Friday, 7 March 2008

Rachel Caine: Another good author for Jim Butcher fans

I've been reading the Weather Warden series by Rachel Caine recently, having discovered her through the short story collection My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding (which is worth reading, and not only for the Jim Butcher story).

They're good. They're the kind of story I like. They have an endorsement from Jim Butcher on the cover. The protagonist is the kind of person (like Harry Dresden) who will die doing the right thing, and in her case actually does, several times. I thought for a little while it was going to happen in every book, actually, but the author may have decided that was too South Park.

The first book is Ill Wind (I had trouble remembering that; the titles are all unmemorable cliches which, unlike Jim Butcher's titles, don't bear any particularly clear relationship to the specific book).

They are, apparently, chick lit, though I wouldn't know, having come in through the door marked "urban fantasy". This is an original take on urban fantasy, too, with no vampires or werewolves this time; the mysterious shadowy organization is the Wardens, who battle natural disasters supernaturally, with the help of the Djinn (yes, the slave-in-the-bottle kind, which is a major plot point). Joanne Baldwin, the protagonist, is one of the strongest Wardens and also has a conscience; despite her obsessions with shoes, clothes and fast cars, she's not bribable, especially when the safety of other people (or the world in general) is at stake. Which it generally is; they're fast-paced, high-octane thrillrides with lots of damage to scenery, vehicles, buildings, bystanders, Jo, and - eventually - anyone who pisses Jo off.

Are they as good as Jim Butcher? I would say not quite, but if I identified more with someone who's into fast cars and designer clothes and shoes and less with someone who lives in a basement with a collection of comic books* my answer might change. They're well-written, pacy, funny and have a strong moral thread and a tough-but-vulnerable protagonist. I recommend them.

* I don't live in a basement or have a collection of comic books. But I am a geek, and so is Harry Dresden.

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