After the Golden Age

( 40 )

Overview

It's not easy being a superhero's daughter....

Carrie Vaughn has captured legions of fans with her wildly popular Kitty Norville novels. Now she uses her extraordinary wit and imagination to tell a sensational new story about superhuman heroes—and the people who have to live with them.

Most people dream of having superheroes for parents, but not Celia West. The only daughter of Captain Olympus and Spark, the world's greatest champions, she...

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After the Golden Age

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Overview

It's not easy being a superhero's daughter....

Carrie Vaughn has captured legions of fans with her wildly popular Kitty Norville novels. Now she uses her extraordinary wit and imagination to tell a sensational new story about superhuman heroes—and the people who have to live with them.

Most people dream of having superheroes for parents, but not Celia West. The only daughter of Captain Olympus and Spark, the world's greatest champions, she has no powers of her own, and the most exciting thing she's ever done is win a silver medal in a high school swim meet. Meanwhile, she's the favorite hostage of every crime boss and supervillain in Comemrce City. She doesn't have a code name, but if she did, it would probably be Bait Girl, the Captive Wonder.

Rejecting her famous family and its legacy, Celia has worked hard to create a life for herself beyond the shadow of their capes, becoming a skilled forensic accountant. But when her parents' archenemy, the Destructor, faces justice in the "Trial of the Century," Celia finds herself sucked back into the more-than-mortal world of Captain Olympus—and forced to confront a secret that she hoped would stay buried forever.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Celia West wants to defeat the super-villain in court, but as the star CPA witness in a tax fraud case, she is vulnerable to devastating cross-examination. This mild-mannered forensic accountant has no superpowers, leaving her with just one other option: To save Commerce City, she must abandon her quiet ways and take matters into her own hands. A refreshing revamp of Golden Age super-villain sagas; now in mass market paperback and NOOK Book.

James Killen

From the Publisher

Praise for Carrie Vaughn:
 
“Brilliantly structured, beautifully written…. Vaughn brings together mythology, fairy tales, and very human lives, immersing readers in the stories these complex characters tell themselves to make sense of their war-torn worlds.”
—Publishers Weekly, starred review, on Discord’s Apple
 
“Carrie Vaughn weaves a gorgeous tapestry of the human condition in a postapocalyptic world filled with mystery, magic, and immortals. Her world-building is masterful!”
—L. A. Banks, New York Times bestselling author of The Thirteenth, on Discord’s Apple
 
“Carrie Vaughn masterfully weaves together comic books, Greek gods, King Arthur, and a world on the brink of nuclear war. Discord’s Apple is phenomenal!”
—Jackie Kessler, co-author of Shades of Gray, on Discord’s Apple
 
“Enough excitement, astonishment, pathos, and victory to satisfy any reader.”
—Charlaine Harris on Kitty and the Midnight Hour

Publishers Weekly
Vaughn (Discord's Apple) delivers a loving homage to classic superheroes, throwing in layers of darkness and realism while avoiding the cynical satire and deconstruction common in contemporary comics. Forensic accountant Celia West is the powerless and estranged daughter of two of Commerce City's great heroes, Captain Olympus and Spark. When the city prosecutes the evil Destructor for tax evasion, Celia gets pulled in to track down evidence. As a new crime spree creates tension between the city's heroes and the police force, Celia's investigation uncovers long-buried secrets about her family and the city. Vaughn throws in elements of romance and humor, but the drama between Celia and her father really drives the story. The story is very accessible to readers who have never picked up a comic book while boasting plenty of clever in-jokes for fans of golden age superheroics. (Apr.)
Kirkus Reviews

In this warm homage to and deconstruction of classic comic books, a young woman demonstrates that you don't need superpowers to be a hero.

