Showing posts with label Jacqueline Carey. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jacqueline Carey. Show all posts

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Jacqueline Carey Tidbit

So, while I was at the RT con last week, I overheard a name that my brain just went *POUNCE* for: Jacqueline Carey.  I have no idea who said it or even where I was when I heard it.  (Maybe in one of the many lines?  Maybe in the bar?).  It was literally one of those things that seems to float through the ether with no discernible source:

"She's working on something new.  She's done with Kushiel.  I hear it's much lighter and more playful."

WOW.  What a freaking tease, right?  I am subscribed to Carey's FaceBook page, where there's a lot going on, and I checked her website, but there were no hints.

So I decided to right to the source, and I was delighted to hear back the same day via email:

It's good to know people are talking! :) I do have a new project coming out this fall -- it's an urban fantasy series called Agent of Hel, and the first volume is "Dark Currents." I'll post the description below. I'm calling it a blend of wonder, whimsy and creepiness!

Dark Currents is set in a small Midwestern resort town where paranormal tourism is a booming business. Daisy Johanssen, an incubus’ daughter raised by a loving single mom, is the liaison between the eldritch community and mundane authorities. Most of the time that doesn’t entail anything more challenging than retrieving stolen goods from a puckish pickpocket or tracking down a tourist led astray by a will-o’-the-wisp, but when a young man drowns in an apparent accident that’s not what it seems, Daisy’s job turns deadly earnest.

I love the sound of that!  Dark Currents is available for pre-order at Amazon, but at this point, we apparently know more than they do, since there is no description there.

Ms. Carey, thanks so much for the scoop!

ps, I really enjoyed the sequel to Santa Olivia, called Saints Astray, released last November. I mean, how do you not love a book with werewolves, rock stars, a Vegas kidnapping, diplomatic immunity, and, well, a small revolution?  Plus, Charlie's Angels cover.  Excellent!

Photo credit:  I stole the author picture from Ciara, without permission (!), because it's an event that I was at and I'm impatient.  :-)  Ciara, if you are not happy with that I'm happy to take it down and use a stock photo.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Naamah's Curse - Jacqueline Carey - Review

The Love Continues
I adore this series. Carey delivers quality epic adventure, book after book. To be honest, I don't have much new to say that I haven't said before about her writing --

-- but I can confirm that there's absolutely no fading to the power and lyricism of Carey's storytelling.

There are still lands untraveled in Carey's universe, and Naamah's Curse takes us with Moirin through the steppes of western China, Russia -- perhaps Mongolia would be a more correct analog (what can I say, I'm geography-challenged)-- and what I guess to be the Khyber Pass and Pakistan.

Once Upon A Time
Most of Carey's stories can be described as a quest, but that applies even more so to Curse than it did to Kiss. Moirin must find Bao, the stubborn boy and lover who bears half of her diadh-anam which is a sort of spirit-energy; a link to mother-bear deity of Moirin's people. Something I particularly loved about this story is how it inverts the classic fairy tale rescue motif: our intrepid princess must pass a number of harsh tests of strength, skill, and faith before she rescues the prince, who is imprisoned in a [surprisingly] passive state by an evil witch. You could easily imagine flying monkeys on the attack.

You know it's just too easy when she finds him within 100 pages. They are separated again through magic and ambition-- isn't it always the way?

A new theme emerges with Naamah's Curse, as she undergoes imprisonment and an Inquisition-esque forcible conversion. Along the way she questions her inquisitor's interpretation of his God's will, and finally has this to say:

"And yes, there are moments of glory and wonder in your tales. Yes, your Yeshua sounds like a decent fellow for a god, filled with love and kindness toward mankind. But there are also great, long boring bits about the genealogy of the Habiru, which holds little interest for me and there are tales that make no sense at all, and other parts that are simply harsh and cruel."

He looked aghast. "Only because you do not understand them yet!"

