A spell of Murder ISBN: 9781838880958 Bookouture, London copyright and written by Kennedy Kerr.
The story follows the activities of two local but very modern witches as they attempt to solve a murder that appears to involve some manner of witchcraft. Their home belonged to their parents in the small town of Lost Maiden’s Loch, named for the small lake in Scotland which had gained its name from a young maiden who mysteriously had drowned in its waters. The sisters’ parents had been quite knowledgeable of the dark arts, even purportedly have taught the subject. The two young presumed witches are thirty-year-old Temerity Love, owner and proprietress of Love’s Curiosities and her 2-year-older sister Tilda, each quite accomplished in different most unusual subjects. Temerity was the proprietress of a small antique shop, Love’s Curiosities, in their home, but more importantly was a world renowned clairvoyant who had the gift of psychometry or psychic provenance that allowed her to gain extensive history of an item merely by touching and/or holding it – a talent of immeasurable importance in the antique and collectors’ world. Tilda was an authority, verifier and dealer in rare books as well as an Herbalist. Thus, their designation. The plot involves a number of prominent characters living in the town as well as the Laird, his home, wife and former wives, his sons, two of his old mansion’s remaining staff members, the town’s police officer, his quite newly arrived replacement along with Temerity and Tilda and their unusual knowledge as they attempt to unravel the mystery surrounding the death of a relatively newly arrived school teacher.
Discussion: As aptly explained by the author, this is a tale about “a little Scottish village alongside one of those strange, sometimes enormous lochs. A gossipy, cozy village where, sometimes, strange things happen and two local witches are on hand to investigate…” This reader found the description basically to be quite accurate and, for the most part, the story enjoyable. The only detracting features were insertion of ‘Americanisms’ in an otherwise Scottish tale and a sense that the charming picture developed in the book’s earlier chapters would have continued unabated if a little more judicious editing had been employed in the last third of the volume.
3* Charming mystery tale with slight caveat.
Gritty Tales ISBN: 9781732544109 an anthology assumed published, copyright and written by Tyler M. Mathis.
The author states that this book contains “13 stories of Crime, Mayhem and Terror”. A forward, although purported to be brief, contains adequate length to provide an overview of the contents with a few directions on suggested approach. He also defines “Gritty tale” as “a story of harsh and uncompromising realism” and lists three definitions of gritty – “courageous, course and abrasive and characters driven by their very basest motives” – as applicable to his content. He also admonishes that “vulgar language, graphic content and unhappy endings” are abundant. He also advises that 6 of the stories previously have been published and all are “straight-up crime, horror of supernatural bent, and most are cross-genre works.” Each individual tale is initiated by its own brief forward providing a hint of what the reader will discover in the following prose.
Discussion: The collection of stories offered are replete with characters who are losers, contain sick minds and/or are basically evil or are in an evil position as a result of one or another factor. Each story is independent of the others and can be randomly selected to read, except for 4 designated as closely related and to be read as such. Thus, the volume provides an excellent read for the busy person who finds only short spaces of time for such activity. The book perhaps is a more fitting read for those who enjoy stories on the dark side.
4* for readers who enjoy dark tales often involving course characters and language
May Cause Drowsiness and Blurred Vision ISBN: 978732721616, published, copyright and written by Gloria Squitiro.
This is an autobiographical segment in the life of a woman of Italian birth, happily married to a man who is a brutally frank auditor who attacks waste in government budgets – Mark Funkhouser, politician, author, former Auditor, then elected Mayor of City of Kansas City, MO. She, like Mark, is adamant about seeking the truth about her areas of interest; e.g. a freelance (unattached to any hospital) individual providing knowledge and aid to couples before and during childbirth after experiencing 2 caesarian sections that seemingly were unnecessary. Her birth children are a son and daughter and she has others she has attracted because of her nature. The story covers a period preceding her husband’s run for Mayor starting with a somewhat extended trip to Europe with the whole family as well as a period following their return.
Discussion: The author has initiated “The C’mon Funk Series” with this first volume that is sub-titled “The side-effects of bravery”. Here, she has set forth a no-holds-barred look at her unvarnished truth seeking evaluation of a number of factors and situations from her brave but confessed quite hypochondriacally slanted approach to life. It provides both humor and bits of poignancy from a realistic viewpoint that seems to be quite congruent with her husband’s thought processes. In her own words: she “has an INFJ (Introverted, intuitive, Feeling, Judging) personality. She is an advocate. She is a dreamer who takes concrete steps to realize her goals and make a lasting positive impact. Helping others is her purpose in life, but not through charity work. Her real passion is to get to the heart of issues so people need not be rescued at all.”
5* Fascinatingly amusing approach to life fascinating for many readers.
