Using short stories to promote a novel is a rising phenomenon in digital publishing that print media cannot touch. For only pennies, an author or publishing house can give readers a juicy, self-contained story tied to a greater universe. Authors use promotional literature (I call it promolit) like breadcrumbs leading readers to the main course, a full-fledged novel or series. If written correctly, promolit should stand on its own as a satisfying short story.
Promolit is a trend deserving its own attention, its own niche, its own format. To be successful it must accomplish two goals: function as a quality, self-contained piece of short fiction and, secondly, convince the reader to buy the companion novel. That's why UBR is using a different rating scale for promolit. The short story will get two “yes” or “no” recommendations, one for the story, and one as a recommendation to try the companion novel.
Underground Book Reviews dives into two promolit short stories this week as part of our Short Fiction Series: Robert Bevan D&D inspired comedy Cave of the Kobolds and the D.E.M. Emrys’s battle tale From Man to Man.
Promolit Title: From Man to Man
Companion Novel/Series: It Began With Ashes (Wroge Element Series)
Author: D.E.M. Emrys
Length: 39 pages
I almost passed up reviewing From Man to Man
. In the crush of submissions I receive every month I initially declined to review it, but kept it on my desktop. I can’t say why, but From Man to Man
kept drawing me back. Every once and a while I’d open it, read a few paragraphs and think, “That’s not bad.” Unfortunately, I had a lot of outside distractions pulling me off the story. As the weeks passed by, I kept comparing it to other works I was serious considering for review. Eventually, I admitted to myself I’d been too hasty with From Man to Man
, and dove into it.
I’m sure glad I did. There isn’t anything extraordinary or glitzy about this short story. It’s a direct, no frills fantasy story about Draven Reinhardt, a mercenary trying to start all over as a common villager. He’s wants to leave the sword behind, but those around him recognize Draven for what he truly is, even if he denies it. Eventually, he breaks down and takes a job protecting a local tax collector. Battle and mayhem ensue.
I overlooked From Man to Man
the first time around for one critical reason – it wasn’t what I expected. I expected typical action-based fantasy, but what I found was character based fantasy. Yes, there is action, well
written action. But what makes this 39 page story fascinating is how quickly Emrys breathes life into Draven, making him both sympathetic and believable. I didn’t see anything extraordinary about his fantasy world, perhaps Emrys is saving that for the novels. But after 39 pages, I wanted to know more about Draven, and that’s good enough.
Is From Man to Man
worth reading on its own? Yes. Does it make me want to read the companion novel? Yes. From Man to Man (Wroge Elements) on Amazon
D.E.M Emrys website
Promolit Title: Cave of the Kobolds
Companion Novel/Series: Critical Failures (Caverns and Creatures Series)
Author: Robert Bevan
Publisher: DeadPixel Publications
Length: 24 pages
THE RUNDOWN Cave of the Kobolds
didn’t come across my email as a submission. The author found me via Twitter marketing. He didn’t even push his book, I just looked over his profile and found it. Cave
had a straightforward and original pitch, so I read the sample. In about two minutes I was laughing. So I read some more. And then I bought it. And then I decided I had to review it.
Nerdy males who grew up since the late 1970’s who played D&D will “get” this book. Otherwise, maybe it won’t resonate with you. This is a story about a group of goofy, likely virginal, teenage boys who get magically sucked into their Dungeons and
...ahem...I mean Caverns and Creatures
game. They’re even physically transformed into their characters. Well, almost. They still think and talk like their actual selves, and this is the source of most of the humor. In Cave
, the party takes on a “level-1” dungeon full of kobolds. Its Keep on the Borderlands
(Google it) meets Monty Python
(the non-suckie Python) meets Revenge of the Nerds
. Battle and hilarity ensue.
