Saturday, 28 May 2011

Vicious Grace by M.L.N. Hanover

This is the third book in urban fantasy series The Black Sun's Daughter. There may be some spoilers concerning events in previous books.

Author: M.L.N. Hanover is a pseudonym used by author Daniel Abraham, who writes in the SF / fantasy genre. He is an American author and writes in American English.

Presentation: Mass market paperback. The cover, red this time, sports our ever leather-clad heroine holding a rifle. If you look closely you can even see the scars of some of the wounds she suffered in previous books. Although not really necessary, I thought it was a very good idea to include them and delighted in finding them. The story itself is broken down into 25 chapters of roughly the same length. The text is 1.5 spaced, making it clear and giving it a neat look.

Story: Jayné, having realised that both she and her crew need to be better prepared for what riders (riders are beings from an alternate dimension that possess humans) may throw at them, has dragged everyone off to a mountain retreat where they will be trained in various styles of combat. While there they receive a call from Kim requesting their help with a case in Chicago where something is affecting an experiment on sleep patterns. (Kim is Aubrey's ex-wife. Aubrey is Jayné's boyfriend. Kim divorced him after cheating on him multiple times with Jayné's uncle Eric, who died at the start of book one, kicking-starting the events of the series.) So everyone packs up and sets off for Chicago where a monster, entomed under Grace Memorial Hospital, is starting to wake up. The team find evidence that Uncle Eric may have been negociating with this particular rider, leaving them all with many questions about Eric's plans, motives and sanity. But, more importantly, they need to figure out what they're facing - and how to get it to shut up.

Thoughts and impressions: I really like Jayné's as a character. She's tough but she's weak, she's happy in her realtionship but she's insecure about her boyfriend's feelings towards his ex-wife. She's a character that you can relate to. With each book we learn slightly more about her background, her over-zealous father, her meek mother, her older brother who's got his girlfriend pregnant outside of marriage, and her younger brother whom she wishes she could have more contact with.
There's a dip towards the middle of the story where my interest waned. I even stopped reading for a little while and read a couple of other books instead. I'm not sure whether this is my fault or the author's. I know that urban fantasy is not the genre for me, The Black Sun's Daughter is one of only two urban fantasy series that I follow. This could mean that it's just an issue of personal taste and I'm quite happy to stick by that verdict because I know that the book is well-written and engaging.
I was hoping to get a few more answers about Erid in this book as it left the story for this particular book in the series with an unfinished feeling. I'll wait for them until book 4, though.
I've always preferred the mysterious Ex to the safe Aubrey but I'm not entirely sure I'm happy with the way he was written out of the series. I wonder whether he'll be replaced? Maybe by her younger brother? I'd like to get to know him better.

Style: This is written in the first person in Jayné's voice. It is important to keep in mind that she is as such an unreliable narrator. A style that will appeal to some but may not to others.

Final Verdict: Vicious Grace gets a solid 4 stars. I'm looking forward to reading the fourth book in the series.

Extra notes: This book contains sex, foul language and violence. I would not recommend to younger teens due to content.


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