Friday, May 31, 2013

Review The Scrivener's Tale by Fiona McIntosh - May 31, 2013

The Scrivener's Tale
Author:  Fiona McIntosh
Publisher:  Harper Voyager, March, 26 2013
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 528 pages
Price:  $14.99 (print)
ISBN:  9780062237309 (print)
Review copy:  Provided by the Publisher via NetGalley

Gabe Figaret, an ex-psychologist turned writer, now works in a bookshop in Paris. He lives a quiet life as he attempts to rehabilitate his psyche from the ravages of his past. While he'd prefer to probe his own mind rather than a stranger's, he cannot refuse when Reynard, a doctor and one of his regular customers, asks Gabe to mentor a patient, a mysterious young woman named Angelina.

Angelina is shy. She is mute and delusional. At first, she appears to be terrified of Reynard. But Gabe quickly discovers that Angelina is not quite what she seems. As his relationship with the enigmatic Angelina deepens, Gabe's life in Paris becomes increasingly unstable. He senses a presence watching, lurking, following his every move.

When Angelina tells Gabe that he must kill her, and then flee to a fantastical realm she calls Morgravia, he is aghast. But Angelina gives him proof that Morgravia is not a delusion; it is real. Soon, Gabe's world will be turned upside down, and he will learn shocking truths about his past, and the perilous trials in his future.

Melanie's Thoughts:

The Scrivener’s Tale starts in modern day Paris with Gabe, a former psychologist, seeking refuge in the great city following the tragic death of his family. Life is pretty normal for Gabe who spends his time working in a bookshop and wandering the streets of Paris until he meets a damaged young girl, Angelina, who is in the care of one of his loyal customers, Reynard. They did not meet by chance, forever changing Gabe’s life.

The story is split between Gabe in Paris and the other lead character, Cassien. Cassien has led a harsh and lonely life, fighting for survival in a great forest in Morgravia, which is in an alternative universe. Cassien is probably the most empathetic character in the book and the most interesting. Abandoned as a baby, Cassien spends his childhood with the Brotherhood. The Brotherhood turn him into a warrior mostly through neglect and a brutal regime of torture and punishment. It is evident quite early on that Cassien is the hero of the tale.

A rather confusing chain of events brings the grieving widower, Gabe, to the Pearlis, the alternate Paris where he embarks on the adventure of his life….an adventure that might just end it. Predictably, Cassien has his own mission to fulfill that leads him into the path of the unsuspecting Gabe. The pair ends up in a battle to save Morgravia against a demon that has been waiting centuries to enact its revenge. Will they be successful? Will they survive? I won’t tell and you will have to read it to find out.

Although The Quickening series by McIntosh is set in Morgravia, The Scrivener’s Tale is a stand alone story. Currently it’s pretty unusual for an author to write just one book, but I am glad that McIntosh resisted the temptation to drag this story out over multiple books.

Normally I really like epic fantasy. Some of my all time favourite books are from this genre, so I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t enjoy The Scrivener’s Tale as much as I thought I would. The story started out quite engaging and it seemed that the plot was going to be complex. I was concerned at first that I would miss a plot point if I wasn’t paying 110% attention. I even took much longer than I normally would to read it so that I was in the right frame of mind to take everything in. Imagine my disappointment when I guessed every secret, intrigue and mystery. McIntosh spells everything out in long dialogue sequences rather than letting the readers figure it out themselves. I think that this tendency was one of the most disappointing aspects of the book. It all seemed very much like it had been done before.

McIntosh has a great imagination and is obviously adept at creating unique worlds, especially with Morgravia. I think that this story would have benefited from a little more mystery and a little less wrapping the plot up with a bow.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Interview with Mur Lafferty, author of The Shambling Guide to New York City - May 30, 2013

Please welcome Mur Lafferty to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Shambling Guide to New York City (The Shambling Guides 1) was published on May 28, 2013. You may read Mur's Guest Blog - Happy Accident - here.

TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery.

Mur:  Thanks very much for the invite!

TQ:  When and why did you start writing?

Mur:  I started writing when I was around 11 or 12, when I read some fantasy by Robin McKinley and Madeline L'Engle and wanted to write stories like that. My first fanfic was continuing Fred Saberhagen's Lost Swords books.

TQ:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Mur:  Oh gosh. I have no idea. I guess I fear edits so very much because I am sure they're going to say THIS IS DRIVEL, START OVER. And they never do; they always suggest things to make the story better. And I tell myself, like I'm four or something, "Now you see, making the story better is a GOOD thing, so the next time you get edits, you should look forward to them, right?" And I never do.

I guess that's not a quirk though. I noticed in my last book that I wrote like Terry Pratchett, all thrown onto the page with no chapter breaks. It works for him, of course, for me it's laziness, and I was very angry with myself on edits that I had to do this extra work.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Mur:  Total pantser. Trying to get better about it, though, as more editors are asking me for outlines.

TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Finding confidence about my voice. I had an epiphany recently: I wrote an outline for an editor and thought it sucked, and then I realized that listening (metaphorically) to your own writing voice is like looking in the mirror every day. Even if you're gorgeous and you know it, you're not going to look at your face and gasp at your beauty, because it's the same damn face you see every day. I don't see my writing as anything special because it's the words that came out of my head, just like they always do. Of course I'm going to think my writing is plain and ordinary. So I cut myself some slack for the first time and waited for the editor's comments, and he said he loved the outline.

TQ:  Describe The Shambling Guide to New York City in 140 characters or less.

Mur:  HHGG meets Neverwhere. Or: human writes a NYC travel guide for monsters.

TQ:  What inspired you to write The Shambling Guide to New York City?

Mur:  In 2005, I wrote a piece of RPG material to benefit the Red Cross after Katrina. I wrote about a zombie travel guide in New Orleans who wanted to keep doing her job, so she would show visiting monsters the city. The idea stayed with me and I wanted to take the idea to New York.

TQ:  What sort of research did you do for The Shambling Guide to New York City?

Mur:  I visited the city, did a lot of reading, and perused a lot of travel guides. I also have friends in the city who could answer a variety of questions just in how to move around the city. (ie, length of a train ride from one area to another, the kind of detail that readers will crucify you for, second only to getting bullet information wrong when talking about guns.)

TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Mur:  Morgen the Water Sprite is the easiest. She is fun, bouncy, easy to get along with, and matter of fact enough to point out when Zoe, the hero, is being stupid. Phil, the vampire boss, was probably the hardest. I wanted to make a vampire as a person of power, but I specifically wanted him to not be chiseled and sexy and the obvious love interest. he was a slightly heavier 30-something when he died, and I wanted to strike a balance between easygoing dude and ruthless killer and not have it be a Jekyll and Hyde thing.

TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in The Shambling Guide to New York City?

Mur:  The climax. So I really can't give anything away. Sorry. :)

TQ:  What's next?

Mur:  I am working on a novella for the Torment video game, and then my thesis for my MFA this fall. I finished The Ghost Train to New Orleans (sequel to Shambling Guide) last month, and that should be out next March.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Mur:  Thanks for having me!

About The Shambling Guides

The Shambling Guide to New York City
Series:  The Shambling Guides
Publisher:  Orbit Books, May 28, 2013
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 368 pages
Price:  $15.00 (print)
ISBN: 9780316221177 (print)

A travel writer takes a job with a shady publishing company in New York, only to find that she must write a guide to the city - for the undead!

Because of the disaster that was her last job, Zoe is searching for a fresh start as a travel book editor in the tourist-centric New York City. After stumbling across a seemingly perfect position though, Zoe is blocked at every turn because of the one thing she can't take off her resume --- human.

Not to be put off by anything -- especially not her blood drinking boss or death goddess coworker -- Zoe delves deep into the monster world. But her job turns deadly when the careful balance between human and monsters starts to crumble -- with Zoe right in the middle.

The cover for The Shambling Guides 2 - The Ghost Train to New Orleans

About Mur

Photo by JR Blackwell
2012 Nominee for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer

Mur Lafferty is an author, podcaster, and editor. She lives in Durham, NC, with her husband and 10 year old daughter.

  • Podcasts: She has been podcasting since 2004 when she started her essay-focused show, Geek Fu Action Grip. Then she started the award-winning I Should Be Writing in 2005, which is still going today. In 2010 she took over as the editor of Escape Pod, and she also runs the Angry Robot Books podcast.
  • Books: Starting with podcast-only titles, Mur has written several books and novellas. Her first professionally published book, The Shambling Guide to New York City, will be out in May, 2013. She writes urban fantasy, superhero satire, afterlife mythology, and Christmas stories.
  • Nonfiction: Mur has written for several magazines including Knights of the Dinner Table, Anime Insider, and The Escapist.

Mur is studying for her MFA in Popular Fiction at the Stonecoast program at the University of Southern Maine.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Interview with Jack Skillingstead, author of Life on the Preservation - May 29, 2013

Please welcome Jack Skillingstead to The Qwillery. Life on the Preservation, Jack's most recent novel, was published yesterday by Solaris.

TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery.

Jack:  Thank you for inviting me.

TQ:  When and why did you start writing?

Jack:  My first stories were written for my junior high school newspaper. I was dubbed a "feature" writer, because they didn't know what else to call me, I guess. While other staff writers produced abysmal copy concerning the fortunes of the track team or whatever, I wrote science fiction stories. Also abysmal, of course. To my credit, at least, I knew how bad they were and ached to be better. I'm still aching for that, but at least I'm getting paid now. As to why I wanted to start writing in the first place, that's the big question. It must be for the same reason other people want to be pilots, or surgeons, or dancers -- why they want to excel at some highly focused field of endeavor. You simply know nothing else will satisfy the itch. I figured this out when I was about twelve years old.

TQ:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Jack:  If you're speaking in terms of process I would say it's my somewhat irrational belief that I am actually two people, and that to begin writing at all I must somehow trick the other me into behaving and getting on with it. Now, if you're talking about content it may be my willingness to openly explore stuff like off-the-path sexuality and some kinds of seriously dissociative mental states, within the context various science fiction tropes -- to present those tropes (space travel, time loops, robots, etc.) through the lens of a warped magnifying glass. By the way, saying I'm willing to do this is slightly disingenuous. More accurately I would say: I'm helpless to resist the impulse.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Jack:  Pantser? Yes, I wear them. Okay, I had to resort to Google to ascertain what "pantser' means. This is an either / or question that requires a somewhat more complicated answer. In my experience there are no pure pantsers. Even Ray Bradbury thought about his stories ahead of writing them. Whether you fill notebooks with plot ideas, make a structured map, or simply think ahead a little, you are planning -- at least to some extent. And I think you have to do that. Remember how I said I regard myself as two people? I'm dead serious about that. The other "me" is my unconscious, which will do all the heavy lifting if you provide it sufficient nourishment.

I wrote six novels before I wrote one that held together in a coherent fashion. It wasn't a good novel, but it was a novel, and it possessed a recognizable structure. Here's what made the difference between that book and the others: I did some hard thinking before I started writing. Not a lot of hard thinking; I'm not particularly good at it. But some. So that when I sat down to write I knew two very important things. I knew what my viewpoint character was doing before the story started, and I knew, in somewhat hazy terms, where I expected him to be when the story concluded. In other words, I gave my narrative a target. It's good if the target isn't carved in stone. By the time you arrive it might be pretty different from what you first imagined three months ago. But just having it hanging out there is enough to encourage your writer-self to construct inventive ways to get there. I don't like to over do it with the planning/plotting, because I think it inhibits spontaneous invention. You should feel free to explore as you go along, and forge a new path, if you find a better route to the target.

TQ: What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Jack:  The hard thinking part, the figuring out part, the problem-solving part. Fiction writers spend a lot of time solving mundane story problems. The failure to solve these problems can cripple a book beyond redemption, even if the characters are wonderful and the situation intriguing.

TQ:  Describe Life on the Preservation in 140 characters or less.

Jack:  A man discovers his city is caught in a time loop. He fears he may be losing his mind. Then a girl from outside the loop arrives. They find each other and solve the mystery.

TQ:  What inspired you to write Life on the Preservation?

Jack:  Originally, LOTP was a short story I wrote for Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine. It performed quite well, was popular in the reader's poll, got picked up by a couple of Year's Best anthologies and almost made the Hugo ballot. It even produced a little Hollywood interest, that, alas, went nowhere. The inspiration for the short story was simple. I'd just seen "Groundhog Day" and became obsessed with the idea of a day that never stops repeating. I made a science fiction story out of the premise, because I happen to be that kind of writer.

