“The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampire’s” is a bit of a misnomer. You don’t really get a “guide” and there is just the one “vampire”, and the lore around that particular vampire is unlike any I’m familiar with. But that was part of the fun of this book. Or, not fun, as this was an intense commentary on gaslighting, sexism, and racism in Charleston in the early 90’s. Or as intense of a commentary as a white man can make, but I think the point was infuriatingly well made. And while there is no mystery around the vampire, even if it takes these housewives awhile to see it for themselves, the writing was easy and creepy and managed to make me absolutely rage at all the right places. This book really was a look into just how vital the invisible support system of running a household is, the overlooked emotional labor, and just how overtly that gets taken advantage of, in no small part thanks to the burden of hospitality ingrained in each of these women. This was my first book by this author so I was a bit hesitant at first as horror is hit or miss for me, but I thoroughly enjoyed this satirical horror story.
“The Luminaries” has such cool vibes. A mysterious secret society tasked with keeping the Nightmares dreamed up by a sleeping spirit from leaving the forest and being discovered? Uh, yes please! Plus I happened to get this book from my Illumicrate subscription so it’s seriously beautiful. We follow Winnie, an outcast in the Luminaries who is desperate to become a Hunter and reclaim her family's good name. Winnie knows everything there is to know about the Nightmares dwelling in the forest, but that doesn’t mean she’s prepared for some of the monsters she finds, or the scrutiny of Hemlock Falls back on her and her family as a result of taking the trials. Everything about this book sounds moody and delightful, but there were too many little things that added up and, ultimately, spoiled my enjoyment of this book.
“Fallen” is unlike any Urban Fantasy I have read before. You have a world populated by classic high fantasy creatures—elves and orcs just to name a few—plus humans in a modern-day Boston. To top it off, the Christian mythos with angels and heaven are real in this world, even if church goers don’t believe a literal angel when they meet one. I thought that contrast was the most interesting of all, but I’m getting ahead of myself. We follow Cassiel, a fallen angel, as she learns to navigate a world she’s never been to before, as she has been tasked with guarding the gates of heaven for her whole existence. No one believes her when she tells them who she is, which allows for the reader to learn about this version of our world through her eyes. It’s not until a murder in the church she is taking refuge in kicks off a series of events with demons and drug dealers that people truly start to believe Cassiel when she says she is the only weapon capable of facing off against this threat—even wounded as she is.
I am a big fan of blending science fiction and fantasy together in the same book. Even more so when you have a cyberpunk-esque science fiction setting and magic plus some magical creatures for added measure. And boy does this book deliver on all those fronts! The book itself is like Storage Wars but with, you know, magic in a city literally alive with power and gods for pretty much every little thing you can think of. We follow Opal, who is desperate to pay off her debt and does so by basically buying apartments of people who fail to pay their rent. She may be a mage, but she prefers work as a Cleaner; on the hunt for treasure in these foreclosed locations. I really enjoyed the premise of that; Opal may be a magic user, but she is not the most powerful, well, anything and her magic isn’t necessarily unique. It made the world of the DFZ both magical and grounded, with the author taking the reader on an action filled ride from the lowest levels of this magical version of Detroit, to its glittering dragon consulates, because of course there are dragons now.
“The Urban Boys” follows five friends in high school who, after one night in a preserve their families have forbidden them from going into, are gifted with heightened senses in order to protect a luminous supernatural race, and by proxy, all of mankind. But for such high stakes, the boys thankfully can save mankind by simply protecting their idyllic town from the evil-doers that have taken over a neighboring town. Stuck in a conflict that has been simmering for twenty years, it’s up to these five friends to keep strong, and save their town when no one else is capable of doing so. This is a story that attempts to cover a lot, especially with such a large cast of characters, and it’s a book I think is far better suited for middle-grade book lovers. If you go into it with that mindset, I think you’ll enjoy the “Urban Boys” a great deal.
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