Fiction Affliction is a new monthly column written by Royal Street author Suzanne Johnson that examines upcoming releases by genre or sub-genre. Check back every day this week for coverage on fantasy, young adult paranormal, and science fiction. Today’s column examines URBAN FANTASY.
The Symptoms: Despite magic making a comeback, the undead continue their world domination, whether shambling in search of brains, seducing unsuspecting humans, attempting hostile power grabs, or guzzling thick red cocktails directly from the vein. Also reported: suspicious lack of personnel in hell following earthly migration of demons and fallen angels, and the appearance of a Czech porn star.
The Diagnosis: A hefty 38 new urban fantasies (with and without romance) weigh down the shelves in October, including 13 magical outings (several involving demons and zombies); nine books of demons (some with zombies); eight tales of vampires (many with demons and zombies); three were-creature tales (some with demons); two zombie books (sans demons); and three anthologies—with vampires, angels, demons, and perhaps a zombie or two.
The Cure:If it shuffles, has glowing red eyes, or sprouts fangs when aroused, either pull out your newest kickass assault rifle or prepare to enjoy the carnal pleasures of the undead. Warning: Could have eternal consequences.
In the October Fiction Affliction Urban Fantasy Medicine Chest:
* Haunted Honeymoon, by Marta Acosta (Sept. 28, Gallery)
In book four of the Casa Dracula series, someone’s framing Milagro de Los Santos—the only human to survive the vampire infection—for murder, and only her ex-fiance can help her out. Which would be great, except for the part where she gets amnesia.
* Siren Song, by Cat Adams (Sept. 28, Tor)
Authors C.T. Adams and Cathy Clamp, writing as Cat Adams, present the second in their Blood Singer series. Professional bodyguard Celia Graves, still adjusting to her half-vampire status from an attack that revved up her siren heritage, gets thrown neck-deep in siren politics while defending her right to live as a halfbreed and battling a demon bent on revenge.
* Blood Lite II: Overbite, edited by Kevin J. Anderson (Sept. 28, Gallery)
Members of the Horror Writers Association bite into another big anthology of 31 stories from across the expanse of urban fantasy. Authors include Heather Graham, L.A. Banks, Allison Brennan, Kelley Armstrong and Mike Resnick.
* Bayou Moon, by Ilona Andrews (Sept. 28, Ace)
This is the second in the urban fantasy/paranormal romance series featuring Cerise Mar and her clan who live on a magical Southern swampland at the edge of the Weird. A changeling soldier on a dangerous mission crosses paths with Cerise as she hunts down her missing parents amid a cold war between two nations of the Weird. Andrews, the pen name for husband and wife writing team of Ilona and Andrew Gordon, is best known for the popular Kate Daniels urban fantasy series whose fourth book, Magic Bleeds, was released in May.
* Everlasting Desire, by Amanda Ashley (Sept. 28, Kensington/Zebra)
Ashley dishes up paranormal romance with a touch of urban fantasy, as Master Vampire Rhys becomes fixated on boutique-owner Megan, who distracts him from that nagging problem of his murderous ancient vampire foe. Second in the Everlasting series.
* Bespelling Jane Austen, by Mary Balogh, Colleen Gleason, Susan Krinard and Janet Mullany (Sept. 28, HQN)
Four new novellas continue the Jane Austen paranormal rampage of manners. Balogh’s “Almost Persuaded” finds a couple who discover they’re reincarnated soulmates, while Gleason’s “Northanger Castle” features a vampire novel reader who suspects a handsome gentleman acquaintance of being one. In “Blood and Prejudice,” Krinard introduces us to a bookstore worker who meets an odd crew of vampires, and Mullany’s “Little to Hex Her” features a witchy dating service in the power corridors of Washington, D.C. Mullany’s Jane and the Damned continues the Jane Austen vein in this month’s vampire releases.
