Grand Masquerade

Grand Masquerade Born Publishing copyright and written by Stephen C. Perkins.

Setting: The setting for the story is the small town of Rupert, Vermont with its surrounding farmland and dense forests. The town is small but seemingly prosperous with well-run stores and farms with a particularly large dairy that also provides a far better than to be expected Bed & Breakfast that also includes a series of well positioned hunting blinds for those who like especially to hunt deer.

Characters: Outsiders that include a man running for President of the United States; the owner of a technological company that is ‘taking over’ the technology sector of the world by his company’s cutting edge advances; his spoiled well-educated but play-boy son; his long-standing and trusted CFO; his Chinese chief designer; a few lesser characters. Insiders are composed of a sizeable number of residents of Rupert that include the owners of the Dairy/B&B/hunting complex; several of their children; city residents and prominently one daughter of one of the wealthiest; the Sheriff and his Daughter who is somewhat of a ‘bulldog’ investigator; a doctor who is gaining an increasing position of renown as a healer who uses non-invasive techniques. A third set of characters, ‘the Others’, seemingly existing as those of legend and not really existing except as the after results of some form of horrendous activity. Legend has it that they exist because of an unholy alliance they had reached with certain residents of Rupert many years ago.

Plot: The book opens with a gruesome attack on a young boy riding his motorcycle in the dense woods followed by his disappearance. The local Sheriff provides a seemingly plausible reason but the State Police Officers decide to investigate further. They reportedly are attacked of several bears with disastrous results. From this point the reader is taken into a world of political machinations interwoven with the equally corrupt life of business with off shore hidden accounts, deceased individuals who are not dead but living and getting paid as another, and dishonesty, distrust, betrayal, deceit, and treachery rampant. All of these activities gradually interweaving with features concerning the legendary “Others”.

Discussion: The author has set forth a quite intriguing mixture of politics, unprincipled business tactics, personal greed, lack of morality, seeming lack of ability to have any semblance of deep affection all overshadowed by a mystically malignant power in which it is enveloped. A quite intriguing horror (?) story highly recommended.

5* Highly recommended multi-genre/suspense tale.

The Time Before the Moon

The TIME before the MOON ISBN: 9781718974470 published, copyright and written by Kameron Williams.

In a time of the early beginning of man, the reader is introduced to Omi, a young man living in a small group of hunter/gatherers. The enclave is ruled by an elderly Seer who has contact with the gods and dictates all activities purportedly as they direct. He lives in a somewhat elevated area of the gathered dwellings in a sacred temple. The building, seemingly from an even more ancient period is supported by large stone columns decorated with ancient hieroglyphics. The building also serves as the home of the most beautiful young women of the village, selected by the Seer as the vestal virgins. The rules of living within the group are numerous and strict. Among them are a dictate where each resident must report periodically to the Seer at a set time; marriages are arranged by the Seer and announced only after he has made the partner selection but they are not notified of being selected until the day before, nor do they know who their partner will be until they are revealed to the couple themselves as well as their families and the community at a nighttime firelight ceremony. Even flint for the weapons they needed to survive were obtained from flint forays where the contestants needed to wait to be called to participate in attempting to find the better pieces that could be properly knapped into suitable weapons. The forays including not only finding the flint but then successfully retaining it against the onslaught of other foragers. Then they were expected to give their first real find as a gift to the Seer. The story develops as Omi finds a particularly valuable piece of Flint while unexpectedly discovering a number of unusual aspects of the Seer’s rules and their interpretation that lead him into striking out by himself in an attempt to establish an entirely new way of life. The story of his trip, its trials, effects on family, friends and enemies is the substance of the book and further description would be a disservice to the prospective reader.

Discussion: The author has provided characters with whom the reader can equate in a nicely paced tale that follows the often provided good versus evil plot, this time placed in a simple fantasy situation. It is an unsophisticated tale that offers a pleasurable ‘feel good’ sensation seemingly seldom encountered in these days of constant stress and activity. A time of almost chaotic political- health-social-financial crises that appear to be dictating every aspect of today’s individual thought patterns and parenthetically even seem contributory to the large number of books being published that dwell on depressing thoughts and matters.

5* Unsophisticated tale, seemingly pleasurable beyond modern thought patterns.

Weight of Shadows

 

Weight of Shadows ISBN: 9781733563123 Mystful Press copyright and written by Ana Domini.

