In the science fiction genre, many stories share similar plots. The authors, Grant Elliot Smith and Steven H. Stohler, in their co-venture, Rathen: Into Bramblewood Forest, expertly utilize concepts from great sci-fi classics. With this they create a very entertaining story that keeps readers rooting for the protagonist, Rathen, and his crew throughout their quest to vanquish evil from their world and other worlds in the galaxy.
The story begins roughly a year after the first book left off in a dark scene where Rathen and his companions—Bandark and Rulo—nervously approach a terrible foe that is capable of destroying the group with his magical ability that allows him control of many elements and also the dead. The result of this meeting then forms a core group that joins in a quest in search of a powerful book called The Book of Ziz that will allow its wielders to vanquish a terrorizing deity known as Gothoar. The story has much more depth as the characters face personal issues and other forms of conflict as the story unfolds.
One concept that makes this book a great read is the discussion of social dynamics through the interaction of fictional races. The group contains several humans, a lich, a half-orc, and people from other worlds in their fold. Therefore, the authors found a way to talk about and resolve racial conflicts. The details of the story show that some people have to live in certain neighborhoods and have to be defensive regarding their heritage. Thack, a capable warrior who is half human and orc, has apparently had a history of racial persecution because he chose to live in an area away from his home where he has found acceptance, but with the introduction of a love interest, feels defensive about his mixed heritage to seek acceptance.
Other social issues like gender disparity are discussed. Caswen—a healer—and her sister Drynwen—a protector—feel gender bias in their organization and have to fight harder to receive missions than their male counterparts. This book seeks to show that the bias others hold can often overshadow dreams and skills. The sisters get their opportunity to sharpen their skills on the road. They find their niche amongst the team allowing them to shine brighter than many of their order back home.
Rathen is able to shed new light on old tropes. Most everyone is familiar with the hero and company on a quest to save the world from destructive foe. The story adds plenty of depth through the implementation of human nature with nonhuman characters and the exploration of human tendencies like the search for redemption, acceptance, contentment, immortality, and even revenge in some cases. Smith and Stohler did a fantastic job telling a story that goes much deeper than the words on the pages; their work sticks with their readers well after the words are read.
Pages: 282 | ASIN: B07HWNK13Z
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Dark Karma is a fascinating tale of vengeance and dark magic by author, Laura Simmons. Laura Simmons does a beautiful job in creating an epic tale that creates an array of whirlwind emotions. Simmons’ writing is flawless and thought-provoking, great for any avid reader of suspense and mystery novels. This is a book that provides everything you would expect from a novel that surrounds itself in magic, tension, mystery and revenge.
The narrative of Dark Karma is extremely captivating and strong. It has been written in such simplicity, but is highly effective for all readers. Luke Decker is introduced to the readers as the protagonist. He is banished by his evil enemy into a hell-like alternative dimension. Luke has to deal with the fact that his whole world has been turned upside down, and what is more, he is on trial for murdering his beloved Nina. However, the plot twists dramatically throughout the novel, and the reader is constantly left wanting more. I kept trying to guess what was going to happen next, but then just gave up and went along on this eventful and thrilling ride.
The plot throughout this book is strong, creative and imaginative. Laura Simmons structures her book beautifully and your imagination is left running wild. I think that the mystery elements in the book really kept me wanting more. Readers are able to dive into a world that is based on pure imagination. Simmons use of magic is embued with a dark energy throughout that is creepy, enticing, and begs you to keep reading. I think I read this whole book with a raised eyebrow. Dark Karma is a beautifully told story that, I think, is suitable for readers of any genre as it first focuses on telling a great story before delivering the unique qualities of it’s genre.
Dark Kara does an amicable job at creating an evil magical dimension that is just detailed enough to allow your imagination to fill in the blanks. The characters and the plot are strong, and Laura Simmons shows that she is a writer to be reckoned with. Overall, I think the story, twists, and characters are great, and I really enjoyed reading this book.
A fantastic attempt at creating a novel that blends and transcends genres. An enjoyable read which really dives into a different dimension, making the reader want to know more as the story progresses.
Pages: 192 | ISBN: 1977201555
His Father’s Blood follows John and Ada as they navigate their relationship, their family, and their curse. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?