Bevan writes some seriously funny stuff, if
you understand the role playing sub-culture. If not, you’ll probably scratch your head wonder what’s going on. I knew exactly what was going on and loved it. My only issue was the excessive (way excessive) use of the F-bomb, only because I cannot in good conscious recommend it to younger audiences. And that’s a shame, because I really wanted to. Bevan nails the experience of playing the game until sunrise on a Friday night with your best friends, of getting lost in the characters and the scenario, yet letting the real world bleed through...basically, some of the best times of my life.
Is Cave of the Kobolds
worth reading on its own? Yes. Does it make me want to read the companion novel? Yes. Cave of the Kobolds on AmazonIf you enjoyed these reviews follow Underground Book Reviews on
Facebook and Twitter or subscribe to our newsletter.
You can also follow Brian Braden on his blog, Facebook and Twitter
and buy his books, Black Sea Gods or Carson's Love.
GENRE: Fantasy/Coming of AgePUBLISHER: Self-published on AmazonEDITOR: Self-edited with the help of honest friends.GRAPHIC DESIGNER: Corinna ParrLENGTH: 500-600 pages
AUDIENCE: Adult, Mature Young Adult
THE RUNDOWNNo one has ever entered the forest of Kergulen and survived… except for Rima. To escape regular beatings from her slave master, Rima flees to the forest in desperation. After being saved from a pack of wild animals by a Kergulenite, Rima discovers that beyond the forest of Kergulen are peopled cities, a king, and even dragons.
The Kergulen people have strange customs and pasty white skin, and Rima’s dark complexion makes her stand out as a foreigner. The local people suspect that she is a spy, consider her a threat, and call her a bloodthirsty barbarian. When she is not with the family that saved her, she is required to wear a blindfold at all times, and is not allowed to speak in public. Rima quickly learns that although she is no longer a slave, her freedom is even more restricted than before. And her presence in Kergulen has put herself and her newfound friends in danger.
While the genre of fantasy is usually driven by adventure and story, Kergulen
is driven by character and theme. The novel is simply written, without much descriptive prose, but it is still a powerful story. RA White addresses serious issues such as racism and rape without being heavy-handed. Rima encounters many mental and physical troubles, and while she is often childish and emotional, her inner strength carries her through the hardest of times. In the end, the story is as much about the bonds of friendship as it is about Rima’s many adventures.
As long as you aren’t looking for poetic prose, Kergulen
is a fantasy adventure to put on your to-read list. Kergulen
is suitable for mature young adults (13 and up), but the author advises parents to read the novel before giving it to young teens. Which shouldn't be a problem, because there is no doubt that parents will enjoy the book as much as their children.
With a strong theme and dynamic characters, Kergulen
earns itself 4.5 stars.
Buy it on Amazon
Check it out on Goodreads
Like Kergulen on Facebook
Welcome to the end of the world as seen through the eyes of William Hill. William is just your average 40 something divorcee, a man who creates beautiful works of art in the form of wind chimes and basically minds his own business. Speaking in the first person, William paints a vivid portrait of how it all began and why he finally decided to make the trip to the island.The Island Book, One Part, One (Fallen Earth)
spends a lot of time giving us the background and building the central character. There is not a lot of action, but that doesn’t mean you will get bored. I found William to be an interesting character, someone I could call a friend in real life. William did his time in the corporate world, wearing a suit and tie to please his wife. When the marriage finally breathed its last breath, he took a look around and found that he was not where he wanted to be. So he did something about it. He remade his life into the image of his dreams, dreams he put on hold during the course of his marriage. I found myself drawn into the dream, wishing I hear the beautiful music his hands and the wind create (I have always wanted to build wind chimes myself!).
I was also able to clearly identify with William’s relationship with his late father and the way he came to appreciate the gifts his father gave him only in hindsight. As the daughter of a difficult man, I can relate. So often in our youth we resent our parents, only to look back through the eyes of experience and see how much they gave us. This is what Williams describes for us in realistic detail. A lot of time is spent on building this relationship for the reader, a relationship with a man who cannot be an active character in the story. Or can he? I am intrigued by this, how a man long dead can impact the survival of his son when the world and all its modern conveniences disappear.
