Unclean Spirits, by M.L.N. Hanover

4476999I picked this book up a time or two at the bookstore, but I kept deciding against it–primarily because of the cover. I know, you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover. But who doesn’t? That’s what the covers are for, after all. Every time I go to the bookstore, I see new contemporary fantasies that feature a svelte heroine stuffed into leather pants or even latex cat suits. And I’ve learned that that is not a good sign, indicating that here be unoriginal plots and ideas. So, I stay away. But I kept picking up Unclean Spirits because the plot description on the back made it sound unique, leather-clad heroine notwithstanding.

Unclean Spirits introduces Jayné Heller, a young college dropout who gets plunked into a world of werewolves and magic and wizards after her uncle dies and leaves her everything, even his crew and a plan to take out an evil magician. Unlike a lot of contemporary fantasies, which seem to follow rules set up by the rest of the pack, the world of this book is very different. Vampires are not the sexy beasts you’d find in a Laurel Hamilton or a Charlaine Harris novel. Rather, creatures like vampires and werewolves are riders, that possess people and push out the human personality. Quite interesting, I thought, so I picked up at last. I found out that Hanover didn’t decide on a particular species of vampire or werewolf, either. There’s a lot of room here to introduce all kinds of legendary critters. This, along with the mystery of Jayné own magical abilities, has me looking forward to the next book in the series, which comes out this fall.

I rather enjoyed reading, too. Hanover made huge effort to do something different with Jayné’s story. Because she doesn’t really have anything to go back to, Jayné throws herself into this new world without a backward glance. To avenge her uncle, she gathers her uncle’s crew–a cursed vampire, a parasitologist turned magician, an ex-Jesuit, and a Buddhist shaman–and goes after her uncle’s enemys, Randolph Coin and the Invisible College. We learn about the world as Jayné does. And what’s really interesting, Jayné still uses the resources of the ordinary world to go after Coin. In the end, Jayné creates a plan to take him down that is a blend of magical and druglord hit.

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