On her blog, All Things Jill-Elizabeth, Jill-Elizabeth recently reviewed The Janus Cycle and Dinnusos Rises by Tej Turner. The books were not her usual fare and she “found them a bit, well, grittier than my taste tends to run”. She freely admits that she decided not to finish reading either book, but felt compelled to write a review because to not do so wouldn’t “do justice to the author OR story … simply because I picked up a book outside of my comfort zone and it delivered what it promised, namely a story that I wasn’t exactly comfortable launching myself into.”
The Janus Cycle has multiple narrators (one per chapter) telling different aspects of the story from differing perspectives as they lead inevitably to the final event (that they all need to prevent). Jill comments that, as “the narrative progresses, you get glimpses of where you are and why you’re there, but there’s a certain amount of flexibility in the style that I struggled with a bit. I tend to prefer my novels in a more traditional format – I’m a bit old-school in that regard.” She adds “I like a slow-build, with lots of backstory and complicated, well-developed, characters. Janus has the latter in spades…” The stories that lead to the denouement are “told well” but unfortunately Jill couldn’t make it to the end.
Dinnusos Rises was, she says, “more my style”. However this too has multiple narrators and ultimately involved Jill feeling uncomfortable. As she says it “isn’t a comfort book, and I think stepping outside of my comfort zone is where I ran into issues with them. That’s me, not the books.” She found the characters “intriguing” and “colorfully presented without ever feeling either over- or under-done”. Tej, she says, “manages a tidy turn of phrase in his descriptions of people and their emotional baggage – there are some cleverly massaged psychological insights here, and those were fun to discover.” She adds “The writing is strong, as is the characterization”.
She concludes by saying that Tej is “a very talented individual”, describing his writing as “full-frontal, Gonzo storytelling”. Although they were quite far outside her usual reading taste, Jill says “they were very well crafted and the characters are deeply human for good and for ill. And on top of that, the cover illustrations are extremely cool, aren’t they?” As well as complimenting Tej’s writing and the covers of both books, Jill also described both Tej and Elsewhen Press as “exceedingly cool and easy to work with” – obviously a very discerning person!
You can, and should, read the whole of Jill’s review on her blog here.