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on 26 December 2009
'Unclean Spirits' follows Jayné Heller as she travels to Denver to settle the estate of her murdered uncle. Upon arrival she learns not only that his remaining possessions are left solely to her, but his capital is vaster than she could have ever imagined. Along with his fortune, Eric also left her a legacy of a different kind... his unfinished business with a cabal of wizards known as the 'Invisible College'. Jayné learns that Eric was some sort of demon hunter, and now has little choice but to follow in his footsteps because whether she believes in demonic riders or not, the leader of the Invisible College Randolph Coin, sees her as a threat to be eliminated by any means. I did not expect to love this book as much as I did -- it was a refreshing read with original worldbuilding and an interesting take on demons. There was a great sense of energy to the book and I could feel the tension pressing on the story all the way through. I rooted for the characters to take out Coin, cheered Jayné on when she figured something out, felt terrible for her when things fell apart and was at the edge of my seat until the final moments.

Jayné is an intelligent if slightly innocent and sceptical protagonist. She finds it incredibly difficult to believe in the existence of magic and demons -- her own childhood having been ruled by a conservative Christian father who she lost faith in. Her reaction to the revelation of the supernatural world was one of realistic horror and fear. It was nice to have a heroine who was down to earth rather than butt-kicking -- there was no posturing with Jayné, if she didn't understand something she didn't let it phase her. She cared about those around her and was deeply appreciative of the help she received. I loved the development of her character. One of the best things being that she learns from her mistakes and doesn't make them again.

The strongest thing about 'Unclean Spirits' is the characterisation. The varied secondary cast that supports Jayné's endeavour soon turns into a family of sorts: there's Aubrey, a biology expert and a nice guy who isn't dull; Ex, a young former Jesuit priest who's austere and mentally self flagellating; Midian, a sharp tongued two-hundred-year-old man under a curse; and Chogyi Jake, a calm and wise voice of reason. I loved all the characters but Ex and Midian were my favourites by far, aside from Jayné herself of course! All the characters were multi-layered and had complex motivations, their relationships with each other getting messier as time went on. Ex interested me a lot, with his deep religious guilt and his straightforward manner. Hanover's characterisations reminded me of something you would get in Ilona Andrews Kate Daniels series -- heart, grit, and just deeply flawed people. Hanover adheres to that much abused rule of good writing 'show don't tell'. With the secondary characters there's very little telling. Jayné doesn't spend pages analysing them, the other characters layers are instead displayed through their behaviour, and it's left to the reader to understand the hints shown.

I'm hideously fussy when it comes to romance and usually hate how it's handled in novels. However, the romance is deftly handled here. There is more than one guy interested in Jayné which becomes apparent to the reader, but not to Jayné herself. Even though the book is written in first person Jayné is an unreliable narrator -- she doesn't necessarily interpret everything the reader does the same way. Despite all the vivid detail, you get the impression that you're only just scratching the surface of this dark original world and its complicated characters. It's brilliant! I love discovering a book that has such unexpected depth and realistic complications. I seriously suggest buying this together with the sequel: Darker Angels: Black Sun's Daughter which is even better.
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on 8 February 2010
I really enjoyed this book, pretty much reading it in one sitting. It has a good plot and believable characters with some depth to them. The world background is interesting and the take on the supernatural different enough to feel new. I like the way the 'magic' system works, there are some sections that obviously tie into folklore and others that are new but still blend in nicely. There's a dash of romance in the mix, just enough for spice not enough to take over the book. The main plot is resolved however there are still mysteries unexplained at the end of the book, in such a way that I'm looking forward to reading the next one.

If you're looking for a good urban fantasy story I'd recommend you buy this book.
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on 25 February 2012
Unclean Spirits is the first in a new (to the UK) Urban Fantasy series which has a different take on the supernatural world. All vampires, werewolves and other creatures are caused by `riders', demon spirits from another dimension who possess people. This was a nice twist on the typical UF set up. Jayné, our young heroine is a naive and slightly lost young woman who suddenly finds out that she has inherited her Uncle Eric estate - several million pounds, a number of properties around the world and a fight against evil.

Jayné is an easy character to like - she is young and struggles at first to accept these supernatural happenings and certainly in the first half of the book she tags along with others, leaving them to make the decisions. However, she soon starts to come into her own, taking charge and organising others. She isn't afraid to question both others and herself and struggles with the blinkered upbringing. She lacks the snark that so many lead characters have and this makes for a refreshing and less defensive character. In addition, Jayné is surrounded by a large cast of colourful characters who spend a lot of time explaining the nature of the threat and helping her. I enjoyed the way they interact together as a proto-family, although Jayné still feels like she has yet to find herself - but as she is only in her early twenties that's understandable!

