Sweep with Me: Battling space chickens and other troublesome guests at the inn

Sweep with Me by Ilona Andrews science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsSweep with Me by Ilona Andrews science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsSweep with Me by Ilona Andrews

Sweep with Me (2020), the fifth book in Ilona Andrews’s INNKEEPER CHRONICLES series, finds Dina DeMille fretting with her boyfriend Sean about an upcoming official review of Dina and the Gertrude Hunt, her magical inn for interstellar travelers. The innkeepers’ Assembly is concerned about some of the goings-on at the Gertrude Hunt and whether Dina and Sean have been keeping their rules, including not letting anyone on Earth know that their inn isn’t an ordinary one.

In the meantime, though, it’s the annual Treaty Stay holiday for earth’s galactic inns, and the tradition is that no innkeeper may turn away a guest during Treaty Stay. So, naturally, Dina and her inn are asked to host a set of particularly troublesome guests: the Drífan liege lord of Green Mountain, originally an Earth woman who’s now the powerful leader of a mysterious and highly magical people, and who is being harassed by her unscrupulous multi-millionaire uncle; two feuding groups of koo-ko, who consider themselves philosophers and look like oversized chickens with hands under their wings; and a Medamoth, a wily hunter and natural predator who ostensibly just wants to visit the Alamo, but makes Dina nervous about whether the plump and presumably delicious koo-ko are safe from him.

This volatile combination of guests causes all sorts of trouble, but it’s fun to watch Dina and Sean (a particularly powerful werewolf) and the magical semi-sentient Gertrude Hunt inn rise to the occasion. The most interesting of the subplots involves the Drífan, a magically-talented ruler who is not entirely happy with her life: she’s hemmed about by well-meaning but strict advisors, she’s homesick for a lot of things about her Earth life (including fast-food burgers and fries, which is making chef Orro’s brain explode) and she’s concerned about her upcoming meeting with her ambitious uncle, a man who’s made a living out of ruthless corporate takeovers. And Uncle Rudolph’s actions, like sending mercenaries to attack the inn where his niece is staying, certainly show that the Drífan has good cause for concern.

Sweep with Me by Ilona Andrews science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsOn the other hand, it seems clear that the koo-ko — or as Sean calls them, the “space chickens” — are there for comic relief, but I never really connected with these chicken-based philosophers who spend far more time squabbling than philosophizing. Apparently my brain is fine with space werewolves and vampires but balks at accepting space chickens.

Sweep with Me is a novella-length book, quite a bit shorter than the prior books in this series: it clocks in at about 140 pages. All of these INNKEEPER CHRONICLES books are light sci-fi/fantasy mixes, but the first three books still had a sense of emotional depth and intricacy that I didn’t get with Sweep with Me (or, for that matter, with the prior book, Sweep of the Blade). There are several ongoing story arcs in this series, like Dina’s search for her missing parents, but none of those progressed in Sweep with Me. It’s still an engaging and fun read, though, and I’d certainly recommend it to fans of Ilona Andrews.

Published in 2020. A charming, short novella in the Innkeeper Chronicles, from #1 New York Times bestselling author, Ilona Andrews. Thank you for joining us at Gertrude Hunt, the nicest Bed and Breakfast in Red Deer, Texas, during the Treaty Stay. As you know, we are honor-bound to accept all guests during this oldest of innkeeper holidays and we are expecting a dangerous guest. Or several. But have no fear. Your safety and comfort is our first priority. The inn and your hosts, Dina Demille and Sean Evans, will defend you at all costs. [But we hope we don’t have to.]  Every winter, Innkeepers look forward to celebrating their own special holiday, which commemorates the ancient treaty that united the very first Inns and established the rules that protect them, their intergalactic guests, and the very unaware/oblivious people of [planet] Earth. By tradition, the Innkeepers welcomed three guests: a warrior, a sage, and a pilgrim, but during the holiday, Innkeepers must open their doors to anyone who seeks lodging. Anyone. All Dina hopes is that the guests and conduct themselves in a polite manner. But what’s a holiday without at least one disaster?

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TADIANA JONES, on our staff since July 2015, is an intellectual property lawyer with a BA in English. She inherited her love of classic and hard SF from her father and her love of fantasy and fairy tales from her mother. She lives with her husband and four children in a small town near the mountains in Utah. Tadiana juggles her career, her family, and her love for reading, travel and art, only occasionally dropping balls. She likes complex and layered stories and characters with hidden depths. Favorite authors include Lois McMaster Bujold, Brandon Sanderson, Robin McKinley, Connie Willis, Isaac Asimov, Larry Niven, Megan Whalen Turner, Patricia McKillip, Mary Stewart, Ilona Andrews, and Susanna Clarke.

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