King of the Blind ISBN: 9780980689488 Matrayah Media, 2018 Australia, written by Caiseal Mor.
The author opens his tale with a few words from a very wise old man who once told him there was “a way to avoid all of the trials and tribulations of mortal existence. Those who know this secret are always merry and forever blessed with good fortune. They are well-loved and welcomed.” He further instructed that “if you carry a pocketful of this magic ingredient with you, you’ll never go hungry and you’ll never want for laughter, music and good company. The secret that unlocks all these wonders is a simple one. Gratitude.” The author further states “This is the story of a man who learned how to be grateful.”
The tale then is presented of Turlough O’Carolan, purportedly the most famous of harp players of the 1700’s, an era when such travelling entertainers were much in demand. Actually, this is a story within a story as told by Turlough’s faithful servant who had accompanied him on his travels for many years. It includes quite precise descriptions of the devastating stages and effects of the often encountered Small Pox disease which had blinded Turlough; quite complete descriptions of various houses and dress of the day; Harps of the time compared with more modern versions; the gradually increased influence of music from the continent; the Irish involvement in many insurrections; involvement of the ‘Good People’ who only the English would designate as ‘Fairies’; and more.
Discussion: This is a charming Irish tale replete with whisky, blarney-tinged facts, stories hinting of the fallacies of Bonnie Prince Charles and his battlefield inadequacies as well as those of other Kings; the inter-relationship of the King’s soldiers and the rebellious Irishmen; humor; music and a romance of sorts. All contained in a tale which takes too much time ‘in the telling’. However, if it were shortened, it wouldn’t be an Irish tale.
5* Charming blarney tinted tale of music, mirth, history, romance.
Fractured: Dereck Dillinger and the Shortcut to OZ ISBN: 9781483599373 apparently published copyright 2017 and written by Eddie McPherson.
Thirteen-year-old Dereck is plagued with requests from his younger sister Jessie to read and re-read stories of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel and more. If he does not she runs to their mother complaining. However, he loves his little sister and complies. His widowed mother must make a short trip leaving him to take care of Jessie. A violent storm arises during the night, she awakens him calling for help, the electricity fails, attempting to find his way he falls into the cellar and steps into a seemingly bottomless hole. Eventually he strikes bottom and discovers it to be the same rabbit hole that provided the prominent beginning of activities in The Wizard of OZ. However, here he is offered a short cut to the Wizard which will allow him to return home much more quickly to discover what has caused his sister to call him.
Discussion: The author has developed a plot woven around the basic Wizard of OZ with added fragments of other of Grimm’s Tales, additional fairies, good and bad witches and similar figures of fantasy. Fundamentally it is a well-written action packed thriller with humor and periods of suspense that provides a strong positive message of kindness, perseverance and family fidelity. It should have an appeal to children in the 6 to 12 or possibly slightly older group and as an aside, parents may find it somewhat more enjoyable to read to their younger children.
4* As described.
Hunt for Harald’s Gold ISBN: 9780996657396, assumed published, copyright and written by Jack Dancer.
This book is sub-titled A Scottish DNA Love Story and appears in part to have some semblance to these elements. Ostensibly a group of twosomes has been gathered together who have been discovered to be DNA-matched lovers to journey to Scotland to search for a huge gold nugget that has been lost for centuries. The group’s leader is a physician specializing in DNA research who had spent time in Africa where she encountered strange characters who pop up later in the story while the couples are searching for the huge nugget. Simultaneously it seems that a large group of African school girls had been captured by Boko Haram, transferred to an evil woman doctor who dismembers them to sell body parts as requested, on the black-market. Her headquarters and laboratories are on the Isle of Skye. One of the recruited members of the DNA couples is Tucker, who is the designated partner of Billie, the DNA specialist leading the couples on the nugget search. The reader discovers that he has had a former encounter with the evil doctor that has left scars, in spite of being partially successful. The other group members are of varied backgrounds and many not what they supposedly represent. The body part suppliers and the gold hunters cross paths by design as we discover and the tale proceeds to no ending but rather this volume serves as a first installment for the next.
Discussion: On the good side, readers may find much of the book to be an amusing read with a mass of action contributing in a highly confusing manner. A caveat must be include however in that there is abundant, often irrelevant sexual activity and most graphic depiction of un-anesthetized anatomical destruction. Furthermore and regrettably, from this reviewer’s perspective, the author has written a totally confusing volume with a bizarre admixture of Scottish legend, the fairy world, romance, a bit of science, activity by an unusual transgender hero and many improbabilities typically found in the fantasy genre. It also apparently is the first in a series.
Summary: A multi-genre book for readers who enjoy zany tales and don’t mind reading serials.
3* 4* Multi-genre zany tale for devotees; others 3 – 2*.