the Little Red Reviewer

Posts Tagged ‘underworld

Archivist Wasp, by Nicole Kornher-Stace

published May 2015

where I got it: purchased new





She’s been told her whole life that she was chosen by the Goddess Catchkeep, that only she and the few like her had the ability to be Catchkeep’s avatar.


A ghost told her she’s famous in the underworld, that the dead speak of her skills, her knowledge, and her compassion.


When she gained the title of Archivist by poisoning the previous archivist, she took the name Wasp. Her true name has been buried deep.


It will take a journey to the underworld for Wasp to realize how much of her life is a lie.  More than just her true name has been buried deep. Under the shrine, under the town, under what passes for civilization are the lost and forgotten secrets of the dead.  The dead rarely speak, but they nearly always communicate, usually by physically attacking living people.


As the Archivist, Wasp is responsible for catching any ghosts found in the region, asking them a specific set of questions, keeping them if they are useful, and releasing them if they prove worthless. Violent ghosts are destroyed.  To guide her, she has the notes of the archivists who came before her, some notes are better than others, some archivists collected more knowledge than others. The life of an archivist is usually short and violent, this is not the kind of job you retire from.  There can only be one living Archivist at a time, so their knowledge dies with them.


I recently read the soon-to-be-released sequel to Archivist Wasp, Latchkey (July 10th, Mythic Delirium Books) so I’m reading these atmospheric and compelling books backwards. In a way, it’s neat, because I went into Archivist Wasp knowing things about the world that Wasp doesn’t know yet.  Latchkey actually had very little in the way of spoilers for the first book, so it was thrilling to watch Wasp as she learns how the harvesting knife works, and I finally got to see what really happened to the Catchkeep Priest.


As expected, Kohnher-Stace’s balanced prose in Archivist Wasp perfectly captures Wasp’s lonesome post-apocalytpic world, just as it exquisitely captures the inhumane violence of Wasp’s life as a temple upstart and then as an Archivist.  Imagine Hunger Games on steroids, where teenagers are viciously murdered in cold blood because there can be only one winner, now crank up the masochism and throw in some angry, hungry, and very confused ghosts.

Read the rest of this entry »


 Something From the Nightside, by Simon R Green

published in 2003

where did I get it: purchased used

why I read it:  was craving a skinny book, and it looked fun.
I always enjoy “other world” type stories, Mieville’s Un Lun Dun, Gaiman’s Neverwhere, a lot of Charles deLint novels, where there is another world, just below ours, where strange things happen. Simon R Green’s Something From the Nightside is such a story, albeit a creepier, darker, noir-er (noirer, is that even a word?)  one.  A little bit Dark City, a little bit Harry Dresden,  Simon R. Green’s Something From the Nightside follows John Taylor, child of the Nightside, bearer of a gift that will most certainly be the end of him.

It’s been five years since John left the Nightside, vowing never to return.  He makes his living in the real world as a Private Investigator working the seediest parts of London.  All children of the Nightside have some kind of paranormal gift, and John Taylor’s gift is that he can find things. lost objects, people, locations.  When his newest client Joanna Barrett tasks him with finding her runaway daughter Cathy, John simply can’t say no.  Doesn’t hurt that Joanna is wealthy, beautiful and pays up front.

When they learn Cathy has found her way to the Nightside, John is given no choice but to take Joanna with him, and introduce her to all his old haunts. In five years, the Nightside hasn’t changed much.    the nightclub that’s locked in the 60’s still serves original Coca-cola, Razor Eddie still owes John a favor, the Collector still collects, Shotgun Suzie still loves her guns over anyone else, and everyone is still petrified of John Taylor.  I wouldn’t want to live in the Nightside, but it sure is entertaining to read about!

As John and Joanna get closer to finding  Cathy John starts to suspect something is very, very wrong.  But time is running out, and his attention is elsewhere. . . . Read the rest of this entry »

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.