Only the most recent posts pop up on the HOME page. For searchable lists of titles/series reviewed on this Blog, click on one of the Page Tabs above. On each Page, click on the series name to go directly to my review.

AUTHOR SEARCH lists all authors reviewed on this Blog. CREATURE SEARCH groups all of the titles/series by their creature types. The RATINGS page explains the violence, sensuality, and humor (V-S-H) ratings codes found at the beginning of each Blog review and groups all titles/series by their Ratings. The PLOT TYPES page explains the SMR-UF-CH-HIS codes found at the beginning of each Blog review and groups all titles/series by their plot types. On this Blog, when you see a title, an author's name, or a word or phrase in pink type, this is a link. Just click on the pink to go to more information about that topic.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Author:  Theresa Meyers
Plot Type:  SMR, Steampunk
Ratings:  V4; S4; H2
Publisher and Titles:  Zebra
     The Hunter (2011)
     The Slayer (4/2012)
     "The Inventor" (novella, 12/2012)
     The Chosen (12/2012) (FINAL)

     This post was revised and updated on 3/29/13 to include a review of the third and FINAL book in the trilogy, The Chosen. That review appears first, followed by an overview of the world-building and reviews of books 1 and 2 and the novella:

          BOOK 3:  The Chosen         
     In this book, the middle brotherRemington (Remy)searches for the third part of the magical book and meets his Darkin soul mate, the shape-shifting China McGee, daughter of the demon Rathe. As the story opens, Remy rescues China from jail, where she has been incarcerated since she and her ex-lover, Colt, blew up a bank as part of their search for the book. At first, Remy believes that China and Colt are still a couple (and so does China) until Colt shows up with his new lover, Lilly. While Colt and Lilly go off to find the first part of the book and Winn and Tessa go to Europe to find the second part, Remy and China head for South America for the third and final piece.

     This plot is a mirror image of the previous two books as the couple begins as adversaries and then falls in lust/love as they face a myriad of dangers, including an army of skeletons, a lake of scorpions, and a river of sulphuric acid. These scenes get kind of silly at times (for example, ballroom dancing across a room filled with swinging obsidian blades, having to get nude in order to cross a wall of Darkin fire). Also included are a few more gadgets, like a deep-diving submarine and a spider-like conveyance that allows the couple to move through the rain forest at a brisk pace.

     The biggest complication in the romance is the fact that China has been Colt's lover. (It's always a problem when your new girlfriend has slept with your brother and may still be in love with him). Once that hurdle is overcome, though, Remy still has to face the fact that he has fallen for a Darkin, and China has to deal with her mixed feelings about her father.

     The villainous Rathe doesn't turn up until the very end of the story, which is a cataclysmic scene of violence and chaos at the Gates of Nyx in which all three brothers and their lovers must take a final stand. I found the first book of this series to be the strongest because the next two books are basically replicas of the first one: couple meets antagonistically, falls in love, faces seemingly insurmountable demonic obstacles, and eventually succeeds in their quest. 

     There were a few puzzling vocabulary choices in this book. Here's one example: "Remington seemed pragmatic, all except for the slight lift in his shoulders." (p. 102) Pragmatic? I don't think that's the word the author was searching for, because "pragmatic" means "practical," and that just doesn't work in this context. There are also a few inconsistencies in the plot. For example, at one point, China shapeshifts into a replica of Marley in an attempt to fool Colt (p. 68), but later (p. 285) we learn that China has never met Marleyso how was she able to make herself look like him if she has never seen him? 

     Since all of the brothers (as well as Marley) have now found their mates, I am assuming that this series is now complete.

     In an on-line interview, Meyers talks about her new series: “The best way for me to describe the series is what would happen if you took the show Supernatural and mashed it up with the Will Smith movie Wild Wild West....They’ve got steampunk technology and a nearly mad British inventor friend [Marley], and they’re out there protecting humanity by fighting supernatural things, that turn out to be nothing like they expected.”