Although estranged from her superhero parents, the amazingly strong Captain Olympus and pyrokinetic Spark, Celia West sees them every time they rescue her from villains attempting to use her as leverage against them (it's happened so often she's blasé about the whole thing). Possessing no superpowers herself, she's struggled to make her own life as a forensic accountant. Asked to analyze the financial records of Simon Sito (aka the Destructor), an insane supervillain currently on trial, her investigation leads her to a criminal conspiracy, the mysterious origin of the superheroes of Commerce City and, ultimately, love with the one man truly capable of understanding her troubled history. The author of the bestselling urban fantasy series starring radio talk-show host and werewolf Kitty Norville (Kitty Goes to War, 2010, etc.), Vaughn uses the comic-book setting to take a serious look at the seemingly superhuman pressure exerted by parents' expectations and how difficult it can be for children to create their own destiny. The more over-the-top elements of the plot are aptly balanced by the emotional validity of Celia, whose quest to find her own strengths feels real in spite of the fantasy trappings of her world.

For readers who admire Lois Lane more than Superman.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780765364609
  • Publisher: Doherty, Tom Associates, LLC
  • Publication date: 1/31/2012
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 536,815
  • Product dimensions: 4.10 (w) x 6.70 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Carrie Vaughn is the New York Times bestselling author of the Kitty Norville books, including Kitty’s Big Trouble, Kitty Goes to War, and Kitty and the Midnight Hour. She is also the author of the stand-alone novel Discord’s Apple, and the young adult books Voice of Dragons and Steel. Vaughn had the nomadic childhood of the typical Air Force brat, with stops across the country from California to Florida. She earned her B.A. from Occidental College in Los Angeles, and a master’s in English from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She has worked as a Renaissance Festival counter wench, a theater usher, an editor, a buyer at an independent bookstore, and an administrative assistant. She lives in Boulder, Colorado.

