of Camelot was born. Now meet Judy Avery: an incredibly young—as in 19 years-old—PhD candidate who has based her dissertation on the fact that the fairy tale has some truth to it. Watch as she presents this dissertation to her own father, who is a scientist to the core, who uses—you guessed it—science to dispel things like Arthur and his Camelot. Judy faces disappointment, is told she needs to rethink her direction, and as a kind of weird joke, is sent to the place where Camelot is meant to be, but is now a cheesy tourist trap. Cue that it’s anything but, and Judy is in for a big surprise. I really love Arthurian fantasy retellings, I love that this was a gender reversal for who is “king”, but I had a hard time connecting to Judy.
Ok guys, I need you to suspend some disbelief with me real quick as I introduce you to this incredibly topical, but also incredibly quirky book. Meet “Threshold” the story of Ooolandia (a world like ours but with the extra “o”) where humanoids and animals all work and live together. As in the animals talk and have jobs, but also still function as animals and hunt each other. See what I mean about the quirkiness? But Ooolandia is in trouble. The population has become so fixated on changing nature to do what they want, that they have completely destroyed the ecosystem on their never ending quest for MORE. The only ones to see what the business running Ooolandia is doing is the Department of Nature, run by a monkey and a really smart mouse—more quirkiness! Plagued by what they see, and others don’t, it’s up to them to open the populace’s eyes before it’s too late. Ok so you have these smart, talking animals, plus a lot of mythical creatures, and they are all on a quest that revolves around climate change, and trying to get the people who deny what’s going on to see how everyone is connected. See how relevant that subject is to our current world? Honestly, this book shouldn’t have worked, but it does! It so, so does!
“Demon’s on the Dalton” is the second in the Hell Hole’s serial trilogy, and picks up pretty immediately from where the first in the series left off. Although, this book spends a decent chunk early on recapping and re-familiarizing the reader with what happened in the first novella, so if you don’t read the first one, I don’t think you’ll be totally lost, though I do think the excitement of the first book is higher than in the second. We get Angela’s perspective this time as our trio of survivors race across the Dalton. The majority of the story is spent with our characters in their vehicle, barely able to stop to pee on the side of the road before all manner of hell spawn is on top of them. Their mission is still primarily to survive, to get to Fairbanks, and safety. But as the U.S. military mobilizes and starts their counter attack, their mission shifts, becoming more than just survival, but helping the powers that be to end the unending wave of demonic creatures that are pouring into our world.
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