Here There are Monsters By Amelinda Bérubé

Here There are Monsters By Amelinda Bérubé


Title: Here There are Monsters
Author: Amelinda Bérubé
Published: August 6th2019
Length: 352 pgs
Genre: YA/Horror
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Here There are Monsters by Amelinda Bérubé is an incredible work of Literary Prose. Although marketed as a Young Adult Horror, after reading it I’d say it falls more under YA, mystery, Thriller and it was like nothing I’ve ever read before. The story follows Skye our 16-year-old protagonist, as she fights to find a balance between who she is, who she is pretending to be, and who her baby sister Diedre wants her to be. When Dierdre goes missing Skye fights hard against the disruption of her carefully planned life, but old habits are hard to break. When Skye decides to forgo her carefully scripted life to save her sister, it releases the darkest parts of her character. When she finally finds Deirdre, she’s forced to decide once and for all who she wants to be.

Bérubé is a fantastic writer who never misses an opportunity for imagery; she does not do “plain” every sentence is laced without unique flair. If Bérubé wanted to relay to the reader that it was a sunny day she would instead say something along the lines of, the day is lit by the soothing warmth, on the rays of the systems brightest star. A sentence I was inspired to write myself while reading the novel and experiencing the mastery of words Bérubé has accomplished. Each line grabs the reader holding them at the edge of curiosity while managing to be the least predictable novel I have ever read.

Although my go-to genre is usually Urban Fantasy, the skill, in which this novel is written makes it a warm, poetic, and lyrical story despite being a thriller and inspires me to read more prose. I recommend this book to lovers of prose; I think fans of Stony River or The Girl on The Train will find this novel an interesting an enjoyable read.

Here There are Monsters by Amelinda Bérubé is a Forthcoming Title from Sourcebooks Fire which will be released on August 6th, 2019.

Stray Magic (Stray’s #1) By Kelly Meding

Stray Magic (Stray’s #1) By Kelly Meding

 

Stray Magic

Edelweiss Plus Review

TITLE: Stray Magic (Stray’s #1)
AUTHOR: Kelly Meding
GENRE: Historical Fiction, Fantasy
PUBLISHED: June 19th 2018 by Harper Voyager
RATING: ★★

This is one of my most dreaded types of reviews. A critical one. I hate doing critical reviews. But as reviewer honesty is one of your most essential attributes this type of  review tends to make me feel as if I’m tearing the author apart. I hate it. Loving reading means you love authors. You don’t want to bring hurt to your loved ones. If I feel this terrible writing it I can only Imagine how the author will feel reading it. I procrastinated HARD on this review. As my subscribers you guys have to comment below let me know if I’m crossing the line from critical to asshole…… anyway here’s my latest review.

Stray Magic is an urban fantasy novel the first in the new Strays series by Author Kelly Meding. Kelly Meding has been on my TBR list for a very long time so now that I’m reviewing I jumped at the opportunity to get an ARC from Edelweiss.

The Novel is written in the first person POV of the protagonist Shiloh Harrison. Shiloh is the second in command in the Federal Para – Marshal Unit based in Hebron, Maryland the story opens with our protagonist trying to blow off some steam with her lover after wrapping up a lengthy case. They were supposed to have three uninterrupted days of carnal bliss, but crime doesn’t pause for your love life.  Shiloh is called back out on another case shortly after arriving home.

Shiloh’s team is called out to a case where vampires have invaded and are holding a trailer park full of people hostage. The Master Vampire Woodrow Tennyson has concocted this plan to keep the members of his line safe. Vampires and werewolves are being abducted and never heard from again, to protect his people he’s placed them in a high visibility situation where they are under surveillance and safe from being abducted. I thought that was a very original plot twist.

Tennyson is holding the trailer park hostage until he receives assistance locating his missing people. And Somehow after threatening to harm Shiloh’s mom Tennyson becomes a defacto member of the team throughout the investigation.

The title of this book is telling. Stray means precisely that. Shiloh’s team is a mish-mash of supernatural rejects from different species. You would expect the characters to pull through circumstances in exceptional ways as the underdogs of the supernatural world that they are. But that isn’t the case. The team is made up of Shiloh our main character she’s a half Djinn half human which seemed interesting at first, but Meding’s take on it gets old fast. We then have Novak the devils reject an incubus who has been kicked out of hell, stripped of most of his powers, and is in hiding. Jaxon Shiloh’s Ex a Skin Walker who turns into a Seven Point Stag, Kathleen the Dhamphir (half human half vampire), and Their Leader Julius, a human.

