Monday, June 24, 2019

Lies Sleeping, by Ben Aaronovitch. Daw Books, 2018

This is the conclusion of the Faceless Man (ver. 2.0) arc that has carried through all the previous Rivers of London books and graphic novels. Narrator Peter Grant has had a lot of adventures through the series, but this arc has always hung over him. Finally it comes to a close.

This installment uses pretty much the entire cast of characters that have been introduced through the years, both police and river gods. The Faceless Man has pulled together his own army, too, in a very different way than the good guys have. The good and bad guys clash a number of times through the book before the final battle, and the energy stays high most of the time. Of course, all these people and events and of course the great descriptions of places and history gets confusing, at least for me, and I found myself looking back at pages before – and wishing I had the entire series to check things in. But I loved the book. Peter Grant is one of the world’s great characters; the attention to details that Aaronovitch gives him is wonderful, and his dry humor is great. And I have loved seeing him mature through the books; in his abilities, his character, and in his relationship with Beverly. The author has started a different series set in the same universe, and I do hope this doesn’t mean the last of Peter Grant and co.! There are still things that have not been tidied up, even some things just started in this book. Five stars!

Thursday, June 20, 2019

The October Man, by Ben Aaronovitch. Subterranean Press, 2019

I’ve been waiting impatiently for the next episode in the “Rivers of London” series, so I was delighted to spot this on the library’s ‘new books’ rack. Then I discovered that even though it’s considered part of that series, it’s not set in London and the characters are all new.

When a dead body is found enveloped with fungus, specifically the one that causes the ‘noble rot’ on wine grapes, Tobias Winter is called in. He’s the agent from the German version of the Folly. He’s assigned Vanessa Sommer as a regular police partner for the case. Soon more bodies turn up, and the signs point to a secret hundreds of years old, and involves a river goddess who has reincarnated, ghosts, magic, and a vineyard.

This is a short book- a novella, really- so a lot happens in a short time. Vanessa (and the readers) are brought up to speed on the magical situation during drives from place to place and a dinner scene. Tobias has a different voice from Peter’s; he’s much more serious and doesn’t have the wit when describing things that Peter does. It took me a while to warm up to him. Vanessa has promise; she catches on to things very quickly. While I really hope to see more of Peter Grant and Nightingale, I look forward to seeing more of Winter and Sommer (really?!?!), too. Four stars; good magic and murder plot but too rushed.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

A Night in the Lonesome October, by Roger Zelazny & Gahan Wilson. Avon Books, 1993

Roger Zelazny- a favorite author of mine for his ‘Amber’ series and ‘Lord of Light’- has written a marvelous romp of a horror story. The large cast of characters includes figures from horror stories, Victorian mysteries, and vintage monster movies. You figure out who these folks are as you go along; a couple I never figured out. Apparently there is a large site on the web where people have discussed all this!

Written from the POV of Snuff the dog, who is really the familiar of Jack; the tale has 31 chapters, one for each day of October. The characters have a countdown; on the 31 is a full moon, and a great magical working will take place. Some characters are Openers, who seek to open a portal for the Elder Gods to enter the world. Some, like Jack, are Closers, who seek to keep them out. Each has an animal familiar- Graymalk the cat, Bubo the rat, and so on.

Snuff is not just a guard dog; he’s a worker of magical mathematics. He seeks to find out where exactly the battle must take place; to figure it, he must know how many individuals will be there and whether they are Openers or Closers. He talks with the other familiars to see what they have seen and heard. And he tries to figure out who is murdering some of the contenders… killings that have not taken place before on any of the previous events.

Until the very end, the story takes its time, then it happens in a rush. In the beginning, there was a point where I was thinking “Where is this all going?!?” and then it started to make sense. It’s witty along with creepy and I really enjoyed it. The illustrations by Gahan Wilson (a rather morbid cartoonist) are nice, and I really love the cover illustration (not by Wilson) that shows most of the main characters. I heartily recommend this for reading in October to get in the Halloween mood!