TQ:  What sort of research did you do for Life on the Preservation?

Jack:  There wasn't a tremendous amount of research. Most the story takes place in Seattle, where I have lived for most my life. Beyond that, I learned some stuff about retro viruses, high performance jet aircraft, and the likelihood of surviving a small caliber gunshot to the head.

TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Jack:  Ian Palmer, the male lead, was the easiest, probably because I can relate to his mental states, his longings and fears and neurosis -- many of which have been my own at various points in my life. Actually, all my "good" characters were relatively easy to write, since in one way or another they were all outsiders, which is a character type I understand.

The most difficult character to write was Father Jim. he does some pretty bad stuff, and to understand why he would do such things I had to get into his head more than I really wanted to.

TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in Life on the Preservation?

Jack:  Ian is a graffiti artist and a painter. There is a scene in which he covers the inside of his studio apartment with his tag, which is WHO. He uses markers and employs different styles. He starts by making this unwinding mandala of WHOs on the wall next to his bed, then proceeds from there, making daisy chains of WHOs around the door frames, and so forth. Eventually he covers the ceiling with a bizarre mural, using markers, spray cans, brushes -- everything. He's trying to turn his apartment into a "safe-box," a place where they can't get at him. It's a crazy scene, kind of funny, but also paranoid and weird. I love it.

TQ:  What's next?

Jack:  My novelette "Arlington" is out in the next issue of Asimov's. Also, I've spent the last year and half writing a quirky reincarnation fantasy set in Las Vegas, and my agent is putting together the submission list. In the meantime I've writing a new novel, this one a science fiction thriller of sorts, called, "Human Potential."

TQ:   Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Jack:  Thank you very much for having me.

About Life on the Preservation

Life on the Preservation
Solaris, May 28, 2013 (US/Canada)
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 416 pages

Inside the Seattle Preservation Dome it's always the Fifth of October, the city caught in an endless time loop. "Reformed" graffiti artist Ian Palmer is the only one who knows the truth, and he is desperate to wake up the rest of the city before the alien Curator of this human museum erases Ian's identity forever. Discover the reality bending SF of this new author in this astonishing story.

Inside the Seattle Preservation Dome it's always the Fifth of October, the city caught in an endless time loop. "Reformed" graffiti artist Ian Palmer is the only one who knows the truth, and he is desperate to wake up the rest of the city before the alien Curator of this human museum erases Ian's identity forever. Outside the Dome the world lies in apocalyptic ruin. Small town teenager Kylie is one of the few survivors to escape both the initial shock wave and the effects of the poison rains that follow. Now she must make her way across the blasted lands pursued by a mad priest and menaced by skin-and-bone things that might once have been human. Her destination is the Preservation, and her mission is to destroy it. But once inside, she meets Ian, and together they discover that Preservation reality is even stranger than it already appears.

The UK edition is out on June 6th with this cover:

About Jack

In 2001 Jack Skillingstead won Stephen Kings "On Writing" competition. Two years later his first professional sale appeared in Asimov's. "Dead Worlds" was a Sturgeon Award finalist and was reprinted Dozois's Year's Best SF. Since then Jack has pubilshed more than thirty stories in professional markets, two novels and a short story collection. He lives in Seattle with his wife, writer Nancy Kress.

Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Guest Blog by Terry Spear - Combining Werewolves and Highlanders for the Ultimate Feast - May 28, 2013

Please welcome Terry Spear to The Qwillery. A Highland Werewolf Wedding (Werewolf Romance 11) was published on May 7, 2013.

Combining Werewolves and Highlanders for the Ultimate Feast
By Terry Spear

When I wrote contemporary heroes, they were sweet, and attractive, and protective. But there’s something about a paranormal hero that is just hotter, and more powerful, and more sinfully hunky. It’s just…normal for them. Somehow.

Combine that with the already hunky, powerful, kilted, or not, Highland hero and you have the ultimate hero. Truly.

Most of you know that Highlanders are wolfish by nature, so make them a real wolf, and you’ve got it! You’ll find them in: Heart of the Highland Wolf, A Howl for a Highlander, and A Highland Werewolf Wedding, just released. Next, I’m working on A Hero of a Highland Wolf (Spring release, 2014), and after that: Mistletoe, Mayhem and a Highland Wolf (Oct release, 2014).

So the hot Highland wolves just keep on coming. In A Highland Werewolf Wedding, I had to have Cearnach wearing a kilt first thing. I love kilts and everything else that is worn with them—the dirk, the sporran, and what isn’t worn with them. Leaves much more to the imagination, aye?

So we find him in ye auld Scotland at first, and that was fun. Then again, when he’s attending a wedding in Highland formal dress. Only wolves do things a bit differently. In the old days, the Scots carried swords to a wedding to keep any man from stealing their bride. Now, today, they still wear their sgian dubh (dirk/dagger in their hose), but they leave the sword home. Not so with the Highland wolves. They go by the old ways—mainly because they still have trouble with other Highland wolf clans.

We have an American lass (she-wolf type), who runs our hero off the road, so he says—she says otherwise, and now she’s caught up in all this clan rivalry when she has nothing to do with any of it. Or does she?

But what does an American woman want our hero to do??? First…we see how gorgeous those hunky Highlanders look, abs and all, without their shirts. Yep. She tells him she thinks he should take it off to keep it from getting all wet. She’s smart.

He’s amused.

But does she stop there? What do you think? Would you do if you were her?

She is absolutely not going to peek or ask what’s under the kilt. She’s going to suggest they shift into wolves. That takes care of the whole matter. Don’t you think? He’s got to remove his kilt then. Think he’s game?

He’s a wolf. Sure he’s game.

I love Highland wolves. They’re just too sexy for their kilts.

So yeah, he starts out with wearing his kilt until the heroine talks him out of it. And at the end of the story, he’s wearing it again. And I just bet she’ll talk him out of it again!

Wouldn’t you loved to be loved by a Highland wolf?

About the Highland Wolves

A Highland Werewolf Wedding
Werewolf Romance 11
Sourcebooks Casablanca, May 7, 2013
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

On The Run...

