Set in Jamaica in the 17th century, this is the story of Arose Du Mouchelle, a young woman who is the heir to a sugar plantation. When she receives an heirloom from an old gypsy, her life suddenly changes. The Gem of the Red Spirit has powers that others wish to possess, including the Voodoo Priestess, Morel. Chased down by Morel’s henchman, Arose must now protect the world from the dark creatures that Morel is threatening to unleash from the Astral Plane. Will Arose succeed by using her wits and courage along with the help of the dashing Captain St. James?
Nights Arose by Andrea Roche is part historical romance, part fantasy, and packed to the brim with fascinating and unlikely characters and concepts. We are thrown full throttle into a world unlike our own, full of astral planes, pirates and dragons. It makes for a fast- paced, exciting read, and I loved escaping to this fantastical universe for a few hours.
Because the story moves at a quick tempo, I felt immediately drawn into the narrative. Unfortunately, this pace also caused me to get lost occasionally, and I would have preferred a slightly slower introduction to Arose’s predicament. Despite this, Roche keeps the reader constantly intrigued and melds the genres of fantasy and romance together seamlessly, keeping both threads running through the narrative.
Although the book has fantasy aspects, the dialogue is actually naturalistic and punchy. All of the characters have unique voices which add richness and emotion; the dialogue expertly moves the plot along and never feels redundant. The style of the prose is quite flowery, but I actually enjoy this style of writing and it suits the lavishness of the story. Roche writes place particularly well and the setting of the story is one of my favourite aspects of the book. Tropical Jamaica is vividly conjured. Although I have never visited, I could almost feel the warm breeze and see the sights and sounds of this exotic place with its sugar cane fields and blue water.
We all know there aren’t enough strong female characters in fiction, so I fell head over heels for Arose! She is rebellious and brave and pushes boundaries, which makes her seem like a thoroughly modern woman. I loved the fact that she didn’t need a man to be a fully formed character and that the romance fell second to the action. The other characters in the book, such as the evil voodoo priestess, are really imaginative creations and the rest of the motley crew are excellently drawn. The relationships between the characters, especially Arose’s interactions with Captain St. James, feel truthful and authentic.
If you are a fan of fantasy then you will certainly enjoy this book. It is an epic tale that transports you to a magical world and enables you to suspend your disbelief. It left me breathless for the next installment in Arose’s adventures.
Pages: 220 | ASIN: B01N1G9MPC
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Charlotte is a woman of mysterious origins who is seeking revenge on the one who locked her away. How did you decide what the starting point was for you in Charlotte’s Soul?
In truth I was working on another story, dealing with a healer in a magical realm when my mind drifted off. The stories of the witch hunts in Salem came up. I’d seen many documentaries concerning that time period, thus I began to wonder. What would a true witch do. Could I write an interesting story? I considered starting points in that time period but nothing clicked for me. It wasn’t until I considered modern times that I felt a connection. Still, something was missing. I began asking what if? What if? That’s when Charlotte began to come alive. As for a starting point, I like to start off with my characters having to deal with situations that reveals something about the person.
The novel is filled with subtle yet powerful descriptions of voodoo and witchcraft. What research did you undertake to ensure you got all the details right?
From early on as a child Witchcraft has been talked-about, written about and made in to tv shows. In my mind they all held the same theme, the ability to alter reality by understanding nature is a force which can be tapped. Thus using this knowledge I built up Charlotte’s abilities. Voodoo on the other hand has not been a part of my world, yet I’d heard stories about it. Being unsure of any true facts, I began searching the Internet to understand it’s origins. The more sites I came across the more I learned voodoo is not a bunch of hocus-pocus, it’s a respected religion in many cultures.
I found that Charlotte was a balance between femininity, passion and a strong will. What obstacles did you feel were important in the story for Charlotte’s character development?
To develop Charlotte, I considered how she must feel being a 17th century woman thrust into our society. To give her balance to cope, I paired her off with detective Matt Huston, a modern man with his own demons. I felt with the two butting heads, she would have a foundation to build a life in our time period.
Will Charlotte’s Soul be part of a series? If so, where does the next story go? If not, where do you imagine it could go?
I did leave room to write another story with her and in fact, I’ve the making for a beginning to book 2. Presently however, she has been delegated to remain on hold as another story has caught my interest. In time I’m hopeful she’ll get dusted off and put back in action.
Charlotte Goodfield, a witch imprisoned since the 17th century, escapes in modern times and enlists the help of a New York City detective and an ATF agent to find her half-brother. He stole the magic amulet that holds half her soul—and she wants it back. Charlotte wades through NYC’s underbelly, searching for answers and discovering other horrors.
While her amulet has been with her brother, that half of her soul became drenched in evil; contacting it strengthens her magic but doing so raises a daemon within her that doesn’t care about playing by the rules.
Bad men are fair game. And she’s met a lot of bad men.
