Friday, January 28, 2011

Hellforged - Nancy Holzner


A Deadtown Novel
Nancy Holzner

Urban Fantasy

Note: If you missed the first novel in this series, DEADTOWN, this review contains a few unavoidable spoilers. And you missed a fun read.

When last we left Vicky (Victory) Vaughn, she was saving Boston from a Hellion attack. Quick history: a recent plague of unknown origin killed everyone in a certain section of Boston. Then brought them back as zombies. With zombies in even the best families, other paranormals came out of the closet, too. Due to current laws, they’re confined to that same section of Boston, now called Deadtown, for reasons that should be painfully obvious.

Vicky is a shapeshifter, so she must live in Deadtown. However, she’s also a demon fighter, so she’s allowed to leave the area to pursue her career. This time, the book opens with Vicky fighting a Glitch in a computer lab. It’s meant to throw us into the action in the way her fighting a dream demon did in the first book. But, where the first book was exciting and a bit scary, setting a perfect tone, the Glitch fight comes off as strangely comical and does not really fit in with the rest of the book.

Once the Glitch is dead (see what I did there?) Vicky’s assistant, Tina, doomed to be a teenaged zombie forever, announces that she’s joining an undead rock act. It’s just as well, since Vicky has got plenty of problems to occupy her time. First and foremost, she’s lost control of her own dreamscape. This is a huge problem since it theoretically shouldn’t be possible, and since it rules out the lucrative field of slaying dream demons. There have also been some zombie deaths. Really messy, permanent deaths. It doesn’t take Vicky too long to figure out that these deaths are connected somehow to her out-of-control dreams and the Hellion who’s been appearing in them when he should have been banished. It’s clear that she’s going to need the help of her Aunt Mab to get through whatever is coming.

As second books do, this one takes what happened in the first and continues to build. Aside from the strangely out-of-tune first scene with the Glitch, the tone here is pretty uniformly dark. And that’s fine, because the story takes Vicky to some very dark places, both figuratively and literally. It’s quite interesting to see her visit and train with her Aunt Mab in Wales. There’s a lot of action and pace is quite fast. There are some loose ends tied up from the last novel, and some plot elements that are clearly left open for upcoming installments. Even so, the final battle is quite satisfying and well-written. The author does a great job of building an original world and weaving in mythologies and various paranormal nasties. I’m looking forward to seeing where the series goes from here.

Rating: 8
January 2011
ISBN# 978-0-441-07980-9 (paperback)


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