The Leaning Pile of Books is a feature where I talk about books I got over the last week – old or new, bought or received for review. Since I hope you will find new books you’re interested in reading in these posts, I try to be as informative as possible. If I can find them, links to excerpts, author’s websites, and places where you can find more information on the book are included.

This week brought six review copies, but one was a second copy of a book I just got last week, one was not actually SFF, and one is the finished copy of a book I already discussed so I’m only going to discuss three of these. (And yes, I did buy a book for National Buy a Book Day on Friday, but I ordered it so it’s not here yet. I’ll talk about it after it gets here.)

In case the finished copy was a book any of you were waiting for, Ghost Key by Trish J. MacGregor was released last month.

The Tainted City by Courtney Schafer

The Tainted City (The Shattered Sigil #2) by Courtney Schafer

This sequel to Courtney Schafer’s debut, The Whitefire Crossing, will be released in trade paperback and ebook on October 2. Chapter one and chapter two can both be read on the author’s website. If you haven’t yet read the first book, you can read the first six chapters from The Whitefire Crossing.

I did read and review The Whitefire Crossing and am rather curious about what happens in the second book! The title for the third book sounds pretty exciting, The Labyrinth of Flame.

Dev is a desperate man. After narrowly surviving a smuggling job gone wrong, he’s now a prisoner of the Alathian Council, held hostage to ensure his friend Kiran — former apprentice to one of the most ruthless mages alive — does their bidding.

But Kiran isn’t Dev’s only concern. Back in his home city of Ninavel, the child he once swore to protect faces a terrible fate if he can’t reach her in time, and the days are fast slipping away. So when the Council offers Dev freedom in exchange for his and Kiran’s assistance in a clandestine mission to Ninavel, he can’t refuse, no matter how much he distrusts their motives.

Once in Ninavel the mission proves more treacherous than even Dev could have imagined. Betrayed by allies, forced to aid their enemies, he and Kiran must confront the darkest truths of their pasts if they hope to save those they love and survive their return to the Tainted City.

The Cold Commands by Richard K. Morgan

The Cold Commands (A Land Fit for Heroes #2) by Richard K. Morgan

The Cold Commands has been out in hardcover, ebook, and audiobook formats since last year. This trade paperback edition will be on sale September 25.  You can read an excerpt on the publisher’s website if you click the image of the book cover. If you missed the first book, The Steel Remains, you can also click the image to see inside the book or read an excerpt on the publisher’s site.

I haven’t read the first book, but I’ve heard good things about the series.

Ringil Eskiath, scarred wielder of the kiriath-forged broadsword Ravensfriend, is a man on the run from his past and the family who have disowned him, from the slave trade magnates of Trelayne who want him dead, and apparently from the dark gods themselves, who are taking an interest but making no more sense than they ever have. Outlawed and exiled from his ancestral home in the north, Ringil has only one place left to turn Yhelteth, city heart of the southern Empire, where perhaps he can seek asylum with the kiriath half-breed Archeth Indamaninarmal, former war comrade and now high-up advisor to the Emperor Jhiral Khimran II. But Archeth Indamaninarmal has problems of her own to contend with, as does her house guest, bodyguard and one time steppe nomad Egar the Dragonbane. And far from gaining the respite he is seeks, Ringil will instead find himself implicated in fresh schemes and doubtful allegiances no safer than those he has left behind. Old enemies are stirring, the old order is rotted through and crumbling, and though no-one yet knows it, the city of Yhelteth is about to explode.

Bad Glass by Richard E. Gropp

Bad Glass by Richard E. Gropp

This debut was the winner of the 2011 Suvudu Writing Contest and will be released in trade paperback and ebook on September 25. You can read an excerpt and browse the book on the publisher’s website.

One of the most hauntingly original dark fantasy debuts in years—perfect for fans of Lost and Mark Danielewski’s cult classic, House of Leaves.

