Over the holidays I was given the opportunity to read Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews for the privilege of writing a review on my lil ol’ blog here. I’m a wee bit behind on my editorial calendar, but here goes (smile).
Ilona Andrews is actually a husband and wife writing team. They are the brilliant minds behind the Kate Daniels and The Edge series. The writing can be categorized as modern Sci-Fi/Fantasy, as most of the stories (at least all of the books I’ve read) take place in some version of the modern U.S. with a supernatural twist.
I suppose before I get too far in I should give you the official synopsis:
On the outside, Dina Demille is the epitome of normal. She runs a quaint Victorian Bed and Breakfast in a small Texas town, owns a Shih Tzu named Beast, and is a perfect neighbor, whose biggest problem should be what to serve her guests for breakfast. But Dina is…different: Her broom is a deadly weapon; her Inn is magic and thinks for itself. Meant to be a lodging for otherworldly visitors, the only permanent guest is a retired Galactic aristocrat who can’t leave the grounds because she’s responsible for the deaths of millions and someone might shoot her on sight. Under the circumstances, “normal” is a bit of a stretch for Dina.
And now, something with wicked claws and deepwater teeth has begun to hunt at night….Feeling responsible for her neighbors, Dina decides to get involved. Before long, she has to juggle dealing with the annoyingly attractive, ex-military, new neighbor, Sean Evans—an alpha-strain werewolf—and the equally arresting cosmic vampire soldier, Arland, while trying to keep her inn and its guests safe. But the enemy she’s facing is unlike anything she’s ever encountered before. It’s smart, vicious, and lethal, and putting herself between this creature and her neighbors might just cost her everything.
I shall endeavor to not give anymore of the story-line away on this one. Sorry, no (major) spoilers here!
I’m a big fan of the Kate Daniels books myself, so I know just how well Ilona Andrews can paint worlds. Clean Sweep is no different. Anyone familiar with Texas or any similar town has an instant visual canvas which Andrews masterfully uses to paint a wonderful fantasy. I appreciate the strong female character who is both composed and capable. Are there guys around to help out? Of course. Is there romance? Inevitably. But all aspects are well-balanced. It’s not one of those fantasy books that simultaneously belongs on the shelf with the Harlequin Romance novels.
My only real hang-up for this book in particular was the slightly alien-edged vampire group that shows up along the way. I know – shape-changers and vampires are all good but aliens is my limit. Think what you will, it’s true.
Overall, I think the book was well-written and very well-balanced. I really appreciate the fact that the ending didn’t seem forced or rushed, and it left room for another book (fingers crossed). I read that Andrews actually released this book as a serial on their website chapter by chapter for free! I didn’t know such things were done, but now I’ll be on the lookout for sure (smile). The impressive part about this is that the end product is a book that was written in real time – no circle backs to add or delete a scene, modify a description, or change any hiccups. As anyone who has ever tried to write a story will tell you, that’s an incredibly difficult thing to do; but do it Andrews did, and very well. I would certainly recommend the book to anyone who appreciates this genre or who has an open mind to test it out (smile).