Trends seem to happen in twenty year cycles, and looking back on it, this is some of what was big two decades ago:
Young Guns went on to inspire a sequel a few years later.
The western theme also influenced a lot of music. This is just a sample of what was playing by 1991:
In 2002 Joss Whedon tried for a resurrection of the Old West when he made Firefly, mashing the western with science fiction, but audiences just weren’t ready. The ratings weren’t there and the series was cancelled after just one season.
But Firefly has gained many, many fans in the years following the cancellation. And this may be a reason for a recent increase in cowboy romance.
But I don’t think audiences are looking for the same old Old West. I think they’re finally ready for new takes on the final frontier. If Joss Whedon’s Firefly was to come back to the big or small screen today, the audience would be there.
Now the Old West serves as back-drop for urban fantasy. (I love it!) Check out these titles:
Cora and her husband hunt things – things that shouldn’t exist.
When the marshal of Leadville, Colorado, comes across a pair of mysterious deaths, he turns to Cora to find the creature responsible. But if Cora is to overcome the unnatural tide threatening to consume the small town, she must first confront her own tragic past as well as her present.
Before you plan your next trip to Vegas, you might want to answer…
Are you Light? Or are you Shadow? Because there’s another world behind the bright lights and nonstop action of Sin city … one where Light and Shadow wage an immortal war for supremacy.
But the eternal battle has reached the tipping point, and only one person can change the future – casino heiress, photographer, and vigilante: Joanna Archer.
And no one knows the darkness within better than she does.
[The old west appears in the form of a hidden world called Midheaven in this series, and can be found in books 4-6, CITY OF SOULS, CHEAT THE GRAVE, and NEON GRAVEYARD.)
Get it – Amazon CA | Amazon US | Chapters
Civil War veteran Jonas R. Hollister is recruited by the U.S. government to hunt down and destroy an ancient tribe of vampires that is terrorizing the frontier territories of the Wild West in this action-packed new novel from New York Times bestselling author Michael P. Spradlin
See the UFL review of BLOOD RIDERS.
What’s your favourite western? Tell us in the comments.
Cover Copy: Griffin Shaw used to be a PI, but that was back when gumshoes hoofed the streets . . . and he was still alive. Fifty years later, he’s an angel, but that doesn’t make him a saint. One small mistake has altered fate, and now he’s been dumped back onto the mortal mudflat to collect another soul–Katherine “Kit” Craig, a journalist whose latest investigation is about to get her clipped.
Bucking heavenly orders, Grif refuses to let the sable-haired siren come to harm. Besides, protecting her offers a chance to solve the mystery of his own unsolved murder–and dole out some overdue payback for the death of his beloved wife, Evie.
Joining forces, Kit and Grif’s search for answers leads beyond the blinding lights of the Strip into the dark heart of an evil conspiracy. But a ruthless killer determined to destroy them isn’t Grif’s biggest threat. His growing attraction to Kit could cost them both their lives, along with the answer to the haunting question of his long afterlife . . .
My Thoughts: I’ll admit I was surprised when I heard Vicki Pettersson was ending her Signs of the Zodiac series at six books. It seemed like a short run for a series, compared to Kelley Armstrong and Kim Harrison (13 books each) and Laurell K. Hamilton (20+ books). When I heard Pettersson’s new series revolved around the Rockabilly subculture, I grew nervous. Can a subculture sustain the worldbuilding required of an urban fantasy genre? Or will it collapse into its own novelty value?
I was, however, pleased to hear the new series, the Celestial Blues series, will still have all the things Pettersson does so well: mystery, fantasy, and a backdrop of the ever-fabulous Las Vegas, home of Pettersson.
The promo for THE TAKEN suggests the story will answer the question “Who killed Griffin Shaw?” Not to spoil it for you, but we don’t get an answer. The real question that should have promo’d the book is “Who killed Kit Craig’s best friend?” because this is the murder that is solved in this book. It’s also the murder in the present. Griffin Shaw’s death happened fifty years ago– the killer is long gone, along with most everyone that knew anything– although, this does seem to be the question that will carry the series.
THE TAKEN opens with journalists, Kit Craig and her friend Nicole, trying to catch the bad guy, but things go wrong when the bad guy kills Nicole. Enter Griffin Shaw. Angel. Now that Nicole is dead, he’s to take her to the Everlast. But before she agrees to go, she manages to get a moment to leave a message for Kit. This is a slip-up for Griffin, and he finds himself out of a job. Worse, the message doesn’t reach Kit– it’s intercepted by the bad guys, putting Kit at the top of the hit list.
If you were worried the angels would mean less of Pettersson’s brand of magic, don’t. At one point, an infant is used as a medium for Griffin to talk to a fellow angel. The magic is still bold and slightly creepy– trademark Pettersson.
The mystery was a little disappointing, though. I wanted Kit and Grif to be more actively involved in finding the killer. I understood Kit needing to get her hair done, it’s part of who she is, but then I wanted active persuit of leads. Instead, they get leads and then ignore them. At one point, when Grif is chatting up an old buddy, the former angel asks “Who told you, all those years ago, that I was dead?” This comes as the last line of a scene. The next scene cuts to Kit, and we never learn the answer to that question.
Still, the chemistry between Kit and Griffin is undeniable. The pair banter in a way that’s reminiscent of Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy or Eve Dallas and Roarke from J.D. Robb’s series or Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd from Moonlighting.
As it turns out, I liked addition of the Rockabilly culture. It splashes colour into the background of the story. It also colours the protagonist, Kit Craig, putting her in sharp contrast to Griffin’s more serious nature. In fact, the cover art depicts the duo really well: Kit in her bright red dress, and Griffin faded to the background in grey, wings dissolving into mist.