Something has happened in Spokane. The military has evacuated the city and locked it down. Even so, disturbing rumors and images seep out, finding their way onto the Internet, spreading curiosity, skepticism, and panic. For what they show is—or should be—impossible: strange creatures that cannot exist, sudden disappearances that violate the laws of physics, human bodies fused with inanimate objects, trapped yet still half alive. . . .

Dean Walker, an aspiring photographer, sneaks into the quarantined city in search of fame. What he finds will change him in unimaginable ways. Hooking up with a group of outcasts led by a beautiful young woman named Taylor, Dean embarks on a journey into the heart of a mystery whose philosophical implications are as terrifying as its physical manifestations. Even as he falls in love with Taylor—a woman as damaged and seductive as the city itself—his already tenuous hold on reality starts to come loose. Or perhaps it is Spokane’s grip on the world that is coming undone.

Now, caught up in a web of interlacing secrets and betrayals, Dean, Taylor, and their friends must make their way through this ever-shifting maze of a city, a city that is actively hunting them down, herding them toward a shocking destiny.

Ashes of Honor is the sixth book in the October Daye series by Seanan McGuire. The first five books in this urban fantasy series are as follows:

  1. Rosemary and Rue
  2. A Local Habitation
  3. An Artificial Night
  4. Late Eclipses
  5. One Salt Sea

All links go to reviews so if you are not caught up on the series, you can read about one of the previous books. I would suggest avoiding this review if you do not want events in any of the previous books to be spoiled.

There are at least four more books planned with one coming out every year in September through 2016. Chimes at Midnight will be the next book.

Toby is having a night full of unlikely surprises. First, she’s shot by a group of kids she’s trying to stop from dealing fae drugs. Next, she’s taken in for questioning by a police officer who heard the gunshots. Yet the biggest surprise of all awaits her at home – a visit from Etienne, who has had some shocking news and needs Toby’s help.

While Sylvester was grief-stricken with the disappearance of his wife and daughter, Etienne had a relationship with Bridget, a human woman. When his duties kept him from being able to get away anymore, Etienne lost touch with her and never heard from her again until now. Bridget called to inform him that their daughter, Chelsea, suddenly vanished on her way home from school. As a folklore professor, Bridget knows exactly what Etienne is and assumes the faeries took her daughter – and she is very insistent that he return her.

Etienne was completely unaware of the existence of his daughter and does not know if she was taken or if she simply discovered her ability to teleport that she inherited from him. He didn’t know who else to turn to other than Toby, finder of missing children and a changeling like his own daughter, and wants to hire her to find Chelsea. As always, Toby agrees to do what she can to bring Chelsea back and immediately begins tracking her down. The more she searches, the more she learns just what a dire situation they may all be in. Chelsea is a rare changeling who has extreme power without the limits a fae should have. She’s been teleporting into parts of Faerie sealed away by Oberon himself and upsetting the very fabric of Faerie. If Chelsea can’t be stopped, all of the faerie realm may suffer for it.

The October Daye series has become on of my favorites, and it just keeps getting better and better. The fourth book in this series was wonderful, particularly as it dealt with revealing the truth about Toby’s heritage. After that, the last book was also incredible with quite the emotional ending when Connor died and Toby’s daughter chose to keep her humanity. It was with a mixture of excitement and trepidation that I started this sixth installment since I wasn’t sure how it could possibly manage to be as good as the last two books. While I enjoyed the beginning because spending time with these characters is like visiting with old friends, I was also a bit worried that this book wouldn’t have much new to offer. The premise – Toby searching for a missing child – is one that keeps coming up in this series. The way it began with a scenario that ended up having nothing to do with the rest of the book, the trip to enlist help from The Luidaeg, and the convenient magical device from The Luidaeg were also very familiar. It was fun from the start, but I was initially concerned that with this many books in the series the books were going to start getting stale and repetitive.