     In this alternate Old West world, the three Jackson brothers, all humans as the series begins, are desperately trying to track down the the centuries-old, magical Book of Legend, which has been divided into three parts and hidden away. All of the brothers are named after guns: Winchester (Winn), Remington (Remy), and Colt. The brothers need to find all three missing parts so that they can use the complete book to close the Gates of Nyx, which are currently open and allowing all sorts of demonic creatures of the Darkin into the mortal world to cause chaos and death. The primary villain is the demon Rathe, who wants to kill all the humans (thus starving all the vampires) and take over the world for himself and his minions. Here is one character's description of Rathe: "Rathe was an archdemon lord. One of the most powerful of all Darkin....a fallen archangel, twisted and vicious to the core..." and he has a "crusade to eliminate humanity." (The Slayer, p. 108)  

     Each book in the series follows one brother as he searches for one third of the book and finds his supernatural soul mate along the way. Since the brothers were raised to hunt down and kill all supernaturals, the fact that their sweethearts are all supernatural leads to pages upon pages of angst-filled inner monologues, both for the brothers and for the women they love. In Darkin legend, the Jackson brothers are the Chosen, the ones who are prophesied to bring down the Darkin and save the mortal world. Here is a character in The Hunter meditating on the importance of the Chosen: "If the prophecy was true, it would take the powers of all three of the Chosen to seal the Gates and defeat the rise of the Darkin." (p. 294)

     As the series begins, Colt, the youngest brother and the only one of the three who is a Hunter by profession, is the only one of the brothers who knows about the importance of the Book. Winn and Remy have long since turned their backs on their heritage and have taken up normal, mortal lives. When Colt explains the Darkin problem, however, they step up and agree to help him. Here is Colt as he explains the situation to Winn: "Supernatural beings aren't just goin' to disappear because you and Remy stick your heads in the sand. They're goin' to keep coming, bigger and badder, and if the uptick in what I've seen lately is any indication, all Hell's gonna break loose soon." (The Hunter, p. 31) The three books take place during the same time period as each brother goes off in search of his piece of the book and hooks up with his soul mate along the way.

     This world is filled with the usual gadgetry, goggles, and guns of the steampunk/clockwork world. For example, Colt's weapons are all gear-driven and/or magical, and Winn catches a ride on a steam-powered dirigible. The brothers' eccentric inventor friend, Marley, creates a variety of weird weapons, gadgets, and magical spells to assist the brothers in their task. (He's almost a clone of the nerdy Miles Bergman in Jennifer Rardin's JAZ PARKS Series.) Using one of Marley's new weapons is risky for the brothers because the chances are always fifty-fifty that it will either work beautifully or destroy the user.

     Unfortunately, the steampunk elements serve primarily as props rather than being an integral part of life. We don't see the townsfolk using any magical gadgetry. We just see the brothers using various gear-driven widgets or steam-powered thingamajigs to get themselves out of tight spots. Here's a description of Tempus, Colt's mechanical horse, the only such horse that we see: "The leather with cow-like blots of black on white made it look more like a real horse, but the click and whirr of its clockwork parts as it moved, its brass hooves and solid silver eyes gave it away as a machine." (The Hunter, p. 195)

     Click HERE to view a video on modern-day steampunk enthusiasts. Click HERE to read an interview with Meyer in which she discusses this series and others she has written.

     If you like Old West steampunk, you may also like Devon Monk's new series: THE AGE OF STEAM. Click HERE to read my review of the first book in that series: Dead Iron.

          BOOK 1: The Hunter          
     In book 1, Colt decides to locate and open a well-hidden, underground door that will give him access to 1/3 of the Book. Only a demon can open the door, so he goes to Marley for some assistance. Marley gives Colt some new magical gadgetry and a spell book that Colt successfully uses to summon his demon, but the demon is not exactly what Colt imagined. Instead of a red-skinned, horned monster, he gets a red-headed, curvaceous succubus named Lilly Arliss. Lilly's arch-demon master, Rathe, has ordered her to get the Book and to deliver Colt to Hell, but Lilly has other plans. She wants her humanity back, and she believes that Colt and the Book can help her do that. As Colt and Lilly spend their daysand nightstogether, they fall in lust and then in love, both fighting their mutual attraction every inch of the way. The story follows Colt and Lilly as they trek through two different abandoned mines in search of the door that protects the Book. As they search the first mine, they are attacked by a variety of demonic monsters, from stone men to a giant spider. In the second mine, they encounter an avalanche, a flood, moving rock walls, trip wires, and lethal traps. It reminded me of the opening scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

