shrew (n) :
1. "small mammal," O.E. screawa "shrew-mouse."
2. "peevish, malignant, clamorous, spiteful, vexatious, turbulent woman" [Johnson] c.1386, from earlier sense of "spiteful person" (male or female), c.1250, traditionally said to derive from some supposed malignant influence of the animal, which was once believed to have a venomous bite and was held in superstitious dread.
Synonyms: amazon, battle-ax, bitch, calumniator, carper, dragon, fire-eater, fishwife, fury, harpy, harridan, hell cat, hellion, hussy, madcap, muckraker, nag, ogress, scold, she-wolf, siren, spitfire, termagant, tigress, virago, vixen, wench
This blog features reviews of LGBT science fiction and fantasy, tales of the life of a freelance writer, the occasional meme, and pictures of cats. If any of this offends you, please press Ctrl+W.
Sunday, January 16, 2011
New Author: Jordan Castillo Price
Jordan Castillo Price writes highly entertaining and addictive M/M novels, many of which have a speculative fiction focus. This author's engaging novels are also probably termed "gay paranormal romance", though the Shrew has a somewhat irrational dislike of the term paranormal romance, even if it is prefaced by gay. In the world of M/M romance, it is hard to find quality writing, especially in sub-genres such as M/M paranormal romance, fantasy or science fiction. But Jordan Castillo Price proves the exception to this rule. Her stories are down-to-earth, funny, romantic, strange and refreshing. Her characters are fleshed-out people, men and women you could imagine knowing.
Perhaps because of her academic background, the Shrew is very picky when it comes to her M/M titles, and so she overlooked Jordan Castillo Price for a long time. When I finally gave in and searched for "gay vampire fiction", I found (and unfortunately paid for) some pretty dismal titles. It's a sad state of affairs when solid characterization is a quality lacking in many genre novels, and I was overjoyed when, after slogging through some uninspired titles, I found Hemovore.
At first glance, the cover was already light years away from the shirtless-hunk-and-bad-Photoshop covers sported by most M/M titles. Then I started reading, and a grin spread across my face. Jordan Castillo Price had created a fascinating paranormal world and a totally adorable main character. Hemovore is set in an alternative-reality Chicago where vampires live uneasily alongside human beings, ala Charlaine Harris. The twist is that the vampires were created by a virus, and they're referred to as V-positive. The main character, Mark Jensen, is the personal assistant of a very beautiful and mysterious V-positive artist, Jonathan Varga. Mark is neurotic about hand gel and gloves because he's terrified of catching the vampire virus. You would think that this would be grating, but it's ultimately endearing. You get completely sucked in and are eager to follow Mark's adventures as he gets pulled into the world of the V-positives. And that's all I'm going to say, lest I give anything away.
In Hemovore Jordan Castillo Price did some very impressive things with what was essentially a gay paranormal romance novel: created a totally realistic world in which vampires exist without resorting to cliches, wrote a very tight mystery and action plot without getting bogged down or skipping over anything, introduced readers to a main character that's totally believable but also lovable, let the sexual tension build and build throughout the novel without boring the reader, and tackled AIDS issues in the gay community without being heavy handed. All of that in one novel. After reading Hemovore, I was determined to read more from Jordan Castillo Price.
That led me to her most popular series, PsyCop, which "features frazzled psychic medium Victor Bayne and his smokin'-hot boyfriend, Jacob Marks" (from the PsyCop website). Victor is a flawed character but completely endearing. The paranormal mystery plots of the novels are interesting, and the sex between Victor and Jacob is totally hot. I read the first PsyCop novel, Among the Living on Kindle in about a day because it was so engrossing. Then I promptly downloaded the second PsyCop novel, Criss Cross, and then the third, Body & Soul. Each novel took about a day to read, but I am a fast reader and I got kind of addicted.
The only drawback to the PsyCop novels is that they feel a little short, but I suppose that's what happens with serial novels like these. The upside to this is that each novel is reasonably priced on Kindle, so you can indulge in the whole series without breaking the bank.
The thing I love the most about Jordan Castillo Price is her narrative voice (to get all academic about it.) Plainly put, her main characters are real people, and they speak in real voices. Victor Bayne, in particular, reads like a real guy--he's got issues, fears and quirks, but he's also self-effacing and funny. You find yourself rooting for him throughout the series. The Shrew, for example, is completely in love with Victor. I would have downloaded the other books in the series already, but I didn't want to go through them too fast. Like a large box of delicious chocolates, Jordan Castillo Price's novels should be savored.
If you want to read more about Jordan Castillo Price, you can find her fan page on Facebook, her blog on LiveJournal, or at the PsyCop website. If you fell as hard for Victor as I did, you can even sign up for her newsletter!