The author intends to write Shiloh’s character as a hardcore rough around the edges Female badass, and while Shiloh makes an attempt depth, her character is equipped with the personality of a petulant teenager and therefore misses the mark. Several of the character interactions and relationships lack chemistry; most seem forced or weird.

As a reader you can when something doesn’t mesh with the natural progression of the story or the character relationships.  In a few of the scenes, it appears as if the author wrote herself into a corner.  Meding gets tripped up when she doesn’t follow her own rules of magic.  A few times Meding comes up with unreasonable loopholes to get the characters either out of a jam or to create conflict; as a result, some aspects of the story seem unrealistic, as ironic as that may sound. Now I understand this is all made up but the thing about fiction especially urban fantasy is the author has to write eloquently enough to make you believe it could happen. The writing has to in-effect paint all over the walls of your subconscious. It’s not something I can explain, but all true bibliophiles understand what I mean.

There are also several instances where something is over, or unnecessarily explained something; it occurs often enough to be annoying. Sometimes with information that isn’t imperatively relative to the characters or storyline and wouldn’t be relevant to the reader. The book does have some redeeming qualities though. The Plot and action are instant and continuous. Meding doesn’t leave you in suspense long, and there are no boring parts. (just frustrating ones). The events move along quickly. The premise was interesting, but it was all a bit rushed.  The way the book is written doesn’t give the reader the opportunity to bond with the characters this is the first book in a series, but it reads like a fourth or fifth. Frankly, the author missed the mark on this one. However, my copy was an unedited proof, many of the issues I found with the book may be corrected in the final print. So I say give it a chance, and if you’ve read the book leave a comment, I’d love to know what you think.

Stormrise (Storm Chronicles #1) By Skye Knizley

Stormrise (Storm Chronicles #1) By Skye Knizley

stormrise

TITLE: Stormrise (Storm Chronicles #1)

AUTHOR: Skye Knizley

GENRE: Fiction, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal

PUBLISHED: October 30th, 2013

RATING: ★★★☆☆

Stormrise is the first book in the Storm Chronicles series by Skye Knizley. The human world and the supernatural underground are separate in Knizley’s tale. While some humans know about the things that go bump in the night, most of Chicago’s population have no idea Vampires, Lycans, Ghouls or other nightmare creatures exist.
Quote:
“Humans found a strange and inexplicable excitement, never knowing they were rubbing shoulders with monsters.”

The main character is Raven Storm, a Dhampyr and Detective on the Chicago Police Force. Raven Storm is the alter-ego of Fürstin Ravenel Tempeste the youngest daughter and right hand (a.k.a. enforcer) to Valentina Tempeste-Strohm, Mistress of the city and leader of Chicago’s supernaturals. Raven became a detective following the death of her father. She carries her father’s old gun and drives his old car; the memory of her father plays a large role in how she conducts herself in the line of duty and sometimes in her everyday life. A mix of Dirty Harry and Calleigh Duquesne (from CSI Miami). Raven Storm has a big gun, she never misses, and she’ll solve the case while wearing her favorite red bottoms.
Quote:
“After a few moments, her eyes fell on the small-framed photo of her and her father in front of the old sixth district. He had been a stern man, but always gentle with his daughter, regardless of the day’s events. His death had been the reason Raven had joined the police force rather than living out her life as her mother’s bodyguard and fetch-all.”

“Dad always said skill was fifty percent luck. I think he was right. “

“It was her idea of casual work attire and she looked like she had stepped off the cover of a magazine”

“It’s an Automag III, made by AMT. My father left it to me. His note said I was never to leave home without it, and I never have. It fires the thirty-caliber carbine round, more power than a three-fifty-seven magnum with a little lighter recoil due to the heavy springs inside the slide.

Raven’s regular partner is out of commission so she gets partnered up with the resident idiot of the force, detective Rupert Levac a.k.a Codumbo. But Levac is much more than he seems. There’s nothing dumb about him. He might be a slob but he’s no slouch as a detective.
Quote:
“As usual, he looked like he had neither showered nor shaved in days. He had stubble you could light matches on, his rumpled suit had been slept in, and pieces of pickle and a stream of ketchup streaked down his tie.”

