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.

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.

The Unconquered

The Unconquered, “Originally published 2018 as Heart of the Dragon – The Oracle Current version is Edition 2 Printed by Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing.” Copyright and written by Peter Man.

This book is unusual from several different aspects, thus actually requiring a somewhat different (and lengthy) review format. It is sub-titled Children of the Divine Fire, Romance of the Flower Kingdom, Book One and is a novel but also described as “An Epic Drama across the Galactic Stage Spanning the History of Human Civilization including that of mysterious CHINA.” It also is assumed that Jim Brown who participates actively in a China-themed “writers group,” participated in some manner in that he “came to notice and appreciate the mind and work of Peter Man, who has now graciously accepted our invitation to join TGP’s stable of affiliated writers.” Several glowing reviews describing the book’s imagery – art history, world geography, mythology, literature, sci-fi, action, militarism, mystery, thriller follow; then a preface; Table of Contents containing an Author’s Note; 52 chapters; “Why you should write reviews”, “Image Licenses” and “Acknowledgements.” A dedication follows “to Charlie Man Dunn because he may one day want to learn the meaning of being Chinese” while the numerous ‘Acknowledgements’ are issued with respect to individuals who in one way or another affected the author sufficiently to evoke an intense interest in China and its world relationships or would be so affected; then follow “Examples of approximate Putonghua (Mandarin) pronunciation using English spelling”; and ultimately, arriving at Chapter 1 which has the interesting title “Everything is a Lie” which informs the reader that he/she is about to be introduced “directly into the crux and climax of the unlikely, unfortunate, and unfathomable events that befell upon one ordinary and unexceptional girl by the name of Victoria Solana.” The story begins to unfold when Victoria as a small child had been given to Michael and Angela, a couple who had moved to Canada because of trouble in their own country, by David (Chinese who didn’t look Chinese) for her protection. Here she develops into a pleasant young girl with magnificent intellect seemingly as a result of exceedingly good training. Suddenly, her parents are killed in an orchestrated attack by a huge truck while she survives and again is rescued by David. He informs her that the two of them now “were facing a very powerful enemy that’ll use every evil tool at their disposal, including lies and illusions. In real life, fraud, deceit, and malice are usually mingled with truth and sincerity.” He then explains that he is using a “VR Gamebox” that “will help convince you that there is another reality….basically a lying device to teach you about the truth. It’s a Paradox and an oxymoron. But you’ll decide what is real. Think of me as your guide and mentor.” “We enjoy unfettered freedom of expression which includes the freedom to lie, the freedom to slur, the freedom to insult, and the freedom to use the basest profanities in the Holy of Holies. Lies pervade the air we breathe …”  “This is the brave new world we live in – the Land of Lies.” “I’m training you to fight the final battle. We need you to win” From here the story follows Veronica as she learns of her strange heritage that reaches back through centuries in China and why it is so important for her to survive.

Discussion: The author here has exhibited the mental abilities and extensive knowledge that have called forth the lavish praise mentioned above. He is eclectic as well as appearing to provide, almost to a lexicon degree, a history of China. The quantity of material alone regarding China’s centuries-long history is enthralling in its range from the similarity of the causes of the trek begun by 86,000 peasants that ended with 8100 to that of the American Indians’ Trail of Tears, to presenting further material with respect to the duplistic part played by Chiang Kai-shek. Additionally, the basic plot is intriguing and the multi-genre approach excellent. Thus, as stated, as a historical treatise, this book is most illuminating and the fictional plot is unique enough to provide great interest. It is only in the presentation of this latter, that this reviewer encounters disappointment. It gradually assumes a level more appropriate for young adults but again only partially. It is granted that we are reading a story, one of whose genres is fantasy. However, the credibly acceptable characters first presented gradually move further into fantasy until eventually being ‘swallowed-up’ within this fairyland and fading away to a point where we are informed that any questions raised “my friend, is another story.” Granted, this analysis obviously depends upon highly individualistic evaluation and may be that of this reader alone. If totally a personal conclusion, this reviewer offers most regrettable and sincere apologies, and suggests that each reader may need to make his/her own personal evaluation.

3* 5* eclectic with fascinating Chinese history; -2 Most difficult to review/interpret.

A Spell of Murder

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.

Forlorn

Forlorn, a dark story of suspense ISBN: 9781978440180 Vinspire Publishing, an e-book copyright 2017 and written by Gina Detwiler.