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Read an Excerpt

ONE
CELIA took the late bus home, riding along with other young workaholic professionals, the odd student, and late-shift retail clerks. A quiet, working bunch, cogs and wheels that kept Commerce City running.
Only a block away from the office, the person in the seat behind her leaned forward and spoke in her ear:
“Get off at the next stop.”
She hadn’t noticed him before. He was ordinary; in his thirties, he had a rugged, stubbled face, and wore jeans and a button-up shirt. He looked like he belonged. With a lift to his brow, he glared at her over the back of the plastic seat and raised the handgun from his lap. Without moving his gaze, he pushed the stop call button by the window.
Damn, not again.
Her heart pounded hard—with anger. Not fear, she reminded herself. Her fists clenched, her face a mask, she stood. She could hardly move her legs, wanting only to turn and throttle the bastard for interrupting her evening.
He stood with her, following a step behind as she moved forward toward the door. He could stop her before she called to the driver for help. And what could the driver do, but stand aside as her kidnapper waved the gun at him?
She was still two miles from home. She could try to run—in pumps and a dress suit. Right. Really, she only had to run far enough away to duck into a corner and call 9-1-1. Or her parents.
9-1-1. That was what she’d do.
She didn’t dig in the pocket of her attaché for her phone. Did nothing that would give away her plan. She stepped off the bus, onto the sidewalk. Her kidnapper disembarked right behind her.
“Turn right. Walk five steps.”
She turned right. Her muscles tensed, ready—
The bus pulled away. She prepared to launch herself into a run.
A sedan stopped at the curb. Two men jumped out of the back, and the kidnapper from the bus grabbed her arm. The three surrounded her and spirited her into the car, which rolled away in seconds.
They’d planned this, hadn’t they?
In the backseat, one of the men tied her hands in front of her with nylon cord. The other pressed a gun to her ribs.
The one from the bus sat on the passenger side of the front seat and looked back at her.
“You’re Warren and Suzanne West’s daughter.”
Not like this was news.
“What will the Olympiad do to keep you safe?”
“You’ll have to ask them,” she said.
“I will.” He grinned, a self-satisfied, cat-with-the-canary grin that she recognized from a half-dozen two-bit hoodlums who thought they’d done something clever, that they’d figured out how to corner the Olympiad. As if no one else had tried this before.
“What are you going to do with me?” She said it perfunctorily. It was a way to make conversation. Maybe distract him.
His grin widened. “We’re going to send your parents a message. With the Destructor out of the picture, the city’s wide open for a new gang to move in. The Olympiad is going to stay out of our way, or you get hurt.”
He really was stupid enough to tell her his plan. Amateurs.
Wasn’t much she could do until he’d sent the message and the Olympiad learned what had happened. She’d leave the hard work to them. She always did.
Then, of course, they blindfolded her so she couldn’t keep track of their route. By the time they stopped, she had no idea where they were. Someplace west, by the docks maybe. The air smelled of concrete and industry.
A stooge on each arm pulled her out of the car and guided her down a corridor. They must have parked inside a building. Her feet stepped on tile, and the walls felt close. Finally, they pushed her into a hard wooden chair and tied her wrists to its arms.
The blindfold came off. Before her, a video camera was mounted on a tripod.
The man from the bus stood next to the camera. She smirked at him, and his frown deepened. He’d probably expected her to be frightened, crying and begging him to let her go. Giving him that power of fear over her.
She had already been as frightened as she was ever likely to be in her life. This guy was nothing.
“Read this.” He lifted a piece of paper with large writing.
She just wanted to go home. Have some hot cocoa and cookies. Supper had been microwave ramen and her stomach was growling. The blindfold had messed up her short red hair, making it itch, and she couldn’t reach up to scratch it. Irrationally, she thought of her parents, and her anger began to turn toward them. If it wasn’t for them and what they were …
Thinking like that had gotten her in trouble before. She focused on her captor. This was his fault.
She skimmed over the text, groaned. They couldn’t even be a little creative. “Are you kidding?”
“Just read it.”
In a frustrated monotone, she did as she was told.
“I’m Celia West, and I’m being held in an undisclosed location. If the Olympiad has not responded to their demands in six hours, my captors cannot guarantee my safety—”
“Wait. Stop.”
She glared an inquiry.
“Couldn’t you sound … you know … Scared or something?”
“Sorry. But you know I’ve done this before. This isn’t exactly new to me.”
We’re different.”
“They all say that.”
“Shut up. Finish reading.”
She raised her brow. He waved her on.
She said, “If you really want to scare everyone you’d cut off one of my fingers and send it to them. Of course, then you’d really piss them off. That whole nonlethal force thing might not apply then.”
He stepped forward, fists clenched, like he might actually hit her. “Unless you really want me to do something like that, just stick to the script. I know what I’m doing.”