There is a lot of potential with this series - a likeable heroine who isn't afraid to make the first move, a solid cast of support characters, an intriguing mythology, exciting fight scenes and hints of ongoing mysteries. There are a lot of unanswered questions, not least of which is why this series is called The Black Sun's Daughter! Jayné's fighting skills, what the riders really want and who Jayne's uncle really was, are hopefully areas that will be explained more in future books - all of which I am looking to picking up soon!
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Originally I thought that MLN Hanover was a new author so I was really looking forward to seeing what would occur in a paranormal genre that's heavily laden with almost mythical heroes, vamps and of course magic weilders, so when I learned that the name was a pseudonym for an author whose fantasy titles I loved I was a little apprehensive as I didn't want to ruin my own reading pleasure with a title that didn't fit into what they did.

What unfurled however was a well thought out, cunningly crafted title with a new take on magic, were's and other "riders" which made this a tale that I could really get my teeth into and when added with a good sense of prose, some decent action and a whole host of chaos with casualties based on the lead characters choices I found it a story I couldn't leave alone. Add to this some interesting dialogue which when backed with all the traits that I like from Daniel Abraham's writing (solid characters having to deal with a world that's given them lemons) with a good dash of flaws and it was a story that left me wanting more. I'll look forward to seeing where it goes.
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on 7 December 2008
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....

Fans of Carrie Vaughn, Lilith Saintcrow and Kim Harrison will enjoy this book. It moves at quite a pace although Jayne's quick acceptance of the paranormal world is a little too pat. A good first book in what should be an exciting new series.
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on 6 May 2012
Urban fantasy - constantly being dismissed as by its detractors as an annoying distraction from the real deal - continues going from strength to strength. A sign of healthy popularity in a genre is when authors go on producing intriguing twists to the original template. And that is exactly what Hanover has done in this enjoyable new series. For those of you interested in such things, M.L.N. Hanover is actually Daniel Abraham, he of The Long Price quartet and in yet another authorly incarnation, he has also written Leviathan Wakes as James S.A. Corey.

There's a lot in this novel that feels comfortably familiar to the dyed-in-the-wool fan - a conflicted, isolated heroine with a whole suite of supernatural powers that she somehow stumbles into; a major crisis set in an American city for which she is totally unprepared... And yet - there are also some important differences that have this series earmarked as One To Watch. Jayné, a 22 year old college dropout, gets guilty after going on a spending spree with her newfound wealth and donates a large portion of her new wardrobe to those more needy than herself. When the fighting first hots up, while she can trade blows with the best of them, lining up a baddie in the cross-hairs and squeezing the trigger is beyond her. I enjoyed the thoughtfulness and real agonising that occurred before our heroine started taking out the opposition. It is refreshing for the inevitable violence to be depicted as a big deal - something intrinsically frightening and to be avoided unless absolutely necessary. And while the mandatory love interest is still there, it isn't the engine that runs this story - the focus is all about the evil that Jayné and her team have undertaken to eradicate. Yep, she also has a team. Complete with their own issues and personal baggage. No doubt we'll get to know a lot more about these characters as this series progresses. I'm particularly looking discovering more about Midian, a vampire cursed by the evil Randolph Coin, which makes him - temporarily - one of the good guys.

Which brings me onto the other enjoyable twist to this urban fantasy. Humankind is being preyed upon by demonic presences that invade a body like a parasite - having more in common with threadworms or head lice than the gorgeous fanged hunks that slink through so many other books in this genre. Hanover manages to bring a real sense of tension to this adventure, despite the fact that we know right from the start that Jayné will survive.

