I get asked this question a lot – and, unfortunately, there isn’t one clear-cut answer, at least for me. Many readers would vote for Kim Harrison’s Hollows saga, Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files or Kat Richardson’s Greywalker (Greywalker et. al.) novels. Some would surely point to Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake sequence, Stacia Kane’s Downside, Seanan McGuire’s October Daye saga, or Nicole Peeler’s Jane True sequence. Others would immediately mention Marjorie M. Liu’s Hunter Kiss novels or Jaye Wells’ Sabina Kane saga.

 

It’s like picking out just one work of art in an entire museum of noteworthy pieces – it comes down to personal preference.

 

But if I were forced to judge paranormal fantasy sagas on (relatively) objective criteria like strength and originality of storyline, overall character development, depth of world building, pacing, how much the saga improves as it progresses, downright entertainment value, etc. there is no way that I couldn’t at least consider the Skinners saga by Marcus Pelegrimas to be the very best paranormal fantasy series on the shelves right now.

 

 

1. Most series eventually level off or begin to flag before either the author or the publisher pulls the plug. The Skinners saga (which will conclude this fall with the release of the sixth and final installment, Extinction Agenda) has gotten exponentially better with every new novel (Blood Blade, Howling Legion, Teeth of Beasts, Vampire Uprising, and the recently released The Breaking). While some sagas meander or seem almost directionless, the Skinners series charges headlong towards an inevitable, epic ending. Each novel radically advances the storyline. Each novel contains numerous bombshells and plot twists. With each installment, the pacing increases, the action intensifies, the carnage spreads…. there is a definite progression here – The Breaking was literally 426 pages of adrenaline-inducing, breakneck paced, monster-filled mayhem. Try to exhale, I dare you.

 

 

“Just as Bram Stoker reinvigorated Gothic horror in the late 19th century – and brought vampires to the forefront of bibliophilic consciousness – so too does Pelegrimas have the potential to do the same thing here in the 21st century with his myriad of monstrosities. His storytelling style is utterly readable, his characters are unconventional and endearing, his wry sense of humor is priceless.”

 

But it’s not just how he has expanded the vampire mythos, he has (audaciously) taken numerous myths and legends – werewolves, nymphs, gargoyles, etc. – and put his own unique twist on them. It’s easy for writers to play with vampires and werewolves in a mythos that has already been constructed by dozens, hundreds of authors before but Pelegrimas has razed everything and constructed his own mythology from the ground up.

 

 

“All of the werewolves are going wild,” Ben said. “Their blood is boiling. Even our kind who were tainted by them have responded to the Breaking Moon.”

 

“Great,” Rico grunted as he jogged over to them. “She-wolves gone wild...”

 

Cole describing gargoyles: “Kind of like a flying rodent ninja hit squad…”

 

4. Intensity of narrative. Ever read a novel with little or no real action or narrative intensity? Pelegrimas must be a hardcore coffee drinker because freneticism just saturates every word he writes. Here’s an example:

 

 

 Readers who gravitate towards more romance-powered paranormal fantasy may not find this series to be their cup of tea but dark fantasy, horror, and apocalyptic fiction fans alike who enjoy their literary escapism fast, furry, and wildly original will find the Skinners saga to be a simply extraordinary series – one of the best sagas in a genre filled with stellar series.

 

“This is the strangest life I’ve ever known.”

– Cole Warnecki, The Breaking by Marcus Pelegrimas

 

 

Paul Goat Allen has been a full-time book reviewer specializing in genre fiction for the last two decades and has written thousands of reviews for companies like Publishers Weekly, The Chicago Tribune, Kirkus Reviews, and BarnesandNoble.com. In his free time, he reads.

 

 Keep up with all of my blogs – as well as all of Barnes & Noble’s exclusive reviews, authors interviews, videos, promotions, and more – by following @BNBuzz on Twitter!



Comments
by on ‎06-30-2011 04:23 PM

Paul,

 

I like your review but I could not get through the first book and haven't tried any of the others. It is just me but they are a little too much horror  for my taste.

 

Toni

by on ‎06-30-2011 06:50 PM

I totally agree with your assessment Paul. Pelegrimas' Skinners series ranks among the best of the urban fantasy sagas being written today. It won't appeal to those who dislike bloody confrontations and the occasional gruesome description, but for those who appreciate an excellent monster hunter thriller, it can't be beat.

by gsryley on ‎07-01-2011 12:35 PM

Paul your review is spot on.  Marcus Pelegrimas is an awesome storyteller.

Thanks to you I've enjoyed this series from the beginning.  You know how to pick out the best!

by Moderator paulgoatallen on ‎07-01-2011 12:58 PM

Thank you so much for those words, Gail – that is exactly why I do this job! :smileyhappy:

by Lizzy_Funk on ‎07-04-2011 09:35 AM

Paul this will be another series I pick up because of you. 

 

I agree with your assessment of some series, many times they get so far into them and cannot seem to find a way to stop them.  There is another of our favorites who has given us a definite end book for a series she is working on and I commend her. 

 

I wonder if the authors get so attached to their characters they don't know how to let them go... or is it more maybe a touch of fear they will not bring another group of characters together that we will love as much as the previous ones.  I have stopped reading other series because of losing my love for the direction or lack of direction the characters are headed.

 

Double H

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