On the British Fantasy Society website, Elloise Hopkins has reviewed Thorns of a Black Rose by David Craig. After an outline of the plot, Elloise introduces the two main characters, Tamira and Shukara, characters that are “easily likeable to the reader”. She adds that David Craig presents “well-rounded, believable heroines alongside worldbuilding richly woven with influences from North Africa and ancient history”. She compliments the pace of the story and says that at the end there is a satisfying completion while “tantalisingly” leaving scope for further adventures – which she says would be very welcome. In conclusion she says that Thorns of a Black Rose is a “modern young adult story with its roots very firmly in traditional fantasy”.
You can read the full review on the BFS website here.
On her blog, Jill-Elizabeth has reviewed Working Weekend by Penelope Hill, which she describes as “an original spin on common supernatural themes, offered with a generous dose of humor and a peek behind the curtain at authors, writing, fandom, and the magic that is themed conventions”. She adds that it’s “snarky and funny and just the right amount of dark”. She says that it built a “nice tension” that kept her turning pages, and the characters were a good blend of personalities that “intermingled tropes and originality in a way I thought perfect”. She says that the ending left her cautiously optimistic that we might get to join Marcus in further adventures (take note Penelope!).
You can read the full review on Jill-Elizabeth’s blog here (it’s on Goodreads too).
On her blog Jill-Eliabeth has reviewed Lord of the Hunt by David Craig, the second book in the Sooty Feathers series. As she loved the first book, Resurrection Men (read about her review of that here), it is perhaps unsurprising that she also enjoyed this latest book. In her review she apologises for not having too much specific to say about the story as she doesn’t want to undermine the plot twists or introduce any spoilers.
She says that David Craig is a dab hand at “setting up expectations, only to knock them down like nine-pins” but without “ever generating an eye roll or sense of irritation”. She likes the fact that he doesn’t throw in red herrings to drive tension up artificially, his “misdirections and layered revelations are much more delicate and well-crafted than that and each one feels like an organic and utterly necessary part of the whole.”
Her conclusion is that Lord of the Hunt is entirely enjoyable and definitely worth reading (and if you haven’t already read Resurrection Men, which she describes as also excellent, she says “I definitely recommend reading these in order”). You can read the full review on her blog here (it’s also on Goodreads).
On her blog, Jill-Elizabeth has reviewed Million Eyes by C.R. Berry, the first book in the Million Eyes trilogy. She previously read and reviewed the free-to-download collection of short stories set in the Million Eyes universe, Million Eyes: Extra Time (read about her review here). She starts her review of Million Eyes by saying that it was “a delight to read and offered a marvelous set-up to events to come”. She describes it as “a wild ride that whip-cracks back and forth through time”, with “time travel, history, alt-history, conspiracy theory, corporate greed, and a host of characters that range from the hapless to the harried to the horrible”. She admits that she is a fan of time-travel as a concept and the possibilities it allows for talented story-tellers like C.R. Berry.
She mentions that though there are many characters introduced in the various timelines, the two that she felt a real connection with were “Princess Diana, who jumped off the page for me, which is strange since I have never before felt so drawn to her” and the “horrifically corporate-evil queen Erica Morgan who felt like a perfect amalgamation of every corporate CEO I’ve ever known combined with every Disney villain-queen I’ve ever encountered”.
She says that her biggest concern is how long she will have to wait for the following two books in the series to find out what happens next!
You can read Jill-Elizabeth’s review on her blog here (it’s also on Goodreads).
When a magical problem and a political challenge threaten Marek at the same time, Marcia, Heir to House Fereno, finds herself at the centre of the responses to both. Can she and her allies withstand Teren politics, while her friends withstand Teren magic?
DARTFORD, KENT – 18 December 2019 – Elsewhen Press, an independent UK publisher specialising in Speculative Fiction, is delighted to announce the publication of Shadow and Storm the much-anticipated second book in the epic Marek fantasy series from author Juliet Kemp. This latest instalment sees more political intrigue in the city-state of Marek, while a magical problem is heading their way from the Teren capital.
Aliette de Bodard, Nebula award-winning author of The Tea Master and the Detective described the first book in Juliet’s Marek series, The Deep and Shining Dark, as “A rich and memorable tale of political ambition, family and magic, set in an imagined city that feels as vibrant as the characters inhabiting it”. Shadow and Storm continues with that same mix of politics, magic and friendship that has been enthralling readers.
