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Out of the Ashes: The Maiden #1    by Karen Koehler order for
Out of the Ashes
by Karen Koehler
Order:  USA  Can
Black Death, 2003 (2003)
* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Karen Koehler, the talented author of Scarabus and the Slayer series, is back with another kick butt story -- Book One of her newest series, The Maiden. Her previous books showcased her talent for taking familiar horror/dark fantasy themes and turning them on their ear. In Out of the Ashes she does it again, introducing a rich and dynamic cast of characters and a multi-layered plot that puts a new spin on the old alien invasion theme. The fact that Koehler's stories are also very well written, briskly paced and have tons of action only make the reading experience that much more enjoyable. Add to that a poignant and in some respects, a doomed love story, between the leads, Janna and Ty, and Out of the Ashes gives readers a little bit of everything.

Humans have no idea that Earth has become the battleground for a race of aliens whose society has splintered into two factions who've carried out a destructive war for centuries. Their civilization has been forced underground and over time their physiology has become what humans would describe as reptilian. Talos, brutal leader of one faction is masquerading as Police Commissioner Tate Taloni and has already insinuated himself not only into Chicago's hierarchy but also into its darkest underbelly. With the help of alien technology he controls those he'll need to complete his final invasion plan -- one that would see all of mankind under his brutal iron rule.

Janna was once a brilliant athlete and champion but was left for dead after a bloody battle with Talos (her uncle and also her deadly rival). Her husband Ty (a brilliant scientist) refused to let his beloved Janna die. He resurrects her as a cybernetic organism and in so doing creates the ultimate fighting machine. Yet she still experiences moments of sentience in which memories of her former life and of her adored husband are at constant battle with her unswerving thirst for revenge against Talos. After they escape their dying planet, Earth becomes their new battleground. Together with an unlikely duo - a young genius named Darius and well known anchorwoman Caroline Kruger - Janna and Ty strike back at Talos at every opportunity. Their purpose is clear -- stop Talos before he takes his thirst for revenge and for power to deadlier heights and enslaves the human race.

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