Monday, May 13, 2013

Dark Currents (Agent of Hel) by Jacqueline Carey

Vampires, werewolves, fairies, and demons. Just the kind of creatures you expect to find in paranormal fiction.

Except the Norse mythology connection (minus Thor).

Jacqueline Carey’s new urban fantasy series features those creatures and more, plus a half-breed hell-spawn heroine with anger management issues and her own little tail.

A Michigan resort town, Pemkowet, is a hotbed of paranormal activity and the site of an underworld, acting as a magnet for all sorts of supernatural creatures. The paranormal tourism bureau promotes fairy sightings and such. The incongruously-named Daisy is the half-demon heroine, and she works double duty as the police department’s file clerk and off-the-books liaison to the eldritch community and Norse goddess Hel’s enforcer. Usually that involves small matters until a college boy’s death occurs with strong indications of supernatural involvement. The police department requires Daisy to partner with a werewolf officer to solve the murder, since it means lynch mob possibilities for Pemkowet’s monsters if not resolved soon. Of course, things are never that straightforward, and Daisy finds herself juggling several things on her plate, and the murder case shows signs of deeper problems.

The book cover surprisingly avoids the usual urban fantasy images of midriff-baring heroines wearing painted-on clothing, which is a good indication of the story contained within. It’s not all witty banter, sassy comebacks, hot girls in high heels, and non-stop action scenes. The novel is well-written with engaging and carefully-developed characters (both humans and monsters), containing a strong plot and thoughtful ideas, remaining a fun read despite its dark subject matters. Like Carey’s previous works, Dark Currents does not stick to the usual rules and expectations of popular trends. She creates an interesting framework for the existence of many supernatural creatures with their struggles to co-exist with humans in the modern world,.

Carey takes a thoughtful approach to the monsters she writes about, especially Daisy who constantly struggles with her nature. Daisy makes for an interesting and insightful case for nature-vs-nurture: a naturally hot-tempered person whose emotional outbursts cause extensive damage to anything around her is raised by a kind-hearted mom who truly loves and stands up for her half-breed daughter. With Daisy’s line of work, she encounters other supernatural creatures, dealing with their own differences and living alongside humans. 

Look for Dark Currents on the VBPL Catalog. The sequel, Autumn Bones, comes out October 2013. Read Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire for urban fantasy with monsters in the real world and a feisty heroine to keep things in check and the Cassie Palmer series by Karen Chance (starting with Touch the Dark ) for more paranormal activity and half-breed demons.

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