Once again, Reb and Cato, the two surviving sorcerers in Marek, must work together with the city-angel to deal with a demonic threat to the city. Meanwhile Marcia, Fereno-Heir, starts to realise that the new Lord Lieutenant recently arrived from the Teren capital for the annual formal opening of the Council, has her own agenda that may be as big a threat to the prosperity and stability of Marek.
Peter Buck, Editorial Director at Elsewhen Press says, “the conjured world of Juliet’s Marek series is at once both highly believable and utterly fantastic. We can readily relate to the politics of a prosperous city-state keen to maintain its virtual independence from a distant ruling throne, while struggling to deal with internal rivalries for power and control over the lucrative trade on which its prosperity was founded. At the same time, in these days of concern for our planet and uncertainty over our own future we, perhaps longingly, perhaps with trepidation, can imagine the possibilities of a world where magic is real and is mediated by a benevolent spirit keeping malevolent demons at bay.”
As with the first book in the series, the front cover is graced by beautiful artwork from renowned artist Tony Allcock: Marcia showing the new Teren Lord Lieutenant the view from the top of Marekhill across the river to the docks, the old market and the highlands beyond, while a storm is brewing both politically and magically.
Shadow and Storm is now available to pre-order on all popular eBook platforms prior to publication on 3rd January 2020. The paperback edition will be available from 23rd March 2020.
Notes for Editors
About Juliet Kemp
Juliet Kemp lives by the river in London, with their partners, child, dog, and too many fountain pens. Having had stories published in several anthologies and online magazines, The Deep and Shining Dark was Juliet’s first novel and Shadow and Storm is the sequel. Their employment history variously includes working as a cycle instructor, sysadmin, life model, researcher, permaculture designer, and journalist. When not writing or parenting, Juliet goes climbing, knits, reads way too much, and drinks a lot of tea.
Although the city-state of Marek is part of Teren, the Thirteen Houses and Guilds have long been protective of their de facto independence. So Marcia, Heir to House Fereno, expects the annual visit for the Council opening by the Teren Throne’s representative to be nothing more than the usual symbolic gesture. But this year the Lord Lieutenant has been unexpectedly replaced. As Marcia is showing the new Lieutenant, Selene, the view from the top of Marekhill, she suspects that Selene has her own agenda. After all, Teren has politics too, just like Marek.
In Marek, magic is mediated by the cityangel. But elsewhere in Teren, magic is enabled by bloodletting. A Teren magician will invoke a demon to do their bidding and bind them with blood. But demons are devious and will take advantage of any flaw or loophole to avoid being bound. An unleashed demon is dangerous and sure to create havoc, and the Teren way to stop them involves the letting of more of the magician’s blood – often terminally. But if a young magician is being sought by an unleashed demon, their only hope may be to escape to Marek where the cityangel can keep the demon at bay. Probably.
Once again Reb, Cato and Jonas must work with Beckett to deal with a magical problem, while Marcia must tackle a serious political challenge to Marek’s future. But of course magic and politics never seem to remain separate for long, especially when Teren politics are involved.
Fiction / Fantasy / Epic; Fiction / Fantasy / Paranormal; Fiction / LGBT
Print edition: ISBN 978-1-911409-49-6, 336pp, Demy; RRP £9.99 / €11.99 / US$17.99 (23 Mar 2020)
Electronic edition: ISBN 978-1-911409-59-5, EPUB / Kindle; RRP £2.99 / €3.49 / US$3.99 (03 Jan 2020)
About the cover
The cover artwork for Shadow and Storm was produced by Tony Allcock, the same artist who produced the much-lauded cover for Book 1 of Juliet’s Marek series, The Deep and Shining Dark. Tony lives in Hertfordshire and has been both a Research Scientist and a Fine Artist for 40 years. He has exhibited watercolour and oil paintings in galleries and exhibitions in the UK, France and Italy. More recently he has also been painting digitally, illustrating music CD covers and book covers.
On Risingshadow.net, Seregil of Rhiminee has reviewed Good Intentions by Ira Nayman. This is the first novel in The Multiverse Refugees Trilogy, but also the sixth novel of the Transdimensional Authority series. Seregil starts by saying that he’s “amazed at how fresh and original, not to mention amusing, this novel is” and that, despite being the sixth Multiverse novel, Ira “manages to come up with new novels that are just as good and entertaining as the previous ones”.