"Do you think so?" I shook my head. "No, I think I am beginning to understand. These scriptures, they were written by mortal men. And mayhap some of them were moved by divine grace, but others were petty, jealous fellows, moved by the ordinary concerns of everyday life, like being cuckolded by a straying wife."

Though Carey's world is particularly at odds with a Puritanical religion that considers sensuous pleasures a sin, this sort of questioning is repeated in other circumstances, as applied to other gods and scriptures, in attempts to make it an even-handed statement about divine will, and the fallacies of mortal interpretation. I suspect most readers who are already fans will not have major issues here, but it isn't much of a stretch to think that some readers who aren't expecting it might be offended.

Overall I give this story a huge win; I am loving this trilogy.

Reading order:
Naamah's Kiss (out now in paperback)
Naamah's Curse
Naamah's Blessing (due next year)

Bonus: I've been making it a habit to attend Carey's signings when she comes to Seattle, which are just a delight. I really enjoy the way she interacts with her readers, from the casual fan to the most obsessive fanatic dedicated (yes, I spotted more than one thorny rose tattoo in the audience). She usually reads an excerpt from the next, unreleased book and this year's was no exception. I don't think I'm overstepping to share with you that Moirin's next journey will intersect with..... {drumroll please} ....... the Aztec. Chocolate! Parrots! Human sacrifice! Cool, eh?

Someone actually videotaped and posted the Seattle event. My voice is in there somewhere and you totally can't hear what I asked. But maybe you can guess from my choice of excerpt.

Around the Blogosphere:
(I'm running really late to this party; the book has been out for a month now, so there are lots of reviews to choose from)

In Bed With Books
The Book Smugglers
The Discriminating Fangirl
Gripping Books
Inside of a Dog (which incidentally, has to be the VERY BEST name I have come across for a book blog in recent memory!) Awesome.

As always, if you have a review of this book, please feel free to leave a link in comments or email me and I will edit it in.

One Last Thing....
I was supposed to do a giveaway for this book, but I'm so late posting the review I'm not sure the offer from the publisher still stands. I'm checking... so you check too. Back here, that is. I'll put up a fresh post if there's a giveaway.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Naamah's Kiss, by Jaqueline Carey - Review

Figuring out when to end a series has got to be challenging for a popular author. As a fan, it’s a conundrum too, because when you’re in love with a world, whether it’s historical, paranormal, or almost-real fiction, it’s hard to give it up, even when you know it’s time.

And yet a good author knows when to leave them wanting more, because really, there are only so many times that any given character can Save The World.

Jacqueline Carey is one of those authors for me – I want her Terre d’Ange world to keep going, and going and going because it is such an incredible place. (Actually, if I could figure out a way to go live there--err, without involving psychiatric institutionalization-- I would.) The two Kushiel trilogies are as absorbing and immersive as anything I’ve ever read and while I was a little disappointed to learn last year that enough time elapses between the end of Kushiel’s Mercy and this book that none of the characters from the first two books would be appearing, I’ve still been waiting with great anticipation for Naamah’s Kiss. (Carey actually read the first chapter last year at a signing for Kushiel's Mercy– how’s THAT for a tease??)

I’m very pleased to report that Naamah's Kiss delivers everything a Terre d’Ange fan could want. Carey returns to a feminine viewpoint, telling the story of Moirin, a descendant of the “bear witches,” the clan who betrayed Imriel in the second trilogy. Several generations have passed, and the larger magic abilities of Moirin’s people have faded, similar to legends you might read about the Fae.

One of the aspects I like the most about all of Carey’s books, including Santa Olivia, is the way the point of view character always sees themselves as more or less ordinary, and tells us their extraordinary story with such a sense of humbleness that you don’t always realize immediately that you as a reader are getting a front-row look at this world’s history unfolding from inside the eyes of someone who is going to turn out to be a pivotal figure within the world. At one time, Moirin’s internal narrative tells us that “whatever else happened, we had just ridden into legend.”* And damn if that doesn’t feel like the dead truth when you’re reading it.

