My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is exactly what you'd expect from an The X-Files and 30 Days of Night crossover. It's certainly better than some of the vampire episodes that actually made the TV show (looking at you 3). Mulder and Scully have been sent to Alaska in winter (hence the 30 days of Night tie -in) when a bunch of bodies have been found decapitated and the bodies displayed some forty feet in the air on poles. While the local cops are happy to have help, someone from Mulder's past, Agent French, is far from happy. He has a particular hatred of Mulder and his own partner can't seem to chill him out.
It of course doesn't take Mulder long to jump to the idea of vampires. With the ever-skeptical Scully in tow, they follow a different path from French leading them to a tribe of Inuits who have some knowledge of what's going on, to a ship from a century or so past and to Russian operatives who definitely know it's some form of vampiric infestation.
The story line is good (though I would have wanted more as to the creatures motivation. It had some but sort of petered out in the end). It definitely had the X-Files tone down pat, the drama interspersed with humor. The art was excellent, especially in capturing Scully and Mulder's expressions. I really enjoyed this one.
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Dark Lament by Daniel Kuhnley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I won this via a Goodreads giveaway which in no way influenced my review. This was more like a 2.5 read for me but I rounded up because technically it didn't have problems. It was the narrative that I didn't quite enjoy. It's actually three separate narrative lines, two of which are interlinked and one that wasn't (as of this book but it is the first in a series). Let me deal with each separately.
First we have Nardus's story line and his was the most compelling for me. It opens with the murder of his entire family and he is given an opportunity by a wizard to have his family brought back from the dead but only if he faces seven Herculean tasks that have killed everyone else who have attempted them (and in the process retrieve the item the wizard wants). Nardus agrees and he goes off to face these horrors bolstered only by his belief in the fact he will be reunited with his loved ones and at the same time set adrift from his God (who has a funky name filled with symbols so I'll just call him God). In fact God is very present in this book. It's an overwhelmingly religious book to be honest (Not necessarily Christian but there is that mustard seed analogy and the scene breaks are crosses so make of that what you will). Either Nardus rejecting God or the twins begging for help from him, God is in just about every chapter.
Alderan and Aria's stories are of course interlinked (as they are twins) but separate. Aria is taken from her village after monsters slaughter it while Alderan is out of town.
Alderan runs into a dryte, a faerie like creature who can control dirt/earth. Her name is Rayah and they become companions. She has been sent to keep an eye on him and his sister but she didn't do a good job of interceding. Alderan and Aria both are special but they don't know it (fairly standard fantasy fare). Alderan has a hair trigger and it makes liking him a bit difficult. He goes off on near homicidal rages for very little reason in some cases (and in others it's more understandable). Rayah does bear the blunt of this sometimes. There's a time jump between chapters of about a month and without being too spoilery they decide independently that they are in love but can't tell each other. The problem is with the time jump the story does nothing to earn this relationship, it doesn't build to it at all. Alderan himself mostly moves about without much direction.
Aria's story line is a bit harder to take. She spends a chunk of it suffering from aphasia due to all the rape and abuse she's endured at the hands of her captors (the rapes are not on page but it is obvious and it is discussed). She does have an unexpected ally and her relationship to him is probably the most interesting and believable part of her story. She is a tough character and sympathetic for that (ignoring the fact that there are only two women in the story and one has been suffering daily beatings and rapes) right up until the time when she is, in theory, rescued and we learn exactly what is so important about her and her twin (who she thinks is dead as Alderan assumes she is as well).
The reader knows something about her rescuer that she doesn't and that she isn't as safe as she thinks. However, it's at this point I toss out any respect I might have had for the character and here's why There's a meme going about talking about why Disney's Elsa is a queen and all the others a princesses because of her statement 'you can't marry a man you just met.' Yeah....that's what we're facing here. Just because this guy (whom she thought was going to be just another master to beat and rape her) says she's going to be his queen, even though he's keeping her in a slave collar 'to protect her from her magic', she immediately falls in love with him and can't wait to marry him. SIGH. Even when she doubts him, she immediately goes right back to, I'm going to be his queen. This tough character who wouldn't even speak or make a sound to let her attackers know how much they hurt her suddenly spends the rest of the book thinking about this Lord Josai and how she'll be his queen. Most of her scenes are now her repeatedly praying to God to restore her ability to have kids (I'm assuming she thinks she can't have kids because the rapes didn't get her pregnant). Repeated scenes of this. Her only mission is now to breed. Sigh.
None of the story lines are resolved. For me that's a big problem. I hate that. I don't expect a lot of resolution in a series but at least one arc should have some. It's one of those non-endings that just seem to be the author saying 'well that's enough story for right now. ' There's not a cliff hanger per se. It just meanders to a close. At least Nardus found what the wizard sent him for (I think) so he had some resolution. Not so much the twins. I will say this one isn't for me. I couldn't invest in Alderan (and oh man that name, just kept thinking Star Wars) and Aria. Nardus yes but the twins, not so much so I don't think I'll be seeking book two.
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