“the setting is vivid” – Review of Thorns of a Black Rose on Al-Alhambra

On his Al-Alhambra blog, The Wanderer (aka Mada) has reviewed Thorns of a Black Rose by David Craig.

Cover design by PR Pope

He starts by describing the book as reading “like an RPG of the Desert”. I’m guessing that’s Role-Playing Game not Rocket-Propelled Grenade 😉

He acknowledges the world’s influences from Morocco, Ancient Egypt and the Maghreb, adding that he loves “the hint of the Assassin Creed Influence”, and goes on to say that the “setting is vivid, and the description takes you back to a world where dusty deserts and camels embark on a vast sweeping epic journey. There’s bandits, assassins, empires, merchant guilds, all jostling for power”.

He writes that the characters are “finely developed” and then provides a little background to the main protagonists. He adds, “This novel has so much magic I’m flabbergasted that it is this well done”. He also liked the cover, adding in no uncertain terms “THE COVER IS THE STORY!” (his capitals), as well as the writing: “The prose is well written. The writing is on point. The dialogue is great”. His only real criticism is that it could benefit from a map – maybe in the next book (I’ll suggest it to David.)

In conclusion he gives it 5/5.

You can (should) read the full review on the Al-Alhambra site here.

 

“a terrifying and unexpected journey fraught with creatures from a nightmare” – Review of Resurrection Men on The Book Dragon

Cover design and artwork by Alison Buck

On her blog The Book Dragon, book reviewer Nikki has reviewed Resurrection Men by David Craig. With 4.5 stars out of 5 (because “it is good”) she has given a very definite thumbs-up to David’s book. She writes, “In this seemingly normal story about a couple of body snatchers from Glasgow, Scotland in the late 19th century, David Craig takes us on a terrifying and unexpected journey fraught with creatures from a nightmare”.

Nikki begins the review with her impressions after just having read the first chapter. She was intrigued and wanted to know what happens next. So that was a good start!

After reading the rest of the book she wrote her full review. She admits, “This is my first real historical fantasy novels that I have actually finished. I tend to become bored with historical fantasy–especially urban–preferring instead the medieval sword-fighting kind.” But she tells us that, after chapter 3 or so, she got so engrossed in the book that she read about 40% in one sitting and only stopped when she “happened to glance at the clock!” We all know that feeling, and any author is truly gratified that their writing can have that effect on their readers. Nikki adds, “It doesn’t matter whether your’re a historical fantasy reader or a fan of vampires, even if you’re not, it’s still a great book!” She loved the elements of sarcasm in the dialogue, especially between the two eponymous Resurrection Men, it was, she wrote, “the perfect balance between mystery/suspense/horror and comedy. Rather than making the story swing to the absurd, the comedy instead strengthened the other elements and added just a bit of relief for the reader to catch their breath before diving in again.”

Nikki’s description of the ending needs to be read (you can read her whole review here), so I won’t spoil it for you except to say that she finishes her review by writing that the ending was “the perfect way to wrap up the novel.”

Thanks for a great review Nikki.

 

“captivating … and … thought-provoking” – review of Genesis on Risingshadow

Cover artwork by Alison Buck; Mars image Nerthuz / shutterstock.com

On Risingshadow.net, Seregil of Rhiminee has just reviewed Geoffrey Carr’s debut novel, the technothriller Genesis, describing it as “an enjoyable combination of science fiction, technology and thriller”. Seregil “enjoyed Genesis a lot” especially as it “starts slowly and then, bit by bit, gathers momentum and ends in a satisfying climax”. He says it is a well written story, where fragments and threads are at first presented that seem unconnected but “soon everything begins to make sense and the reader notices what connects everything together”. Seregil says he likes this kind of storytelling because “it requires concentration on the reader’s part and makes the reader want to find out what is happening”.

Seregil mentions that Genesis is also an interesting read for anyone with a view on AI, whether they are keen to see progress or worry about it, because “it offers readers a cautionary tale of what may happen when a powerful AI becomes alive and self-aware, and decides that it doesn’t need its makers anymore”. Geoffrey Carr, he says, writes vividly about what happens when computer systems misbehave and enjoyably about the business and political issues involved. Seregil suggests that Carr’s experiences as Science and Technology Editor of The Economist and his wide-ranging interests and knowledge is one of the main reasons why this novel is “good and intriguing”, and has “many captivating elements and a few thought-provoking moments”. Geoffrey’s writing style is easy and fast to read, gradually revealing important details with revelations that “keeps the story moving forward in a fluent way”, with welcome touches of humour.

Seregil concludes by recommending Genesis as a well-written techno-thriller that tells an intriguing, exciting and suspenseful story.

You can read Seregil’s full review on Risingshadow.net here.

 

“fast-moving and gripping climax” – review of Genesis on SFcrowsnest

Cover artwork by Alison Buck; Mars image Nerthuz / shutterstock.com

On SFcrowsnest, David A Hardy has just reviewed Genesis by Geoffrey Carr, which he bought at Eastercon at our Genesis launch event. He starts by saying that he enjoyed the book “greatly”.

Dave describes the story as “a rollercoaster ride: it starts slowly, but builds to a fast-moving and gripping climax”. He outlines the underlying plot and the main protagonists, adding that the “manner in which all this comes together as it builds toward the climactic end of this book is masterly”.

Naturally I’ve just picked out a couple of juicy morsels from Dave’s review! But you can (and should) read his full review on SFcrowsnest here.

“entertaining and fast-paced space opera” – Review of Franchise on RisingShadow

Artwork: David A. Hardy

On RisingShadow.net recently, Seregil of Rhiminee reviewed Peter Glassborow’s novel Franchise, the first of the Cornucopia Logs.

Seregil describes it as “an entertaining and fast-paced space opera novel that is easy to like” that he enjoyed because it approaches space opera elements “from a slightly different angle”. Peter focusses on writing about Jack Rakai, his wife Pam and their family, and how they deal with the problems and situations that unfold. As a result he “brings a fair amount of warmth to the story… something that is not often found in modern space opera novels”. Peter’s writing has a “realistic feel” to it, by paying attention to the family, how they cope with events, their alien pets, and their relationships.

Because the story is centred around Jack and Pam’s family, Seregil notes that it obviously has parallels with the classic TV series Lost in Space although there is otherwise nothing in common plot-wise. But that may also mean that it would appeal to readers who don’t normally read space opera, or who like reading about families.

Seregil says that the story is “satisfyingly exciting and intriguing” with “well-placed surprises”. The events that unfold were “fascinating” because the “dangerously escalating situation was handled well by the author”. Seregil notes that there is a good balance between excitement and entertainment, and the sparing use of humour spices up the story in a nice way.

Seregil’s conclusion is that Franchise is good, entertaining science fiction – relaxing escapism, despite the fast-paced story.

Read Seregil’s full review on RisingShadow here.

 

“compelling and relatable” – Review of The Deep and Shining Dark in Locus Magazine

Artwork: Tony Allcock

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?).

“intriguing fantasy” – review of The Empty Throne on Risingshadow

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”.

Artwork: Tony Allcock

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.

Read Seregil’s review on RisingShadow here.
 

“a refreshingly creative and entertaining story” – review on RisingShadow of Resurrection Men

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”.

Cover design and artwork by Alison Buck

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!”

Read Seregil’s full review on RisingShadow here.

 

“a delicious evil” – review by Jill-Elizabeth of Resurrection Men

Cover design and artwork by Alison Buck

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).

 

“captivating and well-crafted” – review of The Deep and Shining Dark on Risingshadow

On Risingshadow.net Seregil 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”.

Artwork: Tony Allcock

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.