“Whatever you say.” She read out the usual list of demands: the Olympiad was to leave Commerce City and not interfere with the actions of the Baxter Gang— “Baxter Gang?” she added in a disbelieving aside, then shook her head and continued. They’d let her go when the Baxter Gang had the run of the city. They’d send another video in six hours to show just how mean they could be, etcetera.
The plan must have sounded so good on paper.
She made a point of not looking at the men with guns who seemed to fill the room. In truth there were only five. Even so, if she did anything more aggressive than mock the man she assumed was Baxter, they just might shoot her.
There was a time when even that wouldn’t have bothered her. She remembered. She drew on that now. Don’t reveal anything to them. No weakness.
She didn’t want to die. What an oddly pleasing thought.
Finally, she reached the end of the script and Baxter shut off the recorder. He popped the memory card out of the camera, gave her a final glare, and left the room. The men with the guns remained.
All she could do was wait.
*   *   *
How it usually worked: the kidnappers sent the video to the police. The police delivered it to the Olympiad. The kidnappers expected Warren and Suzanne West to be despondent over the imminent danger toward their only child and to cave in to their every demand.
What the kidnappers never understood was that Celia West was expendable.
She’d understood that early on. When it came to choosing between her own safety or the safety of Commerce City, the city always won. She understood that, and usually even believed it herself.
She thought she might try to sleep. She’d been losing lots, with the late nights at the office. Leaning back in the chair, she breathed deeply, closed her eyes, and tried to relax. Unfortunately, relaxing in a hard-backed chair you were tied to was difficult at best. Though she imagined her falling asleep in the midst of her own kidnapping would annoy Baxter, which made her want to do it even more. But she was sweating inside her jacket and wanted to fidget.
All the breathing and attempts at relaxation did was keep her heart from racing, which was enough. She could meet the gazes of the gun-toting stooges in the room and not give in to blind panic.
Eventually, Baxter returned to the room. He eyed her warily, but didn’t approach, didn’t speak. He broke his minions into shifts, sending one of them for fast food. The food returned a half hour later, and they sat around a table to eat. Her stomach rumbled at the smell of cheap hamburgers. She hadn’t eaten, and she needed to use a restroom.
Just breathe. She’d had to wait longer than this before. Her watch said that only three hours had passed. It was just now midnight. She had a couple more hours at least. More dramatic that way.
She might say a dozen things to aggravate Baxter. She figured she could annoy him enough to get him to come over and hit her. That was the bored, self-destructive teenager of yore talking. And a little bit of revenge. If she ended up with a big black eye, things would go so much more badly for him later on.
Then, the waiting ended.
Celia, are you there?
It was odd, an inner whisper that felt like a thought, but which came from outside. Rather like how a psychotic must feel, listening to the voices. This one was understated, with a British accent. She’d felt Dr. Mentis’s telepathic reach before. She couldn’t respond in kind, not with such articulate, well-formed thoughts. Instead, she filled her mind with a yes, knowing he’d read it there. Along with a little bit of, It’s about time.
I’m going to put the room to sleep. I’m afraid I can’t pick and choose. You’ll feel a little dizzy, then pass out. I wanted to warn you.
She kept herself from nodding. Mustn’t let the erstwhile archvillains of Commerce City know anything was happening.
The guard by the door blacked out first. He shook his head, as if trying to stay awake, swayed a little, and pitched over sideways, dropping his gun. Startled, his compatriots looked over.
“Bill? Hey, Bill!”
Two at the table keeled over next. Then one standing by his chair. Baxter stood and stared at them, looking from one to another with growing urgency. Her vision was swimming. Squinting to focus, she braced, waiting, wanting it to be over.
Baxter looked at her, his eyes widening. “You. What’s happening? You know, I know you know—”
He stepped forward, arm outstretched. Then he blinked, stopped, gave a shudder—
She thought she smelled sage.
Sleep
*   *   *
“Celia?”
The world was black and lurching. If she opened her eyes, she’d find herself on the deck of a sailing ship.
“Celia, time to wake up.” A cool hand pressed her cheek.
She opened her eyes, and the light stabbed to life a headache that ran from her temples to the back of her neck.
“Ow,” she said and covered her face with her hands.
“There you are. Good morning.”
She was lying on the floor. Dr. Arthur Mentis knelt beside her, his brown trench coat spread around him, his smile wry. The cavalry, finally. Now she could relax.
He put an arm around her shoulders and helped her sit up. The headache shifted and pounded in another direction. She had to hold her head. On the bright side, members of the Baxter Gang were all writhing around on the floor, groaning, while the police picked them up and dragged them away.
“Sorry about the headache,” he said. “It’ll go away in a couple of hours.”
“That’s okay,” she said softly, to not jostle herself. “I think I used to be better at this hostage thing.”