Carey absolutely does it again with this new incarnation of her world. A few familiar threads will ground the Kushiel fans quickly, but if you’re interested in trying out a new author and don’t want to read the whole backlist, this would be a fine place to start. It couldn’t have been easy for Carey to find new ground to break after the wide-ranging journeys of Phedre and Imriel, but she manages it. Moirin travels to Carey’s analog of China, exploring half-familiar legends involving curses, princesses, and dragons who inhabit the exotic mountain ranges of the East, and learning that earth-magic has many faces, but springs from the same source. (Well, maybe that's obvious, but at any rate, I liked how Carey manages to make it feel exotic and different but with a familiar heart everywhere her characters go.)

Something I always appreciate about the Terre d’Ange books is the way sexuality is treated: from sacred to ordinary, it’s a part of life--and a part of the story-- that is just as accepted any other part of life. And just to prove that I do retain [some] of the stuff I’ve learned along the way since starting this blog, let me comment that if you find a heteronormative framework restrictive and unsatisfying, you won’t have a problem with Terre d’Ange. As with the previous trilogies, the “love as thou wilt” theology of Terre d’Ange is an underlying force in Moirin’s destiny; her partners and lovers all have a role in leading her along her journey and the book falls into natural phases along with her different affairs.

All up, I give Naamah’s Kiss a whole-hearted recommendation for any fan of good fiction. If high fantasy hasn’t been your cup of tea thus far, Carey just might be your gateway book. If you love historical fiction, heroic legend, or just plain good storytelling, Carey does not disappoint. Romance purists will not find a story centered around a couple's relationship, but there are lots of romantic elements. If you’re already a fan of Ms. Carey, rest assured that Naamah's Kiss delivers. For now, I think I like it even a little better than the Imriel trilogy – perhaps it’s something about the female protagonist that works a little better for me.

And….. it’s a Hachette book. And you know what that means.

I have 5 copies to give away. June 24th is the release date, so I will announce all 5 winners on that day (though if you want it sooner, it looks like Amazon is already shipping them). Check back between now and then and you may get more chances to enter.

For now, comment below to start your chances, and post a link on your blog, Facebook, etc. for a second entry. Please specify if you live outside of North America – if I get international submissions I will set aside those participants for one of the 5 drawings.

*Note: the quote is from an uncorrected review copy; it may not appear in the published edition as I've shown it here.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Second Time Around



Caffey, please email me your mailing address at nicola327 at hotmail dot com.


Let's try this again....

Last September I hosted a blog hopping challenge. Give it a go, write your post with a link to Alpha Heroes, and link here in comments. Note: the post suggests using the BBAW directory as a starting place - for this challenge, why not start with the blog of an Alpha Heroes Follower or recent commenter? Any starting place will do, as long as you find new-to-you blogs and leave comments! 10 hop-stops can be a bit much so -- 5 stops for one extra entry, 10 stops gets you two. Have fun hopping!

Come back tomorrow for the next winner to be announced!


#2: Caffey
#1: Mishel

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Scoop on the Santa Olivia Giveaway

I was wanting to confirm a few details with my contact before posting this, but oh well. Forgiveness and permission and all that.

The giveaway is open only to US and Canada.*
Books cannot be shipped to PO Boxes, an actual address is required.

To enter, comment here or on the review post.

For additional entries:

  • post a link to Alpha Heroes on your blog, Facebook, a relevant forum thread (where it would not be against forum community standards), etc. Leave me a link in comments so I can keep track. One extra entry per link!
  • Become a Follower of Alpha Heroes for an additional entry. If you already are, I'll count it automatically as long as you are using the same name. (You need to *still* be a follower on the day of the giveaway)
  • Stop back over the course of the week and you may find some additional ways.
I have 5 copies and will give away one per weekday starting Friday 5/29 (Publication date for Santa Olivia).

Many thanks to The Hachette Book Group for providing the books!