These concerns of mine were completely silly and unfounded, and Ashes of Honor ended up being my favorite book in the series yet. The second half kept me on the edge of my seat and my husband can attest to the fact that I was quite literally exclaiming about how awesome it was. Yet the fast pace did not mean sacrificing character development or emotionally charged scenes. McGuire managed to keep a finely tuned balance between focus on moving the plot along and developing the characters just right. Much of the appeal of this series for me is the characters and how alive they all are, especially Toby herself with her humorous narrative voice. The banter and dialogue are so natural and hilarious to read, and I love the camaraderie the characters have when they talk to each other. At this point, they really are like old friends and each has his or her own way about them that belongs to them.

On the subject of characters, much of my love for this volume is probably also due to the fact that this is very much a Tybalt book and he gets a lot of page time. Not only is he present a lot, but some is revealed about his past and the Court of Cats is quite important in this particular book. So, fellow Tybalt fans, rejoice!

Toby remains the star, though. She has grown so much and come such a long way since the first book. As much as I enjoyed the second book, I did get irritated with her for her ability with solving the mystery. Since that book, she has been much better and her competence and level-headedness in this book were quite an improvement. I’m glad to see that many of her foibles were a temporary condition and that she’s not stuck in a cycle of repeating the same mistakes. At the beginning of this book, her grief is still fresh from the last book even though it’s been a year, but there’s also not a lot of time spent dwelling on angst. It is very much a book about moving on with your life, but I think starting it with enough time between this and the last book kept it from being too melancholy and heavy. Toby learns about herself and others, and I really liked where she ended up by the end. The ending managed to be as memorable as the one in the previous book, but in a completely different way.

My one complaint about this book is the same one I’ve had about many of the others: there is quite a bit of infodumping about what went on previously and who Toby is, especially toward the beginning. While this does at times slow down the progression of the book, it’s not a major enough problem to dwell on when the rest of the book is as good as it is.

Ashes of Honor is yet another exciting, funny, and emotional installment in the October Daye series. It further develops the world and characters while maintaining the right balance between a a fast-paced story and character development. Furthermore, it makes Toby deal with tough issues without making these tough issues a stumbling block for story progression. I can’t wait to see what happens in the next book.

My Rating: 9/10

Where I got my reading copy: ARC from the author.

Other Reviews:

The giveaway winners for Containment by Christian Cantrell have been selected and contacted. The winners are:

Elise
Ben
Renee

Congratulations and I hope you each enjoy the book!

The 2012 Hugo Award winners were announced Sunday night. Best Novel went to Among Others by Jo Walton and Game of Thrones took Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form. I was especially pleased to see the wonderful blog SF Signal won Best Fanzine. A complete list of the winners along with a few photos can be found on tor.com. Congratulations to all the winners!

September 7 (this Friday) is National Buy a Book Day. Here’s the idea behind it as stated on the foundation’s website:

 

The National Buy a Book Day Foundation’s primary activity is educating the American people on the importance of books to our culture and community by encouraging citizens to go to any bookstore on September 7th of each year, which we hope to establish as National Buy a Book Day, and buy a book. By buying a book, as a community, every year on the same day, we come together in support of books, booksellers, authors, and publishers alike.

This day holds a special spot in my memory since I bought one of my favorites, Elfland by Freda Warringon, on this day. Of course, I can also get behind any day that involves supporting books and those who make reading them possible!

The Leaning Pile of Books is a feature where I talk about books I got over the last week – old or new, bought or received for review. Since I hope you will find new books you’re interested in reading in these posts, I try to be as informative as possible. If I can find them, links to excerpts, author’s websites, and places where you can find more information on the book are included.

Last week there were no books to discuss, but this week was a VERY good week for books! First of all, I really want to read every single book that showed up in the mail this week. Second of all, I took Thursday and Friday off from work and had a great find at a bookstore on one of those days.

