The Untitled Mystery Book Project

Hello readers,

Here’s some exciting news. Jen and Eric have started working on a book together. This is the first time either of us have co-authored a work of fiction.

The book is an Urban Fantasy Romance, with a superhero and robots.

Here’s the synopsis:

When Kennedy, a recent graduate trying to find her purpose in life or at least a job in her field, saves Jason, the leader of a secret community of supernatural people called Aetherborn, from an attempted assassination, they embark on a whirlwind epic romance and adventure.

For Kennedy to help Jason discover why people are disappearing in time to save her friends, they’ll have to navigate teleporting assassins, grumpy wizards, gossiping hags, mafia robots, and secret military groups all in the city of Westmeath, Ontario, which has more secrets than residents.

We’re currently 1/3 of the way through writing and have planned out most of the book. Accounting for us slowing down a little, we should have the book ready for beta readers in Fall at the latest.

So what do you think? Hope you are at least a tenth as excited as we are.

Éric and Jen

Éric Desmarais

At Can-Con over the weekend of September 9-11, 2016, we had the opportunity to meet some incredible people. Éric Desmarais (FacebookTwitter, website) is one of those. He is a young adult urban fantasy/mystery author published by Renaissance Press (Twitter, website), and incredibly amazing to talk to! You can meet him at the Mega-Multi-Author Launch happening Oct 29, 2016.


Serial Story 2016 Battle Royal – Round 2 – First Paragraphs


In the previous round The Cosmic Cuckoos was eliminated. This poll will last until Wednesday the 27th, at 11:59 pm. Vote quickly if you want your favorite story.

What story should move on to the last round?

  • Wargrave Island (38%, 3 Votes)
  • The Ruby Child (38%, 3 Votes)
  • Faeries Vs Robots Vs Aliens (25%, 2 Votes)

Total Voters: 8

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The remaining competitors are listed below with their first paragraphs.

Faeries Vs Robots Vs Aliens

Genre: Urban Fantasy/Scifi
Inspiration: Neverwhere

The café was full. Sandra had placed her backpack on the chair next to her pretending that she was saving it for someone. She had her headphones on, she had her phone on the arm of the plush chair and she had a paperback book in her hand. She wanted to be left alone to drink her overpriced and unpronounceable coffee. Her headphones were wireless and she wasn’t listening to music.

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Wargrave Island

Genre: Murder Mystery
Inspiration: And Then There Were None

“Best Party Ever!” yelled Jonathan. His hair was thinning and starting to go grey, but he was unmistakable.

“Remind me why I came?” Riko asked her partner Ethan.

“Because this is your ten year high school reunion and you’re the youngest person to make Inspector in Ottawa police history.” Ethan smiled proudly, looking at the quickly approaching island.

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The Ruby Child

Genre: Fantasy Adventure
Inspiration: Firefly

It was the middle of the night and darker than Mac was used too. When the clouds covered the stars in the rural islands there were no magical or electric lamps. It wasn’t the first time he’d wished he could use a magical torch or those fancy darkvision glasses but magic didn’t work on or around him. He just kept following the speck of light ahead.

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Who will win? Murder Mystery, Urban Fantasy/Scifi, or Fantasy Adventure?


Only Human (Serial Story) Part 2

Part 1

Walking down the Greek row of Monster University was both disgusting and fascinating. It was a welcome party that looked completely normal, until you noticed that half the students were drinking blood instead of beer. There were vendors selling everything from crickets for the Medusa to frozen animal hearts for the werewolf population.

As the only human on campus, Rachel should have felt hunted, but she was the one hunting. Her sister would have loved it here, she was always trying to find and understand cryptoids. Rachel sighed at the thought of her sister, she’d been killed when they were twelve; ripped to shreds by something.

Allison had run up to their room saying she’d made a new friend. Rachel assumed it was another imaginary creature and told her to grow up. It was the last thing she’d told her sister. She’d been studying everything she could about monsters and now she was going to find them and make them pay.

