On Risingshadow.net, Seregil of Rhiminee has reviewed Cursed on the Prairies, the final volume in the Sacred Land Stories from Tanya Reimer. Seregil starts by commenting that Cursed on the Prairies brings the trans-generational story to a satisfyingly “poignant and rewarding ending”. He says that he “was impressed by the harrowing grittiness of the story arc. It’s great that the author avoids easy resolutions and delivers scenes that are not forced, but achingly realistic despite their occasionally fantastical and speculative nature. The author has a masterful control of elements related to past happenings, secrets and destinies, because she writes about them in a gripping way without preaching. This means a lot in the long run, because it creates a sense of realism that acts as an important counterbalance to the speculative fiction elements.” He continues by complimenting the quality of Tanya’s characterisations, story-telling and ability to tackle difficult subjects, “harsh realism”, in a way that does not feel artificial.
You can read Seregil’s full review on Risingshadow here.
On Risingshadow.net, Seregil of Rhiminee has recently reviewed The Wages of Sin by Zoë Sumra – the second book in her Underside series. Having enjoyed the first book Sailor to a Siren, Seregil was pleased that this book was “just as entertaining and epic”. In fact Seregil writes: “I’m glad to say that, in this novel, the author fulfills the promise that she showed in her debut novel and delivers a rewarding, satisfyingly complex and action-packed story that feels wonderfully fresh and exciting. I was positively surprised by it, because it exceeded all of my expectations.” Seregeil expands on this later: “Just like Sailor to a Siren, The Wages of Sin is a prime example of how to write compelling, fast-paced and gritty space opera for adult readers who want to be entertained by a good story. There aren’t any boring or stale moments in this novel, because the author makes sure that there’s always something going on to satisfy the needs of readers who enjoy action scenes.”
You can read the whole of Seregil’s review on Risingshadow here.
Seregil of Rhiminee recently reviewed Ira Nayman’s latest Multiverse novel The Multiverse is a Nice Place to Visit, But I Wouldn’t Want to Live There, the fifth book in the Multiverse (aka Transdimensional Authority) series. Seregil starts by writing “Ah, Ira Nayman has done it again!” and goes on to say that although this is the fifth book in the series “it is still as amusing, fresh and highly entertaining as the previous novels (to be totally honest, in certain ways this novel is even better than its predecessors).” Later Seregil writes that he finds Ira’s ability to parody popular culture absolutely brilliant and he was “once again amazed at his shameless way of writing genuinely funny and thought-provoking satire about TV series etc. Just like the previous novels, this novel has quite an amazing amount of references to popular culture, which is one of the reasons why I enjoyed reading it.” As he adds, “Virtually nobody and nothing is safe from his quirky humour and that’s an extremely good thing.” Seregil concludes his review with a plea to Ira: “More, please!”.
Read the whole of Seregil’s review on Risingshadow.net here.
Earlier this week Seregil of Rhiminee reviewed Cold Fire, the latest book from Peter R. Ellis (I would have mentioned it sooner but I’ve been laid up with flu for a few days). The book is the first of a series of standalone novels recounting the continuing adventures of September Weekes, the heroine of Peter’s Evil Above the Stars series.
Seregil starts by saying that it was a pleasure to read about September Weekes again because she’s an interesting and fascinating protagonist. He says that it is “just as good and interesting” as the Evil Above the Stars series, and points out that it is perfectly possible to read Cold Fire without having read the original series, adding that it is a suitable “entry point to the world of September Weekes” and although it has much “in common with the previous novels, it’s a whole new adventure and newcomers will be able to enjoy it”. He describes Cold Fire as “a well-told fantasy story that will intrigue adult and young adults readers alike” in which readers will find themselves immersed in the story as it unfolds.
Seregil compliments Peter’s good characterisation, and fluent writing. The “characters are resourceful and remind me a bit of the characters found in Enid Blyton’s novels” he says. He admits that even September’s nemesis, the Malevolence, has fascinated him since the beginning of the original trilogy – Peter has “created an ultimate evil entity, because it consumes everything it comes in contact with and leaves destruction in its wake”.
