Happy New Year 2016!

2016 is coming… To start it in a good mood and escape from dreary Polish political reality, let’s see what the New Year will bring us :).

Ola: The silver screen looks Marvelous, with Deadpool coming to cinemas in February, Captain America: Civil War in May, X-Men: Apocalypse in May, and Doctor Strange in November.

Deadpool looks promising. I wouldn’t have given one grosz for Ryan Reynolds before (ill-fated Green Lantern!), but if the movie delivers what the trailer promised it can be a really decent movie. Irreverent, disgustingly funny and full of black humor, if they don’t botch the story, it can really be a pleasant surprise. Take a look at this trailer:

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Ilona Andrews, Magic Shifts (2015)

magic-shiftsSo how about a lighter, or shadier, type of fantasy than the big books I have talked about lately? 🙂 I will come back to Robin Hobb, I promise, just not today. Let’s jump to urban fantasy genre for a moment.

Magic Shifts is an eight installment in Kate Daniels’ world. Seven previous ones formed a complete story arc and I wrote about them here. I imagine that this new book was a difficult one for the authors: they had to start again, almost from scratch, with an old material, and after seven books it’s really hard to squeeze it even for a few drops of something unique. It must have been very demanding, especially taking under consideration their huge fan base, and I’m afraid they ultimately didn’t succeed. All the right elements are there – Ilona Andrews still knows how to write, how to build a story, how to create powerful, gripping scenes. Magic Shifts is even more picturesque than the previous books and would be a great film material – but the magic has really shifted. And, sadly, it’s almost entirely gone.

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Ilona Andrews, Kate Daniels series (2007–present)

kate-daniels-coversSince we’ve already entered the wide expanse of urban fantasy, the time has come to look a bit at the works of Ilona Andrews. Ilona Andrews is a pen name of a married couple: Russian immigrant Ilona and her husband Gordon, a former communications sergeant in US Army. Why is it so important to know who they are? Because their background deeply influences the content of their books.

The most well-known series – and the one that has been in part translated to Polish – is Kate Daniels. The eighth book comes out in August, there are also some tie-ins and novellas, and a slew of short stories. And it’s still a work in progress, with at least two novels planned. In short – a lot. Theirs is a big and brave new world, where magic and technology compete with each other, flooding the planet in alternating waves. When the technology has an upper hand, guns and cars and telephones work perfectly well. There’s electricity and computers. When magic gains eminence, there’s monsters. Spells. Buildings crashing down. And a lot of hand-to-hand combat.

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Patricia Briggs, Dead Heat (2015)

dead_heatDead Heat is the fourth, newest novel-length installment in the Alpha and Omega series by Patricia Briggs. Briggs is a solid name in the modern urban fantasy field. She can tell an engaging, compelling story, and she has created a really interesting, well planned world, full of politics (both magical and mundane), power plays and strong, likeable characters, which grow and change plausibly with every new installment. I really enjoy Mercy Thompson series, to the point of having all the books in the same ACE edition (hardcovers mostly) on my shelves. And that says a lot, considering the limited space I have there as well as my addiction to Kindle. I never got hooked on Alpha and Omega novels though – they are not enough action-packed and definitely too much introspectively romantic, wish-fulfilling and politically correct for my barbaric tastes. That said, let’s start from the beginning.

Those who read Briggs probably know that Alpha and Omega novels are set in the same world as Mercy Thompson series – they just follow a different set of characters, mainly Charles Cornick, the younger son of the Marrok, the head of all US werewolves, and Anna Cornick, Charles’ wife.

We have known Charles from Mercy’s point of view, as a person who scares even her, and this really does take some serious effort. He is tall, enigmatic bordering on unreadable, highly mysterious, has his own shaman magic and he takes care of all the dirty work the Marrok has. Which is, as you can expect, quite a lot.

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Robin McKinley, Sunshine (2004)

856Robin McKinley jest autorką stosunkowo mało znaną na polskim rynku, mimo że pisze fantastykę nieprzerwanie od końca lat 70. Zaszufladkowana jako autorka feministyczna i twórczyni książek YA, najbardziej znana jest ze swoich interpretacji klasycznych baśni: Pięknej i Bestii (dwukrotnie), Oślej skórki, Śpiącej królewny. McKinley robi jednak również wycieczki w dziedziny tradycyjnej fantastyki czy urban fantasy. Sunshine należy do tego ostatniego gatunku.

Książka McKinley opisuje historię młodej dziewczyny, Rae, i jej pokręconej drogi do poznania samej siebie. Rae ma kłopoty – niby nic wielkiego, tylko jakieś nierozliczone sprawy z dzieciństwa, najbliżsi, którzy lata temu zniknęli w niewyjaśnionych, wojennych okolicznościach, oraz nadopiekuńcza matka. Ale te kłopoty skłaniają ją pewnego wieczoru do samotnej przejażdżki nad jezioro, gdzie zostaje porwana przez grupę wampirów jako przynęta i pożywienie dla ich więźnia, samotnego wampira o imieniu Constantine. Aby przetrwać, Rae będzie musiała zmierzyć się ze swoją skomplikowaną przeszłością, o której dotąd usiłowała zapomnieć.

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