A prologue describes the situation that results in Grace Fortune being pulled by her Guardian Angel when she is 6 years old from the flaming wreck of her family’s automobile that consumes her parents. The story begins as Grace, now sixteen and being raised by her aunt and uncle, is a student at the Buffalo Arts Academy, where although suffering from a degree of Attention Deficit Disorder, possesses a lovely voice and ability to play the piano. With her are her somewhat misfit friends that include scientifically inclined and quite pragmatic Ethan Ellerman who is there on full scholarship as a designer of video games, artistically inclined Brianna (Bree) Reynolds who at the moment points out a newcomer to the school who is every girl’s dream man, Jared Lorn with muscular build, almost white hair and strikingly blue penetrating eyes and his seeming attraction to Grace. Ethan points out that Jaren is a felon and was transferred here because he had stabbed another student with a fork at a different school. He heard that he moved from “Ohio or Oregon, something with an O anyway”. However he was said to play the guitar amazingly well. Only shortly thereafter Derick Holder, the boy with whom Jared had fought appeared at the lunch room and opened fire with an automatic weapon. Ethan is struck in the stomach and falls into Grace’s lap bleeding profusely. She calls out “Derick! Please stop! Stop shooting.” Her guardian cries out to Grace to sing a special song which he sings to her in the night when she has bad dreams from the Dark Ones seeking a way in. Her singing causes Derrick to hesitate and suddenly Jared moves as a blurred figure knocking the gun from his hand and literally throwing him against a large plate glass window with sufficient force to shatter the glass killing Derick. From this moment the tale becomes one of war between forces of good and evil including different levels of both with guardians, archangels, appearance of ‘the Risen One”, demons, fallen angels, the Nephilim, the importance of faith and the power of prayer per se and through music.

Discussion: The author has presented a most unusual fantasy that may well appeal to readers, especially YA who enjoy conflicts between good and evil forces as they vie for dominance in the living world. The trials and tribulations of the two protagonists are suspenseful as they engage in a series of activities that take them on remarkable journeys. Regrettably, from this reader’s perspective, the tale contains numerous hiccups that are difficult to accept and therefore may require a SPOILER ALERT. If, however a reader enjoys unusual suspenseful fantasy stories pitting the forces of good versus those of the ethereal dark side, obtain the book, enjoy and do NOT read further.

Two of the most difficult discrepancies for this reader to reconcile are: Much is made of the fact that Grace’s parents were completely destroyed by the fiery crash. Yet her mother suddenly appears with an entirely different scenario? Neither Grace nor her friends know much about Jared and seemingly nothing about Derrick yet Grace speaks to him by name and is uncertain when he left school when he is massacring the students?

Conclusion: A fascinating fantasy that should be of particular interest to younger readers and most especially to those of religious inclination. Regrettably and although having enjoyed many tales in the fantasy genre, this reviewer apologetically cannot reconcile the plot discrepancies mentioned.

3* 5* Fascinating fantasy for many; -2* for reasons described.

The Broadcast

The Broadcast, an e-book published, copyright and written by Liam Fialkov.

Plot: The author has provided an interesting plot that is quite closely allied with thoughts arising from Erich von Dänilien books. However as provided, little description of the plot may be set forth without a ‘spoiler alert’ for presenting too much of it and/or its component parts. Briefly however, the story centers around a series of blockbuster broadcasts that at first present photographic evidence of situations that lead to solving ‘dead case’ murders. It then switches to documentary productions of historic events that the producer states gradually will go back to zero AD. As these latter increasingly reveal graphic descriptions of well-known/accepted factors of history, mounting pressure is exerted against their production by both Christian and Muslim groups who fear revelation of various activities that may be contrary to their long held beliefs and/or teachings.

Characters: Leading characters include Jonathan and his brother Walter, who as small children had been put up for adoption when their family was killed in a car crash. Walter was fortunate in being adopted by a loving family, well-educated and became a well-known TV producer. Jonathan became the product of several foster families and was only variously educated. He was intelligent and extended his education into several areas, however. Jonathan’s wife Sarah, disowned by her family for becoming pregnant at sixteen (actually raped) was sent from St. Louis to Phoenix where she delivered a baby that was taken from her at the convent causing her endless remorse. McPherson is an award winning journalist who believed the productions by Walter were phony and set in motion an attempt to expose them. HH a former debatably crooked cop who had served time and now was a bitter, occasionally vicious PI. Michael, a young adopted boy who is hired by Walter and plays an increasing part in the story. Numerous others who play roles of varied importance. Additionally, Jonathan and Sarah’s large, heavily forested area of residence contains an unusual portion that also plays an important part in the tale as the plot advances until it gradually reaches a fitting finale.

Discussion: As described, the story begins with the TV’s Hype for the unusual clip that had come into Walter’s possession that reveals the perpetrator of a twenty-five-year-old murder, followed by similar before switching to the historical documentary productions. The method of provision is to quite constantly switch between scenes with intermediate chapters. 1 – the TV hype; 2 – a chapter describing Johnathan and Sarah; 3 -one of Sarah; 4 – the Broadcast; 5 – Johnathan; 6 – the Broadcast; 7 – Michael; 8 – the Broadcast, etc. This approach does provide important bits and pieces of the story and the interrelationship of numerous characters as they move inexorably toward the finish. Unfortunately, the format results in a large amount of repetition and/or redundancy that if removed, would greatly enhance the progression of an intriguing story. Some, more prosaic, readers may find a little difficulty in accepting some character activity and many will find character development sketchy. Some will find the ending ‘proper and emotionally satisfying’ while others may believe it to be a little too ‘pat’.

3* 4* For fascinating story; -1 at least for numerous hiccups as described.