SpecFicNZ review of the new supernatural mystery by writing team Dan Rabarts and Lee Murray
A scientist with parent problems and her tough-guy half-brother with a not-so-imaginary friend in the shadows…the perfect team to solve a mystery in which the body is missing. I enjoyed watching the back and forth as the two authors each steered one character’s point of view. I’d call this a dark urban fantasy that just barely touches the line into horror. Yes, there are slimy tentacles and lots of blood and gore, but all this tends to be limited to just a few pivotal scenes. For those with more sensitive tastes, there is animal death, but not directly impacting the characters we’re given time to love.
The plot gives plenty of surprises and crash-bang twists and turns. There’s a good emphasis on science as the basis for investigations, and the troublesome parents are all too relatable, wishing their daughter would switch careers and marry the smarmy businessman they recommend to her. It is gratifying that she comes into her own when away from their influence, even though they make her feel so helpless and they do not respect her career – when she is out pursuing that career and probably a little harder than she should, she finds unexpected strength within herself to do the impossible and survive.
Relationship development is also significant as Penny and Matiu grow closer and learn to trust and work with each other. In the beginning they are shown as very different and often not even on the same wavelength, but they are forced into collaboration and can only solve the crime by their combined and maximised effort, taking each to breaking point and beyond where they ever thought they could go.
There are some vagaries of verb tense that don’t quite work for me, but I bet only a language nerd would ever notice. And I would have liked a little more detail in the setting, since my own home town doesn’t often feature in a novel. It almost feels a little bit generic except for the ubiquitous Harbour Bridge, and it was only when our intrepid heroes got out in the countryside that it started to feel more like New Zealand. By the same token it was great to see Auckland as the main backdrop for this tale, and perhaps in the future cities do become even more generic than they already are.
Hounds of the Underworld is a fast-moving futuristic novel with a great New Zealand flavour and supernatural thrills on the side, excellently written in a noir whodunit style, and just slightly fewer dogs than the title suggests.
Review by Grace Bridges
Grab it at https://www.amazon.com/dp/1935738968
Wise Phuul by Daniel Stride
Genre: Steampunk-flavoured Dark Fantasy
Walking corpses and black-market liquor: the quiet life.
Teltö Phuul, Necromancer and Library Clerk, likes his days safe and predictable. Not for him the intrigues of the Viiminian Empire, a gothic monstrosity held together by sheer force of will.
Until the Empire’s dreaded secret police come knocking. Caught in a web of schemes in the diseased heart of Kuolinako, the underground Imperial capital, Teltö can trust no-one. Not the Northern theocrats who abhor Necromancy, and certainly not the Grand Chancellor, whose iron-fisted rule has kept the old order alive that little bit longer.
When one false step means torture and disappearance, this journey will change our Necromancer forever.
Trickster’s Nab by Mike Reeves-McMillan.
He wants to steal their money. They want to steal his memories.
The thief who calls himself Now You Don’t serves the Trickster, exalting the humble and humbling the exalted. In the course of this noble enterprise, he discovers a conspiracy to recreate a magical interrogation drug, forbidden since the War of Gods for its memory-stealing side effects.
And the first people the conspirators plan to use it on will lead them straight to his family.
Tracking the source of the drug, he and his companions must battle pirates, Justicemen, and a guardian automaton in a desperate race against time. They’ve carried out many successful heists, but can they destroy the conspiracy before it steals from them what they value more than anything?
A steampunk adventure with a plot to take over the Empire and a kidnapped bride. Hara and Gideon have been asked to do a favour for the Emperor to return a runaway bride. Things become complicated when it is found out that the runaway bride has fallen into the clutches of an ambitious duke who is planning to commit genocide and take over the Wyvern Empire.
This story is a retelling of the classic tale by Shakespeare, Midsummer Nights dream so expect some Puckish antics and a touch of magic.
This is the second book in the Wyvern Chronicles series. Due to be released in the middle of October at Amazon. You can also read a sneak peek on my website.