Can I be honest here? I chose this book for my first review because it wasn’t too long. Sure, the story seemed like one I would enjoy, but my first criteria was not to get into something I wouldn’t have time to finish and then write up. Let me tell you, it was hard to stop at Book One. I wanted to keep going, to see what would happen next. The action really starts to show some promise in the final few chapters and I found myself downloading Parts 2-4 and the Final Chapters before I even considered writing this review. I managed to stop myself from going more than a page or two into Part 2, but I am itching to get back into Williams world.
I give The Island
four out of five stars.This week’s guest writer, Tamara Tipton, is what we term here at UBR as a“power reader.” If she isn’t reading, listening to an audiobook, or watching TV (books with moving pictures!) she is likely unconscious. She has 2 blogs, writes reviews of the hit show Castle for fanbolt.com, and is a contributing author for The Falling Skies Blog. When not looking for the next great novel or blogging she’s a certified pharmacy technician, a wife, and the mommy and chief litter box cleaner to a herd of furry felines.
Underground Book Reviews writer and assistant editor Brian L. Braden
is pleased to announce the publication of BLACK SEA GODS
, his first full length novel.
As a way of saying thank you to all our UBR readers and authors, BLACK SEA GODS
is free today and tomorrow on Amazon
as an e-book.
A fresh, new direction in historical fantasy, BLACK SEA GODS
transforms recently re-discovered Black Sea legends, possibly the root of all Eurasian mythology, with ancient Chinese mythology to create an unprecedented epic fantasy series.
***The fish have disappeared from the sea. The animals have vanished from the land. All humanity, and even the gods, tremble under the specter of a pending cataclysm. The demigod Fu Xi races home from the edge of the world bringing news of a looming god war, but finds his land under attack by monsters he once called his children. He discovers a terrible curse has been cast, one intended to destroy the gods and all life. To his shock, Fu Xi learns mankind’s hope rest solely on him, a simple fisherman and a banished slave girl.
Beset on all sides, Fu Xi knows he must act quickly and races west to rescue the saviors. Unaware of the real doom that awaits, Aizarg the fisherman and his party begin a perilous journey across a dangerous steppe. They seek the last of the Narim, the legendary Black Sea Gods, who hold the key to their salvation. Leading them is the rescued slave girl Sarah, the only one among them who knows the path to the land of the god-men.
Over seven days the defining struggle of gods and humans begins under the onslaught of a powerful force whose true objective and origin remain a mystery. Fu Xi knows the secret to victory resides in a fisherman and a slave girl, whose lives he must protect, even if it means the rest of the world must perish.
Keep up with the latest updates on Brian Braden’s
writing projects on his blog
. If you miss the free promo, you can still buy his books, Black Sea Gods or Carson's Love
, on Amazon.
Title: Pale Queen’s Courtyard
Author: Marcin Wrona
Genre(s): Historical Fantasy
Length: 320 pages
Historical fantasy’s mission is to bring a specific period in human history to life through myth and legend. Successfully writing historical fantasy is tough for several reasons. Just like straight-up historical fiction, the historical fantasy author must operate within the confines of actual history. However, the historical fantasy writer must also delve deeply into the myths, legends and folklore of that period; simultaneously keeping facts straight while letting the imagination soar into the realm of speculative fiction. Combining fact and myth in an entertaining format is a tall order, and it's easy for an historical fantasy writer to get lost along the way. In Pale Queen’s Courtyard
, author Marcin Wrona has no such trouble and delivers a tale to satisfy any fantasy reader.
Leonine is a handsome thief with a tragic past and a very special talent – magic, a gift punishable by death in Wrona’s version of ancient Mesopotamia.