Seregil says that Cold Fire “combines elements of fantasy and science fiction in an entertaining way”, with Peter writing “intriguingly” about the alternative version of our world with creatures such as mermaids, unicorns and dragons (although they avoid men). Peter’s writing about the impact of human population growth on these other creatures and their ultimate fate has a “bittersweetness” says Seregil, revealing hidden wisdom beneath the story on the themes of extinction, indifference and fear of the unknown.
Seregil also enjoyed the descriptions of alchemy and how phosphorus and its qualities fascinated scientists. Peter manages to “convey the enthusiasm involved in the experiments to his readers in a splendid way”, which he thinks is a result of Peter’s background as a teacher “because you get a feeling that he knows what he is writing about”.
Summarising, Seregil says that what he likes most about Cold Fire and the previous trilogy is that they are intriguing and different. He is glad that the “Welsh elements – history, mythology, names etc – that readers have come to love in the previous novels can also be found in this novel. They’re an important part of the fascination and originality of the story, because they make this novel stand out among other fantasy novels.”
Seregil concludes by saying that Cold Fire is a “charming and delightfully old-fashioned yet intriguingly modern fantasy novel” that “combines the charm of classic fantasy books with modern storytelling in a successful way”.
On Risingshadow, Seregil of Rhiminee has reviewed Rebecca Hall’s latest novel, Instrument of War, the second book in the Symphony of the Cursed trilogy following on from Instrument of Peace. Seregil enjoyed Instrument of Peace (see his review here) and says he was excited to read Instrument of War. So it’s just as well that it is “just as good” and is an entertaining read for those who love “exciting and fast-paced YA fantasy fiction”. In fact he says it not only lives up to the first book but “even surpasses it”.
The book is a “well written sequel” and he says that those who have read Instrument of Peace will feel immediately at home with the story and “be delighted to immerse themselves in it, because the author delivers a good story”, adding that she “wonderfully maintains tension and excitement in this novel and goes boldly forward with the story”. This book “deepens the story arc” offering exciting and thrilling moments because Rebecca “keeps on building upon what she created in the first novel”.
Seregil says he consider Rebecca’s books to be excellent additions to the increasingly popular YA fantasy genre because she “uses classic elements in a fresh and modern way”. The cast of characters, he says, is “delightfully versatile” with good characterisation because Rebecca writes fluently about “the characters’ feelings, lives and abilities”. He especially likes Rebecca’s “more entertaining and original approach” to vampires, avoiding the common clichés that are often overused in YA faction. He thinks that many readers will like Rebecca’s “vision of vampires, because in her novels the vampires feel much fresher than in many other novels”. He also finds her approach to magic to be “intriguing” and effortless, as is her ability to combine various fantasy elements. He says “I liked it a lot in Instrument of Peace, but now I find it even more intriguing, because she doesn’t seem to hold back anything anymore, but delivers a fantastical story with plenty of excitement.”
Seregil says that, although many YA novels have been written about magic schools and angels, “this novel stands out due to its interesting story and exotic setting” adding that the backdrop of New Zealand locations “adds lots of freshness to it”.
In conclusion, Seregil says that Instrument of War is “one of those rare novels that will captivate younger readers from the very first chapter and will make them read it in one sitting, because the story is immersive”. He is now looking forward to reading the concluding novel Instrument of Chaos (which will be published early next year) because “the story arc is fascinating”.
His final verdict: Good, intriguing and well written YA fantasy that is exciting and fast-paced entertainment for readers of all ages.
On RisingShadow, Seregil of Rhiminee has reviewed Don’t Look Back by John Gribbin. He starts by saying that he considers it to be “one of the best sci-fi short story collections of the year” adding that he found John’s way of “combining science and fiction highly effective”. He goes on to say that because John is a science writer and an astrophysicist he has “invaluable insight into the source material and he’s capable of writing stories that intellectually stimulate readers. This truly makes a difference, because his stories have … an element of credibility that can’t be found in many other stories.”
Seregil then lists the stories (and two essays) in this collection, with a brief outline of the essence of the story followed by his own comments on each one – comments that frequently include “excellent”, “intriguing”, “fascinating” and “wonderful”. I will just single out one, Something to Beef About, which Seregil says “perfectly demonstrates how good a storyteller the author is”. He says that what is best about these stories is that they use “science and scientific facts as a basis” but don’t “forget the value of imagination, storytelling and surprises”. Seregil also liked John’s “effortless way of adding humour, sharpness and … subtle wittiness”.
