Brief Takes: Waking Brigid, by Francis Clark

Brigid

I thought this was a wonderful novel about how different modes of spirituality handle extreme supernatural problems. It is sympathetic and respectful to Catholicism and paganism. It is also a fun page-turner, involving Satan worshipers, the Catholic Church, psychics and Voudoun priestesses in the hothouse environment of Savannah, which readers of “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” will remember with fondness.

I was very disappointed to discover this author had only written one other novel before his recent untimely death. I had been looking forward to reading more of his work.

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Brief Takes: Blood Noir (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, Book 16), by Laurell K. Hamilton

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Another disappointing Anita Blake novel with more sex than supernatural shenanigans.  Once again, Anita’s ability to raise the dead and help the police solve inhuman mysteries takes a back seat to her love life.

Brief Takes: The Outlaw Demon Wails (The Hollows, Book 6), by Kim Harrison

outlaw

Another well-written novel that takes place in an alternative universe in which supernatural beings like demons, vampires and witches have come out of the closet, and exist side-by-side with humans. This is as much fun – and maybe more – than the Anita Blake books used to be.  The red-headed protagonist, Rachel Morgan, is one of my favorite characters.  The novelist reveals the character’s flaws even as she writes from the unsuspecting protagonist’s viewpoint.  Plus, the demons are rockin’.

Brief Takes: Mister B. Gone, by Clive Barker

MisterBGone

This story — a sort of historical fantasy —  was interesting, but highly stylized. The slim plot is intriguing, as is the character, but ultimately the book was a little disappointing. Only Barker’s writing style and page-turning suspense building abilities that made me finish it.

Brief Takes: New Moon (The Twilight Saga, Book 2), by Stephenie Meyer

This is probably my favorite book of the series, although the beginning is horribly depressing. The author really captures Bella’s despair and apathy in a way that resonated all too familiarly with me, then charms the reader by having her Native American friend, Jacob Black, fall in love with her.  It’s deja vu all over again (as Yogi Berra said), however, when she finds Jacob beginning to pull away from her too.  His reason for doing so, however, is the last thing Bella expects.

Brief Takes: Eclipse (The Twilight Saga, Book 3), by Stephenie Meyer

More action than in the first two novels of this series. This book also showcases Jacob’s character, as he comes to empathize with others who are completely different from himself.

Brief Takes: Breaking Dawn (The Twilight Saga, Book 4), by Stephenie Meyer

Some people think the end novel of this series jumps the shark in asking the reader to suspend disbelief, but I believe if we’ve gone for sparkly vampires that can go out in the day and werewolves the size of ponies who can control their transformations, I think we’re gonna buy Bella’s strange pregnancy and her eerie daughter.

Brief Takes: Burning Shadows: A Novel of Count Saint Germain, by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

This Count Saint Germain novel finds the Count helping refugees at a monastery preparing for the Hun invasion. I was a bit put off at first by the large amount of history and geography the author dumps on your head in the Author’s Note, and by the unfamiliar Roman names. After I was into the book, however, I realized …the depth of history and geography presented are not that pertinent to the story, and tried not to worry about the names.

This would be a good Count St. Germain novel to start with, as it covers a bit of his history and the vampire mythology. It’s not overly tragic, and is filled with characters doing their best in a difficult time, instead of some of the really venal and cruel villains you find in the other novels.

Brief Takes: Dead Until Dark, by Charlaine Harris

This is the first of the “True Blood” / Sookie Stackhouse / Southern Mysteries series. As such, it spends more time than I’d like establishing the setting and some characters who ultimately don’t turn out to be very important. The delightful Sookie “voice” in the narrative is not always fully formed, but even with this… first book, you can see the charm of this character and her way of demystifying the supernatural (her boyfriend is named “Bill the Vampire;” not Vladimir, not Drogo, not Nikolai — “Bill.”)

The tone is very different from the HBO series “True Blood,” but the Sookie character remains largely the same.