After werewolves Elaine Hawthorn and Cearnach MacNeill almost have a head-on collision on a foggy Highland road, they're pretty well stuck with each other. It'll be hours before anyone can get there to pull his car out of the ditch and they both have better places to be.

And Nowhere to Hide From Each Other...

The sexy little American brings out all of Cearnach's big bag protective instincts. If she thought she was in trouble before, Elaine has no idea what kind of complications a hot Scot can cause...

Delightful, steamy, and devilishly funny, join the hundreds of thousands of readers who already discovered that USA Today bestseller Terry Spear delivers a sizzle worth howling about.

A Howl for a Highlander
Werewolf Romance 10
Sourcebooks Casablanca, February 5, 2013
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

A Highland Wolf on a Mission...

Duncan MacNeill is hell-bent on catching the thief who's stolen the clan's fortune and run off to Grand Cayman Island. Duncan has rarely left his homeland and he couldn't care less about an island paradise. He never expected to find a beautiful distraction who will show him just how appealing paradise can be...

Meets a Dangerous Distraction...

Lone wolf and botanist Shelley Campbell headed to the island to study the old growth forests. She didn't count on meeting a handsome Highlander who can't keep his paws off her.

Heart of the Highland Wolf
Werewolf Romance 7
Sourcebooks Casablanca, June 7, 2011
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 416 pages

It's a matter of pride…

Modern day werewolf laird Ian MacNeill reluctantly allows a film production company to use his castle, but he knows his secretive clan has a big problem when a beautiful red werewolf female who insists she's working on the film keeps showing up in the wrong places… and a matter of pleasure…

Julia Wildthorn is not who she says she is—she's sneaking into Argent Castle to steal an ancient relic for her grandfather and to do research for her next werewolf romance novel. When she catches a glimpse of Ian, she realizes he's the perfect hero…

For the complete list of Terry Spear's Werewolf Romance novels click here.

About Terry

Bestselling and award-winning author Terry Spear has written over fifty paranormal romance novels and four medieval Highland historical romances. Her first werewolf romance, Heart of the Wolf, was named a 2008 Publishers Weekly’s Best Book of the Year, and her subsequent titles have garnered high praise and hit the USA Today bestseller list. A retired officer of the U.S. Army Reserves, Terry lives in Crawford, Texas, where she is working on her next werewolf romance and continuing her new series about shapeshifting jaguars. For more information, please visit, or follow her on Twitter, @TerrySpear. She is also on Facebook at

The Giveaway

What:  One commenter will win a copy of A Howl for a Highlander from Sourcebooks. US/CANADA  ONLY

How:   Log into and follow the directions in the Rafflecopter below.

Who and When: The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a US or Canadian mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59 PM US Eastern Time on June 5, 2013. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules and duration are subject to change.*

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, May 27, 2013

Early Review: Shadow Hunter by Kait Ballenger - May 27, 2013

After Dark
Author:  Gena Showalter and Kait Ballenger
Series:  Lords of the Underworld and Execution Underground
Publisher:  Harlequin HQN, June 25, 2013
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 336 pages
Price:  $11.95 (print)
ISBN:  9780373778256 (print)
Review copy:  Provided by the Author

A Timeless Seduction

A Unique Temptation

And a Whole World of Dark Desires...

From New York Times bestselling author Gena Showalter

The Darkest Angel

Winged warrior Lysander has been alive for centuries, and yet he's never known desire-until he meets Bianka. Spawned from the bloodline of his enemy, the beautiful but deadly Harpy is determined to lead the untouched Lysander into temptation. He may try to evade her attempts, but even the most iron-willed demon assassin can resist for only so long....

And from debut author Kait Ballenger

Shadow Hunter

Vampire hunter Damon Brock's newest assignment with the Execution Underground is Rochester, New York, a city crawling with the undead. But he isn't the only hunter in town gunning for vamp blood. Tiffany Solow is fierce and ruthless when it comes to slaying the monsters that destroyed her family-and she works solo. But being alone is no longer an option when she meets the mysterious hunter who wants more than just her turf. Forced to unite against the local covens, the line between good and evil blurs when they must decide between their lifelong beliefs...and their newfound desires.

Note: The Darkest Angel has previously been published in Heart of Darkness (Harlequin, December 15, 2009). I don't know whether it has been rewritten or is identical. I am only reviewing Shadow Hunter.

My thoughts:

Shadow Hunter is the prequel novella to Kait Ballenger's Execution Underground series, which starts with Twilight Hunter in August. According to the 'Dear Reader' note that precedes the novella, the prequel was written after the first novel in the series and deals with the main character who will be featured in the last novel of the series novels (as it stands right now).

There is just enough background about the Execution Underground itself in Shadow Hunter to make the organization understandable, but not so much that there isn't more to learn. We very briefly meet the hunters who will appear in the upcoming novels.

This story focuses on Damon Brock, who is a vampire hunter for the Execution Underground. He's the epitome of the tortured hero. I liked him a lot. There is so much going on behind his cool exterior, you can't help but feel for him. Tiffany Solow is a young woman on a dangerous path, which crosses Damon's. They are both hunting vampires. Damon and Tiffany have a lot to overcome if they are ever going to be a couple. Old wounds are opened and new wounds are created.

Shadow Hunter flows nicely from action to calm and back again. There are, of course, the sex scenes, which are well done. There is deep emotion infusing this story, which ends in a cliffhanger.

Shadow Hunter is like the appetizer before the main course - satisfying in its own right, but leaving you wanting the full meal (the first and subsequent novels).  This is a fine start to the series. I'm looking forward to reading Twilight Hunter, Ms. Ballenger's debut novel.

Coming in August:

Twilight Hunter
Execution Underground 1
Harelquin HQN, August 27, 2013
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 384 pages

Hunters of the supernatural, the Execution Underground are an elite group tasked with protecting humanity...but what happens when danger collides with desire?

Jace McCannon has one loyalty: the Execution Underground. Despite his mixed blood, his hatred for the werewolves he hunts is legendary. But in his search for a sadistic killer, Jace finds himself face to face with a stunningly seductive packmaster…and longing for a night with his mortal enemy.