“Why so glum, sexy?” Ronnie asked, his crooked smile and appraising gaze made her tingle and blush.

“Your sister says I’m not allowed to flirt with you,” Rachel said coyly as she walked away from him.

His footsteps behind her told her he was following. “Somehow that makes you even sexier.”

“You just want me to make your sister angry?” She smiled at him.

What was she doing? Sure he was handsome, but he was a bloodsucking monster that could rip her apart with one hand.

“Naw that’s just icing on an already tasty cake.”

Spinning around, she tried to mimic the girls she’d seen in high school by jutting one hip out and bending the opposite knee. She put both hands on her hips and gave him a scathing look. “Really? Comparing me to food, and not even something interesting, am I just fluffy tasty calories to you?”

For the first time she saw a crack in his tough jock veneer and he said, “Sa-sa-s- sorry. I wasn’t trying to say that I wanted to e-e-eat you.” She was both ashamed and surprised by his stutter.

Walking towards him, she kissed him on the cheek. She kept her body right next to his, letting him feel her heat. Going on her tip-toes, she whispered in his ear, “Its ok. I just don’t like being compared to food.” She blew lightly on his ear and felt him shiver. “I do like the idea of being covered in icing, though.”

Walking away, she risked a look behind her and saw that he hadn’t moved and his mouth was gaping. She winked at him and saw a smile cross his face.

Through the frantic beating of her heart, she wondered what she was doing, flirting with a vampire. She wasn’t some self-deprecating bland love interest. She turned the corner between two houses and rested her back on the wall of one of the fraternities. She could tell it was a fraternity from its smell, a combination of musk, garbage, and disrepair.

“Good to know that men are pigs no matter what race they are,” she whispered.

“We’re not all that bad,” whispered back a deep voice beside her and she jumped back pulling out a knife.

From the shadows between the two houses she could make out the shape of a man. He lifted his right arm into the air and said, “Whoa, slayer. I’m not looking for trouble.” He stepped out of the shadows and she could see that he had only one arm. He looked human in every way possible except for the fact that he had six fingers.

“Who and what are you?” she asked.

As she looked at him he disappeared and reappeared behind her. “Aren’t you both jumpy and rude. My name’s Dowan and I’m Mannegishi, if you must know.”

Turning quickly she had her knife on his throat before he finished.

“Mannegishi are Tricksters and I thought you were supposed to be tiny?”

“You’re getting us confused with Memegwesi. Common mistake for your people,” he said smiling. He seemed to be enjoying it. His strong chin and high cheekbones made him seem supernaturally handsome.

“My people?” she asked, worried he knew that she was human.

“White kids. You all think you know everything. Just because the Greek myths go at it with anything that moves doesn’t mean the rest of us don’t exist.”

Taking her knife away from his throat, she sighed with relief. “You just scared the crap out of me and then expect me to remember every possible monster?”

Smiling again he waved his hand and said, “Fine. I’m sorry for startling you but it was fun. And don’t think I haven’t noticed that you haven’t told me who you are.”

“Dowan you bastard I’m going to kill you,” said a tall one eyed man who was flanked by three others.

“Ah Al. How have you been?” Dowan asked taking a step back.

“You think you can swindle me and get away with it?” The Cyclops and his friends were easily nine feet tall and muscled like professional wrestlers.

“Yup!” Dowan said and disappeared.

“I guess we’ll just have to teach his friend a lesson than. Aren’t you a pretty little thing,” The Cyclops glowered at her and it made her heart beat quicker, but not in the same way as Ronnie.

She had been walking backwards and found that she was now in the road and there was a crowd around them. There was no way this was going to be a private fight. “I haven’t been called little since I eleven and got a growth spurt,” she replied. It wasn’t witty but it was the best she could do, she didn’t do well with an audience.

For good measure she added, “Leave now and I won’t have to kill you.”

The Cyclops called Al picked up a smart car and tossed it at her.