Seregil’s review is well worth reading in its entirety, so I will only pick out a couple more quotes from it, and encourage you to read the full review yourself. He describes the book as an “excellent humorous science fiction novel that is filled with quirkiness, inventiveness and hilarious wittiness”, “one of the most amusing and most satirical science fiction novels I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading”, “sharp yet entertaining satire and parody about humans, humanity and the state of the world”. I think that gives a reasonable picture of how much Seregil liked the book. He concludes by saying it is “one of the best novels available for readers who love humorous speculative fiction.”
On Risingshadow.net, Seregil of Rhiminee has just reviewed Thorns of a Black Rose by David Craig, which he describes as “a fully satisfying tale of thievery, assassinations, survival and vengeance”.
Seregil found Thorns of a Black Rose to be “a compelling and immersive novel that instantly caught my interest” telling an “entertaining story that will keep readers turning pages”. He praises David’s “fluent prose and well written dialogues” and “splendid and surprisingly vivid” characterisation, as well as the “rich and immersive” worldbuilding. He adds, “The author’s vision of the world is immensely vibrant, because the world is influenced by ancient Egypt, Morocco, Turkey and Middle Eastern countries. It feels as if he has taken many well known elements that are related to these countries, their myths and their cultures and has poured magic and action all over the blend to create something original and thrilling.”
Seregil enjoyed reading about the city of Mask and the bloodthirsty Cult of Hrek which he describes as “a fascinating part of the story arc, because it brings plenty of darkness to it”. But he says he was “wholly mesmerised” by David’s way of writing about The Black Rose, “an important and captivating part of the story”. The magic system is intriguing, and the politics of the magic users adds depth to the story.
Seregil awards a full five stars because it’s “wonderful entertainment from start to finish” and hopes that there will be more stories set in this world. He concludes by saying that “Thorns of a Black Rose is a slice of fantasy excellence in a single volume” which he can highly recommend “because the unfolding story is a rich and rewarding reading experience”.
You can read Seregil’s full review on Risingshadow here.
On her blog, Jill-Elizabeth has written a review of Million Eyes: Extra Time by C.R. Berry. The book is a freely downloadable collection of twelve time-twisting short stories that manage to demonstrate how almost every conspiracy theory you’ve ever heard of has been perpetrated by a specific group of time travellers. Of course, this is an introduction to the world of Million Eyes, to whet readers’ appetites in advance of the publication of the first in the Million Eyes series in January. Jill-Elizabeth writes that it is the most excellent world-introduction she’s seen in a long time.
Featuring a dozen time-twisting short stories set in the Million Eyes universe, which Eamonn describes as “very like our own universe but with time travel and conspiracy theories added for fun”. And then he adds “All of the conspiracy theories are true! It was the time travellers what did it.”
Some of the stories have been previously published elsewhere. Having read, and praised, one of the stories when it first appeared, encouraged Eamonn to review this book. He avoids giving away any of the plots but says “if you can think of a conspiracy theory, chances are that C.R. Berry has it here”, adding that he “covers all the bases of urban legend”. He compliments Berry’s “very readable style” and the clever plots, and says it is an enjoyable read. He concludes by noting that the book is available for free download from the Elsewhen Press website, adding “Obviously, that’s a cunning ploy to get you to buy ‘Million Eyes’ the novel when it comes out but I think the ploy might work.”
You can read Eamonn’s full review on SFCrowsnest here.
Opening with “Wow, what a ride!”, Sandra clearly enjoyed the book – “It was for me like a drug” she writes – and was very taken with the whole alternative world where many of the best known urban legends and conspiracy theories are all linked to time travellers changing time to suit their own puporse. Of course we won’t know what that purpose is until Million Eyes is published – “I know I will certainly want to dive more into that world” says Sandra – but in the meantime these free short stories certainly set the scene. Describing it as “all very interesting and compelling at the same time” Sandra says she wasn’t able to put the book down and when she finally did she remembered “the conspiracies I had heard over the years and how they were so well knitted into the narrative of this book”. She said that while reading it “we forget that it is fantasy and it becomes so real”.
Her final verdict: “A true gem to read for all lovers of conspiracies that I highly recommend to all.”
You can read Sandra’s full review on the Storgy website here.