Fiction Affliction: Diagnosing December Releases in Urban Fantasy & Paranormal Romance

Fiction Affliction is a 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 of December releases in fantasy, young adult paranormal, and science fiction. Today’s column examines new releases in URBAN FANTASY and PARANORMAL ROMANCE.

The Symptoms: Just in time for the holiday season, urban fantasy goes campy, with vampires, demons, and fairies misbehaving with an extra dose of snark. As a result, enjoy the holidays—unless you’re a journalist, in which case you seem to be attracting demons and might want to quit your day job.

The Diagnosis: Twenty-three new urban fantasy (15) and paranormal romance (8) books blast their way through December, including five demons, four witches and wizards, four ghosts, three dragons, two wolves, three fae, a psychic, and one lone tailor.

The Cure: Journalists should resign unless drawn to Arthurian legends or interested in doing first-person pieces on the end of the world. Avoid flipping houses or buying real estate—ghosts are hovering. And, whatever else you do, avoid suspicious guys armed with yarn and portable sewing machines.

Beloved of the Fallen, by Savannah Kline (Dec. 1, Ulysses)

As a young attorneyat an elite Washington,D.C., firm and the daughter of a congressman, Kira Castlemaine is a rising star. But when tragedy upends her life, Kira is drawn into a high-stakes political intrigue that will determine the fate of America and humanity.By her side as the tension increases is the handsomeValentin Ashford, an expert political consultant and a seemingly heaven-sent lover. But Valentin hides a secretsin,and his passion carries a hellish price. This is the first novel for Kline, a Los Angeles freelance journalist. UF

Wolf Fever, by Terry Spear (Dec. 1, Sourcebooks Casablanca)

Hospital nurse and newly turned red werewolf Carol Woods is being pressured by her pack leader to find a mate, but he’s the only guy in the pack who remotely attracts her. Why is he playing so hard to get? Gray pack leader Ryan McKinley doesn’t want anything to do with Carol unless she’s willing to embrace her wolf nature, no matter how beautiful she is. But when a virus infects the local lupus garou pack, Ryan realizes just how wrong he’s been not to seize the moment with the woman he’s come to love. And now, it may be too late. PNR

Stranger, by Zoe Archer (Dec. 7, Zebra)

Gemma Murphy has a nose for a story—even if the boys in Chicago’s newsrooms would rather focus on her chest. So when she runs into a handsome man of mystery discussing how to save the world from fancy-pants Brit conspirators, she’s sensing a scoop. Especially when he mentions there’s magic involved. Of course, getting him on the record would be easier if he hadn’t caught her eavesdropping. PNR

Dragons Deal, by Robert Asprin & Jody Lynn Nye (Dec. 7, Ace)

The late New York Times bestselling author Robert Asprin and Jody Lynn Nye up the ante in the latest tale of dragons in the Big Easy, which Nye completed after Asprin’s 2008 death. As head dragon and owner of a successful gambling operation in New Orleans, Griffen McCandles has a lot on his plate. Especially since the Krewe of Fafnir—a society of dragons—has asked him to be the king of their Mardi Gras parade. Being the king is a huge honor, and despite the extra responsibilities, Griffen can’t resist the Krewe’s offer to lead the biggest party of the year. But not everyone is happy with Griffen’s new leadership status. UF

Real Vampires Have More to Love, by Gerry Bartlett (Dec. 7, Berkley Trade)

Glory St. Clair is a vampire with man trouble. Between her on-again, off-again lover Jeremy Blade, smoking hot rock star Ray Caine, and former bodyguard turned apartment mate Valdez, there’s enough man-candy around to make even a woman with a liquid diet feel a sugar rush. Glory’s got no time to enjoy it, though, considering that she’s in the middle of planning her best friend’s wedding. Between planning a bachelorette party and dodging stakes, Glory must decide which man she wants, before her love life meets an early grave. PNR

If Walls Could Talk, by Juliet Blackwell (Dec. 7, Signet)

First in a new cozy paranormal mystery series about a woman who owns a construction company specializing in historic home renovation—and ridding the properties of unwanted ghosts. Melanie Turner has made a name for herself remodeling historic houses in the San Francisco Bay Area. But at her newest project, a run-down Pacific Heights mansion, Mel is visited by the ghost of a colleague who recently met a bad end with power tools. Mel hopes that by nailing the killer, she can rid herself of the ghostly presence of the murdered man—and not end up a construction casualty herself. UF

Goddess of Legend, by P.C. Cast (Dec. 7, Berkley)