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Magic, adventure and excitement. That’s what Danny Estes delivers with this novel, Charlotte’s Soul. Our protagonist, Charlotte, is a woman of mysterious origins who is seeking revenge on the one who locked her away. In the beginning, we’re not given a whole lot of information about Charlotte. We know she is a witch and we know she is bent on revenge. We also are aware that she is not quite from the era the book takes place in. Even the mention of her stay in a mental health unit leads the reader to believe that perhaps Charlotte is not of her right mind. However, all of this is blown away when Charlotte links up with detective Matt Huston and dazzles us with displays of her power. She is not an ill individual with delusions of grandeur, she is a powerful woman who is about to bring hell to those who have wronged her. Will Charlotte achieve her wildest dream?
Estes has crafted Charlotte to be a powerful example of femininity and sultry desires. She is a woman and she will use whatever tools she has at her disposal to get what she wants. This includes her body. While this may seem like a stereotypical example of a woman using herself, it ties in to Charlotte’s past and the events that have led up to the present in our story. Estes is no stranger to including sexual scenes in his books, however he is very adept at making these scenes flow with a sense of beauty. Unless called for, there is nothing crude about these acts in his novels.
While there could be some better editing in this novel, the overall story is articulately pieced together without fraying at the edges. There are some spelling mistakes, some blatant miswords that could have been corrected with a thorough read through by a third party. The story does not suffer for it, however, as these issues are few and far between.
Estes flexes his creativity with descriptions of magic and scenery in this colorful world. While explaining the system of magic, the reader can tell that Estes put thought into it. Research was most likely done when using examples that readers might be familiar with, like voodoo, so that it is as believable as possible. The magic scenes of action are not so overblown that it is obvious that this is a fantasy tale, rather they are realistically described in a fashion that if you met someone who claimed to be a witch after reading this story, you might just believe them.
Danny Estes is no stranger to the world of magic and adventure. His worlds expand and become more and more intricate as he hones his craft. Charlotte’s Soul is another feather in his cap of excellence. The shortened chapters make this an easy read and the pace demands that you read it in one sitting: it is almost impossible to put it down. Readers will become attached to Matt and Charlotte, wondering if either will achieve what they are looking for. Even as the tale wraps up nicely and Estes is about to put the bow on top, we’re left wondering if we’ll see more of Charlotte again. Honestly, this feisty witch could grace another novel for us any day.
Pages: 297 | ASIN: B00PZYYNKO
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Fun. That’s what Tim Owens brings to the table with his 2014 novel, The Hobbymen. It’s just fun. Ghouls, goblins, monsters. Banter. Sarcasm. Interesting settings and a fast pace. While you read, you can tell that Owens had a great time writing the novel and that excitement is transferred to us as we flip each page.
The book starts with Liliana, a down-on-her-luck young nun who’s caught stealing an old loaf of bread in a little town in Mexico and then thrown in a dusty, dark jail. As she sits in the dark basement, wondering if this dilapidated prison is even legitimate and awaiting her outcome, she hears the running of two young men being chased by something she’s never seen before – a scaly monster with fangs and a vicious demeanor. She watches as a fight ensues. After the two boys knock out the strange beast, they take pity on her and let her out of her cell.
We find that the two men, Geoff and ‘Book’, are monster hunters, tracking down the true origins of mythical creatures from legends, stories, and myths. Geoff and Book are friends, though very different in personality and are constantly barraging each other with good-natured sarcasm and other scathing remarks. While originally the boys were simply going to return Liliana to her convent, they quickly become a team. Working out of their shabby van, they go on all sorts of adventures – following leads for any gruesome, dangerous, or fascinating creature. Unfortunately for them, other more nefarious characters have caught wind of these adventures and they have their own vested interests in the creatures that they search for. This all leads to an exciting conclusion involving a huge rock-like monster, severed hands, and incantations.
With The Hobbymen Tim Owens has created a fun read. The dialogue is entertaining. It flies with sarcasm, humor, and references to other fantasy stories like Lord of the Rings and the classic 90s flick Tremors. The storyline is somewhat simple, but the characters and creatures continually pull you in to read more. We watch as Liliana changes from a young runaway with no real plan, to a strong, determined woman who can fight just as well as the boys. And as we flip through each page, we find that like Liliana, Geoff and Book have their own secrets and past hardships which drive them on their quests. And surely there’s chupacabras and voodoo, but it’s really a book about a girl who felt alone due to the mistakes she’d made and then finds a home, a place where she belongs, in an unexpected place and with very unexpected people.
I give The Hobbymen 4 out of 5 stars simply because it’s just good old fashioned fun. For the monster-lovers and supernatural-junkies, I would recommend this quick and light book. Because of the easy writing style and the young characters, the book lends itself well to a young adult audience, though parts might be a little intense for the younger end of that demographic (I mentioned a severed hand right?), but in the end really anyone would enjoy this. Friendship. Adventure. Voodoo. What more could you want in a book?
Pages: 358 | ISBN: 1505283590
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