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

Last Update 9/24/19

Sanctuary by Jeff Mariotte, Simon, 2003  

An Angel novel. This one is just so-so. Unknown parties have kidnapped Fred and threaten to kill her unless Angel exposes himself to the sun the next morning. Furious investigation of various groups of demons follows. Battle scenes seem almost to have been cut and pasted and the solution is not particularly ingenious. The demons sometimes seem to be jokes rather than characters. Mariotte has done several of the best tie-ins to this series, but this was not one of them. 9/24/19

Dark Mirror by Craig Shaw Gardner, Simon, 2004     

An Angel novel. This one is quite amusing. The demons this time have the ability to adopt the appearance of others, so Angel and the others have to confront their own doppelgangers. Even Wolfram and Hart find themselves at a loss when their own employees can be successfully impersonated Ė the doppelganger gets the originalís memories as well as appearance. Angel literally gets to confront his evil self, Angelus, in the concluding chapters. 9/18/19

The Summoned by Cameron Dokey, Pocket, 2001  

An Angel novel. Thereís a fairly clever idea in this one, which has been used in a couple of recent movies and which originated as far as I know with M.R. James. There is a demon who destroys people by fire, but he only does so when they have been given a certain amulet that has a countdown number on it. They can pass it on until the moment it expires. Angel ends up with one as well, but is able to dispose of it, and the demon is destroyed with fire extinguishers. Not bad at all. 9/9/19

Impressions by Doranna Durgin, Simon, 2003  

An Angel novel. Someone is impersonating Angel and poaching potential clients. A pack of demons is intent upon capturing a man who possesses a magical stone. Angel and the crew have to solve multiple problems before the situation returns to normal. The story is just okay Ė it tries a little too hard on the humorous side, and Angel did not feel at all like the Angel on the television series. 9/1/19

Death Sleep by Jerry Sohl, Gold Medal, 1983 

An autocratic doctor is brain dead after an accident, but he begins to register sporadically on the EEG and it turns out that he has developed the ability to enter other peopleís dreams and attack, kill, or delude them. Actions in the dreams physically affect people in the real world, much like Nightmare on Elm Street. His wife and her lover eventually figure out what is going on and unplug him. This was okay despite some head scratching moments that donít appear to make sense.  8/30/19

Haunted by Jeff Mariotte, Simon, 2002 

An Angel novel. Cordelia is a contestant in a reality television show set in a haunted house. Angel and the rest of the gang are investigating the abduction of an aspiring actress who tried but failed to be cast for the show. Demons attack angel, while the evil lawyers of Wolfram and Hart lurk in the wings. This was okay but was more of a police procedural than usual and reflected less of the flavor of the show. And I wasnít convinced by the details about the reality show. 8/26/19

Kaheesh by Jerry Sohl (as by Nathan Butler), Warner, 1983  

A vacationing couple run into an old man meditating in a ruined building. He knows things that he shouldnít and his image does not appear on photographs. Kaheesh has a wide variety of psychic powers and eventually reveals that he has been reincarnated many times and the wife is the reincarnation of the woman he once loved, but the reasoning behind this is confused and inconsistent. He eventually possesses the husband and by this point the wife no longer cares as she has been taken over by the spirit of her past identities. Boring. 8/21/19

Solitary Man by Jeff Mariotte, Simon, 2003 

An Angel novel. Angel meets his match, a mad monk who has dabbled in forbidden magic and is now apparently both immortal and virtually invulnerable. He is somehow connected to a hijacked truck, some ancient artifacts, a man in a thirty year long coma, a band of renegade Watchers, and the latest of Cordeliaís visions. The high point of this one is an elderly woman who decides that she wants to be a private investigator and decides to audition for Angel even if he is not interested. 8/19/19

Close to the Ground by Jeff Mariotte, Pocket, 2000  

An Angel novel. Angel gets maneuvered into being the bodyguard for the precocious daughter of a Hollywood mogul - except she's not really. An Irish sorcerer is desperate to find a way to extend his life and suspects that Angelís unique possession of a soul might hold the answer.  But that means Angel must die if the sorcerer is to live. The plot is pretty standard but some of the dialogue is particularly clever. Not as good as the authorís Hollywood Noir, but still above average. 8/8/19

Not Forgotten by Nancy Holder, Pocket, 2000  

An Angel novel. This time Angel tangles with worshippers of the Indonesian god of death. The people they sacrifice die through spontaneous combustion and the police are baffled, as police usually are in these books. Angel teams up with a knowledgeable priest to exorcise the godís influence from the world and destroy his followers.  There are too many short flashbacks. They interrupt the main story too often and donít always contribute anything to the plot. 8/2/19

