Monday, 29 November 2021

 

 

Review

The Hellborn King

By 

Christopher Benning


 After the massacre of his people, Damien Dreadfire leads a patchwork army of unlikely allies against the Kingdom of Betanthia. The alliance teeters on the edge of a knife, as old rivalries between clans threatens to tear it apart. With the help of his trusted friend, Einarr, and a strange mystic, Damien launches a bold offensive that will decide the future of the free lands. Short on time, and even shorter on men, the fate of a once vibrant culture and its people rests on the outcome of the next battle.

Meanwhile, Betanthia's crown prince, Gareth Bethard, faces dangers of his own. With his family coming apart at the seams and a growing conspiracy afoot, he tries desperately to hold everything together. Even as Gareth grapples with inner demons, he must learn to take up his father's mantle as the protector of civilization and defeat Damien's invading horde. It's only the fate of a thousand-year dynasty resting on his shoulders, after all.

 

 

The End of all things is the final clang of the doom bell in Christopher Brenning’s The Hellborn King, a dark tale of intrigue, vengeance, and war. 

The story begins with the bloody annihilation of force of soldiers sent to investigate a local disturbance. In amongst the soldiers is the son of a commander of the King of Betathia’s Army, Alfrid Valens. With a foreboding of the events to come, Alfrid is brutally murdered by the behemoth warrior, Damian Dreadfire, the leader of the collected Northern tribes, whose obsession is to bring down what he sees as the despotic rule over the North by Betanthia, and gain vengeance for the haunting atrocity of war in a place called Borjifa.

The story is set two main settings, the rulers of Betanthia, a family that is coming apart at the seams through the alcoholism of the King, and the in fighting between the siblings. Then moving the focus of the story to the barbarian hordes and their conquest of the Betanthian held North in retaliation for the events at Borjifa.

The book is set out in a multi-point of view, with different characters having individual storylines, which successfully converges at the end, with each character having different experiences and adding to the story in different ways. This multi-faceted approach to the story works well as it gives epic proportions to the story and also shows us different parts off the world in which the story is set. 

There are numerous characters in the book, each with their own character arc. The standout ones are Gareth, Einor & Madeline. However, interestingly, we never get the point of view of the main antagonist of the story Damian Dreadfire, and he is usually portrayed through the eyes of other characters and how they perceive him.

Now on the whole (and I don’t say this in a bad way), I have to say that I wasn’t actually that fond of many of the characters in the book, and I think that this is a testament to Christopher Brenning’s writing in that he does not give excuses for the decisions that the characters make. The Royal Family on the whole infuriated me, particularly with their ineffectual handling of any situation (although, I did empathise with Charlotte and the impossible situation that she is in). The father is a horrid drunkard who has succumbed to his weakness (although, we can see the reasons for his deterioration and the fact that he is using alcohol as a crutch), and with his vitriolic view of his family has virtually led to its implosion. The children equally are spoilt and spiteful, continuously bickering with each other, adding to the tension 

Similarly, within the barbarian camp, I wasn’t all that fond of many characters in there. Yes, it is not all black and white and there are a multitude of greys. In this camp, Einar is the one that stands out as the moral compass of the Northern Tribes, and he is the one that I could emapthise with the most as he tries to guide Damian and uphold the duty that he has sworn to.

The other storyline, Madeline, I didn’t initially warm to until the second half of the book really. However, when certain events play out midway through, her character does become more grounded, and I did end up liking her.

For me, this shows that there is a strength in Christopher Brenning’s writing skills in that he can keep me engaged with the story, regardless of me not liking the characters. 

The story itself is quite bleak in its execution, and I must highlight that there are some scenes that people may not be comfortable with. However, this is dealt with quite sensitively and for the most part happens off the page and there are no graphic scenes in that respect. 

At times, I felt that on occasion plot overshadowed the pacing and there were some parts of the book where I felt that it lost its momentum. However, this was not a detriment to the book as a whole as I continued to be engaged with the story.

In terms of world building, the multi point of view gives plenty of opportunity to show expansive elements of the world in which the story is set and is a good device to show the sweeping vistas of the world that is encapsulated in the book. 

On the whole I enjoyed this darkly powerful epic fantasy revolving around a family imploding, vengeance and obsession.