Although this is a retrospective and definitive collection of John’s short stories originally published over many years, Seregil observes that “they have stood the test of time well, because they contain themes and issues that are still relevant”. He compares John’s writing style to Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov, and says that “his prose is simultaneously intellectual, imaginative and unornamented”, adding that this is good because “this kind of ‘hardcore’ science fiction doesn’t need florid literary expressions and complex prose to be intriguing”.
Seregil suggests that these stories would appeal not only to science fiction fans who “know a thing or two about science” but also to those who are “not familiar with sci-fi stories, because its contents will appeal to the intelligence of many readers”. He also hopes it may entice readers to seek more knowledge about science, physics and the universe. In conclusion Seregil gave Don’t Look Back five stars because “it contains stories that appealed to my intelligence. It felt satisfying to read these stories, because the author had interesting ideas and views about life, technology and universe.” He finishes by suggesting that readers will “find this collection fascinating”.
Seregil also commented that the “cover art by David A. Hardy looks atmospheric and evokes a sense of awe and wonder”.
You can read Seregil’s full review on RisingShadowhere.
On RisingShadow.net, Seregil of Rhiminee has just posted a marvellous review of Dinnusos Rises, the latest novel from Tej Turner. Although it is a sequel to his debut novel The Janus Cycle, it can also be read as a standalone novel. Seregil says he found The Janus Cycle captivating (“intriguing and insightful” was how he described it in his review) and he therefore had high expectations for Dinnusos Rises. In this review he writes that he is pleased to say that Dinnusos Rises met all of his expectations and “even managed to exceed them, because it’s just as rewarding and thought-provoking a reading experience as The Janus Cycle and then some”, adding that it is a “perfect companion” to The Janus Cycle.
Seregil describes Dinnusos Rises as “vibrant and intriguingly gritty”, saying that it is “one of the most fascinating novels of the year” with a “sophisticatedly complex story and colourful characters” which “will mesmerise readers who enjoy reading thought-provoking stories”.
He says it’s great that Tej “blends literary fiction with speculative fiction and spices the story with a touch of surrealism” to make a novel that takes readers on a “captivating and rewarding journey into a realistic yet surreal urban landscape where strange things happen and where reality meets fantasy in a powerful way”. Seregil compliments Tej’s characterisation as “excellent”, all of the characters are three-dimensional, have depth to them and each has a unique voice. He says that the characters “interact with each other in a believable way” and “nothing feels artificial or pretentious”. Using multiple viewpoints in a “vivid way” Tej “keeps the story fresh and interesting”.
Seregil says that Tej has a “genuine talent for writing stories that are spiced with gritty realism” exploring challenging themes in a realistic way while avoiding “melodramatic moments”; Tej counterbalances the harshness and grittiness with “moments of beauty and a few humorous elements”. Seregil says that one of the best things about the novel is that Tej “explores attraction, sex and different forms of sexuality in an admirably bold and realistic way”, and “dares to explore different kind of sexuality”.
In conclusion, Seregil describes Dinnusos Rises as a “prime example of what gifted authors are capable of achieving when they have courage to write about various themes and issues in a bold and insightful way”, and says it is “one of the best novels of the year” that “dares to be different and wonderfully showcases the diversity of the genre and its possibilities”. His summary is that Dinnusos Rises is “excellent in every possible way, because it’s a daring, thought-provoking and satisfyingly gritty novel”.
This was a very brief précis of Seregil’s review which you should read here.
Tej talks about some of his experiences and influences when he was growing up, that have left their mark on him and his fiction; he illuminates some of the motivation behind his latest book Dinnusos Rises; he talks about his deliberate structuring of both books to enable him to encompass diversity more effectively; and he tells us a little bit about what else he is planning to do.
If you enjoyed The Janus Cycle, then this interview should make you even more keen to read Dinnusos Rises, which is already available for pre-order on most eBook platforms (see here for details). If you haven’t read any of Tej’s work yet, but are a fan of classic urban fantasy or magical realism then this interview should convince you to give Tej’s books a place on your bookshelf (real or digital).
Either way, you should read the interview (click here to read it on RisingShadow) for an enriching experience!