* Left for Undead, by L.A. Banks (Sept. 28, St. Martin’s)
This is the sixth in the prolific Banks’ Crimson Moon series, following March’s Never Cry Werewolf. Government agent Sasha Trudeau and her fellow Shadow Wolf head on vacation—but it’s not exactly a relaxing romp through the woods. Vampires are being killed, the Seelie and Unseelie courts are claiming innocence, and demon-infected wolves are gearing up for a big, evil fight to the depths of hell.
* When Pleasure Rules, by J.K. Beck (Sept. 28, Bantam) and When Wicked Craves, by J.K. Beck (Oct. 26, Bantam)
Two new paranormal romance books follow hard on the August release of When Blood Calls, the first in the Shadow Keepers series by Beck, a new pen name for author Julie Kenner. The stories revolve around the Shadow Alliance, whose members seek justice in the paranormal realms. Vampires and werewolves feud as succubus Lissa Monroe goes undercover (perhaps literally) in When Pleasure Rules. In When Wicked Craves, Petra Lang, cursed to live alone since demons are unleashed whenever she’s touched, is rescued by a vampire advocate and embarks on a quest that will allow her to love.
* Monster Hunter Vendetta, by Larry Correia (Sept. 28, Baen)
The rare self-published-author-gets-contract success story, Correia originally published Vendetta’s predecessor, Monster Hunter International, himself and was snapped up by Baen after the book hit the Entertainment Weekly sales chart. In Vendetta, accountant monster-hunter Owen Pitt becomes bait for an evil death cult that obviously doesn’t realize its bait knows his way around a weapon or three. So does Correia, a Utah author who describes himself as “an accountant, firearms instructor, and merchant of death.”
* Double Cross, by Carolyn Crane (Sept. 28, Spectra)
Second in the Disillusionist trilogy, hypochondriac paranormal crimefighter Justine Jones again takes on the darkest minds of Midcity as serial killers with scary powers terrorize the town and force her to choose between two men who, for different reasons, she can’t afford to lose.
* Afterlife: The Resurrection Chronicles, by Merrie Destefano (Sept. 28, Eos)
In this fiction debut from former Victorian Homes editor Destefano, a New Orleans babysitter for the recently deceased must help them integrate into their new, undead lives (because we all get nine of them, right?). But a group of desperate Nine-Timers want true immortality and babysitter Chaz’s newest ward, Angelique, might hold the key (which doesn’t bode well for her remaining lives).
* Venom, by Jennifer Estep (Sept. 28, Pocket)
Third in the Elemental Assassin series, Venom once again features Gin Blanco, owner of the Pork Pit barbecue who’s also a retired killer and a rare elemental ice/stone mage known in assassin circles as the Spider. This time, she’s out to save her sister in Ashland, a small Appalachian town overrun by giants, dwarves, vampires and other critters. Estep, a Southerner who says she has been surprised at how well readers have accepted her “unapologetic assassin,” picked Gin’s unusual side-occupation as an homage to her heritage. “I wanted to give the series a Southern vibe, and what’s more Southern than a great barbecue restaurant?”
* Poison Kissed, by Erica Hayes (Sept. 28, St. Martin’s)
In the third of Australian author Hayes’ Shadowfae Chronicles, banshee enforcer Mina is angry and conflicted when the evidence begins piling up that her boss, confidante and love interest, snake-shifter Joey, might have been involved in her mother’s murder. She must search through a confusing trail of evidence filled with darkness and danger to find the truth.
* Twilight Forever Rising, by Lena Meydan (Sept. 28, Tor)
A bestseller in the author’s native Russia, this book takes a look at vampires not as a race unto themselves but as former people with varying degrees of residual humanity. Described by one reviewer as “Anne Rice meets The Sopranos,” the book follows an empathic vampire and the human woman he loves as they become pawns in a brewing struggle between two powerful vampire clans. In a recent interview, Meydan described her vampire setting: “This is a story about the relationships between vampires and humans, taking place in a huge metropolis where secrets are hidden in the darkness and shadows persist in the light. The everyday modern city is intertwined with the characters’ memories of the past to help illuminate the history of the existence of vampires and all that they represent.”