“How can you tell from here?” Raven shaded her sensitive eyes against the sun. “The pile of cigarettes on the street next to it and the cloud of smoke that comes out the window every now and then,” Levac answered. Raven looked at Levac with a new sense of respect.“
Stormrise follows Raven and Levac, as they investigate a series of strange and gruesome murders; in which the victims seemed to have exploded from the inside out. The case goes to Raven because well she gets all the weird cases.

“The rest of the squad,” he replied. “They were telling me you get all the weird ones. They’re absolutely right.”

“Honestly…do you ever get a basic crime of passion? A run-of-the-mill murder?” “If I did, I wouldn’t know what to do with it,” Raven replied. “I’m getting used to cases like this. Did you find anything else in our staged ritualistic crime scene?”

Levac was a character that grew on me quickly; his character impressed me throughout the book. He proved to be an exceptional partner to Raven, proving the age old adage don’t judge a book by it’s cover.
Quote:
“Raven shook her head and straightened, facing down the much larger man. She was about to reply when Levac pressed his pistol to the side of the alpha’s head. “That’s my partner you slapped across the dance floor,” he said in a calm voice. “All we wanted was to ask you a few polite questions. Now you are under arrest for assaulting an officer. Want to try resisting arrest?”

Not long into the book we meet Francois De Guerre who becomes Raven’s love interest. I instantly disliked Francois. Although the author wrote his character as charming, I found him to be cheesy and slick. Things began to move too fast between Francois and Raven, in a way that was forced and unnatural. Francois was a stranger to Raven when they met. Raven’s unnatural attraction to him is a contradiction with the personality the author created for Raven’s character. She may be a fashionista but she is a bad-ass, take no shit, no holds barred detective. It just isn’t realistic that in her spare time, she would jump into bed with a man she hardly knows anything about; or that she would rely on and trust him with her personal safety on so many occasions; she doesn’t even trust her own partner who she’s known for a while enough to trust him with the knowledge of the supernatural underground.
Quote:
“You are truly a delight to behold, Ravenel,” he said in the formal tones of the Court. “It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance. Your mother has told me much about you, though not enough to pierce the veil of mystery surrounding you.”

“She watched the beautiful vampire bow to her mother and then take a seat at one of the empty tables arranged for Court guests. Though she found it difficult, she dragged her eyes away from him and returned her attention to the proceedings”

“Now tell me about this Du Guerre guy. He seems to think you want us attached at the hip.”

“Can we go?” she asked with a hand on his arm. Du Guerre looked down at Raven and nodded. “Of course, Ravenel. Where would you like to go?” Raven licked her lips, making her red lipstick glisten in the light. “Where do you think?” she purred.”

There is a point in the story where I wonder if Detective Levac may be interested in Raven as more than just his partner. Is this the setup for the next story? The murder investigation leads Raven and Levac to the supernatural underground looking for leads. Levac knows Raven is hiding something from him, but he trusts her enough to let it slide. For now.
Quote:
“A date?” Levac asked with mock surprise. “Like, with a man? A living, breathing guy?” “Oh, shut up, Levac.” Raven walked quickly toward the exit. “Remember, I hit what I aim at.” She closed the door behind her, not registering Levac’s gaze or the disappointment on his face.”

“Fantasy, huh? So how did he toss you a good ten feet and how come that slap didn’t snap your neck like a Popsicle stick?”

“I hammed it up,” Raven said. “Come on, if he was really that strong he and his cronies would have mopped the floor with us.”

Levac didn’t look convinced, but shrugged and leaned up against the window. “If that’s your story.”

As Raven and Levac work the murder case, we learn that Raven isn’t your average by the book detective. She’ll do whatever is necessary to solve the case and she isn’t too worried about the rules. At times her loyalty stretched thin between her duties to uphold the laws of Chicago and her duties to the vampire court. But she has no problem using her title as Fürstin, to strong-arm some of the underworld citizens into submission to further her police investigations.
Quote:
“It isn’t always easy. Sometimes my worlds collide and the results are not pretty. I take my duty to the law very seriously, just as seriously as my ties to my family. Having to decide between the two has made my life difficult on more than one occasion.”

“Hi, I’m Fürstin Ravenel, the Mistress’s daughter and chosen one. You’re not. If you want to live through the night, nod and open the door for me.”

