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Books for Review should be sent to: Don D'Ammassa, 323 Dodge Street, East Providence, RI 02914

 LAST UPDATE 10/21/18

The Gryphon King by Tom Deitz, Avon, 1989 

The discovery of an ancient play causes an existential crisis. An evil fairy can evoke the power to create another reality and superimpose it on ours, which would give him power in our world. Aided by an intelligent gryphon, he sets out to complete the necessary ritual. Her is opposed by his half brother who, with a handful of friends, has discovered the truth. He is also in touch with an entity from the world of Faery, who helps him in the final battle. The story starts very slowly – nothing much happens in the first hundred pages – but speeds up after that, although it is a little bit repetitive. Associated with the David Sullivan series. 10/21/18

No Sleep Till Doomsday by Laurence MacNaughton, Pyr, 2018, $18, ISBN 978-1-63388-496-0

In her third adventure, Dru Jasper has to save the world from a magical fate once again. An evil sorceress has an amulet which is powerful enough to precipitate the final apocalypse. She is assisted by her boyfriend, who is part demon himself, although she does not completely trust him. Her quest to save the world - as she has before - is complicated this time by a host of obstacles including a ghost town, more demons, and a gang of shapeshifters. The tone is fairly light hearted, given the subject matter, and it seems to me there was more humor in the first two books. I liked this quite a bit, probably better than its predecessors, and read it straight through into the wee hours of morning. 10/19/18

Kai Lung Beneath the Mulberry Tree by Ernest Bramah, Arno, 1978 (originally published in 1940) 

This volume in the series contains a rather dull anecdotal novella followed by a few short stories, none of which are particularly notable. The novelty of the odd prose style has worn off by now, and the stories themselves are actually quite unimaginative and sometimes meander awkwardly without ever having a climax. There is one grab bag collection left to go, assorted pieces that had not been collected in the earlier books, so I suspect this trend will continue. Best read in small doses. 10/17/18

Where She Fell by Kaitlin Ward, Point, 2018, $17.99, ISBN 978-1-338-23007-9

Amber & Dusk by Lyra Selene, Scholastic, 2018, $18.99, ISBN 978-1-338-21003-3

Two very different young adult fantasies here.  The first is less conventional and more interesting. A young woman exploring a swamp is trapped when the ground opens up beneath her feet and she finds herself in an underground world of caves and creatures never seen on the surface. There are people as well, and she learns a great deal about their society and a great deal more about herself as she has a series of adventures. This was potentially quite good but the present tense narration drains all of the suspense out of it and draws constant attention to the fact that this is a story, which is generally fatal in fiction. The second title is a bit overly familiar. The protagonist has an ability to create illusions which her people consider a curse rather than a talent. She leaves for the big city where she too learns to know herself and her society better than ever before, with court intrigues, physical dangers, and the challenge of controlling and using her magic in constructive ways. The story is pleasant on the whole, if rather predictable. 10/13/18

Windmaster’s Bane by Tom Deitz, Avon, 1986 

First in the David Sullivan series in which a teenager from Georgia who happens to have second sight gets in trouble with one of the Sidhe, Ailill Windmaster, who nurses a grudge since David prevailed in a test of knowledge. David must master his own skills and prove his worth to the fairies or his family and friends will all be placed in jeopardy. Several supporting characters help Sullivan, along with some help from the other world.  A little clumsy in the opening chapters, but it gets better as it goes along. 10/10/18

Black City Dragon by Richard A. Knaak, Pyr, 2018, $18, ISBN 978-1-63388-494-6

Third in this series about Nick Medea, whose job is to protect the world from  predators from the world of fairies. He tries hard, but more and more of his opponents are slipping past. Many of the interlopers are interacting with Chicago's gangster culture, which doesn't make the job any easier. There are growing indications that his ancient enemy is active once more, and the key to finding a counter action may reside in the past lives of his reincarnated girlfriend. There is a lot going on in this series and it took a while before I was comfortable with the setting and characters again, but it is certainly not dull and it proves that urban fantasy can be more than just romance novels with witchcraft. There is a bonus short story included. 10/8/18

The Return of Kai Lung by Ernest Bramah, Sheridan, 1937 

Although this uses many of the characters from the Kai Lung stories, he does not appear at all and this was originally titled The Moon of Much Gladness. It involves a mandarin whose authority is undercut when his pigtail is cut off and stolen. A young woman becomes a detective and later an undercover agent in a rebel movement. The plot is threadbare and the elaborate dialogue becomes cumbersome and even annoying at this length. 10/6/18

Kai Lung Unrolls His Mat by Ernest Bramah, Ballantine, 1974 (originally published in 1927) 

The third Kai Lung collection has a more extensive frame story, but the individual tales are still independent. Some of them are very similar to earlier tales, although two of them are quite good. The artificial prose style begins to wear after a while and I interrupted this volume to read something else more than once. There are more magical events this time although the fantastic is not very prominent, usually consisting of  interventions in the lives of mortals by inhabitants of the Upper Air. The frame story, however, is rather boring. 10/1/18

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