Posts filed under ‘Fantasy’

Got Fangs? by Katie Maxwell (Book 1 of the Goth series)

Pub Date: January 2005

Fiction (Young Adult)

193 pgs.

Author Katie Maxwell had already roped young readers into thinking that vampires were enigmatic, yet charming, before the spawn of the current vampy trend of teen lit.  And that a vampire novel does not necessarily need to be either gory or romantic; it can be mysterious, magical, and passionate. Katie Maxwell has written several other adult vampire books under the name Katie MacAllister, and in this young adult series she has done her job translating her adult Dark Ones theme to teens.

Francesca Ghetti quickly realizes how different her life is from the average teen. She finds herself traveling with her mother to a psychic faire full of witches, mediums, and magicians. And although the atmosphere provided by GothFaire is quickly deemed by Fran as abnormal and freakish, she soon realizes that she harnesses powers of her own. While her mother tries to encourage Fran to use her power in conjunction with the faire, Fran feels it is wrong to do so.

Enter the vampire Benedikt, who begins to worship Fran’s psychic abilities. As Fran tries to fend off her new acquaintance, she agrees to use her skills in solving the mystery of who has been robbing the faire of its money. Fran’s life becomes even more complex when she finds herself battling against magical demons. As the relationship between Fran and Benedikt develops, Maxwell gives the reader an entertaining story filled with magic, mystery, and evil spirits.

The second book in the series is Circus of the Darned.  While Fran awaits Ben’s return to the fairgrounds, she is approached by a man named Tibolt who has asks her to guard his pendant, and she obliges. Fran soon encounters a huldra, or Viking warrior ghost, as she unknowingly runs through their sacred burial grounds. During Fran’s attempt to send the Vikings home, all manners of gods and goddesses come into play, including one that is obsessed with Fran’s horse, Telsa. Although the vampire relationship is not developed further in this plot, Maxwell has a knack at introducing us to more fabulous legends and fantastical creatures.

The third installment of the series, In the Company of Vampires, was published in 2010, and Maxwell has published it under her adult pseudonym. While the subject matter is a bit more sensual in nature, Maxwell does not lose her bearing on the oddities that the faire offers or the enchanting encounters of Fran’s life. Throughout the storyline, Maxwell tends to a humorous writing style that is full of paranormal and mythical delight.



October 7, 2011 at 12:00 pm 1 comment

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

Pub Date: Aug. 1996

Fiction (Fantasy, Adult)

704 pgs.

With HBO’s highly anticipated TV series Game of Thrones premiering this spring, I thought I would write a review of the first book in the series that the show is based on – The Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin.

A Game of Thrones is an epic high fantasy.  While fantasy novels are often criticized for being too formulaic and having too many shallow stock characters, A Game of Thrones falls into none of these tropes.  There is no ultimate good or ultimate evil.  Characters that you hated for their heinous deeds in the beginning of the book have you changing your mind about them halfway through.  By writing each chapter from a different character’s point-of-view, Martin allows you to see the motivations and emotions that may at first be hidden.

A Game of Thrones is split into three main storylines.  The first follows Lord Eddard Stark, Hand of the King, who has gained his position after the recent death (and possibly murder) of the king’s previous advisor.  Eddard leaves his own land to journey to the capitol, where he attempts to unravel the mystery surrounding the previous Hand’s death.  His wife stays behind and soon finds that there is another mystery to solve that is much closer to home – the attempted murder of her own child.

A second storyline takes place at The Wall, where rangers known as the Night’s Watch guard the rest of the kingdom from a now-legendary evil known as the Others.  While whatever mysterious danger that lies beyond the wall is currently contained, its menace grows ever closer, and the people of the Seven Kingdoms still fear it, their fear growing stronger as various signs show that this threat will not be contained for much longer.

The last major storyline takes place on a separate continent, following Daenerys Targaryen, the last living princess of the usurped king, and one of many claimants to the Iron Throne.  Dany begins the novel as a young girl of thirteen, forced by her power-hungry brother into an arranged marriage.  As Dany comes of age and grows more powerful, she begins to realize that she must regain the throne that her brother so hungrily desires.

At about 700 pages, this highly-praised book is a time commitment, and is not for the faint-of-heart.  It is full of political intrigue, betrayal, murder, and civil war, and has so many characters that you may want to make a list of them all to keep track of everyone.  You may be intimidated by its size, but know that one of the most praised aspects of the book is its pacing.  There is always an assassination being plotted, a clue being discovered, or a threat being fought.  Martin manages to keep you interested in every aspect of the plot.  Even when you think you’ve read enough for the day, you’ll find you aren’t able to put the book down.  Luckily, when you’re done there is more to be read.  There are currently four published books in the series, with a total of seven planned.  We’re all patiently waiting for that next one!


February 7, 2011 at 7:28 pm Leave a comment

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