TL; DR: So much to love, and completely outside of my usual reading fare.Read More
Star Rating: 5/5
Genre: Paranormal, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Buy the book: Amazon
***SPOILER ALERT FOR BOOK 1, Hell's Teeth*** Seeing as this is the second in a series, you're gonna find out some stuff in the below review that maybe you didn't want to know before reading the first. Do yourself a favor and just buy Hell's Teeth right now. It is seriously so good. You can see my review of that book here if you don't believe me. See? Super good! Okay, I'll give you some time to buy and read the book.
~Cue elevator music~
All done? See what I mean?! So good, right? Great! Let's carry on with the review.
Synopsis (summarized from Amazon): Phoebe Harkness’ life has changed forever. Thirty years after a cataclysmic world war that eviscerated one third of the human population, a new sub-species of vampire-like drones has set its teeth to the survivors of humanity. They’re not the only ones: ‘Genetic Others’ such as vampires, werewolves and more roam the streets of New Oxford, trying – and sometimes failing – to live peacefully amongst humankind. But that is all about to change. A spate of serial killings have occurred, rocking the already fragile ecosystem of New Oxford. Brutal murders and mutilation are now commonplace. Phoebe must get to work. She is named as liaison between the Genetic Others and the Cabal, the ruling order of the walled city. Crescent Moon is the gripping second instalment of the urban gothic Phoebe Harkness series. It follows the young doctor as she stalks through the corrupt dystopia of New Oxford.
Sooooooo I'm going to share something that might make some of you want to throw stuff at me. If you do, please choose pillows, teddy bears, and other fluffy/not-dense objects because I have terrible reflexes and I like my face as is. Here goes: I don't get hangovers from alcohol. I just don't, never have really. "Well, have you ever been really drunk?" you might ask. To that let me just say I once spent a car ride home with the hubs giggling and vehemently insisting I absolutely didn't need to drink a glass of water because (and here comes some killer reasoning) the orange juice in the screwdrivers I had been making myself all night had pulp in it. Pulp! So it's all fine! And guess who was as bouncy and bright eyed the next morning as usual? Me. So I don't know what a hangover feels like...until now. Book hangover, which is new to me as well.
What. The. H?
This sucks so bad. No, I don't have headaches and yucky feelings and some of the other stuff I've heard people complain about. But what am I supposed to do with myself now?! Okay, let me start at the beginning.
So Crescent Moon, the follow up to James Fahy's paranormal/sci-fi/fantasy thriller Hell's Teeth, jumps right in with an intro that unceremoniously hurls you like a shot put ball (just the shot, I guess?) into the middle of the plot without giving much of anything away. I am immediately sucked in, leaning forward and thinking, Go ooooooon. And on top of that, we immediately hear the narrator's fantastic voice - that would be the main character and ubermistress of dry wit, Phoebe Harkness. She is absolutely hysterical. Case in point: she identifies her age as thirtymumble. Thank you, Mister Fahy. I shall henceforth be stealing this to use in my real life interactions.
And we get that same, delightful characterization via Phoebe for the other characters as well, even minor ones, but it's done so well, so subtly. We're never told outright, this person has a razor-edged tongue. No, no. We just hear that through their dialogue and actions. It's the kind of characterization that just silently bleeds into the background and paints you a picture without ever telling you what to look for. All the kudos!
And let us not forget all the fantastic references I gushed about in the review for Hell's Teeth. So. Many. Of. These! Some of those I spotted might be pure coincidence, but in my head I like to think a character in this book called Anderson lowers the IQ of the entire street when he talks out loud. Points for whoever knows what I'm talking about. ;)
You know what else I like about these books? The fact that Phoebe is realistic. For one thing, she's not a robot. So often, strong, analytically-minded female characters are painted as really flat and totally don't need anyone or any form of comfort whatsoever, which I just don't think can be the case for anyone 100% of the time. And it's not for her. There's a moment where she admits (only to herself, of course) that all she wanted to do after this one particularly trying day was "snuggle down somewhere comfortable and have my hair stroked". Aha! And right there, in a single rare moment, we see her as deeper than Lady-Scientist-Bot 3000. Yeah, that's more of that great character building as well.
On top of that, though, you know what else I love about her? She has no idea what she's doing and she knows it and it shows. Again, I think way too often when our hero is clueless, they still somehow sail through pretty much flawlessly. But, as careful as she tries to be, Phoebe keeps making little (and sometimes big) blunders. Not that it's really her fault, mind you, because she's just been given this new liaison job without really much of a choice and even less training...okay, zero training. And I think it's so much more realistic that she does mess stuff up. You know what I think I've just realized? I wanna be Phoebe Harkness when I grow up. Yup. New life goal realized!
And in that same vein, I'm just gonna say the budding...relationship (if it can be called that) is everything I want in a book. Aaaaaand this is where the hangover begins. As this is a spoiler-free review, I can't get into the details, but I will say I was 78% into the book and realized [REDACTED FOR SPOILERS]. Are you freakin' kidding me?! I'm dying. I need the next book, like, yesterday. I actually wrote in my notes: "You know what? I wouldn't even care if he was using me. Sexy!" You just cannot help but think Alessandro is one of the smoothest vampires of all time. I mean that, and I am including all entertainment mediums here.
