Ex-archaeology grad student turned international antiquities thief, Alix—better known now as Owl—has one rule. No supernatural jobs. Ever. Until she crosses paths with Mr. Kurosawa, a red dragon who owns and runs the Japanese Circus Casino in Las Vegas. He insists Owl retrieve an artifact stolen three thousand years ago, and makes her an offer she can’t refuse: he’ll get rid of a pack of vampires that want her dead. A dragon is about the only entity on the planet that can deliver on Owl’s vampire problem—and let’s face it, dragons are known to eat the odd thief.
Owl had a promising career ahead of her as an archeologist until she uncovered a supernatural site and her department made her a scapegoat. Archeologists don’t allow publication of supernatural sites. They keep them covered up.
Now Owl is using her knowledge as a very discreet and very expensive thief. It was going well until she accidentally exposed an ancient vampire to the sun during a job and his underlings are angry. Now she’s on the run and living off the grid with her Egyptian Mau cat, Captain. His breed was developed to sense and fight vampires.
The Japanese Circus is a Las Vegas casino that turns out to be owned by a dragon. She did a job for him without knowing he was a dragon and now he wants another. She can’t really refuse and stay alive.
This is a great start to a series that is different than other urban fantasy stories. Owl’s friend Nadya got out of the archeology program too and now runs a bar in Tokyo. You find out a lot about the host and hostess bar culture in Tokyo where having an attractive person pay attention to you is part of the provided atmosphere. The creatures in this supernatural world are familiar but each has a few different characteristics that aren’t commonly seen.
Owl is stubborn and doesn’t listen well to advice. She gets into trouble over and over because of it. That can get a little annoying to read but the author has made it make sense in context. I’m looking forward to reading more in this series.
Sierra Santiago was looking forward to a fun summer of making art, hanging out with her friends, and skating around Brooklyn. But then a weird zombie guy crashes the first party of the season. Sierra's near-comatose abuelo begins to say "Lo siento" over and over. And when the graffiti murals in Bed-Stuy start to weep . . . Well, something stranger than the usual New York mayhem is going on.
Sierra is an amazing artist. She has been asked to paint a mural on an abandoned building in her neighborhood. There is a lot of street art around her but lately she’s been noticing that they are starting to fade. Then one day she sees a mural change in front of her and start to weep.
Her grandfather had a stroke soon after her grandmother died but now he is agitated and wants Sierra to know that he is sorry for… something. Her mother seems to know what he means but shuts Sierra down every time she asks. Some of her grandfather’s friends point her towards another artist at her school for answers before they start to disappear themselves.
The writing in this book was amazing. Contemporary Brooklyn is a character as much as a setting of this book. Older shows the joys of living in this neighborhood with dance clubs and vibrant art as well as the problems of street harassment of teenage girls and the specter of police brutality. I’ve never been impressed by New York City at all but this book almost made me feel like it would be an interesting place to be. Seriously, salsa thrash metal? Yes, please.
The cast of characters was inclusive without it coming across as forced for the sake of inclusiveness. There is a lesbian couple. Most of the cast are Latina(o). There are both male and female characters who are important parts of the story and the significant secondary characters range in age from teenagers to elderly.
There are discussions about racism in the community. Sierra remembers a time when she surprised herself by apologizing for her dark skin. Her aunt is tells her that she shouldn’t date a Haitian because you don’t want a boyfriend whose skin is darker than the bottom of your foot.
If this was a contemporary novel it would be nearly 5 stars. But, this is a fantasy story and that aspect was not as strong for me. The idea of being able to make your art come alive when necessary is good but the stakes of the conflict never felt high. It felt like something bad was going to happen but it wasn’t clear what that was supposed to be.
If you like the idea of art featuring in urban YA fantasy you can also check out these titles.
“The lush city of Palmares Tres shimmers with tech and tradition, with screaming gossip casters and practiced politicians. In the midst of this vibrant metropolis, June Costa creates art that’s sure to make her legendary. But her dreams of fame become something more when she meets Enki, the bold new Summer King. The whole city falls in love with him (including June’s best friend, Gil). But June sees more to Enki than amber eyes and a lethal samba. She sees a fellow artist.