Moll Dyer is a real historic personage, but there is scant official record of her life due to a courthouse fire. There is a local road named after her, and a boulder on display at the county courthouse where it is said she died. There’s also one colonial period letter describing her countenance unfavorably. Despite this, there are as many oral traditions about her life (and death) as there are local families. With book one, I tried to give Moll some peace and a new angle to her story.
In Book 2- His Father’s Blood, I expounded on her tale. As many of the legends associated with Moll included a son, and none covered exactly what happened to him, his was also a tale that begged to be told. As the local native tribes began leaving the area at this same time, it was easy to imagine that John’s ancestor would have followed them…especially as his mother was more at home with them than her own people. I based some of their adventures on the style of tales from the mountains they fled to.
John and Ada are both intriguing characters that are even more interesting when they are with each other. What were some obstacles you felt were important to develop their characters?
Their loyalty had to be rock solid to allow the belief and trust in one another under extraordinary circumstances. Their devotion for one another needed to be absolute to overcome all that was thrown against them and all of the naysayers plotting against them. With such nobility of character, introducing human foibles was essential to make them well rounded and believable.
You continue to develop the Dyer family’s curse in this book. What was something new that you wanted to introduce in this book that was different from the first book in the series?
A theme in both is personal sacrifice and the concept that love conquers all. In book 1, Moll is kept ignorant of her powers and was only briefly exposed to the healing aspects of it. John was exposed to the darkness early in life and fought against it. Moll gave her life in sacrifice to save her son, but in my opinion, John’s price was greater. Moll never knew romantic love and I wanted to explore what might happen if a romantic interest was present. Ada certainly provided that. Moll’s love for her son drove the plot of Sister Witch, but John and Ada’s love was the driving force in His Father’s Blood.
This is book 2 in the Legend of Family Dyer series. When will book 3 be available and where will the story take readers?
I’ve completed the rough draft for Book 3 and hope to have it released early next year. It is set in contemporary times and of course follows Moll’s descendants. Although her name is forgotten by them, she hasn’t forgotten them.
Homesteading on Devil’s Peak, skin-walking shaman John Dyer must fight to save his bloodline. Can the Dyers stand against the horrific desires of a centuries old demon? Can their faith in each other overcome the evil pitted against them?
This historically accurate epic follows John- scion of the Dyer family, and the great-great grandson of the venerable Moll Dyer– in his quest for a new life, and a place to settle down and call home.
The fates conspire against the Dyers, and only their sorely tested faith in each other can overcome the evil set in place against them.
Posted in Interviews
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Ada is not a normal woman of her time. She has been on the road with her father Reverend Hartman, after her mother was killed by savages in the west, since she was just a young girl. She has never met a man or found a place that made her want to have a homestead. That is until she meets John a mysterious half breed with the shamanic lineage. John has also spent most of his childhood on the road with his father learning the shamanic path, forever he thought he would live and die alone. When they meet each other their world would be forever changed.
Unfortunately John and Ada`s relationship attracts a lot of attention. Ada`s father is unsupportive, life constantly has other plans, friends make terrible choices and John and Ada`s relationship pay the price, oh and a few demons decide to throw in some obstacles.
When I first started reading His Father`s Blood, I had no idea that I was going to be so thoroughly sucked in. The first few pages read slow but that was exactly what was needed to set up the story and the main characters. The story itself read very smooth, and the story line was consistent. The sections of the book were clearly defined and it was clear in what part of the story you were in. What really pulled the character and the story together was how accurate the history used in the book was. The style in which the fantasy and historical fiction come together was well written.
The sections in the book were easily distinguished but there were mini sections throughout the sections that could have used a clearer division. The fix for me could have been even a little more space in between the end of one section and the beginning of the next.
This book was attention grabbing, and thrilling. My Fathers Blood Book 2 Legends of the Family Dyer has definitely made it to my top 10 best books of this year, and I read a lot! It is a good book if you want something a little shorter, fantasy like, and is written for a young adult crowd. I would recommend this book to any one of my friends.
Pages: 251 | ASIN: B07CS7SSQW
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Presented with a captivating plot line, charming characters, and a world full of fantasies, C. Penticoff blends worlds of reality with a captivating realm of fantastical discoveries in Weathering the Wicked.