The new Goddess Summoning novel from the author of the popular House of Night series. After her car plummets off a bridge, Isabel, a world-weary photojournalist, struggles between life and death when she’s saved by the Water Goddess. To live, she must time-travel to seduce the legendary Lancelot du Lac away from Queen Guinevere. The handsome knight is a dreamboat, but Isabel is the one who’s seduced—by King Arthur. UF

Right Hand Magic: A Novel of Golgotham, by Nancy A. Collins (Dec. 7, Roc)

Like most Manhattanites, aspiring artist Tate can’t resist a good rental deal—even if it’s in the New York’s strangest neighborhood, Golgotham, where for centuries werewolves, centaurs, and countless other creatures have roamed the streets. Her new landlord is a sorcerer named Hexe, who is determined to build his reputation without using dark, left-hand magic. As Tate is drawn into Hexe’s fascinating world, they both find that the right hand does not always know what the left hand is doing—and avoiding darkness is no easy trick. First in a new series. UF

Biting the Bride, by Claire Willis (Dec. 7, Zebra)

Sunni Marquette has always been different. There’s the whole mind-reading thing, for a start, which comes in useful for a criminal defense attorney. Except Sunni keeps encountering people who are immune to her gift. Like Jacob Eddington, the star witness in her latest case. And her best friend Isabel’s new fiance, Richard Lazarus, who’s as sinister as Jacob is attractive. Not that Sunni intends to interfere—until she learns Richard is a vampire who’s made a centuries-long career of marrying wealthy women, then killing them for their inheritance. PNR

Demon Underground, by S.L. Wright (Dec. 7, Roc)

Half-human and half-demon, Allay has finally warmed up to her new life feeding off the customers at her downtown bar when she finds herself brokering a truce between New York City’s most powerful demons. But when she senses assassins around every corner, she hides out of sight and underground—until the combatants in the growing war tempt her back above the surface. Second in a new series about a demon bartender, following Confessions of a Demon. UF

Day of the Dragon, by Rebecca York (Dec. 7, Berkley Sensation)

Archaeologist Madison Dartmoor unearths an astonishing find, one of vast importance to a handsome stranger—a man who is not human, and who holds a dangerous secret that may break her heart. The first book in a new series of paranormal romance from this USA Today bestselling author. This is a spinoff of York’s Marshall Werewolf series, which most recently included Dragon Moon (2009). PNR

Yarn, by Jon Armstrong (Dec. 14, Night Shade)

Tane Cedar is the master tailor, the supreme outfitter of the wealthy, the beautiful, and the powerful. When an ex-lover, on the run from the authorities, asks him to create a garment from the dangerous and illegal Xi yarn—a psychedelic opiate—to ease her final hours, things fall apart fast. Armed with his yarn pulls, scissors, Mini-Air-Juki handheld sewing machine, and his wits, Tane journeys through the shadowy underworld where he must untangle the deadly mysteries and machinations of deceit. Yarn is the follow-up to Armstrong’s Philip K. Dick-nominated “fashionpunk” novel, Grey. UF

Killing Rocks, by D.D. Barant (Dec. 28, St. Martin’s Paperbacks)

In this second Bloodhound Files outing, FBI profiler Jace Valchek thinks she’s found her ticket home from the twisted parallel universe where she’s been called to duty. It hinges on the capture of series killer Aristotle Stoker and an alliance with a sorcerer known as Asher. The problem: Asher has joined forces with some of the most dangerous creatures Jace has ever encountered. The solution: There is none, without Asher’s help. UF

Zoo City, by Lauren Beukes (Dec. 28, Angry Robot)

Zinzi has a Sloth on her back, a dirty online 419 scam habit—and a talent for finding lost things. But when her latest client, a little old lady, turns up dead and the cops confiscate her last paycheck, she’s forced to take on her least favorite kind of job: missing persons. This is the second release from South African author Beukes after Moxyland, and is set in a speculative Johannesburg of the future where criminals and animals form alliances, and humans may be the worst beasts around. UF

Ruthless Game, by Christine Feehan (Dec. 28, Jove)

Ghostwalker Kane Cannon is pure male—animalistic, sexual, protective, instinctive—and his past missions have prepared him for anything. But his newest assignment, to rescue hostages in Mexico , plunges him into a hot zone he never anticipated: the hiding place of Rose Patterson—fugitive, ex-lover, and a fellow Ghostwalker pregnant with his child. Rose is in flight from the insidious experiments that still live in her dreams, and from the madman who’d do anything to take her child. PNR

