Author: Jocelynn Drake
Series: THE ASYLUM TALES
Plot Type: UF
Ratings: V4; S2; H2
Publisher and Titles: Harper Voyager
"The Asylum Interviews: Bronx" (e-novella, 7/2012)
"The Asylum Interviews: Trixie" (e-novella, 9/2012)
Angel's Ink (10/2012)
"Of Monsters and Men" in Blood by Moonlight (e-book 10/2012; paperback 11/2012)
At the top of the supernatural power structure are the warlocks and witches, who live in the Ivory Towers. "Each continent was dotted with gleaming towers made of white marble and granite that stretched above the clouds. These were the elusive Ivory Towers, their exact locations known only to the witches and warlocks who lived in them." (Angel's Ink, p. 6)
So far, I have read the two novellas, the novel, and the short story, and I have concluded that Gage is a somewhat paranoid, mostly well-meaning wuss whose caustic gibes and volatile temper contribute heavily to his constant breaking of the law of self-preservation as he consistently taunts those stronger than himself and winds up beaten to a pulp time and time again. The one time he defends himself spectacularly and with great passion (in the short story), he uses magic, which he has been forbidden to do. Gage does have some good qualities: loyalty to his friends, excellence at his tattoo craft, and a limited ability to create and cast spells, but he definitely isn't an alpha hero in any way, shape, or form. One of his most typical behaviors is to forget to wear his jacket and then to complain about how cold he is. Who ever heard of a UF hero shivering and whining about his discomfort on a crisp fall night—or any other time, for that matter? So...if you're into passionate, over-the-top alpha heroes, Gage isn't going to meet your specifications.
Drake has also written the UF series DARK DAYS. Click HERE to read my review of that series.
Novella 1: "The Asylum Interviews: Bronx"
Once again, I don't know why the word "Interviews" is part of the title, because we learn absolutely nothing about Trixie except that she is an elf in hiding for unknown reasons. Like the first novella, this one contains no essential facts that are not already included in Angel's Ink.
BOOK 1: Angel's Ink
The primary conflict arises when Gage accidentally makes a terminally ill client (Tera) immortal by mixing a strand from an angel's feather into her tattoo ink. The Grim Reaper tells Gage that Tera was slated for death, and either she must die on schedule (in three days) or Gage will die in her place. The rest of the story follows Gage as he tries to figure out how to undo the immortality spell and save himself from death. Nothing in Gage's life is simple, and each step he takes in his search for the spell reversal takes him into another convoluted sub-plot. Some of these story threads are resolved, but others are left open-ended.
Ø The vampires who represent the Tattoo Artists & Potion Stirrers Society (TAPSS) demand that Gage solve his problem with Dalton before the witches and warlocks get involved. Threats and violence ensue. The vamps never appear again.
Ø The supernaturals who are after Trixie demand that Gage tell them where she is. Threats, violence, and property damage ensue. They appear once more, but the story line is unresolved.
Ø Simon, Gage's former mentor (from his warlock-in-training childhood in the Towers) demands that Gage fight him to the death because Gage is a blot on Simon's record. Threats, violence, and soul-snatching ensue. This story line is one of the few that is resolved.
Ø Reave Roundtree, a dark elf (aka Svartalfar), discovers that Gage is a warlock and demands that Gage work for him. Threats and violence ensue. This character never appears again, and the story line is unresolved.
Ø A notorious underworld figure demands that Gage free her. Threats ensue. This character appears once more, but the story line is unresolved.
Ø Chang, a mysterious Chinese man who deals in the buying and selling of magical artifacts, gives Gage some assistance. No threats or violence, just one more weird and powerful character added to the mix. Chang appears to be an ongoing character.
All in all, this book is far below the level set by the author in her previous paranormal series, DARK DAYS, and I don't hold out much hope for future books.
Short Story: "Of Monsters and Men"
This is one of three short stories in this anthology, and it focuses on Jackson ("Jack") Wagnalls, the werewolf pack leader who was turned into a Chihuahua by Gage in Angel's Ink. Jack needs Gage's help because it's Samhain, the night the Winter Court of the Fae holds its Wild Hunt, and it's also the full moon, when Jack's pack will be in the woods in furry form. Jack knows that the riders of the Wild Hunt will capture his wolves, and he wants Gage to whip up a spell to prevent that.
The story follows Gage as he helps Jack's pack and then must rescue Trixie from the Wild Hunt. This is actually the first time that Jack shows any kind of real passion. In fact, this is the first time that Jack has really seemed to be in complete control of one of the dangerous situations he keeps jumping into. Of course, his behavior in this situation worries him, because he is so afraid that even though he has turned his back on the Ivory Towers, he is still—deep down—a warlock, with all the horrific behavior that implies. When Gage left the Ivory Towers, he vowed never to use the dangerous spells he learned there, and he is sick at heart to realize that he has broken that vow. He says to Trixie, "How can you stand to be near me?...The things I almost did...I'm a monster....I nearly killed them all!...I've been lying to myself all these years. I'm a monster like the rest of them....I'm too dangerous to be among normal people." Jack may have broken his vow, but I have to say that it's refreshing to have Gage finally begin to man up and back up his attitude with some real action.