This is how you should all feel today: (if you ignore everything else happening in America)
But it’s even better. Because there is no creepy fluffy-shirted asshat who just wants your V-Card and a grab and some PYT boobies. What day is it, you ask?
It’s Benzin Day!
Omens and Artifacts, baby. (Also Sichuan Spring Rolls and Bang Bang Sauce, but that’s later.) You all know by now that not only do I love Elizabeth Hunter‘s books, but also that she’s a friend. But!!! Even if she was a total festering tosser, I’d still love her books. I mean, as long as she didn’t go full-on Orson Scott Card or Mel Gibson, I’d still be super down to read her stuff.
And I.Love.Benzin. Oh, you don’t know the name? It’s the Elemental Legacy Series not-quite-a-couple, couple’s name. Ben+Tenzin? BENZIN.
They’re a kooky not-quite-couple (JFC, just BANG ALREADY!). One, a four-thousand year old vampire of unspeakable power and skill, with limited social skills but excellent fangs and quirky decorating style. Ben? He’s a twenty-something human with zero desire to live eternally, and a fairly emo attitude. (He’s earned it. Also, it’s not annoying emo. It’s not ME when I was 19. It’s like broody emo, but he’s not quite old enough to be broody, so he’s emo. I mean, he’s not writing a lot of poetry, but he does like a fair bit of trampy sexing. I can see him looking off into the wilds of wherever, stroking his scruff, thinking deep thoughts–probably about getting man-pebbles deep into a lady friend.) MOVING ON! So yeah, somehow, they’re like perfect together. Also, they have a life all of their own which exists only in my brain. Don’t ask.
In the elemental world, reputation is everything, but gaining it can get you killed.
Setting up shop as an antiquities hunter means nothing if you don’t have clients. Benjamin Vecchio, nephew of a famed vampire assassin, is the subject of widespread speculation, but so far that speculation hasn’t translated into work.
What Ben needs is a job. A big job. A profitable job.
A legendary job.
Finding the lost sword of Brennus the Celt, the mythical Raven King of the British Isles, would make Ben’s reputation in the immortal world, but it could also draw dangerous attention. The Raven King’s gold hoard isn’t famous for being easy to find. Luckily, Ben has his own legend at his side.
Tenzin is a wind vampire who doesn’t like digging, but she’s more than happy to let Ben do the dirty work while she provides the muscle he needs to make other immortals pay attention. They’re partners. Or so Ben thinks.
But when finding this treasure puts Tenzin’s future plans at risk, will their partnership survive? Tenzin isn’t used to taking orders from anyone, particularly from a young human who used to be her student. Digging into ancient Scottish history can get you dirty. It can also get you killed.
Pretty much aces, right?!? Old Scotland. Old swords, (which Ben’s would be if he’d just let himself be turned. Preferably by Tenzin’s sire, because the flightier the aged air vampire, the floatier the offspring. I’d let him blow my skirt up any day. But–I wouldn’t want Tenzin to kill me. Plus, I think she and I could be BFFs, like, for real. Because we both hate human/vampire interaction. WIN!) MOVING ON!
This installment starts off quick. The beauty of a novella is that it has to happen quickly. There can be no pussyfooting around. (And definitely no footing in pussy. EL James, E.Hunter is not. But Tenzin would probably be down. HA! She’d be DTF, only it’d be DOWN TO FOOT!) MOVING ON.
Elizabeth Hunter really pulls back the curtain on her genius with this installment of the Elemental Legacy Series. Every moment in Omens and Artifacts is so deftly crafted that the pages begin to turn themselves as the reader moves through an almost out-of-body experience while engaging with the characters and action.
In this novella, we see Ben really maturing into the man he’ll become. He’s had an insane upbringing, but he’s managed to eschew the lure of cunctation in his occupation, which he could so easily afford to do, in favor of whipping through a calculated career. He never falls into an elegant torpor of wealth. It’s quite wonderful.
And Tenzin. Oh, Tenzin. Bitch has patience. It is very clear that Tenzin wants Ben to become immortal. And she is holding out honorably. (Well, honorably for an assassin.) She’s in full-Tenzin mode in this book. She’s weird as fuck, (because 4,000 years, girl has seen some shit.) obsessed with weapons, money, and power, (kinda power–it’s complicated. She likes to be power-adjacent.) and loves her not-quite-a-partner, (physically) Ben. I would not have such restraint. I might put him in an extra dangerous situation near my sire so that he’d HAVE to be changed. Or, I’d show him my mad bedroom skills and make him change his mind. (Magic vagina, 4000 years old and doesn’t act a day over 16. Imagine the vajazzling possibilities!) Either way, we’d be bitey by year two.
And it takes place in my favorite place on earth: Scotland. Through this book, it’s as though I can hear St. Andrew’s bells, or smell the salty-sand on the cold, highland shores. I could feel the slantways rain and hole-up from a fog that won’t lessen its grip on the Northern lands. It’s hard to capture Scotland, but she does. She does.
Obviously, five stars.5*Book review for @ehunterwrites ' newest and SPRING ROLLS, BABY. Click To Tweet
Now for the Sichuan Spring Rolls and Bang Bang Sauce.
These are addictive and perfect for that sports game happening this Sunday. (Next Sunday? I’m not sure. GOOOO SPORTS TEAM!) These are a process, but worth it. ESPECIALLY the sauce. If you’ve been anywhere that serves bang bang sauce, you know it’s the best part of the appetizer. It’s creamy and delicious. AND I’VE MADE IT BETTER. Paired with the Sichuan spring rolls, that sauce is like the baby batter of an angel. Just keep going back for more.
The Sichuan spring rolls are not super spicy. They use Sichuan peppercorn, which makes your tongue go all tingly. It’s like performing oral sex on a very delicious vibrator. That’s covered in angel baby batter. JUST ROLL WITH ME, HERE. Maybe don’t use that description for the sports balling fans. Just tell them it’s an egg roll with some mayo sauce.
Sichuan Spring Rolls and Bang Bang Sauce
What Goes In?
- 18-24 spring roll wraps (large and square)
- 1 small head of napa cabbage
- half small head of purple cabbage
- 2 medium carrots
- 4 scallions
- 1 tbsp ginger-grated
- 1 tbsp garlic-grated
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tsp crushed Sichuan peppercorn
- cubed Chinese sausage or pressed tofu or roast pork
- 2 tbsp rice flour
- 4 tbsp water
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise (I used Hellman's vegan)
- 4 tbsp lime juice
- 4 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp Sriracha (or more)
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1/2 tsp white pepper
- a neutral oil like canola
- slice all the veg thinly, and shred the carrots and scallion
- in a pan on medium toast the peppercorn in a dry skillet
- when you almost start to sneeze, turn down the heat a tad
- add sesame oil
- turn heat to medium low add garlic and ginger
- stir in all the veg and cook until soft
- add soy sauce
- add meat or tofu
- set aside to cool
- whisk together rice flour and water
- place a wrapper on the counter and paint all four edges with glue
- add about 1/4 cup of veg and meat mix to the middle lower third of the wrap
- wrap as you would a burrito
- do this to all of them
- At this point, you can freeze some or all of them. Just wrap each one in plastic wrap or place all in a very airtight container
- heat oil in a skillet about 1" up the sides to 350F or until it begins to ripple
- fry each roll until golden all over
- whisk together bang bang sauce ingredients
- DIP THAT SHIT.