Wednesday, January 20, 2016

CALIFORNIA BONES: Unsettling, exciting beginning to a series

CALIFORNIA BONES Daniel Blackland #1
Tor Books
$14.99 trade paper, available now

Rating: 4* of five

The Publisher Says: When Daniel Blackland was six, he ingested his first bone fragment, a bit of kraken spine plucked out of the sand during a visit with his demanding, brilliant, and powerful magician father, Sebastian.

When Daniel was twelve, he watched Sebastian die at the hands of the Hierarch of Southern California, devoured for the heightened magic layered deep within his bones.

Now, years later, Daniel is a petty thief with a forged identity. Hiding amid the crowds in Los Angeles—the capital of the Kingdom of Southern California—Daniel is trying to go straight. But his crime-boss uncle has a heist he wants Daniel to perform: break into the Hierarch's storehouse of magical artifacts and retrieve Sebastian's sword, an object of untold power.

For this dangerous mission, Daniel will need a team he can rely on, so he brings in his closest friends from his years in the criminal world. There's Moth, who can take a bullet and heal in mere minutes. Jo Alverado, illusionist. The multitalented Cassandra, Daniel's ex. And, new to them all, the enigmatic, knowledgeable Emma, with her British accent and her own grudge against the powers-that-be. The stakes are high, and the stage is set for a showdown that might just break the magic that protects a long-corrupt regime.

Extravagant and yet moving, Greg van Eekhout's California Bones is an epic adventure set in a city of canals and secrets and casual brutality--different from the world we know, yet familiar and true.

My Review: Want to know something amazing? My assisted-living facility's library, which I created from my own library, cannot keep this book on the shelves.

So what, I hear you think really loudly. So this: I'm in a place where I'm young at 55...most of these eager readers are over 70.

This gives me the happy. It proves to me that, if you tell a good story well, people it with easy-to-relate-to characters, and pull no punches, any and all ages will grab and snatch and fight to get their shot to read it.

I'm no fan of teen heroes, get highly irked by teen angst, and never want to hear the phrase "coming-of-age" again; I am usually bored into a coma by magic; altogether this book should have made me sleepily grouchy. Instead, I was flipping pages and holding my breath, and so are all the library users I've spoken to.

For me at least, one of the main appeals is the future L.A. van Eekhout posits, a place turned into a quasi-Amsterdam by the devouring sea. I love that idea mostly because I don't like California despite being born there. But also and more positively, I got the image fixed in my head immediately, enjoyably, and permanently. Now I see photos of the real L.A. and feel confused...where's the sea?

Greg van Eekhout changed my image of a place I've been to a zillion times. He's that much of a wizard with his words. I can't wait to be able to afford the next two books! C'mon February, Daddy needs new books!


  1. this sounds great!

    thanks for the review, pawpaw.

  2. It's a fun book, whippersnapper, even for you poor young'uns.


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