Read Next

Blood Relations by Caroline Fréchette – Book Review

In my continuing mission to read the first in every series I haven’t read yet but I own. I read Blood Relations.

Full disclosure I have known the author for nearly 2 years and I’d consider her a friend. She is also one of the head people at Renaissance Press, to whom I may have submitted a book.

None of this really matters cause I’d be completely honest either way, or if it was really really bad I might pretend I didn’t read it. Yeah I can be a coward.

Below is my review. For more information on how and why I review books read my posts Part 1 and Part 2.


I liked

The main character is involved in organized crime and has some serious “daddy” issues but is incredibly likeable. His likeability probably stems from the fact that throughout the book he is trying to help people.

The secondary characters are well fleshed out even if we don’t fully know their motivations.

I didn’t like

There is a lot of vice from the innocuous like drinking cola, to heavy drug use. The main character is a chain smoker and even though it’s important to the character development, I’m not a fan.

I also find that the style and the fact that the main character is both young and not great with other’s emotions that we don’t get as much of a depth of knowledge about the other characters.

For characters, I give it 4 out of 5

Writing Style

I liked

I normally dislike present tense. It’s very hard to do properly and I’ve rarely seen it done well throughout a novel or series. Even the Hunger Games only manages to do it well for 80% of the books.

The author however wields the first person present tense as if they’d being using it their entire life. It’s skillfully done from choice of information to description and word choice. I can’t state and stronger how impressed I am with the author’s skill.

I didn’t like

The only issues I had with style were due to the limitations of first person narratives.

I give it 5 out of 5.


I liked

The flow of the novel is extremely well balanced. Being someone who takes a week or two to read a book I appreciate the slower character moments between high action scenes. The story was built to ebb and flow without spending too much time world building or dumping information.

The tropes and structure of the book are closer to Horror than Urban-Fantasy. Often times Urban-Fantasy gets bogged down by long infodumps about how the world is really different. While this story borrowed from classic supernatural horror movies and gave small bits in between action.

I didn’t like

In the same way that the Horror structure helped the flow of the novel it also detracted from the wonder that comes with Fantasy or Urban-Fantasy. The wonder of realizing that there is a great big world of supernatural. The information about the supernatural world was so sparse that it didn’t feel like the world was that big.

None of this detracted from the engrossing and fun plot.

I give the story 5 out of 5


I liked

The characters, the action, and the witty dialogue were all very fun.

I didn’t like

Again the smoking and drugs weren’t fun for me. I also felt the fight scenes with the vampires were a little fast. I also feel that the main character’s supernatural abilities didn’t progress at all, he used them a lot but never seemed to improve in control.

I give it 4 out of 5 for fun


Blood Relations is an action packed and emotional ride through a Supernatural, Horror, and film noir style story. It challenges and bends the tropes of all three styles into something completely unique and compelling. The author has a command of style and language which is rare in a first novel.

If you enjoy Horror, Urban-Fantasy, or Supernatural stories, you’re going to want to pick up this book.

Final score is 90%

Feeling Old and a Mission

Short Story Collection

The other day I came up with the idea of collecting my short stories and maybe self-publishing them. My first instinct was that I’d never have enough and I’d have to write more.

After looking through my writing folders I certainly have enough content but I’m not convinced I have enough quality… Yet.

I get a perverse joy out of reading my old stories and pretending someone else wrote them. It’s easy, seeing as even some things on this blog I don’t remember writing. Some of it is good, some of it is terrible, but boy is there a lot of it.

Feeling Old

I feel old when I look through the folder and find some of my stories that are just shy of 2 decades old. My early stories could vote. That’s frightening. I didn’t consider myself a writer until I finished my first novel “Cerulean Skies” and even then I never considered writing regularly, but looking back I’ve been writing, in one form or another, for over twenty five years. I remember the first novel I tried to write. I had almost finished it and left it in an envelope. I found it when I moved to Ottawa in 2002, but I had made the terrible mistake of using pencil and it had faded beyond recognition.

