What I’m Reading: Carolyn Crane – Head Rush

It’s rather sad to see how so many of the best and most interesting series in the Paranormal / Urban Fantasy genre seem to get discontinued by their publishers – T.A. Pratt’s Marla Manson, Moira J. Moore’s Lee and Taro (I know, not really Paranormal, not even really Fantasy, but it kind of reads like it was), Harry Connolly’s Twenty Palaces… Apparently the same thing happened to Carolyn Crane’s Disillusionists Trilogy which got dropped by Spectra after two volumes – which was particularly nasty as the second installment ended on an evil cliffhanger, and readers were left gnashing their teeth in frustration at the prospect of never finding out how it all resolves. Thankfully, there was a happy ending in store and the final volume in the trilogy was picked up by Audible and Samhain, so that we can now read (or listen to, if we’re so inclined) the finale fate of Justine, Packard, Otto and the others.

This is another series I was somewhat hesitant about at first despite of all the rave reviewsit received, because everyone said that this was about superheroes, and superheroes are something I just don’t get and never was able to muster any interest in. But after some hum-in and ho-ing I decided to give it a try and am glad I did. This is not about a bunch of costumed guys fighting crime but about a group of very weird individuals with huge mental problems and the “super” power of being able to temporarily rid themelves of those problems by passing them on to others. Justine, the protagonist and first person narrator of the trilogy, is nothing like kickass heroines that populate the Urban Fantasy genre, but a severe hypochondriac who lives in constant dread of dying from a rare disease called vein star syndrome and earns her heroine status not by bringing her lower extremities into close contact with the posteriors of strangers, but instead with her intelligence, recourcefulness and a big heart.

The series as a whole is clever, off-beat and very much over the top, but still keeps an emotional grounding – as bizarre as the characters are (and some are very bizarre indeed), they still come across as human and we can relate to them as such, feel with and for them. Caroyln Crane also keeps the tension up and presents us with a fast moving story which after many twists and turns reaches its mostly satisfying conclusion in Head Rush. There seem to be some threads left dangling (what about Stuart and the cannibals? did I miss something there?) but all the major conflicts get resolved in a grand finale at the wedding altar. The Disillusionists Trilogy is as unusual as it is entertaining and in my humble opinion one of the best Paranormal / Urban Fantasy series out there.

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