books

Tanya Huff

Books

Vicki Nelson: Blood Price (1991), Blood Trail (1992), Blood Lines (1993), Blood Pact (1993)

The Quarters: Sing the Four Quarters (1994), Fifth Quarter (1995), No Quarter (1996), The Quartered Sea (1999)

Wizard of the Grove (1999)

Anthologies: Dragon Fantastic (1992), A Magic-Lover's Treasury of the Fantastic (1998), Earth, Air, Fire, Water (1999), Assassin Fantastic (2001), The Repentant (2003), Faerie Tales (2004), Little Red Riding Hood in the Big Bad City (2004), Dracula in London (2004), Maiden, Matron, Crone (2005), In the Shadow of Evil (2005), Children of Magic (2006), Places to Be, People to Kill (2007), nder Cover of Darkness (2007), Many Bloody Returns (2007), Vampires: The Recent Undead (2010), Those Who Fight Monsters: Tales of Occult Detectives (2011), Weird Detectives: Recent Investigations (2013)

 

 

Vicki Nelson

 

Blood Price (1991)

I’m embarrassed to admit how long I’ve had this book without reading it. In fact, it’s been so long that I’m not even certain precisely how long it has been, but I’m thinking I picked it up in ’94 or ’95, along with its two companion volumes. (The price was $3.99, if that tells you anything, although I got it used.) Not that I didn’t try to start this book before. I did. A rather long time ago. However, the first chapter is rather gruesome, and I thought the book was going to be horror, so I put it back for later. It’s just that later took a lot longer to get here than I expected.

And to be honest, I'd actually forgotten I had this book. For entirely too long now, I've been double stacking my books on the book cases, so this book ended up in the behind row. It was only because I was looking for another book yesterday that I stumbled upon Blood Price, and realized that they probably weren't horror like I was thinking they were, and considering how much I like Charlaine Harris and Simon Green, I should go ahead and give these another try.

So yes, it was gruesome, but not so much so that I couldn't stand it, and no more than other books I've read.

Vicki Nelson left the police force because a degenerative disease is slowly causing her to lose her sight. However, until that happens, she's hung out her shingle as a private investigator. But she still gets into fights with Mike Celluci, her ex-coworker and ex-lover, and a case she stumbles upon draws them back together, rather against both their wills.

This is a quick read, but an enjoyable one. Although I'm used to my supernatural thrillers with private detectives being written as mysteries, this is written more as a thriller--we know long before our heroes who the bad guy is. And to be honest, I think I might have preferred this as a mystery, but it was still good. The best thing being Vicki Nelson. Vicki is flawed, and not just in her failing eyesight. But that makes her other flaws easier to deal with. I'm more willing to put up with a bitchy character when they have a very good reason for being so cranky.

It also helped explain why someone who was a good cop would take stupid risks. Which she did repeatedly.

Considering all the interest vampire books have gained in recent years, it was interesting to go back and read this book which had been written when about the only vampire books around were Anne Rice's. (Well, the only ones that I knew about anyway.) There are a few things that date the book, although not many. (Though the skinny leather tie was definitely one of those things.)

Another positive for this book is that although it is part of a series, it has a complete story arc, and is written more as a mystery series than a fantasy series. As I'm a big fan of fantasy authors who can actually complete a story in a single book, I was very happy about this.

About the only serious complaint I have, is a line that stopped me cold.

"Bribes" the sergeant snorted, the ends of his beautifully curled mustache quivering with the force of his exhalation.

How, precisely, do you snort the word bribes? I can't managed it.

Despite that flaw, I managed to enjoy the book, and am glad that I stumbled upon it yesterday, and am looking forward to the other two books.

And if you're interested in reading these books yourself, with the latest vampire craze, there are new releases out, so you won't have to resort to used bookstores to find a copy.
Rating: 7/10

Blood Trail (1992)

Okay, I did have a very strong drink to celebrate the end of the semester, so that may have been part of the reason why I laughed out loud several times last night while reading this book. Or, it could be that the book was actually amusing. Your call.

Vicki receives a call from Henry, asking her if she would be willing to take on a case for some friends of his. What he fails to mention is that those friends are werewolves, and that someone with a high powered rifle has been killing the family off one by one.

This one reads more like a traditional mystery, although we do learn who the killer is before our heroes.

What I really liked about this story was the nature of the wers. Although they pass for human, they aren't quite, and I found those differences very interesting. Especially, their attitude towards nudity. It makes sense, after all, for a being who can't wear clothes in one form, to not be hung up on nudity the way humans are. After all, all the other creatures on the planet go about nekkid (except for those unfortunate pets whose owners insist on dressing them up) so what's the big deal?

Of course, I have no interest in going about with much more than 10% of my flesh exposed to the air, but if it makes other people happy, good for them.

