“Cat’s Claw” by Amber Benson (Ace, 2010)

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Calliope Reaper-Jones is back . . . sort of.  Actually, she just wants her life to get back to normal, to do her stressful, fast-paced job, and live in the normal world, but of course that’s not going to happen.  In Death’s Daughter, Calliope ended up owing the three-headed guardian of Hell, Cerberus, a favor, and now he wants to collect on that.  After being forcefully summoned to stand before Cerberus, she is offered a deal: to find a an ancient Egyptian architect who has gone missing.  She only has so much time to complete this task: if she succeeds, her debt will be filled and she’ll get to keep Runt, the cute offspring of Cerberus who Callie adopted; if she fails, she will have to take over Cerberus’s job as the guardian of the gate of hell.

Cat’s Claw continues Calliope’s adventures from our world into the underworld and beyond – even traveling through time at one point – as Amber Benson continues to have fun with the world she’s created.  While this sequel lacks a little of the depth and complexity of Death’s Daughter, it’s nevertheless a fun romp into an interesting fantasy that plays around with mythology and history.

If you liked this review and are interested in purchasing this book, click here.

Originally written on March 22nd 2010 ©Alex C. Telander.

“Death’s Daughter” by Amber Benson (Ace, 2009)

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Calliope Reaper-Jones has a simple life in New York, a city she loves.  She cares little for her boss and job, but enjoys the fashions and the stores, and is on the lookout for the perfect hunk to marry and spend the rest of her life with.  And Calliope thinks she might’ve found him, when she’s all set to go on a first date and finds a monster standing outside her door.  The monster isn’t in her imagination either, but the first in a series of events, including the meeting of a little faun, that eventually breaks the “forgetting spell” Calliope had cast.  It is then that she faces the stark realization and forgotten fact that she is Death’s daughter.

The reason her perfect little life has been dramatically changed is because her father, CEO of death, as well as the “members of the board” and Calliope’s sister who is an assistant to her father, have all been kidnapped.  Which mean’s there’s no death,  the life and wealth and immortality afforded the family of death will be voided and they will lose everything.  So it’s all up to Calliope; she must become Death to save the family.  Only this was the one thing she never wanted.  She will also have to complete three trials to prove herself to the gods that she can do the job.  She meets Woden, Persephone, and Kali who just really has it in for her.  And the first of the trials is merely to capture one of Cerberus’s puppies, the veritable hellhound of hell.

Amber Benson, author of the Albion series with Christopher Golden, and the actress who played the character of Tara on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, does a great job creating some compelling and interesting characters in this original story.  Calliope is a strong protagonist that you don’t want to mess with, while Kali is a goddess you never want to get on the bad side of.  Then there’s the Devil’s protégé who just turns Calliope to horny mush whenever she sees him.  Death’s Daughter is a funny, entertaining story that gives you a healthy dose of mythology mixed with some great characters and thrilling plot.  A recipe that leaves readers anxiously waiting for the next book of the trilogy due out next year.

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Originally written on February 22nd 2009 ©Alex C. Telander.

For an interview with Amber Benson check out BookBanter Episode 6.