VILLAIN'S DECEPTION is the third novel in the Shadow Master series. The Shadow Master, Jackson Blackwell, is a consulting villain who runs an agency that essentially educates supervillains and Dark Lords in the finer art of being bad guys. Jackson is a paid Evil Overlord's List and gets to indulge in his sadistic desire to put down the cliche of his clients. Free admission here, I met Michael Gibson in a writing group and loved one of his novels so much that I wrote a Foreword for it. I also am terminally biased towards novels about supervillains or antiheroes. It comes with being the author of the Supervillainy Saga.
CLAN NOVEL: VENTRUE by Gherbod Fleming is the fifth novel of the Vampire: The Masquerade Clan Novel series. It is a series published in 1999 and told a thirteen novel story about the conflict between Sabbat (bad vampires) invading the cities belonging to the Camarilla (less bad vampires). A magical artifact called the Eye of Hazmiel was serving as a wild card during it and each new book's protagonist was a glimpse into one of the individual undead's journey. Each book also served as an illustration about what a specific clan was all about.
Urban Fantasy tends to come in two varieties. The first is a female heroine who is a dhampir, witch, or shifter who is investigating some horrible series of crimes while not quite fitting into either the human or supernatural world. The second is a male protagonist who is usually a wizard, loosely based on John Constantine (or Harry Dresden) and snarky as hell. Before you think I'm criticizing this, I should mention that I wrote I WAS A TEENAGE WEREDEER about a snarky investigator caught between two worlds and THE SUPERVILLAINY SAGA about a male wizard based in part on Harry Dresden.
A MURDER IN ABSENTIA tackles what is a common problem in fantasy and tackles it in an amusing way. One of the bigger issues in the genre is that almost all of it takes place in a faux-Europe during the Middle Ages. This series takes place in a fantasy version of Ancient Rome and fully immerses itself in the unique customs as well as culture to make an entertaining 30 A.D. murder mystery. The series also incorporates sorcery, Mystery Cults, and other wackiness that enhances the tale.
The Followers of Set hold a special place in my heart. They are the Set-worshiping, Caine-rejecting vampires who went from being one of the most ridiculous Clans in Vampire: The Masquerade to one of my all-time favorites. Presently, they hold a number #2 position for me in the setting with only Clan Malkavian ranking higher in people I'd want to be Embraced by. The Followers of Set are a group that is easy to get wrong but amazing if you get them right and a large part of why I love them is due to this book.
It's interesting how re-reading a book can change your opinion of it as well as reveal elements you were blind to on your first read-through. I read Clan Novel Gangrel in June 1999 at the age of 19. I had recently dispersed myself of fundamentalism for liberal Christianity (yes, a fundamentalist Vampire: The Masquerade player) and was only beginning to become aware of the diversity in the world around me.
Seth Skorkowsky is one of the most promising fantasy writers I've read in the past decade. He has managed to create top quality urban fantasy in the Valducan series and exceeded that in the Tales from the Black Raven stories. While I prefer the latter, I was a day-one purchaser for this latest volume of the Valducan series.
CLAN NOVEL: TZIMISCE is the second novel in the Clan Novel series by White Wolf games. Originally published in 1999, it and the rest of the series have been reprinted for their 20th anniversary by Crossroad Press. They're available in a new trade paperback edition and Kindle format. I remember reading these back when I was 18 years old, a Goth kid in Kentucky, and so edgy that you could shave with me. Sisters of Mercy was the coolest, ooo! So, do the books hold up two decades later? Let's find out.
THE COMPANY OF DEATH is by Elisa Hansen, one of the authors of the Twilight parody Awoken (where a young teenage girl falls in love with Cthulhu). She is also a well-loved web reviewer of vampire fiction under the stage name the Maven of the Eventide. Her persona there is a perky Goth who fangirls over vampire fiction while also giving incisive commentary on the feminist, racial, sociological, or even environmental subtext of things like Daybreakers or Kindred: The Embraced.
SECOND STRING SAVIOR is a novel set in the Tome of Bill world. Rick Gualtieri and R. E. Carr have written a story that takes place roughly contemporaneous with the first three Tome of Bill novels, culminating in the latter half of the book taking place during The Mourning Wood. As you can tell by the titles of the books, they're a comedy urban fantasy series that has a heavy emphasis on crass humor as well as puns.