In Locus Magazine, Liz Bourke recently reviewed The Deep and Shining Dark by Juliet Kemp. Liz starts by describing Juliet’s book as “one part high fantasy, one part political fantasy, and one part old-fashioned sword-and-sorcery – without the swords or the lack of realistic diversity to which old-fashioned sword-and-sorcery was often prone”.
In a thorough review, Liz sets the scene, introducing the city-state of Marek and the main protagonists, and briefly outlines the start of the plot. Liz observes that, although it is a “a relatively compact novel, Kemp has succeeded in packing a significant amount in”, and goes on to say that it is a brisk and “well-paced story of politics, consequences, and self-redefinition” with “compelling and relatable” characters.
Noting that the setting is “effortlessly diverse” Liz finishes by saying “I really enjoyed this novel, and I look forward to seeing what Kemp does next”. Thanks Liz, so do we 😉
You can read Liz’s full review here on the Locus Magazine website, even if you’re not a subscriber (and if not, why not?).
On RisingShadow.net, Seregil of Rhiminee has reviewed The Empty Throne by David M. Allan. He starts by describing it as an “intriguing debut” because it’s “a high fantasy novel that contains elements of epic fantasy, adventure fantasy and portal fantasy” and is ideal for readers who like “fantastical and light escapism”.
Seregil says David’s story “moves swiftly forward and the author keeps up a steady pace”. He adds that it “has a classic and traditional feel” which is rare nowadays, and admits to having a soft spot for this kind of fantasy and loves traditional fantasy fiction.
He says the world is described well, and much of the “fascination of this novel” comes from the author’s way of writing about how the characters protect the world. He says he was “surprised to find a coming of age tale in this novel, because I didn’t expect it” and was also intrigued to find out that romance is part of the storyline, which he enjoyed and which “lightened the story in a good way”.
He concludes by saying that The Empty Throne is “intriguing fantasy entertainment, because it combines action, adventure, magic and politics”.
His final verdict: It’s good and fun escapism for those who want to take a break from reality.
On RisingShadow.net, Seregil of Rhiminee has reviewed Resurrection Men by David Craig. He starts by describing it as “a captivating and enjoyable reading experience” and goes on to say that it is “one of the most thrilling debut novels I’ve read in ages”.
In a long, positive review, Seregil says that he loves “dark and well written stories” and enjoyed David’s gradually unfolding, layered story. “What makes Resurrection Men special” he says, “is that it’s a fresh combination of historical urban fantasy and gothic historical fantasy with horror and mystery elements” with “an original take on supernatural elements”. He adds that he likes David’s “vision of the supernatural, because he takes his time to ground his story in reality before delving deeper into supernatural elements”.
He compliments the characterisation and the description of the setting, saying that the “complexity of the story is enhanced by the author’s attention to characters and details” with “fascinatingly flawed protagonists”. Seregil says that David’s depiction of Glasgow feels authentic, with places that actually exist in the city. “In his story, Glasgow comes to life as he tells of its people (the wealthy and the poor), streets, clubs and cemeteries in an atmospheric way. Glasgow is depicted as a vibrant city that has a dark and evil underbelly.”
He concludes by saying that David Craig is a talented new author, whose writing style is “satisfyingly fluent” and who “effortlessly spices up his dark story with bits and pieces of humour”. He is looking forward to reading the next instalment in the Sooty Feathers series, because he “liked this novel a lot and loved the ending”.
His verdict: Resurrection Men is “compelling and entertaining … it’s a highly enjoyable and impressive debut novel” and he ends by saying “Excellent entertainment!”
On her blog, Jill-Elizabeth has written a review of Resurrection Men by David Craig, the first book in his Sooty Feathers series. She starts with an apology that she can’t write a long review because the book is so “well-crafted and full of the right kind of surprises” that it’s hard to describe without giving too much away – she wouldn’t want to spoil the enjoyment for a potential reader with an overly revelatory review.
After introducing her review with “What a great find!”, she goes on to say that she “thoroughly enjoyed it, and cannot wait for the next in the series”. She describes it as an original take on the supernatural topics covered – “no small feat” – and says the gothic writing is “gorgeous” and “perfectly suited to the tale”. The two principal characters, Hunt and Foley, she compares to Mulder and Scully as a great mix and foil for each other, while the Sooty Feathers are “a delicious evil”.
Read Jill-Elizabeth’s full review on her blog here (it’s also on Goodreads and Amazon with 5 stars).
On Risingshadow.netSeregil of Rhiminee has just reviewed The Deep and Shining Dark by Juliet Kemp, the first book in the Marek series. Describing it as a “strong debut novel from a talented new author” Seregil compliments Juliet on having produced an entertaining and well-written fantasy with “subtle complexity, good worldbuilding and fluent characterisation”, saying that it was “one of the most positive reading experiences I’ve had this year”.
Admitting that he read it in one sitting because “The story immediately pulled me in and didn’t let go until I’d reached the end”, Seregil says that the story “flows effortlessly and becomes increasingly intriguing” as it “immerses readers into the story right alongside the protagonists and takes them on a fascinating journey” that is “filled with intrigue, politics and magic”. The characterisation is “interesting and realistic” because Juliet “pays attention to their lives, feelings, flaws and problems, making them as real as possible”. The worldbuilding is “effortless” presenting a vibrant vision of the citystate of Marek that is “believable”, paying attention to “cultural differences and … how the Houses maintain control”. The magic is “interesting”, the politics “intriguing” and “LGBTQ elements handled fluently”.
Seregil says that he is looking forward to reading the instalment in this series, because this is a “promising and strong start” that he enjoyed. He recommends The Deep and Shining Dark as “captivating and well-crafted” fantasy.