For reviews, I haven’t gotten much writing done with my mini-vacation, but my next reviews will be Ashes of Honor by Seanan McGuire and House of Shadows by Rachel Neumeier. Both of these were wonderful. I just finished Ashes of Honor before starting this post and think it’s the best book in the October Daye series yet!

One of the books that came in this last week is the finished copy of a book I already talked about in a previous post so I’m not going to include all the info on it again in this one. If you are interested in reading about This Case is Gonna Kill Me by Phillipa Bornikova, you can read about it here. It’s an urban fantasy debut that will be on sale on Tuesday.

Great North Road by Peter F. Hamilton

Great North Road by Peter F. Hamilton

This stand alone science fiction novel will be on sale in hardcover and ebook on December 26 in the US. It will be released in the UK later this month (September 27).

I have heard that Peter F. Hamilton writes fantastic books so I’m really excited about this one. As a slow reader, I’m also a bit daunted by the length (my ARC is hardcover size and about 950 pages), but mostly I’m excited to read it!

New York Times bestselling author Peter F. Hamilton’s riveting new thriller combines the nail-biting suspense of a serial-killer investigation with clear-eyed scientific and social extrapolation to create a future that seems not merely plausible but inevitable.

A century from now, thanks to a technology allowing instantaneous travel across light-years, humanity has solved its energy shortages, cleaned up the environment, and created far-flung colony worlds. The keys to this empire belong to the powerful North family—composed of successive generations of clones. Yet these clones are not identical. For one thing, genetic errors have crept in with each generation. For another, the original three clone “brothers” have gone their separate ways, and the branches of the family are now friendly rivals more than allies.

Or maybe not so friendly. At least that’s what the murder of a North clone in the English city of Newcastle suggests to Detective Sidney Hurst. Sid is a solid investigator who’d like nothing better than to hand off this hot potato of a case. The way he figures it, whether he solves the crime or not, he’ll make enough enemies to ruin his career.

Yet Sid’s case is about to take an unexpected turn: because the circumstances of the murder bear an uncanny resemblance to a killing that took place years ago on the planet St. Libra, where a North clone and his entire household were slaughtered in cold blood. The convicted slayer, Angela Tramelo, has always claimed her innocence. And now it seems she may have been right. Because only the St. Libra killer could have committed the Newcastle crime.

Problem is, Angela also claims that the murderer was an alien monster.

Now Sid must navigate through a Byzantine minefield of competing interests within the police department and the world’s political and economic elite . . . all the while hunting down a brutal killer poised to strike again. And on St. Libra, Angela, newly released from prison, joins a mission to hunt down the elusive alien, only to learn that the line between hunter and hunted is a thin one.

The Grass King's Concubine by Kari Sperring

The Grass King’s Concubine by Kari Sperring

I have been curious about both this book and Kari Sperring’s first novel, Living With Ghosts, for awhile now so I picked this one up when I came across it at the bookstore. It’s set in the same world as the first novel but takes place about 150 years later.

The Grass King’s Concubine was released in mass market paperback and ebook last month. There is a giveaway for 10 copies on Goodreads right now that is open to a lot of countries.

The only excerpt from The Grass King’s Concubine I could find is on Amazon.

Kari Sperring’s first novel was a finalist for the Crawford Award, a Tiptree Award Honor Book, a LOCUS Recommended First Novel, and the winner of the Sydney J. Bounds Award for Best Newcomer. Now she returns to the same amazing and atmospheric world with an entirely new story set several hundred years after the earth-shaking events of Living With Ghosts.

When a wealthy young woman, obsessed with a childhood vision of a magical Shining Palace, sets out with her true love to search for a legendary land, she discovers the devastated WorldBelow – the realm of the Grass King – and the terrifying Cadre, who take her prisoner, and demand she either restore the king’s concubine… or replace her.

Clean by Alex Hughes

Clean (Mindspace Investigations #1) by Alex Hughes

This debut will be released in mass market paperback and ebook on September 4. An excerpt is available on the publisher’s website.

