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Unclean Spirits: Black Sun's Daughter, Book 1
M.L.N. Hanover
Pocket, 368 pages

Unclean Spirits
M.L.N. Hanover
M. L. N. Hanover (aka Daniel Abraham) is an International Horror Guild Award-winning author living in the American southwest.

Daniel Abraham Website
ISFDB Bibliography: M.L.N. Hanover
ISFDB Bibliography: Daniel Abraham

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Katherine Petersen

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Well-known for The Long Price Quartet, Daniel Abraham has changed names and genres with Unclean Spirits. Under the name M.L.N. Hanover, he has given us the first installment in The Black Sun's Daughter series, and it's a good one in this reviewer's opinion. Jayné gets a life-changing surprise when she flies to Denver to settle her murdered Uncle Eric's estate. The good news is she has inherited a lot of money and property all over the world, but the bad news is she finds herself embroiled in a battle with the Invisible College. What you might ask is the Invisible College besides the group that killed Jayné's uncle? It's an organization of wizards who gain power from unclean demon spirits, called "riders." Jayné may not want to continue her uncle's battle, but the Invisible College gives her little choice by assuming she will do so and targeting her. She has the help of a motley crew of her uncle's colleagues including Aubrey, his assistant; Midian, a 200-year-old cursed man; Chogyi Jake, a Buddhist philosopher; and Ex, a militant ex-priest. The question is: are Jayné and her rag-tag bunch any match for this powerful group of wizards who have already taken out Jayné's uncle, who knew a lot more than she did?

The tendency of most heroines these days is to take charge and kick butt, but Jayné is both more cautious and more realistic. While she's gained enhanced fighting abilities, she doesn't know much about the College's politics or history but is willing to learn from her friends. She's also willing to learn from her mistakes. A college drop-out with a lot to learn, Jayné is a refreshingly girl-next-door character. It's easy to like and to root for her. The action comes in fits and starts with the group spending much of its time hiding behind protective wards and planning. I, for one, enjoyed the set up, planning and back story in this character-driven tale, and I would encourage readers who generally prefer a faster-paced novel to give this one a chance. I have a feeling that subsequent novels will zip along now that the background is set.

Hanover gives us strong dialogue and descriptions and the action scenes we do have are fast-moving and vivid. I particularly like his quirky characters who have their definite personalities and beliefs. Midian has his own speech patterns and a flair for analogy, in his description of the Invisible College: "They're strong, and they're smart, and they're organized. Think Amway, but for demonic possession."

The one thing that didn't fit for me is the almost-immediate romance between Jayné and Aubrey. It seemed forced and out-of-character for Jayné. I don't have issues with romances in urban fantasy in general as long as they work with the characters and mesh smoothly into the plot. Overall, I think Hanover is off to a wonderful start with his urban fantasy series, and I look forward to reading future installments.

Copyright © 2009 Katherine Petersen

Katherine Petersen started reading as a young child and hasn't stopped. She still thinks she can read all the books she wants, but might, at some point, realize the impossibility of this mission. While she enjoys other genres, she thrives on fantasy, science fiction and mysteries.


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