Together, June and Enki will stage explosive, dramatic projects that Palmares Tres will never forget. They will add fuel to a growing rebellion against the government’s strict limits on new tech. And June will fall deeply, unfortunately in love with Enki. Because like all Summer Kings before him, Enki is destined to die.”
“On the heels of a family tragedy, the last thing Katie Greene wants to do is move halfway across the world. Stuck with her aunt in Shizuoka, Japan, Katie feels lost. Alone. Then there’s gorgeous but aloof Tomohiro, star of the school’s kendo team. How did he really get the scar on his arm? Katie isn’t prepared for the answer. But when she sees the things he draws start moving, there’s no denying the truth: Tomo has a connection to the ancient gods of Japan, and being near Katie is causing his abilities to spiral out of control. If the wrong people notice, they’ll both be targets.”
Truthfully, this one was a little too “He’s SO DREAMY!!!!!” with no actual explanation of why so I DNFed it.
I received this book as a gift from my OTSP Secret Sister as part of my Easter box. The cover is gorgeous. I’m going to read more by this author because I love his writing.
“Daniel José Older is the author of the Bone Street Rumba urban fantasy series from Penguin’s Roc Books and the Young Adult novel Shadowshaper(Scholastic’s Arthur A. Levine Books, 2015). Publishers Weekly hailed him as a “rising star of the genre” after the publication of his debut ghost noir collection, Salsa Nocturna. He co-edited the anthology Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History. His short stories and essays have appeared in the Guardian, NPR, Tor.com, Salon, BuzzFeed, Fireside Fiction, the New Haven Review, PANK, Apex and Strange Horizons and the anthologies Subversion and Mothership: Tales Of Afrofuturism And Beyond. Daniel’s band Ghost Star gigs around New York and he teaches workshops on storytelling from an anti-oppressive power analysis.” – from his website
Tensions between the fae and humans are coming to a head and when coyote shapeshifter Mercy and her Alpha werewolf mate, Adam, are called upon to stop a rampaging troll, they find themselves with something that could be used to make the fae back down and forestall out-and-out war: a human child stolen long ago by the fae. Defying the most powerful werewolf in the country, the humans, and the fae, Mercy, Adam, and their pack choose to protect the boy no matter what the cost. But who will protect them from a boy who is fire touched?
Can I just say how much I hate the covers of these books? Look at that picture. Mercy in the books has a Native American father. I appreciate the fact that they aren’t whitewashing the cover but come on. Long feather earrings and two braids? On a mechanic? And what is with the clothes? She never, ever is described as dressing in shirts tied into improvised halter tops. She doesn’t show skin at all. She also is described as having one small coyote print tattoo but look at her arms. Impressive collection of tattoos but way off the mark.
Anyway, in this book Mercy is still trying to make some members of the pack accept her as their Alpha’s mate. That gives her status over them. It hasn’t been going well. She isn’t a werewolf and she keeps getting them into trouble. Now she has made a proclamation that the pack with protect any supernaturals in their territory from the Fae.
I don’t know. I just wasn’t a huge fan of this one. I like the series but this one felt flat to me. I’ve read several reviews that said that the readers felt like this was a big leap forward in the relationship between Mercy and Adam but I don’t get it. He did stand up for her in the pack but their interactions together sounded distant and strained. Maybe it is because I’ve gotten used to the warmth of the relationships in Briggs’ Alpha and Omega series that the more subdued relationship here seems odd.
Nothing really happened in the plot either. It sounds like there is going to be a war. The beginning with a fight with a troll is action packed but after that it is all political maneuvering and sitting around waiting for things to happen until the end. This definitely didn’t have a “can’t put down” quality in the middle. The ending did have an unexpectedly sad moment though.
One highlight of this book for me was Baba Yaga.
I love her. She is an old witch in Russian folklore who makes an appearance here to help in the fight with the Fae whether anyone wants her help or not. The book picked up whenever she appeared.
This is a weak entry in a great series but it still worth reading or listening to if you have enjoyed the rest of the books.
About Patricia Briggs
“Patricia Briggs, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Mercy Thompson series, lives in Washington State with her husband, children, and a small herd of horses. She has written 17 novels to date. Briggs began her career writing traditional fantasy novels, the first of which was published by Ace Books in 1993, and shifted gears in 2006 to write urban fantasy. ” from her website