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Lissibith

Inkspot Fancy

Comics and fantasy and sci-fi, oh my!

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William Hope Hodgson
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Satoru Matsuba

A Hell of a Halloween

Autumn Bones - Jacqueline Carey

Daisy's hoping that after the whole mysterious-eldritch-involved-drowning of the first book, things will be calming down in her life. The heavy tourist season is over for her town, and some of the various non-human creatures in the area go into some sort of winter hibernation. But life isn't usually kind enough to give a Hellspawn a break. And this time, it comes in the form of a personal disagreement that threatens the whole town.

 

Let me just warn you up front - this book starts out with something that might be uncomfortable for some readers. As she's relaxing and listening to a concert at the start of the book, our hero Daisy gets a call that turns out to be a satyr, who's gone "into rut" and the pheromones he's putting off have turned a gay bar into a huge orgy. It also nearly pulls in Daisy and her werewolf police partner, Cody. And while it gets resolved fairly quickly, it's also kind of treated in a weirdly glib way - like, there's not any real concern for the people involved, just a general sort of "Well, guess we better try to prevent that from happening again" sort of attitude. I guess the entire thing was just to set up a subplot that comes later, but it could have been basically anything eldrich. Though it does give us this passage - "Placing his hands on his hips, he nodded enthusiastically, giving his pelvis a little thrust for emphasis. Kind of like he was offering up the world's most startling door prize" - which made me crack up for some reason, so... small favors?

 

After that, we get into the meat of the story - Daisy has begun dating Sinclair Palmer, the tour bus driver from the last book. They're not sure exactly what their relationship is, but they seem to be having fun figuring it out. Except, that figuring out gets interrupted when Sinclair's cultured lawyer sister Emmeline Palmer shows up with an ultimatum - she wants Daisy to break up with Sinclair and sabotage his business so he'll return to his original home in Jamaica, to work with his mother and sister.

 

Even just on principle, it's a shitty thing to ask of someone. And it doesn't help that Emmeline is pretty unlikeable. She comes across as the better-than-everyone mean girl in high school, putting on whatever mask fits her needs from one moment to the next. I think she was something of a missed opportunity, since if I'd understood more about her and why she wanted her brother home other than "because home" and "because mom" there might have been more tension. As it was, she didn't feel like she had any stakes in the proceedings, like she was just there as a bit of a plot prop. This goes double for another character who shows up for basically one scene near the end, just long enough to unleash the biggest wrench into the works that the book gets, and then leaves again.

 

I do like that Daisy is getting more proactive in this volume. She does some proactive stuff with Emmeline and her threats. She also decides to start working on a database of important info on the eldritch community in the wake of that whole satyr thing at the start of this review. (She gets help for that from another new character who turned out to be surprisingly more than I expected from his introduction). She also proves herself willing to fight - physically fight - when tradition demands it of her in the book.

 

Cody the werewolf doesn't really get too much screen time in this one. (Page time?) It's a shame because I thought he was one of the weaker parts of the first book, and he didn't help himself in this one. But Stefan gets to play a big, meaty role and round his backstory, character and motivations out in a really nice way. Another nice surprise was his new lieutenant, a 200-year-old ghoul with a unique take on life.

 

Some other favorites from the last book, like Casimir, Daisy's mom and Lurine, are here as well, in roles of varying size. Daisy's best friend maintains her presence, but her sister gets an interesting twist on her story which I thought was fantastic I was really glad to see them all. Most of the inhabitants of this series' world are very interesting people.

 

Overall, this book turned out to be a weird case where I didn't care for the setup of the plot, but I liked the climax. The plot itself was exceedingly simplistic, but the final battle, etc., were actually pretty suspenseful and exciting. Bonus points there.

 

Overall, this book was okay - enjoyable and fun, dark without getting into gritty territory, but in some ways unsatisfying. Certainly enough to keep me going in the series, but part of me just wishes I'd gotten more from this.