[Review] THE COLD KISS OF DEATH by Suzanne McLeod

THE COLD KISS OF DEATH
Suzanne McLeod

Cover Copy: Genny Taylor works for Spellcrackers.com ± Making Magic Safe.
But her own life is anything but safe!

‘The ghost grasped her shift and ripped it open. The three interlacing crescents carved red-raw and bleeding into her thin chest didn’t look any better than the last dozen times I’d seen them. The wounds weren’t lethal – they weren’t even recent; she’d been dead for at least a hundred and fifty years – but my gut still twisted with anger that someone would do that to a child.’

Being haunted by a ghost is the least of Genny’s problems: she’s also trying to deal with the witch neighbour who wants her evicted. Finn, her sort-of-Ex – and now her new boss – can’t quite decide whether he wants their relationship to be business or pleasure. And then there’s the queue of vamps inviting her to paint the town red; how long before they stop taking no for an answer?

Just when it seems things can’t get any worse a human friend is murdered using sidhe magic. Determined to hunt down the killer and needing help, she turns to one of London’s most capricious wylde fae and the seductive vampire Malik al-Khan.

But all too soon she realises she doesn’t know who she can trust – and now Genny’s the one being hunted, not just by the police, but by some of London’s most powerful and dangerous supernaturals.

My Thoughts: Ah, Genny. In trouble with the vampires again!

THE COLD KISS OF DEATH took everything introduced in book 1, THE SWEET SCENT OF BLOOD, and went deeper and darker, making for more trouble for our poor protagonist, Genny Taylor.

Genny is a half-vampire, half-sidhe. She works for Spellcrackers.com, a business that fixes magical problems. Genny is being haunted by a ghost that she can’t communicate with. Finn, the satyr Genny thought was getting romantic with her, has become her boss and gone cold in the romance department. Things get crazy when a vampire’s human attendant shows up at Genny’s place to demand the Faberge egg in Genny’s possession, and then Genny is framed for the murder of a human friend. Suddenly she’s on the run from a growing number of humans and supernaturals.

The overarching mystery is wonderfully woven around supernatural incidents. Genny finds herself in an awkward situation– asking for help from an ex-boyfriend while Finn is there and the boys literally bash their fae heads together. She’s chased by dryads when the fae community get upset because they think she killed that human. Then Genny’s vampire disguise– the spell that enables her to change into the vampire Rosa so she can manage the disease she’d contracted– stops working. In fact, the spell may have Genny connected more tightly to Rosa than she’d like. This is a particular problem because the other vampires don’t like Rosa and want her dead.

I would have liked seeing more of Genny at work doing the spellcracking thing. I always think that’s neat. But, you know, being on the run when she’s wanted for murder, I guess she’s not going to stop to help a few clients. It was great that the murder was tied directly to her spellcracking, though. It was the magical equivalent of being caught with the smoking gun or the blood-covered knife.

In all, THE COLD KISS OF DEATH makes for some high-octane reading. I loved getting more time with the fae in this book. The vampires are still a large part of the plot and they’re great, but they’re less of a novelty item this time around and more of the political-positioning vampires. The mystery kept me reading right to the end– twisty and unpredictable. Just the way I like it.

Rating: A
Series: Spellcrackers.com, #2
Publisher: Gollancz, 2009
Acquired: Purchased

Get itAmazon CA | Amazon US | Chapters | Goodreads | Kindle | Koboicon

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UF Hook-Up: LGBT Main Characters in Urban Fantasy

In honour of Adrien-Luc Sanders‘s debut, m/m super-hero novel, FROM THE ASHES, and the major promo contest he’s running (Have you entered? You could win $500 Visa gift card, a $250 Visa gift card, a manuscript critique, and other stuff.), I pulled the following from the frequently asked pile:

Where are the LGBT main characters in urban fantasy?

The most popular creatures we’ve seen with varying degrees of sexual orientation is vampires. Who could forget the Anita–Jean-Claude–Asher triangle (or Jean-Claude–Asher–Julianna) of Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series? Vampires tend to be non-discerning when it comes to satisfying their lust. In Kim Harrison’s Hollows series, the vampire Ivy is attracted to the main character Rachel. In addition to vampires, the sexuality of faeries and some demons varies, as well.

But what about the main characters themselves?

We can go all the way back to 1797 when Samuel Taylor Coleridge penned “Christabel” and 1872 when  Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu wrote “Carmilla” for evidence of lesbian vampires. In more modern times, we have the Louis-Lestat relationship in Anne Rice’s series beginning with INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE.