When tasked by a wicked sorceress, leader of a forbidden cult, to steal a magical object he sets off a chain of events that sweeps him into a deadly chase. He must elude a band of zealous soldiers led by a ruthless priest-warrior called The Hound. Things get complicated when Leonine rescues a little girl also hunted by The Hound. He soon discovers she possesses an untamed magic so powerful it endangers herself and all around her. Leonine, who for so long has suppressed all feelings of love, begins to think of this girl as a daughter. Now his old employer, the wicked sorceress, wants the girl’s power as her own. If he keeps the little girl, the Hound will surely find them. If he abandons the child to the sorceress, she’s doomed. Leonine is running out of places to hide, from both his enemies and his own past.
Wrona’s debut novel is well written and edited. His prose is excellent and the plot moves quickly and smoothly. Pale Queen’s
characters are fully fleshed and memorable. My only issue with Pale Queen’s Courtyard
is the avalanche of historical and mythological names that immediately hits the reader. I found it difficult at first to keep track of places and characters. I had to do a lot of jumping around to re-look up the formidable host of unfamiliar proper nouns. This creates an initial barrier which may discourage less persistent readers. A map would have helped, too. Don’t fear, because with just a little patience the characters and plot quickly gel and carry the reader deep into the book.
While this initial noun barrier was sufficient to nudge Pale Queen
out of my top picks, it shouldn’t discourage fantasy fans from reading this book. Pale Queen’s Courtyard
is a worthy novel, especially for lovers of historical fantasy. Suitable for early teens and up, Pale Queen’s Courtyard scores 89 out of 99 cents.
99 Cents Worth of Marcin Wrona Links:Marcin Wrona’s BlogMarcin Wrona on TwitterPale Queen’s Courtyard on Amazon
TITLE: What Would Satan Do?
AUTHOR: Anthony Miller
GENRE: Comic Fantasy
PUBLISHER: Brother Maynard Publishing
EDITOR: Peazy Monellon
LENGTH: 399 pages
With the end of the world upon us, there isn't a much more appropriate book to pick up than What Would Satan Do?
by Anthony Miller. The novel's approach to the End of Days is both comic and original. While some funny books aim to do nothing but keep you laughing, What Would Satan Do?
also delivers an engaging plot.
Satan has realized that when the end of the world comes, he doesn't have a chance. It's already been written that he's going to get the short end of the stick, and God will be victorious. So, instead of fighting, Satan decides to hide on earth in a human body. He's hoping his minions won't find him and force him to carry out his original plans to overthrow the Creator of the Universe.
In order not to blow up entire cities, Satan has to take anger management classes. To kill time, he teaches a college course on the History of Religion. He loves fast cars and soft-serve ice cream. Satan's really just a likeable guy who feels a little miffed by God, and happens to get a kick out of torturing people.
Anthony Miller's writing is hilarious. He takes delight in describing facial expressions and body language in creative ways. That strength, however, is also a weakness. Sometimes, an overly-described aside about a character's bodily function distracted me instead of making me laugh. The only other thing that kept this book out of my Top Picks was the tendency to switch point-of-view without warning.
Despite that, the book still "delivered the funny" as promised by the Shirley You Jest awards. What Would Satan Do?
is well deserving of the Shirley HAH award. From beginning to end, it is engaging and original.
If you're ready to read some raunchy language, laugh at biblical references, giggle over carnage and at least smirk at cultural and racial jokes, pick up What Would Satan Do?
It's not a particularly offensive book if it's taken with a grain of salt, or some happy pills. I have no doubt that Christopher Moore fans will enjoy the book from start to finish. And no, it's not suitable for young adults.
THE LINKSBuy What Would Satan Do?
Find it on Facebook
Follow Anthony on Twitter
Visit his websiteSatan’s Blog
Anthony Miller is giving away five print copies and unlimited digital copies of What Would Satan Do?
for one week only, starting Saturday.
If you have a subscription to our Weekly Newsletter, you will find instructions for the book giveaway at the bottom of your email.
Don't have the Weekly Newsletter? Subscribe now!