“Are you joking? That ransom video was a riot. Even Warren laughed.”
She raised her brow, disbelieving.
“Will you be all right for the next few minutes?” he said.
“Yeah.”
He gave her shoulder a comforting squeeze and left her propped against the wall while he helped with cleanup. As the police collected and removed the gang members, Mentis looked each of them in the eyes, reading their minds, learning what he could from them. They wouldn’t even know what was happening.
The wall around the door was scorched, streaked black with soot, and the door itself had disappeared. Spark must have had to blast it open. The room smelled toasted with that particular flavor Celia had always associated with Spark’s flames: baking chocolate. Celia was surprised to find the scent comforting.
Her mother entered the room a moment later.
Suzanne West—Spark—was beautiful, marvelously svelte in her form-fitted skin suit, black with flame-colored accents. Her red hair swept thick and luxurious down her back. She moved with energy and purpose.
She paused, looked around, and found Celia. “Celia!”
This was just like old times, nearly. Suzanne crouched beside her, gripped Celia’s shoulders, and pursed her face like she might cry.
Celia sighed and put her arms around her mother. Suzanne hugged back tightly. “Hi, Mom.”
“Oh Celia, are you all right?”
“Headache. But yeah. Did you guys find my bag? I had notes from work in it.”
“I don’t know. We’ll look. I was so worried—did they hurt you? Are you okay?”
“I’m fine.” She tried to stand, but the headache made her vision splotchy. The floor was nice and stable.
“Don’t try to move; paramedics are on the way.”
“I don’t need paramedics. I just want to go home.”
Suzanne sighed with frustration. “I really wish you’d come live at the plaza. It’s so much safer—”
Celia shook her head. “No way. Uh-uh.”
“This sort of thing wouldn’t happen—”
“Mom, they picked me off the bus on the way home from work. I can’t not leave home.”
“What were you doing riding the bus?”
“I don’t have a car.”
“Celia, if you need a car we can—”
Headache or no, she wasn’t sitting still to listen to this. Bracing against the wall, she got her feet under her and managed to push herself up. Suzanne reached for her, but Celia shrugged her away. “I’m fine.”
She hated being like this. She felt sixteen years old, all over again.
“Why won’t you let us help you?”
The question wasn’t about this, the rescue from the kidnapping, the arm to get her off the floor. It was the big question.
Celia focused on the wall, which didn’t make her dizzy. “I haven’t taken a cent from you in years; I’m not going to start now.”
“If it’ll keep you from getting assaulted like this—”
“Well, I wouldn’t get assaulted like this if I weren’t your daughter, would I?”
If she’d said that to her father, he would have lost his temper, broken a chair or punched through the wall with a glance, and stalked out of the room. Her mother, on the other hand … Suzanne’s lips pursed, and her eyes reddened like she was about to cry. Instantly Celia felt guilty, but she couldn’t take it back, and she couldn’t apologize, because it was true.
“Everything all right?” Mentis had returned. He stood, hands in the pockets of his trench coat, and looked between the two of them inquiringly. He was in his thirties, with brown hair grown slightly shaggy and a pale, searching face. The Olympiad had been active for over ten years already when he joined, as a student at the university medical school. Despite his younger age, he carried around with him this maddening, ancient air of wisdom.
Celia and her mother stared at one another. Mentis, the telepath, must have seen a frothing mass of pent-up frustrations and unspoken thoughts. They couldn’t hide from him like they could from each other.
Nevertheless, Celia said, “Fine. I’d just like to go home and sleep off this hangover.”
“Right,” Mentis said. He held out her attaché case, unopened and none the worse for wear. “I think this is yours. We found it in Baxter’s car.”
“Thanks.”
He turned to Suzanne. “We should move on. Captain and the Bullet have cleaned up the bank robberies, but two branches of the gang are still at large.”
Celia paused. “What’s happening?”
“This was more than a simple kidnapping,” Mentis said. “It was a distraction. Baxter’s people launched attacks all over the city. He wanted to see how much he could get away with while we were busy rescuing you.”
If Baxter could have held her indefinitely, moving from place to place, keeping one step ahead of the Olympiad, he might have run them ragged.
They’d taken the time to rescue her.
“Detective? Could you see that Miss West arrives home safely?” Mentis called to a young man in a suit and overcoat standing near the doorway. One of the detectives on the case, he held a notepad and pencil, jotting notes as Baxter’s men were escorted out. The cop looked at Mentis and nodded.
She suppressed a vague feeling of abandonment, that she could have died, and now Mentis and her mother were just leaving her alone. But she remembered: the city was more important. And Celia was always saying she could take care of herself, wasn’t she?
You’ll be fine. I have faith in you.—Mentis’s smile was wry, and Celia nodded in acknowledgment.
“Thanks,” she said. “For coming after me. Tell Dad I said hi.”
Suzanne crossed her arms. “You could call once in a while.”
He could call me. “Maybe I will.” She managed a smile for her mother and a last wave at Mentis before leaving.
