Jaime Lee Moyer

A Barricade in Hell, by Jaime Lee Moyer

A Barricade in Hell [Amazon | B&N | Mysterious Galaxy] is the sequel to Jaime Lee Moyer‘s debut novel Delia’s Shadow. I enjoyed the first book enough to blurb it. (And that blurb appears on the cover of the second book, which is awesome!) I’m happy to say Barricade was just as enjoyable.

From the publisher:

Delia Martin has been gifted (or some would say cursed) with the ability to peer across to the other side. Since childhood, her constant companions have been ghosts. She used her powers and the help of those ghosts to defeat a twisted serial killer terrorizing her beloved San Francisco. Now it’s 1917—the threshold of a modern age—and Delia lives a peaceful life with Police Captain Gabe Ryan.

That peace shatters when a strange young girl starts haunting their lives and threatens Gabe. Delia tries to discover what this ghost wants as she becomes entangled in the mystery surrounding a charismatic evangelist who preaches pacifism and an end to war.  But as young people begin to disappear, and audiences display a loyalty and fervor not attributable to simple persuasion, that message of peace reveals a hidden dark side.

As Delia discovers the truth, she faces a choice—take a terrible risk to save her city, or chance losing everything?

Like the first book, this one invites us into a believable San Francisco of the early 20th century, with characters who are likable, strong in their own ways, flawed, and at times both larger than life (or death) and all too vulnerable and human. Delia has been learning about her gifts, working with a more experienced and tremendously entertaining medium named Dora. Delia’s more comfortable with what she can do, and one of the payoffs of the book is seeing her partnership with her husband Gabe. They work as equals, and come across as a team, though each has their own partner. Both Delia and Gabe recognize their own limits and trust one another to do what they do best…though they both love and worry about the other.

There are a number of things going on in the book–the scope of the story is bigger, and there are more characters this time around, which makes sense for a second book, but resulted in a few speed bumps and loose ends along the way. But these are minor complaints, some of which I’m hoping will get developed in future books.

Evangelist Effie Fontaine made a good villain, for the most part. Smart, confident, powerful, and nasty. My only complaint was that certain developments near the end of the book felt like they undercut her character. I don’t know how to explain it without spoilers, and it certainly worked as an ending. I just found myself wishing the book had gone in a slightly different direction there.

Overall, these are good books, richly detailed, with enjoyable characters. I raced through them both, and look forward to the next. Recommended.

Hello there, Monday…

A friend asked me about how I balance writing, blogging, family, and everything else in my schedule. In part, I do this by trying to prepare blog posts over the weekend. But then you get weekends where there’s an ice cream/dodge ball event for my son, then a day-and-a-half karate workshop, and then the joys of pushing our minivan out of a snowy ditch. (Everyone’s fine, and the van is undamaged.)

So instead of the book review or the guest blog post or anything else I had planned, y’all get a few bullet points instead, ’cause that’s all the brain I had left.

  • Galactic Suburbia just announced the and winner of the first Galactic Suburbia Award, “for activism and/ or communication that advances the feminist conversation in the field of speculative fiction in 2011.” I’m honored to be among the honorees. (If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you should probably be reading most or all of the folks listed.) Congratulations to winner Nicola Griffith. You can listen to the podcast here.
  • Every time I go to a karate workshop, I’m struck again by how much karate and writing have in common. This weekend, we were talking about the need for an outside perspective, someone who can see what we’re doing and help us to refine our techniques, because just practicing in front of a mirror isn’t enough. And this is why writers have editors… (More thoughts on the parallels later. Maybe.)
  • Blurbs are hard. I’m struggling to come up with a blurb for Jaime Lee Moyer‘s novel Delia’s Shadow when what I really want to do is write a review. (I’ll probably write a review anyway.) Do you think the publisher would just give me a full page or two to talk about the book?

Finally, have some LEGO Quiddich. This set was part of Brickvention in Melbourne. It was built by Jennie Sasson, and the photo is by Shannon Ocean. Click the pic for a larger view, or here for a second shot of the match (with thestrals!)

Jim C. Hines