Nothing can stop Frankie Amato from defending her kind--or catching the rogue responsible for killing women in her territory. For that, this alpha female needs Jace’s skills more than she wants to admit. But as their investigation exposes evil truths, need burns into a passion that dare not be fulfilled. For to do so will have deadly consequences for them both…

What's Up for the 2012 Debut Authors in 2013? - Part 9

What are the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Authors up to in 2013?  This is the ninth in a series of posts.

See Part 2 here.
See Part 3 here.
See Part 4 here.
See Part 5 here.
See Part 6 here.
See Part 7 here.
See Part 8 here.
See Part 10 here.
See Part 11 here.
See Part 12 here.

Lou Morgan

Blood and Feathers 2
Solaris, July 9, 2013
Trade Paperback and eBook, 384 pages

This is the thrilling follow-up to Blood and Feathers, one of the most highly-regarded debuts of 2012. The battle between the Fallen and the Angels has turned into open warfare, on the streets of London.

"This is a war. The war. There is no stopping; no getting out. You're in this - just like the rest of us - to the end." • Driven out of hell and with nothing to lose, the Fallen wage open warfare against the angels on the streets. And they're winning.• As the balance tips towards the darkness, Alice - barely recovered from her own ordeal in hell and struggling to start over - once again finds herself in the eye of the storm. But with the chaos spreading and the Archangel Michael determined to destroy Lucifer whatever the cost, is the price simply too high… and what sacrifices will Alice and the angels have to make in order to pay it? • The Fallen will rise. Trust will be betrayed. And all hell breaks loose…

Nancy Northcott

The Protectors 3
Forever Yours, July 2, 2013
eBook, 394 pages


FBI agent Camellia "Mel" Wray is no stranger to violence but when an old friend is brutally murdered, she takes it personally. The case hits even closer to her heart when the best person to help with the investigation is Dr. Stefan Harper, the only man she ever loved-and lost. One look at the gorgeous medical expert and Mel realizes he's still impossible to resist-and still harboring a secret after all these years . . .


Afraid Mel wouldn't accept him, Stefan never revealed his study of magical medicine or his abilities, instead allowing her to believe he'd been unfaithful. Now she's back in his life-and their mutual attraction burns hotter than ever. But when something dark and otherworldly threatens humans, Stefan must summon his mage powers to keep everyone safe. Will Mel be able to trust him again? Or will their love cost him even more than it did the first time?

Melissa F. Olson

Trail of Dead
Scarlett Bernard 2
47North, June 4, 2013
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 297 pages

As a null, Scarlett Bernard possesses a rare ability to counteract the supernatural by instantly neutralizing spells and magical forces. For years she has used her gift to scrub crime scenes of any magical traces, helping the powerful paranormal communities of Los Angeles stay hidden. But after LAPD detective Jesse Cruz discovered Scarlett’s secret, he made a bargain with her: solve a particularly grisly murder case, and he would stay silent about the city’s unearthly underworld.

Now two dead witches are found a few days before Christmas, and Scarlett is once again strong-armed into assisting the investigation. She soon finds a connection between the murders and her own former mentor, Olivia, a null who mysteriously turned into a vampire and who harbors her own sinister agenda. Now Scarlett must revisit her painful past to find Olivia—unless the blood-drenched present claims her life first.

Cecy Robson

A Cursed Embrace
Weird Girls 2
Signet, July 2, 2013
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 368 pages

Celia Wird and her three sisters are just like other twentysomething girls—with one tiny exception: They are the products of a curse that backfired and gave each of them unique powers that made them, well, a little weird.…

After Celia Wird and her sisters help master vampire Misha save his family, their powers are exposed to the supernatural community of the Lake Tahoe region. But fame comes at a price, and being “weird” isn’t always welcome.

To make matters worse, Celia desires the love of Alpha werewolf Aric, but his pack is bent on destroying their relationship to preserve his pureblood status. And once weres start turning up dead—with evidence pointing to the vampires—she must face the prospect of losing Aric forever. But the chaos only masks a new threat. An evil known as the Tribe has risen—and their sights are set on Celia and her sisters.

Jillian Stone

The Miss Education of Dr. Exeter
Phaeton Black, Paranormal Investigator 3
Brava, June 25, 2013
Trade Paperback and eBook

From steam-powered bunkers to steamy boudoirs, paranormal detective Phaeton Black knows his way around Victorian London. But sometimes, when you slip down a rabbit hole, there's no turning back. . .

If The Portal's A-Rockin'

Phaeton Black is missing. Sucked into an alternative universe--courtesy of Professor Lovecraft's Trans-Dimensional Injection Portal--the illustrious investigator is nowhere to be found. Even the bewitching Miss America Jones, who's pregnant with Phaeton's child, has no clue to his whereabouts. But when a spy fly's microphone picks up Phaeton's voice in the parlors of Paris, she enlists his dearest friends to track him down--before his deadliest enemies find him first. . .

Don't Come A-Knockin'

Accompanied by the dashing Dr. Exeter, his delightful ward Mia, and a trusty duo of Nightshades, it's off to the City of Lights for the determined Miss Jones. Unfortunately, there is something about Paris in the fall that brings out the devil in Dr. Exeter--and the beast in mild-mannered Mia, whose animal urges transform her into a gorgeous panther. With physical reality unraveling on both sides of the cosmic rift, the good doctor must extract Phaeton Black from the clutches of a diabolical techno-wizard--or both could lose the women they love to love. . .forever.

Joan Swan

Phoenix Rising 3
Brava, August 27, 2013
Trade Paperback and eBook

Jessica Fury, Washington lobbyist, has money, connections, and her own firm. But five years ago she had something better: happiness. Her firefighter husband, Quaid, was handsome, courageous, and crazy about her. Then one day he walked into a chemical inferno—and never walked out. Jessica has been through hell to get back on her feet. And then a rumor surfaces that could bring a miracle or shatter her world—again.

Q has been a prisoner forever. He’s honed his mind and body into weapons. He’s developed abilities no one else understands. But he’s still at the mercy of a cabal of ruthless men, who blank his memory, test him like a lab rat, and tell him lies. Although his past has been erased and his future looks grim, instinct tells him he has a woman to live for. What his mind can’t remember, his body can’t forget…

The heat is on.

The View From Monday - May 27, 2013

Happy last Monday in May.  I hope everyone who has the long weekend is enjoying themselves.  This a huge release week. It more than makes up for all the light weeks during the rest of May.

