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WesternSFA
Labyrinth of Stars A Hunter Kiss Novel
by Marjorie M. Liu
Ace Books; $7.99; 290pp
Release Date: February 25, 2014
I have to be honest and say this is not my cup of tea because the violence is pretty unrelenting and there are very few moments of peace. There’s a little, to be fair, but not much. Overall, the tale is very well and tightly done and populated with interesting characters. This is also a novel from an ongoing series. Hence some of my confusion about just what is happening.

The story is full of terror, blood, disemboweled bodies, burning and four clans of demons that are isolated on our Earth on a 3000-acre spread in Texas . And the one who controls all this is Maxine Kiss---who pretty much comes off as not only Queen of the Universe but whose existence is the pivot on which many, many worlds turn. She has five demons that are a part of her; lying on her skin as silvery veins of armor and as tats. They protect her. And feed her sandwiches and M & Ms when needed. She is married to a hunk named Grant, a Lightbringer (not really sure what the name applies to but he has some awesome skills) and she is expecting their first child, a daughter – a daughter whose mere existence as a fetus threatens so many beings and the status quo across the galaxies. Especially threatened are the Divine Lords—the Aetar who have created beings and decimated so many worlds - worlds which are accessed through the portal of the Labyrinth.

There are no faint emotions here. Everything is ferocious hate, immortal, all-consuming love, soul-ripping fear and eternal night. All presented at an insanely passionate level. It is a bit exhausting.

This book rolls from one tense scene to another but almost the same kind of event is dealt with each time: someone wants to kill Maxine or threaten/injure someone in her immediate circle as she seeks answers to the plague threatening all she loves. A few demon clans respect Maxine but an awful lot of them just want to destroy and eat her (or any human in the vicinity). So she is constantly fending off attack as she tries to uncover who is responsible for the terrible plague. But surprisingly, in all this ugliness, there is also love underlying her actions: love for her husband, baby, her personal demons, and her world.

Maxine needs to find a cure for a virus which is slowly killing the immortal demons as well as she and her husband….and Maxine discovers the only one who can stop it is the Devourer…(He Whose Name Should NOT be spoken-- or everybody nearby will freak out). The Devourer turns out to be not what she had assumed when they meet.

Liu has created a completely unique construct of a universe of hell fire and wildness, populated by demons and the galactic- wide manipulators, the Aetar who make countless worlds in which to die or be tortured.

I really haven’t read anything like it. ~~ Sue Martin

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