I found some Dungeons and Dragons writing that I did for my first big campaign. I remember it being massive in scope. When I looked at it today it was barely 9000 words. Or as most of my author friends would call it, a few days’ work.

I think I’ll stick to stories that were written within the past decade for the collection.

I’m Terribly Sorry

There are several serial stories that I have written that I promised to write more and I seem to have completely forgotten.

If you’re interested in reading them here are the links:

Armstrong 3 (Space ship Science Fiction) – 2009

The Professor (Archeological Action Adventure) – 2009

The Cosmic Cuckoos (Adventure Science Fiction) – 2014

I plan on not only continuing these stories but re-writing and editing them into a coherent total. One of them may even become my next serialized story.

I have a Mission

I discovered around Christmas that I’d been collecting Urban-Fantasy/Fantasy series at an alarming rate. At last count, I have over 50 of them and more than 20 that I hadn’t read. No seriously, I have one series where I own the first 8 books and I’ve never read the author before.

In order to pare down my library and make sure I like the books, I’m on a quest to read the first in each series. I’ll be posting short reviews of each of the books unless I really love them or hate them.

Here’s what I’ve read so far this year and my opinions:

Moon Called by Patricia Briggs

A great start and a wonderful read. I look forward to the next one. Rating: 80%

Night Child by Jes Battis

Not a terrible book but very uneven. The author’s metaphors were awkward, the characters were stupid and the style wasn’t consistent. Not planning on reading the rest of the series.

This book had so much potential and angered me so much that it gets the lowest rating I’ve ever given with 40%

Blood Relations by Caroline Fréchette

Check out my full review this Thursday.


That’s 3 down and 19 more to go.


What’s your favourite fantasy, science fiction, or urban fantasy? Let me know and I may add it to my list.

Thinking on Covers, Names, and Self-Publishing

Hello my imaginary friends,

I’ve been thinking again about self-publishing. Less about the idea of doing it and more about the puzzle of doing it.

From what I can tell there seems to be 8 parts to it:

  1. Writing the book
  2. Story and Copy Editing
  3. Formatting the inside of the book for various outlets (Ebooks, Print, Etc)
  4. Formatting and producing a cover for various outlets (Ebooks, Print, Etc)
  5. Having the books printed.
  6. Distributing the printed and Ebooks.
  7. Letting people know that the books exist.
  8. Repeat number 7 several times in many different ways.

Written out as a list it looks a lot less intimidating than it does in my head.

Now the problem with self-publishing is that an author isn’t by nature good and doing all 8 steps. I knew that I can handle 1 (I’m close to finishing novel five) I know I can do 3 (I’ve worked as a Layout Artist for over five years now) and I have a good idea how to do 5 and 6 (I also have friend who have offered to teach me how.)

My big problem is 2, I know I need to pay for an Editor and the minute I know if I’m self-publishing, I’m contacting people who can do it. I realize it isn’t cheap but it’ll be worth it.

Let’s leave 7 and 8 for a later post.

Book Covers

So the majority of my thinking has been about 4. I strongly believe that an awesome cover is worth its price. If I self-publish I want the book to practically sell itself. I want to pass by it and say, “That looks awesome I should read that… oh wait that’s my book.”

For The Elizabeth Investigates series, if I self-publish, I want to make sure that the covers stay consistent in style and feel. That means I need, not a cover artist but an artist. I have one person who I know will do a great job but is ridiculously busy with other projects.

I know that there are cover designers out there but I haven’t found one that matches what I write. So I looked on DeviantArt for artists that match certain styles. I found a bunch and I wonder if getting a commission from them would be difficult. I know I’d have to look into copyright issues and so on but I think it might be the best option. I can format the cover myself, what I need is the art.

I’m sure a lot of them will/would ignore me but it’ll be worth a try. I wouldn’t offer anything specific; I’d lay out my needs and ask for a quote. I’m assuming it would be somewhere in the ballpark of $100 to $1000. Dollars but maybe I’ll be surprised.

