Sunday, July 18, 2010

Darkness Calls - review

303 pages

urban fantasy

This is a book that I've had on my TBR shelf for about a year. Sometimes I get all excited about buying a book, love the author so much, but for some reason or another (B.A.D.D., folks) I end up letting the book languish on the shelf - sometimes even starting it (as in reading the first page) until I'm distracted by another shiny new sparkly book books.....

Darkness Calls is the second in Marjorie M. Liu's Hunter Kiss series. The first was The Iron Hunt. There is a third book coming soon (July 27th) titled A Wild Light - looks promising. I sincerely hope I don't wait a year to read A Wild Light.

Maxine Kiss is the main character of this series. She is a Hunter - she hunts evil things, demons that have possessed people, Zombies - which are another form of possesion - and what ever causes chaos and death for humans. Maxine has the help of her "boys", which ironically, are also demons. These little demons are totally loyal and bonded to Maxine; to Maxine and all her previous ancestors back throught the maternal line. When the sun is in the sky-beginning at sunrise- these demons live on her body. They look like tattoos, except these tattoos are never in the same place at any given time. They move from area to area to protect. Even though they are asleep during the day, they will still sense danger and protect Maxine making her indestructible during the day. When the sun sets, they peel off her body and roam in and out of shadows, helping Maxine to hunt the baddies. They have done this for all the women down Maxine's ancestry. When a Hunter dies, it's time to go from her to her daughter - who will be old enough to carry on the fight.

It's very hard to explain the plot of this book in any sort of concise brief manner. Maxine has settled in one place for far longer than acceptable according to her mother's teachings. Hunters live a nomadic life, traveling from country to country, place to place protecting people. But Grant, a man with some mysterious powers of his own, draws Maxine to him. Grant runs a homeless shelter/help center. Grant has musical abilities that are supernatural.

This novel follows Maxine and Grant as they are led separately into traps - which they knowingly go into. They end up in the same place alternately saving each other, as well as other people they are close to. There are secondary characters from the first novel that are a large part of Darkness Calls. If you haven't read The Iron Hunt, it explains quite a bit about Maxine and Grant, as well as their friends. Questions and a couple of mysteries are explained in Darkness Calls.

Grant is asked to go to China to handle a problem with an old friend (a priest) by another priest that seems to hate both Grant and Maxine - which begins their adventure and is the beginnings of a plot against them. By the way, Grant is a former priest himself.

Darkness Calls is a very dark urban fantasy. It's dark - with many myths blended into the story. Marjorie M Liu is very good at taking many myths and blending them together, creating new ways of looking at legends and religions. I found it all extremely interesting - I especially enjoyed the way it was all laid out - subtly and delicately. The novel is filled with lyrical horror, and poetic terror. I know that sounds weird, but that's the only way I can describe the style of writing in this book. Horrific things happen, but I never felt bludgeoned with gore or smothered in information. At the end of the book, though at times I had the feeling that nothing good was ever going to happen, I ended up feeling very satisfied with the novel.

Some of the characters that remained in Maxine's life from the first novel were revealed even more as people - or demons the case may be (I believe the professionals call this Character Development). Maxine's "boys" are a favorite part of the story for me. There are five of them - two of them are twins and dress alike, and though they seemingly randomly break out in songs (not loud showtunes) or humming, the songs always relate to the situation of the moment. These two are also frequently holding teddybears and wearing baseball caps... Two others work in a pair, and then there is Zee - who comforts Maxine, calls her "Sweet Maxine". It's endearing.

There is a teen that Maxine rescued from the street in the last book, and he sticks by her. In fact there is a moment when Ms Liu teases a bit about Byron's origins. Mary - the totally whacked out crazy homeless woman is totally devoted to Grant and weaves in and out of the novel. Another "character" is the ring that Maxine found in The Iron Hunt - there is serious "woo-woo" going on with that ring.

I thoroughly enjoyed Darkness Calls. Maxine's character is different. Not a lot of angst, though there's contemplation of the past and future - it's not overwhelming to the storyline. The dialogue was good. There was a bit of dramatic flair coming between a couple of the characters, but I put that down to the extremely long life they've lived, and their origins. I had been under the impression from the first book, that Maxine was of Asian descent - but there isn't anything mentioned about that in Darkness Calls, so now I'm wondering if I projected that into the novel. I'm going to have re-read The Iron Hunt at some point, so I'll keep my mind on it then.

This is not light-hearted fare, although there are a few lighthearted moments (or maybe I'm just weird). It's a very well-written, satisfying novel that makes me eager to read more. I highly recommend Darkness Calls, and if you haven't read it yet, also read The Iron Hunt.

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1 comment:

  1. I am putting her on my TBR list! I had never heard of her!