I also very much like Henry, and how from his birth (death? rebirth?) as a vampire he doesn't kill, except as a necessity. I like the idea that at least some vampires has control over their natures to some degree, and can choose to kill or merely to feed. But then I'm a big fan of free will, so I like the idea that all creatures, even magical ones, have free will. And also like that Henry is very religious. It makes sense, of course, considering that he's something in the way of an ethical vampire, but I like it very much.

I'm also fascinated by what the different authors who write supernatural fantasy choose to keep as cannon for their magical and creatures, and what they choose to discard as mythical. It is of course reasonable that humans would get some things right and some things wrong regarding creatures we don't really believe in, but different authors choose to keep different things.

Meanwhile, this story. I liked it. Very much. It was dark, of course, but it was also highly amusing at times, primarily in the dialog, or in Vicki's thoughts. It was also a lot of fun to read. Nothing deep, but very enjoyable.

If you liked Blood Price, then you'll almost certainly like Blood Trail. If you have not read Blood Price, you should be able to read Blood Trail anyway, and not lose anything. (Let me mention one more time how much I love authors who can write a series, while finishing a plot in a single book. Yay!) So if you think supernatural fantasy, you should enjoy this. It is dark and a little gruesome, and there is some sex. But it's not extremely gruesome, and there isn't a lot of sex. And it's good. Probably even without the whiskey.
Rating: 8/10

Blood Lines (1993)

In the third book in the Victory Nelson Private Investigator series, an ancient mummy is released from his bindings and takes up where he left off–gathering power and souls for his God. Several strange deaths draw Mike Celluci, and then Vicki Nelson and Henry Fitzroy onto the case.

I did not like this book nearly as well as the previous two. I am still enjoying learning about Henry Fitzroy, and it's still interesting watching Vicki come to terms with her continuing loss of sight, and I didn't even mind the sniping between Henry and Mike. What bothered me was the amount of violence in this book.

Vicki has gotten hurt in previous books (which must be why the books are set in Canada, so that she isn't in life-long debt after her first hospitalization) but I really do not like it when authors do lots of awful things to their characters, for reasons that I'm not certain I believe. It was just too much, and I found myself skimming through much of it, and hoping that I wasn't missing any important plot points.

I realize that there are bad people that do bad things--in fact I realize that horrible things happen to people all the time. I suppose I just wasn't convinced as to why these bad things were happening, other than to make us feel sorry for Vicki, and to show us how strong and resilient she was. It just felt over-the-top and unnecessary.

As for the rest of the story, I did like the idea that modern humans would unknowingly release terrible evil upon the world, because we were unable to recognize--or believe--the ancient warnings. If magic does exist, then in unearthing ancient tombs and treasures would most likely bring doom or evil or bad things or whatever into the world (If I remember correctly, were there not stories about tragedy befalling those involved in unearthing Egyptian tombs?). That seems reasonable.

And I liked the way that she made the ancient mummy able to deal with the modern world. Although I think the mummy might still have had a harder time dealing with things than he did, but I didn't find the way he dealt with the modern world unreasonable.

However, I just wasn't excited about this story. Like Blood Price, this story was not a mystery--we know who the bad guy is from the start. And I just didn't find the mummy as interesting as the werewolves or the summoned demon from the first two stories. I also don't understand why Vicki doesn't see that maybe she's being unfair to Mike Celluci. (Boy was I hoping that Celluci would end up seriously involved with Rachel. But apparently, no dice.) I also didn't care for the ending, with the "there is still evil out there and it knows our name" bit. Ugh.

So... Blood Lines was okay. There wasn't anything really awful, but neither was there anything really great. And I just couldn't get into the story. So you'll of course want to read this if you want to read the whole series, but I would not recommend this as a starting point, despite the fact that you could read this separate from the previous books.
Rating: 5/10

Blood Pact (1993)

Surprisingly, I like Blood Pact a lot more than Blood Lines, the last book, although it was quite different than the previous four. In this book they battle not magic, but science: a group of researchers are reanimating the dead.

I say surprisingly because the researchers were creating zombies. Vicki, Mike, and Henry kept speaking of Dr. Frankenstein, but really, it was zombies.

I HATE zombies.

Luckily, the zombies weren't going around eating people's brains, and the fact that we were given a (however limited) point of view of the reanimated dead helped make reading about them easier.

I particularly liked that we got to see Henry's worst fears come true. Not that I liked seeing bad thing happen to Henry, but it was quite interesting. And I'm curious as to whether she talked to scientists about feasibility of what was done in this book. Nothing struck me as unreasonable, however, there were a couple of things that I wondered about.

SPOILER

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END SPOLIER

The story moved quickly and I couldn't put the book down--she did so many things to the characters that I simply had to finish the book. It was one of those times when I got completely sucked into the tale, regardless of whether I liked what was happening or not.