I love reading about telepaths and think this sounds like fun so I’m looking forward to reading it. I’ll be reading it pretty soon since I’m participating in the blog tour for Clean later this month.

A RUTHLESS KILLER—OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND I used to work for the Telepath’s Guild before they kicked me out for a drug habit that wasn’t entirely my fault. Now I work for the cops, helping Homicide Detective Isabella Cherabino put killers behind bars. My ability to get inside the twisted minds of suspects makes me the best interrogator in the department. But the normals keep me on a short leash. When the Tech Wars ripped the world apart, the Guild stepped up to save it. But they had to get scary to do it—real scary. Now the cops don’t trust the telepaths, the Guild doesn’t trust me, a serial killer is stalking the city—and I’m aching for a fix. But I need to solve this case. Fast. I’ve just had a vision of the future: I’m the next to die.

Fair Game by Patricia Briggs

Fair Game (Alpha and Omega #3) by Patricia Briggs

This is the great book find I had when I visited a bookstore a couple days ago! Patricia Briggs signed at a bookstore in my state as part of the book tour for Fair Game earlier this year. I didn’t go even though it’s pretty rare for an author to come to my state since it was still 2 – 3 hours away from me and the event was on a weeknight, plus I’m not nearly as big a fan of Alpha and Omega as Mercy Thompson (Alpha and Omega is a spinoff series related to the Mercy Thompson books). On Friday, I was in the same city and decided to check out the bookstore while I was there. While browsing I came across Fair Game. I wasn’t planning to buy it since I still haven’t read the second book in the series, but a sticker that said “Autographed Copy” caught my eye and I decided I just couldn’t pass up a book autographed by Patricia Briggs! I felt lucky to find it since there were only 2 copies on the shelves and the signing was months ago now. I’ve been hearing this particular installment in the series is amazing so I’m pretty excited about finding a signed copy.

Fair Game is available in hardcover, ebook, and audiobook. The first story in the series is actually a novella titled “Alpha and Omega” that is available in an anthology, On the Prowl. The first novel is Cry Wolf and the second is Hunting Ground.

An excerpt from Fair Game is available on the publisher’s website.

Patricia Briggs, the #1 “New York Times” bestselling author of the Mercy Thompson novels, “always enchants her readers.” (Lynn Viehl, “New York Times” bestselling author) Now her Alpha and Omega series-set in a world of shifting shapes, loyalty, and passion- brings werewolves out of the darkness and into a society where fear and prejudice could make the hunters prey…

They say opposites attract. And in the case of werewolves Anna Latham and Charles Cornick, they mate. The son-and enforcer-of the leader of the North American werewolves, Charles is a dominant alpha. While Anna, an omega, has the rare ability to calm others of her kind.

Now that the werewolves have revealed themselves to humans, they can’t afford any bad publicity. Infractions that could have been overlooked in the past must now be punished, and the strain of doing his father’s dirty work is taking a toll on Charles.

Nevertheless, Charles and Anna are sent to Boston, when the FBI requests the pack’s help on a local serial killer case. They quickly realize that not only the last two victims were werewolves-all of them were. Someone is targeting their kind. And now Anna and Charles have put themselves right in the killer’s sights…

The Dirty Streets of Heaven by Tad Williams

The Dirty Streets of Heaven (Bobby Dollar #1) by Tad Williams

The first book in a new urban fantasy series by Tad Williams will be released in hardcover and ebook on September 4. I was sent an ebook copy to take a look at. I don’t read a lot of ebooks since I prefer paper books and have a significant number of them around, but I am considering reading it after looking at it. It looks interesting, and I’m kind of ashamed to admit this as a fantasy fan, but I’ve never read a book by Tad Williams before. That’s definitely something that needs to be remedied at some point!

Bobby Dollar is an angel—a real one. He knows a lot about sin, and not just in his professional capacity as an advocate for souls caught between Heaven and Hell. Bobby’s wrestling with a few deadly sins of his own—pride, anger, even lust.