Here are a few others you might not have heard of:

Mark Del Franco’s Connor Gray series has a bisexual main character who is also a druid. UNSHAPELY THINGS is the first in the series.

Tanya Huff’s Tony Foster is a gay wizard. SMOKE AND SHADOWS is the first in the series.

Menolly in Yasmine Galenorn’s DARKLING is bisexual and a half-human, half-faerie, turned vampire. DARKLING is the third book of this series.

NEW AMSTERDAM by Elizabeth Bear has a gay vampire main character.

J.A. Pitt’s Sarah Beauhall series stars a lesbian character with a supporting cast of magical swords, dwarves and dragons. BLACK BLADE BLUES is the first in the series.

Suzanne McLeod’s Genny is a bisexual sidhe fae infected with a vampire virus in the Spellcrackers.com series. THE SWEET SCENT OF BLOOD is the first in the series.

Can you think of any other LGBT main characters in urban fantasy?

Win $500 or $250 Visa Gift Cards or a manuscript crit if From the Ashes reaches the Amazon or B&N top 100!

Because gay in your sci-fi is like peanut butter in your chocolate. It’s too good to put down.

Contest Rules / Entry Page | Buy on Amazon | Buy on B&N | Add to GoodReads

Cover Copy: Sociopath. Killer. Deviant. Monster, devoid of morals, incapable of human emotion. The villain known as Spark has been called that and more, and as a super-powered aberrant has masterminded countless crimes to build his father’s inhuman empire.

Yet to professor Sean Archer, this fearsome creature is only Tobias Rutherford–antisocial graduate researcher, quiet underachiever, and a fascinating puzzle Sean is determined to solve.

One kiss leads to an entanglement that challenges everything Tobias knows about himself, aberrants, and his own capacity to love. But when his father orders him to assassinate a senator, one misstep unravels a knot of political intrigue that places the fate of humans and aberrants alike in Tobias’s hands. As danger mounts and bodies pile deeper, will Tobias succumb to his dark nature and sacrifice Sean–or will he defy his father and rise from the ashes to become a hero in a world of villains?

[Review] THE SWEET SCENT OF BLOOD by Suzanne McLeod

THE SWEET SCENT OF BLOOD
Suzanne McLeod

Cover Copy: Genevieve Taylor is a sidhe – one of the noble fae – and she’s unusual even in a London where celebrity vampires, eccentric goblins and scheming lesser fae mix freely with humanity…

Genny is a rising star at Spellcrackers.com, where she finds the “M” in magic – which can mean anything from mischief to malice to murder. The spellcrackers are run by the Witch Council, whose ancient tenets prohibit any contact with vampires. And that’s just fine with Genny, who wants as little to do with the bloodsuckers as possible.

But when a sinfully sexy vamp is accused of killing his lover, an old debt forces Genny to help prove his innocence, risking her job, her safety – and the exposure of her own dark secrets. Genny soon realizes that she and her client are both unwitting pawns in a centuries-old power struggle. And it’s not just her own neck at stake but the lives of all of London’s supernatural beings.

My Thoughts: Genny Taylor works for Spellcrackers.com, a witch-run company that specializes in “undoing” spells placed by mischief makers and ne’er-do-wells. Employees like Genny “crack” the spells by pulling out the magic. From what I understand, the witches have been trained to use the magic they’ve cracked, but Genny can’t do this.  She can pull the magic out of the spell, store it inside herself, but she has trouble disposing of it. Probably because she’s not a witch– she’s half fae, half vampire.

The vampires in THE SWEET SCENT OF BLOOD have cool powers– one of them can Stop Time, another travels only by shadows– and are of course, plagued with politics, and are very dangerous. Though she’s half vampire, Genny appears to all as a fae. To turn vamp, she has to invoke illegal dark magic, something she must do every so often to placate the vampire-related disease she’s contracted. This disease has her craving vampire venom and seeking out fresh victims to suck the venom from their bites, lest she be driven mad by the cravings. This makes for great character building, and I loved the fresh take on a ‘vampire junkie’.

THE SWEET SCENT OF BLOOD is set in modern London, and written by a Brit, so a word of warning about the language. I was totally fine with it, but I’m half English and grew up hearing these words. I also loved seeing a darker side to London, an insider’s guide to the city. I didn’t once feel like I was reading a tourist brochure.