Any niggles? Well - of all the names on the planet that Hanover had to choose, Jayné seems the most annoyingly pretentious. Along with our protagonist's regular whining about the fact that no one pronounces it correctly - why should they, when it simply comes across as a feeble attempt to spice up that solid staple, Jane? Other than this uncharacteristic - and wholly avoidable misstep - this is a well-written, thoroughly enjoyable offering and I am eagerly awaiting the second instalment in the series.
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on 19 April 2010
Will I've read A LOT of urban fantasy and I must admit I was very excited to read this. I was already set to buy the entire series. However...well..it started with such promise but it didn't live up to expectations. The characterisation is good - and that's the plus side. On the negative side of things - well, the story is shallow, no real depth, no real intrigue. She could have done so much more with it. I can see from other reviews that people liked the main character. However, I felt her 'journey' was not realistic and lacked any real insight into human behaviour. Finally, there was so much waiting around. Waiting for the big battle - waiting and introspection..waiting and introspection. It got to the point where if I realy yet another line about how she felt prior to the battle I would start tearing my hair out. So no.. i don't really recommend this
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on 21 February 2015
Although the world is moving towards equality in the workplace, when you're fighting the supernatural, it seems to help to be a man. Jim Butcher's "Changes: The Dresden Files" features Harry Dresden, professional wizard and general smart aleck and Felix Castor, the exorcist of "Thicker Than Water" by Mike Carey is also male. Admittedly, Lynda La Plante's D. C. I. Jane Tennison is a great female lead, but she's more on the everyday end of investigation. But now, M. L. N. Hanover brings us Jayné Heller, who proves that fighting demons and the like isn't just a man's job.

In ''Unclean Spirits'', Jayné Heller has recently been informed of her uncle's death and, as her uncle was estranged from his whole family apart from her, she flies to Denver to sort out his affairs. What Jayné doesn't realise is that her uncle Eric was not only very rich, but had gained his wealth fighting ''riders'', demonic forces that take over people's bodies and control them. Speaking to a friend of her uncle's who turns out to be a vampire, Jayné comes to believe that her uncle was murdered by an organisation known as the Invisible College and sets out to avenge his death.

Reading the cover blurb, I thought I'd struggle with ''Unclean Spirits'' as the main female character suggested it would be aimed more at the ''Twilight'' market. But the opening line; ''It was raining in Denver the night Eric Heller died.'', whilst not seeming like much, suggested a slightly darker tone than I'd anticipated. Admittedly, this noirish feel doesn't last throughout the whole book, but those early lines helped strip away my pre-conceived ideas and help me enjoy the book more fully.

Enjoy it I did, as ''Unclean Spirits'' turns out to be a highly enjoyable fast paced thriller. Admittedly, it wasn't wildly original for someone who has read much in the supernatural investigations genre, but there were moments I found myself caught up in the action and wanting Jayné and her team to come out of it well. Part of the reason for this is how well Jayné was written. As a college dropout with few friends and no family support, suddenly being thrust into this strange world puts her off balance and that helped endear her to me. It also made for a perfect opening to a series of books as there was much that both Jayné and the reader needed explaining to them and this helped catch everyone up to speed.

There were points at which even Jayné didn't know what to expect and this helped me come to like her. In the early pages, her instinctive reaction to being attacked had nothing to do with her instincts and was a great piece of writing, which I thoroughly enjoyed. That situation didn't repeat, but it serves to show the reader that the unexpected is always an option and left the whole novel open to anything, which is my favourite kind of plotting. Jayné has been given a pretty rough break in life and it seems the world has more curveballs for her, so that just when she's starting to get a handle on her situation, something else crops up. It hardly seems fair on her, but it made me feel more sympathy for her.

There were a couple of things that I didn't enjoy quite so much. Although the book didn't appeal to the ''Twilight'' audience as much as I expected, there were a couple of nods towards Jayné being your average young lady, such as the relationship between her and Aubrey and when she found a way to spend some of her inheritance at the mall. The first of these moments was a touch predictable, although what happened afterwards was admirably less so and the second just a touch unnecessary and they took the edge of both story and pacing. Fortunately, these moments were rare and the bulk of the novel concentrated on the plot.

Ultimately, ''Unclean Spirits'' beautifully fills the middle ground between the ''red and black'' genre typified by the ''Twilight'' series and the likes of Jim Butcher's ''Dresden Files''. There is the strong female character that readers of the former may enjoy, mixed up with a little romance, but all the action and flashes of the humour of the latter. For fans of either genre, this is certainly worth a look.

This review may also appear, in whole or in part, under my name at any or all of www.ciao.co.uk, www.thebookbag.co.uk, www.goodreads.com, www.amazon.co.uk and www.dooyoo.co.uk
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on 28 June 2011
When I read another customers review I thought, this book sounds really good, but I must admit I was alittle disappointed.
The book wasn't what I was expecting and i think that was the disappointing thing, however the story itself was good and kept you reading and I thoroughly enjoyed all the characters, although a little selfishly i think I wanted our heroine to get with the other guy!
Still its worth a read and an excellent and unique take on a topic that is normally so straight forward you never think it could be different.
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on 22 March 2015
Really enjoyed these books and getting to know the characters, plot line builds up slowly and is really enjoyable, nice easy read but enthralling and captivating at the same time. Magic.
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