Posts Tagged Cedar Sanderson

Cedar Sanderson’s “Trickster Noir” — A Solid, Romantic Sequel

Cedar Sanderson’sTrickster Noir TRICKSTER NOIR is a sequel to PIXIE NOIR (reviewed here by Jason), and features the same main characters — Bella, the human/fairy hybrid with amazing powers she can barely control, and Lom, her pixie detective love interest. Lom is shorter than Bella, and recently sustained a major injury that’s drained him near to death.

All of that is relevant because up until now, Lom has, for lack of a better term, been used as an enforcer by his King. He takes on the jobs no one else wants to deal with, and handles them efficiently. But now that Lom is on the shelf while he heals (providing he can, of course), Bella has to take those jobs instead. While she lacks experience, she has so much power, she’s the most logical choice to take Lom’s place.

And everybody knows it. Including the bad guys.

Of course, Bella also is the newest Consort for the King, which isn’t at all the same as being romantically entangled (in an arranged marriage or otherwise). Which is a good thing, or her nascent relationship with Lom would never be able to get off the ground. But that also adds in many more complications.

And Lom has his own problems, as he’s been named a Duke, yet is still weak both physically and magically. He’s a self-sufficient guy, so healing up and rehabilitating would be very difficult for him even if he didn’t have to watch as Bella goes off to do the jobs he used to do.

Worse yet, he’s denigrated at every turn due to his current magical weakness by nearly everyone save Ellie (his housekeeper), his own mother, and Bella. Which imperils not only his Dukedom, but Bella as well…so what’s a pixie detective to do?

And there’s a great deal going on that Bella and Lom — both separately and together — need to deal with, too. There’s the evil Baba Yaga, who’s cropped up at the most unexpected time and in the most unexpected place, for a reason which may surprise. There are some sasquatch, kitsune, dragons, and of course the great Trickster God himself, Raven, and they all make their various marks on the narrative (as you might expect).

While the adventures cannot be faulted, to my mind the romance between Bella and Lom is the main attraction. They are both well-drawn characters with strengths and weaknesses, and seem like the perfect complement to one another. I liked watching them get to know each other through “sickness and in health,” and believed in them as a couple.

Bottom line? The romance is solid and enjoyable, the magic system is workable, and the adventures were sensible in context. I’d buy it as an e-book, read it, and then decide if you want the “dead-tree edition” down the line.

Grade: B.

— reviewed by Barb

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Cedar Sanderson’s “Vulcan’s Kittens” Is a Nice YA Read

This week, it’s time to take on Cedar Sanderson’s short debut novel, VULCAN’S KITTENS.  A take on the whole “normal kid finds out she’s part-immortal” theme most recently popularized by Rick Riordan, VULCAN’S KITTENS stars Linnaea (Linn) Vulkane, granddaughter of Haephestus (Heff) — otherwise known as the Greek god, Vulcan.  A war between the gods is brewing, and nothing is exactly as it seems.  But at the start of this book, Linn has absolutely no idea that she is related to any immortals, much less that she might have some otherworldly powers herself.  (Of course, if Linn had known all this at her young age of fourteen, I’d have been incredibly surprised.  But I digress.)

Anyway, the kittens come into play because Heff’s good friend Bast, an Egyptian goddess, has had kittens recently, and is staying in Heff’s house out in rural Montana.  Linn’s visiting her elderly grandfather, and since she’s there, she helps take care of the kittens.  Like kittens anywhere, they’re small, cute and defenseless.  And even though Linn finds out the kittens are the scions of two immortals, not just one, that certainly doesn’t mean they came into this world knowing everything they need to know.

Linn has a huge heart, so even before she realizes she might have some additional powers beyond her own essential goodness, she decides she’s going to protect those kittens.  It doesn’t matter to her that other gods are trying to harm the kittens (who can’t be killed, exactly, but can definitely be seriously harmed); that may make her task more difficult down the line, but she will deal with that as it comes.  And as the kits like Linn quite a bit, Bast decides to leave them in Linn’s competent hands as she must try to head off some of the opposing vengeful gods at the pass.

Despite the soon-to-be-war, for a little while — a time that seems almost dreamlike — Linn’s existence is what you’d expect of any city kid thrust into the countryside.  In addition to playing with the kittens and taking care of their needs, she learns all sorts of things about milking goats, skinning small animals like squirrels and rabbits (as Grampa Heff is a big believer in hunting), and a number of camp chores.  But because Heff knows that the war between the various gods is imminent, Linn also learns how to protect herself in both hand-to-hand combat and swordsmanship.

Wisely, Linn learns these things in a realistic, piece by piece fashion, the way any kid learns.  She’s not an immediate expert, something I appreciated mightily.  And because Heff sees Linn as a bright and compassionate young woman rather than “just a kid,” Linn actually is better prepared to face the worst than she might’ve been if she’d been immediately dismissed in the way many teens tend to be, in and out of fantasy books.

Anyway, Linn ends up on the run with the kittens, as the war between the gods erupts in earnest.  She’s not sure what she’s going to do, much less where she’s going to go, but she does know one thing: she will protect those kittens, or die trying.  (Because as a kid who’s only half-immortal, Linn can indeed be damaged, and perhaps even killed.)

The rest of the plotline is for you to read, but if you enjoy young adult books that read well and quickly — and who doesn’t? — you will enjoy the ins and outs of VULCAN’S KITTENS.

There are a few minuses, however, that have to be discussed.  As this is a first edition of a first novel, there are a number of typographical errors, a few grammatical errors, and some outright oddities (like a margin shift on the first page) to deal with.  These are issues like “naiad” being spelled in one place as “niaid” or Linnaea’s full name being spelled wrong once or twice, and are all minor.  But enough of them exist to cause this book to look less professional than it should.

In other words, the writing is professional.  Linn’s coming of age story is a particularly nice young adult read that I enjoyed quite a bit.  But the editing is not up to the same standard.

Were the editing up to snuff, this would be an A-minus read.  But since it’s not, VULCAN’S KITTENS stands as a B-minus.

Young adults of all ages should definitely enjoy VULCAN’S KITTENS, as it’s a fun, fast read from start to finish.

— reviewed by Barb

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