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Debbie Wiley | Urban Fantasy and Fantasy Book Recs

August 13, 2020

by Fresh Fiction Senior Reviewer Debbie Wiley

Did you guys hear my loud squeals of joy over some of the recent urban fantasy novels? This summer has been the book equivalent of winning the jackpot as far as I’m concerned. Earlier this summer, we had Kim Harrison return with AMERICAN DEMON but now we have several of my other favorite authors also releasing books. Let’s face it… I’m not really going anywhere regardless (thanks, Covid-19) but who wants to leave the house anyway when such great books are at my fingertips? So let’s skip the chatter and my squeals of joy and jump right into the books!

It’s been six years since we’ve had a new Dresden Files book from Jim Butcher. Six looooonnnng years. And now, we have PEACE TALKS out with BATTLE GROUNDS soon to follow in the same year! Ah, this almost makes up for some of the misery of 2020. In PEACE TALKS, various supernatural entities are gathering in Chicago in an attempt to broker a peace deal. The White Council is assisting with security, and Harry Dresden finds himself in a dubious position as his support within the Council is wavering. Worse yet, his vampire half-brother is embroiled in some nasty hijinks while Harry is forced to keep their relationship secret from their grandfather, who despises vampires. Mab also has plans for her Winter Knight, so Harry is juggling multiple issues. As we all know, things never go quietly and smoothly in Jim Butcher’s world and wow, does Jim Butcher put Harry through the emotional ringer in PEACE TALKS. Harry Dresden has long been one of my absolute favorite urban fantasy heroes as he always tries to do what is right, no matter the personal consequences. Read it. You won’t regret it.

And speaking of books you won’t regret reading, Faith Hunter’s SPELLS FOR THE DEAD is another great installment in the Soulwood series! The death of a famous country singer draws a lot of attention, especially considering the gruesome nature of her death and the many deaths that quickly follow. The Psychometric Law Enforcement Division (PsyLED) of Homeland Security is called in as it appears something paranormal is at work. Nell Ingram isn’t sure where she can assist initially, as her powers involve her connection to the earth and the magic at work is a death magic. However, Nell may be the only one who can defeat the death working they call “death and decay”. I absolutely love Nell! Not only is her power and her paranormal classification so unique (she’s a “plant person” or a yinehi), but she has experienced horrific trauma in the cult-like church she grew up in. . . and she has not only survived but thrived. I love her gutsiness in the face of possible death as she strives to help others she loves. SPELLS FOR THE DEAD puts her in some sticky situations where she has to trust others with some of her darkest secrets even as her own life is on the line.

The gifts keep coming, too, as EMERALD BLAZE by Ilona Andrews, book 4 in the Hidden Legacy series, is another must-read. Catalina Baylor has her hands full. As the Prime Head for the newly established House Baylor, she’s juggling the duties of House Baylor Investigative Agency, the demands of her vicious grandmother, Victoria Tremaine, her duties as the Deputy Warden of Texas, and the day to day activities of her own family. She’s convinced herself (after the events of SAPPHIRE FLAMES) that Alessandro Sagredo will remain a part of her past as she has no time for relationships, particularly considering her own unique siren-like power. Unfortunately, her latest case throws her directly in Alessandro’s path as they have to work together to uncover a murderer. Worse yet, someone is using the Osiris serum and the potential consequences could be devastating. Can Catalina and Alessandro uncover the diabolical plot as well as hunt down an even more dangerous killer calling himself Arkan? I didn’t think I could love Catalina as much as I love Nevada but oh was I ever wrong! Both sisters are unique but have hearts of steel when it comes to protecting their loved ones. The sacrifices Catalina is willing to make for her family are heart-wrenching. Ilona Andrews digs deeper, far deeper into all her characters in EMERALD BLAZE as we learn so much more about all the underlying issues that our characters have been dealing with. Ilona Andrews is one of the best in the urban fantasy genre and EMERALD BLAZE is another spectacular example of why this husband and wife writing duo is a must-read author for me.

And in the category of in case you missed it. .  . THE DARK SIDE OF THE ROAD by Simon R. Green is the first book in his Ishmael Jones series. 2020 has brought us two new books in this series, NIGHT TRAIN TO MURDER and THE HOUSE ON WIDOWS HILL. I’m admittedly behind on this series but catching up as Ishmael Jones is a very unique hero written in classic Simon R. Greene style. THE DARK SIDE OF THE ROAD introduces us to Ishmael when his employer sends him a cryptic message requesting his presence at a family Christmas gathering. Ishmael arrives to find the Colonel missing and a wide range of people with dubious personalities, including some Ishmael knew 30 years ago. Did I mention that Ishmael doesn’t age? Fans of Simon R. Greene will enjoy the witty banter of Ishmael as he faces down a monster. I dearly miss the Nightside and Secret Histories series but I’m glad I have the Ismael Jones series to give me my Simon R. Greene fix!

What are some of the urban fantasy novels you’ve been reading lately? Any favorites releasing new books?

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