The Second Summoning, by Tanya Huff – The follow-up to Summon the Keeper further develops Claire Hansen and Dean McIsaac’s relationship and its initial difficulties inasmuch as it’s someone magical and has a lot of responsibilities with a more normal guy. The first time they have sex, it acts in tandem with other factors to bring an angel into the world, only it’s an angel who has genitalia when he’s well aware he shouldn’t. This also results in a teenage girl demon materializing and trying to cause trouble, only to encounter so many polite people that she doesn’t have much luck. How they both interact with the world, or more specifically with Canada, makes for some amusing moments. There’s a recurring joke in this, continuing from the first book, that everybody from Newfoundland knows each other, or at least knows some of the same people, probably a stereotype I hadn’t previously come across. Claire’s younger sister Diana is given a more significant role here. And we’re informed that angels aren’t all that different from cats. It appears that the library system doesn’t have the third book in this series, but I’ll try to read it eventually.
Dragon Pearl, by Yoon Ha Lee – The latest book from the Rick Riordan Presents label brings Korean mythology into outer space. Having written stories about beings from classical mythology existing on faraway planets when I was a kid, I can get behind the concept. Min, a thirteen-year-old shape-shifting fox, stows away on a military spacecraft to try to find out what happened to her brother Jun, who was rumored to have been searching for a magical artifact called the Dragon Pearl, which can terraform planets. On board the ship, she disguises herself as a cadet who’s died, with some help from his ghost. She befriends a dragon in human form and a goblin (technically a dokkaebi, although the book uses the terms interchangeably) with the power to conjure junk food, and runs afoul of the tiger captain who wants to use the Pearl for his own nefarious purposes. It mixes technology with magic and folklore in such respects as the ship needing a certain arrangement to maintain good luck, gi (life energy, probably more famously known by its Chinese name qi) commonly being used in medical treatment, and shamans being a significant part of the culture. Min was a likeable character, and there was a general sense of her never being quite sure whom she could trust, as everyone had their own motivations.
Ages of Oz: A Dark Descent, by Lisa Fielder and Gabriel Gale – I’d read the first book in this series, and I wasn’t that thrilled by it, but it had its moments. In truth, it’s difficult for me to judge these books on their own merits, because I’ve read other tales that cover the same time period in Ozian history in a way I found more entertaining and more compatible with the brief references in the original books, but didn’t have the support of major publishers. I guess I’d say I didn’t find the writing especially engaging, but some of the ideas were done well, like the mysteries and puzzles, and the relationships between characters like Glinda and her mysterious grandmother and Locasta and her seemingly traitorous brother. In terms of traditional Oz references, I liked the origin of Glinda’s truth-telling pearl, and the Nome King was in character, even though the book makes the common mistake of saying he’s made of rock instead of just having an affinity for it. While it was interesting seeing an only partially tin Nick Chopper who was still courting Nimmie Amee, his back story as established makes it sound like he was just hanging out in the woods at that point, not participating in a revolution. It’s not a direct contradiction, and I’m sure there’s a creative way of explaining it, but it doesn’t really feel right to me.