Book Review #30- Iron Night

Oh man. Since the first in this series was so good that i had to start a blog because of it my expectation for book 2 may have been higher than average, but it lived up in nearly every way. There is no way to replicate that feeling of something new and glorious, but ML Brennan skillfully avoids a slump while the nerdy and impoverished Fortitude Scott gets in over his head (again) in a supernatural plot that runs deeper than he could ever imagine (…again). Suzume Hollis, ‘co-main character’ and kitsune is still more kick ass than Fort. She has his back, consistently, even though she likes to give him a hard time. Parts are genuinely sweet, but don’t linger too long in the sap as they attempt to track down those responsible for the murder of Fort’s roommate. 

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They uncover a plot by elves to create less human purebloods and preserve the bloodlines through incest and magic. It’s incredibly messed up. To say the least. Fort meets a girl, and Brennan does the right thing here and makes Lilah the elf capable, caring and on their side. fort has every reason to fall for a girl with a peculiar upbringing -he himself was raised mostly in solitude under crazy freaky family rules (Fort’s still drinking his mother’s blood, consuming fluids from your mother in your 20s is hella bizarre). He can sympathize with a character who knows it’s wrong that she went to prom with her cousin, who is embroiled in her family’s crazy and criminal behavior against her will. She likens her upbringing to being raised in a cult. 

So the elves, growingly discontent with low birth rates and dwindling numbers and watered down powerless too-human children get crazy like the ancient royals and start breeding anyone that will make a viable elf child… no matter how young or closely related. If that wasn’t gross enough, the plot also involves a hyper-violent skinwalker and magical roofies.

Fort’s still trying to keep himself human, but he has to team up with his VERY vampiric sister, Prudence while his dashing brother is tending to his wife. Fort’s also terrified of Prudence. And with good reason. Torture is her cup of tea. She waffles between “antagonist” and “ally” as she herself becomes concerned that their family is weakening with this more human approach to raising Fort. The pure elves “Themselves” are willing to do ANYTHING to elevate their elite status.. and so is Prudence.

There’s more! Fort’s human father figure gets caught up in the mix and he has to make hard choices about where his allegiances lie. He still tries to make it to his shifts at a high end restaurant with an egomaniacal chef and he still buys his clothes at Ocean State Job Lot. Suzume still just about steals every page for me, although she wasn’t as focussed on as in the last book. Suzume is still all about playing pranks and showing Fort up, but she’s sweet when he needs her. She’s an awesome *friend* ..even if she might have set up book 3 with a strange new roommate for Fort. There’s a ton going on in just 305 pages. There were some interactions that made me crack up with laughter and ones that broke my heart. 

ML Brennan presents vampires as apex predators (which I think is awesome, because it shouldn’t be easy to make a vampire: there would be vampires everywhere. And if they say ‘immortality is a curse’ and that why they don’t turn anyone, I will hate that book) and in this one she makes a real monster out of the skinwalker (with it’s own powerset outside of those presented by Patricia Briggs or shown in TrueBlood) and concocts an intricate elf hierarchy system. It’s fabulously detailed. There’s also close relation between personalities and their species/customs. Lilah is meek from being sheltered by her family. These creepy things start out as the norm until she sees how deep it runs, but until Fort’s arrival calls attention, she would never have questioned. Fort is rebellious because he was at one point raised human, he is quite literally not like his family. Suzume is a frigging badass because she was raised in a matriarchal society by women who don’t take husbands and she needs to support herself in every way. It’s not just random traits. They were born and raised to be what they are. Personalities develop around experiences and there aren’t any shortcuts taken in the backstories.

This is really better than I could explain. 5 out of 5. Throw down you $8 and get pumped for book #3 out in November.

I would recommend this series for anyone who’s an urban fantasy fan, those looking to get beyond supernatural YA fare (it’s grown up, sans-smut) and.. well, anyone who daydreams about going on crazy adventures while they’re working their crap-job. Fort’s a good hero while still acknowledging that he’s in over his head, Suzume is a good friend without becoming an insta-love interest. I’m really looking forward to seeing how the characters progress.

