Jayné, the woman they call Jayné. She became really rich and protected the poor; stood up to the riders, and she gave them what for. Our love for her now ain’t hard to explain; the hero of Denver, the woman they call Jayné. …Okay, that was a little self-indulgent. In any case, let’s purify Unclean Spirits, by M.L.N. Hanover.
In a world where magic walks and demons ride, you can’t always play by the rules.
Jayné Heller thinks of herself as a realist, until she discovers reality isn’t quite what she thought it was. When her uncle Eric is murdered, Jayné travels to Denver to settle his estate, only to learn that it’s all hers — and vaster than she ever imagined. And along with properties across the world and an inexhaustible fortune, Eric left her a legacy of a different kind: his unfinished business with a cabal of wizards known as the Invisible College.
Led by the ruthless Randolph Coin, the Invisible College harnesses demon spirits for their own ends of power and domination. Jayné finds it difficult to believe magic and demons can even exist, let alone be responsible for the death of her uncle. But Coin sees Eric’s heir as a threat to be eliminated by any means — magical or mundane — so Jayné had better start believing in something to save her own life.
Aided in her mission by a group of unlikely companions — Aubrey, Eric’s devastatingly attractive assistant; Ex, a former Jesuit with a lethal agenda; Midian, a two-hundred-year-old man who claims to be under a curse from Randolph Coin himself; and Chogyi Jake, a self-styled Buddhist with mystical abilities — Jayné finds that her new reality is not only unexpected, but often unexplainable. And if she hopes to survive, she’ll have to learn the new rules fast — or break them completely….
With Women of the Otherworld over, I’m trying out lots of other urban fantasy series to fill the void. Does Unclean Spirits make the cut? Well, it’s off to a promising start.
Jayné (wow is it going to get annoying typing out that accent mark out again and again) is just an ordinary Muggle until her uncle dies and she learns that he was secretly super-wealthy and waging war against supernatural beings called riders. Jayné (yep, annoying) decides to avenge him by picking up where he left off and carrying out the assassination of the ancient sorcerer who killed him: Randolph Coin, leader of the Invisible College of demons and monsters.
The story has two things really going for it. First is the eclectic cast of characters, a group of quirky and flawed individuals who were only tentatively committed to uncle Eric and need to be wrangled into line by Jayné (Look, can I just call you Jayne? I know your name isn’t pronounced “Jane”, but this is really inconvenient). The characters totally click with one another, the interpersonal conflict works, and in particular I really hope circumstances somehow conspire to make them team up with Midian again in the future.
Second is the series’ unique take on supernatural beings, as parasites from another plane of existence which infect human bodies and then consume, manipulate or just plain evict the previous resident’s soul. So the numerous diverse supernatural beings in the setting are either humans dealing with an infection giving them a whole power-at-a-price, have unknowingly picked up a hitchhiker which is whispering subconscious advice into their ear, or extradimensional invaders driving hijacked skin-suits. The only other urban fantasy series I’ve read which I can recall going in anywhere near this kind of direction was the Arthur Wallace series by Jonathan Wood. That series got off to a good start, but went downhill real fast. Here’s hoping The Black Sun’s Daughter doesn’t follow a similar trajectory.
Oh yes, that’s right: the series title, probably the biggest sequel hook in that it hints as to an as-yet unrevealed mystery that will be explored in the sequels. Midian states that one powerful entity in the other plane is called the Black Sun. Ĵāyņë dreams about a black sun, and sometimes reflexively displays badass superhuman fighting abilities. During one such incident, she subconsciously mutters that she is her mother’s daughter. The series is titled The Black Sun’s Daughter. What could it possibly mean!? I haven’t got a clue. I suppose I’ll just have to keep reading to find out.
Final Rating: 3/5