There is one debut this week - The Shambling Guide to New York City by Mur Lafferty.

Also out this week from former Debut Author Challenge authors are

Fiery Edge of Steel (Noon Onyx 2) by Jill Archer;

Binding the Shadows (Arcadia Bell 3) by Jenn Bennett;  and

The Blue Blazes (Mookie Pearl 1) by Chuck Wendig.

May 27, 2013
Wounded Angel (e) Stacy Gail PNR - The Earth Angels 3
Prince of Shadows (e) Nancy Gideon PNR - Shadows 4
Die on Your Feet (e) S.G. Wong AH/M/Noir

May 28, 2013
Fiery Edge of Steel Jill Archer F - Noon Onyx 2
Binding the Shadows Jenn Bennett UF - Arcadia Bell 3
Moxyland (ri) Lauren Beukes SF
Darkness Bred Stella Cameron PNR - Chimney Rock 2
Ride the Star Winds (tp2mm) A. Bertram Chandler SF - John Grimes Sage 4
After Earth Peter David SF - Movie Tie-In
Undead and Unstable (h2mm) MaryJanice Davidson PNR - Betsy Taylor 11
Dalek Collectible Figurine and Illustrated Book Richard Dinnick SF - Doctor Who
Light-Up Tardis Kit Richard Dinnick SF - Doctor Who
Avenging Angel Cynthia Eden PNR/AH - Fallen 4
Leopard's Prey Christine Feehan PNR - Leopard People 6
Forever Jacquelyn Frank PNR - World of Nightwalkers 2
Flashpoint (h2mm) Christie Golden SF - Starcraft II
Midnight's Kiss: Part 3 (e) Donna Grant PNR - Darkest Warriors
Kiss the Dead (h2mm) Laurell K. Hamilton UF - Anita Blake Vampire Hunter 21
Shadow of Night (h2tp) Deborah Harkness F - All Souls Trilogy 2
A Witch's Handbook of Kisses and Curses Molly Harper PNR - Half Moon Hollow 3
Darkness Avenged Alexandra Ivy PNR - Guardians of Eternity 11
South of Surrender Laura Kaye PNR - Hearts of the Anemoi 3
Deeply Odd Dean Koontz H - Odd Thomas 6
The Shambling Guide to New York City (D) Mur Lafferty UF - Shambling Guides 1
The Spirit Well (h2tp) Stephen R. Lawhead F - Bright Empires 3
The Shocks of Adversity William Leisner SF - Star Trek: The Original Series
Horizon (tp2mm) Sophie Littlefield Dys - Aftertime 3
Star Trek Cross-Stitch: Explore Strange New Worlds of Crafting John Lohman SF - Crafts
Sky Dragons (h2mm) Anne McCaffrey
Todd McCaffrey
F - Dragonriders of Pern: New Adventures
Antiagon Fire L. E. Modesitt, Jr. F - Imager Portfolio 7
Ghost Spin Chris Moriarty SF - Spin Trilogy 3
The Price of Peace Mike Moscoe SF - Jump Universe 2
Any Other Name Emma Newman F - Split World 2
Tempest Reborn Nicole Peeler UF - Jane True 6
Damocles S. G. Redling SF
Blue Remembered Earth (h2mm) Alastair Reynolds SF - Poseidon's Children 1
Lady of the Forest (ri) Jennifer Roberson F - Robin Hood
The Eighth Court Mike Shevdon UF - Courts of the Feyre 4
Life on the Preservation Jack Skillingstead SF
Elfhome (h2mm) Wen Spencer F - Elfhome 3
Fearsome Journeys: The New Solaris Book of Fantasy Jonathan Strahan (ed) F - Anthology
The Craving (tp2mm) Jason Starr UF - The Pack 2
Tangible (e) Jody Wallace UF - Dreamwalker 1
War Maid's Choice (h2mm) David Weber F - War God 4
The Blue Blazes Chuck Wendig UF - Mookie Pearl 1

May 29, 2013
The Elephant in the Room: A Tor.Com Original (e) Paul Cornell SF

May 31, 2013
I Travel by Night Robert McCammon H
The Gist Michael Marshall Smith F
War over Lemuria: Richard Shaver, Ray Palmer and the Strangest Chapter of 1940s Science Fiction Richard Toronto SF/Literary Criticism

D - Debut
e - eBook
h2mm - Hardcover to Mass Market Paperback
h2tp - Hardcover to Trade Paperback
ri - reissue or reprint
tp2mm - Trade to Mass Market Paperback

AH - Alternate History
Dys - Dystopian
F - Fantasy
H - Horror
M - Mystery
N - Noir
PNR - Paranormal Romance
SF - Science Fiction
SP - Steampunk
UF - Urban Fantasy

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Melanie's Week in Review - May 26, 2013

This has been a week that I can only describe as 'pants mcpantus'. I have had a week of almost 100% stress at work and looked forward to escaping into some really good books. I was mostly successful on this front.

For those of you have been checking out my 'week in review' you will know that last week I discovered Alex Bledsoe's Eddie La Crosse series. I enjoyed Blonde Edged Sword and Burn Me Deadly so much that I rushed to buy the third and fourth books of the series. I decided to be magnanimous and let the 'hubinator' read book 3 - Dark Jenny - before me.  I hope to be able to tell you a bit more about what I thought of these books next week.

Applause everyone!! I finished The Scrivener's Tale by Fiona McIntosh. This book has taken me an unusually long time to finish but I am reviewing it soon so keep your eye out what I thought of it.

OK....I confess.....I started a new series rather than reading one of the many, many books on my TBR. I got lured into buying a free book from my Kindle recommendations (can you buy a free book?) and am now on book 4 of the series.  So what tempted me to the dark side...the side of buying new rather than reading what I already have?  I ran across Lindsay Buroker's The Emperor's Edge series. Book 1  - The Emperor's Edge was for free, free, free, from Amazon and I really liked it so decided to get book 2 - Dark Currents. As my week turned more and more stressful from work I kept going on the series that I was already enjoying rather than risking something I hadn't read yet. So I finished Deadly Games today which was quite grisly and had a tiny bit more romance between our hero and heroine. I just started Conspiracy and its turning out to be another consistently good book from the series. These are self pubs and you won't be wowed by the covers but its what's inside that counts, after all.

