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Genre: Adult, Urban Fantasy, Heist
Point of View: Third (Daniel & Gabriel)
Released: June 10, 2014
Series: Daniel Blackland 1
Predictability: 3 out of 5 (Where 1 is George RR Martin (If the characters make a plan or think about the future I know it isn’t going to go that way.) And 5 is Cinder (where I guessed what was going to happen long before it did, but it was still a great book.)
Warning: People eat people to gain powers.
My Rating: 8/10 Stars
Daniel’s father was a powerful osteomancer, someone who can gain magical abilities from eating bones. During one of the Hierarch’s cullings (Bad guy’s excuse to kill people) he’s killed by powerful magicians and then the Hierarch himself ‘gains his powers’. (Yeah it’s exactly how you think.)
Years later Daniel’s become a thief and his ‘uncle’ (a mobster type business man who essentially raised him since he was twelve) wants him to break into the Hierarch’s Ossuary (vault) and steal some fangs that are worth a fortune. He can also get back his father’s sword, which is magically tied to him.
This is one of those books that I was overwhelmed when I finished and had to let my mind stew for a day before I could write my review.
The magical system is so unique! Mythical creatures used to roam the world; griffins, hydras, fire drakes, and more. Now oseomancer’s can obtain their powers by consuming these fossils. The magic is scientifically explained so that it actually makes sense. Most osteomancers have to keep eating the bones to keep their powers, but due to his father’s experiments, Daniel doesn’t. (He doesn’t suffer from special protagonist syndrome either.)
The other great part about this novel was the world building! Set in an alternate California, the southern portion is ruled by the Hierarchy. Though most of the economy revolves around osteomancy, they also have technology; electricity, television, and firearms. Instead of roads they have canals, and use boats for transportation. (Like Venice)
We don’t learn much about the world outside of California, and I’m also uncertain when this book takes place. Because most of the dates mentioned have to do with the Heirarch and he’s has lived for decades. (But I didn’t mind not knowing!)
The Heirarch’s one of those villains where we don’t know anything about him other than he’s creepy, evil, and powerful. (My favorite villains are the ones I feel like I’ve gotten to know, but I don’t think the author was going for sympathetic here.)
The main characters are Daniel’s old friends and fellow thieves. Cassandra (Daniel’s ex) is an expert thief and sharp shooter. She’s probably the most valuable person in the group, and the only one without magic. The other members of the heist team are Jo a shapeshifter, Moth the muscle and due to an accident he has magical healing, and Emma the inside woman who we’re not sure we can trust. I liked how Daniel’s crew had his back and trusted him no matter what.
The other narrator is Gabriel, the Hierarch’s great nephew who’s a paper pusher in the government. I wasn’t sure if I liked him, but I enjoyed his chapters with his hound Max. Max is really a man, but he was turned into a hound (not literally) by being fed magic to increase his sense of smell and now he’s treated like an animal by the government.
All of the characters were good, but I wanted to learn more about them and their histories. (You know me, I have so many questions) There also wasn’t any romance, even though Daniel still has feelings for Cassandra. I wish they bantered more, but I guess there wasn’t time.
This is a quick paced novel and though the plot was solid, it was in my opinion the weakest part of the book, especially in the end. I’m not saying there was anything wrong with it, it was just my least favorite part. (When I finished this book, I knew I really liked it but there was something bothering me. After two days of thinking this is all I’ve been able to come up with.)
My main complaint was that the book was so short, (Only 300 pages!) and there was so much more that could have been added. There were so many good characters I wanted more of, more of the world, and just generally more. Don’t get me wrong the author was able to write an amazing book. (It’s not a standalone but it could be) This easily could’ve been a thousand page book and I wouldn’t have complained.
(No Spoilers even if you haven’t read California Bones)
Point of View: Third (Sam, Daniel & Gabriel)
Released: January 26, 2015
Series: Daniel Blackland 2
Predictability: 2 out of 5
My Rating: 7/10 Stars
Sam is a golem. (Which I think is really cool!) Daniel adopted Sam ten years ago. Since then they’ve been running from basically everyone. The high magical concentration in Sam means everyone wants him.
Gabriel contacts Daniel, the powers in Los Angeles are uniting to create a living Pacific Firedrake. (Gigantic dragon of doom) Daniel is the only one with enough power to destroy it. He plans to leave Sam where it’s safe, but teenagers sometimes don’t do as they’re told.
While book one was heist oriented Pacific Fire is more of a journey novel.
We get to see more of Southern California outside Los Angeles, but it wasn’t anything special, dirty motels, old trucks, and desert.
The atmosphere that made the first book is present again. I’d say this is a darker fantasy, but there are still lighter moments.
The characters remain very real and flawed. (None of them are described as beautiful!) I enjoyed getting to know Sam and Em. Both were great characters, particularly Em. Sam falls in love easily (he knows this) and he hasn’t had many friends because he never stays in one place. It was nice watching him becoming friends with Em and attempting to flirt.
We also met a couple of new bad guys Mistress Cauldron and Madam Tooth. I liked how the characters from the first book appeared again and we got to see how they’ve grown over the past decade.
The best part of the books remains the magic. Here there’s new social uses and magical bombs and tools.
The plot was just as good as the first book, but it was even less predictable! All I can say about the ending is that I never saw it coming. I’m so glad the last one will be coming out later this year, because again I needed more!
Do you write your reviews right away or do you like to think about the book for a day or so?
I almost always write my review right away, so I don’t forget. I try to make myself write the review before I let myself start the next book. But sometimes, like with California Bones, I just needed time to process.
Sorry this review was so long! I had a lot to say about California Bones, but I didn’t want to put off my review of Pacific Fire since the book came out this week. Thanks for reading all of this. 🙂