Category: Reviews

lewis-whos afraidReviewed by Joelene Pynnonen

When Tommi Greyson heads back to New Zealand, she is hoping to find out more about her paternal family. Her mother fled the country before Tommi was born, running as far from Tommi’s father as possible. Now that her mother is dead, Tommi feels as though she can find out who her father is.

She doesn’t expect to find that before he died, less than a month ago, he was the leader of a pack of werewolves. The most powerful pack in the Southern Hemisphere, in fact. After being attacked by her relatives and enduring a gruelling first change, Tommi is saved by an unlikely ally.

Lorcan is an immortal who has worked for Treize, the supernatural world’s justice system, for centuries. With his battle expertise, he is the best candidate to train Tommi in her new abilities, or to kill her if she becomes a threat.

Who’s Afraid? is the first novel in a new romantic paranormal series that introduces combative werewolf, Tommi Greyson. Paranormal romance is a relatively untouched genre for me. I’ve read a few books from the heavy hitters – Charlaine Harris, Laurell K. Hamilton, and Patricia Briggs – but haven’t really gotten in to any series. So it was good to find a fresh, new addition to the genre.

It’s a solid beginning. It introduces a world in which supernatural creatures exist and are kept in check by the Treize. Enough information is given about the world that the story is never confusing, but there a lot of questions yet to be answered. Lewis has kept the balance well. I’m intrigued to know more about Tommi’s werewolf family and whether the mysterious Treize is really as benevolent as Lorcan would have us believe; but I’m not frustrated that the answers weren’t in the first book.

Though Lewis covers a lot of ground in introducing her world, there’s so much more that could have been explored emotionally. While Lewis has introduced a diverse cast of characters, she’s done little to explore the intricacies of race, gender and sexuality. Tommi suffers from internalised racism, which is hardly surprising considering the narrative that her mother forced her to grow up with. But Tommi seems wholly unaware that she even has this issue, so there’s no point at which she tries to address the problem. While I kind of get it, I also kind of hate Tommi for being triggered by someone as gentle as Poc while not being fazed by white men crawling into her bed in the middle of the night, attacking her as part of her training, and also kissing her pretty roughly.

A lot of the elements introduced in Who’s Afraid? are a refreshing change from many of the urban fantasy or paranormal novels I’ve read. The introduction of themes such as the Maori culture, and growing up mixed-race in a white community and a white family work brilliantly in making this novel memorable. I’m hoping that future novels in this series will have Tommi reconnecting with her father’s family.

Who’s Afraid? has the potential for a fascinating new series. It will be really interesting to see where the next few books take Tommi and her friends.

 

 Who’s Afraid? – Maria Lewis

 Hachette (January 2016)

 ISBN: 9780349411149

hogan-bloodWith extraordinary swiftness, Mitchell Hogan has released the second in his Aurealis Award winning sword and sorcery epic that began with great critically acclaimed A Crucible of Souls.

In this second tome –  for what word suits such a feat of literary skill – Hogan delves deeper into a world once stripped bare by destructive sorcery, only to have it brought back to shattering point by the ambitions of something far greater, and more evil than the world has yet seen.

Forced to battle not only the machinations of a hostile nation, but also the Protectors he once saw as pure and just, Caladan struggles for his life, the life of the woman he cares for, and the Empire as a whole.

Blood of Innocents is a great example of where you can take the fantasy genre when you don’t constrain yourself to tropes to fill the pages. Full of thrilling action, moral complexity, backstabbing and intrigue, Hogan has built upon a world that drew him well-earned praise and has taken it to the very edge. This is a novel that always feels like the characters have actually made the choices, as opposed to an author penning them into existence. A book that feels truly alive.

If you love fantasy, pick up A Crucible of Souls and when you’re done with that don’t stop; go out and read Blood of Innocents.

The only thing that could be better than this is the next in the series which is bound to be well worth the wait.

 

mcdonald-luna-new-moonEarth’s moon has long been the source of some of history’s greatest literature. It provides us with a tantalising first step into the vastness of space, a focal point for spirituality and mysticism, it gives us tides and illumination at night, and a basis for unending tales of exploration and horror. Many of these stories focus on the hope that the moon brings, hope for change and discovery and limitless potential. However, most writers neglect one simple fact: there are a million ways to die on the moon.

Ian McDonald has not neglected this; he has embraced it.

When earth has all but collapsed due to energy shortages, it has fallen upon corporations, exploiting earth’s constant companion, to save it. Of course this is not an altruistic gesture. Where there is salvation, there is profit; and, much like the railroad companies of centuries past, there is nearly as much profit to be made from your employees as there is from your customers. On Luna, every breath you inhale costs you dearly, every drop of water its devastating price. Real food is reserved for the wealthy and most will live their lives pay-check to pay-check. Literally.

Luna isn’t simply a tale for survival, however. This is a story of the grand ambition of a family who struck it rich sifting through what others threw away, to become one of the Five Dragons – ruling families – of this once silent sphere. They must now struggle against the seemingly endless opposition who seek to bring down their empire as violently as possible. In a world where the only law is by consensus and contract, the only thing that costs more than survival is honour. While the members of the Five Dragons may never have to sell their bodily waste just for another breath of oxygen or sip of water, they must be ever vigilant. Greed and ambition know little by way of boundaries, and it may simply be a loophole in the fine print that keeps your family alive.

McDonald has penned one of the greatest feud stories of our time. Gone are the fantastical settings that often engulf the genre. Luna treats the idea of corporate warfare, of sedition and betrayal, of desperate survival in an unrelenting vendetta with a strong sense of realism and compassion. Both a work of technical and literary genius, Luna is a startling reminder of where humanity is heading. True to form, McDonald’s characters are deeply flawed, beautifully written individuals whose ambitions and fears are responsible for evolving the narrative in a stark and unforgiving setting.

Part warring states, part rags to riches, part film noir, and part prophecy, Luna is a novel that asks the dangerous question: when the moon has a million ways to kill you, what are you going to leave behind when you’re gone?

Awards

davitt-award  aurealis-award   logo-curtin-university

Peacemaker - Aurealis Award
Best Science Fiction Novel 2014

Curtin University Distinguished Alumni Award 2014

Transformation Space - Aurealis Award
 Best Science Fiction Novel 2010

Sharp Shooter - Davitt Award
Best Crime Novel 2009 (Sisters in Crime Australia) 

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