But his problems aren’t all his fault. Bobby can’t entirely trust his heavenly superiors, and he’s not too sure about any of his fellow earthbound angels either, especially the new kid that Heaven has dropped into their midst, a trainee angel who asks too many questions. And he sure as hell doesn’t trust the achingly gorgeous Countess of Cold Hands, a mysterious she-demon who seems to be the only one willing to tell him the truth.

When the souls of the recently departed start disappearing, catching both Heaven and Hell by surprise, things get bad very quickly for Bobby D. End-of-the-world bad. Beast of Revelations bad. Caught between the angry forces of Hell, the dangerous strategies of his own side, and a monstrous undead avenger that wants to rip his head off and suck out his soul, Bobby’s going to need all the friends he can get—in Heaven, on Earth, or anywhere else he can find them.

You’ve never met an angel like Bobby Dollar. And you’ve never read anything like The Dirty Streets of Heaven.

Brace yourself—the afterlife is weirder than you ever believed.

The Serpent Sea is the second book in The Books of the Raksura series by Martha Wells, following The Cloud Roads. The third book, The Siren Depths, is scheduled for release in December 2012.

Warning: Since this is the second book in a series, there may be spoilers for the first book in this review. If you are interested in reading about the first book in this series, here is my review of The Cloud Roads (one of my favorite books from last year).

Moon, the solitary Raksura found by Stone of Indigo Cloud, has found a place with the court as consort to Jade, the sister queen. After all the trials Indigo Cloud has faced against their Fell enemies, the entire court is need of a new home. As the oldest member of the group, Stone remembers the mountain-tree they came from, which still belongs to Indigo Cloud even though they haven’t lived there since he was young. Since most other territories in the area are claimed by other Raksuran courts, all of Indigo Cloud makes the long journey by flying ship to the cavernous mountain-tree that was once home to their ancestors.

When the Raksura of Indigo Cloud finally reach their new home, they are more than ready to leave the flying ship and start settling into their new home. However, Stone has a feeling that all is not right, and it is soon confirmed that something is very wrong when some of the Raksura discover that the tree’s heartwood is dying. The seed necessary for the tree’s survival has been stolen recently, and Indigo Cloud will need to find a new home all over again if the tree cannot be saved. Their search for both answers and the missing seed brings Moon, Jade, Stone, and a few of the other Raksura on a new journey – to another Raksuran court that has a history of strife with their own court and to the distant Serpent Sea and a living land rife with magic, secrets, and danger.

The Serpent Sea is a fantastic book that expands on the inventive world introduced in The Cloud Roads. While the first book focused on the Raksura, the second book ventures into new places both with another Raksuran court and an island full of other races. It also adds a little bit of depth to the characters while showing Moon’s struggle to fit in with his own people after being separated from them for most of his life. The beginning of the book did not engage me quite as quickly as its predecessor, but I ended up enjoying The Serpent Sea every bit as much as the first book in the series. It made me love the world and characters even more after spending more time reading about them, and I’m now incredibly eager to read the third book in the series.

What continues to make this series unique is the world that Martha Wells has created. The Books of the Raksura bridge the gap between fantasy and science fiction by combining common fantasy elements like good vs. evil and quests with an alien world focusing on an original race of shapeshifters, the Raksura. Biology is destiny and the roles of each Raksura are defined by the type of form they have. Raksuran society has its own rules and norms, but that also does not mean the individual Raksura are so unusual that it’s hard to relate to them. They each have their own personality, and Moon’s struggle to understand his own people’s ways and resistance to the expectations that consorts are demure make him an endearing character. After being alone for so long, it’s not easy for him to navigate the rules and traditions of the Raksura. He’s not quite sure what sort of role a consort is supposed to have, but if it means sitting on the sidelines, he’s not having any of that. I love the gender role reversal and how Jade has to put up with her spunky male consort’s insolent ways.

