review by Andy Gavin
GENRE: YA Epic Fantasy
LENGTH: 344 pages
SUMMARY: Fun teen epic fantasy
Recently, I’ve noticed a lot of epic fantasy novels in the Kindle top sellers, and taking a look at the epic fantasy category list many are Indie publications. This being my favorite genre, I figured I’d give some a try.
The Godling Chronicles: The Sword of Truth (don’t confuse with Terry Goodkind’s series of that name) adheres to many of the classic tropes: a sort of Indie The Book of Three meets The Eye of the World. Plotwise, we have a kind of Dark Lord, and we have a young guy from the country with a destiny. He has a mentor, he goes on a journey. There are girls (but no sex – boo!). The (relatively) unique element is that he’s really a god — albeit a reduced in-human-form god who doesn’t know it.
I liked this book, and if I were 13-14 again, I’d have loved it. The plot is straightforward but fine and it’s actually a bit refreshing harkening back to those classic “Shanara type” fantasies of the 80s. With the exception of the brief prologue, the narrative sticks tightly to a single protagonist and that keeps the pace up. As an added bonus, the story was co-written by the author’s 9-10 year-old son, which is very cool.
It’s not a long novel, 344 pages, and represents an opening salvo, more of a “first part” than a traditional ”giant chunk” like a Wheel of Time book. This is fine, as it’s inexpensive and you can just download part 2 when you get there. I actually like that changes in publishing are allowing for more flexibility of form.
But I do have a few problems with the mechanics. The sentence work itself is fine. Workman like, but never awkward. However, the novel is simultaneously both over and underwritten. Let’s start with the under part. The book is written in 3rd person omni with no strong narrative voice and a focus on a few of the characters. Fine. But, the author mainly uses two tricks from his narrative toolbox to advance the plot: dialog and inner dialog. There is some action, but it’s fairly thinly painted. There is almost no narrative description, or description at all for that matter. This keeps the story lean and moving, but leaves us with a very thin sense of place and world. We pass through several cities and various countryside, but I was left with no particular sense of any of them. Most of the words are devoted to conversation and almost all plot points are revealed (and re-revealed) this way.
Which comes to the overwriting part, which isn’t so much at the sentence or fragment level (this, as I said, was decent) but occurred as (often) characters felt the urge to repeat news and revelations to new parties. Of course this happens in real life, but as a reader, once we know something we don’t usually need to hear it again. This is a first novel, and probably not HEAVILY edited, so I expect this kind of thing has improved by book 2, but in general fictional dialog (in books, movies, TV, etc) is like a facsimile of real dialog. It gets the point across in an ideally witty way (probably with more arguing than in real life) and stripped of a lot of the glue that real conversations contain. Those mechanics like “hello” “how are you?” and “Meet me at the fountain.” “You mean the one past the statue around the corner from the butcher shop?” “No the other one, um, um, past the Inn with the greenish turtle sign and the tree that got hit by lightning the other year.” I.e. Stuff we don’t really care about.
The whitespace style in this book is very horizontal (i.e. few line feeds) and I think actually having more can make this sort of thing clearer to author and reader alike. Each line must strive to say something new — ideally even several new things. These things can be plot points, details about the world, revelations of character, or general nuance. If a line can’t defend its right to exist, several ways, well as Faulkner said, “In writing, you must kill all your darlings.”
But that being said, if you’re a young fantasy fan, The Sword of Truth is still a fun little romp. It’s straightforward, and unapologetic about the genre. That’s fine with me. I’ve got nothing against some good Dark Lord action.