And then the feels! Oh, the feels. I was actually shouting at my book when [REDACTED FOR SPOILERS], so much so that I scared Badger and he went to hide in his closet. It's okay, baby-dog. Mummy just needs to be able to jump into the book and shake some sense into people. Okay? It was around this time (about halfway into the book) that I really started to wish I could read faster. And then not too long after that, at the beginning of Chapter 23, I needed to stop reading and have a nap because this book was wearing me out. That is the level of wild feelings/action-packed rollercoaster ride we're talking about.
And in the midst of all this, James Fahy included a masquerade ball (always improves a story, IMHO), avoided a massive cliche that he could have easily taken (but I'm so glad he didn't), addressed the issue of prejudice in such a succinct and poignant way (without being preachy in the least), seriously made me question what his browser history looks like (you do seem to know a lot about dead bodies, mate), and set up a huge cliffhanger for the next book!
I'm dead. I need the next one so bad, and it's not out yet. Uuuuuuugh, if this horrible fugue state is the mental equivalent of the physical symptoms of a hangover, how do you people do it?! Yeah, if you thought this review sounded a bit disjointed and rambly, that's because I cannot seem to get my bearings. Guh, I don't even know where to turn next in my reading adventures.
All in all, read the series. Like, right now. Do it. It's amazing and massively entertaining and so well constructed and riveting and I love every character for so many different reasons and seriouslydudewhenisthenextbookcomingoutbecauseyourekillingmehere. Thanks for reading!
Star Rating: 4.5/5
Genre: Paranormal, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Buy the book: Amazon
Fun fact: I don't like post-apocalyptic stories. Maybe it's because I just came across a glut of them a few years back, or maybe a certain series - naming no games of hunger - put me off of them... -.- << That's my unimpressed/annoyed face for anyone who doesn't know. Anyhoodles, futuristic, yep, totally cool. As soon as a book says, "There was the war, and it destroyed the whole world!" I'm kind of out. Maybe it's all the woe and wailing and misery. I dunno; still trying to figure out why I have such a distaste for anything that falls into that realm. That being the case, ***teeny spoiler alert*** it speaks volumes for James Fahy's Hell's Teeth that I like it so much, because it takes place in, you guessed it, a post-apocalyptic society. ***End spoiler alert.***
The list of what I liked about it is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. Look at that, a segue into the first thing on the list: references!!! Maybe it's just me, but I loved all the references the Phoebe, the main character and narrator, makes. The best one IMHO? Captain Kathryn Janeway, folks! The oft-overlooked badass of this quadrant, the Delta Quadrant, or any other quadrant you wanna name! Sorry, my Trekkie love got really strong just there. I also liked, though I don't know if this one was intentional, the use of the surname Trevelyan, because that is the name of the human Inquisitor from one of my most favorite video games: Dragon Age Inquisition. Right, so lots of fun references! What's next? The sass! Phoebe has such a great voice in this book, full of sarcasm and dry wit. She's so enjoyable to read. After that comes the great turns of the book. There's one in the first chapter, which I think works especially well if you read the description on Amazon, which is a pretty safe bet to take. More than once whilst reading this book I was pleasantly surprised by a shift or trick in the plot, most of which left me thinking, "Oh...snap. That's gonna suck." *GRIN!* Aren't we readers sadistic sometimes in how we enjoy a character's misery? >:D Here's something else interesting. Fahy does something that I think is rare with a lot of books and only works sometimes, but he pulled it off really well. Parts of this book read like a movie because the descriptions were so...visual. The picture painted for us as readers is vibrant and powerful, and that pulled me along in the story, making it one of those tales that was effortless to read through and provided proper deep enjoyment. Finally, Hell's Teeth does something else that I think fantasy and sci-fi stories can do in such a subtle but efficacious way. People who are different from us are dangerous, a threat to what we hold dear is such a common mindset in our world, and I appreciate it when stories can provide an objective look at an issue like this and discuss both sides, which this one does.
Well, that was quite a lot of praise and truly well deserved, I think. So why the half star deduction? It's a little bit of a technical issue actually. There's always going to be a typo or two in any book. Finding one is a game I like to play, but I found a couple bigger ones in Hell's Teeth that I felt like really should have been caught by the editor or someone in the process*. Yes, I know I sound like a teacher grading papers, but a few of them were actually distracting.
*For the record, I don't count comma use. That is the wild west of the punctuation world.
All in all, I think it's pretty clear that I absolutely loved the experience of reading this book. I've already bought the second one in the series, and I heard there's a third one coming out soon. Eh? *Waggles eyebrows*. I'll be keeping an eye out for that one too. Thanks for reading!
As promised, here's a fun new recipe!
Gingered Dark Chocolate Syrup
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/8 of a teaspoon salt
1/2 ounce ginger root, grated or sliced very thinly
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Drop all the ingredients except the vanilla extract into a small pot. Stir occasionally and cook over medium heat until it starts to bubble. This shouldn't take more than about five or ten minutes. Make sure all the sugar is dissolved and then remove from the heat. Let sit for fifteen to twenty minutes to allow the flavor of the ginger to really infuse into the syrup. Then add vanilla extract and stir to combine. You can strain the mixture now if you want, but I leave my ginger bits in so that they can continue to give off flavor. You'll just have to either avoid or deal with ginger bits down the road if you do this. You can then use the syrup to flavor your coffee, make hot chocolate, drizzle over ice cream, eat it off the spoon...hey, no judgement. What you do with your syrup is your business. And it can be stored in a glass jar in the fridge for a couple of weeks. Enjoy!