You can read Seregil’s full review on Risingshadow here.
He starts by saying that it is tough to explain the plot of Fictional Alignment, not because the plot itself is tough but because there’s “just so much happening”. However he goes on to give a reasonable outline of the plot, followed by “Sounds completely mad, right? That’s because it is. It’s also incredibly hilarious.”.
Benjamin likes the fact that there is so much going on that it’s “impossible to become bored”. He likes the various science fiction references that are included, not gratuitously but “that fit the story”. For him the best character was Heisenberg (one of the androids), who “is awful and seemingly uncaring throughout most of the book”, but is “quite funny” and usually delivers the best lines; as a result, he adds, much of the chaos in the book is because of Heisenberg. As the story is playing with time travel and androids trying to be human in the past, using future technology that isn’t always fully explained (because it’s funnier that way), Benjamin says it can leave you scratching your head a little, but that’s “all part of the madness that you just need to embrace when reading it”.
Although it has a different premise and feeling from An Android Awakes, Benjamin says Fictional Alignment is a “worthy sequel” but “it does leave a question over where French can take the story from here”.
You can read Benjamin’s full review on Comic Book News UKhere.
On Risingshadow.net, Seregil of Rhiminee has just reviewed Timekeepers by Dave Weaver, which he describes as “an entertaining combination of old-fashioned time travel adventure, modern storytelling and suspense”. Seregil says he is a fan of well written time travel fiction, and is happy to say that Timekeepers is “one of the best offerings to date”, very much in the same vein as The Time Machine by H.G. Wells. Successfully blending young adult fiction elements with adult fiction that works well because “the story is gripping and suspenseful”.
Seregil complimented Dave Weaver’s characterisation, believable vision of a Roman Britain, use of alternate history, time travel technology, artificial intelligence, and his deft handling of challenging themes and issues. He sums up with “a highly enjoyable, suspenseful and well written tale”.
You can read Seregil’s full review on Risingshadow here.
Seregil starts his review of The Promised Lie by saying that he considers “Christopher Nuttall to be one of the best authors of entertaining epic fantasy for adult readers” who “has found his own voice and knows how to entertain his readers with good and exciting stories”. He goes on to compliment the characterisation “good and believable”, the worldbuilding “excellent”, and Christopher’s writing – he writes in an “effortless way” about politics, “writes well about magic and what can be achieved by using it” and “also writes well about religion and worshipping gods”. Seregil adds that there’s “something about the ancient magic and forces that is almost Lovecraftian in nature”. Overall he says it is a thrilling story and excellent entertainment, and finishes by saying that this is Christopher’s “strongest fantasy novel to date”.
You can read Seregil’s full review on Risingshadow.net here.
On his blog Shelf Abuse, Carl Doherty has just reviewed Fictional Alignment, which he introduces as Mike French’s “sequel to the brilliantly bonkers An Android Awakes”. Describing the book as “grand and eclectic” he adds that “it’s never boring or short on style or ambition”. He says he absolutely loved Fictional Alignment, perhaps even more than An Android Awakes (which he reviewed in 2015 as “I bloody loved it”), adding that it’s “quite unlike anything I’ve ever read. Mike French is a distinct voice in a genre that too often not only settles for the derivative but is expected to do so by its readers.” Mike’s writing, Carl says, “has more in common with British comics than prose”, it is “punky and anarchic” and “closer in tone to the cheeky satire of classic 2000AD than anything else I can think of”.
Carl concludes by saying that Mike’s “idiosyncratic irreverence and boundless creativity make Fictional Alignment a demanding but unforgettable read”. You can read the whole of Carl’s review on Shelf Abuse here.
On Risingshadow.net, Seregil of Rhiminee has recently reviewed Katrina Mountfort’s new novel The Ghost in You, describing it as “one of the best YA ghost stories I’ve ever read”. He goes on to say that, despite there being a rise in popularity of YA ghost stories from other authors, The Ghost in You feels like a breath of fresh air “because it’s more compelling and more realistic than many of them and the author writes good and fluent prose”.
Seregil says that one of the best things about the book is that it’s got “a lot of heart and soul”, and is “an unputdownable novel that immediately sinks its hooks into you and pulls you into the protagonist’s life”, admitting that he read it in one sitting because he really couldn’t put it down! The story “flows fluently and smoothly from start to finish, because Katrina Mountfort writes engagingly about Rowena and her ghostly existence”. He also commented on Katrina’s attention to detail, with a realistic vision of the afterlife, and that the “characterisation is good and believable” with the main character, Rowena, having an “original and powerful voice”. “Rowena’s first-person point of view is both fresh and engrossing”, says Seregil, and she is “an interesting and easily likeable protagonist”. The way that Katrina has written about the relationship between Rowena and Oliver, who is alive, is “sweet, realistic and touching” says Seregil, adding that he was amazed at “how easily she wrote about both of them and how they felt about each other, because nothing felt forced”. He says that there’s “something irresistible about the author’s writing style that will capture readers’ hearts”. She writes well about “sadness, anger, love, romance, confusion and acceptance in this novel”, and the story includes a nice amount of humour and popular culture references that enhance the atmosphere.
Seregil summarises his review by saying that The Ghost in You is a relatively fast read but insightful, Katrina “doesn’t underestimate the intelligence of her readers, but offers them a captivating and gripping story with depth”. He suggests that this book should be on every fantasy reader’s reading list because it’s gripping and well told, and says “No matter what you normally read, this novel will charm and entice you with its story”, concluding that it is “Excellent YA fantasy fiction!”
You can read Seregil’s review of The Ghost in You on Risingshadow.net here