Review by: Katie French
In the realm of Paranormal steaminess, The Forever Girl
does not disappoint in turning up the heat. This romance is centered around twenty-two year old Wiccan protagonist Sophia. From the onset it is clear Sophia is not an ordinary girl with her mental static, her reputation as the town witch and her bad luck at being around whenever strange deaths occur. Then, if things weren’t weird enough for her, she begins hearing voices, dead people and animals with sulfur-green eyes that glow in the dark. Ominous signs abound. So then the next logical progression? Enter the vampires.
Okay, so in this book they are not called vampires, but elementals. They have some creative new powers and a mythology that stems back decades. Sophia finds herself wrapped up in all this when her friend Ivory takes her to a mysterious night club. There she encounters Charles, the sexy and mysterious dream guy who of course is a paranormal creature, one she is extremely attracted to. Now the question is, how can she uncover the secrets of her past, while managing her feelings for Charles and staying alive against the forces that seek to destroy her and her love?
Buy the book to find out. The Forever Girl
has many striking similarities with Twilight
. Critics have pounced on this, calling it a rip off. However, sales alone indicate that Hamilton is merely tapping into a fad that people want. Women want the sexy and dangerous love interest; the kind, but troubled damsel in distress; and the evil, fanged antagonist. Sure, this story is similar to Twilight
, but I think that is what most readers find appealing. While reading I found myself making connections between Twilight
and this story, but it did not detract from my enjoyment. Hamilton is a clear professional. You won’t find errors, weak subplots or stilted dialog. This book reads like any you would pull off a store shelf. And the passion between Sophia and Charles? Stephenie Meyer has nothing on Hamilton. A word of caution: while the sexual references are tasteful and by no means pornographic, this book is not intended for children. It is written for “New Adults” a burgeoning category that seeks to entertain the 18-30 crowd. And those 18-30 year-olds have not been disappointed.
You can find The Forever Girl here.
You can find Rebecca Hamilton here. If you enjoyed this review you can follow Underground Book Reviews on Facebook or Twitter and subscribe to our newsletter. You can also follow Katie French on Facebook and on her website.
Review by: Brian Braden
After reviewing Michael Manning’s debut novel, Mageborn: The Blacksmith’s Son,
over a year ago I eagerly awaited the sequel. When Mageborn: The Line of Illeniel
finally came out, other books needed reviewing, so I had to wait. Finally, Underground Book Review’s one year anniversary provided me the perfect opportunity. The Blacksmith’s Son
was UBR’s premier review, so it was only fitting we return to Michael G. Manning’s self-published fantasy series to celebrate our website’s first birthday. Pass out the funny hats and cut the cake.
Wait, not so fast. At first, it seemed like a great idea and I committed to the review immediately. Then it occurred to me sequels often don’t live up to the original. It was possible, albeit unlikely, The Line of Illeniel
might stink. In the year since reviewing The Blacksmith's Son
I’ve learned a great deal about writing and critiquing. With some experience under my belt I wondered if I’d give Blacksmith
the same positive rating now I as did as a newbie reviewer. I didn’t want to celebrate UBR’s one year anniversary with a negative review, but would if I had too. I dove into Illeniel
hoping Manning was as good as I remembered. I am pleased not only to report Illeniel
doesn't suck, but improves significantly on Blacksmith’s Son
. The birthday party is back on, so pass out the cake and funny hats. Illeniel
picks up with our hero, the young wizard Mordecai (Mort) and his fiancé Penny rebuilding his castle and trying to establish a fledgling dukedom. All our favorite characters are back, from brave Dorian to elegant Lady Rose to faithful Marcus. The action begins almost immediately when the village is attacked by a relentless horde of soul-sucking monsters. The action and intrigue steadily rise as Mort must confront a less than amicable king, a super-warrior who wants to use Penny to dampen Mort’s growing magical powers, and a goddess manipulating his friend Marcus to try to control Mort. Oh yes, and an enormous army is also about to invade his lands. Mort has his hands full, not to mention he hears voices in his head, threatening to drive him insane.
