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Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Author: Alaya Johnson
Ratings: V-4, S-3, H-2
Plot Type: HIS, UF
Publisher and Title: St. Martin's
     "The Inconstant Moon" (free on-line prequel novella)
      Moonshine (5/2010) 
      Wicked City (4/2012)

     This blog entry was revised and updated on 5/21/12 to include a review of the second book in the series: Wicked City. That review comes first, followed by an overview of the world-building and a review of book 1:

       BOOK 2: Wicked City       
     As book 2 begins, Zephyr is still determined to break her bond with Amir. As the story begins, she makes arrangements with a powerful witch to assist her in this, but when she learns that her actions might have disastrous consequences for Amir, she's not sure whether she should proceed. In the meantime, vampires are dying after drinking Faust, the vampire liquor that Amir introduced to the city in the previous book. Zephyr has always castigated Amir for bringing Faust to New York City, and she never misses a chance to bring it up and hold it over him in their never-ending arguments. In the central story line, Zephyr involves herself in some political intrigue with Mayor Jimmy Walker and his special advisor for Others, Judith Brandon. In the meantime, Zephyr's roommate, Aileen, has become a well-know society medium, holding seances and talking with the dead. At one of these seances, the spirit of one of the murdered vampires implicates Zephyr in the crime. Eventually, the police arrest Zephyr on suspicion of murder. 

     Zephyr's two main problems, then, are to figure out who is trying to frame her and to break her bond with Amir. As she tries to solve both problems, she makes many wrong-headed decisions, particularly relating to Amir. All of the disparate story lines eventually converge in a climactic scene at City Hall between Zephyr and the murderer. Although the reader may have some suspicions about the identity of the murderer, the resolution is actually quite inventive and ultimately unpredictableat least it was for me. The ending is a cliff hanger, so we can expect a third book. Let's hope it comes along a bit quicker than this one did. 

     For me, this is a so-so series. Zephyr isn't the most sympathetic heroine, as she constantly jumps to conclusions and always speaks up aggressivelyusually sarcasticallybefore thinking things through. She even manages to offend her  closest girlfriends. Although it is true that Amir is arrogant, throughout most of this book he does his best to help Zephyrto no avail. She won't listen to him and never really trusts him until the very end, when it's almost too late. 

     In this alternate 1920s New York City, the Others (e.g., vampires, shifters) have come out to the general public but are considered to be the underclass. The series heroine, 24-year-old Zephyr Hollis, is known as the “vampire suffragette” because of her charity work with the Others. Zephyr, a vegetarian, teaches literacy classes for immigrants and Others, volunteers at soup kitchens, and rides her bicycle to meetings for various social progressive causes. Oddly, she earns a meager living singing in nightclubs. A major plot point is that Zephyr is immune to vampire bites: she can’t be turned

     Back home in Montana, Zephyr’s father is a famous demon hunter, and Zephyr herself spent several years on his hunting team, but now she has, in her father’s disdainful words, become a “do gooder.”

       Free On-Line Prequel Novella: The Inconstant Moon       
     This story begins as Zephyr boards the train that will take her from Montana to New York City. There, she plans to meet up with Troy, her childhood sweetheart, who is now the leader of the Defendersassassins for hire who hunt down Others who cross legal lines. When Zephyr arrives in Union Station, she has a near-violent confrontation with a group of moon-crazed young shifters and becomes determined to try to prevent their violent "animal parties" at the next full moon. Shockingly for Zephyr, a vampire befriends her after her run-in with the shifters. Patrick is the first vampire Zephyr has ever interacted with on a friendly basis. Previously, she just killed every vampire she met. Meanwhile, Troy expects Zephyr to do her part with the Defenders (i.e., hunt and kill vampires) in exchange for room and board. Both Zephyr and Troy have changed a lot, and their Montana romance doesn't survive in the big city. The plot follows Zephyr on vampire hunts and on dates with Patrick. She can hardly believe that she is going out with a vampire, and when she learns some bad news about Patrick's past, she is forced to make some difficult decisions

     This novella sets the stage for book 1, by which time Zephyr has fully blossomed into her liberal, altruistic persona and has turned her back on her father's demon-hunting ways. This is mostly because she has learned from her relationship with Patrick that all vampires are not evil. She plans to spend her time working to improve the lives (or undeaths) of the vampires of New York City.

       BOOK 1: Moonshine       
     As the story begins, a mysterious Middle Eastern man named Amir attends Zephyr’s literacy class and asks her to help him locate Rinaldo, the local vampire mob boss, who uses street urchins (the Turn Boys) as drug peddlers and revenant tomcats as assassins. Zephyr soon discover that Amir is not exactly human and that he views most humans and Others with superiority and disdain. As the plot progresses, Zephyr and Amir are attracted to one other, but their relationship is, of course, very rockythis is, after all, a paranormal romance! Gradually, Zephyr discovers (with dismay) more and more facts about Amir’s real reasons for finding Rinaldo. By the end of the book, Zephyr and Amir are forced into a strange and uncomfortable relationship that she is determined to end. 


  1. Book 2, "Wicked City," is scheduled to be released on 04/10/2012.

  2. Please see question and answer #7 on the FAQ page of this blog. Thanks.