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Doomsday Can Wait
Lori Handeland
St. Martin's Paperbacks, 352 pages

Doomsday Can Wait
Lori Handeland
After years spent as an accountant, photography studio manager, and wastewater treatment pipe saleswoman, Lori Handeland sold her first book in 1993. Since then she has written for Dorchester Publishing, Kensington Publishing, Harlequin Superromance, St. Martin's Press and Avon Books. Her novels have spanned the contemporary, historical and paranormal genres. She lives in Southern Wisconsin with her husband and two sons.

Lori Handeland Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Dates from Hell

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Katherine Petersen

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Lori Handeland has written novels in a variety of genres including her paranormal romance series about werewolves called Night Creature, but The Phoenix Chronicles, of which Doomsday Can Wait is the second book, is her first entrée into urban fantasy. And it's a dandy. The first book, Any Given Doomsday, introduces Elizabeth Phoenix, a psychic who used to work as a cop until her abilities got in the way of her job and freaked out her colleagues. She grew up on the streets until finding a home with Ruthie, the foster mother who taught her the equivalent of parental love. But after Ruthie's brutal murder, Liz has taken over the position of "Leader of the Light" and only now is starting to understand her abilities and her job of using them to save the world.

She lost a lot of her army and is trying to find more "soldiers" at the start of this tale. She gets a glimpse of her true enemy during a run-in with a naye'i, a Navajo spirit whose top priority is Liz's execution. The naye'i also happens to be mother to Sawyer, the mystical skinwalker who gave Liz more insight into her abilities. Other characters make re-appearances in this book: Jimmy Sanducci, a dhampir and Liz's first love who has lately been ruled by his darker, vampiric tendencies and Summer, a cryptic fairy whom Liz just doesn't like. But with limited help, Liz will have to take advantage of all the people/weapons she has. For the "good" side to win, Liz faces a decision that once made, will forever change not only her life but her soul.

Handeland weaves a fast-paced tale of fantasy with elements of romance. At its most basic, it pits good versus evil, but the mythology goes back to the beginning of time and the angels who fell from Heaven. And if evil wins, it would be the end of the world as we know it. While the world itself doesn't require a lot of building as "normal people" aren't aware of the depth of what's going on around them, Handeland has done her research well, introducing us to numerous creatures such as naye'i, luceres (a type of lycanthrope), skinwalkers (Navajo witches) and dhampirs that make werewolves and vampires seem downright normal. For me, it's the character complexity and development that really set this book -- and series -- apart. While Liz has supernatural speed and other powers that she has gained through sex, she has PMS moments, makes mistakes and often has to make decisions between her emotions and what's best for the world. Sawyer, the character I find the most fascinating, has come to help but hasn't committed to being on the side of the Light. But what isn't known are his reasons: Does he just keep his feelings close, is he inherently untrustworthy, trying to keep his options open or something altogether different? He's been quite aloof in the past, but in this story, we see a bit more humanity in him, and it's nearly irresistible. Liz has confused feelings about Sawyer too. She alternately wants to jump him and wring his neck. I honestly don't see the same fascination Liz has with Jimmy unless it's that she can't quite get past her first love, but other readers may have different opinions. Handeland changes dynamics by introducing a new character, Luther, a marbas (lion shifter) who also grew up in foster homes never fitting in with others. If Liz can kill Sawyer's mother, the naye'i -- which won't be easy since Sawyer has gone on a yearly albeit unsuccessful mother-killing journey every year for decades -- then good might have a chance at overcoming evil. Once started, the adventure will hold you fast, and if you're anything like me, you'll be up long into the night to find out whether Liz accomplishes her mission and what kind of help she gets and battles she must fight on the way. I recommend reading this series in order. The third book, Apocalypse Happens is due out in November.

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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