Manning doesn’t miss a beat and builds on the strengths that made Blacksmith
such a good book. While he introduces a few new minor characters, Manning spends most of the novel building upon the established characters, with heavy emphasis on Mort and Penny. Their stormy relationship provides a great deal of the novel’s tension and entertainment. Manning never strays very far from Mort and Penny, which effectively anchors the plot. This is important because Illeniel
possesses a faster pace, more moving parts, and significantly more action than Blacksmith
. A lesser writer might
have lost his way. Illeniel
is a tribute to Manning’s recently deceased father, elevating the novel to an intensely personal level. Mordecai’s relationship with his father, Royce, mirrors Manning’s own feelings for his father. Manning shows exceptional courage and grace as he shares his love and mourning with his readers. Illeniel’s
closing scene is both touching and beautiful.
Many of my negative critiques in Blacksmith’s Son
are resolved in Illeniel
. The characters are fully fleshed, the dialogue highly polished. The sudden perspective shifts and abrupt narration-style changes of Blacksmith
are gone. The editing quality is significantly improved, providing the reader an effortless and distraction-free experience. The Line of Illeniel
contains a few cases of strong language, mild sexual themes, and swords and sorcery violence. Overall, the book is suitable for teens and up.
With The Line of Illeniel
Michael G. Manning proves Blacksmith’s Son
was no fluke. He also demonstrates a self-published author can deliver a high quality, entertaining fantasy series that stands toe-to-toe with anything produced by traditional publishing houses. On the one-year anniversary of Underground Book Reviews Mageborn: The Line of Illeniel
lines up 92 out of 99 cents and becomes our second season’s first Top Pick. Michael G. Manning links:
Michael G. Manning on FacebookMageborn, The Line of Illeniel on AmazonIf you enjoyed this review follow Underground Book Reviews on Facebook, Twitter and subscribe to our newsletter.
You can also follow Brian Braden on his blog, Facebook and Twitter and buy his book, Carson's Love.
If you are an agent or publisher you can make the smartest financial decision of your life and offer Brian a contract on his brilliant novel, Black Sea Gods.
If someone offered me a choice between having my eyeballs gouged out by a feral cat or reading a vampire novel I’d have to think hard about it. When I got into the book review business I promised myself I would stay clear of anything that sucked, especially anything that sucked blood. Therefore, I only grudgingly picked up Andy Gavin’s indie vampire novel The Darkening Dream
after someone I trusted talked me into it.
After the first ten pages I couldn’t put it down. I still hate vampire books, but I love The Darkening Dream
Perhaps the best way to describe The Darkening Dream
is a Dusk Till Dawn
with just a dash of Buffy
and The Mummy
thrown in to spice it up. While you’re trying to wrap your mind around that, I’ll just say this book is the most original novel I’ve read in years and has made me an instant Andy Gavin fan.
The Darkening Dream
tells the story of two teenagers in pre-World War I Salem, Massachusetts. Sarah is the daughter of a rabbi, who she comes to learn is a powerful wizard. Alex is a young Greek immigrant with a wizened grandfather harboring dark secrets of his own. Over the course of the book Sarah and Alex fall in love and stumble on a plot run by an evil sorcerer in league with an ancient vampire. We also meet a kinky blue demon, a painting with an attitude, and an Egyptian beetle-god. They’re all looking for a mystical artifact that holds the power of the universe and Sarah is the key to finding it.
Unlike most horror novels, Darkening
is character driven. Gavin’s characters draw you in because of the seamless way he changes point of view from character to character. This simultaneously gives Darkening
depth and speed.
The villains make this novel especially delicious. Gavin paints Nasir as a classic vampire while giving him a very human, yet twisted, practicality. But the vampire is not the best villain in this book. That honor belongs to the evil sorcerer and his sexually insatiable succubus girlfriend, who’s so bad she’s good. They steal the show and deserve their own sequel.
