Autumn Bones (Agent of Hel, #2) - Jacqueline Carey 4 stars at The BiblioSanctum http://bibliosanctum.blogspot.com/2013/09/book-review-autumn-bones-by-jacqueline.html

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: "Jacqueline Carey and Urban Fantasy? Yes, please!" Being a big fan of Ms. Carey's epic Kushiel Universe, it didn't take much convincing for me to dive into the first Agent of Hel novel when I found out she was working on this new UF series. And I was not disappointed; the first book called Dark Currents can stand on its own next to all of the great urban fantasy and paranormal titles I've ever read, and in many ways it even sets itself apart.

Now comes the sequel Autumn Bones, and in my opinion it is even better than the first. I loved returning to our half-demon protagonist Daisy Johanssen and revisiting her role as an agent of Hel, the Norse goddess who presides over an eldritch underworld located in the quaint Midwestern resort town of Pemkowet. As ever, Daisy is busy with her duties as the liaison between the local police department and the supernatural community, but at the moment her love life is proving even more complicated than keeping faeries, hobgoblins and vampires in line.

Thinking it would be nice to settle down into a normal relationship for once, Daisy is shocked when it turns out her new beau Sinclair Palmer is more than he seems. Descended from a long line of Obeah sorcerers, Sinclair has been keeping his past and his family a secret, but it all blows apart when his twin sister breezes into town bent on making her brother leave Pemkowet and come home to Jamaica with her. Emmeline Palmer badly wants Sinclair to take up his rightful role in their family, so badly that threatening Daisy and her beloved town is only the first step.

Apart from this main story line, there are also many other sub plots, and I like how something crazy is always happening in Daisy's life but she juggles everything from supernatural disasters to personal dramas without missing a beat. Her half-demon background and the dire consequences that would result if she ever gave in to the temptation to claim her birthright is a constant worry that hangs above her head, but this aspect of Daisy is also a point of uniqueness about her and served as a main interest for me as a reader.

Strangely enough, though, while Daisy struggles hard every day not to fall prey to any of the seven deadly sins, the one vice she does not seem too concerned about is lust! Still, the potential suitors for Daisy are all equally fascinating, sexy, well-written and fun to read about, and there's a powerful yet effective undercurrent of romance and sexual tension in this series which makes me think it would be an awesome choice for fans of paranormal romances. Even I was a bit addicted to this book, and I'm generally ambivalent towards romantic drama in my urban fantasy.

But of course, the best things about Jacqueline Carey's books are her characters and world-building. I adore Daisy, who is wonderfully flawed and all too human, despite her dodgy demonic heritage. Her personality annoys me sometimes, but I also feel her naivete, inexperience, and the fact she's prone to distraction and self-doubt only serve to emphasize her internal conflict to be a good person and stay on the right path. As well, she's surrounded by a diverse cast of friends and family, making these books not just about her, but actually the whole living, breathing eldritch community in Hel's domain and Pemkowet. Using a cozy little tourist town as a setting gives these books a whole different flavor than other series that take place in big cities, not to mention Carey has always been great at writing fantasy worlds, blending history, mythology, and eschatology (yes, I did as the book said and looked it up!) while doing it. Her unique take on the genre first impressed me in Dark Currents with the introduction of her version of ghouls, or the Outcast, and I'm happy to see her unconventional yet intriguing ideas continue in Autumn Bones.

A very enjoyable, fast-paced and action-filled read overall, and exactly what I'd been looking for when I picked this up. I think Jacqueline Carey is on the right track with this series, and I have a feeling she has a lot more planned for it just based on how much is already currently happening in these books. I thought pacing was an issue in the first book, but with this sequel I see her getting more into the urban fantasy rhythm of things, and I'm amazed at her versatility.