Although there is a fifth book in this series, I looked over the reviews and am going to pass. This is exactly how I expected the series to end. I don't think I care to read more about these characters, especially considering most of the reviews I read, and the fact that the fifth book was written four years after this book. I liked how this book ends--it's the end to the series I'd been expecting since the first book--and I'd rather not read another book like Blood Lines that would ruin the whole series for me.
Rating: 7/10

 

Anthologies

 

Dragon Fantastic (1992) edited by Martin H. Greenberg

Shing Li-Ung – Tanya Huff

Published by Daw

A Magic-Lover's Treasury of the Fantastic (1998) edited by Margaret Weis

Mirror, Mirror On The Lam - Tanya Huff

Published by Aspect


Earth, Air, Fire, Water (1999) edited by Margaret Weis

Burning Bright - Tanya Huff

Assassin Fantastic (2001) edited by Martin H. Greenberg & Alexander Potter

I know that Martin Greenberg puts together good anthologies, however there’s something about the “Fantastic” that gets tacked onto the end of each anthology theme title that puts me off for some reason. However, I’ve always been fond of Assassin characters, so I picked up the book.

Death Rites by Tanya Huff

After the first few stories I almost gave up--the story by Tanya Huff I found confusing, and I saw the trick of Stephen Leigh's "Green Stones" almost immediately, so although it was a good story, it wasn't a great story. The same went for Kristine Kathryn Rusch's "Coin of the Realm" I knew where the story was going, so it lost much of its punch. (It's an anthology about assassins--chances are that the main character--especially in a first person narrative--is going to be the assassin. Because it's hard for the assassinated to tell their story after the fact. So that pretty much kills any surprise or twist.) However, it picked up from there.

All in all it was a good anthology, and I quite enjoyed it. There were lots of original stories, and for the most part even the ones I didn't care for were well-written, making it more a matter of taste than of quality. And I found a couple of new authors to look for as well, which is always a good thing.
Rating: 7/10

The Repentant (2003) edited by Martin H. Greenberg & Brian Thomsen

I love short stories, so I tend to pick up anthologies when I come across them–assuming they look even remotely interesting. The Repentant looked particularly interesting, since it had several authors I particularly like: Tanya Huff, P.N. Elrod, and especially Nina Kiriki Hoffman. And the theme was also one that interested me: supernatural creatures.

Scleratus by Tanya Huff

The Tanya Huff story, Sceleratus, had Henry Fitzroy telling Tony a story of his past, and of one of his past loves, and of the Inquisition.

Snarling, Henry stepped over the bodies, the blood scent wrapping around him. Prisoner of the Inquisition or not, the (man) would learn fear. He caught (the man)'s gaze with his, but to his astonishment, couldn't hold it. When he tried to look away, he could not.

After a moment, the old (man) sighed, and released him. "Not evil, although you have done evil. Not anger, or joy in slaughter. I never knew your kind could feel such pain."

That's actually a good summary for the anthology. The monsters are not necessarily what you would expect, and don't behave or believe in the manner you would expect.

Although there were a couple of stories I didn't like, overall, it was a strong anthology with a variety of interesting and well written stories. Although I have to admit that when I see them name Martin H. Greenburg on an anthology, I'm pretty certain of liking the majority of stories.
Rating: 8/10

Little Red Riding Hood in the Big Bad City (2004) edited by Martin H. Greenberg & John Helfers

Jack And The B.S. - Tanya Huff

Published by DAW

Faerie Tales (2004) edited by Martin H. Greenberg & Russell Davis

He Said, Sidhe Said Tanya Huff

Published by Daw

Maiden, Matron, Crone (2005) edited by Martin H. Greenberg & Kerrie Hughes

I try to pick up fantasy anthologies when I see them, since chances are they won’t be there the next time I look. I picked up Maiden, Matron, Crone while ago, but saved it to read during the school year, because short story collections are much easier to put down than books.

Some of the stories in this collection were good, some were so-so, and a couple were quite excellent. And there weren't any stories that I absolutely hated, which is always a good thing. The best part of this collection, however, is that if focused on female characters, and for the most part strong female characters.

A Choice of Ending - Tanya Huff

In the Shadow of Evil (2005) edited by Martin H. Greenberg & Rosalind M. Greenberg

Slow PoisonTanya Huff

Published by Daw

Children of Magic (2006) edited by Martin H. Greenberg & Kerrie Hughes

As I have mentioned on many previous occasions, I am a huge fan of short stories. Occasionally I have been disappointed, but for the most part the anthologies I have read have good, especially the one edited by Martin H. Greenberg.

The theme of Children of Magic is (as you would guess from the title) children with magic and the ability to change the world around them. The major problem with this review, however, is that I only read a one or two stories at a time, and then left the book on the headboard for a few weeks while I was reading something else (anthologies are good for that). So it actually took me several months to read Children of Magic as it dropped to the bottom of the pile in favor of whatever I was currently reading during the day (or sometimes something more boring, to put me to sleep.)