What I especially love about the gender role reversal in these books is that both the male and female characters are depicted as real people (or, er, Raksura). The females are stronger and have more power, but the males still add value to the community. Some of them are warriors or mentors, and the queens still ask the consorts for advice. There were times Moon seemed like the smart one behind the scenes who gave Jade valuable insight, and Stone’s years of wisdom were also important to Indigo Cloud. There’s a respect for all the characters and their roles in the community.

Overall, I felt The Serpent Sea did a better job of fleshing out the characters than the first book. In the previous book, Moon was the only one I felt had any depth. While none of the characters had enormous depth in this book, I did think Moon was not the only one who had any. There’s more of Chime’s humor and more of the consequences of what it means for him to have changed from a mentor into a warrior are shown. There’s a sense of Flower’s wisdom and Stone’s age and steadfastness. I loved the dynamic between Jade and Moon and Chime and Moon as well. This second book made me care more about the characters than the first, which mainly just got me to care about Moon. There are also some rather interesting new characters who are introduced, and more is learned about some new races that inhabit this world through them as well.

As with the first book, it is very simply written, and I think this fits well with an adventure story set in a completely foreign world. The writing style is uncomplicated prose that is in the background, making the story being told the focus. The one complaint I have is that there is quite a bit of infodumping, especially toward the beginning, and I think that’s the main reason I had some difficulty getting immersed in this book to start with. There was enough telling that it kept the story from really getting going immediately. The first book also started off more quickly since Moon was immediately in a precarious situation, and I do think this one started off more slowly in comparison. Yet once it got going, I was hooked and did not want to put it down.

The Serpent Sea is a wonderful continuation of the Books of the Raksura. It is brimming with creativity, adventure, and characters both relatable and endearing. I enjoyed it immensely and am eagerly awaiting the release of The Siren Depths.

My Rating: 8/10

Where I got my reading copy:  I bought it.

Read Chapters 1 – 2 from The Serpent Sea

Read descriptions of the books in the series, free short stories and missing scenes, and other extras

Other Reviews of The Serpent Sea:

This is not technically a review since I did not finish Indigo Eyes, a dark fantasy novel by Fel Kian. It is the author’s first novel, and as far as I know, it is a stand alone.

I always feel kind of badly about writing posts about books I liked so little I didn’t even finish them, but I try to write them anyway since I find these types of posts useful when other people write them. After all, not everyone shares the same likes and dislikes when it comes to books. My personal stance on the matter is that there’s nothing wrong with stating one didn’t finish a book and writing about why. If you don’t find these types of posts helpful, feel free to skip it. In this particular case, I really feel like I should write about this book since several people expressed interest in it when I first mentioned it, and I can’t recommend it based on what I read.

Since I only read 113 out of 337 pages, I’m going to use the standard book description instead of writing a plot description. I will not be avoiding potential spoilers for those first 113 pages.

While I will not be rating this book, I did use the usual layout for finding more information on other sites since I always encourage others to read numerous opinions on books they are interested in reading. (There aren’t that many reviews on any of these sites right now, but I decided to leave it up there in case more show up. In fact, I only saw one review on Goodreads, but it is positive unlike my opinion of what I read.)

Warning: There will be discussion of rape in this post.

With that out of the way, the description of the book and my thoughts follow.

 

The Empress Lylithe, with the aid of a succubus and incubus and the holy sickle of Kronos, is hunting seven of the fallen – angels who donned incarnate form and hid in the human world. The world where Saraquinn Morrigan chose to live, rejecting her dark past and faerie ancestry, in order to create a normal future for herself and her son Peter. The world where a fiery, outlandish, twentyish urbanite Adriana Malkov-Severina to her friends-living in downtown Ligeia, must see her dying father one last time. A world they are all forced to leave behind, each tale a thread, weaving wonderment and horror…

