Baptiste isn’t only one of the sexiest characters in all of fantasy—he is described in Beneath the Skin as: “White skin, glossy black hair, Cupid’s bow lips, Dante Prejean was beyond beautiful. Just the sight of him in a photo had made Merri’s heart race, filled her mind with delicious and naughty thoughts. He’s also looked very young—twenty, twenty-two… bad and beautiful…”—he is one of the most complex characters as well.
Dante is not just any vampire, he’s the son of the fallen angel Lucien and he’s a Creawdwr, a maker, an extremely rare being with the godlike abilities to create or destroy. And on the run from a government agency known as the Shadow Bureau, he just may be losing his mind. As revealed in Beneath the Skin, Dante is nothing short of an unwitting messiah of the apocalypse: “…the future pumped within his heart and flowed through his veins. The future for all of them: mortal, vampire, Fallen, and everything in between. If he fell, the world would fall with him.”
All of that may very well change with the release of Black Dust Mambo, the first installment of a new series set in and around New Orleans and featuring Kallie Riviere, a sexy hoodoo apprentice who is described as “trouble-bait” and a “dark-haired swamp beauty.”
While attending a raucous carnival held by the Hecatean Alliance in the Big Easy, Kallie parties it up and awakens hung over in her hotel room to find the guy she hooked up with dead on her bed. After calling her friend Belladonna Brown for help, they discover that the man, a nomad conjurer named Gage, was murdered by dark juju—a soul-eating hex, in fact—and that his death was accidental. The target of the murder was Kallie! Gage’s death sets off a bizarre series of events in which the leader of the Hecatean Alliance, the pompous Lord Basil Augustine, is killed trying to save Kallie from yet another murder attempt and his soul temporarily takes up residence inside the body of Layne Valin, a hunky Vessel—a “living, breathing spirit cabinet”—who was best friends with Gage and wants nothing more than to track down his killer. Thus begins a pedal-to-the-metal paced quest not only to find the killer but also a journey of self-discovery for Kallie, whose past is as horrific as it is mysterious.
Simply put, Adrian Phoenix has—yet again—written an extraordinarily entertaining novel that is addictively readable. Here’s just a taste:
“She stands beside the bayou’s cypress-shadowed waters, a gleaming knife clenched in one hand, a red candle cupped in the other. The mingled scents of roses and cinnamon curl into the air as the anointed wax melts, trickling hot over her fingers. In the darkness behind her, the rhythmic and steady throb of palm-slapped drums echoes through the night.
Ripples arrow along the bayou’s green surface as a gator glides toward the bank. But her gaze seeks the shadow flitting among the live oaks and cypress on the bayou’s other side, a man-shaped shadow that drops from upright to all fours. A shadow that lopes in easy, four-pawed grace across the sawgrass, moonlight pooled in its gleaming silver eyes.”
Take it from me, if you want the good stuff, the very best urban fantasy out there, you’ll seek out and read Adrian Phoenix.
Paul Goat Allen has been a full-time book reviewer specializing in genre fiction for almost the last two decades and has written more than 6,000 reviews for companies like Publishers Weekly, The Chicago Tribune, and BarnesandNoble.com. In his free time, he reads.
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