Buy it on Amazon
Find it on Goodreads
THE REVIEWERAndy Gavin is the author of the indie historical fantasy hit, The Darkening Dream and his latest novel, Untimed. He studied for his Ph.D. at M.I.T. and founded video game company Naughty Dog, Inc. at the age of fifteen, serving as co-president for two decades. There he created, produced, and directed over a dozen video games, including the award winning and best-selling Crash Bandicoot and Jak & Daxter franchises, selling over 40 million units worldwide. He sleeps little, reads novels and history books, watches media obsessively, travels, and of course, writes.
review by Amy Biddle
PUBLISHER: Some Peril Publications (i.e., Createspace
EDITOR: Annie Auerbach
DESIGNER: The Book Designers
LENGTH: 480 pages
AUDIENCE: Young Adult/Adult
Nyx has been sent to Hell as a sacrifice for her people. She is from the land of Fae, and has been branded with the Tithe, which shows the world that she is meant to stay in Hell. Forever. The Fae are a small and mischievous folk who aren’t too fond of being called Pixies, and most definitely don’t get along with witches. So when Nyx runs into a pack of witches shortly after her entry into Hell, and they start calling her names, it’s a recipe for disaster.
After watching a few witches get eaten and otherwise consumed by nearby dangers (after all, it’s Hell) she tells the remaining witches that she knows the way out. Which, of course, she doesn’t. Then she realizes that she might be able to transfer the Tithe and leave one of the witches behind as a sacrifice in her place, thus getting out of Hell scott-free. So, she decides to hang out with the witches until she can figure out a way to pull it off.
Eventually Nyx and the witches do get out of Hell, and they find that the earth has been ruined after a war between men and demons. They are the only witches left, and it’s up to them to save the world from being overrun by the Hell they just escaped. Despite the fact that the Tithe is spreading up her arm and getting rather stiff, Nyx decides it would be more fun to hang out in the mortal realm with the witches than to run back to the pits of Hell. After all, she’s a Fae, and she can’t help but be drawn to chaos.
What follows is a story filled with such imagination, giggling and Fae trickery that it’s easy to get sucked in. Little Nyx, with her fiendish and sometimes deadly tricks, is impossible not to like. The magical realms and possibilities within the book are never-ending. And the end, well, it put a smile on my face for a whole day.
Admittedly, there were some minor typos and formatting errors, and a number of amusing footnotes that were rather painful to read on a Kindle. But these issues did not detract from the overall quality of the book, and I stand firmly by my decision to choose it as a Top Pick.
is a delightful ride, and a priceless way to pass the time. It might not be a particularly thought-provoking or philosophical book, but it will bring you to new, imaginative realms that you never thought existed. Not only is it suitable for young adults, it’s the kind of book that my younger self would have read and re-read many times over. And my adult self might just re-read it too. Don’t hesitate to pick it up!
5 out of 5 stars: Top Pick!
Buy it on Amazon
Check it out on GoodreadsD. M. Livingston's website
The official Nyx website
THE REVIEWERAmy R. Biddle, co-founder and senior editor at Underground Book Reviews, was raised in the Blue Ridge Mountains and has since made a living on the great blue sea.
The Atheist's Prayer, her debut novel, will be published in the fall of 2013 by Perfect Edge Books. You can visit her at www.amyrbiddle.com.
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
Talented British author Emma Mills has done it again. This paranormal romance author has release book three in her WitchBlood
series. Audiences everywhere rejoice. To give our readers a taste of her main character, Jess, she's provided a character interview. Enjoy. Interviewer:
Hi Jess, so we last chatted with you a year ago when you had just been turned into a vampire. How are you now, I notice your eyes have changed color?Jess:
Ha! Yeah that was a bit of a shock for the clan. (She laughs and twirls a strand of hair around her finger). What a year I’ve had, huh? Well, I guess I get the best of both worlds now.