*I'm going to see if I can swing a deal where one of the giveaways will be international, but no guarantees. If you are a non-North American entry, please specify!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Santa Olivia, by Jacqueline Carey - Review

Just about a year ago, I went to a book signing for Kushiel's Mercy and listened to Ms. Carey speak about the two Kushiel trilogies, the upcoming Naamah's Kiss, and a mysterious side project that, with a self-deprecating hand-wave and maybe a little embarrassment, she referred to as "this, kind of... urban fantasy... post-apocalyptic... border-town... story. With, like.... werewolves. Sort of."

This is about as different from her alternate-history epic fantasy trilogies as you can get. So different, in fact, the book initially was to be published under a different pen name. I'm not sure whether that was Carey's idea or her publisher's, or what changed, but Santa Olivia is the result.

Frankly, I didn't know what to expect. I love, love, love the Kushiel books, especially the earlier ones, but I didn't like her Banewreaker/ Godslayer duology at all. So I was primed to like Santa Olivia, but I didn't figure it was a sure thing by any means.

When I get a new Kushiel book, I tend to hold on to it for a little while before I dive in. They're big books; high fantasy with a lot of dense world building and intricate characterization, and I like to be able to dive in and immerse myself in the world, rather than stealing bits of time out of my daily bus ride and lunch hour.

Not so with Santa Olivia. It's less hefty, more accessible, and instantly drew me in -- even on a bumpy bus ride. In Carey's own words, the prose is "far more spare than my usual ornate style, [written] with a more muscular lyricism."

The Premise
I don't read very much in the way of dystopian speculative fiction, but I believe that is the correct literary pigeon-hole for Santa Olivia. In the wake of a devastating pandemic, the US borders close and Santa Olivia is declared a DMZ, or De-Militarized Zone. Residents who stayed when the soldiers came lost their US citizenship and became sort of post-modern camp followers. Technology has decayed, at least in Santa Olivia - electricity is hoarded for refrigeration; there is nothing in the way of broadcast information - no TV, no radio, no internet. The town is completely isolated - there is no Fed Ex, no USPS, no Greyhound routes.

As a result of military genetic experimentation, Loup is born with wolf DNA, which gives her several super-human capabilities like speed and strength, and some emotional anomalies. Carey eschews the shapeshifting and biting/turning bits of werewolf lore, relying instead on reasonably plausible scientific possibilities with a large dose of non-specificity. The world-building here concentrates on the political and social aspects rather than the paranormal.

Be warned, this is in no way a romance. There is a non-traditional romantic element to it that was nice sidenote, but it was very minor in the overall story arc. Folks who are put off by books that blur the line between urban fantasy and romance will find little ambiguity here. I wouldn't be surprised to find, in 20 years, this title to be named in the same breath as 1984 or The Handmaid's Tale.

Good Stuff

I'm pretty sure Carey could write a tax-preparation manual and it would still be beautifully written. That is, her language is lyrical and an almost physical pleasure to read, even if the story itself isn't to your taste. In the deathbed scene of Carmen, Loup's mother, the ten-year-old Loup is described:
Tears gathered in Loup's eyes and shone there without falling. Even when she'd cried as a baby, there were never tears. There was something strange and pure about the quality of her unleavened sorrow; strange and pure and oddly comforting, as though a child-saint or a fearless, untamed creature had come to keep a vigil over Carmen's death. Carmen lifted one hand and traced the curve of her daugher's cheek.
One thing I like about the way this book is written is that, even though the paranormal aspects are understated, they are not tentative in any way. You can see it in the passage above -- whatever it is that is different about Loup, Carey's vision of all aspects of that differentness is rock solid.

The story builds inexorably toward a major conflict which worked well for me - hard to say more without spoilering, but I'd say the final leg of the build-up and the conflict itself were among the Good Stuff for the book.

Things That Make Me Say Hmmmmm
In one of the cover blurbs, Eric Van Lustbader calls Santa Olivia "... a love song to the beauty and power of being different." I'm not so sure I agree. I felt like Loup's "differentness" was only a vehicle to examine the notion of hope for the town of Santa Olivia. What happens without it. What happens when it appears, when it fades. The rise and fall of hope in the town of Santa Olivia is the story of Santa Olivia. Why this section, rather than the "good stuff"? I'm ambivalent about whether the resolution was completely satisfying, and I can't seem to separate that from the theme.

