Authors Showcase: Thrillers in Fantasy

The Book: A Soul to Steal

The Author: Rob Blackwell

The Story: Something is stalking the citizens of Loudoun County, Va.

Is it the return of the notorious serial killer known as Lord Halloween? Or is it something worse–a figure that can cloak itself as your worst nightmare?

Kate and Quinn, two community journalists, rush to uncover the truth before a promised bloodbath on Halloween night.

Review: First and foremost, I would say A Soul to Steal is more of a character piece that just happens to be against the backdrop of a horror storyline. Actually, I’m not even sure I would characterize it as straight-up horror. If I had to categorize it I would say it blends aspects from character-driven drama, horror, thriller, whodunit, and even some romance thrown in to boot. Yet it remains a coherent piece throughout, and at the end of the day what you get is the story of two lost souls trying to find peace in a lonely Virginia town.

Which brings me to one of the strongest aspects of the book: the location. It takes place in a colonial-era town in Virginia, so rich with history that you can’t help but think there has to be a ghost or two floating around. The town has an almost otherworldliness to it, making it the obvious place for fear to settle in and make itself at home. The book starts out dealing with two journalists who work for this quaint town’s newspaper, both of them haunted by nightmares (both figuratively and literally). But it eventually and seamlessly evolves into a conflict that is much larger and far more relevant than the sleepy town in which it takes place. Reality and the paranormal seem to flirt with each other throughout the book, and when they finally meet the story charges like gangbusters towards the end.

The two main characters are as human as I have ever read. They are real people just trying to navigate their way through the crazy events they find themselves in, and they do it with the kind of humor and awe that I hope I would have were I in their shoes. Equally real – frighteningly so – is the portrayal of a serial killer, whose letters to the local newspaper are chilling in their matter-of-factness. He’s really the perfect villain for a small town, since he’s so lighthearted about the whole thing you could easily imagine him being your grocery bagger.

All in all, this was a great read, and I’m glad I gave it a chance. I can’t wait to see what else the author has coming down the pipeline.

The Book: Silver-Tongued Devil

The Author: Jaye Wells

The Story: Now that the threat of war has passed, Sabina Kane is ready to focus on the future. Her relationship with Adam Lazarus is getting stronger and she’s helping her sister, Maisie, overcome the trauma of her captivity in New Orleans.

Even Giguhl is managing to stay out of trouble thanks to the arrival of Pussy Willow and his new roller derby team. But as much as Sabina wants to feel hopeful about the future, part of her doesn’t believe that peace is possible.

Her suspicions are confirmed when a string of sadistic murders threatens to stall treaty negotiations between the mages and the vampires. Sabina pitches in to find the killer, but her investigation soon leads her down dark paths that have her questioning everyone she thought she could trust. And the closer she gets to the killer, the more Sabina begins to suspect this is one foe she may not be able to kill.

Review: On the brink of the eve of a peace treaty between the three dark races, a series of brutal murders look to be a move to stir up distrust and to block the signing of the pact. And it is ironic that Sabina who has spent her life feeling like an abomination since she is the product of a forbidden union between a mage and a vamp, will be the one that the leaders choose to lead the investigation.

While I was reading Silver-Tongued Devil, I realizes that one of the things that I like about this series is that the main character Sabina, who is a half mage/vamp and former assassin, has actually grown through out the series, unlike some other UF heroines – who shall remain nameless – who are stuck relearning the same lessons over and over and over again.

In fact there is a vampire Enforcer in Silver-Tongued devil who is pretty much like Sabina used to be so you can see just how far Sabina has come from the start of the series. She has gone from being a loner, emotionally stunted mess to actually having some normal relationships and a fair number of people that she cares about. Yes, Sabina is still a work in progress, but that’s half the fun.

The way that events play out in Silver-Tongued Devil really ramp the background story arc for the next book, which if rumors are true, is supposed to be the last. And they don’t come without a steep cost for Sabina, but I am really looking forward to the next book Blue-Blooded Vamp, because it looks like Wells is working up to an epic finale.

Review: As I look back over the previous books in the series, I realize each installment has had more of an emotional attachment than the last, and Silver-Tongued Devil continues that trend. After finishing this book, I am sitting here with so many emotions running through me. It is simply amazing that this book can leave me feeling devastated, yet also somehow hopeful at the same time.

As heartbreaking as some of the events were, I understand why they had to happen, and that knowledge is what drives my hope for the future. All in all Silver-Tongued Devil is another stellar installment in this fantastic series.

Once it grabs a hold of you it won’t let get go until the very end, and even then it will leave you reeling from the depths of emotion. Ms. Jaye Wells, my hat goes off to you.

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