This Dark fantasy is set in a post-Apocalyptic era following a world encompassing pandemic that wiped out an entire generation. Those who survived are immune, sterile and immortal to a degree. A particular group of survivors have been segregated in a large pharmaceutical compound, Wyrmwood Place, some distance outside Washington, D.C. It is the headquarters of the company that was able to manufacture the required vaccine. The compound contains all of the necessary laboratories, professional and support personnel and additional guards, fencing and other necessary features for security. Numbered among the inhabitants are 13 surviving children and 2 women who were discovered to be fertile. This is the story of the children, of Mantis, so named by his ‘friend’ Atticus, and other inhabitants and/or otherwise encountered persons discovered with the help of a fantasy figure as the story unfolds. The plot basically is a fantasy/mystery with psychological undertones that takes many twists and turns.

Discussion: The tale appears to be the product of a somewhat reclusive mystery (?), fantasy (?) author who has presented a rather complicated well-written story that moves at a good pace. The characters are well developed within the context and scenes often sufficiently detailed and well described to offer empathetic credibility. Interesting thoughts, even somewhat emphasized by the characters as set forth by the author, include the fact that death sometimes is a good thing in that it eliminates sadness, fear and pain for those who have lost everything, but that on the other side of grief there are strength and forgiveness, A tangential point offered  is the constant presence of greed and the potential harm it can cause.

Summary: From this reader’s perspective, an interesting, well- written/paced tale regrettably offered at this exact time of today’s unemployment, shortages and controlled social environment resulting from a still uncontrolled world viral situation. Thus, if you are a reader looking for enjoyment or relaxation, this book is NOT for you.

3* 5* well written/paced story; -2* at least for enjoyment/relaxation.

After Olympus

AFTER OLYMPUS ISBN: 9781733801713 Lone Think Press copyright by Desmond Mascarenhas written by Santiago Xaman.

Description/Discussion: Pragmatically, and referred to by the author as “pseudo-fiction”, this most unusual book follows a rambling plot following the lives of three men besides the story teller and their wives or significant others as their lives play out after discovery of a hitherto unknown/unreported Russian Space craft of unusual components and containment. The tale is a tumultuous mixture of mystery and mythology with overtones of mysticism (?), occult (?), history spread over a wide section of the world ranging from Guatemala to Russia, the Serengeti and other parts of Africa, India, throughout much of the U. S. and Europe. The four protagonists all are exceedingly well educated and from backgrounds (families/cultures/traumatic occurrences) that make them prone to a somewhat different manner of living, employment and in their reactions to these matters. The pages are replete with thought provoking messages on such matters as the fact that every subject deserves empirical, intuitive and pragmatic contemplation; everything good grows from the bottom up (plants, trees, cultures?); everything projected from the top down is bad – organized religions, governments et al. – these latter often ‘dodge’ by forming protocols that ‘adapt’. Good comes from people thinking alone; e.g. Plato, Einstein; bad from organizational groups at the top claiming from their collective decision that they are right and everybody else wrong. And unfortunately, even authenticity is vulnerable if railed against at a high level maintained for a sufficiently long time. The author seems most interesting, but who is the author? The book includes a previously published “Opinion Piece” of interest in itself, as is another “Rebuilding the House” that discusses replacing organized religions, governments, corporations “with better versions of themselves”. Also some notes About the Author are quite fascinating when contemplating the entire book and the thoughts that arise from the ‘experience’ of reading this book.

5* Unusual, divertingly intriguing experience for certain readers.

Apollo’s Raven

Apollo’s Raven ISBN: 9781647040543 Apollo Raven Publisher copyright and written by Linnea Tanner.

This Book One in the Curse of the Clansmen and Kings Series is a novel “based on historical fantasy and mythology of the southeast Celtic tribes” of Britannia beginning in the days just prior to the Roman invasion in 43 A.D. It is the time when the Gods were many and each culture embraced its own. Apollo was the powerful Sun God totally embraced by the Romans and their powerful legions, although seemingly he received some degree of respect by the Celts but mostly they, and their heavily muscled fierce warriors, embraced several others arising from legends stemming from Ireland and Wales with extensive belief in mysticism as conjured up by the Druids. The book opens in this period when Rome’s emperor is making exploratory moves before deciding whether to invade the islands.