Introducing Book One in the series, C. Penticoff demonstrates a clear focus and powerful imagination in her creation of fictional fantasy. With her sister missing and her total existence going up in flames, Jane attempts to find out what is going on, and what has happened to her sister.
Penticoff captives her readers by blending the ideas of magic, wonder and prophecies. Right from the beginning readers are drawn into a fantastical world of discovery in the hopes that June finds her sister, January. Without giving too much away, the story is set in a spiritual land called Folklaria which blends together the good and the evil. The readers then join June on her journey in this magical land in search for her sister. With June’s hopes resting on a complete stranger, can she control her fears and uncertainty to find her sister and restore the peace?
Magic, evil, suspense and mystery… are all words that I would use to describe the themes and narrative of this book. From evil wizards to witch doctors and fairies, C Penticoff really does her best to enter a world full of pure imagination.
What makes this read a truly great one is how the book is presented to the reader. In the table of contents, we see that the book has been broken into lots of small chapters, each with a character’s name. This highlights what the chapter is going to be about, which allows the reader to anticipate what is to come.
Overall, I would rate C. Penticoff’s Weathering the Wicked a 4 out of 5 stars. Whilst I appreciate a strong writing style, creative flair, and original thoughts, I found the concepts a little far-fetched. Of course, this is something you would usually expect from this genre, and would be appealing to a lover of fantasy books.
I applaud Penticoff in her creative writing and articulate use of words; and can honestly say that it offered a compelling read; something that I find often lacks in fantasy books. A triumphant and artistic piece of writing brought to you by C. Penticoff. I would highly recommend this book for anyone who takes an interest in artificial intelligence, compassion, and a longing for discovery and resolution. I look forward to reading Book 2 of this series, Weathering the Wicked.
Pages: 228 | ASIN: B075W2KYWK
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Discovering a young boy living in the wilderness would be an unexpected shock for anyone, just as it was for a local state trooper, but no one could have predicted the chilling truth that finding the boy would unearth. It’s this unexpected fact that evil thrives in, often striking in situations where we least expect it.
Mutch Katsonga’s latest book, Where Wildfires Glow, unexpectedly made me challenge my own personal view of the good and evil in the world. The introduction poses a series of deep, philosophical questions for the reader that I often found myself reflecting upon as I read the novel. I was skeptical at first as to whether the story would furnish me with the answers to these questions, particularly, considering that I deemed the start of the book to be slow. However, what I did not realize is that Katsonga was just setting up what was to come through his in depth descriptions of the landscape and natural world, and I found myself reliving these romantic descriptions during the climatic end. The child’s two contrasting encounters with the harsh wilderness are beautiful metaphors for the detrimental and damaging effects that abuse can have on a person.
The way in which Katsonga has narrated the story and not given the boy a identity means that as a reader, I struggled to form a connection with the character, regardless of the overwhelming compassion I felt. Whilst I thought that this made the story feel a bit empty at the beginning, I realised that this perfectly reflects the sense of detachment that evil inflicts on its’ victims. The writing is a bit unpolished with slight typos and grammatical errors which probably could have been avoided with thorough proofreading. Unfortunately the obvious mistakes often pulled my attention from the story, which was a shame at crucial moments, but this was definitely not to the point where I lost complete focus or the book was no longer enjoyable. Additionally, as the protagonist of the book is a young child, I felt that some of the words the used are too mature which I felt detracted from the authenticity.
However, the poignant moral behind the story is that evil can make us lose sight of who we are and taints our view of right and wrong. When we allow it into our lives, it will inevitably envelop us; our vision becomes tunnelled and focuses only on the negative. The cycle of abuse is unrelenting and will just keep going, manifesting in each generation, until something breaks it. Katsonga teaches us that evil cannot be fought with evil, and it is only the power of light and the power of good that can break the cycle. I believe that this book will challenge that way that every reader views negativity and the power that it can have on an individual and those around them. It made me more conscious about how my actions can affect others, and has encouraged me to make sure that I always give off a positive energy.
