There are many great authors writing in the urban fiction and fantasy realm. Great in terms of writing and world building and great in the way the authors interact with fans. But few can compare with the writing team that makes up Ilona Andrews. Ilona Andrews repeatedly publishes completely entertaining novels. I never hesitate to buy an Ilona Andrews book because I know that I will be happy with what I get. It doesn’t stop there, these authors continue to give their readers “snippets”, short stories and varying points of view from characters that don’t get their points of view told in the published books. And they do this for free — putting it on their blog and making these stories available. So always creating and always giving, Ilona Andrews wrote a serialized story and put this on their website for their readers to read — this is where Clean Sweep originated. I can’t keep up with a serial, my online time is sporadic because of a crazy work schedule and lots of kids — so I didn’t read it while it was free on their blog. I loved that it was there, but didn’t read it. I was thrilled when I found out the serialized story became a novel. Yes! In the transition of the serialized online story to novel, there was some editing and tweaking and incorporating artwork. Ilona Andrews had an artist bring the characters to picture. The pictures appear throughout the story and personally, I loved them. The pictures are beautiful, vivid and add a new element to the story that I wasn’t expecting.
So clearly, I jumped at the chance to read this story — urban (suburban?) sci-fi fantasy: aliens, other worlds, buildings that are sentient, witches, werewolves, vampires and our modern world (costco, barbecue and the like) — heck yeah! Something has to be said about series reading — it can be sticky starting a new fantasy based series. Some authors dump the world on readers at the beginning of the story and some authors don’t adequately explain the world. This is not an issue in Clean Sweep. The world building is sharply done but subtly fed to the readers. There is no confusion trying to figure things out but there is also no info dumping. The world is crystal sharp and so real. Another thing about series reading, often — too often — series just go on and on and rather than keeping the momentum and excitement the books decline in fun and quality. This is not an issue with any Ilona Andrews book; for example, the Kate Daniels series gets better with every single Kate Daniels story.
Clean Sweep is told from the point of view of Dina, an “inn keeper” who runs what appears to be a bed and breakfast to common civilians but really is an intergalactic way-station for travelers. The house and Dina have magic; magic that is fun to watch Dina use. But like many of Andrews’ books, there are limits to the magic and limits to the power. I love that. I love when things aren’t easy for the characters. Characters are at their best when they get roughed up by life and need to figure things out.
Clean Sweep introduces two male protagonists who both are romantically interested in Dina. But to be clear, this is not a romance and the main focus of the story is not romance; having written that, there is a dabbling of sexual tension, which is fun. There is a tiny mystery, action and funny encounters. Fans of Ilona Andrews will most definitely enjoy this book. Readers who haven’t yet tried Andrews and wonder what her books are like, well this book is a good place to start but ultimately you have to end up reading the Kate Daniels series. If you like strong heroines, a cross over of fantasy in the real world but done with a unique take, then you will like Clean Sweep. It is a light and fast read.
So what comes next? Ilona Andrews is releasing a sequel in early 2014. So far this book is not titled and does not have a solid release date — but I cannot wait.
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