This is our new series of book reviews written by our newest contributor, HColleen. This is her take on books she’s read and we are more than happy to welcome her! This is her first review for the site so we hope you enjoy it!
You should be reading:
Do you like RPGs? Do you like superheros with secrets other than their identity? Do you like stories about villains? Do you like stories about unassuming paragons? If any of these are something you like, keep reading:
Series: Swords, Spells, & Stealth
First book: NPCs
A group of NPCs take up an quest to protect their village from the king after adventurers die in the village tavern. In the real world, those playing the RPG find their quests changed with their own actions and those of the NPCs.
Superheros with Secrets:
Series: Super Powereds
First book: Super Powereds Year 1
Five teens who have uncontrolled powers undergo a procedure to gain control over their powers. They are then enrolled in a superhero college training program, where they not only have to protect their participation in the program as well as the secret of their procedure.
Series: Villains Code
First book: Forging Hephaestus
A villains guild polices their own, and those who are aren’t but violate their code and ignore their warnings. The code keeps them from pushing the heroes into policing them, to the detriment of the public at large.
Series: Fred, the Vampire Accountant
First Book: The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred, the Vampire Accountant
An accountant is changed into a vampire and then left to fend for himself. He remains himself, an unassuming accountant, and draws to him a group of friends including a therian leader, a powerful mage/alchemist, and an agent of the parahuman policing agency. Everything starts when he decides to break out of his shell and attend his high school reunion.
The first book by Drew Hayes I read was Corpies, a tie-in novel to the Super Powereds series featuring a hero working on making a comeback from a forced retirement due to a scandal who can only get a job watching over some who have less impressive powers and work as corporate sponsors between rescue work. With well developed characters and clever turns of phrases, I was hooked and moved onto the Super Powereds main series.
The next series I tried was Fred, the Vampire Accountant. The title, The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred, the Vampire Accountant, was too much to resist. It starts off with a charming preface:
“I almost certainly do not know you; however, I shall assume you are a lovely person, and it my loss for not having the opportunity to meet you…
“So, dear reader, whom I suspect is a wonderful person merely in need of a bit of reassurance, take comfort in my tales of uneventful blundering. Ones’ nature is hard to change; sometimes even death is insufficient to accomplish such a task. But, be assured that, when you find yourself still more human than anticipated, you are far from the only one. You will eventually discover under the movie stereotypes, imposed mystique, and overall inflated expectations, each and every one of us is at least a touch more boring than our images would indicate.
“And that is not a bad thing.”
Next came Swords, Spells, & Stealth, a bit more of a risk as it’s not my usual preference, but I trusted the author’s ability to characterize and amuse me with turns of phrases. It was a good risk. Something I greatly enjoy about it is the playing with expected types, for example, the NPC who is usually the kidnapped damsel in distress ends up being the barbarian.
Villains’ Code is the newest series and currently only has one book in it. While it deals with people who have super powers, it is not set in the same universe as the Super Powereds. How powers appear are different, usually related to particular types of storms that were initially caused by one meta-human. Villains and Heroes have guilds to help teach and regulate those who are changed according to their ideological alignment. Forging Hephaestus follows the story of Tori Rivas as she is indoctrinated into the Villains’ Guild, her other option being death. It studies how thin the line between hero and villain truly is.
A stand-alone book that I think has one of the best premises is Pears and Perils, in which a guy whose job is to be the scapegoat wins a trip to an island where he and the others with him are to take part in a ceremony to free a god from his prison.
So, if complex characters, well built worlds, and witty turns of phrases are your thing, then check out Drew Hayes. You’ll thank yourself for taking the chance.
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