The next question becomes one of style. Since I write YA, I tend to mix genres a lot. The Elizabeth Investigates series is Urban Fantasy, Adventure, Mystery, with smatterings of Supernatural, Suspense, and Romance. That’s not the easiest thing to show off in a cover.

I could go with the normal YA Urban Fantasy style, like the Percy Jackson or Harry Potter covers, I could follow the Adult duo-coloured Urban Fantasy style, I could go with an old style fantasy cover where they try to put everything that happens into one illustration, or I could go for the simplistic Twilight style of cover. Or do I go for the older Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys style? All of which are awesome.

It depends on what I’m trying to sell the book as. If I go with the old teen mystery books, I’m telling people this book will be similar but with magic. If I go with a darker Urban Fantasy cover I’m telling them that this is a kid’s supernatural thriller.


It’s a lot to decide, I almost think it could be more important than even the title. The best case scenario, I think, would be to get an homage to the old mysteries with the art style of newer urban fantasies. Best of both worlds.

Author Name

The next thing that’s been bugging me is my name. I don’t want a pen name because that would be a pain but I’m trying to decide what variation to use for my writing.

In day to day life I sign my emails and credit card receipts with Éric Desmarais. My full name is Éric Albert Desmarais.

For a long time I considered using my full name but I don’t know, it feels pretentious.

I could use Éric A. Desmarais and I have. The initial makes it seem more literary for some reason. I could also use É.A. Desmarais.

You get the point. It’s an identity thing I guess. Maybe I should just go with Éric Desmarais.


Does the cover affect your interest in a book?

Would the name of the author, who you don’t know, make a difference in whether you bought a book?

Ethan Cadfael: The Battle Prince by S.M. Carrière

I’ve known S.M. Carrière for a little over a year now I should have read one of her books earlier.

Ethan Cadfael: The Battle Prince is an otherworld novel in line with Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, The Fairy series by O.R. Melling, or Jack of Kinrowan by Charles De Lint.

It borrows heavily from Welsh and Irish mythology to make a well-rounded and fascinating world.

Below is my review. For more information on how and why I review books read my posts Part 1 and Part 2.


I liked

There were a lot of characters in this novel but it didn’t distract from the main characters’ story arcs. I really enjoyed watching Ethan’s development from listless jock to Battle Prince. It was so well done that until I thought about it I didn’t see it happening.

I also liked the unabashedly strong and intelligent women in this book. It’s not easy to write a female warrior without falling into stereotypes. S.M. did it extremely well.

I didn’t like

There were a lot of characters and a few of the secondary ones felt like they had interesting stories to tell but never really got the chance to develop. O

There were two that bothered me the most. First was a character called Mitch, who was friends with Ethan. Their seemed to be more to the character and his odd submissiveness but his story ended with a handshake and a nod.

The other was a character called Joseph who was introduced around two thirds into the book. He was interesting and worked as an emotional foil for Ethan but felt like he didn’t need to be there.

The role that Joseph ended up playing in the end of the book was what I expected of Mitch after a step character arc.

For characters, I give it 3 out of 5

Writing Style

I liked

The ease with which S.M. weaves mythology into her story is impressive and she manages to avoid info dumping by giving us tiny details throughout.

I particularly liked her use of vocabulary, in many otherworld novels or urban fantasies, the other keeps a very standard language akin to a hardboiled detective style. S.M. keeps the book’s voice in a tongue-in-cheek fantasy style that works perfectly with the story.

One of the strengths in this book is S.M.’s ability to write convincing dialogue. Each character has a unique voice that rings true and it makes it easier to follow which characters are which.

I was definitely taken back to a time I lived with three other guys during university.

I didn’t like

On TV, in movies, and in books I find great pride when I understand the language that the main characters don’t. However, when the opposite happens and I don’t understand, I feel kinda dumb. This book has a healthy dose of Welsh and Irish throughout. At times the conversations are long. Never do they last more than half a page but it still frustrated me.

