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Be careful in vineyards

October Man Book Cover October Man
Rivers of London
Ben Aaronovitch
crime fiction, mystery, thriller, Greeks, and Romans,Urban fantasy
Gollancz
| 13 Jun 2019

Trier is famous for wine, Romans and for being Germany's oldest city. So when a man is found dead with, his body impossibly covered in a fungal rot, the local authorities know they are out of their depth.

Fortunately this is Germany, where there are procedures for everything.

Enter Investigator Tobias Winter, whose aim is to get in, deal with the problem, and get out with the minimum of fuss, personal danger and paperwork. With the help of frighteningly enthusiastic local cop, Vanessa Sommer, he's quick to link the first victim to a group of ordinary middle aged men - and to realise they may have accidentally reawakened a bloody conflict from a previous century. But the rot is still spreading, literally and with the suspect list extending to people born before Frederick the Great solving the case may mean unearthing the city's secret magical history.

. . . so long as that history doesn't kill them first.

This book takes us away from the usual London magic haunt and Peter to Germany and a new character who was apprenticed to a Mistress Practitioner of Magic – in the police of course.

Germany suffered badly after the war and its initial need for practitioners was to eradicate the werewolves, it was only once that task had been completed that it was possible to look at the strange occurrences from a policing viewpoint. But as in Britain, the official practitioners had been decimated by the magical battles and ‘magic ‘ police were still learning and had not yet linked up with the more established London police.

Nonetheless, it was rivers and their goddesses that were causing issues. Or perhaps one could say more accurately the lack of such goddesses and their worship.  Especially as some rivers had ‘birthed’ baby goddesses, who being toddlers really had little control of their powers. So we get wine growing, rivers and some very strange deaths and perhaps a new apprentice.

Nice but not quite as original and atmospheric as the London stories.

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Strange inheritance

A Magical Inheritance Book Cover A Magical Inheritance
#1 (Ladies Occult Society)
Krista D Ball
Independently Published
28/5/19

Miss Elizabeth Knight received an unexpected legacy upon her uncle’s death: a collection of occult books. When one of the books begins talking to her, she discovers an entire world of female occultist history opened to her—a legacy the Royal Occult Society had purposely hidden from the world.However, the magic allowing the book to speak to Miss Knight is fading and she must gather a group of female acquaintances of various talents. Together, they’ll need to work to overcome social pressures, ambitious men, and tyrannical parents, all to bring Mrs. Egerton, the book ghost, back.

A really interesting book. I enjoyed the language used and storyline, and it had some excellent points made about the role of women in society at that time in our history. It is not a Regency romance. It is not light and frothy but serious in its discussions of family, marriage, education and inheritance in 1810. Not to mention men’s attitudes towards women and their very small heads that don’t contain enough brain power to be able understand Latin and Greek, riddles, puzzles, mathematics (other than household accounts),  let alone the Occult.

Now the Occult here is a type of magic, it combines supernatural, paranormal, spells and herbs and ghosts.

The novel tells us a lot about being frugal and what it really meant – wearing fabrics until the patterns fade and dresses until the seams fall apart, upon which time, the material is re-used for a child’s dress or a lining or…

I also like the idea of invalid food that was common – I wonder what our invalids would say if we fed them boiled turnips with a little butter, and bread soaked in the liquor left after boiling salt beef for hours.

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And the Lore is? Ask the Author

Breaking the Lore Book Cover Breaking the Lore
(Inspector Paris Mystery Book 1)
Andy Redsmith
supernatural, magic, detective
Canelo
15th April 2019
kindle

A magical, mischievous mystery perfect for fans of Douglas Adams and Ben Aaronovitch

How do you stop a demon invasion... when you don’t believe in magic?

Inspector Nick Paris is a man of logic and whisky. So staring down at the crucified form of a murder victim who is fifteen centimetres tall leaves the seasoned detective at a loss… and the dead fairy is only the beginning. Suddenly the inspector is offering political asylum to dwarves, consulting with witches, getting tactical advice from elves and taking orders from a chain-smoking talking crow who, technically, outranks him. With the fate of both the human and magic worlds in his hands Nick will have to leave logic behind and embrace his inner mystic to solve the crime and stop an army of demons from invading Manchester!

And the novel looks like:

Discovering fairies at the bottom of the garden is supposed to be good luck. Except when the fairy has been crucified. Two pieces of wood shoved into the ground, one tiny form fastened on to them. Sometimes, thought Inspector Nick Paris, being a cop could be the worst job in the world. And sometimes it was bloody amazing.

‘Well?’ he asked. ‘What do you reckon?’

Williams the pathologist lay on the grass, examining the scene. He shuffled round and peered up at the detective.

‘I’m not sure what to make of it,’ he replied. ‘I’ve never seen anything like this.’

‘You think I have?’

‘Maybe, Boss,’ said a voice over Paris’s shoulder. ‘We do get to see some mighty weird stuff. Remember I told you about those talking fish?’

‘Bonetti,’ said Paris. ‘That was Finding Nemo.’

