Tuesday, February 24, 2009

An Urban Fantasy Sampler

Being home from work has permitted me the luxury of reading for pleasure. In the last week I've read two books that I really enjoyed and wanted to share. I'll do one today and the other later in the week.

I'm a huge urban fantasy fan so most of my "for fun" reading is in that genre.

Mean Streets (released by Roc on January 6th) is a compilation of four novellas by some of the hottest UF writers around: Jim Butcher, Simon R. Green, Kat Richardson and Thomas E. Sniegoski. Since I'd read all four of them before, I was happy to purchase the book. It was like a belated Valentine's Day sampler.

I've been a Jim Butcher fan since September, 2006 when I purchased all his available books at once after reading my first one. His protagonist is a wizard named Harry Dresden--hence, the "Dresden Files" television series (now cancelled).

Dresden is a professional wizard who lives in the basement of a boarding house in Chicago. He has a thirty-pound cat named Mister, a huge grey temple dog named Mouse, and a talking skull named Bob (Actually Bob is a spirit that inhabits the skull in Dresden's lab much the way a hermit crab moves into an unoccupied shell).
In a novella called The Warrior, Dresden is trying to protect his friend Michael, a former Knight of the Cross, and Michael's magical blade Amoracchius, which Michael has entrusted to the wizard's care.

Simon R. Green is a well-known British sci-fi and fantasy writer with at least six series to his name as well as stand alone books, and short stories. Although I'd sampled his works in the past, it wasn't until he created his Nightside series in 2003 that I became a diehard fan.

John Taylor is a private investigator who specializes in finding lost things. He lives in the Nightside, the secret heart of London. Neither Heaven nor Hell holds sway in the Nightside, but denizens from both places are free to wander about . . . along with ancient gods, and creatures from fantasy and other worlds. "Sin is always in season in the Nightside."
In the novella titled The Difference a Day Makes, John Taylor is approached by a woman who seems to have misplaced both her memory and her devoted husband. Using a photo and his special "gift," Taylor locates the husband in the badlands. He enlists the help of his friend Dead Boy (don't ask) and Dead Boy's futuristic car to travel to the badlands and reunite wife with husband.

I discovered Kat Richardson last summer when Barnes & Noble did a stand alone display of her first two books, Greywalker and Poltergeist. A few months later, her third book Underground was released.

Harper Blaine is a Seattle private investigator who died for two minutes when she was attacked by a criminal. When she awoke in the hospital, she discovered she had become a Greywalker. She can now see The Grey, the otherworld between ours and the next. And unfortunately the creatures in the Grey can see her, too.
In The Third Death of the Little Clay Dog, Harper receives a commission through an attorney executing a will to take a small clay figurine of a dog to Mexico and, on the night of the Day of the Dead, place it on the grave of a man and stay throughout the night. The $30,000 fee convinces her to go.

Thomas E. Sniegoski has previously written Young Adult and comic books. Last summer I read his debut adult novel, A Kiss Before the Apocalypse. His second in the Remy Chandler series, Dancing on the Head of a Pin, will be released on the same day as my Bad Boy, April 7th (coincidentally, my birthday).

Remy Chandler, Boston private investigator, is the earthly form of the angel Remiel, who--weary of Heaven and fond of mortals--has thrown off his angelic trappings to live among humans.
In Noah's Orphans, Remy is brought by another angel to the place where Noah (yes, he of the Ark) was recently murdered. While investigating the murder, Remy realizes Noah was obsessed with trying to learn if a species barred from his Ark had managed to survive the Flood (yes, THE Flood).

If you're interested in finding a new UF author, Mean Streets is a great way to sample the work of some of the best out there.

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