Pages: 160 | ASIN: B07CCJTGDB
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The Victory Perspective, by E. J. Kellett, reveals a new angle on the creation story complete with a dark and foreboding side. Five beings materialize, quite literally, in the first chapter and proceed to make their way through the world around them while one of them, Alpha, emerges as leader. Raphael, Michael, Lucifer, and Gabriel seek ways to understand Alpha’s powers as they develop, strengthen, and subdue the other four. Alpha’s abilities overwhelm the others as he levitates, forces the others into virtual servitude, and begins presenting them with stunning creations, including human beings. When Raphael disappears from their camp, Lucifer must begin a battle within himself as he searches for his friend.
I was immediately taken with the beautiful language penned by Kellett. The striking descriptions of the landscape and the amazing emergence of each of the five beings is breathtaking to behold. Kellett is a master with the written word and fashions fascinating depictions as they grow in their cognizance.
Kellett incorporates several episodes of violence in order to emphasize the differences between his characters and demonstrate Alpha’s dominance. Like the other four stunned onlookers, I struggled through the sight but find it a fitting method for establishing Alpha’s place in the world and helping the reader sympathize with Lucifer as the plotline progresses. Their horror at Alpha’s growing strength and their wonderment at the tools, weapons, and shelters he is able to fashion are highly relatable feelings.
I was, at times, taken aback at the rather familiar tone of the characters. To hear characters who I associate with angels speak in mundane terms, sometimes using slang, was a bit off-putting. The intensity of the creation story seems to call for a more formal tone, even though this is a far cry from the traditional story which most readers would readily recognize. I had a hard time resolving my discomfort with hearing Alpha, depicted as the creator, curse.
Some readers may find the description of evolution unsettling. As Alpha discovers his efforts to create humans go somewhat awry, readers will find that he is not in complete control of the process. The resulting beings are not pleasing to him. (This is only one of the ways Alpha is very much humanized throughout the reading.)
The closeness between Lucifer and Raphael is touching, and Lucifer’s insistence at finding Raphael at all costs keeps the reader involved in the plot. As the two discover more about themselves and more about Alpha’s intentions, their relationship mimics human exchanges. Again, this is not something most readers are used to seeing from depictions of divine beings. Making that transfer to a different mindset might be a struggle for some.
Lucifer’s reappearance in the Garden of Eden places a new spin on the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. In fact, one of the most iconic scenes we know from the Bible story is, here, given all the qualities of a drama. Lucifer, though always a major factor in Eve’s decline, is personified by Kellett and shown to be thoughtful and not without worries of his own. In addition, Adam and Eve’s conversations are basic in language and have a commonplace feel.
While beautifully written with remarkable imagery, I was not completely comfortable with the take on the creation story. However, there is much to be said for this reimagining of the immediately recognizable story of the origins of our world.
Pages: 314 | ASIN: B078Y9QJW1
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The Nightbreaker is a short but welcome sojourn into the world of the Gods and Men Cycle series by Kristopher Jerome. Following a paladin by the name of Daniel, we first are introduced into the conflict between the gods of darkness and gods of light and the conflict that is played out on the Mortal plane. Daniel is part of a mission that goes awry, but learns of a terrible new champion of darkness, Rexin the Blasted. As the story unfolds, Daniel bands together with other brave souls who seek out and stop this terrible menace, otherwise the mortal plane will be swallowed by darkness.
The pacing of Jerome’s novella is spot on, although sword & sorcery novels are often quicker paced. The first battle of the story takes place only a few pages in and I was immediately taken in by the action and everything that Daniel saw as he fought bravely through the demons. The setting is not overly elaborate, especially with the clashing of light and dark. The simplicity of the premise will leave fans of stories like Game of Thrones and others wanting more. But in it’s brevity lie its virtues, The Nightbreaker is a great read for an afternoon of leisure.
The descriptions that Jerome uses is rich and quite cinematic and I enjoyed the writing the most when details were delved into. The main character of Daniel is fun to read about, but begs to be developed further with some character-defining internal dialogue. The narrative is much more “show” rather than “tell” which I happen to enjoy. The story is often punctuated with a bit of action, which saves the stories pace and kept my interest.
With all of this considered, The Nightbreaker is a great introduction to the world of mortals and Gods that Jerome has created. The struggle between paladins, demons, and seraphs is a supernatural backdrop to classic fantasy tropes. This novella will please any reader of classic fantasy or the supernatural, who also enjoys action, redemption, and the struggle between good and evil. At 78 pages, it’s well worth your time.