Eventually, Raven and Levac solve the murder case. Raven finds out too late this murder case had more players, and motives than she thought; and Stormrise ends with an unexpected plot twist.

I enjoyed Stormrise, and found it refreshing. But the majority of the book focuses on Raven and Levac solving their murder case. The murder turned out to have been orchestrated by a supernatural being but was not a supernatural crime. Because of that one item, Stormrise reads as a mystery with a hint of Urban Fantasy, as opposed to an Urban fantasy with a little mystery mixed in.

Stormrise is a good read. If you have a hankering for a mystery with a side of paranormal this book definitely is for you

Redlaw (Redlaw #1) By James Lovegrove

Redlaw (Redlaw #1) By James Lovegrove

 

TITLE: Redlaw (Redlaw #1)
AUTHOR: James Lovegrove
GENRE: Fiction, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal
PUBLISHED: September 2011
RATING: ★★★★☆

Redlaw is set in London, the story’s premise that vampires suddenly have gone from myth to reality. Author Lovegrove’s vampires are different from the usual vampire; his are slovenly and disgusting creatures with little intelligence ruled entirely by the thirst for blood. The only exception is the Shtriga, a special elite type of vampire that’s much more human. Vampires have been illegally immigrating to London and have become such a large problem that they are confined to what is called Sunless Residential Areas, or SRAs. An SRA is a reservation for vampires. Vampires are required to remain in their designated SRAs or they are to be staked on sight by shade officers.


Quote:
“He nudged open a door to a stairwell. The stench that poured out almost bowled him over. The Sunless were using the stairwell as a kind of communal open-plan latrine. “

“They led him up the cloacal staircase, eleven flights to the top. The vampires trod blithely—many of them barefoot—through the globs of faecal matter that had piled up on the steps. Redlaw placed his feet with care and fought to keep from gagging.”

The novel opens with action, our main character John Redlaw puts a few stokers in their places. Stokers are vigilantes who stalk the streets at night looking for vampires who have left their SRA; the stokers stalk and beat them to a pulp before finally dusting them with a stake through the heart.

Quote:
“Redlaw didn’t relent until both Stokers were half senseless and their features were like bloody maps of hell. Then he went over to the rollerblader Stoker with the crippled knee and, almost clinically, stamped on his good knee until it was crippled too. Finally he turned to the man with the broken arm, who was hobbling away, whimpering. He yanked the man’s helmet off, exposing a pain-wracked, tear-streaked face. “If there’s one thing lower than vampires,” he said, “it’s people who prey on vampires.”

Redlaw is a detective of the Vampire police agency known as shade; he is a bad ass and his name alone sparks fear in vampires across London. The plot of the novel focuses on a series of violent riots during blood drops to the SRAs. Redlaw knows vampires, and his gut is telling him that this behavior is unusual.

Quote:
“What are your suspicions based on?” “Nothing. Yet,” said Redlaw. “Instinct. A feeling.” “Oh, dear Lord, please don’t say a hunch.” That would have been the very next word out of his mouth. “I patrol the streets every night. Have done for a decade and a half. It’d be fair to say that I’ve developed a… sensitivity for how ’Lesses think and behave. What I witnessed at Hackney, the savagery, the intensity—it wasn’t normal.”

“I had to post mortem neutralise two men last night in Hackney. Two men whose last few minutes of life must have been spent in utter, abject terror. Two men with families. That isn’t right. There has to be a root cause to the riots, something more than simple thirst.”

John Redlaw reminds me of John McClane from the Die Hard movies — IF he were British and in his sixties. Redlaw started his career as a police detective and ended up working as a shade officer. He’s a devout man, not fanatical in his faith but serious in his devotion; and doing what’s right and to the vampires he’s the Boogeyman.

Quote:
“As for Nikola, he was truly terrified. He might not have been in this country long but even he had heard of John Redlaw. The man was spoken of among his kind often and only ever in hushed tones, the name rarely uttered louder than a whisper.”

But Redlaw has a lot on his plate, trying to solve the mystery of the increased riots at the SRAs dealing with guilt over the death of his partner.

Quote:
“You still feel guilty over Leary’s death.” Father Dixon pitched the remark carefully as both statement and query. He already had a clear notion of the answer. “Of course. If I’d been with her, it never would have happened.”