The protagonists are Celtic princess Catrin, youngest daughter of Amren, king of one of the tribes and Marcellus, son of the pompous Roman Senator who is exploring whether to support Amren or Cunoblin, an adjoining powerful Ruler, if the Emperor decides to invade. Complications are numerous in that the latter had arranged a marriage between a daughter and Marrock, Amren’s oldest son whom he had banished from his country for treasonous activity. He believed that, perhaps with Rome’s help, he could arrange to replace Amren by restoring him to his ex-father’s position. Marrock was aligned with Agrona, the Druid Priestess whom Amren trusted but who secretly was working to gain control of the kingdom. Rhiannon, Armen’s second wife did not trust Agrona but deferred to her husband’s decision to put her second in command after herself. From this complicated beginning, even greater confusion emerges from rampant distrust and intertwining acts of deceit, deception, treachery and betrayal and the appearance of shapeshifters and abundant other mystical activity.

Discussion: Spinning this tale and its subsequent volumes no doubt has been, and will continue to be, a difficult task. “The Celts left almost no written records. Historical events had to be supplanted by Greek and Roman historians and medieval writers who spun Celtic mythology into their Christian beliefs, Archaeological findings from this time period also help fill in the gaps.” Under the circumstances the author has done a quite remarkable job of creating a very suspenseful historical/mythical/romance of considerable proportions. It is a story that will fascinate devotees of these several genres.

5* Suspenseful historical/mythical/romance devotees will thoroughly enjoy.

Dreamwander in the Ruins of Eden

Dreamwander in the Ruins of Eden ISBN: 9780996305709 Kildaire Press copyright and written by Kildaire.

This is “Volume One of In The Ruins of Eden” and begins with the protagonist, Cillian Rysgaard, an old North Dakota rancher, travelling down a strange forest path where he encounters increasing numbers of strange, illusion-like ‘happenings’. Ultimately he meets an old woman whom he recognizes as Mórríghan, the ancient Irish Goddess who humans meet before dying. She informs him that it is not quite his time. He next realizes he is in a strange doctor’s office where a woman says the practitioner is ready to see him. He enters and here is informed that he has dementia that gradually will worsen although he may live anywhere up to another ten years. He then is ushered out through another door that becomes a long tunnel where eventually he encounters a stately young woman dressed similarly to a Roman Centurion. She tells him to mount her chariot and she delivers him to the ruler of the impossibly large assemblage of buildings crowded with huge numbers of citizens cheering him as he is honored by the ruling Imperator as the two time savior of the empire. Thus begins this strange tale that involves a parallel world inhabited by the Tuath Dé who have a physical body and a sex but actually are part of the fallen angels remaining from the revolt of the angels that resulted in Yewah splitting the revolutionaries into three groups – theirs, Satan and his followers to the dark nether region and retaining the third group of Michael and others of the ‘good’ angels with him in the upper regions. They are in a constant state of war with the Dread Queen who once was one of them, and both they and she, with her followers, continue living under an uneasy truce since neither has been able to defeat the other. The action swings among various, mostly fanciful activities in ‘other worlds’ with Cillian having the ability to pass unharmed among the different ‘civilizations’ because of an amulet he had received as a gift many years ago. The amulet had been fashioned by Satan and assures his safe passage between worlds because both sides need him since, through an error, he had released Loki, the God of Chaos from his chained position of eternal bondage.

Discussion: A weirdly fanciful tale that is difficult, at least for this reader, to describe. It begins interestingly with what appears to be an old man with some degree of advancing dementia wandering along a forest path. Assumedly, his formal/informal educational development includes a superior knowledge of Irish, Nordic and Christian mythology, although we are told that he simply is a North Dakota Rancher. Large sections of the story involve individuals who speak Latin and a Celtic dialect, and reference is made repeatedly to persons described in the written, and before that unwritten, mythology just mentioned and Roman Centurion-like uniforms are in abundance. There is much of interest set forth and the action at times generates excitement. However, the action sequences often are interwoven with considerable prose explanations of pre-occurring and/or predictive activity. Settings following each other occasionally are sufficiently far removed from each other enough to cause momentary need to re-arrange one’s thinking with respect to the tale’s continuum.

Summary: A strange tale that from this reader’s perspective requires dichotomous interpretation – extreme mental wanderings resulting from a knowledgeable individual’s advancing dementia, or, an equally strange Fantasy tale that devotees of the genre may enjoy.

3* difficult to describe and rate, as described.