Historical fantasy, gaming mysteries and graphic novels: this week’s reading

WHERE OBLIVION LIVES: A Los Nefilim Novel by T. Frohock is set in 1930s Spain and Germany (Franco and Hitler are rising to power in the background) where the Nefilim (half-angels acting as heaven’s agents on Earth) Diego finds himself tormented by a magical violin from one of his past lives. Attempting to stop the attack and prove himself to his brethren (he’s part-demon too, which makes him suspicious), he ventures into Germany, unaware that both an imprisoned fallen angel and a former Nefilim leader have plans for him.

I know T. Frohock from Mysticon, but I sincerely enjoyed it (thank goodness — as I’ve said before, I always worry I’ll read a friend’s book and hate it). It’s very low-key but it works here, has a gay protagonist and a solid story. There were times I wasn’t clear about the mythos (I didn’t realize until late in the book that Diego’s much older than a normal human), but nothing that got me lost (and better light exposition than too much). The details of the early 1930s setting worked well, too.

NEST OF THE MONARCH: A Dark Talents Novel by Kay Kenyon is set in 1936 as psi-spy Kim (a “spill,” meaning people blurt out secrets around her) goes undercover as a diplomat’s wife in Germany, where she learns the Nazis have a Big and Evil Plan involving a White Russian with a special ability they see as the key to taking over Europe bloodlessly. This was well executed with excellent period detail (vastly better than MJ-12, which employed  similar elements), but it didn’t click with me as much as Frohock’s did; possibly it was that it’s more spy thriller than SF, but it may just have been my mood.

While I”m not a cozy mystery fan, I looked at NO SAVING THROW: A Ten Again Mystery by Kristin McFarland because the gaming-store setting seemed more fun than the usual restaurants and yarn stores in the genre. The story of the store’s owner investigating a murder that took place during some LARPing, possibly by a deranged gamer, gets the gaming parts right (and the stereotypes of gamers that the cast have to deal with) but the mystery flopped for me. The owner’s decision to investigate on her own lacked a very good reason, and I really couldn’t see her cop best friend accepting this so casually.

COPPERHEAD by Jay Faerber and Scott Godlewski is a competent space western graphic novel about a female sheriff with a troubled record, starting over with her son in the eponymous mining town. She doesn’t like the local android population, her deputy resents not being made sheriff and the local rich guy thinks she’s going to be a problem; meanwhile she has to solve the murder of alien family. First in a series, this feels very much like a pilot episode establishing the series. Competently done, but not terribly compelling (admittedly my lack of interest in Westerns may factor in).

GHOSTBUSTERS: Mass Hysteria by Erik Burnham and Dan Schoening is twenty issues or so of a  Ghostbusters series from IDW, with the Ghostbusters and a junior team (created for the series) battle against the usual array of menaces, plus the looming threat of Gozer’s old adversary Tiamat rising in the background. Captures the spirit of the films very well (I don’t believe it’s drawing on the cartoons at all).

#SFWApro. Cover by Richard L. Aquan and multiple others, all rights remain with current holder.

 

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