A guest post by Jill-Elizabeth:
I know, I know – everyone has favorites. Vampires, werewolves, fairies, ghosts – they are everywhere… Here are a few of my favorites. You won’t find the “major” powerhouse series – Twilight, Harry Potter, True Blood/Sookie Stackhouse. Everyone knows those. These are the ones that, in my mind, are due to make it big but just haven’t yet. Check them out – I promise you won’t be sorry!
WARNING: SOME SPOILER INFORMATION REFERENCED IN THE SUMMARIES; NOTHING MAJOR, BUT THERE IS SOME...
1. The Dresden Files (first book: Storm Front) by Jim Butcher: Harry Dresden, the only professional wizard in Chicago, advertises in the phonebook. He is chronically broke, perpetually straddling the line between who he wants to be and who he has to be, and eternally seems to be the last man standing between us regular people and The Things That Go Bump In The Night. The series had a brief, one-season life on Sci-Fi Network – it is a crying shame it was not renewed, because there is tremendous good stuff here.
2. The Parasol Protectorate (first book: Soulless) by Gail Carriger: At last, a heroine with style, with chutzpah, and with a parasol… Alexia Tarabotti is a Victorian lady, despite what her over-the-top mother thinks, with a secret – she has no soul. This secret grants her the ability to walk a line between vampires and werewolves that no one else can manage, and she does it with grace, aplomb, and a best friend with a penchant for silly hats.
3. Nightside books (first book: Something from the Nightside) – Simon R. Green: John Taylor is a private investigator who straddles “regular” London and the Nightside, the city’s dark underbelly where it is always the darkest hour before the dawn. There is some truly gruesome stuff here – the Nightside is not for the faint of heart – and John wanders rather freely between the light and the dark in his own quest for life, livelihood, and redemption.
4. The Negotiator trilogy (first book: Heart of Stone) by C.E. Murphy: Of all the supernatural creatures out there, gargoyles have gotten one of the rawest deals – until now. Murphy’s series is fabulous, featuring an unusual cast of characters to say the least, led by what may be fiction’s only gargoyle hero and – more unusual yet – its only lawyer heroine.
5. Prospero’s Daughter trilogy (first book: Prospero Lost) by L. Jagi Lamplighter: Who doesn’t love a good interpretation of a classic? Lamplighter’s take on the Shakespearean Tempest characters is a lovely journey through classicism, mysticism, and lyricism. The third book in the series is due out in September 2011, and not a moment too soon.
6. Sandman Slim novels (first book: Sandman Slim) by Richard Kadrey: Wow, talk about an anti-hero! The eponymous Sandman Slim (also known as James Stark) escapes Hell itself to avenge his murdered girlfriend and to hunt down the “friends” who framed him and brought about her death. This is another one that is not for the faint of heart; you will find yourself rooting for Jim even when he is at his darkest though, because there is always someone worse lurking just around the corner…
7. October Daye books (first book: Rosemary and Rue) by Seanan McGuire: Talk about your run of bad luck… In the first book in the series, October gets transformed into a fish, loses her family, and spends over a decade living in a pond in the botanical gardens – and that’s pretty much just the backstory. The first book in the series focuses on her reorientation into her “real” life; the series keeps moving her toward revenge for her initial rough run as well as the series of unfortunate events she encounters along the way.
8. Women of the Otherworld
(first book: Bitten) by Kelley Armstrong: I am the first one to admit that I don’t love all of the books in this series, but the first four or five are great. Of all of the eponymous women, Elena Michaels – star of the first two (and repeat player in a number of the other) books – is by far my favorite. Elena is a female werewolf. Her attempts to live a “normal” life and deny who and what she is (and why) are engaging and at times heart-breaking. And I challenge any woman who reads the books to not fall in love with Clayton Danvers…
9. Kate Daniels books (first book: Magic Bites) by Ilona Andrews: With a novel take on the vampire mythology (they are mindless creatures “piloted” by necromancers), more unusual were-animals than you can shake a stick at, and a butt-kicking heroine who can take care of herself AND everyone around her, this fast-paced series is a great and fun addition to the genre.
10. Fever Series (first book: Darkfever) by Karen Marie Moning: The series is all about transition - from sunny Georgia to rainy Dublin; from sweet light innocent MacKayla to dark vengeful bitter Mac. Moning's take on the au courant fairy-tale is not necessarily the most original out there, but is certainly one of the more engaging.
A former corporate attorney and government relations/health policy executive, Jill-Elizabeth walked away from that world (well, skipped actually) and toward a more literary life (equally challenging, but infinitely more enjoyable). If you enjoyed this review, please visit her at Jill-Elizabeth.com, the official home of All Things Jill-Elizabeth – that is, all of the teehees, musings, rants, book reviews, writing exercises, and witticisms of her burgeoning writing career.
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