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Hugh Likes Fiction: Idle Ingredients

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Idle Ingredients (Sin du Jour Book 4)
Written by Matt Wallace
Published by Tor

sindujour4

Matt Wallace is back again with the fourth course of his ‘Sin du Jour’ novellas. Each bite-sized course of these epicurean Urban Fantasy series is an utter delight, and I’ve been looking forward to this one. As usual, Wallace doesn’t disappoint.
Still reeling from their last big job in Los Angeles, Sin du Jour line chef Lena Tarr goes on the lamb. Bronko and Nikki bring her back to the kitchen on the very reasonable assumption that the armies of Hell that are after them will kill her without the protection Sin du Jour provides. But there’s a new face at the catering company, ‘Government liaison’ Luciana Monrovio and Lena is immediately suspicious of the hold she seems to suddenly have over all of them, particularly the guys.
This novella is a bit more serious than the last three, but that’s not surprising after the major throw down at the end of “Pride’s Spell.” The thing I did like about this one is that it packs in a lot of character growth for characters we haven’t seen too much of before. Darren gets some nice page time, and really starts to come into his own, even as Lena is shown as more vulnerable than we’ve seen her in the past, and planning assistant Jett gets a cool arc too. Wallace’s strength is in keeping all of his plates spinning so flawlessly. Sin du Jour, as in his previous novella series, Slingers, has a huge cast of characters. Matt manages to breathe life into all of them, and progress their individual stories, in a breathtakingly short amount of pages. Each bite-sized book contains more character growth and personality than your average doorstop fantasy epic.
Sin du Jour book four, Idle Ingredients, is out now from Tor. You can purchase it from Amazon or wherever you get books.

Hugh Likes Fiction: Lustlocked

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Lustlocked
Written by Matt Wallace
Published by Tor
Lustlocked
The second novella in Wallace’s “Sin du Jour” series, Lustlocked delivers with more of the hijinks, magic, and profanity that are his stock in trade.
Having survived their first gig, newbies Lena and Darren are brought on as provisional chefs, just in time for the next big job.  Sin du Jour has been contracted for the wedding of wedding of the Goblin King’s son to a mortal woman, and it is going to be a party to remember.
But before you go picturing little green men in tuxes, Goblins are, in fact, the opposite.  The most beautiful of God’s creatures, they secretly rule the entertainment industry, and eat only the finest gold.  Their ruler is exactly who you think, tight pants and all.
When Sin du Jour’s resident crone meddles to encourage goblin society to be more accepting of their new princess, the results quickly get out of control.
In spite of the unfortunate timing of the books release, this is another rollicking, messy adventure, and fans of Envy of Angels will find plenty to love in this worthy sequel.  All of the colorful characters return, and are in the same over-the-top form.  We get a bit more character depth as they content with lust spirits, homicidal spells incarnated as Hanna-Barbera characters, and panicked starlets.  It is a skewering of Hollywood that only Matt Wallace could come up with, and it is well worth the time this short-course will take to devour.
One of the things I really enjoyed about this entry is that he focuses the action at the company headquarters and the wedding.  “Envy of Angels” split time between the chefs and the procurement team, and felt a little spread out.  This time, Ritter and company’s adventure is split off into a separate short story, “Small Wars,” which is included with the ebook.  It’s a poignant little tale, and serves as a nice counterpoint to the glitz and wackiness of the novella.
Lustlocked is another course of dark, hilarious epicurean urban fantasy.  I’ll be eagerly awaiting the next Sin du Jour entree in June.

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Hugh Likes Fiction: Envy of Angels

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Envy of Angels
Written by Matt Wallace
Published by Tor
EoA
What would you do for your dream job?  Two struggling line chefs are forced to grapple with that question when they are hired by Sin Du Jour, a very exclusive catering company with a most unusual clientele.
Sin Du Jour caters for demons.  And goblins, and a host of other supernatural creatures that the rest of the world thinks are myths.  But when Sin Du Jour is contracted to serve a post-treaty signing banquet for warring demon tribes, the menu might be more than they can stomach.
Filled with quirky characters, shocking twists, and clever high concepts, Matt Wallace’s Envy of Angels is a delightfully weird novella.  He has a wonderful talent of pulling out a new reveal just when you think the story has gone as far as it can.  It’s not an adventure so much as it is a magic show.  You keep turning the page less to see if the heroes will make it than to see what kind of three-headed fire-breathing rabbit Wallace will pull out of his hat next.
He mixes this with an ability to draw out sympathy for his characters in remarkably efficient language.  He can make you hate a character and then deliver a get-punch you never saw coming in the space of a single paragraph.  It makes for a fast read that is difficult to put down.
This brief and blustery novella might not be for everyone, however.  The short length and large cast means that as much as I was rooting for these characters, I didn’t get to know them quite as well as I’d have liked to.  We get one or two details, then the book barrels onward.  Much of the second act is also set away from the kitchen, which puts supposed main characters Lena and Darren out of the reader’s eye to follow another team of Sin Du Jour employees.  It still makes for an interesting read, but it isn’t a traditional narrative by any stretch.  The ending also feels a bit abrupt.
Even though it doesn’t quite fill the belly as much as a novel, Envy of Angels is a satisfying first course in Matt Wallace’s “Sin Du Jour” series.  Check it out in print or ebook!

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