Book Review #2: Generation V by M.L. Brennan

The synopsis: Fortitude Scott’s life is a mess. A degree in film theory has left him with zero marketable skills, his job revolves around pouring coffee, his roommate hasn’t paid rent in four months, and he’s also a vampire. Well, sort of. He’s still mostly human.

But when a new vampire comes into his family’s territory and young girls start going missing, Fort can’t ignore his heritage anymore. His mother and his older, stronger siblings think he’s crazy for wanting to get involved. So it’s up to Fort to take action, with the assistance of Suzume Hollis, a dangerous and sexy shape-shifter. Fort is determined to find a way to outsmart the deadly vamp, even if he isn’t quite sure how

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ML Brennan concocts some weird as living vampire rules: vampires are born after powerful vampires make host parents to create the child. It’s very complicated and most of the hosts go bonkers. Which explains why vampires don’t run the show. And also, these vampires are BAD, really bad, since vampires are born (not turned) they are RAISED in a way that makes them separate from humans, not “humans are food and we’re better than them” or even worse “we have to blend in with the humans… for some reason.” THAT MAKES NO SENSE. Fort was raised by humans, and lives and works with humans and he sees the evil, destructive, violent, psychotic nature of vampires. It makes sense.

Fortitude, Chivalry and Prudence are all vampire siblings with really dumb names. Prudence is batshit crazy. Chivalry is a dashing alpha male type vampire, and Fortitude. Fortitude is a mess. He has a bad job, worse roommates, bad clothes and worse luck. His kitsune bodyguard lets him get mugged. He’s actually really pathetic, but you still kinda want to give him a hug.

Random things I liked about it: It takes place in the Providence/Newport/Cranston area, it’s New England-y, he’s a vegetarian (his sort of ex-girlfriend is vegan).

The kitsune, I applaud thinking out side of the folklore box. Suzume is a fox that turns into a woman, she is also a trickster. I thought it was a good switch up. Werewolves are my favorite, but really, there are an awful lot of vampire/werewolf team ups, so new is good. And instead of just being a spunky sidekick/love-interest, Suzume is the more bad ass, more capable and more well-connected of the two, she was a fully developed character worthy of her own book who somehow managed not to steal the story away from Fort. And she spends more time antagonizing him than making kissy faces at him.

Things I didn’t like. I didn’t like Beth. Beth, possibly, considered that she was having an open relationship, Fort did not want that. But instead of you know, not being with her; it was agonized over that she was cheating on him blah blah slut blah blah. “Two days later she’d sent me a sixteen page email that outlined her view of what a modern an liberated relationship was supposed to look like, which boiled down to her being able to have sex with as many people as she liked. ….I’d been trying to come up with a better response to her email than ‘You shouldn’t because it makes me unhappy (plus I really don’t want to catch venereal diseases).'” All fine and valid, open relationships, like monogamy are not for everyone. But there’s just a ton of bitching about what a hobag Beth is. Suzume nails it in the ONE COMMENT HERE “No, I’m really sure that if you are going to have an open relationship, it has to be preagreed upon by both parties before hand, otherwise it’s just post-sanctioned cheating, which is still cheating.”

Anyway, I like that Fort’s broke and has to worry about going to work even when he’s beat up and depressed. AT&T does not care if you got beat up by a vampire lacky. You cannot tell your landlord that you were secretly investigating the abduction of a young girl by an Italian vampire. Busy Beans (your employer), does not have time for these shenanigans they will not understand why your female (fox) bodyguard is hanging out with you at work all day, You have no doctor’s note because you went to an elf instead of a hospital.

Most importantly. He didn’t just gain a kooky set of friends, become all powerful and save everyone. Shit went wrong. He met kitsune, an elf and a witch and mostly, they were not thrilled. People died. Things got wrapped up, but it wasn’t all neat and tidy.

Also, this one line, “the Boston Area looked at Rhode Island as it’s mentally slow country cousin.” Yes, that’s true.

Anyway,

5 Stars- Totally Killer… it’s brain candy, but it’s good. No smut, lots of plot, great world building.