For the umpteenth time, Paris cursed the process of allocating sergeants, and wondered how the hell he’d been assigned this one. Life could be a right pain. Still, considering the grisly sight in front of him, it had to be better than the alternative.

‘Anyway,’ he continued, ‘we’re not in Hollywood. This is Manchester, for God’s sake! The leafy suburbs, granted, but your archetypal northern industrial city. Things like this just don’t happen here. Mind you, things like this probably don’t happen anywhere. Help me out, Jack. Is it even real?’

Williams pushed his glasses back on his nose, then pointed at the grass.

‘We’ve got what appears to be blood,’ he said. ‘There’s also bruising around the wounds. Hence the answer is: yes and no.’ He clambered to his feet, brushing the soil from his trousers. ‘“Real” – yes. “It” – no. Most definitely a “she”.’

Paris crouched down to survey the scene once more. The two sticks were in the ground in an X shape, with one wrist and the opposite ankle attached to each. The petite head drooped forward, golden hair obscuring the face. Over the shoulders rose silver wings, glistening in the early morning sun. Below the head he could see a body covered by a pale blue dress. A body that was clearly female, with a sensational, albeit minute, figure.

‘Can’t argue with you,’ he said. ‘Living doll. Well, a dead one. But she can’t be a fairy, because they don’t exist. So what are we dealing with? Freak of nature? Genetic mutation?’

‘Maybe,’ said Bonetti, ‘she really is a fairy. Or a woman who got stuck in a washing machine.’

Paris looked up into his assistant’s permanently vacant face, sitting on top of the solid, rugby player’s torso. He had to admit, a good person to have around if they ever got into a fight. Plus a reasonable enough chauffeur. Apart from that, though, about as much use as the Gobi Desert white-water rafting team.

‘A washing machine?’

‘Happened to me, Boss. One of my shirts shrunk when we put it in extra hot.’

‘I see,’ said Paris, as patiently as he could manage. ‘And did it grow wings at the same time?’

‘No, Boss. Our machine’s too old for any of them fancy settings.’

Paris contemplated life with Bonetti as his sergeant. The alternative didn’t seem so bad after all.

‘Right,’ he said, turning back towards Williams. ‘Any suggestions which actually come from Planet Earth? Or anything else you want to tell me?’

‘I can’t give you a definitive cause of death until we get back to the lab,’ replied the pathologist. ‘I can tell you I don’t appreciate working in a circus.’

Paris raised his head. Shouting voices rumbled down from the house, hidden from view by a thick privet hedge.

‘There you go,’ he said. ‘I’ve always wondered why these people with great big gardens split them into different sections. Now I know. It’s to stop the media from seeing the bodies.’

He looked back at Williams, who frowned at him.

‘Bound to happen,’ said Paris. ‘You know how fast the papers pick up on the slightest hint of a story. Then someone reports finding a murdered fairy? Just be glad my guys are holding them back. Besides, we’ve kept it down to three camera crews and half a dozen reporters; I think we’ve done pretty well.’

Williams tutted. ‘You’re enjoying this, aren’t you?’ he asked.

‘I never enjoy finding the victims. Even when they’re fifteen centimetres tall. But I do like interesting cases.’

‘Indeed. You’ve certainly got one here.’

‘Boss,’ said Bonetti. ‘Do we tell the press anything?’

‘Do we hell!’ replied Paris. ‘Say it’s a hoax. I’m sure Jack can whip up whatever you need.’

‘Of course,’ said Williams. ‘Give you time to whip up the killer, I suppose.’

‘Yeah. Only that won’t even be the hard part. That’ll be dealing with the lawyers.’

‘What do you mean?’

Paris stared up at him. ‘How do you kill somebody who doesn’t exist?’

Author Bio

Andy Redsmith was born in Liverpool and grew up in Runcorn. For university he moved the enormous distance to Salford and has lived in Manchester ever since. He says the people there are great, but we don’t talk about football.

He worked for many years as a project manager in the computing industry, a job which really is every bit as exciting as it sounds. Eventually the call of writing became too hard to ignore and he went off to do that instead. Over the years in IT he worked with some very clever people and some complete weirdos, none of whom bear any resemblance to the characters in his books. Honest.

He has a wonderful wife, a great son, and a loft full of old Marvel comics. One day he’ll get round to selling them. That’s the comics, not the family.

Twitter: @AndyRedsmith

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Hunt Souls? Really?

Eden Hunter trilogy Book Cover Eden Hunter trilogy
Eden Hunter trilogy
D.N. Erikson (Author)
low fantasy, dark fantasy
kindle

A razor-snark, sun-soaked urban fantasy trilogy for fans of Jim Butcher and Ilona Andrews.

You'd think coming back to life on a beautiful island would be a good thing.
Turns out life on the beach kind of sucks. Especially when you spend it harvesting souls for a vampire.

But after four years of reluctant "employment," things have somehow gotten worse. Some jackass just framed me for murdering an old friend. And the cops seem pretty damn sure I did it. More concerning than potential jail time: the local goddess of rain wants my head for the crime.