I also started Mike Shevdon's The Eighth Court (Courts of the Feyre 4). I have enjoyed this series, especially the first two books. I am not that far into the book as I will be reviewing it and didn't want to read it too closely to The Scrivener's Tale.  

Lucky me also got J.T. Geissinger's new book Rapture's Edge from NetGalley. I have really enjoyed the Night Prowler series so far and I am certain to like this next installment. The nice people from Kindle also offered Mark T. Barnes's The Garden of Stones for £1.99 so it is now gracing my TBR. Another week of making my TBR grow rather than making it smaller!  At least I have some goodies to read next week.

I would love to know what you are reading so leave a comment or send me a tweet @mellidrama.  Wishing you a great week and Happy Reading!

What's Up for the 2012 Debut Authors in 2013? - Part 8 - May 26, 2013

What are the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Authors up to 2013?  This is the eighth in a series of posts.

See Part 1 here.
See Part 2 here.
See Part 3 here.
See Part 4 here.
See Part 5 here.
See Part 6 here.
See Part 7 here.
See Part 9 here.
See Part 10 here.
See Part 11 here.
See Part 12 here.

Chris F. Holm

The Big Reap
The Collector 3
Angry Robot (July 30, 2012 US/Canada; August 1, 2013 UK)
Mass Market Paperback and eBook

Sam Thornton has had many run-ins with his celestial masters, but he’s always been sure of his own actions.

However, when he’s tasked with dispatching the mythical Brethren – a group of former Collectors who have cast off their ties to Hell – is he still working on the side of right?

File Under: Urban Fantasy [ Soul Solution | Secret Origins | Flaming Torches | Double Dealing ]

Benedict Jacka

Alex Verus 4
Ace, August 27, 2013
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 304 pages


I don’t publicly advertise that I’m a mage, but I don’t exactly hide it either, and one of the odd things I’ve learnt over the years is just how much you can get away with if you’re blatant enough. Hide something behind smoke and mirrors and make people work to find it, and they’ll tear the place down looking for what’s there.

Alex Verus is a diviner who can see probable futures—a talent that’s gotten him out of many a tough scrape. But this time, he may be in over his head. Alex was once apprenticed to a Dark mage, and in his service he did a lot of things he isn’t proud of.

As rumors swirl that his old master is coming back, Alex comes face to face with his misdeeds in the form of a young adept whose only goal is to get revenge. Alex has changed his life for the better, but he’s afraid of what his friends—including his apprentice, Luna—will think of his past. But if they’re going to put themselves at risk, they need to know exactly what kind of man they’re fighting for…

Anne E. Johnson

Blue Diamond Delivery
Candlemark and Gleam, June 25, 2013

All Webrid has to do is make one simple delivery to prevent the planets of the Raralt Circle from cracking to pieces. How hard could that be? Join Webrid, Stravin, and Zatell as they stagger into another nail-biting, spit-taking adventure to save the world, whether they feel like it or not.
From the author's website.

Suzanne Johnson

Elysian Fields
Sentinels of New Orleans 3
Tor Books, August 13, 2013
Hardcover and eBook, 352 pages

The mer feud has been settled, but life in South Louisiana still has more twists and turns than the muddy Mississippi.

New Orleanians are under attack from a copycat killer mimicking the crimes of a 1918 serial murderer known as the Axeman of New Orleans. Thanks to a tip from the undead pirate Jean Lafitte, DJ Jaco knows the attacks aren’t random—an unknown necromancer has resurrected the original Axeman of New Orleans, and his ultimate target is a certain blonde wizard. Namely, DJ.

Combating an undead serial killer as troubles pile up around her isn’t easy. Jake Warin’s loup-garou nature is spiraling downward, enigmatic neighbor Quince Randolph is acting weirder than ever, the Elders are insisting on lessons in elven magic from the world’s most annoying wizard, and former partner Alex Warin just turned up on DJ’s to-do list. Not to mention big maneuvers are afoot in the halls of preternatural power.

Suddenly, moving to the Beyond as Jean Lafitte’s pirate wench could be DJ’s best option.

Bec McMaster

My Lady Quicksilver
London Steampunk 3
Sourcebooks Casablanca, October 1, 2013
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 448 pages

Determined to destroy the Echelon she despises, Rosalind Fairchild is on seemingly easy mission. Get in. Uncover the secrets of her brother's disappearance. And get out.

In order to infiltrate the Nighthawks and find their leader, Sir Jasper Lynch, Rosalind will pose as their secretary. But she doesn't count on Lynch being such a dangerously charismatic man, challenging her at every turn, forcing her to re-evaluate everything she knows about the enemy.

He could be her most dangerous nemesis – or the ally she never dreamed existed.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Review: A Matter of Blood (The Forgotten Gods 1) by Sarah Pinborough

A Matter of Blood
Author:  Sarah Pinborough
Series:  The Forgotten Gods 1
Publisher:  Ace, April 2, 2013
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 352 pages
Price:  $16.00 (print)
ISBN:  9780425258460 (print)
Review copy:  Provided by Publisher

In a world steeped in darkness, a new breed of evil has fallen…

London’s ruined economy has pushed everyone to the breaking point, and even the police rely on bribes and deals with criminals to survive. Detective Inspector Cass Jones struggles to keep integrity in the police force, but now, two gory cases will test his mettle. A gang hit goes wrong, leaving two schoolboys dead, and a serial killer calling himself the Man of Flies leaves a message on his victims saying “nothing is sacred.”

Then Cass’ brother murders his own family before committing suicide. Cass doesn’t believe his gentle brother did it. Yet when evidence emerges suggesting someone killed all three of them, a prime suspect is found—Cass himself.

Common links emerge in all three cases, but while Cass is finding more questions than answers, the Man of Flies continues to kill...

