vampires and werewolves and goblins, oh my!

God Save the Queen by Kate Locke

I won a copy of Kate Locke’s God Save the Queen during one of the monthly LibraryThing giveaways and let it sit on my TBR review pile since July… I finally got around to reading it while working on NaNo. It might be the novel’s fast pace, or its fun, snarky characters, but Xandra’s misadventures kept me sane during start of the writing frenzy and provided me with just the right kind of entertainment to keep me from going down the road of writerly one-track-mindedness.

The novel is set in a sci-fi-ish, steampunkish, present day, alternate London ruled by a vampiric Queen Victoria, and inhabited by vampires, werewolves, goblins, and a special hybrid breed of “halvies.” There’s a neat explanation about how these species came to be as a result of the Plague, but the book does a better job of explaining it than I do. This is the first in the Immortal Empire series, so there is a lot of world-building, and plenty of conspiracies and plot bunnies are introduced to set the series in motion.

My one pet peeve is that blurb on the back of the book does it a complete disservice. After reading the blurb, I assumed the novel would focus on the vampiric Queen Victoria, but it is really about [Ale]Xandra Vardan, halvie and kick-ass member of the Royal Guard. When Xandra’s half-sister, Drusilla, dies, Xandra is the only one who suspects that her sister’s suicide is more than it seems. Underground rebellions and dangerous encounters abound as Xandra tries to learn the truth of her sister’s death, only to find more than she bargained for… including a goblin Prince and a sexy werewolf.

Even while trying to work on my own writing, I became totally immersed in Locke’s alternate London. Xandra is just the kind of heroine I enjoy and Vex is the best kind of supportive hero-lover figure. I want more!

creatures of myth and wonder

Prophecy of the Most Beautiful by Diantha Jones

YA Fantasy novels are often inspired by myth and folklore, but it’s not often that one takes on a modern characterization of the Greek gods and their cohorts. Diantha Jones’s Prophecy (part of the new Oracle of Delphi series) does just that, with a side of adventure for good measure. 

Top student Chloe Clever used to be on the right path to graduation, until she started experiencing visions and violent episodes. Already labeled a screw up by her classmates and school administrators, Chloe just wants to get through school without another incident, but the fates just won’t allow it. Beating the vice principal’s son to a pulp Chloe is ready to say goodbye to her final chance and hello to a psych ward, when she finds herself under attack. Facing down a foe straight from one of her nightmarish visions, Chloe’s life suddenly becomes a lot more complicated… just the way the gods like it.

Not only are Chloe’s visions real, she’s the new Oracle of Delphi! Discovering her new role, Chloe teams up with a band of demigods that have vowed to protect her, including the impossible sexy Strafford Law, disgraced Sun Prince. Not only must Chloe learn to use her new-found knowledge of myth, she must decipher the Prophecy of the Most Beautiful she gets herself and her new friends killed. Deadly encounters, vengeful gods, and hot immortals abound.

I found the novel was a bit slow to start, but when Chloe’s power become evident, the action really picked up. Overall, I enjoyed the novel. The action sequences were well-written and fast-paced, and Chloe’s journey into the Billows (a sort of stairway to heaven that takes you wherever it wills) was one of my favorite parts. The Olympians were also well-portrayed in a way that drew on their mythical traits while setting them up as modern rock stars, megalomaniacs, and club owners. Other than a few typos (insignificant enough that they can be overlooked unless you’re a grammar geek), my issues with the narrative are really just pet peeves. For one, I don’t care for descriptions of fashion that are too label-oriented and time-specific. I find that it dates a novel in the long-run. Also, there were several instances when interactions between male characters were described as “queer,” or the males were labeled as “pansies”. Not something I cared for, but might go unnoticed by other readers.

It’s a fun, original YA read that can appeal to fans of urban fantasy similar to Holly Black’s Modern Faerie Tales series or readers who just love mythology. With myth, romance, action, and fashion, there’s a lot for YA readers to love.

You can learn more about the series on Diantha Jones’s homepage: http://www.diantha-jones.com/p/oracle-of-delphi-series.html

Disclaimer: I received my e-copy from Diantha Jones. No payment was received or requested for this review.