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_Cast in Shadow_, Michelle Sagara, kindle (part of bundle)

A series that is well under way, these days, often not only puts out new entries in kindle-form -- many also put out "bundles" of earlier entries. In this case, the first 3 books of the Chronicles of Elantra by Michele Sagara are now available for a little under $17. After slogging through 1.something policy papers, I felt discouraged enough to be really wanting some trashy fiction. After slogging through my recommendations over at Amazon, I finally gave in and gave Sagara a try. And no, the Smart Bitches do not appear to have weighed in on Sagara.

The publisher, Luna, has a real thing going in terms of angsty heroines with huge, untapped, semi-divine, possibly prophesied powers that someone else is killing people in job lots in order to get control of. So that's kind of irritating. Had I really thought this through (viz. had I realized that Luna was the publisher), I might not have bought the bundle. And while I don't much care for the job lots, the angsty, etc., I am glad I bought the bundle. Because it's decently written, the secondary characters are pretty cool and I _like_ the basic structure: a police procedural set on a world very like Steven Brust's Dragaeran Empire (nice match for Brust's series, which started out reading like private dick, er, eye novels in a fantasy, er, science fiction, er, wtf setting, thus recalling, inevitably, oh, do I have to write it down, all right, Anne McCaffery).

Of course, if you don't know what a police procedural is, and you've never read Brust, this could be unhelpful. Our young (20ish) heroine, Kaylin Neya (formerly known as Elianne), must return to the other side of the tracks, er, river, from which she narrowly escaped several years ago. This young Ground Hawk (cop who does not fly, unlike the beastkin in the book, the Aerian, who do). When she left, she'd recently acquired mystical tattoo-like markings on her skin, and a whole bunch of other kids had, too, and they'd all died. Luna does over-the-top ambiguous good-or-evil? like You Would Not Believe, so her protector/friend from her youthful days returns with her while they work out who _really_ is responsible for the deaths in general, and the last two in particular.

Once in the fiefs (that would be, the other side of the river place where criminals hang out and "ferals" roam at night), we cannot be surprised that a elf-like outcast/criminal warlord almost immediately "marks" our heroine, and we spend the rest of the book watching various characters get really Bent about this because it is Forbidden, and there's some question about what it means and blah, blah, bleeping blah. Did I mention it was a blue, spidery, Nightshade flower? On her cheek? No, the cheek you _see_.

Obviously, they have to solve the kid-killing. Along the way, we see more of Kaylin Neya's power, and her obstreperousness, and her probably ADHDness. And, because why the hell not, the book ends with Kaylin needing, and getting, a Big Hug from her Boss the Hawklord. Apparently _someone_ out there spent their adolescence with a flown-around-by-hawks fantasy, instead of the usual horse obsession.

Don't get me wrong. I enjoyed this. I enjoyed this book -- and more specifically, the world -- enough to immediately start on the sequel (conveniently just a button push away in the bundle on the kindle, which sounds naughty, when I read it after typing it). The writing is passable. The mood is kinda gloomy/angsty, but there really is some humor in it. Usually, I expect -- and get -- a large chunk of detailed sex when I read urban fantasy, but not always, and this would be in the latter category. I guess in a lot of ways, I'm waiting for Kaylin to meet and attempt to arrest Vlad Taltos. Because That would be Cool. I know it isn't going to happen.

One last remark: I have a hard-and-fast rule about avoiding books with scary birth scenes, and this series is shaping up to violate it. Kaylin Neya uses her magical gift to heal/save women in childbirth and foundlings what-got-sick-or-hurt. So far (partway through book 2), the details have been slim. I may bail on the series if she gets more specific.
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