Tuesday, February 4, 2014

"Iron Night"

M.L. Brennan's first novel, Generation V, was published in 2013 from ROC Books, and is a work of urban fantasy. Its sequel, Iron Night, was published January 7, 2014. The third book in the series is Tainted Blood and will be available in November 2014.

Brennan applied the Page 69 Test to Iron Night and reported the following:
I was a little nervous to apply the Page 69 test to Iron Night, but I was pleasantly surprised. My main characters, vampire Fortitude Scott and kitsune trickster Suzume Hollis are investigating the murder of Fort’s roommate, Gage. The trail has led them to a speed-dating operation based in a New Age store, and they encounter a new character, Lilah, who will be important later in the book.

From page 69:
…was sending out the e-mails this morning to the participants, and pretty much every woman asked to have her info sent to him.” Lilah considered for a moment, then asked tentatively, “I’m sure you’re really worried about him, but have you thought about whether he went home with someone? People aren’t supposed to do it at the dating events, but I know that sometimes they slip phone numbers to each other.” She shrugged, dropped her voice, then said almost apologetically, “It seemed like a really nice group, but sometimes when one person is so obviously popular a few of the daters try to . . . you know . . . make an impression. There have been a few incidents.”

Lilah’s expression suggested that those incidents were weird, probably sexual, and definitely good storytelling, and I was about to ask for details when Suzume walked up beside me, apparently done with whatever form of vandalism she’d come up with to occupy her attention. She opened her mouth to say something, then suddenly stopped, frowned slightly, and peered hard at Lilah. She leaned across the counter, well into Lilah’s personal space, and gave a very obvious sniff. A wide, slightly malevolent smile spread across her face, reminding me of the cartoon Grinch, and she said, “Well, if it isn’t one of Santa’s little helpers.”

Lilah went completely white at the statement, her freckles suddenly stark against the pallor of her skin, and her hands flew instinctively to her hair, patting frantically at the braid that circled her head. “I have no idea what you’re talking about,” she said thinly, even as the patting continued.

Suzume snorted. “Oh, give it a rest, halfsie.” She rolled her eyes at me, as I continued to attempt to puzzle out what exactly was happening. “If it wasn’t for the level of patchouli funk in this place I would’ve smelled it earlier.” At Lilah’s persistent hair groping, Suze gave a rather mean smile and said, “Don’t look so horrified. You didn’t flash an ear. Let’s get this thing rolling. I’m”—she pointed at her chest—“a kitsune, and he’s”—now the finger went in my direction—“a vampire.”

I choked. Apparently all secret identities were off.

It didn’t seem possible, but Lilah got even paler and…
The big question of course, is whether this one page is representative of the book. To a degree, yes. I’d say my writing style (particularly some of the humorous elements) is very much on display here, as is my style of dialogue. There’s a reveal going on that I like quite a bit, since Fort and Lilah are both characters who have very uneasy feelings about their supernatural natures and would much rather play at being human, while Suzume has no patience at all for this attitude. Suzume can be a very playful character, but in this scene she has much more of a nasty edge than usual, foreshadowing her extreme dislike of the elves. Fort doesn’t have as much experience with elves, though after some other scenes he’ll be much more in tune with his friend’s opinion.

This scene also shows a bit of the dynamic between Fort and Suze – he’s still figuring out how to investigate something, and being in charge and questioning something sits awkwardly with him. While Suze is letting him figure these things out, when she loses patience with the situation she’s likely to come in like a wrecking ball – more concerned with results than people’s feelings. And a true fox at her core, she’ll never pass up the opportunity to toy with a situation or exploit a vulnerability. In contrast you can see Fort’s discomfort with what she’s doing – a larger issue that spans the book and series as a whole.
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--Marshal Zeringue