* Jane and the Damned, by Janet Mullany (Sept. 28, Avon)
There’s no resting in peace for Jane Austen as the aspiring 18th century writer becomes a vampire herself after running into one of those “damned Damneds” at a party. Forced to take the waters in Bath—the only known cure for bloodsuckerdom—she instead finds herself leading a charge of the Damned against French invaders most foul.
* Eat, Prey, Love, by Kerrelyn Sparks (Sept. 28, Avon)
Werepanther Carlos is looking for a mate—and Caitlyn, the daughter of the country’s most avid hunter of the undead, might not be the safest choice. This is the ninth in Spark’s Love at Stake series following March’s The Vampire and the Virgin. There will be at least twelve in the series, and Sparks says the size of the story gets to be a challenge after a while. “Eventually, you end up with a cast of hundreds,” she says. “Loyal readers want to know what’s up with everybody, while your new reader has no idea who they are—and doesn’t care. So striking a balance becomes really tricky. Also, at some point in the new book, you have to explain what happened before and how did we get here without bringing the pace to a screeching halt. It becomes a real challenge to manage it all in a smooth and subtle manner while you introduce the new hero and/or heroine and keep the story rollicking along at a decent pace.”
* Mr. Monster, by Dan Wells (Sept. 28, Tor)
The sequel to his popular debut, I Am Not a Serial Killer, Wells’ teen sociopath learns that even demons he’s already bested have buddies, and they’re big on revenge. Fortunately, the monster inside him—make that Mr. Monster—can deal. Wells, who credits inspiration to his own obsession with serial killers, will release a third in the series, I Don’t Want to Kill You, in 2011.
* Something Wicked, by Michelle Rowen (Oct. 1, Berkeley)
Rowen turns to inner demons in the second of her Living in Eden series—literally. Eden Riley is engaged in a love-and-hate battle with the demon Darrak, who is bound inside her by a curse and can only take shape during the day. Having him around is putting a damper on her normal love life―and their attraction to each other makes things really awkward. When they indulge in a little dark magic to undo their bond, they stir up problems in the underworld. Asked what inspired her new take on demonic possession, Rowen says, “I remember watching a bunch of horror movies―The Exorcist and Rosemary’s Baby―and thinking, ‘These demons sure aren’t very friendly. What would it be like to be possessed by a friendly demon who doesn’t want to tear apart your soul and eat it for breakfast? One you might even fall for if given half a chance?’ After all, with that voice in your head, there’s a lot of time to get to know each other.”
* Sins of the Flesh, by Eve Silver (Oct. 1, HQN)
Third in the Otherkin paranormal romance trilogy, Flesh follows soul reaper Malthus Krayl on a hunt for his brother’s murderer. His enemy Calliope Kane turns out to be a not-completely-unwelcome distraction. They must work together to find traitors among the soul reapers. And, yes, they find some lovin’ along the way.
* Alpha, by Rachel Vincent (Oct. 1, Mira)
The sixth and final installment in Vincent’s popular Shifters series finds Faythe, the werecat enforcer, leading the charge to avenge her brother’s death and give the Council the good housecleaning it richly needs. The time for revolution is at hand. In a recent interview, Vincent said that while she’ll be introducing a new adult urban fantasy series in 2011, there will be no more Shifter books. “It’s where Faythe’s story draws to its logical conclusion and as an author, I have to be true to the story—including its ending,” she says. There will be a Shifter-related short story in a 2011 anthology.
* Memories of Envy, by Barb Hendee (Oct. 5, Roc)
Third in Hendee’s Vampire Memories series, the story follows vampire Eleisha Clevon, a reluctant predator who runs a sanctuary for others like herself in Portland. When she and her protector go to Denver to find a lost vampire and bring her to safety, they encounter danger—and temptation—that throws all they believe into question.