The cop escorted her out of the building. “I’m Detective Paulson. Mark Paulson.” Endearingly, he offered his hand, and she shook it.
“Celia West.”
“Yeah, I know.”
A few awkward, silent minutes brought them to the curb and a swarm of police cars, lights flashing a fireworks display on the street. A half-dozen men were occupied keeping reporters and news cameras behind a line of caution tape. A couple of hero groupies were there as well—the creator of a low-end gossip website dedicated to the city’s heroes, another guy holding up a big poster declaring: CAPTAIN OLYMPUS: OUR ALIEN SAVIOR. There were always a few lurking around every time something like this happened. Instinctively, Celia looked away and hunched her shoulders, trying to duck into her collar.
Paulson brought her to an unmarked sedan. They might actually get away without the reporters noticing. Opening the passenger side door, he helped her in.
While he situated himself and started the car, she said, “Paulson. Any relation to Mayor Paulson?”
He developed a funny little half smile. “I’m his son.”
That was where she’d seen that jawline before. And the flop of dark hair. The mayor’s hair had gone handsomely salt and pepper in his middle age. Mark’s still shone.
“Ah,” she said, grinning. “Then you know all about it. I shouldn’t pry—but he wanted you to go into politics, didn’t he?”
“Not quite. He wanted me to be a lawyer, then go into politics. I got the law degree. Then, well…” He shrugged, his glance taking in the car and the flashing lights behind them. “Then I decided I wanted to be on the front lines rather than the rearguard. Make sure no one gets off on a technicality because they weren’t read their rights.”
“Cool,” she said.
“What about you? I mean, your parents—” He let out an awestruck sigh. And who wouldn’t, after meeting Spark? “They want you to go into … the family business, I guess it is?”
“Oh, they certainly did. Nature had different ideas, though. I’m the offspring of Commerce City’s greatest superhumans, and the most exciting thing I ever did was win a silver medal in a high-school swim meet.” Good thing she could look back on it now and laugh.
She still had that medal sitting on her dresser.
“It must have been amazing, growing up with them.”
“Yeah, you could say that.” The strength of her sarcasm invited no further questions.
Finally, they arrived at her apartment building. Detective Paulson insisted on walking her to her front door, as if one of the Baxter Gang splinters would leap out of the shadows and snatch her up. She had to admit, twice in a night would be embarrassing.
“Thanks for taking me home,” she said, once her door was unlocked. “I know you’ve got better things to do.”
“Not at all,” he said. “Maybe I could do it again sometime.”
Though he turned away before she could read the expression on his face, she thought he was smiling. She watched him until he turned the corner.
Closing the door behind her, she shook her head. She’d imagined it. Her head was still foggy.
Later, she sat in bed, drinking a cup of chamomile tea and watching the news. All the city’s “independent law-enforcement agents” were out in force, quelling the riot of criminal activity. Typhoon created floods to incapacitate a group of bank robbers. Breezeway swept them off their feet with gusts of air. Even the telekinetic Mind-masher and his on-again, off-again lover, Earth Mother, were out and about. Block Buster Senior and Junior were as usual directing their brute-force mode of combat toward a trio of vandals holed up in an abandoned convenience store. The two superhumans were taking the building apart, concrete block by concrete block, until it formed an impromptu jail. Block Buster Senior used to be just Block Buster until a couple of years ago, when Junior showed up. Anyone could tell he wasn’t much more than a kid under the mask and skin-suit uniform. Lots of people speculated if the two were actually father and son as their names suggested, or if they instead had a mentor/apprentice relationship. Whatever their story, Celia thought they took a little too much joy in inflicting property damage.
And if they were father and son—how had Junior managed to inherit his father’s power? Why him and not her?
Most of the coverage focused on the beloved Olympiad, who’d been protecting Commerce City for twenty-five years now. One of the stations had exclusive footage of Captain Olympus and the Bullet, the fourth member of the Olympiad, tearing open the warehouse that held the Baxter Gang’s main headquarters.
The camera could only follow the Bullet’s progress by tracking a whirlwind that traveled from one end of the building to the other, tossing masked gunmen aside in a storm of dust and debris. Guns flew from their hands and spiraled upward, shattering with the force of movement. It was all the Bullet, Robbie Denton, moving faster than the eye could see, disrupting one enemy attack after another in mere seconds.
Captain Olympus—the Golden Thunderbolt, most powerful man in the world—wore black and gold, and tore down walls with his will. He stood before his target, braced, arms outstretched, and created a hammer of force that crumpled half the building.
Celia’s hands started shaking. The warehouse district was across town. He wasn’t anywhere near here. The news reporter on the scene raved on and on about the spectacular scene, the malevolence of the criminals, the courage of the Olympiad.
She found the remote and turned off the TV.

