Saturday, December 13, 2008

Handeland's Rising Moon and Hidden Moon
Are Top Entries in Nightcreatures Series

Lori Handeland hits her stride in the last three volumes of her eight-book Nighcreatures werewolf series. The plots of Rising Moon and Hidden Moon have surprising twists, and it’s pretty hard to fool this lifelong bookworm. I don’t want to be a spoiler, so let me give an overview of the novels in order.

One thread that unites the books is the recurring presence of a mysterious secret government agency, the Jager-Suchers or werewolf hunter-searchers. A minor character in one book may emerge as the protagonist in another. These books follow the pattern of romance novels, with distracting sex scenes that contribute little to character development or plot. Handeland, nonetheless, creates an interesting multi-faceted world in these novels.

The series opens with Blue Moon and weird goings-on at a Wisconsin summer resort. Police officer Jesse McQuade and a native American professor Will Cadotte unravel the mystery. Edward Mandanauer, driving force behind the Jager-Suchers, arrives early, armed to the teeth with silver bullets in bandoliers slung across his bony chest. Jesse gets her guy; the werewolves get dead.

Leigh Tyler, a talented werewolf slayer, is the protagonist of Hunter’s Moon. The action moves to Wisconsin. Helped by Jesse, Will, and Mandenauer, Leigh becomes involved with the first good werewolf we meet in the series. Readers are introduced to Dr. Elise Hanover whose own werewolf adventure and love story is the subject of Dark Moon, third book in the series. Mandanauer’s own dark past is revealed in that tale.

Crescent Moon strikes off in a new direction. Diane Malone, a cryptozoologist, is hired to investigate suspicious disappearances in a bayou outside of New Orleans. Her sleuthing uncovers the family curse of the Ruelles and leads her into the arms of another rugged hero in the series, Ruelle scion Adam. Edward Mandanauer and Dr. Elise Hanover emerge like deus ex machina toward the end of the story.

Midnight Moon takes a minor character in Crescent Moon, voodoo priestess Cassandra, to Haiti. The nightcreatures theme broadens to include zombies and other shapeshifters besides werewolves. Devon Murphy, the love interest, is Indiana Jones with Captain Jack Sparrow beads and feathers in his hair. The Jager-Suchers and Edward Mandanauer are but a shadowy group pulling the strings off-stage.

Things really get interesting in Rising Moon, one of my favorites in the series. The action returns to the Big Easy. Private eye Anne Lockheart comes to New Orleans looking for her missing sister, meets mysterious blind jazz musician John Rodolfo, and the story goes from there. Cassandra and Devon, Diane and Adam, Mandanauer and Elise are on hand for the surprising denouement. The story also is appealing because the theme of redemption emerges with strength for the first time since weakly broached in Hunter’s Moon.

Hidden Moon takes readers to Georgia. Claire Kennedy, small-town mayor, is confronted with inexplicable happenings when a band of gypsies arrive. An element of sorcery emerges in the figure of love interest Malachi Cartwright. The theme of redemption is linked with that of love in a poignant climax (in more ways than one). Mandanauer and Elise Hanover make cameo appearances.

Finally, Thunder Moon returns to Lake Bluff, Georgia, and the theme of Native American mysticism that plays a key role in the plots of Blue Moon (book one) and Hunter’s Moon (three). Grace McDaniel, Lake Bluff sheriff, full-blooded Cherokee, and childhood friend of mayor Claire Kennedy, had a large supporting role in Hidden Moon. Now, her romance with Ian Walker, physician, Native American healer and warrior, continues to move the series away from werewolves into other permutations of shapeshifting and sorcery. Walker is revealed as a member of a Native-American society of monster hunters. The Jager-Suchers play little part and go underground, according to an epilogue.

It’s unclear whether Handeland will continue the series. The preview chapter of Any Given Doomsday does not suggest continuance of the moon-themed series. Yet Handeland leaves the door open.

To purchase all eight novels, please see my listing on ebay through Dec. 19.

1 comment:

Sylvia K said...

Okay, you've roused my curiosity! I read so much over the past ten years since I retired I suddenly couldn't even get through five pages of another book. I was burned out, had read everything I could find. Then about six or eight months ago, I took my latest stack back to the library and that's when I started blogging. But I'm about ready to pick up another book or two and these sound intriguing. I love mysteries they were my escape reading and when I wasn't reading them I was writing them. Lost four of them in my computer disaster, but saved one and posted it on my other blog. At least I saved it!