Peter is beguiled across a faerie portal by a winged woman bearing a keen resemblance to his mother Saraquinn, who vanished six years prior, on the eve of his tenth birthday, without trace or explanation…

Severina, in mourning, discovers a horizon beyond the pale, where love is to be found enslaved within a glass jar…

Their lot: a dangerously playful Undine, outcast dwarves, Ash Mares, androgynous seers and a monstrous Ammit. Ultimately they must face Lylithe, and learn that the veil between worlds is as fragile as gossamer, as brittle as the divide between sex and gender, love and hate, flesh and blood…

I wanted to read Indigo Eyes for two reasons:

  1. I love dark fantasy and really liked the sound of the book from its description.
  2. It was published through Immanion Press, a publisher founded by Storm Constantine (whose Wraeththu books are among my favorites).

The reasons I did not finish it after reading about a third of it are both that it was not that interesting to me and that it was too over-the-top gratuitous for my taste. In general, I like dark fantasy and don’t mind dark scenes, but the ones in this book were a bit much for me, especially since I also found many of the characters’ actions to be unbelievable. This book made me stop and go “WTF?” many times before I quit reading.

There are two main characters who are followed in what I read of this book, as well as the occasional “Interlude” focused on Lylithe. The first of the main characters, Peter, is the one whose storyline had the most promise. It starts when he is a young boy on a day when he went to the cinema with his mother, Saraquinn, who is quite mysterious and has some intriguing answers to some of Peter’s questions. When they are walking home that night, a man tries to mug them and grabs Peter. Saraquinn quite easily fends him off and adds to her mystique by how she does so. As the book progresses, Peter grows older and has to deal with life with just his father since Saraquinn disappeared when he was still very young. While I did find Peter’s storyline rather slow and dull, I did like the precocious boy and was curious about his mother’s true origins and powers.

The second main character, Adriana, is someone I found very unlikable because she is so angry. Like Peter, much of her story I read is about her relationship with her parents and I also found her story rather dull. In the last chapter I read containing her, she suddenly finds herself in a magical world where she meets a dwarf and is attacked by a water creature. She defeats the creature with the aid of a trowel given to her by the dwarf, and then pretends to be more hurt than she is and asks him to help her up. While he is helping her, she grabs his testicles, squeezes them, and threatens to castrate him if he doesn’t call out the others who must be lying in wait to gangbang her. (There aren’t any.) After injuring the dwarf and accusing him of being part of a hidden gang of rapists, Adriana panics when he starts to just quietly leave to go home to put ointment on his sore balls. She is filled with remorse as she realizes he didn’t actually do anything other than try to help her. She apologizes and convinces him to help her since she has nowhere else to go – and he forgives her quite easily and allows her to follow him home. It was at this point I stopped reading, especially after seeing the next section was another one of the Interludes.

The Interludes showed Lylithe, the incubus, and the succubus hunting the fallen and described their horrific acts in a lot of detail. The very first scene involved them raping then killing one of these fallen, who is into BDSM and aroused by his own rape. The way he ended up in this situation is quite preposterous. This fallen-disguised-as-man got a message from his regular (paid) BDSM partner telling him to meet him in a warehouse. Someone else tied him up where he waited for her, only to have Lylithe and her helpers show up instead, and what they do to him is told in very graphic detail as well as his reaction to it. The other interlude I read has Lylithe and the others killing another one of the fallen and then cutting off his privates. This is a very uncomfortable scene because it is told from the perspective of the murdered fallen’s twelve-year-old daughter, who is often molested by him and is waiting for him to come into her room and do so again.

Between the overly graphic detail of the interludes, which I found more gratuitous and over-the-top than dark or creepy, and Adriana’s interaction with the dwarf, I decided I just couldn’t force myself to finish this one. If I disliked it as much as I did after reading over 100 pages, I didn’t see how reading 200 more pages could possibly redeem it.

My Rating: N/A – Didn’t finish

Where I got my reading copy: Review copy from the author.