Crimson Wind, by Diana Pharaoh Francis (Dec. 28, Pocket)

Max knows what trusting the wrong person can cost you. Her former friend Giselle, a powerful witch, enslaved Max years ago, turning her into a Shadowblade—a deadly warrior compelled to fight for Giselle. But there’s more at stake now than Max’s thirst for revenge. The Guardians, overseers of the magical world, have declared war on humanity and on any witches not standing with them. Max and Giselle have come to an uneasy truce in order to protect what’s left of Horngate, their coven’s home mountains. But first, she intends to save the mortal family she left behind. And Alexander, the Shadowblade warrior who could be her closest ally or her deadliest enemy, is going with her. On a road trip into the unknown, Max and Alexander face wild magic, desperate enemies, and battles that bruise both body and soul. But the greatest challenge will come from unexpected revelations that test everything Max believes about who she is—and where her loyalties lie. UF

Hellforged, by Nancy Holzner (Dec. 28, Ace)

A demon is stalking Vicky’s dreams-just as several of Deadtown’s zombies are viciously attacked and become really dead. And when Vicky realizes she is the only connection between the victims, she suspects that the demon is somehow working through her dreams to become Deadtown’s living nightmare. Second in a new series, following Deadtown. UF

Ghouls, Ghouls, Ghouls, by Victoria Laurie (Dec. 28, Signet)

When M.J. Holliday and the crew of her cable TV show, Ghoul Getters, venture to the haunted ruins of Dunlow Castle in Ireland, they hope the road will rise up to meet them, that the wind will always be at their backs—and that the resident phantom won’t push them off a cliff. If they treasure their lives, M.J. and her ghostbusters need to get the drop on the menacing phantom. UF

Pretty Little Dead Things, by Gary McMahon (Dec. 28, Angry Robot)

Thomas Usher has a terrible talent. Following a car crash in which his wife and daughter are killed, he can see the recently departed—and it’s not usually a pretty sight. When he is called to investigate the violent death of the daughter of a prominent local gangster, Usher’s world is torn apart once more. For the barriers between this world and the next are not as immutable as once he believed. Part urban fantasy, mostly horror, this is the book’s U.S. launch. UF

My Fair Succubi, by Jill Myles (Dec. 28, Pocket Star)

Living as a succubus has a bit of a learning curve, but with sexy fallen angel Noah to scratch her sensual Itch, Jackie Brighton is finally starting to cope. She almost doesn’t miss her gorgeous vampire master Zane. But Jackie’s past mistakes catch up with her, spinning her life out of control once more. Just as her friend Remy’s inner demon comes out to play, Noah and Jackie are arrested by the angelic Serim Council. When Jackie seizes the chance to escape, she falls right into Zane’s waiting arms. PNR

Earl of Darkness, by Alix Rickloff (Dec. 28, Pocket)

Born a lady but reduced to surviving in the slums of Dublin, Catriona O’Connell has been hired to steal a mysterious book from Aidan Douglas, Earl of Kilronan. But Cat is secretly Other, an age-old mixture of Feyand human—something Aidan recognizes immediately when he surprises the lovely young burglar in his library. From the moment Aidan sees her, Cat’s spirit enchants him, but her uncanny abilities are what he truly needs, for she can understand the mystical language in the diary he inherited from his murdered father. PNR

Arcane Circle, by Linda Robertson (Dec. 28, Pocket)

The fourth book of the Persephone Almedi series finds Persephone dealing with the aftermath of facing down the forces of Fairy. Not only does Seph now possess deadly secrets she must hide from the arcane and mundane world alike, but the dozens of magical creatures who’ve taken up residence behind her cornfield need food and shelter. And Seph’s boyfriend Johnny has revealed himself as the werewolf Domn Lup, and the were ruler is en route from Romania to make sure Johnny really is the “king” he claims to be. UF

Soul Hunt, by Margaret Ronald (Dec. 28, Eos)

Without realizing it, Genevieve Scelan has made a bad bargain. The Red Sox fanatic and supernatural tracker known as “Hound” for her power of scent wishes she could leave magic behind now that she’s eradicated the evil cabal that oppressed Boston’s undercurrent for centuries. But now her talent’s fading, the local adepts’ squabbles are turning ugly, and she’s discovered that she owes a very large debt to someone . . . or some thing. UF

Urban fantasy author Suzanne Johnson is in search of her own werewolf. 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.


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