Give me magic, gadgets, monsters, zombies, everything that seems impossible, and throw in some tough chicks with swords. That's the stuff.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Guest Post: A Review of The Banshee's Walk

Today Maria Schneider is stopping by to talk about one of her favorite series. I first met Maria on an Urban Fantasy forum and we quickly found that we liked a lot of the same books. We don't always agree, but I enjoy talking about books with her no matter if we both loved it or not. I've also really enjoyed Maria's Moon Shadow series and her Fantasy shorts.

I've got the Markhat books on my list. Here's why Maria thinks you should put them on yours:

I'm not a loyal series reader. I'll generally read one or two and then wander off. So, what makes me stick with a series???

From crucial to important: Characters that grow and change. Humor. A natural progression of events, and plotting that consistently keeps me interested in the story.

What series has all that?? Frank Tuttle's Markhat series. I just finished The Banshee's Walk, which is book five in the series. Some of the early novels are fairly short--long enough to satisfy and nary a word of filler. The characters are people you want to spend time with. With each book, the plots get more detailed and Markhat is endearing, witty and at times, quite hilarious.

There's a bathing/dressing room scene in The Banshee's Walk that I can TOTALLY see in my head, and it makes me chuckle out loud. I'd have liked to be a fly on the wall for that one!

It's not all fun and games. Markhat is a finder, which is sort of a private investigator in a fantasy/urban fantasy setting. The books have great atmosphere; many of the tales involve traditional ghost stories. Dead Man's Rain in particular is one of those stories where you can't wait to see what happens next...and there's these spots where chills run up and down your spine. We're talking old fashioned spookiness, not horror and gore. We're talking the kind of story where you light a fire in the fireplace on a cold and gloomy night and read aloud to your kids, and then later they wake you at 3 in the morning to investigate a very suspicious noise against the window pane.

The early books don't even hint at romance, but later ones introduce a possible character. She gets more intriguing as the books evolve. ALL the characters in Markhat books change and grow as you get to know them. There isn't a stereotype or cardboard character in the lot. Take Banshee's Walk. It's not a spoiler to say there's a banshee in it, but this is a banshee like you've never imagined. At first introduction, you're pretty sure you know all you need to know, but the banshee just isn't interested in being pigeon-holed. Fun, fun, fun.

Tuttle gives equal attention to trolls, vamps, ghosts, witches, office assistants, his clients...and perhaps most importantly, the victims in the stories. It's the heart of the people in these stories that brings me back time and again. There's more than one character I don't want to invite over for dinner, but Markhat and his are welcome anytime. I'm still not sure about the vamp...and I don't have a chair strong enough for the troll, but yanno. These are the kind of books that I pick up when I need a good solid tale with characters that draw me into their problems instantly. I hoard them and enjoy them thoroughly.

And The Banshee's Walk? It was the best of the lot so far. Great mystery, great pacing and great characters. If you only read one Markhat, read Banshee. But gosh. I'd hate for you to miss the rest.

To learn more about Frank Tuttle, here's his blog.

Maria Schneider is the author of the Moon Shadow Urban Fantasy series. Under Witch Moon is the first book. She has also written a cozy mystery series (Sedona O'Hala Mysteries) and several anthologies. You can find her at where she is working on the follow-up novel to the short story, Snitched, Snatched. She sincerely hopes Dragons of Wendal will be out by June 2012, but dragons can be contrary creatures and capturing their story can be dangerous.


  1. I love Frank Tuttle's writing. I've enjoyed the two Markhat stories I have read so far (I'll get to the rest, never worry!), his book of shorts about a cranky wizard, Wistral Compleat and his newest fantasy involving a female wizard and her plant familiar, All The Paths of Shadows. It is a shame I've already read all of these and Maria's books too or I'd add them to my to read list immediately.
    -April Dwndrgn

  2. Sounds like a great book, and you've really piqued my interest about the bathing/dressing room scene...