 
Copyright © 2011 by Carrie Vaughn

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 40 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 27, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Fans will enjoy the silver adventures of the offspring of two Golden Age heroes

    In Commerce City, Celia West the forensic accountant is fortunate that the Olympiad superheroes protect her because she keeps getting kidnapped. She is the daughter of the group's leaders Suzanne known as the Spark because of her ability to create and control fire and Warren endowed with super speed and strength. However, Celia is estranged from her parents as she wants to live a normal life working assets and liabilities that are numbers and not fighting supervillains with masks and powers.

    Currently she is looking into the records of supervillain Destructor seeking proof of tax fraud. When his case comes to court, her relationships through her parents to the alleged felon are exposed. This costs her the job and her friends while widening the rift with her parents. As a crime wave hits the city and with too much idle time on her hands, Celia sees a pattern that ties all the felonious activity to one person. She uses the supercomputer at the Olympiad headquarters trying to uncover the identity of this diabolical mastermind, but also learns much about the yin yang births of superheroes and supervillains.

    Carrie Vaughn is a superhero of an author as she deftly switches voices and worlds with her different series (see Kitty the werewolf tales). The story line obviously pays homage to the Golden and Silver Ages of comic books with the twist of an accountant working the numbers to bring down supervillains. Readers root for Celia who they hope reconciles with her parents and obtains self-esteem as she fears she can never live up to the legends her parents are. Filled with pathos and a touch of romance as well as plenty of POW! And AM! Fans will enjoy the silver adventures of the offspring of two Golden Age heroes.

    Harriet Klausner

    7 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 24, 2011

    Must read for fans of Astro City comics

    Great read. Would love to see a graphic novel adaptation.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 25, 2012

    A Great Book!

    I loved this story. Celia is such a believable heroine. Her parents, although powerful superheroes are completely normal as well. Even her romantic interest is normal. What is exceptional is how much the story tugs at your heartstrings. It was an engrossing tale and I am so sorry that it ended.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 28, 2012

    This book really took me by surprise, I didn't think I'd end up

    This book really took me by surprise, I didn't think I'd end up caring about Celia West as much as I did. Celia is the non super powered daughter of Commerce City's mightiest champions, Captain Olympus and Spark. This her story of rebellion and redemption and Carrie Vaughn does a wonderful job of telling it. The super hero trapping are used to good effect here to describe how parents expectations mold their children.
    And those super hero trappings are pretty cool. Lots of neat twists and turns and awesome super human action. If you're a comic book fan, do yourself a favor and pick this up.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2014

    So much fun

    I ventured out of my normal genres for this one, and I'm so glad I did. A superhero tale for non-superhero readers. I zipped through it in no time because I was having so much fun reading this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 1, 2014

    This is a wonderful story.  The trappings of a world with Superh

    This is a wonderful story.  The trappings of a world with Superheroes is more scenery than the real story.