Interviewer: Last time we spoke you basically admitted that you were a hopeless vampire. Is that still
Nah… I don’t know. I guess I’ve come to terms with my new diet. I certainly don’t ever find myself craving human food anymore that’s for sure. I think Eva would agree that I’ve found my fangs!Interviewer:
So if you have come to terms with being a vampire how do you feel about the part of you that is half witch?Jess:
Now I can control my power and have my license it’s pretty awesome, but when I was just stressing out and blowing all the electricals it was a pain in the rear. I guess when you’re half and half you run the risk of not quite being accepted into either group, but in my case I have to be wary of the wrong types welcoming me, for the wrong reasons.Interviewer:
Are you talking about Brittany’s grandmother now or the Coven of the Blood Moon?Jess:
Hmm, I suppose both. The drama with Brit’s grandmother was difficult because she’s family, but the coven has supposedly been disbanded… though I’m not sure how true that is.Interviewer:
So, at the moment you are staying with your Aunt in Massachusetts. Do you have any plans to go back to the UK?Jess:
(Jess smiles shyly and resumes the hair twirling.) Yeah, I think so. At the moment Brittany is studying for her license and I think my Aunt is enjoying having us around but I miss Manchester and…Interviewer:
And there are rumours that a certain someone is back in your life?Jess:
…Maybe… there are actually several reasons for me to come back to the UK. Luke is currently up in York fighting this weird human insurgency who hates supernaturals. I want to check in on him and the Council have yet to find Mary… the vampire who killed my friend.Interviewer:
So you’re not going to answer my question about Daniel then?Jess:
Ha! Maybe… and maybe not! It’s personal. It’s hard talking about things that mean so much to me. It still feels very raw.
Thanks so much for hosting me on Underground Books. Here is the information on my new book WitchLove
, which is book 3 in the Witchblood series.
With the reappearance of a lost love, Jess flees to the only people who can help her control her increasing powers and gain independence – her family’s coven. But with a bruised heart can Jess learn to forgive or will she find new love in the United States? Witchlove, the third installment of the Witchblood series, is a new adventure that takes Jess from New England to Voodoo country in the South.
Thanks to Emma's generosity, we are giving away 5 Kindle copies of Witchblood
(the first book in the Witchblood
series) to our Weekly Newsletter subscribers! If you don't have a subscription already, subscribe
by Friday, February 22 and you will receive instructions under "Book Giveaways" at the bottom of your Weekly Newsletter email.
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.
Two years ago when I did the final edit on my first manuscript, I was sure I had a winner -- a gem of a story that agents would beg to represent. Oh how naïve a novice writer can be.
After numerous rejections, both form and personal, I fell into a deep, dark hole. Could I write? Did I want to write any more?
Once I closed down my pity party, I started doing research on the internet. I wanted to read about successful author’s writing journeys. Did they write manuscript after manuscript, until finally one got attention? How did they handle rejection and garner the strength to push forward and write yet another story?
With a burning desire to have my questions answered, I began contacting authors and asking them if they would share their writing journey on my blog. Their stories of rejection and frustration all had their own twists and turns, but they all ended up in the exact same place – eventual victory with a “call” for representation, and in many cases a publishing deal.
One writer’s odyssey caught my attention and her story is one I am thrilled to share today. Her name is Jessica Khoury and her debut novel, ORIGIN was just released.
“Pia has grown up in a secret laboratory hidden deep in the Amazon rainforest. She was raised by a team of scientists who have created her to be the start of a new immortal race. But on the night of her seventeenth birthday, Pia discovers a hole in the electric fence that surrounds her sterile home--and sneaks outside the compound for the first time in her life.
Free in the jungle, Pia meets Eio, a boy from a nearby village. Together, they embark on a race against time to discover the truth about Pia's origin--a truth with deadly consequences that will change their lives forever.”
This is Jessica’s writing journey…
Amy: What drew you to write a Young Adult novel?
Jessica: YA is what I love to read, so I've never really considered writing anything else. The great thing about YA is it's exploding right now, not just in numbers, but in possibilities. There is a level of experimentation and freedom in YA you don't get in other genres; as an author, you can be daring, mixing genres, exploring themes and settings that haven't been done before. It's really an exciting place to be right now and I am so happy to have a spot in YA!
Amy: Was ORIGIN your first completed manuscript?
Jessica: Before ORIGIN I had written two complete novels. They were both high fantasy, and I love them both very much. The first, however, was written when I was 13, and is better off staying on its floppy disk in a deep, dark drawer--but it was a great learning experience! The second one I finished last year, having written it during college, and I would love to see it published one day! We will see.
Amy: How long did it take to complete?
Jessica: I spent 30 days on the first draft of ORIGIN, which sounds very fast, I know, but you must take into account the months of editing that followed. After editing with my agent and then editor at Razorbill, ORIGIN was in development for about 9 months.
Amy: Did you use critique partners for ORIGIN? If so, how did that affect your writing process?