Even though the protagonists are young, this book is clearly not YA (Gavin classifies Darkening
as “dark historical fantasy.”) It’s chocked full with violence, gore, and wizard-on-blue-demon sex. It is suitable for ages 18 and up.
My only minor critique of Darkening
is Gavin didn’t fully develop the town of Salem itself. The period setting of early 1900’s Massachusetts never came alive and felt like a missed opportunity in what I otherwise found was a flawless story.
I’m astonished The Darkening Dream
could have been passed up by any agent or mainstream publisher. Andy Gavin unearths a tired genre I thought was long past its prime, injects it with a spurt of fresh blood and sends it into the night to with a blood-curdling 95 out of 99 cents. 99 cents of Andy Gavin links:
All things Andy Gavin
The Darkening Dream, free sample chapters
Find it on Amazon
Andy's next novel, Untimed
Find Andy Gavin on Facebook
. If you enjoyed this review follow Underground Book Reviews on Facebook, Twitter and subscribe to our newsletter.
You can also follow Brian Braden on Facebook and Twitter and buy his book, Carson's Love.
Bryan R. Dennis, the author of The Uncanny Valley
, describes his sci-fi, horror, and fantasy compendium as “old-fashioned.” I call it wonderful. This compilation of sixteen short stories harkens back to the days when giants like Bradbury, Asimov, and Anderson published exciting short stories kids like me devoured. Their tales lifted the reader beyond the fantastic and made us realize the humanity of sci-fi was as every bit as important as the technical wonder. I’m not saying Dennis is in the same league as these great writers (yet), only that he captures the same magic. Like those authors of yesteryear, he explores the impact of the improbable, and the impossible, upon the human spirit.
The element of the common-meets-the-unfamiliar injects these stories with a distinct, unsettling feel. Cover-to-cover, each story thrusts the characters out of their familiar surroundings into bizarre, often terrifying, environments. Dennis even goes so far as to throw extraordinary characters into ordinary situations for which they are ill prepared. In worlds turned upside down, Dennis forces his protagonists to confront the essence of their humanity; to decide what is right and wrong and good and evil. Along the way, the reader must ask not only what it means to be human, but what it means to truly feel
At worst, some stories in Uncanny
are merely good. Eight Legs to Doomsday
and One Good Joke
are satisfying sci-fi fare. The book only has one true horror tale, Noah
, about an emerging sociopath. Even the weakest story, Super Temps
, will still put a smile on your face.
At best, however, many of Bryan R. Dennis’s stories are simply brilliant. After reading Nox Noctis
I promise you will never take light for granted again. I Am You,
which vaguely echoes Spielberg’s A.I.,
strikes to the heart of the book’s central theme. Asian Food
and Scents of Life
are showcases for Dennis’s talent and will haunt you long after you put the book down.
What makes this work truly modern is how Dennis masterfully blurs the line between sci-fi and fantasy. Stories like Isle of Stumps
don’t neatly fit in one genre or another.
It isn’t just the subjects or theme that makes this book so satisfying. Dennis is one of those rare authors who is both an adept story teller and an excellent wordsmith. From page one it’s obvious he knows what he’s doing. With warm, natural prose he quickly summons realistic characters and exciting plots. You don’t read his work as much as soak it in.
The Uncanny Valley suffers from only a mild case of the bane of the self-published - mechanical and formatting errors. However, it wasn’t enough to detract from the book. This book is suitable for ages twelve and up, with only minor violence and some suggestive themes.
Coming off the heels of my last review, I am reluctant to select back-to-back Top Picks, but the quality of this work leaves me no choice. Good short stories are hard to come by and these are exactly the kind I loved as a teenager. I thereby give The Uncanny Valley
a rating of 90 out of 99 cents and add it to annals of the Underground’s Top Picks.
99 Cents worth of Bryan R. Dennis links:Bryan R. Dennis's Amazon Author Page
Follow Bryan R. Dennis on Twitter
Bryan R. Dennis on SmashswordsIndiesnippets
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