Eden Moore books, by Cherie Priest.

Flora Segunda, by Ysabeau Wilce.

There’s dark fantasy all over the place. Vampires! Werewolves! Tattoos! Sex! Did I Mention the Vampires?!?

Cherie Priest’s Eden Moore books aren’t dark fantasy. They’re ghost stories. I love ghost stories, which may or may not contain ghosts but at least contain something 1) spooky that 2) must be faced, if only because it’s in the same house.

So Eden. She’s a southern girl. The American South is as full of ghosts as Great Britain, you know. They have Wuthering Heights. We have Gone with the Wind.* They have haunted castles. We have Graceland.

Eden can see ghosts. At first the ghosts are from her family, who are trying to protect her, because other people are trying to kill her, also from her family. It gets complicated. That’s Four and Twenty Blackbirds, which I read half a year ago.

I just finished Wings to the Kingdom. Now, the ghosts are not from her family, but from the Chickamauga battlefield in Tennessee.

The first book started out so strong – threats to her life, backstory so strong you actually wanted to read it for its own sake, good characters, believable conflicts (i.e., a real mess all around) – that I was disappointed with Wings at first. Eh, the writing is good, but why bother? There aren’t any threats to Eden herself, she’s dealing with people because she’s obligated to not because she has any internal motivation, she doesn’t see much point in getting involved in anything actually interesting.

But if the first book’s about Eden deciding she has a right to live, the second book’s about her deciding what to do with her life, and the plot reflects that. A conundrum. Writing an honest story about finding a place in life doesn’t start out with knowing it already – you go in false directions, you piss people off, you whine a lot. But then Eden gets her shit together. I enjoyed it and am looking forward to the third book in the series, and other things she’s written, like Dreadful Skin, which is about werewolves and lapsed nuns.

Flora Segunda, Being the Magickal Mishaps of a Girl of Spirit, Her Glass-Gazing Sidekick, Two Ominous Butlers (One Blue), a House with Eleven Thousand Rooms, and a Red Dog is a YA Fantasy set in an alternate California populated by magicians and mad scientists. Check out the website – it’s fun in and of itself.

Flora is the daughter of a military genius and her insane husband, and she’s supposed to grow up to be a soldier. Instead, she wants to become a ranger, a magician-assassin-spy, a woman of many hats and talents. So when the opportunity comes to have an ill-considered adventure with her friend, a real fop, of course she goes for it. What could go wrong?

A lot. I won’t say what. But it’s fun. If you’re looking for a lurid adventure novel about a girl who isn’t a fantastic fighter, or a super magician, or preternaturally intelligent, or never gives up…yup, you will find a good novel to read in bed with your head under the covers and a flashlight. If you’re an adult, ignore your Significant Other saying, “Why don’t you just turn the light on?” Because IT’S NOT THE SAME, YOU FOOL!**

*Tell me there’s no ghost. Go on, tell me. It’s the entire Antebellum South! Notice the nose on your face much? Shyaa.
**No, Lee didn’t say this. But then, I thought of it just now, so I will have to do that when I read the sequel, which is sitting on my shelf as I type.