To Rouse Leviathan by Matt Cardin, Hippocampus, 2019, $20, ISBN 978-1-61498-270-8

This is a collection of horror stories that lean toward the "weird" rather than conventional contemporary horror. Most of them are Lovecraftian in the sense that they hint at cosmic forces of which we are unaware, or of powers and motives that are beyond human redemption. Only some of them, however, actually fall into the Cthulhu Mythos. I had only read four of them before and most readers are likely to find most of them new as well, unless they spend a lot of time reading less well known venues. They frequently use a kind of deliberately flowery or ornate prose and colorful metaphors. I found that this occasionally did not work for me, depending upon the specific story. Sometimes it felt inappropriate. If I had to compare him to another writer, I'd suggest Thomas Ligotti, although only in the most general terms. Some of the material - including one of the two collaborations with Mark McLaughlin - is original to this collection. 7/29/19

Redemption by Mel Odom, Pocket, 2000 

An Angel novel. A television actress who plays a vampire survives attempts to kill her by members of a mysterious organization which believes her to be a real monster, even though she appears in daylight. Angel is hired to be her bodyguard and eventually discovers that there is some truth to the story because his client is possessed by a banshee who occasionally takes control and kills people. He is able to separate the two so that the banshee can be destroyed. There are multiple flashbacks showing his previous encounter with the woman when he was Angelus. 7/23/19

Avatar by John Passarella, Pocket, 2001 

An Angel novel. A computer game fan partners with a demon, hoping to get a more attractive body once the demon has killed twelve victims and assumed permanent physical form. The demon is, of course, lying to him and he should have realized this from the outset. Angel begins investigating a series of murders in which only skin and hair remains of the victims and eventually uses Cordelia for bait to get the online dating demon to show himself. Bad news for both the demon and the teenaged collaborator. One of the better Angel novels. 7/19/19

The Toll by Cherie Priest, Tor, 2019

This is one of those books where I can't say much about the plot without spoiling it. The premise is that a newly married couple are driving through a remote swamp area in the South when a strange phenomenon leaves the husband unconscious and the wife missing. He eventually makes his way  to a small, dying town to seek help, but the mysteries just grow rather than get solved. The town is filled with a nice array of strange characters, not all of them alive and not all of them human. This is an extraordinarily good book with lots of little touches that hint at other mysteries as well as those that are revealed. In some ways I think this may well be the author's best novel so far. 7/17/19

City Of by Nancy Holder, Pocket, 1999  

An Angel novel. This is actually just a novelization of the first show in the series. Angel relocates to Los Angeles and meets the half-demon Doyle, whose psychic visions show him people in danger. Although Angel is too late to protect a young woman from a predatory vampire, the killerís next target is Cordelia, who has also moved out of Sunnydale. Angel kills the vampire inside the building that houses Wolfram and Hart, the evil law firm he battles for the rest of the series. 7/12/19

Vengeance by Scott Ciencin and Dan Jolley, Simon, 2002  

An Angel novel. Angel has to take on the original Lilith in this tie-in. She has a magical necklace that will give her supreme power if she corrupts one thousand innocent souls and she is only two short when Angel steals it. But even he is vulnerable to its magical corruption as he battles both Lilith and a horde of demonic minions, while keeping the grasping hands of Wolfram and Hart at bay. Pretty good story though it goes on a bit longer than it probably should have. 7/8/19

In the Woods by Carrie Jones & Steven E. Wedel, Tor, 2019, $17.99, ISBN 978-0-7653-3655-2

I know that present tense narration is all the rage and that it is supposed to present a greater sense of immediacy. It does not, particularly in stories that are supposed to be suspenseful. "I am being chased" does not ring true. Stop talking and run. That said, this is a moderately entertaining novel about something that is making people in a small town disappear. I'll put a spoiler alert here, although I thought it was obvious very early that it was some kind of werewolf. I would have enjoyed it a lot more if the authors had not constantly made me aware of their presence. 7/7/19

Shakedown by Don DeBrandt, Simon, 2000   

An Angel novel, set before Doyle has passed on his ability to experience visions to Cordelia. A new breed of underground demons decides to eradicate the surface world in order to bring order to the universe. They begin abducting humans and killing surface dwelling demons in order to prepare to use earthquakes as a weapon and already Los Angeles is beginning to experience destructive tremors. Angel and company are hired by the nonviolent demons to protect them, and find themselves instead protecting the entire word. Thereís quite a bit of cute dialogue in this one. 7/1/19

 

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