Genny finds herself unexpectedly pulled into the vampire politics when a vampire is accused of murder and his father makes a plea to Gen to find out if magic is involved. The clues were few and far between for my liking. I would have preferred to see Genny actively earning the clues herself. But otherwise, I found Genny to be a smart and capable kick-ass heroine.

What I found most enjoyable was all the faerie lore sprinkled throughout the story: Genny’s primary love interest is a satyr, the police detective is a solid granite troll, gangs of goblins patrol the streets for vamps behaving badly. I loved it all and wanted more.

THE SWEET SCENT OF BLOOD is a sweet cracker of a book. It’s easily one of the most unique worlds I’ve encountered along with some of the best action scenes. Looking forward to more in this series.

Rating: A-
Series: Spellcrackers.com, book 1
Publisher: Gollancz/Orion, September 2008
Acquired: author

Get It: Amazon CA | Amazon US | Chapters | Goodreads | Kobo

Happy Labour Day! What’s in your backpack?

It’s Labour Day and here in most of Canada that means all the kids go back to school tomorrow. (Kicking and screaming optional.)

If I was going back to school, here’s what I might be sneaking into my backpack alongside those brand-new notebooks and shiny new pens.

Books from my To Be Read pile:

anthology – Naked City: Tales of Urban Fantasy
Kelley Armstrong – The Calling
Cassandra Clare – The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones; City of Ashes; City of Glass
John Green – The Fault in Our Stars
Kim Harrison – The Hollows Insider: New fiction, facts, maps, murders, and more in the world of Rachel Morgan
Suzanne McLeod – The Sweet Scent of Blood
Jeanne C. Stein – The Watcher
Amanda Stevens – The Prophet

What’s on the Kobo?

J.C. Daniels – Blade Song (Colbana Files)
Sable Grace – Ascension: A Dark Breed Novel
Suzanne McLeod – The Shifting Price of Prey
Alexandra Sokoloff – Huntress Moon (The Huntress/FBI Thrillers)
Michael P. Spradlin – Blood Riders

By the way, you can get your own Yoda backpack at Think Geek:

Release Day: THE SHIFTING PRICE OF PREY

Yesterday was the release day for Suzanne McLeod’s THE SHIFTING PRICE OF PREY, the fourth book in the Spellcrackers.com series. Happy Release Day!

The Shifting Price of Prey (Spellcrackers.com, #4)Cover Copy: Genny’s life has never been busier: the summer solstice is approaching, magic is going haywire, Spellcrackers.com is under inexperienced new management, and London is hosting this year’s Carnival Fantastique. Then a unicorn is found horribly mutilated in Regent’s Park, garden fairies start dying out of season, and an eminent wildlife activist and her young son are snatched from a Conservation Conference. Searching for answers takes Genny and her friends, Tavish the kelpie and the super-sexy vampire Malik al-Khan, deep into magical London to the decadent and dangerous Forum Mirabilis, the secret, bloody heart of the Carnival Fantastique. And it’s not long before Genny and her friends are under attack from a millennium-old adversary as they fight to save both the victims and themselves …

Get itAmazon CA | Amazon US | Chapters | Goodreads

The Jaye Wells Methadone List

No new details have been released about the new forthcoming series by Jaye Wells, except that it’s called Dirty Magic and to “imagine The Wire with Wizards”. We can assume this means to expect an urban setting, maybe a police detective, and lots of magic.

So if you’re missing the Sabina Kane series, here’s a list of a few titles to help get you through the withdrawal:

The Sweet Scent of Blood by Suzanne McLeod

Genevieve Taylor is a sidhe – one of the noble fae – and she’s unusual even in a London where celebrity vampires, eccentric goblins and scheming lesser fae mix freely with humanity…

Genny is a rising star at Spellcrackers.com, where she finds the “M” in magic – which can mean anything from mischief to malice to murder. The spellcrackers are run by the Witch Council, whose ancient tenets prohibit any contact with vampires. And that’s just fine with Genny, who wants as little to do with the bloodsuckers as possible.

But when a sinfully sexy vamp is accused of killing his lover, an old debt forces Genny to help prove his innocence, risking her job, her safety – and the exposure of her own dark secrets. Genny soon realizes that she and her client are both unwitting pawns in a centuries-old power struggle. And it’s not just her own neck at stake but the lives of all of London’s supernatural beings.