* Kill the Dead, by Richard Kadrey (Oct. 5, Eos)
This is the highly anticipated sequel to last year’s Sandman Slim, which vaulted to Barnes & Noble’s “Best Paranormal Fantasy Novels of the Last Decade” list and is in development as a film for Dino de Laurentiis. James Stark, who finally escaped hell after eleven years as a hitman, chased down his enemies in Sandman Slim. Now, he’s been hired as Lucifer’s bodyguard while the Hot Guy oversees his movie biography—and that Czech porn star might not be what she seems. There also might be a zombie army on the way to muck things up. Kadrey says he found writing the Sandman sequel harder than expected. “Sandman Slim’s success was a blessing and a kick in the ass,” he says. “It meant that people wanted the second book, but it also meant that it had to not suck. Kill the Dead turned out to be the hardest book I’ve ever written.” While Sandman Slim was an “old-school Jim Thompson/Richard Stark-type crime novel,” Kadrey says, “Kill the Dead is a little bit more of a mystery.” Kadrey’s finishing the third book in the series, Aloha from Hell, which he says will take Stark on a fantasy quest.
* Grave Witch, by Kalayna Price (Oct. 5, Roc)
First in the new Alex Craft series, Grave Witch follows a private investigator who can speak to the dead…even Death himself, who apparently looks hot (ahem) in a pair of jeans. Magic and a killer of a ghost give Alex all the business she can handle in this combination of ancient mythologies and classic folklore. Death as sex symbol offered Price a challenge. “I wanted Death to be a romantic interest in the series, so I knew he couldn’t be a thing of pure horror—no naked skulls or long flowy robes,” she says. “He’s rather normal in his faded jeans and black tee-shirts, but doing a very abnormal job.” They live in a world that physically expanded when magic “came out” to the human world, revealing new lands. Price describes her new Southern patch of Earth, Nekros City, as “some of the best—and worst—aspects of Southern cities such as Charlotte, Atlanta and bits of New Orleans.” The second Alex Craft novel is slotted for summer 2011.
* Crave, by J.R. Ward (Oct. 5, Signet)
In this second of Ward’s Fallen Angel series behind last year’s Covet, another of the seven deadly sins must be put to rights. Hardened black ops soldier Isaac Rothe is already in legal trouble when reluctant fallen angel hero Jim Heron shows up to tell him his soul is in danger from the demon who shadows Jim. Ultimately, Isaac’s fate may hinge on his sexy public defender, Grier, in more ways than one. A good diversion for Black Dagger Brotherhood fans waiting for Lover Unleashed to appear next March.
* Eternal Hunger, by Laura Wright (Oct. 5, Signet)
First in a new paranormal romance series called Mark of the Vampire, this book introduces a trio of reclusive vampire brothers who are estranged from their Eternal Order. But when an Impure begins attacking purebloods, one brother must answer the Order’s call to arms—with unexpected side effects for himself and the human psychiatrist who saves him.
* Blood Trinity, by Sherrilyn Kenyon and Dianna Love (Oct. 19, Pocket)
Atlanta has become a battlefield in this debut book in the new Belador Series from the writing team of Kenyon and Love. The half-Belador Evalle is trying to stay off the radar in the human-demon battle—which makes her the automatic suspect in a human murder. Since the demonic apocalypse is brewing, she has her hands full defending both herself and underground Atlanta in this paranormal thriller.
* Entice Me at Twilight, by Shayla Black (Oct. 26, Pocket)
Fourth in the Doomsday Brethren series, Twilight is heavier on romance and lighter on the kickass scale in this story of rival brothers, a nefarious wizard bent on world domination, and the one woman who has the ability to stop the mayhem. Black writes contemporary and historical romance as Shelley Bradley.
* Side Jobs: Stories from the Dresden Files, by Jim Butcher (Oct. 26, Roc)
If you can’t get enough of wizard sleuth Harry Dresden and don’t want to wait for the follow-up to 2010’s Changes, try Side Jobs, a collection of short stories from the Dresdenverse plus a never-published novella that takes place after Changes.
* Haunted by Your Touch, by Jeaniene Frost, Sharie Kohler and Shayla Black (Oct. 26, Pocket Star)
A trio of original novellas from three popular authors of paranormal romance. In “Night’s Dark Embrace,” Frost crams a lot of worldbuilding into a small space for her demons, half-demons, and the Fallen. Kohler’s “Darkest Temptation” brings us a shapeshifter who’s desperate to find a way to keep herself from turning. And Black’s “Mated,” linked to her Doomsday Brethren series (see above for a new addition this month), magical warrior Raiden must protect his woman and then give her up—if he can.