The story follows several characters, each important to the development and conclusion of the story. The story switches point of view with each character, which isn’t bad except at times when following a less interesting character the story gets boring and monotonous. This is mostly because the acts of the villains aren’t action packed, it’s more strategic moves and ulterior motives. The author tries to give readers background info that is informative but not necessary to the story and its development.

But Redlaw isn’t the only hero of the tale, we have the endearing Father Dixon and the Shrtriga Illyria Strakosha. Father Dixon is John Redlaw’s spiritual guide and probably his best friend.

Quote:
“Bless me, Father, for I have sinned,” said Redlaw as he knelt at the communion rail, facing the sanctuary. “No, you haven’t, John,” Father Dixon replied from the other side of the rail. “Don’t talk rot. If you’ve sinned, then it’s truly a sign of the End Times and I should be looking out the window for my first glimpse of the Four Horsemen. What’s troubling you? Care to share?”

“Think about it,” said Father Dixon. “Vampires. Supernatural beings. They’re immortal—as long as they steer clear of you chaps. They have abilities that some might call superhuman, godlike even. They skulk in the dark, forbidden the light. They’re compelled to leech off the living, to drink blood, kind of an anti-Eucharist. They’re dead but they mimic life. What are they, looked at like that, but a parody of God? His warped reflection. The negative to His positive. We infer the shape of Him by the shadows the Sunless create. They provide the outline, leaving a blank for us to fill in. He made them, John, just as He made the Devil, in order to show us Himself. Unholy and blasphemous as they are, vampires are the clearest evidence we have that God is real and wants us to know it. Do you see that? Often I’m asked by a parishioner why doesn’t God ever just give us a sign, something concrete and undeniable, so that we can be sure, one hundred per cent, that He’s there. I reply: He already has. Go to an SRA and look. There’s your sign.”

Illyria throws Redlaw for a loop. Putting everything he thought he knew about vampires to the test.

Quote:
“The woman turned. She was—and Redlaw could not hide his surprise—striking. Pale-skinned, yes, but she lacked the greasy pallor common to the Sunless, and her eyes were not scarlet, just dark. Dark like a starless night. There was, too, none of the familiar slouchy cadaverousness about her. She held herself straight. She had presence. Her hair was thick, glossy and black as ink. Her features were fine, not feral. Even her clothing—jeans, tailored jacket, a blouse, knee boots—was a cut above the shabby vampire average. Not brand new, to be sure, but in good condition and showing signs of having been laundered not so long ago. She smiled at his confusion.”

One of the best things about the novel is following the development of Redlaw and Illyria’s relationship as they work together to uncover the cause of the SRA riots.

Quote:
“You’re out of your SRA,” he said. “That’s in direct contravention of the Sunless Settlement Act.” “So impale me.” “I would if I could.” “I know, old bean. That’s what makes you so spiffingly entertaining—your relentless dedication to your job. To the point of masochism.” “I… entertain you?” Redlaw snorted.”

“He had no recollection of Illyria mending the stitches he had torn. She must have done it while he slept. Dear God, how insensible did you have to be for someone to put two fresh stitches in you and not be woken by it? He was both alarmed and oddly touched, picturing her ministering to him in the dark. Any other Sunless would have taken advantage, ripped a hole in his neck and drunk from his jugular as though slurping water from a spigot. Illyria, instead, had deftly, delicately fixed him up, knowing he would never have given his consent had he been conscious.”

I enjoyed the originality of Lovegrove’s tale using the slang sunless or ‘less to refer to the vampires. The idea of vampires as immigrants, to have the vampires confined to the SRAs, and for the main character to be an officer in his sixties. For the villain of a vampire story to be the humans. Vigilantes on roller blades stalking vampires. I also found the British accents and dialects fun. It was a change of pace for me, the first time I read a book written completely using British dialects and slang. But by novel’s end, I was well ready for it to be over. Bouts of unnecessary wordiness began to make reading the story a chore. Towards the end of the story, the author managed to somewhat redeem himself by hitting us with a completely unexpected plot twist. All throughout the novel the reader clearly knows who the good guys are who the bad guys are and whose in between, then bam! Sneaky, sneaky Lovegrove, who changes the game.

The author deliberately leaves things up in the air at the end of the novel. We never find out what happened to Redlaw or the Solarville project.

Redlaw is not the usual urban fantasy. There’s no magic involved but it is a nice change of pace for any reader who loves urban fantasy and vampire tales. I definitely recommend the book.