Book review: Anne Rice’s “Vampire Chronicles”
Book Reviews / October 5, 2013

Before “Twilight” was a gleam in Stephenie Meyer’s eye, author Anne Rice created a sensation with her series of novels about a race of beautiful, sensual vampires. Rooted in Egyptian mythology and very distinct from most vampire lore up to that time, Anne Rice’s vampires were created by being drained of blood to the point of death, then allowed to save themselves by drinking in turn the blood of the vampire who made them. They did not fear garlic, crucifixes, holy water, or silver. Even wooden stakes were only a danger to them if the sun came up while they were struggling to get free.

Book review: “Greywalker” by Kat Richardson
Book Reviews / September 9, 2013

Seattle private detective Harper Blaine is just doing her job when, in this book’s opening pages, somebody up and beats her to death for no apparent reason. Don’t worry; she gets better. But after being dead for around two minutes, there’s no going back to business as usual. Even after the physical injuries are healed, Harper is haunted by strange images that flicker on the edge of her vision, and sometimes even more aggressively weird experiences. Her doctor refers her to some friends of his who specialize in problems at the fringe of science, if not beyond.

Book review: “A Tale Dark and Grimm” by Adam Gidwitz
Book Reviews / July 11, 2013

This book is what happens when a New York City schoolteacher stitches together nine fairy tales from the Brothers Grimm to form one coherent story—while, at the same time, restoring much of the original versions’ weird, scary, and bloody bits. And although the narrator often pulls the reader aside and begs him to make sure there are no small children in the room to hear the tale, the entire book demonstrates an amazing faith in kids’ guts, brains, and hearts—not only that they can understand and appreciate such strong stuff, but that they are brave enough to take it, worthy to enjoy it, and keen to learn from it

Book review: “Ptolemy’s Gate” by Jonathan Stroud
Book Reviews / June 23, 2013

In Book 3 of the “Bartimaeus” trilogy, a seventeen-year-old magician named Nathaniel, though he calls himself John Mandrake, has clawed his way nearly to the top of a world of (sometimes literally) backstabbing ambition. It’s an alternate-history version of present-day Britain, where magicians are the ruling class and the non-magical “commoners” toil in conditions not far above slavery.

Book review: “Flora’s Dare” by Ysabeau S. Wilce
Book Reviews / May 24, 2013

In the sequel to “Flora Segunda”, Flora Fyrdraaca ov Fyrdraaca, fourteen-year-old heroine of an alternate-history version of San Francisco called Califa, finds out what her true name is. And while I’m mentioning it, I might add that the full title of this book is “Flora’s Dare: How a Girl of Spirit Gambles All to Expand Her Vocabulary, Confront a Bouncing Boy Terror, and Try to Save Califa from a Shaky Doom (Despite Being Confined to Her Room).”

Book review: “The Second Siege” by Henry H. Neff
Book Reviews / March 10, 2013

Book 2 of the “Tapestry” quartet continues with Max McDaniel’s second year at the Rowan Academy, a school for magically talented teens somewhere on the east coast of the U.S. I have already noted that Rowan has as much in common with Hogwarts as almost any school for magic. In this book, however, the apparent similarities between the two schools take a backseat to the intriguing differences between them. Not that we get to see much of what goes on in the classroom, this year. Max and his frail, vulnerable, yet super-sorcerous roommate David Menlo miss most of the school year between one perilous adventure overseas and another to the world of the Sidh (which I take to be something like Faerie), where they spend more time than passes in our world.

Book review: “The Keys to the Demon Prison” by Brandon Mull
Book Reviews / March 6, 2013

It’s the fifth and final “Fablehaven” adventure, and the world is coming to an end. More of the world’s magical game preserves are falling to the Society of the Evening Star, which is collecting the five hidden talismans needed to open the demon prison of Zzyzx. Young Kendra and Seth Sorenson, along with their family and friends, are charged with protecting these powerful objects, and the five “Eternals” who must die before the bad guys can turn the key in the lock. But after a death-defying visit to the Australian preserve where the last artifact is housed, Seth is taken prisoner by the so-called Sphinx—actually a centuries-old Ethiopian slave who rebelled against his masters and now holds most of the keys to Zzyzx.