Seregil of Rhiminee has posted a review on the RisingShadow.net website of Reimar Breaking: The Prelude to the Iberan War, the first book in The Iberan War series by Jonathan Rivalland. He starts by saying that it’s a “welcome addition to fantasy fiction, because it’s an entertaining and well-told story with a promise of more greatness to come in the next instalments”. Although it is Jonathan’s debut novel, Seregil says that it “feels satisfyingly rich and robust”, the story is “intriguing” and “well-written” and Jonathan’s “enthusiasm to tell stories shines through the text”.
One of the aspects of this novel that Seregil singles out for comment, is the world-building which he says “works well” because Jonathan provides detailed information about certain areas but leaves plenty of room for further world-building. Seregil says this is to his liking because not everything is revealed in the first novel. He also liked the fact that there is a detailed map as well as a useful appendix with information about Reimar. He observes that Jonathan “manages to lay a good foundation for further stories” by introducing the world and characters to the reader, but the “story moves swiftly forward, because there’s a nice balance between characterisation, worldbuilding, politics and action scenes”. The characterisation is “fluent and entertaining”, as is the handling of military issues, and the “political matters are fascinating in this novel”.
Seregil likes the way that Jonathan uses both humour and action, at which he succeeds well. He says that the humorous elements “lighten the story in a nice way” while the action scenes “keep readers entertained”. Jonathan is, he says “quite adept at adding a bit of humour into the dialogues without making it seem superficial”. Seregil also enjoyed the surprises that Jonathan delivers, especially the “unexpected act of violence” which acts as the catalyst to the rest of the story and pushed everything into motion.
Seregil concludes by saying that Reimar Breaking is a promising start to The Iberan War which he hopes will be a long series, and he is looking forward to reading the next novel. “It’s an exciting, intriguing and well written novel” he says, which he recommends to anyone who enjoys adult fantasy novels “because the author shows lots of promise for creating complex stories”.
You should read Seregil’s full review on RisingShadow.nethere
On RisingShadow.net, Seregil of Rhiminee has reviewed Tanya Reimer’s latest Sacred Land Story. An “excellent prequel” to her first Sacred Land Story, Ghosts on the Prairies, Seregil says that Legends on the Prairies “captures the reader’s attention from the first page”. He says that he considers Tanya’s novels to be “hidden treasures” waiting to be found by readers, because they’re wonderfully different from other speculative fiction novels due to their blend of literary fiction, speculative fiction, historical elements and paranormal elements. He goes on to say that Tanya “has her own original literary voice and she uses it well”.
Seregil was eager to read Legends on the Prairies because he had enjoyed reading Tanya’s previous novels Ghosts on the Prairies and Can’t Dream Without You, and was not disappointed. He was impressed by the story and found it “entertaining and thought-provoking”, adding that in his opinion it is “better and more rounded” than Ghost on the Prairies because it “has plenty of depth and the author writes more fluently about the happenings”. It is, he says, a “successful combination of several elements” including historical fiction and speculative fiction, and “The story pulses with substance and has clearly been written out of passion for storytelling”.
He compliments Tanya’s characterisation which is “satisfying and believable” as she fleshes out her protagonists’ traits in an “engaging” way, fluently conveying “their inner turmoil and conflicted emotions to her readers”. It’s great that she has “created realistic protagonists who are not perfect and flawless cookie-cutter characters”, such that the reader wants to find out more about them because she writes so “intensely about their feelings, lives and problems”.
Seregil says that Legends on the Prairies is a “powerful exploration of friendship, hope, love and growth”, and that Tanya writes “fluently about believing in yourself and what you’re capable of doing” while creating a “good story that has plenty of tensions and substance”. She has an “insightful way of writing about change and growth” and lets her characters “make mistakes along the way”. He also says that he enjoys the way she “writes about legends. She infuses her story with them, but doesn’t let them hinder her from concentrating on achingly realistic storytelling”.
Seregil concludes by saying Legends on the Prairies is “an accessible novel that can be recommended to many readers”; and, like Ghosts on the Prairies, “will appeal to both mainstream fiction readers and speculative fiction readers” – filled with “life and turmoil” it will “intrigue and please both readerships”. Inviting readers into a world where “myth and legend meet everyday life and the harsh and painful reality of existence in a powerful way”, it will “entertain and thrill” readers. His final verdict is “Excellent, thought-provoking and well written entertainment for adults”.
You should read Seregil’s full review on RisingShadow here.