After School Specials - Tanya Huff

Under Cover of Darkness (2007) edited by Julie E. Czerneda and Jana Paniccia


“The Things Everyone Knows” by Tanya Huff

Published by Daw

Places to Be, People to Kill (2007) edited by Martin H. Greenberg & Brittiany A. Koren

I really like short stories, so I’m a sucker for anthologies. I’ve been burned a couple of times, but for the most part, anything that Martin H Greenberg has a hand in will most likely contain a majority of stories I’ll enjoy. The fact that the stories were about assassins was an added bonus. (For some reason I love to read about characters I would want absolutely nothing to do with if I read them in life: assassins, thieves, and scoundrels. Places to Be, People to Kill contains all three.

As with most anthologies, there were some stories I especially liked, and some I cared for less.

Exactly - Tania Huff

Many Bloody Returns (2007) edited byCharlaine Harris and Toni L.P. Kelner

I pre-ordered this, not realizing it was in hardback. As much as I love anthologies, I’m not that excited about hardback books–especially anthologies where I don’t know all the authors or the quality of the stories.

Many Bloody Returns pretty much tells you the focus of the stories: vampires and birthdays. In some cases it’s the vampire who is having a birthday, in other cases…not.

Luckily, I wasn’t too disappointed with my purchase. There were several stories by authors I like and charaters whose books I’m reading, namely, Charlaine Harris, PN Elrod, Jim Butcher, and Tanya Huff. Unsurprisingly, some those were also some of the stories I enjoyed most, as they built upon characters with which I am already familiar.

Of those, my two favorite stories were Jim Butcher’s “It’s My Birthday Too” and P.N. Elrod’s “Grave-Robbed”.

Otherwise, this was a pretty good collection of stories. I probably would have preferred the book in paperback, but over all I enjoyed it.
Rating: 7/10

Those Who Fight Monsters: Tales of Occult Detectives (2011)
edited by Justin Gustainis

those-who-hunt-monstersAs the title says, this is a collection of supernatural mysteries.

“See Me: A Smoke and Shadows Story” by Tanya Huff

This was, as sometimes happens, a mix of stories I liked and didn’t like, though there wasn’t any particular story I thought was terrible. Just stories that were more or less to my personal taste. There were also several stories I had previously read.

“See Me: A Smoke and Shadows Story” by Tanya Huff. This was also in Weird Detectives.

All an all, an interesting anthology, and would I can easily recommend–especially if it’s still only $3.

Published by EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing  
Rating: 7/10

Vampires: The Recent Undead (2011) edited by Paula Guran

Vampires-The-Recent-Undead “No Matter Where You Go” by Tanya Huff

It has taken me an almost embarrassingly long time to finish this. How long you ask? I purchased it a couple months after it was published–that long ago.

The problem is I hit a point where I wasn’t interested in a story, and instead of just skipping to the next story, I put the whole thing down. I know, rookie mistake. (But you’ll see I made it several times, so I decided to just finish off these anthologies, and if I didn’t like a story? SKIP.)

“No Matter Where You Go” by Tanya Huff

I really liked the Vicki Nelson stories when I first read them. Then I tried to jump into a later book, after not having read the books for years, and felt lost.

I might go back and start again and see how I feel about things.

So, it was an uneven anthology for me, but there were some very good stories that are well-worth the price of the anthology.

Published by Prime Books
Rating: 7/10

Weird Detectives: Recent Investigations (2013) edited by Paula Guran

weird-detectives-recent-investigationsThis is a collection of short stories previously published elsewhere, so I’d already read several of these stories. But there were several I had not, and several of the ones I’d read before were well worth reading again.

This book has been sitting around for awhile, waiting to be read, primarily because I got it in trade paperback, and it’s huge and heavy–just the kind of book I hate reading. Too heavy and too bulky for comfortable reading. But the stories drew me in and didn’t let me go. (Though the book itself was why I lacked patience for stories I’d recently read or didn’t catch my interest immediately.)

“See Me” by Tanya Huff

Initially, I was just going to flip through and read stories by authors I love, but then I ended up just reading straight through. Having no patience, if I story didn’t immediately grab hold, I didn’t finish it, and if I hadn’t thoroughly enjoyed it the first time (or had read the story very recently), I didn’t give it a second read.

“See Me” by Tanya Huff is a Tony Foster story, and oddly, although I enjoyed her Vicki Nelson series, I’ve never gotten into any of her other characters. This wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t something I liked.

As I said, this contained a lot of stories I’d read previously, but they are for the most part good stories, so if you don’t have the original anthologies, this would be well worth getting.
Rating: 8/10