It’s my last book of the year, and I’m feeling a bit worn out after a LOT of blogging, so I’m taking the liberty of letting the authors themselves summarise the book (it’s self published), because Ilona writes way better than I:
On the outside, Dina Demille is the epitome of normal. She runs a quaint Victorian Bed and Breakfast in a small Texas town, owns a Shih Tzu named Beast, and is a perfect neighbor, whose biggest problems should be what to serve her guests for breakfast. But Dina is…different: Her broom is a deadly weapon; her Inn is magic and thinks for itself. Meant to be a lodging for otherworldly visitors, the only permanent guest is a retired Galactic aristocrat who can’t leave the grounds because she’s responsible for the deaths of millions and someone might shoot her on sight. Under the circumstances, “normal” is a bit of a stretch for Dina. And now, something with wicked claws and deepwater teeth has begun to hunt at night… Feeling responsible for her neighbors, Dina decides to get involved. Before long, she has to juggle dealing with the annoyingly attractive, ex-military, new neighbor Sean Evans – an alpha-strain werewolf – and the equally arresting cosmic vampire soldier, Arland, while trying to keep her Inn and its guests safe. But the enemy she is facing is unlike anything she’s ever encountered before. It’s smart, vicious and lethal, and putting herself between this creature and her neighbors might just cost her everything.
Harry Dresden is now one of the wardens of the White Council of wizards, and he’s about as thrilled about it as many of the wizards on the council are about him being recruited. Harry’s asked to look into rumours of black magic in the Chicago area, and his mentor, Ebenezer McCoy, also requests that he enquire with his faerie contacts about why the Fey Courts are refusing to involve themselves in the conflict with the Red Court of vampires, even after the vampires broke into faerie territories in the Nevernever.
Harry still owes Mab, the Winter Queen, two favours, and his dealings with the Fey never really turn out in his favour. Lily, the new Summer Lady (youngest of the three Summer Queens) owes him a favour, but neither she nor Fix, the Summer Knight, can directly answer Harry’s questions, or aid him, due to a compulsion laid on them by Titania, the Summer Queen, who’s not exactly one of Dresden’s biggest fans. Getting the answers McCoy wants isn’t going to be easy.
The possible black magic use he’s been asked to investigate seems connected with mysterious attacks at a horror movie convention. Molly Carpenter, the teenage daughter of Harry’s friend Michael, comes to him for help. Her boyfriend is the chief suspect after a man was viciously attacked in a bathroom, but claims he’s innocent. Shortly after Harry arrives at the convention to investigate, a number of people are attacked by a seven foot tall assailant who looks just like the killer in the slasher flick recently screened.
It’s nearly Halloween (Harry’s birthday) and Harry Dresden is less than thrilled to discover that his friend Police Lieutenant Karrin Murphy is going off to Hawaii with another man. He’s even less thrilled when Mavra, an extremely powerful vampire of the Black Court, who he hoped they’d managed to kill in Blood Rites, turns out not to be dead and is blackmailing him with Murphy’s involvement in the case unless he helps her. If Harry doesn’t find something called the Word of Kemmler in three days, Mavra will make sure Murphy’s career is ruined, and that she may very well face criminal charges because of aid she gave Harry on a mission against the Black Court vampires. Harry obviously can’t let that happen, and so he has no choice but to agree to the vampire’s demands.
Turns out the Word of Kemmler is a book, the last writings of a very powerful and very dangerous, now dead, necromancer and whoever possesses the book will gain access to terrible powers. Harry’s not the only one looking for the Word. Three of Kemmler’s former apprentices are in Chicago, wanting the to be the first to find the book and become the most powerful necromancer of them all.
Bored of the same old paranormal/urban fantasy with hunky were-creatures/vampires/fallen angels/demons/elves or whatever, where there’s a girl with a tramp stamp, leather trousers and a crossbow and/or sword on the cover. Where the heroine has to choose between the brooding vampire and the burly were-creature, and work diligently to save the world, or at least the people she loves from disaster?
Then you must read Written in Red, which isn’t even vaguely like any of that. Read my review (which is quite long, but I’ve tried not to spoil anything too major) and see if you don’t agree that this is a book you have to experience for yourself.
Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only consulting wizard, is asked by his White Court vampire friend, and sometime ally, Thomas Raith to help a movie producer who seems to be the target of a death curse. As Thomas has aided Harry in the past, and even saved his life, Harry can’t really refuse, but he demands payment both from the client and Thomas, in the form of information about why the vampire has been helping him, sometimes even at the risk of Thomas’ own life. But how will Harry react to the truths that Thomas is so reluctant to share?
It turns out that the movie Harry is supposed to act as supernatural security on, and pretend to be an production assistant on, is a porn flick, which everyone of his acquaintances seems to find hilarious. The job quickly turns a lot more dangerous than Harry had expected, with the vicious death curse striking twice a day, affecting anyone close to Genosa, the director. It quickly becomes apparent that Thomas and the rest of the Raith family are more closely connected to the imperilled movie production that Thomas let on, and because Harry’s life never seems to be complete unless multiple parties are trying to kill him, the powerful and vengeful Black Court vampire Mavra is determined to end him, one way or another. Full review on my blog.
Daisy Johanssen grew up in the town of Pemkowet in the Midwest. Her mother lives in a trailer and works as a seamstress, her father is an incubus accidentally summoned during an ill-advised Ouija board session when her mother was a teenager. Of course, you’d think being half-demon would make Daisy unusual in town, but there’s all manner of supernatural beings in Pemkowet, and tourists travel from all over the country to see fairies and trolls and naiads and the like. Hel, the Norse goddess of the underworld keeps the supernatural element in check, and Daisy is her agent in the mortal world, as well as acting as supernatural liaison with the local police department.
When a young, wealthy college kid drowns and everything suggests supernatural involvement, the tourist trade could be seriously affected. The local police are under a lot of pressure, and Hel isn’t all that happy with the situation either. Daisy has to work the case with Cody Fairfax, trying to hide the massive crush on him she’s nurtured since high school. She also has to keep a lid on her volatile temper, as giving into the temptations from her demonic dad could set in motion Armageddon.
This is the second book in The Raven Cycle, which according to Stiefvater’s homepage is going to be four books in total. This is not a series where the books stand alone, so if you haven’t already read The Raven Boys, you should probably start there. My review of it is nice and non-spoilery, if you want to read why you should really give it a chance. If you haven’t yet read it, you may want to give this review a miss, as I can’t actually review The Dream Thieves without referring to some pretty spoilery things that happen during the course of the first book. So somewhere else – say a library, to find a copy of book one.
Still here? Then I’m not to blame if you get stuff spoiled. Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle has a bit of an ensemble cast, really, and given the way this book was structured, I suspect that each book in the series is going to focus more on one or a couple of the characters, with the rest taking a backseat for a while. Let’s recap – in The Raven Boys we were introduced to Blue Sargent, an independent teenager raised in a household full of psychic women, yet her only ability is to amplify their visions. She’s known since she was little that if she kisses her true love, he will die. Not that she had anything to worry about, until she met the four boys from the preppy Aglionby Academy who have now become her good friends.