* Harvest Hunting, by Yasmine Galenorn (Oct. 26, Jove)
Werewolves are missing in the eighth book of Galenorn’s Sisters of the Moon/Otherworld series. The D’Artigo sisters, half-human, half-faeries who work for the Otherworld Intelligence Agency, must find the missing weres, track down the source of the new magical drug, Wolf Briar, evade Stacia Bonecrusher, who’s put a bounty on their heads—oh, and take out the troublesome demon general once and for all.
* Trio of Sorcery, by Mercedes Lackey (Oct. 26, Tor)
A trio of novellas from bestseller Lackey offers three new magical urban fantasies. In “Arcanum 101,” witch Diana Tregarde’s help is solicited by a local cop to track down a wicked witch who’s kidnapped a child; “Drums” features an Osage shaman battling a Native American ghost; and “Ghost in the Machine” finds a techno-shaman taking on an RPG that is about to escape into the real world.
* Blood Heat, by Maria Lima (Oct. 26, Pocket)
This is the fourth in Lima’s Blood Line series after 2009’s Blood Kin. The Kelly Heir heads back to hot Rio Seco, Texas, to set up her court, but finds trouble as a werewolf couple disappears and the enemy who’s targeting the weres might have vampires in his sights next.
* Highborn, by Yvonne Navarro (Oct. 26, Juno)
The opening release in a new Dark Redemption series, Highborn introduces readers to Brynna, a fallen angel trying to earn redemption. She’s escaped hell, but Lucifer’s chasing her down the mean streets of Chicago. There’s also a sexy cop who needs her help with a serial killer and makes her think heaven might be found on earth.
* Vampire Uprising, by Marcus Pelegrimas (Oct. 26, Eos)
Fourth in the Skinners series, about a race of beings who keep the monsters away from the mortal realm. In Uprising, video game designer and Skinner Cole Warnecki teams with Paige Strobel to face the First Deceiver, a creature of pure evil who deems himself King of the Full Bloods. Even with their combined powers, Cole and Paige might not be able to resist his influence.
* Road to Bedlam, by Mike Shevdon (Oct. 26, Angry Robot)
This is the second in Shevdon’s Courts of the Feyre series and again features Niall Petersen, who this time around must call on his own magic to rescue his daughter Alex. In a recent interview, Shevdon said the book is “about what happens when Niall’s daughter comes into her power in an unexpected and catastrophic way. It’s about coming to terms with the loss of a child, but also about hope and faith and a search for closure. It explores how the hidden world of the Courts of the Feyre interfaces with the human world and what that means for humanity. It’s about magic versus technology, science versus power. And it’s about someone’s quest for revenge.” First U.S. release.
* Shotgun Sorceress, by Lucy A. Snyder (Oct. 26, Del Rey)
In this sequel to Spellbent (2009), Snyder’s outlaw sorceress Jessie Shimmer and her friends take on a soul harvester and his horde of zombies in an isolated western town. Snyder is also author of Sparks and Shadows, which won the 2008 Editors’ Choice Black Quill Award for best dark genre collection.
* Rise Again: A Zombie Thriller, by Ben Tripp (Oct. 26, Gallery)
Longtime political writer and humorist Tripp takes his frustration with the feds out on zombies in his fiction debut. “When a comic writes a serious horror novel about the destruction of the world, you know things have gotten bad,” he said in a recent Huffington Post column, describing the book as “a blood-drenched nightmare” and “an epic novel of the zombie apocalypse, to express what I saw happening in this country.” More specifically, a diseased-riddle swarm of dead and dying descends on a small California town, and a troubled veteran tries to search for her missing sister through a landscape growing ever bleaker.
Urban fantasy author Suzanne Johnson is a bonafide book geek. Her new urban fantasy series, scheduled to begin with the release of Royal Street in April 2012 by Tor Books, is set in New Orleans during and after Hurricane Katrina. Find Suzanne on Twitter.