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Reviews of books in a series, with a focus on urban fantasy.
Other genres include mystery, paranormal romance, and crime thrillers.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Unclean Spirits: Book One of the Black Sun's Daughter by M.L.N. Hanover

Unclean Spirits is the first book in a new series, and it is by an author I've not read before. And I loved it. The worldbuilding is different, but good. The protagonist, Jayné Heller, is very likable. The pacing is excellent, and the conversation and the prose are very well done. As an example, Jayné's first real motorcycle ride is "like an amusement park ride, without the amusement".

Jayné (pronounced zha nay) arrives in Denver to settle her dead Uncle's estate, only to discover he was rich (as in, properties and accounts all over the world - an empire), and he was killed by something that isn't human.

The blurb describes the general plot pretty good, so I'll post it and then some of my thoughts.

In a world where magic walks and demons ride, you can't always play by the rules.

Jayné Heller thinks of herself as a realist, until she discovers reality isn't quite what she thought it was. When her uncle Eric is murdered, Jayné travels to Denver to settle his estate, only to learn that it's all hers -- and vaster than she ever imagined. And along with properties across the world and an inexhaustible fortune, Eric left her a legacy of a different kind: his unfinished business with a cabal of wizards known as the Invisible College.

Led by the ruthless Randolph Coin, the Invisible College harnesses demon spirits for their own ends of power and domination. Jayné finds it difficult to believe magic and demons can even exist, let alone be responsible for the death of her uncle. But Coin sees Eric's heir as a threat to be eliminated by any means -- magical or mundane -- so Jayné had better start believing in something to save her own life.

Aided in her mission by a group of unlikely companions -- Aubrey, Eric's devastatingly attractive assistant; Ex, a former Jesuit with a lethal agenda; Midian, a two-hundred-year-old man who claims to be under a curse from Randolph Coin himself; and Chogyi Jake, a self-styled Buddhist with mystical abilities -- Jayné finds that her new reality is not only unexpected, but often unexplainable. And if she hopes to survive, she'll have to learn the new rules fast -- or break them completely....

Unclean Spirits is a great book all on it's own, but I can easily see it setting things up for an entire series of plots. The series is "The Black Sun's Daughter", and I think we can assume that Jayné is the Black Sun's Daughter. At one point one of the bad guys asks her what she is and she replies she is her mother's daughter. But, we also aren't given any reason to believe that her mother (the person who raised her, anyway) is in any way supernatural. We do know that Jayné seems to have some supernatural powers, and the assumption at this point is that her uncle gave her some kind of protection that did that. But, could it be that she has these abilities for some other reason? There is also the tattoo she doesn't remember getting - is it possible her uncle did that, and that the tattoo is the protection? So many questions, and we'll have to wait for future books for the answers.

In a nutshell, Unclean Spirits is a bit of a different take on Urban Fantasy, it has a cast of characters interesting and different enough to keep things interesting, and the writing is just good. It's a fast, entertaining, and well paced read; and while I was happy with the ending, I wasn't happy that it ended.

Fortunately, book two is already out, and that's my next book to read. I'm giving Unclean Spirits a 10 of 10. I can't give a series rating until I've read at least two books.

Book Review: Unclean Spirits: 10 of 10

1. Unclean Spirits
2. Darker Angels
3. Vicious Grace


  1. M.L.N. Hanover is another name for Daniel Abraham. That was why I was having hard time finding the author :)

  2. Yes, and the two websites sometimes end up at the same place, which is confusing. I tried one of the Daniel Abraham books and didn't care for it, didn't finish it, actually... but I've enjoyed the books in the Black Sun's Daughter series.