SISTERS OF THE RAVEN by Barbara Hambly succeeds where I thought the overrated The Power failed: the opening sequence alone in which Rashaelda has to hide from a killer and realizes none of the men nearby bothered to intervene, is chilling. Rashaelda is one of several women who’ve acquired magical power just as the men of their desert kingdom are losing theirs. Men, even non-magical men, resent the change, and the women are struggling to prove themselves against a deadly drought and political upheaval. I’d have liked this better if it focused more on the gender dynamics, which get lost as the other plotlines amp up, but I still liked this a lot.
HOUSE OF HADES: Heroes of Olympus, Book Four by Rick Riordan is my first exposure to his wildly popular Percy Jackson mythos about Olympian demigods living among us. Riordan makes it easy to follow who’s who and what the goal is (reach Hades’ temple and shut the gateway allowing Gaia to flood the world with monsters) and he’s certainly a good writer. However this is more a series installment than a standalone novel — the battle isn’t decisive, most of the character arcs are in motion — so it didn’t convert me to a fan of the mythos.
Still, Riordan did much better handling eight books of backstory than Sherrilyn Kenyon did with DEATH DOESN’T BARGAIN: A Deadman’s Cross Novel which is only book two (that may be because, according to this review, it’s part of a much larger mythos). It starts off with an interminable discussion of who’s allied to who against what, with the speakers each having a couple of different names…it’s like a textbook example of how not to hook readers (though apparently lots of people were). After about a hundred pages, it still seemed to be characters rehashing the first book’s backstory, so I gave up.
The main plotline of FLASH: Cold Day in Hell by Joshua Williamson, Michael Moreci and multiple artists is that Flash’s Rogues, led by Captain Cold, have turned the Iron Heights prison into the basis of a crime empire; fortunately Barry’s been assigned to handle the prison’s evidence locker, so when one of the Rogues is murdered, Flash is instantly on the case. There’s also a two-parter involving an evil speedster and one with pre-New 52 Wally West trying to figure out his role in the new DC. The writing isn’t bad, it’s just not terribly interesting. Partly because this is just not my Flash: the New 52’s Negative Speed Force, Wally no longer married to Linda (I love her as a love interest, but apparently nobody since Geoff Johns’ run on Flash has any interest in her), Barry and Wally and New 52 Wally all crowding into Central City, Barry haunted by his mother’s murder (works fine on the TV show, but it’s gratuitous in the books) … it leaves me cold.
#SFWApro. Image is Hades and Persephone, fresco in the tomb called “Eurydice”, Vergina, Greece. Public domain, courtesy of wikimedia.