The story takes place over a number of years, starting with the day the soldiers came, when Loup's mother Carmen was a young woman, and lingering a bit over the brief time that she has with Loup's father. There's an extended bit while Loup's older brother Tommy trains as a boxer, and then the meat of the story is Loup's coming of age in the orphanage. It sometimes feels a little spotty, as though there is too much being skimmed over, and a number of interesting threads seemed to just drop. I suppose these "drops" were the believable outcomes within the rules of the world, but it was still a bit disappointing.

Similarly, the bit that follows the climax, leading out to the end, wasn't that great for me; it just seemed to fall a little flat. I couldn't tell if it was too rushed or too drawn-out. It felt like it should've sped up a lot, OR maybe that there could have been more of a subplot arc in between. I dunno.

The Very Best Part
Even more so than the Kushiel books, this is a very character-driven story. The relationships among the Santa Olivians are drawn like brilliant charcoal sketches - some just in broad strokes, some with intricate detail - and it is with these interactions that Carey paints in the subtle colors of mood and atmosphere. Most particularly, I love the dialog between Loup and Miguel, her sparring partner and unlikely friend:
"Is that why you started boxing?" Loup asked him. "To get out?"

"Yeah, that and I hit hard." Miguel regarded his cigar. "Might of been better off if I wasn't a Garza. Maybe I would of wanted it more, worked harder."

"Like Tommy," Loup said softly.

"Like Tommy," he agreed. "But then..."


They sat in companionable silence for awhile. A memory struck Loup.

"You said you saw my father once," she said. "Punched him."

"You remember that, huh? Yeah.

Her voice turned wistful. "What was he like?"

Miguel didn't answer right away. He sat and smoked. "Steady," he said at length. "Same way you are. He didn't even flinch when I hit him, like it wasn't worth his while to notice. I know I was just a kid, but I hit hard. Same eyes as you, same weird way of looking at people without blinking."
Miguel's character development throughout the book in fact is a bit of a microcosm of the town. He transforms, but only a little. Potential is recognized, crushed. Will it re-emerge? Flourish? Not without something changing. Which leads me to wonder--

What's Next?
Opinion around the 'net is divided as to whether there is good sequel fodder here. I think it's fair to say that the end of Santa Olivia leaves us with more questions than answers, and the larger conspiracy theory arc leaves plenty of room for more... but a return to this particular scene might be anticlimactic. There is by no means an unqualified happy ending, but consistent with the rest of the book, there is a thread of optimism running through the bleakness. The romance lover in me wants *everyone* to live happily ever after and to see that optimism realized. I'm not sure that would be such an interesting story, though, so I could definitely see the rationale in leaving it as a stand-alone.

It wouldn't make sense to review this book, right now, without some mention of the swine flu situation. The trigger event for Santa Olivia is a catastrophic outbreak of influenza, inroading to the US from Mexico. "It's a bit disconcerting," says Carey on her webpage. "This is not an instance where one hopes life imitates art." I don't know about you out there in Bloglandia, but it freaks me out a little bit.

Around the Blogosphere (Beware, most have spoilers to some degree)
Drey's Library
Sci Fi Guy (hah, we chose the same clip)
Pop Culture Zoo
Blog, Jvstin Style
A Reading Odyssey

Kind of a neat side effect of breaking out of the romance genre every now and then -- a whole 'nother world of blogs out there to discover!


Check back tomorrow for all the details. I'll have 5 copies to give away, courtesy of the Hachette Book Group.


Friday, September 12, 2008

Kushiel’s Legacy, by Jacqueline Carey – Series Review


I’ve hesitated to review these books here because they aren’t romances. However, since they really are among my favorite books ever, I think that’s probably a good enough reason to bend my policy a little.

