Now this is my wheelhouse, folks. Dark and twisted, verging on the edge of being considered horror fantasy; full of magic, monsters, and mayhem. Yep, Shadowed Souls has it all. It’s made up of not just one tale, but eleven, all of which are loosely connected through the title of the book. If spooky and abnormal is up your alley, then your alley must look a lot like mine. Edited by Jim Butcher and Kerrie L. Hughes, this anthology covers a wide range of fantasy sub-genres, including some I didn’t even realize existed!
I won’t go through every one of the shorts, but there are a few that stand out to me, such as the first story from Butcher himself, Cold Case. While it is part of the Dresden Files, it focuses on Molly Carpenter and her new position as one of the Queens of Winter. Only a week into her gig as the new Winter Lady, she finds herself in scenario that isn’t as cut and dry as what she might like. There are lessons here, but none she will enjoy. She seemed to forget that she was on a mission for Winter; one that was meant to harden her, I presume.
Jim Butcher‘s long-running supernatural hard-boiled detective series The Dresden Files has had fans clamoring for more, while his more traditional fantasy books of Codex Alera have been well-received over the past decade. Now the best-selling author is launching a new series called The Cinder Spires, which combines fantasy and steampunk for a high-flying adventure, starting with the first book, The Aeronaut’s Windlass.
In The Aeronaut’s Windlass, the world is engulfed in a dangerous mist that caused humanity to move up above the clouds to Spires, divided into multi-tiered Habbles, where noble houses vie for power and airships are the main mode of transportation, shipping, and military. When the children of noble houses come of age, they enlist for a year’s service in the Spirearch’s Guard. On Spire Albion, Gwendolyn Lancaster — who’s House is the most prestigious — is a new Guard trainee, joining cousin Benedict Sorellin-Lancaster, one of the warriorborn, humans who possess feline-like characteristics. At the Academy, the cousins meet Bridget Tagwynn, who’s of a lower, dying house (it’s just her and her father left in their line), and Bridget’s protector, Rowl, a cat who is the first of his kind to be accepted into the service.
This week saw the release of Cold Days, book fourteen in what is arguably the greatest urban fantasy series of all time. I want to gush and talk about all the greatness that I bore witness to by reading this novel…but I cannot. That wouldn’t be a review, it would be a spoiler fest because this book upended the entire Dresden Files universe. Jim Butcher created a masterpiece of intrigue and adventure. Again.
Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only professional wizard/private investigator, is back. And back in a major way. As the new Winter Knight for the Unseelie Court, he is Mab’s right hand man. Harry finds himself with ridiculous amounts of power that augment his own innate magical abilities, which is impressive considering how much he is feared already. Mab definitely has plans for him, though. Plans that he may or may not be carrying out.