    The real story is the journey of Celia West.  A non-powered child of publicly known Superheroes, her reaction to her frequent kidnapping is almost hilarious, the first one shown, where she corrects the kidnappers techniques prior to her rescue had me laughing.

    Her story of her teen years where she rebelled against her parents and 'joined' their greatest enemy was believable, with the humor of his flat out telling her that he was only allowing her to hang out because it would bug her parents was laugh out-loud funny.

    I kept expecting her to suddenly manifest long dormant powers, the story seemed to take us to that edge several times, only to have the expected not happen.Yeah, I've read far too many comic books.  

    I cannot recommend this story highly enough.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 27, 2013

    An Entertaining Effort

    Carrie Vaughn's book was an entertaining effort. I purchased the book without reading the synopsis, thinking that it might have been build around the "Golden Age" of meta-humans that may have been constructed as a back history for DC comics. Once I realized that the characters, setting and circumstances were established to stand apart from the comic books I had known, I began to enjoy the book for its creative merits.

    Carrie has done a really good job transferring the visual and text style found in the comic books into the narrative of her novel and for adopting the perspectives and emotions of a non-gifted child of a local super hero team and regular victim of choice for the bad guys. I especially liked her limitation of her meta-human characters to one or two talents/powers instead of a broader range (think Superman or Green Lantern) and her gradual revelation of the integration of the origins of many of the major players.

    The book was very entertaining and hard to put down, once the reader understood the author's adaptation of the comic book style into her narrative.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 10, 2012

    Reaally Fun

    Fantastic. I could't put it down.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 8, 2011

    A fresh take on old tropes

    This is fun, escapist novel set in a world where superpowered people exist and some fight crime. The protagonist, Celia, has two superpowered parents but has no abilities of her own and is trying to live her own life. Unfortunately, the trope of the superhero's loved one-as-hostage is alive and well in this book. In fact, Carrie Vaughn takes all the major superhero tropes and blends them into an entertaining tale that reads fast and fun. From doomsday machines to diabolical villains who monologue their plans, long-lost relatives and heroes at odds with the populace who they have sworn to protect, all the standards are represented here. And yet, Vaughn's storytelling breathes fresh life into the old cliches, building up to a climax that doesn't disappoint. Darn good book. Darn good fun.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 16, 2011

    Love superhero fiction and well-written characters? You'll love this book!

    Big picture: it's a superhero book about family and it's fantastic. Don't miss this book.

    === More Details ===

    I picked this book out for the weekend and ended up reading it in two days; I just could not put it down. I love this particular sub-genre of sci-fi & fantasy, the superhero novel, but I like them to have some depth of character and to treat the subject matter with the type of respect and honesty that any other novel would treat normal human characters. After the Golden Age fit that bill perfectly. My only issue is the propensity of "wry" smiles going on in the book. This is probably something I saw because I couldn't put the book down, but it got to the point where I would start wondering who would smile wryly next. But that's a minor, small, middling concern that shouldn't keep anyone from picking this book up and enjoying it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 5, 2014

    Loved IT!

    I found this book when i was looking to see when the next Kitty Norville book was due out and I bought it because I love Carrie Vaughn's writing. This book does not disappoint. No Spoilers but I highly recommend!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 21, 2014

    Super good

    :)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2014

    Wonderful!

    Uses a superhero milieu to tell both a cracking good adventure and a story about family (both blood and chosen). Cannot recommend this highly enough. You'll laugh, cry, and see yourself in this book. Touching, entertaining, and funny even if you know nothing about comics; doubly so if you do.

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  • Posted February 7, 2014

    An interesting premise, the unexceptional daughter of two famous

    An interesting premise, the unexceptional daughter of two famous superhero parents. I thought the writing was rather poor, especially the dialogue; so corny. To sum of the review: a good idea, but lamely executed.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2014

    Very good!

    I enjoyed this book a lot.

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    Posted June 8, 2011

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    Posted July 31, 2011

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    Posted May 6, 2011

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    Posted March 23, 2014

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    Posted June 2, 2011

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