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Graveyard Child

Posted by Dan Smyth On Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Six hours. Six. That'd be how long it took me to devour this book once I finally got my hands on it. Started at 10:30pm, and by the time I finished my wife was considerably less than pleased with me, but DANG was it worth the ride. Now what to do with myself though, with no obtainable news about when the next one is coming out? Eek! No, no. Double eek!

GRAVEYARD CHILD is the fifth of a planned ten-book urban fantasy series by M.L.N. Hanover, pseudonym for the very prolific author Daniel Abraham. With the end of this book being the halfway-point of the series, I was expecting some awesome goodness. I mean, I'm used to Mr. Abraham delivering, but it was time for some big guns. And yes, they were there.

At this stage of the series, it's very difficult to write a good review of the entry without including spoilers for previous books (read EBR's review of book four KILLING RITES here). So, if you haven't read anything in this series yet, stop reading now, visit the bottom of this page for links, buy several copies for you and your friends, and by that point you'll probably know exactly what to do next. If not, here's a very cryptic clue: buy the next in the series, read, buy, read, etc. until you!

As for the rest of you...

At the end of the last book, Jayne Heller has finally come to the conclusion that she has to turn back to the place where she never wanted to go again. She has to go home. It takes very little time at all for Hanover to get things moving. From head butting with her VERY religious father, to the return of the Invisible College, to the introduction of the Graveyard Child itself, this story runs from one surprise to the next and takes a couple loops besides.  Honestly, I didn't expect it to get so crazy so fast.  I expected lots of conflict with the dad, based on the building Hanover has done over the past four books. What I wasn't ready for was another complete upheaval of the story and how the characters, and thus we the readers, understand everything there is to know about their world. There were reveals in this book that had been set up in early scenes of the very first book, UNCLEAN SPIRITS. Great job of planning and execution in my mind. So good.

Hanover does two things really well in his writing, and they shine again in this book. The first is to create very real characters. They're flawed.  In many ways, they're failures, and he portrays them and their concerns and worries and heartache in a very direct and sympathetic way.  The second thing he does well is relay a large amount of information with as few words as possible. You won't find any mellifluous constructions of pontification in this book. No frilly frills. No lengthy filler. It's straight. It's lean. And yet it relays so much.

All of the books in this series have felt to me like they contain some of the highest story-density of any books I've ever read. They're short.  Did I mention how little time it took me to burn through it? And yet when I was done, it felt like I had read a much larger book. Like I got more story than I should have, given the size of the book. Just used to authors that meander a little more, I guess.

The one that thing that this book didn't have, that most of the other has had, is a definite direction for where it was going next. There are a few doors that have opened with regard to the Daughter of the Black Sun and the source of Jayne's fortune, but the characters aren't being driven in any single direction like they have before. Maybe that's a kind of a little breath of relief after the craziness of the events they just went through, but it almost feels like that sensation of reaching the top of an arc, right before the descent begins and your stomach drops down into your toes.

Can't wait for the next installment. No word about it yet that I've been able to find, but I'll definitely be ready when it gets here. Black Sun's daughter is a great spin on urban fantasy, with strong characters, and a roller-coaster story line that'll keep you guessing and wanting for more.

Recommended Age: 15+
Language: Fairly tame, but gets strong in a couple places
Violence: Doesn't get very gory but there is quite a bit of intense violence and threat of violence here
Sex: Mentioned a few times, unmarried girl is pregnant, not much besides that

Here's links to 'em all:



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