The Better Part of Darkness by Kelly Gay

Atlanta: it’s the promised city for the off-worlders, foreigners from the alternate dimensions of heaven-like Elysia and hell-like Charbydon. Some bring good works and miracles. And some bring unimaginable evil….

Charlie Madigan is a divorced mother of one, and a kick-ass cop trained to take down the toughest human and off-world criminals. She’s recently returned from the dead after a brutal attack, an unexplained revival that has left her plagued by ruthless nightmares and random outbursts of strength that make doing her job for Atlanta P.D.’s Integration Task Force even harder. Since the Revelation, the criminal element in Underground Atlanta has grown, leaving Charlie and her partner Hank to keep the chaos to a dull roar. But now an insidious new danger is descending on her city with terrifying speed, threatening innocent lives: a deadly, off-world narcotic known as ash. Charlie is determined to uncover the source of ash before it targets another victim — but can she protect those she loves from a force more powerful than heaven and hell combined?

Bitten & Smitten by Michelle Rowen

Dear Mom,

I might be a wee bit late for Cousin Mary’s wedding. It’s been a tough week. Turns out, my blind date from hell was literally from hell. Guy bit me. Next thing I know, I’m being chased all over the city by vampire hunters. And did I mention that I got fired, too?

Bright side– I met a man. Thierry de Bennicoeur. How great is that name? Anyway, he’s sexy, six hundred years old, and a tad suicidal, but no one’s perfect, right? And we have a deal– he’s gonna show me the ropes of the vampire world, and I’m supposed to help him end his existence. Or maybe I’ll just try to convince him life is worth living– no small challenge with the mostly immortal, let me tell you. I’ll admit it’s a complicated relationship. But with my luck, I just might have a date for that wedding after all.

Hugs and kisses,
Sarah

The Stubborn Dead by Natasha Hoar

Rachel Miller thought her next job was a run-of-the-mill haunting. As a member of the Order of Rescue Mediums it’s her duty to release trapped spirits from the earthly realm. But when called to client Sylvia Elkeles’s house, she finds a wraith who doesn’t act like he should.

The Order considers the wraith an extreme threat and Rachel may be forced to use a barbaric ritual to free him—a ritual that comes with a heavy personal price. If she fails to humanely release the wraith, she’ll have her supernatural abilities bound.

When Janus Ostara—local supernatural mob boss—shows up demanding her attention, and Sylvia keeps secrets that may place Rachel in mortal danger, she doesn’t need her abilities to know something darkly sinister is at play.

Between uncovering Sylvia’s disturbing motives, and avoiding Janus, Rachel has enough on her hands without dealing with a wraith who may not realize he’s supposed to be dead…

20,000 words

Blooded: A Jessica Cain Novella by Amanda Carlson

Jessica McClain was born the only female in an all male race. The only problem is-she’s no wolf. Called a curse, a witch and the Daughter of Evil by the superstitious wolves, Jessica decides to fight for her freedom, at age nineteen, the only way she can-in the ring.
When she’s brutally attacked right after her fight, is it enough to finally earn her freedom off Compound, or will she be forced to endure the hatred even longer . . .
Word Count 19,400

Spider’s Bite by Jennifer Estep

They call me the Spider. I’m the most feared assassin in the South — when I’m not busy at the Pork Pit cooking up the best barbecue in Ashland. As a Stone elemental, I can hear everything from the whispers of the gravel beneath my feet to the vibrations of the soaring Appalachian Mountains above me. My Ice magic also comes in handy for making the occasional knife. But I don’t use my powers on the job unless I absolutely have to. Call it professional pride.

Now that a ruthless Air elemental has double-crossed me and killed my handler, I’m out for revenge. And I’ll exterminate anyone who gets in my way — good or bad. I may look hot, but I’m still one of the bad guys. Which is why I’m in trouble, since irresistibly rugged Detective Donovan Caine has agreed to help me. The last thing this coldhearted killer needs when I’m battling a magic more powerful than my own is a sexy distraction…especially when Donovan wants me dead just as much as the enemy.

Vampire Staking Kit is up for auction

 

Get all the details here: http://www.tennants.co.uk/About-Us/News/News-Articles/Lots-at-stake.aspx

We reported on a similiar kit a few years ago that sold for almost $15,000:  https://urbanfantasyland.wordpress.com/2008/11/21/briefs-20081121/

(via urban fantasy author Suzanne McLeod)