Pages: 78 | ASIN: B071HPDQXN
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Fourteen-year-old Fraser dies prematurely as a result of a fluke accident while trying to save his baby sister. Upon waking up in heaven, he discovers that his new life in paradise is far different from the one he lived during his short time on earth. As he adjusts to his new surroundings, he is constantly amazed that there is so much to learn, explore, and achieve in his new permanent home. Fraser begins making new friends and even reunites with a loved one who left earth before him. He learns that everyone in heaven must find something they are passionate about and serve in that area. While his friends quickly discover what they want to do, Fraser is left discouraged and not strongly drawn to anything he is introduced to.
When Fraser begins to experience visions of his family’s current status on earth, he finds them divided, severely broken, and completely devastated about his death. His family is also unaware that they are being tormented and are in danger by evil presences that they cannot physically see. After having a talk with God, Fraser is told that he is chosen for a special assignment and will be enlisted amongst an army of Armored Angels to fight an earthly spiritual war of good versus evil. He finally knows what he is meant to do and is more than ready. He is predestined to save his family.
This is a story that will inspire young readers and beyond to diminish the fear of dying, provide hope concerning life afterward, and understand that God has assigned angels all around us for protection from dangers seen and unseen.
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The Glass Demon is a supernatural novel that dives into the world of spirits and haunting’s. Why was this an important book for you to write?
I was really into a TV documentary program called, A Haunting. It was about real life hauntings told by the people who lived through them. My goal was to make a fictional story that felt real enough that it could be believed to be based on a true story. I also had just watched The Rite with Anthony Hopkins. I knew I needed to write something that was super intense and scary.
What I liked most about this book was the depth of knowledge of demonology presented in the story. What type of research did you have to do to keep things accurate?
I have several books on true ghost stories and encyclopedias about the supernatural. One such book is: The Encyclopedia of Demons and Demonology by Rosemary Ellen Guiley. I own about 4 of her books. The encyclopedia has profiles on some infamous demons known to plague people’s sanity and also true stories about demonic occurrences. Additionally, I did a lot of internet research about demons, and books on demons, and types and names of demons. It was purely academic with a desire to entertain, but it made me feel like I was on the borderline to receive the wrath of God. Needless to say, research was extensive.
William has had a complicated life. His avoidance of childhood demons leads him to an addiction to booze and pills. What was the inspiration for his character and backstory?
Most heroes seem to be blessed with an infinite amount of strength, courage, and knowledge. My heroes tend to be flawed. William’s journey is meant to be a humbling one. He believes there is nothing he can’t handle; even though he never dealt with his own past. When he walks into this next case he is smug. He’s most likely thinking that he is going to walk around, find someone who doesn’t know he’s dead, tell him to move on, he moves on, William gets paid and then goes home. It turns out to be much more complicated than that.
William is almost foolish in the beginning and doesn’t appear to be someone who can help the Glass family, let alone himself. He is on a slippery slope to self-destruction and then takes on the hardest haunting he has ever had; one that fights back. He’s also used to being the one who is in control. The fact that the demon knows William’s past and he does not takes the ball out of his court. He goes through an intense torture before he is finally able to become a hero and that’s only with the help of the supporting characters. Without them he would have failed.
I also wanted to answer an age old question, why do bad things happen? William went through a lot of bad things, but in the end that is what he needed to become a better person. Most horror stories just want to shock and unnerve you, and the characters are all pawns who can die at any time. William brings a character-driven arc to the storyline that makes this a little more than just a horror story.
Do you have another horror story in the works? Or are you currently working in a different genre?
I did leave this story open for a sequel. I was combining ideas that will bring most of the characters back together to solve an even larger haunted case involving multiple city blocks. I remember reading about a similar event about unexplained hauntings across several small nearby towns. The sequel will share this trait. “If you think one house was bad… try 100.” It looks cool in my head with an almost Hell erupting feel to it, but I have yet to put words on paper. Hopefully one day…
William Corgel is a clairvoyant medium who is hubris, doubts his faith and a heavy drinker who finds comfort in pills. Believing there is nothing he can’t handle he soon finds himself in a home with a demonic presence and the possession of a teenage girl. The demon continually taunts and attacks him while claiming to know William’s suppressed childhood memory centered on his mother.
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