Saturday, January 25, 2020

Review: To the Abandoned Sacred Beasts (2019)

To the Abandoned Sacred Beasts (2019) was a Japanese dark fantasy anime with 12 episodes. The plot took place in an alternate timeline. The society is loosely based on the American Civil War (1861-1865).

During a protacted civil war that pitted the North against the South on the continent of Patria, the outnumbered Northerners used dark magic to create half-human, half-monster super-soldiers called Incarnates. These Sacred Beasts could transform into mythical beasts and quickly dismantle battlefields. As the war raged on, the Incarnates encountered a problem involving the beasts inside that the scientists were unable to rectify. When the war ended and a peace treaty was negotiated, the Incarnates were supposed to be destroyed. But an officer named Cain betrayed his superiors and fled with the surviving Incarnates across the continent. Aware of the horrors they faced during the war, former captain of the Incarnates Hank Henriette becomes a Beast Hunter. His mission is to exterminate the Incarnates who have succumbed to the issues they experienced on the battlefields. He is assisted by a young woman named Nancy Schaal Bancroft, the daughter of a former Incarnate soldier, who blames him for killing her father. But once she travels with Hank, she discovers hard truths about the lives of these Sacred Beasts.

I was fascinated with this series because it uses creative license to mix drama, fantasy, and tragedy from the protagonist's point of view. Usually, I avoid dark fantasy anime (Devil's Line is the rare exception; see my review on that vampire anime show), but the decision to use the American Civil War as the story arc was too intriguing to pass up. The characters are even dressed up as nineteenth-century Americans. The plot also incorporated beasts from ancient (e.g. Greco-Roman) and medieval mythology. While the episodes followed a predictable monster of the week format, it was fun to guess which mythological monster was on display. I hope there will be a second season so that fans can see how Hank and Schaal defeat the evil Cain (even his name is a giveaway that he will be the enemy). Once all the Incarnates are defeated, what will happen to Hank? An English dubbed adaptation is also available. I highly recommend the series.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Review: Wicked Hour (Heirs of Chicagoland #2)

Vampires were made, not born—until Elisa Sullivan came along.

Wicked Hour (2019) by Chloe Neill is the second novel in the Heirs of Chicagoland novel series. As the only child born a vampire, Elisa Sullivan is an oddity among the supernatural community. Given her unique upbringing, she tried to flee her past. Her parents, Master Ethan Sullivan and Sentinel Caroline Merit of Cadogan House, rule one of the most renowned vampire houses in the Midwest. After college, she moved to Europe to train and become her own person -- to break away from her parents' shadow. Then circumstances draw her back to Chicago where she meets Connor Keene, the son of Pack Apex. While they tormented each other in their childhood, they have since grown attracted to each other beyond friendship. Together, they faced down a supernatural evil that threatened to destroy Chicago. More importantly, Connor knows Elisa's darkest secret that she rather conceal even from her own parents.

As their romance blossoms to uncharted territory, Elisa is surprised when Connor invites her to a private Pack event, an initiation, in the north woods of Minnesota. These shifters have chosen to live as humans in isolation at an old resort while others have come out to the public. She receives a warn welcome from some of his family members even though she is a vampire. Meanwhile, the shifters in the community tell tales of a monster who lurks in the woods. When the celebration is marred by deaths of Pack members, Elisa and Connor find themselves in the middle of a struggle for control. The older members are set in their ways, it has caused issues with the newer generation. Meanwhile, the "inner" beast within Elisa wants to be set loose. Connor and Elisa must figure out this turmoil--the deaths, the monster in the woods, and Pack politics--before they can return home.

When I first started this series, I was reluctant on how it would transpire because I was such a fan of Ethan and Merit. They were THE epitome of partners in action in paranormal series. This series takes place in the future (at least two decades have passed since the events in Blade Bound. I would have never anticipated that their daughter would grown feelings for someone who not only bullied her as a child but is also a member of another species (shifters). Yet, Connor and Elisa, both in their mid-20s, are starting to grow on me. They have great chemistry together and are strong fighters like their parents. I would recommend this novel. The plot was full of mystery, strange twists, and exciting characters. I hope that readers get to learn more about Elisa's "inner" beast and its origins.

Stay tuned for the next novel in the Heirs of Chicagoland series.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Jim Butcher's Novel, Peace Talks, Will Be Released in 2020

Happy New Year! After six excruciating long years, there is hope for the 16th installment of The Dresden Files: Peace Talks will be published on July 14, 2020!


A contemporary urban noir series that has been described as “Buffy the Vampire Slayer starring Philip Marlowe” (Entertainment Weekly), the Dresden Files follows Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only professional wizard, as he takes on supernatural cases throughout the city and an alternate magical realm. Peace Talks follows wisecracking private investigator Harry Dresden as he joins the White Council’s security team to ensure negotiations between the Supernatural nations of the world remain civil. Harry’s task is challenging, because dark political manipulations threaten the very existence of Chicago—and everything he holds dear.

This is huge news because so much has happened between 2014 (the 15th installment, Skin Games) and 2020. Jim Butcher endured several difficult personal transitions. Meanwhile, I went through my own personal transitions (changing cities for job-related reasons). I'm not even the same person that I was in 2014. Nonetheless, I had faith that this series would pick up again. Now, I can dive back into the world of wizard Harry Dresden. 2020 will also mark the 20th anniversary of #1 New York Times bestselling The Dresden Files series. Please click here to browse my previous reviews of the novels.

Stay tuned for further updates.