Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Cleanin' Up Evil... with a Broom, Some Fangs, and a Bit of Fur


A bed-and-breakfast, to me, involves a large Victorian house--bedecked with ornate, pastel gingerbread on the outside, with uncomfortable sofas protected by embroidered antimacassars, ruffled floral curtains, and old porcelain pitchers full of cut flowers perched precariously on doily-covered, three-legged tables, on the inside--sitting on a large corner lot in a quaint small town, and run by a nice, older couple clad in matching cardigan sweaters. (And no, I’ve never actually been in a B-and-B, in case you’re wondering.)

Something that’s definitely never been part of that picture, though, is for said establishment to be run by a young witch (complete with broomstick and some crazy-ass magic powers), or for a werewolf to be living just down the street. 

Trust Ilona Andrews to think of those quirky little touches--suddenly making a B-and-B sound like a much-more interesting place--in the nifty new urban fantasy, Clean Sweep.

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Twenty-something Dina Demille runs the Gertrude Hunt Bed-and-Breakfast in a sleepy little Texas town, where business isn’t exactly booming. Still, she’s proud of the job she’s done over the last couple of years, taking over a long-neglected inn and bringing it back to life (literally, in this case, as she and the building have what I can only call a symbiotic relationship). 

The Gertrude Hunt has one permanent guest--a retiree who used to travel across the galaxy and is a stone-cold killer (thankfully somewhat mellowed now, in part due to her fondness for Mello Yello soda and Funyuns snacks being indulged regularly)--but is lucky to get any other guests, “normal” or otherwise. 

But, when neighborhood dogs start dying--horrible, mutilated deaths--Dina is almost glad business is so slow, because it’s clear that something very evil has come to town... and not in the form of your garden-variety sicko, either. She understands something which none of her non-magical neighbors can: there’s powerful, evil magic behind these killings... and whatever it is, it’s far more dangerous than the nightmares any psychopath could dream up.

Young and relatively-inexperienced she may be, but Dina takes her job of care-taking very seriously, and isn’t about to let anything so wicked decimate her pleasant little town full of decent people. Luckily for her, a lone wolf (of the werewolf persuasion) has recently settled in the community... and seems to have the same sense of obligation that she has. The two (reluctantly) join forces to try and get a handle on just what in blazes they’re up against. 

When a vampire suddenly drops into their laps (figuratively, thank goodness), though... well, that’s when things really start to get interesting. Who can trust whom in this unexpected supernatural trio... and who will live through the carnage to tell the tale?

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The husband-and-wife writing duo known popularly as Ilona Andrews never fails to deliver fun, clever Urban Fantasies peopled with appealing, down-to-earth characters (or as “down-to-earth” as supernatural beings can be, anyway), and Clean Sweep is no exception. Dina is unlike other witches I’ve read about, and the cool bond she has with the house is an especially novel touch. (Plus, anyone who names her Shih Tzu “Beast” is worth knowing, am I right?) The werewolf and vampire seem to have some interesting layers, too (even if they do fall into the stereotypically super-handsome, irresistible-he-man mold which apparently all male heroes in such books must).

Clean Sweep doesn’t have quite the same vibrancy or pace as Andrews’ fabulously-entertaining Kate Daniels series--it’s more on par with their very-good Edge series (which, like Clean Sweep, is also set in a small, rural area, and thus feels similarly-appropriate to the slower pacing)--but don’t let that deter you. It’s a neat little tale with some intriguing twists, quick to read, and a pleasant way to spend a bit of time. :) 

GlamKitty Catnip Mousie Rating: A Worthy Diversion

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