Wildfire by Ilona Andrews

wildfire12The Hidden Legacy series is young fresh and quite steamy. It has the complexity of a more seasoned urban fantasy and the lightness that will attract younger readers.

The whole marry and procreate to create the perfect magical being for your magical house has a eugenics feel to it. Perhaps not so distanced from real life and the quest to create the perfect human.

In a world where we can already manipulate the choice of gender, hereditary diseases and general appearance, the need for magical or indeed perfection is actually quite a popular topic.

Nevada has done some growing up and is stepping up to protect her family by making the correct political moves and planning strategically instead of with her heart. To beat the the rules of the houses you have to be able to think and act like them.

One of the highlights of the story is of course the romance between Nevada and Rogan. The two of them are like a well-tuned machine in both a professional and personal sense. The chemistry is explosive, which of course is one of Andrews specialities. Being able to create tension, longing and pure animal attraction between the main characters.

It is what readers have come to expect from Andrews, a solid urban fantasy with memorable characters and plenty of potential for further development.

Buy Wildfire at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

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The Vagrant by Peter Newman

The-Vagrant-Peter-Newman.jpg.size-230An enthralling fantasy with a main character who doesn’t speak and only communicates through physical interactions and body language.

Interestingly enough the author has chosen not to compensate for the lack of verbal interaction by having the character talk to the reader via his thoughts.

Instead his communication takes place through the actions, words and interactions with others. In particular Vesper, Harm and the goat. Yes, you read that right, a goat. A very stubborn goat with a keen sense of survival and more attitude than a teenager in the middle of a hormone rush.

I just want to slip a murmur of dissatisfaction in about the Hammer. Plot-wise what happens to her was a mistake. The four of them, sorry five plus the grumpy goat, not only make for great reading, but her development was a treasure trove of potential.

It’s a sign of a good story and a great storyteller when a reader connects to the characters in a way that makes them believe they know better.

The story switches from past to present, as we slowly learn more about the silent wanderer and how he and Vesper ended up together. Simultaneously we are introduced to that evil that won the war and the aftermath of its influence. I didn’t find those parts of the story as compelling as the ones with the merry band of misfits. Perhaps because Harm, Vesper, the Vagrant, the Hammer and the goat are such strong characters, as opposed to the enigma and essence of the enemies.

I look forward to reading more about this particular group of characters, especially when it comes to keeping an eye on Vesper as she grows.

Buy The Vagrant at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

The Lewis Man by Peter May

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Every time I come away from a Peter May book I always find that I have taken some information from it that I didn’t know before. He always manages to create a subtle mixture of fiction and historical fact. May likes to wade in the complicated layers of genealogy and family dynamics. In The Lewis Man he creates a fascinating crime with a hefty layer of emotions and family secrets.

It isn’t that uncommon for grandparents or parents to keep certain parts of their lives completely secret from their children or grandchildren. It might be because the pain and memories are hard to bear or perhaps the secrets are kept to keep the next generations safe.

In this case Fin Macleod’s baby mama finds out that her father isn’t who she thought he was. The body of a young man has been discovered in a peat bog. Perfectly preserved, and a DNA match to Tormod MacDonald.

May has the reader wander between the past and the present. Following young Tormod before he became Tormod, and the old Tormod to try to discover who killed the bog boy. It isn’t quite as easy as it sounds, because Tormod is suffering from dementia, so retrieving information from his muddled brain becomes quite difficult.

I liked the way May integrated the dementia story into the mystery. He shows the difficulty, the pain, the emotional upheaval and the complete desperation of all the people involved. There is no candy coating of some of the more harsh reactions to the disease, which is an honest and realistic approach to the issue.

Once again May also highlights dark mistakes made in certain eras that tend to be swept under the carpet. The displacement, relocation, dumping and mistreatment of orphan children, who were scattered in large numbers over the Scottish Isles.
As always it was a very good read.
I received a copy of this book via Edelweiss, courtesy of the publisher.

Read more about the first book in this series The Blackhouse.

Trial by Fire by Frances Fyfield

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Fyfield’s writing is quite busy, often overladen with description or dialogue when less could be more. It is also quite dry and drawn out. What it lacks it literary prowess it makes up for in solid plot. The murder and subsequent revelation of the murderer is very well done.

Living together in the suburbs is an experiment for the couple. Bailey enjoys the housewife mode Helen has slipped into and Helen seems to think acting like an overpaid maid equals a successful relationship.

I mean come on, who waits up till nearly midnight to run their man a bubble bath and make them dinner? Not exactly realistic and certainly bound to end up making someone unhappy.

You can almost see the cracks in their relationship starting to appear, during the duration of the case and certainly towards the end. Bailey speaks to Helen, as if she were a disruptive little housewife who can’t behave properly in society.

It is hard to understand why Helen is completely passive in her job and relationship, despite her abilities, education and intelligence. Instead of acting upon her instincts she chooses to make half-baked attempts at solving this crime. She happens to stumble upon the right answer and ends up putting herself in extreme danger.

I enjoyed the way Fyfield constructed a very subtle net around the killer. I t isn’t until the last moment that the reader sees the net being drawn in around the person and various other leads are cut from the tangle of clues.

I received a copy of this book courtesy of Edelweiss.