Thursday, October 11, 2012

Dark Currents by Jacqueline Carey and Other News

I'm a fan of Jacqueline Carey's marvelous Kushiel's Legacy series and her Santa Olivia books, so I was thrilled to read on Facebook that Ms Carey has begun a new urban fantasy series, starring Daisy Johanssen, half-demon and agent of Hel, the Norse goddess.
Daisy's mother, a human who inadvertently summoned a demon via Ouija board, decided to raise Daisy in as normal an environment as possible, in Pemkowet, Michigan, which resides (not unlike Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Sunnydale with it's hell-mouth) on top of an underworld rich with eldritch-folk, from ghouls to fairies and vampires.
When we join Daisy, she's working as a liaison to the eldritch community (and designated agent of Hel, complete with a tattoo on her hand) in the Pemkowet Police Department, and trying to quell her crush on one of the local policemen, Cody, who happens to be a werewolf.
Unfortunately, after a local frat boy turns up dead under suspicious circumstances, Daisy has to work with Cody and her friends in the community to come up with the killer and bring him to justice.
A master storyteller, Carey charms readers from page one with Daisy's semi-tough attitude and tender heart that belie her terrible temper and tiny demon tail. Her Godmother and former B-movie actress Lurine, who is half-woman, half-sea serpent and all-gorgeous, has some great lines and is truly a fascinating character with whom anyone would kill to have as a connection. Stefan the European hottie ghoul, who feeds on emotion, is another character that will keep readers thrilled with his sensual attention to Daisy and his ability to help calm her by taking some of her anger and anxiety at a time when she desperately needs them gone, due to her ability to explode and break things when her emotions reach a fever pitch. I was particularly struck by Carey's bold choice to define her supernatural creatures in a more classic way, such as vampires who can't be seen on film or in mirrors and can't go out in daylight, water fairies like nyads who aren't at all kind, but rather nasty, seeking to harm/drown those who are lured into the water with them, and the king of the forest as a wise man with stag horns whose coloring blends with the colors of the autumnal trees. You can't take these characters for granted anymore, since authors like Stephanie Meyers and others have re-written supernatural history and have vampires that merely "sparkle" in daylight, and water fae who are harmless and pretty in other recent fantasy novels.  Supernatural beings in old folktales, legends and myths were most often frightening creatures whom humans were told it was best to avoid, lest they be harmed. The fact that Carey has put her creatures firmly back in place as frightening and formidable, at a time when so many other authors seek to nearly domesticate or tame them strikes me as a bold and brilliant choice that will make her new series instant classics. Meanwhile, this book was just plain fun to read, full of cultural references and engaging characters, plus many interesting facts about supernaturals that will keep fantasy geeks happy for page after page. The plot swooshes by in a blur, and the strong, clean prose is vintage Carey.
I must admit I laughed out loud when Sinclair the faux-Jamaican shows up to try and get a tour bus going to view some 'less harmful' fairies, and Daisy has to summon them and make a deal with the king of the forest/fae by using morning dew in acorn cups. The fact that Daisy now has dinner plans with Sinclair, who reads auras, has met Cody's family and has an open declaration of support and a request for a kind of partnership with Stefan the ghoul leads me to feel certain that Dark Currents will be a hit with fans of fantasy and SF genres, and will engender many a fan to breathlessly await the next installment in the series. A+ for this first book in the series.

In other news, I am so proud of my adopted city!
Describing Seattle as "a book town in an e-reader world,
proud of its devotion to real books and real bookstores," the Washington
Post's Diane Roberts explored a few traditionally bookish destinations
in the city where Amazon has its headquarters, noting that "despite the
Northwest's haute-techiness (Microsoft's headquarters is just across
Lake Washington, too), Seattle still loves paper and print."

Among the bookstores highlighted were Lion Heart ("an excellent
selection of children's books that goes way beyond Harry Potter"), BLMF
Literary Saloon ("Customers should not expect to be coddled.") and Left
Bank Books, which "stocks a T-shirt that shouts 'Read a [expletive] book!' "

Roberts "wanted to kiss the polished wooden floor the minute I walked
into the Elliott Bay Book Co. It smells
of ink and paper (and coffee and cherries--there's a good cafe in the
back), and it glistens with new books; books you've heard of and books
you didn't know existed."

Elliott Bay bookseller Alan Brandsted told her that the bookstore is
"hyper-aware of the Amazon empire. Sometimes people come in and look
around, then buy online.... We see ourselves as a resource. Come in
here, and something might be revealed."

Finally, a lovely tidbit of autumn poetry from
Mary Oliver: "Lines Written in the Days of Growing

"So let us go on, cheerfully enough,
this and every crisping day,
though the sun be swinging east,
and the ponds be cold and black,
and the sweets of the year be doomed.

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