Saturday, November 19, 2011

Waking Nightmares

Waking Nightmares

Written by: Christopher Golden

Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Ace
Language: English
March 2011, $7.99
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Shadow Saga

When chaos erupts in the small coastal town of Hawthorne, Massachusetts, former vampire-turned-mage Peter Octavian and earthwitch Keomany Shaw arrive to investigate. Years ago, Octavian helped expose the secret existence of vampires to the world, dismantling the Vatican's sorcery corps in order to save his fellow shadows from destruction. But without the Vatican sorcerers, the magical barriers they spent centuries constructing to keep the forces of darkness out of our world are beginning to fail, and things are slipping through. Now an ancient god of chaos is awakening in Hawthorne, its influence spreading...and it's Octavian's fault. If he can't stop it, the blood of all human kind will be on his hands.


I have been reading Christopher Golden since I was in college mostly due to his Buffy books. I enjoyed his stuff so much that I began to read more: The Shadow Saga, The Menagerie, The Lost Cities novels and more. I was excited to see another Shadow book although they are now making them Peter Octavian books rather than continuing the Shadow saga as Peter is no longer a vampire as he once was which is fine as it is still set in the same world. What I liked about the Shadow saga was the take on vampires, the role the Catholic church played in not only keeping the shadows in check but keeping them relegated to legends and myth. Such was the Church’s power that it made the shadows be afraid of sunlight, limited the forms that they could take, flight, etc. Great mythos. Now that the Church has been weakened due to their part in the events that took place in the previous books, our world is not as safe as it once was. While the Church did a lot of unthinkable things to the Shadows, they also helped keep the other realms out of ours.

This is the fifth book in The Shadow Saga though it is now the Peter Octavian novels. Peter Octavian, Byzantium Prince and former vampire, has been contacted by an old friend whose girlfriend’s brother is lost in a coma and has plants growing throughout his body, very specific plants. Though he is no longer a shadow Octavian also spent 1000 years in Hell and picked up a few tricks as a sorcerer. Add on the experience (give another thousand years) as a shadow and Peter might be able to help. But long forgotten wood gods are the least of his worries. Keomany Shaw, earth witch and friend has sensed a terrible disturbance from Hawthorne, Massachusetts. Something is wrong. Terribly wrong.

It began with the discovery of an old box from the depths of the ocean and a young college girl named Amber’s prophetic dreams and seizures. Something has been awakened and chaos will come with it. Birds attack, mysterious wraiths prowl around the town, and Hawthorne’s residents have begun to give into their most primal desires and feelings. Peter is going to need help if he wants to save Amber and her town, so along with Keomany and a shadow named Charlotte they do what they do best and that’s fight until you can’t.

Things I loved: The last book of the Shadow Saga was a tough act to follow. It was the end of the Church. It was also The Final Death for a lot of characters you had grown attached to over the series and in a way could have been the end for the series as a whole. But then it wasn’t. It was really great to see earth witch Keomany returning to the fold as well as Octavian himself. Octavian is such a fun character and we have seen him go through a lot. First as a shadow and now as a human sorcerer, a really powerful sorcerer. But even with his Thor like awesomeness, there are things that are bigger and badder than he is. One great thing about these books as I felt like we have come to a new chapter. The first four books were all about the Shadows, The Church and Peter’s journey to who he is now and trying to help his kind. But now we are seeing the fallout from all of those events and decisions and the realization that there are worse things out there than Shadows like Hannibal. Luckily we have Peter Octavian on humanity’s side. Not a bad guy to have. It’s a nice way to continue the series and bring new life into it.

Loved the opening. The opening act involves a flora/wood goddess who has taken over a house as well as its occupants. Awesome. I loved the whole marijuana plants growing where they should not be. Descriptions that were quite lovely and yet horrific = check. Reintroducing us to the badass that Octavian is = also check. Okay I was hooked. From here we head to Hawthrone where the shit-eth hath hit-eth the fan-eth. Seizures, blue lightning, carapace wraiths, strange boxes, chaos filling the streets and one hell of a pissed off goddess. It’s all good times.

Octavian lost a lot of allies in the last book. I can see Golden trying to give Octavian some new ones. I totally dig Charlotte even though all I can see is the red headed chick from the Twilight movies in my head. And this book also had some unexpected twists and turns. Golden, like Joss Whedon or even Robert Kirkman makes you remember that absolutely no one is safe. Hell of an ending and I cannot wait to see more of Cortez and the plans he has in store.

Things I didn't love so much: I cannot quite put my finger on what was missing, but I felt like there was something that didn’t quite work. Maybe it was partly due to the fact that I haven’t read anything with Peter Octavian since …. Came out. Not sure. But there was something that didn’t make me run out to my friends and tell them, you have to read this. I will say that this is not for new readers. I will agree that he doesn’t give you a lot of back story. He doesn’t explain a hell of a lot because well this is the fifth book so for new readers you will not get a whole lot of character development. And yet at the same time as I said before, this really feels like a new chapter in the scheme of things. You just might be confused a lot. Okay yeah a whole lot. Definitely not recommended for anyone new to the Shadow world and Peter Octavian as a whole.

A fellow reviewer had made a comment that Peter was just another PI in a world of John Taylors, Harry Dresdens and more. Understandable that most urban fantasy heroes and heroines are investigators of some sort which sadly makes sense. How are else are we supposed to have the monster of the week. Sadly the paranormal would be less likely to happen if you had a cubicle job or was a retail flunkie. You kind of need a job where there is mystery and exposure to a lot of different things. So while yes, in a way it can be a bit annoying for everyone to be in the same profession you kind of need them to be. Though admittedly it would be funny to have a desk jockey be the one who all the crazy stuff happens to.

Buy or Borrow: Buy if you are a completist like me. Borrow if you have not read the rest of the Shadow saga. 

Part of: A series. 

Book One: Of Saints and Shadows

Book Two: Angel Souls and Devil Hearts

Book Three: Of Masques and Martyrs

Book Four: The Gathering Dark

Book Five: Waking Nightmares

Also Recommended: I really enjoy Golden’s Menagerie series which seemed to end just as it started getting good. For more vampire mayhem there are the lovely Books of Blood by Tanya Huff, for more magical fun I would recommend the Matthew Swift series by Kate Griffin and if you are looking for more Golden action there are always his past Buffy books.

3.25 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks

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