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Book of Matthew: House of Whispers

Book of Matthew: House of Whispers by [DuBois, Catalina]

Catalina DuBois’s Book of Matthew: Part I. House of Whispers is a tale of forbidden love that, at times, seems Shakespearian in its delivery. The story begins in rural Missouri in 1850, a tumultuous time in the United States. Slavery was still very much in practice at southern plantations. Along with the master/slave dynamic came secret, taboo romances between captive slaves and free, white plantation owners and their family members. Matthew, the plantation owner’s son and heir, and Sarah, a slave owned by Matthew’s father, are two star crossed lovers trying desperately to navigate through social stigma, away from the plantation-dominated south, and toward freedom.

Barely a few pages into the first chapter, Matthew’s lust for the slave girl, Sarah, is evident. This is shown through a very sexually explicit scene that turns out to be a dream. There are a few of those scenes like this scattered throughout the book. Over all, I didn’t feel they detracted from the book, but might be a little too graphic for some readers.

The book seems accurate in its depiction of slavery. Slaves are subjected to unwanted sexual advances, beatings, whippings, and, in some cases, death. Families are ripped apart. Mixed race children are born in slave quarters. Secrecy is rampant. Slaves aren’t legally recognized as people. They are merely property. They are bought and sold as simply stock on store shelves. They are forced into unwanted marriages. They are denied a proper education, and are often punished if they find a way to become literate. They have no rights. They have no choices. This is a grave, but important reminder of America’s past.

Thank goodness for the few characters besides Matthew and Sarah who seem to have some common sense about them. A handful of characters, even during that timeframe, believed in equality. They are reminded at a point that race didn’t matter at all in God’s eyes, even if men’s eyes had such skewed filters. They find help from some unlikely sources as they try to outrun those who would rather see them dead than together.

The book keeps interest piqued through all the obstacles that Matthew and Sarah overcome to try to be together. There are similar story lines that play along parallel to theirs. Other pairs of seemingly mismatched lovers run and hide and jump through hoops to be together as well. This story based on love is not without its hindrances. Villains walk amongst them in their treks toward love. Menacing characters sabotage, violate, abuse, and even murder their victims throughout the story. They still don’t give up on each other. Even in such dire circumstances, love finds a way to unite. Ultimately, love conquers all.

DuBois’s story reads easily and quickly. I didn’t want to put it down. I found myself cheering for the more righteous characters, and hating the more deviant of them. The plot flows nicely, and loose ends are tied up neatly by the end. I’d love to read a Part II and see where DuBois takes Matthew and Sarah’s journey.

Pages: 233 | ASIN: B076ZS21T6

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Across The Realm: Life Always Finds A Way

More than six centuries in the future, the northern and southern hemispheres have divided. Between them rages a bitter feud that has lasted for centuries and left them in a constant state of war. Both believe their technology superior, but one of them is very wrong.

Southern Askari Naledi and northen  Commander Gregory Douglas encounter one another, and their fates entwine, leaving confused feelings and split loyalties. A tale of war, bravery, love, trust and betrayal comes together to bring about more violence between the hemispheres than ever before. As both sides play a game attempting to learn more about the other, they do a very dangerous dance.

The first thing I want to say about this book is that it blew away all my expectations. I don’t read a lot of science fiction, and though this one sounded interesting, I still had my reservations. My reservations were not well founded, and the book was an absolute pleasure to read. The story Ms. Mitton has weaved together is an intense, can’t-put-it-down ride through an advanced civilization 600 years in the future.

The writing was excellent, something I really treasure in a book. It can make all the difference between an okay book and a great book, and this one was definitely a great book. There was a balanced mixture of well written, easy to follow prose, accented with the terminologies that qualify the book as science fiction. In the first few pages, I felt a little overwhelmed with the unexplained terms, but once I got into the meat of the book, all the confusion was cleared up.

The characters were very well developed, each one having their own personalities and quirks.  Because of the unfamiliar names, it was a bit difficult to keep up with who was “mated” with who in the southern hemisphere, but I didn’t find that to be terribly distracting. There were also a lot of characters, but I didn’t feel as though that was a drawback, as it can be in some books.

There were themes of homosexuality in the book as well, which I commend the author for. I thought the potentially touchy subject was approached confidently and handled deftly. Also, boldly written in was stereotypes many people in today’s world still continue to believe in, particularly in regards to race and ethnicity.  I felt the book had social commentary on racist views that still exist in some people, immersed in a page turning science fiction novel set in the distant future.

From what I can discern, this is Isbobel Mitton’s first novel, and it showcases her talent wonderfully. The story was compelling, in places heart pumping, and always beautifully written. This book is the first in a series, and the second book is in publication as well. I’m certainly going to be buying it and reading it immediately, I must know what happens next!

I cannot recommend Across The Realm highly enough, for both lovers of science fiction and people who do not typically read it.

Pages: 343 | ASIN: B017FGWR2A

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