You won’t find these books in the romance section; they are firmly entrenched in the fantasy genre. The description that best fits them is probably “alternate history,” as the geography and linguistics are readily recognizable as Renaissance Europe, with forays into the MidEast, Russia, Scandinavia, and northern Africa.

Terre d’Ange, where our main characters hail from, is a loosely re-defined Paris and France. The society revolves around a really unique religion that is founded upon the tenet “Love as thou wilt.” No kind of sincere, consensual love is taboo; instead it is not only accepted but revered and honored. Such a basis has the potential for turning into little more than freaky porn, but anyone expecting that will be disappointed. There are some explicit scenes, but they are fairly few and far between. Often they happen for the purpose of furthering the plot more so than developing romantic relationships.

While the characterizations and relationships are rooted in the religious/sexuality layer of the universe, the intricate plotting is all about politics. Of course, much of the politics is driven by the complex web of family loyalties and vendettas, and the strangely compelling connections resulting from the “free love” way of life.

The series overall consists of two trilogies. The first follows Phèdre, an extraordinary woman who bears the mark of Kushiel, the angel known as “The Punisher of God” and patron saint of--not to put too fine a point on it--sado-masochism. Recognized at an early age by a rather mysterious figure, Phèdre is adopted and raised in sort of a spymaster’s apprenticeship, or in Carey’s vernacular, “trained in the arts of covertcy.” (Which is not a word, outside the Kushielverse. I looked it up. But it should be.) These skills, along with her birthright as sort of a sublime masochist, puts Phèdre at the center of several epic adventures that involve the fate of nations, warfare, sorcery, and a dash of divine mystery.

The second trilogy is headed by Imriel, Phèdre’s foster son, and continues the theme of epic adventure into the next generation. The adventures are different and the characters are different, but if you like the first trilogy, you would probably like the second also. I found the second trilogy slightly less compelling, as is the way of things with second trilogies, but still deeply absorbing.

Part of the allure of Carey’s books is in the language. Lyrical, lush, rhythmic, nearly poetic. It reminds me a little of Anne Rice at her very best, only better. I absolutely love it and find the writing and the world of Terre d’Ange completely immersive.

I think what I like best about these books is the way the world-building and the characters interlock seamlessly to drive the plot. I believe they are character-driven books, which I love, but the construction of the world shapes the characters which in turn drive the plot, which hinges upon the structure of the world. I can’t think of another book or series that weave these three aspects together so skillfully.

A word of warning – there are a few scenes that are not for the faint of heart. If the notion of putting sex on a level with worship makes you uncomfortable, this may not be the series for you. If you cannot imagine a world where true love includes non-monogamous… let’s call them “events,” you may be put off. And if you can’t imagine an erotic encounter including pain, give it a pass. Incidently, if you like the first book with only some reservations around this point, I would recommend that you skip the third one. It’s quite disturbing, IMO.

As for me though, I love everything about them. I think they’re not for everyone, which is why I’m finding myself spending more space than usual on caveats and qualifications. But I love ‘em.

Did I mention that I love them? I do. I really, really do.

Reading order:

  1. Kushiel’s Dart

  2. Kushiel’s Chosen

  3. Kushiel’s Avatar

  4. Kushiel’s Scion

  5. Kushiel’s Justice

  6. Kushiel’s Mercy

Upcoming: a third trilogy set in the same universe but several generations in the future. We get to see some of the long-term fallout of things that happened in Scion and Justice.


Due to a certain lack of planning and or organization on my part, I ended up with TWO beautiful hardback copies of Kushiel’s Mercy. Due to the same weaknesses, plus a dash of laziness, I never got around to returning the extra one. So, one lucky reader is going to get their very own copy. Warning to you series OCD types: it’s the LAST of the six books. Mwuahahahahaha.

Because it’s hardback and a thick book, I’m going to limit the giveaway to the US. Leave a comment on THIS POST and next Wednesday, as a Book Blogger Awareness Week highlight, I will announce the [randomly chosen] winner. Thanks for playing!


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