You see, we cut a little deal when I came back to life that no one knows about. What'd I get from her? I'm not telling. But I'll tell you what I gave up: no weapons and no murder.

Pretty easy to follow, right? I thought so. Well, if you're a Reaper, it's a pain in the ass. Because a creature's gotta die for you to reap its soul. And despite the postcard sunsets, it gets pretty dangerous in the jungle without a gun.

Never say the gods don't have a sense of humor. But this time the joke is on me. Because if I don't find the real killer—and why they pinned this mess on me—before the week is through, I'll be returning to the land of the dead.

And this time, it'll be for good.

A trilogy of stories about a fantastical island that is hidden from normal (and usually human), view. It is populated with a mix of magical and mythical creatures plus some normal humans that have either discovered it or have been brought there.

Eden was a con artist. A grifter. Until she was murdered – specifically so she could be revived on this island and bound into service by the ancient vampire – who had founded the island as his serfdom, and who had hidden the island from view.

Eden’s task, bound by a magical contract which cannot be broken, is to harvest souls. Souls are the fuel for magic on this island.

The stories tell of her more than shady adventures, as she attempts to fulfil her contract – no killing permitted, she is only permitted to harvest from the already dead – and outwit the people who want her dead for various reasons. Or to use her. Or…

The first book starts rather slowly and although the writing style is reasonable, it lacked enough humour for me. Eden is snarky and resourceful, good with one-liners, but her dialogue could have had more humour. The books improved as the story progressed and it seemed to me that the author grew more confident in style and the characters and their behaviours.

So I read all three books in the end.

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Magic comes when it is night-time

Magic after Dark
multi
mythology, fantasy, folklore
Wetknee Books
(4 Mar. 2019)
kindle

Dive into the darker side of magic

Enter the underbelly of city life, where werewolves, demons, and vampires stalk the streets. These six bestselling urban fantasy novels plus bonus novella will submerge you in a page-turning world of modern magic.

Half Wolf by Aimee Easterling: When half-werewolf Fen is cast out of her home pack, she and an unlikely ally are forced to shore up her waning power in an effort to save half-shifters everywhere.

Unquiet Souls by Christine Pope: When the hosts of the new Project Demon Hunters show investigate a demon-infested mansion, evil follows Audrey Barrett home...and she learns why her co-host is the last man she can trust.

Dark Hunt by Kim Richardson: Tasked with tracking down a demon that's killing humans, hunter Rowyn is forced to partner with an angel-born warrior who has an ulterior motive. But Rowyn's own dark secret could upend everything...

A Fistful of Evil by Rebecca Chastain: Madison actively avoids her soul-sight—until she witnesses ethereal monsters feasting on a stranger's soul...and the monsters notice her. Thrust into a dangerous new world, Madison must master her atrophied abilities fast if she has any hope of survival.

The Wolf Within by M.J. Scott: Ashley Keenan just wants to be normal. But then her ex-lover, now werewolf, turns up with a lead on the vampire who murdered her family. To survive, she might just have to leave normal behind and embrace her inner monster.

Vampire Midnight by Gary Jonas: Kelly Chan agrees to kill a vampire, but finds herself under his spell. How do you kill something you've been commanded to protect?

Sylphide by K. Gorman: When a private investigator breaks into Allish Statia's apartment and threatens her with a gun, she is able to use her Wind Elemental powers to subdue the man—but he is only part of something much bigger. Something that wants the destruction of her, her husband, and every single Mage in the city.


A set of 7 stories – with 2 particular stories by authors that I followed up into their series.

The first stories were excellent – and really only 1 was not so good, Sylphide. I liked the Kelly Chan series, and Aimee Easterlings’ Half Wolf. She is an author that I like anyway.

  1. Magic after dark
  2. Half wolf – Aimee Easterling is one of my new favourite authors, and I am happy to read 99.9% of her books and series.
  3. Unquiet souls
  4. Dark hunt
  5. A fistful of evil – this became a very interesting series. Soul sight was more than that it seems, and acknowledging it means that Madison learns to use her lux luminis – which is what she called soul sight, in defence of her territory. This defence meant fighting creatures invisible to norms but ones which feed on their souls and drain their good, sometimes replacing it with evil. These creatures can kill Madison and she has to learn to defend herself in a number of unusual ways that seem puzzling to normals. And she has grate difficulty explaining her new job to her family as she can;’t tell them the truth. I enjoyed the books I have read in this series, but have come to the end of my enjoyment after A Fistful of Frost.
  6. The wolf within –
  7. Vampire midnight – This story I found unusual and followed it up with another in the series. The idea of a heroine who is magically enhanced so that she is the most kick-ass of all was interesting. What was disturbing was that she came by her magic because she has been sold by her parents to warlocks; who repeatedly killed her so she could be brought back to life, and who removed her ability to feel pain – thus beig able to fight on when seriously injured. However, she now teaches abused women how to fight and also rescues abused women from their dire situations. So a good heroine who learnt from her experience that abusing women was not on… It did get rather graphic in places and the detail of some of the fights and the numbers killed were rather too much at times.
  8. Sylphide – an extra story – 1 star, boring.

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