Generation V by ML Brennan
So I spent two hundred pages of this novel waiting for Five to show up. I’m thinking there’s five members of the main family? Nope, four. There’s five victims of murder? Nope. And you know what I decided? ML Brennan is just a liar. Nothing in this novel has anything to do with FIVE. One star.
Oh, the V is for vampire? Yikes. This is embarrassing. The novel makes a lot more sense now. But, the vampires don’t sparkle and they’re not even particularly Gothic. Are you sure it’s a vampire novel? Huh. Here I thought I was reading a story about a barista with a creepy family who has to solve a murder with the help of a smoking-hot shape changing fox. Nope. It’s a vampire barista with a creepy vampire family who has to solve a murder with the help of a smoking-hot kitsune!
Obviously, Generation V is very upfront about being a vampire novel. But, it’s a vampire novel that surprised me with its originality. What begins as a typical vampire urban fantasy, ends up with a lot in common with Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London. It’s a delightful novel that would strongly recommend to lovers of urban fantasy or urban fantasy doubters (like me) looking to stick a toe in the water.
I last read John Marco sometime between my tenth and eleventh grade year of high school. I remember there being some bronze armor and a really pissed off dude with a sword. Generally speaking having now read The Forever Knight, something of a reboot of Marco’s Bronze Knight series, I feel like my memory is a pretty apt descriptor.
Told in the first person from Lukien’s perspective, Marco’s new novel deals with what comes after a hero has nothing left to fight for. What does he become? Where does he vent his energy? For Lukien it comes as a realization that sitting around a castle twiddling his thumbs isn’t enough. He has to fight. He needs a cause. Thus, off goes the Bronze Knight into a war zone with an amnesiac teenage girl along for the ride. Bad stuff happens.
The early parts of The Forever Knight are a struggle. Marco’s voice gives a sense that he’s writing his way into Lukien and the story or, perhaps, a general unease with the first person style. As things progress he finds his pace and a relatively short novel begins to pick-up steam. By the time the intense parts arrived I was invested, but still remained emotionally removed. Given the nature of first person narratives, I feel that Marco missed an opportunity.
In all, Forever Knight is a solid novel that will appeal strongly to fans of Marco’s previous series. It is not a terribly great example of the power of first person.
A Dance of Cloaks by David Dalglish
I sat staring at the blinking cursor for a while as I considered how to discuss David Dalglish’s novel. Here’s the thing, A Dance of Cloaks is an absolutely thrill to read. It has fantastic action, a strong plot, and reasonably good world building. The characters aren’t poorly drawn and the narrative moves with exceptional pace.
However. Did you see that coming?
However, it’s also extremely reminiscent of a boatload of other fantasy titles currently on the market. From Brent Weeks’ Night Angel Trilogy to Jon Sprunk’s Shadow’s Son, Dalglish’s Dance of Cloaks features the kinds of themes and characters that appeal very strongly to the (for lack of a better term) fantasy fanflailer. All of Dalglish’s thrown knives pierce the jugular. All his characters are grimy guttersnipes with hearts of gold, except the bad guys who are just grimy guttersnipes.
There’s nothing wrong with A Dance of Cloaks. It is, in fact, a very good novel. It’s just a novel of a very particular style that is no longer remotely interesting to someone who’s spent as long as I have studying the genre. In other words, I recommend it to anyone who isn’t as jaded as I am. Is that too honest?
Mist by Susan Krinard and Angelology by Danielle Trussoni
Welp. Two novels I just couldn’t get through. Mist because it’s not really redeemable in any way, and Angelology because it’s just so boring. Both have fantastic premises, which make their failures all that much more disappointing.
Mist is a Norse Valkyrie living in the modern era. Tasked with protecting Odin’s staff, she believes that Ragnarok has already occurred and the pantheon is dead, her duty largely discharged. Except it didn’t and it isn’t, and the Norse gods are returning to the world. The dialogue is pretty wooden, the characters flat, and the writing style leads the reader around by the nose with no sense of immersion. If I can see the outline as I’m reading, something isn’t working.
Angelology is well constructed, but fails a basic tenet of writing–be interesting. I don’t require action and adventure, or even brisk prose. I do need to be interested and Angelology’s commitment to meandering narratives just doesn’t make that happen.
If you’ve read them, what did you think of these books?