Sunday, October 11, 2009

Darkness Calls Novel Impression

Anime fans familiar with the movie Wicked City (and novel) the story of Maxine Kiss in Darkness Calls will feel like a distant cousin never met, one both familiar yet very different. Marjorie M. Liu has crafted a heroine that is herself flawed in a world that is our own, separated from a greater evil by a thin prison veil. Maxine is not some grand champion but another player with a possibly larger role than she can comprehend. So what is Darkness Calls all about … let’s take a peek …

Maxine Kiss is a hunter. Her weapons are not rifles or cross bows. Here prey is not of the furry nature, which is the furry normal nature. Maxine hunts zombies, ghouls and other things that go bump in the night … or day. Her weapons begin with her boys, demons bonded and bound to Maxine’s dwindling bloodline of hunters what go back centuries. From sundown to sunup Maxine’s boys awaken and move in and out of the shadows helping her dispatch those nasty things her mother taught her to hunt. During the day she is covered in living tattoos which protect her as Zee and the boys sleep. Maxine also wields a unique ring which is slowly growing over her hand and arm and allows her to summon a sword. The exact nature of this charm is not fully known as she found it in the Labyrinth, an in-between place she was once trapped in. These are just a few details about Maxine’s appearance, abnormal yes, but nothing compared to her day-to-day trials. Hunting is easy, being hunted, not so much and it’s here that Maxine finds herself as a vengeful Avatar toys and manipulates her and those she is close to including Old Jack and Grant, a man much more a friend to Maxine and one possessing a lineage himself both powerful and deadly. Maxine finds herself on the run, with Grant, rescuing Grant, from this Mr. King and it’s their confrontation to which Maxine much push her full effort while dealing with the reality that the prison veil surrounding the world is slowly failing. The zombies and others beasties fought are just insects compared to the horrors that wait to invade earth and all that stands between them is Maxine and the boys. Nobody said the family business would be easy.

Quick summary but to the point. Maxine is a hunter with extraordinary powers. She is Witchblade, Wicked City and Buffy all rolled into one. This is actually the second novel for Maxine and from the summary above you can see where she got into trouble killing an Avatar in the first novel. So what is so intriguing about Maxine, especially for guys who may not read a paranormal romance? First she is badass, something its proven guys dig as seen the above mentioned titles. She controls a power passed down by blood that feels pulled from Buffy or Angel and she’s not too bad on the eyes. Second her ‘boy toy’ Grant is no pushover. Yes, he needs to be rescued but his latent powers, what he really shows a beast is waiting to be unleashed. Their relationship does not interfere with the story or provoke images of Fabio, just two folks getting it on in a normal, paranormal kinda way. Third it’s got zombies, werewolves, monsters and more. Yeah, there are tons of beasties for Maxine to fight and she does not go all Lifestyle on us either, nope, she embraces the slaughter at times. Fourth, she is flawed, has family issues, issues with her place in life, she is normal in her wants and needs. Maxine is not some above-us-all hero, in fact she just wants to be normal at times.

So there are a few quick reasons any reader should care. Witchblade, Buffy, Angel, Wicked City all share things in common with Maxine but the way author Marjorie M. Liu writes is so unique. As a reader you will be able to smell, taste, and feel what Maxine is going through. The descriptive writing invoked by Marjorie’s pen (or keyboard) leaves nothing to the imagination and challenges the notion that a picture is worth a thousand words. A thousand of Marjorie’s words is worth volumes of pictures. This was the first Maxine Kiss novel I’ve read and while I missed on story points it’s not tough to pick up on, it’s also not the end. I cannot say what will happen with Maxine, the story moves along at a nice clip, is full of action and character development while ending to satisfaction and leaving the next chapter to be written. Fans of the above mentioned titles should take a look, it’s an excellent read.

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