Trinitytwo's Thoughts:

A Matter of Blood, The Forgotten Gods: Book One deposits the reader directly into the unsettling streets of London via the life of homicide detective, Cass Jones. In the not so distant future, the underlying criminal element no longer lurks beneath the surface of the city. A depressed economy has resulted in a justice system where even the police are encouraged to take bribes to make ends meet. DI Jones is searching for clues in two high profile cases. The first, a gruesome serial killer who paints "Nothing is sacred" in blood on each of his victim's chests and the second, two innocent schoolboys gunned down in what seems to be a gang hit gone wrong. As Cass investigates these murders he receives a call informing him that his only brother, Christian, has committed suicide after murdering his wife and teenage son. Cass soon becomes a suspect in his family's deaths and he tries to unravel this cruel twist of fate while also dealing with his failing marriage. As he tries to decipher what really happened to his brother, he must revisit his past and the many unpleasant memories and mysteries that dwell there all the while trying to solve the multitude of mysteries in the present.

This smart police procedural mystery also overlaps into the world of dark fantasy. Since this was Book One in a series, I was a little concerned that the ending would leave me hanging. This was definitely NOT the case. Sarah Pinborough's London is so well described that the griminess of its streets is almost tangible. What I loved about this story was that much like a rogue wave,  he suspense built without my notice until CRASH!, it broke like thunder, swept me off my feet and left me gasping for air. Cass Jones is an anti-hero that struggles in his personal relationships and with other members of the police force. Frankly, he is not a very nice guy, he is however, an awesome detective who finds success through his analytical mind and dead-on gut instincts. He will take you on a journey that is often unexpected, but very enjoyable. This is not a book to take lightly, but one to savor as each page guides you to the exciting and unanticipated conclusion.

As you might have noticed neither Melanie nor I have written this review. Please welcome Trinitytwo as The Qwillery's newest reviewer. Trinitytwo is a longtime avid reader of genre fiction.We love to meet for coffee and discuss books!

What's Up for the 2012 Debut Authors in 2013? - Part 7

What are the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Authors up to in 2013?  This is the seventh in a series of posts.

See Part 1 here.
See Part 2 here.
See Part 3 here.
See Part 4 here.
See Part 5 here.
See Part 6 here.
See Part 8 here.
See Part 9 here.
See Part 10 here.
See Part 11 here.
See Part 12 here.

Ania Ahlborn

The Shuddering
47North, June 18, 2013
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 294 pages

Ryan Adler and his twin sister, Jane, spent their happiest childhood days at their parents’ mountain Colorado cabin—until divorce tore their family apart. Now, with the house about to be sold, the Adler twins gather with their closest friends for one last snowboarding-filled holiday. While commitment-phobic Ryan gazes longingly at Lauren, wondering if his playboy days are over, Jane’s hopes of reconciling with her old boyfriend evaporate when he brings along his new fiancée. As drama builds among the friends, something lurks in the forest, watching the cabin, growing ever bolder as the snow falls…and hunger rises.

After a blizzard leaves the group stranded, the true test of their love and loyalty begins as the hideous creatures outside close in, one bloody attack at a time. Now Ryan, Jane, and their friends must fight—tooth and nail, bullet and blade—for their lives. Or else surrender to unspeakable deaths in the darkened woods.

Madeline Ashby

Machine Dynasty 2
Angry Robot, June 25, 2013 (US/Can Print / eBook); July 4, 2013 (UK Print)
Trade Paperback and eBook

Javier is a self-replicating humanoid on a journey of redemption.

Javier’s quest takes him from Amy’s island, where his actions have devastating consequences for his friend, toward Mecha where he will find either salvation… or death.

File Under: Science Fiction [ vN2 | Island in the Streams | Failsafe No More | The Stepford Solution ]

Steve Bein

Year of the Demon
Fated Blades 2
Roc Trade, October 1, 2013
Trade Paperback and eBook, 480 pages


Detective Sergeant Mariko Oshiro has been promoted to Japan’s elite Narcotics unit—and with this promotion comes a new partner, a new case, and new danger. The underboss of a powerful yakuza crime syndicate has put a price on her head, and he’ll lift the bounty only if she retrieves an ancient iron demon mask that was stolen from him in a daring raid. However, Mariko has no idea of the tumultuous past carried within the mask—or of its deadly link with the famed Inazuma blade she wields.

The secret of this mask originated hundreds of years before Mariko was born, and over time the mask’s power has evolved to bend its owner toward destruction, stopping at nothing to obtain Inazuma steel. Mariko’s fallen sensei knew much of the mask’s hypnotic power and of its mysterious link to a murderous cult. Now Mariko must use his notes to find the mask before the cult can bring Tokyo to its knees—and before the underboss decides her time is up....

Alexa Egan

Shadow's Curse
Imnada Brotherhood 2
Pocket Books, September 24, 2013
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 416 pages

The second novel in the dark and sexy Imnada Brotherhood trilogy featuring shape- shifters in Regency-era England.

Suffering under a horrible curse and renounced by his clan, the Imnada shape-shifter, David St. Leger, stalks the London nights in the form of a large black wolf, channeling his desperate rage on thieves and murderers. But when he’s captured by the very woman he sought to rescue, he’s thrown into the magical and dangerous world of the Other—half human, half-Fey, and one of the Imnada’s ancient enemies.

Forced by her half-brother to use her gift of necromancy as a money-making scheme, Callista Hawthorne wants only to flee to her aunt in Scotland where she’ll be safe. Considering David her last hope, she offers him a deal—freedom in exchange for his protection on the long journey north.

Now in a race for their lives, Other and Imnada must put aside centuries of animosity and work together if they are to overcome the dark forces intent on stopping them before they reach safety. For Callista is far more powerful than she knows, and with her help and her love, David may finally be able to break the curse of the Imnada…

Max Gladstone

Two Serpents Rise
Craft Sequence 2
Tor Books, October 29, 2013
Hardcover and eBook, 352 pages

Shadow demons plague the city reservoir, and Red King Consolidated has sent in Caleb Altemoc—casual gambler and professional risk manager—to cleanse the water for the sixteen million people of Dresediel Lex. At the scene of the crime, Caleb finds an alluring and clever cliff runner, crazy Mal, who easily outpaces him.

But Caleb has more than the demon infestation, Mal, or job security to worry about when he discovers that his father—the last priest of the old gods and leader of the True Quechal terrorists—has broken into his home and is wanted in connection to the attacks on the water supply.

From the beginning, Caleb and Mal are bound by lust, Craft, and chance, as both play a dangerous game where gods and people are pawns. They sleep on water, they dance in fire…and all the while the Twin Serpents slumbering beneath the earth are stirring, and they are hungry.