Yes, I’ve been writing. I’m always writing, and you guys who are here because you’re writers know exactly what I’m talking about. But after immersing myself in worlds of my own imagining for hours, I want to read someone else’s words before I go to sleep. It’s almost a physical need. Unless I’m completely exhausted from a day of heavy physical labor, (like moving a kid into his dorm room and then walking around the huge campus on a hot and humid Saturday), I can’t sleep without reading at least a few pages of whatever book has my attention at the time. So yeah, I’ve been reading. Fortunately, I’ve found some great books lately, so I decided to share with you all today, in case you’re headed to the bookstore and just don’t know what to buy.*
The Naming of the Beasts by Mike Carey
This is the fifth book in Carey’s excellent Felix Castor series. Fix is an exorcist in present-day London, a man who can see and communicate with the dead, and who knows how to send them on their way. Not that he’s crazy about doing that job, since he realized some years ago that he doesn’t know where he’s sending the souls. His friend Rafi Ditko’s soul is inextricably intertwined with the demon Asmodeus thanks to a mistake on Fix’s part when he was still young and inexperienced. Now Rafi has escaped from the magical bonds keeping Asmodeus from running wild and is now loose and killing everyone who ever meant anything to Rafi. And he seems to be saving Fix for last.
These books are dark and magical and I just can’t say enough nice things about them. Fix is unusual for an exorcist, since he actually cares about the welfare of the dead he’s always asked to dispel. He cares so much that he let go of a lucrative career to be a private contractor instead. He’s tortured by the memory of his sister’s ghost and by the suffering Rafi has endured with Asmodeus gripping his soul so tightly. The money’s always tight, the jobs are rarely simple and the stories are wicked fun. If you haven’t read any others in the series, you must start at the beginning, with The Devil You Know, to get the full impact of this book.
The Desert of Souls by Howard Jones
Dabir the scholar and Asim, captain of the vizier’s guard, have been sent into the desert to retrieve a magical door pull which opens the way to the lost world of Ubar. The pull was stolen by a magician bent on revenge against the city where his family was murdered, and if Dabir and Asim cannot stop him, all will be lost.
Years ago, when I was first discovering fantasy and its wonders, I was intensely fond of Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, the fighter and thief team who rambled all over the fantasy world of Nehwon slaying monsters and collecting treasure (when they could find it.) This book is a lovely homage to that sort of sword and sorcery, but set in the medieval desert city of Baghdad. Jones has done an excellent job presenting the culture without resorting to overdone tropes, and it’s been so long since we had some delicious sword and sorcery fun.
Johannes Cabal the Necromancer by Jonathan L Howard
Johannes Cabal is a necromancer, but not a mystical sort. Cabal is a scientist, and he sold his soul to Satan to learn the secrets of life and death many years before. Unfortunately, the only way to understand the information he’s amassed is if he actually has a soul, so he’s determined to buy his soul back from Satan now. It doesn’t usually work that way, as we all know, and Satan offers a wager to Cabal instead. If he can hand over 100 willing souls to Satan at the end of a year’s time, Satan will return the soul Cabal sold. To help him, Satan sends an evil carnival for Cabal to use in tempting the wicked. But is that really what’s happening?
This was a neat book. Cabal is obnoxious and arrogant, but there’s something innocent about his singleminded quest, especially when he is counseled by his vampire brother Horst on how to treat people. It’s a little bit Sherlock Holmes, a little bit Carnivale, and a whole lot of fun.
Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson
The world is dark and forbidding. Ash falls from the sky, creatures haunt the mists and one man is standing up to fight the Lord Ruler and free the world from tyranny. Fortunately there are others ready to back him up, including the young thief Vin, who is Mistborn, and holds great magical power, if only she can learn to wield it.
This is a wonderful introduction to a fantasy epic, and even though Sanderson killed off one character of whom I was very fond (I’m not telling you who, and if you think this is a spoiler, you clearly need to read more epic fantasy) I’m willing to forgive him. The world is intriguing, the magic is well portrayed and the story kept me reading all the way through.
The Neon Court by Kate Griffin
Matthew Swift, sorcerer and protector of London’s magical environs, wakes up to find himself on an upper floor of a burning building, lying in a pool of blood that isn’t his. He escapes by the skin of his teeth, but once he gets back to his offices, he’s told that the Tribe and the Neon Court are ready to go to war over a girl they call the chosen one, and the fire may have been set in order to drive Matthew into joining one side or the other – something he cannot do. And did I mention he also seems to be the only one who’s noticed that the sun isn’t rising any longer?
This is the third book in the Matthew Swift series, and I am madly in love with this world and this story. It’s urban fantasy the way I like it. Swift uses the city to make his magic. Street lights, blacktop, subway graffiti, balled up bits of paper…all of these things serve as components for his magic. You haven’t seen a cool magical battle until you read about Swift using the little man on the crosswalk light to hold back his pursuer!
So that’s what I’ve read lately. What have you found that you’re dying to pass on to everyone else? Share!
*And apologies to Beatriz, who is probably going to want to beat me up for adding more titles to her Kindle TBR list. Sorry, hon!