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A Pulp Hero in Mythological China: Alyc Helms’s Missy Masters Novels

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

The Dragons Of Heaven Alyc Helms-small The Conclave Of Shadow-small

I sometimes wonder why, in this age where superheroes rule all media, pulp heroes haven’t made more of a comeback in popular fiction. 

I think the answer is that I’m just not looking hard enough. Case in point: Alyc Helms’s Missy Masters novels, in which Missy takes her grandfather’s place as the pulp hero Mr. Mystic, make a fine example.

My friend Alex Bledsoe, author of The Sword-Edged Blonde and The Hum and the Shiver, sums up the first book: “A tough, witty young woman who inherited her superhero grandfather’s powers barrels through a rollicking Big Trouble in Little China-esque tale filled with magic, monsters and wisecracks. I loved it.” And Cassie Alexander, author of the Edie Spence series, says “The Dragons of Heaven combines superheroes, romance, ancient mythological China, and does it right. The world-building is stunning.”

There are two novels in the series so far, both published by Angry Robot, and both priced at $7.99 in mass market paperback, and $6.99 for the digital edition. They are:

The Dragons of Heaven (416 pages, June 30, 2015) — cover by Amazing15
The Conclave of Shadow (336 pages, July 5, 2016) — cover by Amazing15

Here’s the descriptions.

For The Dragons of Heaven:

Street magician Missy Masters inherited more than the usual genetic cocktail from her estranged grandfather. She also got his preternatural control of shadow and his legacy as the vigilante hero, Mr Mystic. Problem is, being a pulp hero takes more than a good fedora and a knack for witty banter, and Missy lacks the one thing Mr Mystic had: experience. Determined to live up to her birthright, Missy journeys to China to seek the aid of Lung Huang, the ancient master who once guided her grandfather.

Lung Huang isn’t quite as ancient as Missy expected, and a romantic interlude embroils her in the politics of Lung Huang and his siblings, the nine dragon-guardians of creation. When Lung Di-Lung Huang’s brother and mortal enemy-raises a magical barrier that cuts off China from the rest of the world, it falls to the new Mr. Mystic to prove herself by taking down the barrier.

As Missy prepares to confront Lung Di, she faces a tough decision: remain loyal to Lung Huang and see China destroyed, or side with the bad guy and save the world.

And for The Conclave of Shadow (with some mild spoilers for the first book):

The line between enemy and ally is thinner than a shadow’s edge.

Ever since she saved the spirit guardians of China by selling out to her worst enemy, Missy Masters — a.k.a. the pulp hero Mr. Mystic — has been laying low. But when knights serving the Conclave of Shadow steal secret technology from a museum exhibit on the Argent Aces, everyone looks to Mr. Mystic for help. If Missy doesn’t want her masquerade blown, she’d better track down the thieves, and fast.

But stolen tech turns out to be the least of her problems. Recent events have upset the balance of power in the Shadow Realms, removing the barriers that once held the ravenous Voidlands in check. Their spread threatens destruction in the mortal realm as well… and only the Conclave stands ready to push them back.

In a world of shadow, telling friends from enemies is easier said than done. But if she wants to save San Francisco, Missy will have to decide who to trust. Including her own instincts, which tell her that something is stalking her with murder in mind…

Read more at the Angry Robot website.

See all of our recent coverage of Series Fantasy here.

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