One the other side of the coin, the author did put a translation for all these scenes at the back of the book. If I had noticed I wouldn’t have minded. I think the translations might have been better as footnotes.

I give it 3 out of 5.


I liked

The story was a standard otherworld story but inversed. Instead of a regular everyday person falling into another world, a Queen fell into ours. I liked the inversion and I liked how well the character handled herself, it’s easy to think she’d panic and go nuts but she dealt pretty well.

Typically this story end after the character returns, or chooses not to return, to their own world, quite often with plot points dangling, and irritating me. The story reached that point and then proceeded to give us some extra action and extra story.

I didn’t like

The story was well crafted and other than the Mitch thing, there were only a few things that frustrated me. I felt that it was a little too neat at the end. I felt like too many people got what they deserved and all was right with the world. It rang true but it also felt like the author didn’t want to wright a sequel and made sure she didn’t have to.

I give the story 4 out of 5


I liked

The book was entertaining throughout. S.M. really knows how to keep your interest. Even through the parts that should have been slow, it was still fascinating.

I also liked the extremely subtle inclusion of herself. A character talks a lot about her roommate and I’m fairly certain that roommate is the author.

I didn’t like

This book was fun through and through. If I were to give it a fault it would be that it was a little too addictive.

I give it 5 out of 5 for fun


Ethan Cadfael: The Battle Prince is the perfect otherworld novel, with enough twist and turns to keep an aficionado of the genre happy. I’d happily recommend this as a “gateway drug” to fantasy novels.

The author weaves convincing character arcs with mythology and wonderful storytelling.

I highly recommend getting this book and devouring it. It’ll leave a smile on your face.

Final score is 75%

Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire – Book Review

If you’ve been following my book reviews. You know that I have a soft spot for Urban Fantasy. I also have a soft spot for interesting female characters. Discount Armageddon delivers both and does it well.

Below is my review. For more information on how and why I review books read my posts Part 1 and Part 2.


I liked

At the center of the story is Verity Price, a tough ballroom dancer who’s been trained from birth on how to kill things and study them. Unfortunately she isn’t the most interesting character.

The supporting cast from religious mice to a shapeshifer cousin truly makes the book. There is a wide and varied group of people. I loved both the interactions and dialogue between the characters.

I didn’t like

Again, unfortunately Verity Price isn’t the most interesting of characters, falling into the girly tough girl stereotype. She loves to dance and seems to have a love hate relationship with her life. She wants to dance but also wants to follow in the family business.

To ignore her own inner struggle she tries to continuously meet the world with sex appeal and one-liners. She played dumb, when she obviously wasn’t, too many times.

For characters, I give it 3 out of 5

Writing Style

I liked

The author isn’t afraid to go on small tangents to explain the world. I really enjoyed the history and Price family life. It’s a great world with all kinds of interesting people and events.

Despite what people often think, writing first person is more difficult than third and if done wrong makes the story sound like “than guy” at a party that wants to tell you all about his d&d character or cat.

Ms. McGuire makes the story flow quickly, smoothly and keeps all the action tight.

I didn’t like

The language bugged me a little. I understand first person characters using slang and odd turns of phrase but sometimes it felt discordant. The writing had a strange juxtaposition of British and American slang.

I give it 3 out of 5.


I liked

The flow of the story was wonderful. Never leaving us in the same place long enough to get bored. The story shape is extremely simple but works wonderfully. Never leaving me annoyed with what was happening.

I didn’t like

This is the first in a series and with that there are a lot of details added that don’t directly impact the story. Relatives that weren’t essential, and plot points that won’t be important until later books.

It’s not that I didn’t enjoy reading about her grandfather stuck in hell and her grandmothers quest to find him but I would have liked to learn more about the characters that were important to the story.

I give the story 4 out of 5


I liked

Despite her clichés and often bad one-liners I like Verity Price. She perfectly personifies that struggle and lost feeling that I had in my twenties.

It also has a few steamy scenes that made me blush.