Fans of Pettersson will certainly enjoy THE TAKEN, but with its toned-down fantasy and more cheerful heroine giving the story broader appeal, I think many more readers will be taken with Pettersson.
Series: Celestial Blues, #1
Urban Fantasy author Vicki Pettersson was a showgirl before she wrote the Signs of the Zodiac series. Here she is giving all the tips for how you can be a showgirl, too:
Be sure to check out yesterday’s review of TWILIGHT and your chance to win a copy of the book!
My case of Wii shoulder is nicely recovering after spending several days reading the books I got under the tree and in the mail. But have I learned? Hell no. I’m *this close* to being a Pro in tennis. At least my Fitness Age is younger than my real age. *g*
Here’s a look at the books you’ll be hearing more about.
Look what came in the mail!
Look what was under the tree!
Urban Fantasy Land has the scoop. Here’s what some of your favourite authors have coming out in 2009– and in their own words.
Jeaniene Frost: Well, my third book in the Night Huntress series, AT GRAVE’S END, comes out December 30th, so that’s *almost* 2009. Then AN EARLY GRAVE, book four in the series, comes out July 28th, 2009. I also have three short stories in anthologies coming out in 2009: Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance April 13th, Four Dukes and a Devil June 30th, and Unbound, August 25th. So, a busy release year for me!
Okay, I normally hate spoilers, but I’ll give a small spoiler/teaser for AT GRAVE”S END:
Out of the regular cast of characters readers met in Halfway to the Grave and/or One Foot in the Grave, two previously-human people will turn into vampires. A third person will die the permanent, never-coming-back way. And no, I’m not saying who’s who. You’ll have to read to find out ;-).
Mark Henry: Road Trip of the Living Dead will start hitting the shelves on February 24th, so prepare for some more zombie nastiness.
Faith Hunter: Rapid Descent (thriller set in the paddling world) Feb. 09, by my AKA Gwen Hunter
Skinwalker (urban fantasy) July 09 by Faith Hunter
A SS in Magic Brew in July 09
Stacia Kane: DEMON INSIDE, the sequel to PERSONAL DEMONS, was supposed to be out in January but that’s not happening now. I can’t discuss the reasons why but I can assure everyone the book will be out in 2009, and the delay has nothing to do with the book itself; it’s ready to go, and there’s nothing to worry about. I will of course keep everyone posted through my blog and reader loop, and I’ll make sure UFL has the info too!
I’m also very excited about my new series, the Chess Putnam books. I don’t yet have a release date for those but I know Del Rey is planning to do back-to-back releases, so it’s entirely possible we’ll have two or even all three of them out before the end of 2009. The series starts with UNHOLY GHOSTS, and I just cannot wait to see everyone’s reactions to the characters, the world, and the story. I’m really proud of it.
J.F. Lewis: ReVamped comes out March 10th from Pocket Books. It’s book two in the Void City Series and involves a soul-stealing demon that has a soul Eric wants back very badly (*cough* Marilyn’s *cough*). Folks who read the first book will be pleased to see lots more Talbot (Eric’s mysterious mouser) as well as some “Scary Greta” moments. There will be a new character or two that I think folks will enjoy.
The mass-market version of Staked (the first Void City Series book) is due out in June, complete with great new cover art.
I’ve also got two short stories that will hopefully find a home over the next year. One of them is a humorous sci-fi tale that addresses the deplorable lack of short stories in which nine year old girls from South Korea save the world. The other is set in the Void City universe and involves a newly turned vampire standing outside a Godiva store. It was inspired by the discussion over at the League of Reluctant Adults a few months back about which food people would miss the most if they couldn’t eat. Obviously, chocolate was the winner.
Vicki Pettersson: I have two releases that I’m excited about in ’09. July will see the release of the fourth book in my ‘Signs of the Zodiac’ series: CITY OF SOULS. It’s a bit of a departure from the first three in that it has a bigger look (I just saw the cover and it’s amazing) and a bigger feel as my protagonist, Joanna, had to go places she (and we) never knew existed. It was a bear to write because I had to worldbuild as if it were the first of the series, but I think I’ve come up with something unique that my readers will enjoy.
Then August will see a Zodiac-related story, Dark Matters, in the UNBOUND anthology, along with Kim Harrison, Melissa Marr, Jeaniene Frost and Jocelynn Drake. Being a part of this anthology was like having someone witness a dream of mine and then bringing it to life. I have serious literary crushes on all these writers, and I can’t wait to see this book on the shelves!
Michelle Rowen: I have a bunch out in ’09! It’s going to be a great year!! The fourth book in my Immortality Bites vampire series, STAKES & STILETTOS, is out in April. The fifth and final to wrap up the series, TALL, DARK & FANGSOME follows in September. My first young adult fantasy novel in a new series, DEMON PRINCESS: REIGN OR SHINE is out in October. And I have a short vampire store in THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF PARANORMAL ROMANCE in April. It’s possible that my Harlequin Blaze, HOT SPELL, which is also a paranormal, will be out in late ’09, but I haven’t gotten a definite release date on that one yet!
Maggie Stiefvater: SHIVER (Scholastic), about a girl who falls in love with a boy who must become a wolf each winter, and BALLAD (Flux), the sequel to LAMENT, where an obscenely talented bagpiping teen must choose between saving a snarky and dangerous vampiric faerie muse or his best friend and long-term crush.
Anton Strout: Deader Still, book two in the Simon Canderous urban fantasy series, is due out on 2/24/09 and I have a possibly related tie-in story to it in the August anthology City Fantastic. Most of the next year is dedicated to books three and four in the main series, each of which I suspect will be coming out in late February 2010 and 2011.