     With its gadgetry and Old-West setting, one would think that this story would feel new and inventive, but, to me, it didn't. The events were predictable, and the dangers were stereotypical. The whole plot can be boiled down into one sentence: Two people from different worlds search for a magical artifact, encounter a variety of dangers, meditate endlessly on their doomed love affair, and make great sacrifices for one another. We've read this story hundreds of times before. It's the standard soul mate plot. Throwing in a handful of gear-driven gadgets doesn't really freshen up the story line. Having said all that, however, if you are a huge fan of traditional soul-mate romances and aren't looking for any new plot twists, this one won't disappoint. Even if you don't care for steampunk, you may like the series because the steampunk elements are peripheral to the story line.

          BOOK 2: The Slayer     
     This book takes place during the same time period as book 1. It tells Winn's story as he tracks down the second part of the Book and falls in love with the Lady Alexandra Porter (aka Contessa Drossenburg, aka Tessa), a sophisticated Russian vampire. The story opens as the Contessa comes to Bodie, California, where Winn is the sheriff, and requests his assistance in recovering the middle section of the book from the shape shifters who have stolen it from the European vampires. You'll find some of the same scenes you saw in book 1, when the brothers meet up before each goes on his own hunt for the book, but this time they are viewed from Winn's perspective. After picking up some new weaponry from Marley, Winn and Tess head for Count Vlad's Romanian castle in the vampires' airship. Along the way, the two become more and more attracted to one another, but share nothing more than a kiss (at first). When the shape shifters attack the castle in search of Winn (because he is one of the Chosen), he and Tessa try to escape in the airship but are shot down by sidhe (fairy) arrows. After a harrowing run through the forest, they are captured by hostile British Hunters who want the book for Queen Victoria. Eventually, they head underground to the catacombs beneath the streets of Paris. Finally, after a life-threatening confrontation with the demon Rathe, Tessa finds her life forever changed. As the book ends, the couple heads back to Bodie to reunite with Winn's brothers. At this point, they have just a few days before the Gates of Nyx must be sealed.

     This book is less successful than book 1. The lead characters are O.K., but there are some inconsistencies in the plot. The most egregious contradiction  is that although Tessa has the vampiric ability to instantly change her body into mist, she keeps getting captured by various bad guys. Why doesn't she just mist herself away and then sneak up on them from behind? This is also true for her minions, all of whom are captured by the British Hunters. How could they all have been captured when they have the ability to mist themselves away from their opponents? The steam punk elements are few and far betweenjust mechanical horses, airships, and a few weapons. Click HERE to read an excerpt from The Slayer.

      The Chosen will conclude the series as Remy collects the final piece of the Book and mates with the shape shifter, China McGee.

          Novella: The Inventor          
     This novella tells the love story of the eccentric inventor, Marley Turlock, and his true love, Lady Persephone (Sephie) Hargrieve. It is available in e-book form, and it is also included as a bonus at the end of the third novel, The Chosen.

     As the story begins, Marley is living on his family estate in England with his cousin and six aunts. Marley spends all of his time on his inventions, never having any interaction with young, attractive women. When Marley sets up an exhibit at the world's first Aeronautical Exhibition, Sephie comes along and makes some suggestions for improvement in Marley's Sound Transmission Auditory Ranger device. He is completely taken with her, never having met a women who is at all interested in science.

     When Sephie's father invites Marley to tea and offers him a job creating weapons for use against the creatures of the Darkin, Marley is intrigued, particularly since it gives him an opportunity to court Sephie. That courtship, however, is complicated by the fact that Sephie already has a suitor, the arrogant and boorish Lieutenant Fronisher.

     When Darkin demons attack Lord Hargrieve's estate, Marley whisks Sephie off and they declare their love for one another. The ending is left open ended, and we don't learn the rest of their story until the end of The Chosen.

No comments:

Post a Comment