I didn’t like

I often would have like more in depth descriptions or interactions. It would have slown down the story pace but it would have given the book more substance. However I realize that this is an action book and not an epic.

I give it 5 out of 5 for fun


If you like fast paced action and fun characters thrown into ridiculous situations I recommend you pick this up.

Final score is 75%

How to be Death – Book Review

How to be Death is the fourth Calliope Reaper-Jones Novel by Amber Benson. The first three concluded the main story of Calliope. This novel is not a stand-alone book it’s a sequel rather than a continuation. I recommend reading the first three books before you pick up this one.

I’m only going to be reviewing this book on its own, not the whole series.

Below is my review. For more information on how and why I review books read my post here.


If you’ve read the first three books, you know the core cast of characters. They do evolve a little but this is more about expanding the world of Death and the secondary characters that inhabit it.

That being said the characters are well written and for a murder mystery that is extremely important.

I have a terrible memory. It took me re-watching all the Marvel super hero movies to remember whom agent Colson was in the Avengers. When I watch a reality TV show, I’m continually asking my wife who each person is. In a murder mystery, for me, it’s important that the characters stand out and are memorable. Benson manages to introduce nearly a dozen characters and I never once had to go back to the beginning to see who they were.

In her earlier books, I found that Calliope regressed at the beginning of every book. In this one she hadn’t and that was nice. There are also some really interesting character revelations in this book that I look forward to her exploring in future books.

For creating characters that were clear and easy to follow, along with interesting I give it a 4 out of 5 for characters.

Writing Style

A first person narrative’s writing style is dependant on the character’s voice. All of the Colliope Reaper-Jones books are written in first person, and follow Calliope. She is a mildly narcissistic, fashionista, with a huge victim complex.

When she stops whining and starts acting, she is a wonderful person. In between she complains and whines about everything. In this novel, she’s toned down the whininess and started taking responsibility.

All this to say that the writing style is extremely casual, even for first person, and at times a little shocking.

Benson does everything that a good author has to do to balance a self-involved character with a good narrative. She makes sure that the reader understands things that the main character doesn’t, she makes sure that the character doesn’t cross the line between frustrating and hated, and most importantly she keeps interest in parts that could easily lose a reader.

Speaking as a man, a lot of the shoe, and fashion stuff didn’t interest me. Benson manages to avoid overdoing it and I think I might have learnt a few things. Apparently Steve Madden isn’t just a line of NFL video games.

For writing style, I give this novel a 3 out of 5.


The story structure of a good murder mystery is usually split into three acts. The first act introduces all the characters and defines them. The second act starts with a Murder, which is followed by multiple interviews, clues, and sometimes one or two more murders. In act three something shocking happens, either another murder, theft etc. Followed by either a blind plan (In which only a few characters know what’s happening) or some action (Usually a chase) and finally excessive amounts of exposition. Incidentally, a survival horror or slasher share the same first two acts. A great way to tell the difference is to see if there’s a detective which indicates a mystery, or if the body count is over 40% at the end of act 2 which indicates the horror story.

I found the story took a chapter or two too long before the first murder. It could be me but I was looking forward to a lengthy act 2 with all kinds of hi-jinks and it made act 1 feel a little slow. I also think the exposition was rushed. It could have been done longer and in two scenes instead of what felt to me to be too quick.

The story was good, the structure could have been better, I give it a 3 out of 5.


This book is a continuation of a series that I greatly enjoyed. They are fun. The book is a departure from the story structure of the other three but I think it works towards the books advantage. I like the banter and enjoy the characters.

This book is more fun than you’d expect. It’s a nice twist on a supernatural murder mystery. For fun I give it a 4 out of five.


There are book and series that I plan to never read again. No matter how amazing they are I just don’t want to relive them. This isn’t one if those series.

The Calliope Reaper-Jones Series is one series that I look forward to
re-reading. Amber Benson is one of a small group of authors whom I will buy their new books as soon as they come out.

If you like Urban Fantasy that’s a little light on the doom and gloom, read this series.

I give it a total score of 70%