Jessica: I had a few beta readers early on, before I got an agent, and their input was very valuable. The biggest influences on ORIGIN, however, came from my editor and agent. They are both very savvy when it comes to critiques, and I was so fortunate to have their help in developing the manuscript.
Amy wowed us with this guest post a few months ago. Now she is back with another fantastic review. Welcome back, Amy!
I’m a firm believer that if you write in a certain genre, you should read everything you can get your hands on in that category so you can understand the market. I write YA, so I read YA. I’ve been doing this for over six years, and in that time I’ve read everything from the blockbusters to the little “one-offs” that disappear from the local bookstores faster than they can change the seasonal coffee flavors.
I don’t want to say I’m jaded, but sometimes I think I’ve read it all… That was until I read ORIGIN by Jessica Khoury. Her thoroughly unique story follows Pia, a young woman living in a remote compound in the middle of the Amazon rainforest. From her first recollections she has been called “Perfectly Pia” because she simply is that: purely and entirely immortal.
On the cusp of her seventeenth birthday, Pia is about to realize her dream of becoming a scientist like those who helped create her. Her goal is to generate an entire immortal race like herself so she will never be alone. But as always happens with children on the cusp of adulthood, she makes a rash decision and breaks all sorts of rules by venturing out beyond her secured compound into the beauty of the rainforest. While basking in the tranquility of this new world, she meets Eio and begins to question the morality of her existence and the evils that soon unveil themselves within her sheltered world.
In a stunning debut, Khoury proves to be a master storyteller, expertly mixing science with the exquisite setting of the Amazon. The colors of this world come alive in her prose and in some moments, I actually felt as if I could see, touch and taste the unique beauty of the setting. Khoury deftly handles the budding relationship between Eio and Pia, while making the reader feel Pia’s ongoing anxiety about her changing world.
If I had one complaint, it would be that Khoury introduces too many characters. After a while, I couldn’t remember which personality belonged to which scientist and I found this critical to understanding the complex ending. But this would not dissuade me from recommending this highly entertaining and thought-provoking story.
Even now, a few days after I’ve read the last word, I’m still pondering the scientific and moral questions Khoury’s story has brought to light. She has set the bar high for YA fantasy, and if this is the direction the market is heading, those who write in the genre have a lot to live up to.
To find more about ORIGIN check out Amazon
or Jessica Khoury’s website
Please visit Amy Grossklaus on her blog.If you enjoyed this review, you can subscribe to the Underground or follow us onFacebook and Twitter.
If mermaid is the new vampire, Tangled Tides
by Karen Hooper has a fighting shot as the new hit in paranormal romance. Tangled Tides
follows Yara, a spunky, take-no-nonsense girl who finds herself immersed in mermaid culture when the sexy male lead Treygan rescues her from a tropical storm. Yara wakes up underwater with fins. And of course she freaks out. Little did she know that she had mer blood in her veins. Now Yara must try to uncover her past, while vying for the attention of two powerful brothers caught in a feud that could lead to the salvation or destruction of the underwater society. And Yara is the key.
From the onset I could tell this story was top notch. It is clear that Karen Hooper knows her stuff when it comes to plot development, character arcs and climaxes. The mythology interwoven here is fresh and interesting. Readers get a sense for Greek lore with a new twist. Siren’s still trick sailors into giving their lives away, but are also flirty, mercurial and sexy. Selkies, like mermen only part seal, hang out in ice cold bars and drink blood that conveys the emotions of its giver. The vast imaginative layers in this story make it worth the $4.99 alone. And then there’s the love story.
Warring brothers fighting for the love of a beautiful woman is anything but new. At first I was worried that we were heading down a path well-traveled. Luckily the characters are three dimensional and the romance feels real. Somehow Hooper makes a man who is half mackerel sexy, a feat I thought pretty much impossible.
There were moments when I felt bogged down with mer-customs like Yara’s welcoming ceremony, but some may find themselves fascinated by the culture in Tangled Tides
. Either way, readers won’t be disappointed under the sea.
You can find Tangled Tides here.
You can find Karen Amanda Hooper on Amazon
and on her website
. 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.