Wednesday, 24 November 2021

 

ANACHRONY 

BY 

SUSANA IMAGINÁRIO

Arianh had one wish.

Yewlow made it real.

And Time turned it into a regret.


Anachrony takes you on a journey to the bleak future of Aegea and the darkest places of the mind.


Can fate be avoided, or is the future just someone else's past?


With Anachrony, Susana Imaginário proves my suspicion that there is some kind of magic afoot with each new installment of the Timelessness series.

As the series has progressed, and with each new installment, Susana Imaginário has managed to knock me sideways with the brilliance of each new book, and I usually spend at least five minutes stunned over what I have read.

And this short little story did that again!

If you read the epilogue of Nephilim’s Hex and wondered “What’s that all about then?”, Anachrony fills in those gaps and answers those questions. It tells the story of what Arianh did next, a kind of Ariamh through the looking glass.

I have to say that Anachrony was not what I expected at all (which I should have expected, but there you go). The story takes place in Niflheim, but a different Niflheim than we are used to as things are not quite the same. In Anachrony, the story centres solely on Arianh and the subsequent events of what happens when she steps through the Chronodendron. This gives the novella a different feel to the rest of the series. With the focus being on one character the story is more linear in its execution, which works superbly in this instance and gives us a vivid picture of what Arianh is experiencing as she travels the world in which she finds herself.

In Anachrony, Susana Imaginário changes the perspective of the narrative, and my goodness is this effective for this story. It feels like we are experiencing the things that Arianh is experiencing, not only in terms of events, but also in relation to the emotions that she is experiencing, which makes the end of the story that little bit more emotive. It brings us closer to the feelings of disorientation that Arianh experiences as she journeys through Niflheim with only the Chronodendron for company.

I must apologise if I am being a little vague, but I want to stay away from the plot altogether as I think that the way to gain complete enjoyment from this book is to enter it blindly and let the story take you to where it is going without any pre-emptive knowledge of what lies inside the pages. However, what I can say is that Susana Imaginário handles the world building with her usual aplomb and style, and her characters remain vivid and evocative.

I have loved this series and I marvel at how Susana Imaginário continually wrong foots me with the shifting sands of her plot at each given moment. Just when I think I have an angle on the series and think that I have things pegged out in my head, she manages to pull the rug out from under my feet and introduce a new twist that sends all my counters flying in the air. Furthermore, I adore the ambiguity of it all, I mean, even the title of the book is ambiguous, and I am not sure whether the events in the book take place in the future or the past, similarly with the actual title of the series itself, which is kind of brought into sharp focus with the events in this story. I may be looking too deep into it, but this story has grabbed me, and I want to know more, whether it be about the mythology that she introduces and how that interweaves with the story or certain words that have been used and how they affect the story.

At the end of most of my reviews, I tend to say that if you haven’t read the Timelessness series you should go and check it out, and I am not going to fail you on this occasion either. Unfortunately, I will have to wait till next year until the story concludes, but I am so looking forward to seeing how Susana Imaginário will surprise me with that!





Tuesday, 16 November 2021

 

Hello and Welcome to this Book Blitz for Moon Rising By Daniel Weisbeck. 

Organised by Storytellers On Tour

 So what is the book about? 

Well, let's find out!

 


Book Information

Moon Rising by Daniel Weisbeck

Series: The Upsilon Series (#1)

Published: November 1, 2021 by DJW Books

Genre: Sci-Fi Biopunk Thriller

Pages: 222

 

She is not who she thinks she is. Her true identity is a mystery.

Trapped in a cellar by a man she does not know; a young girl is forced to act out the life of someone she has never met to stay alive. When she escapes, she finds herself on the run, confused and questioning her past. With the help of Bobby Houndstooth, a teacher she once knew, and Nutt, an android who loves to dance, Silon begins to unravel her true identity and a mysterious relationship she has with a sinister corporation.

Silon must decide if she is the person others expect her to be or if she can become a person of her own making.

Even if it kills her.
 

Book Links

Goodreads

Amazon


 
 

 

Daniel Weisbeck is a new name to me. However, it seems that he has an IndieReader Discovery Award for Science Fiction under his belt for one of his previous books.

In addition to this, I am pretty new to the Biopunk scene. However, if Moon Rising is anything to go by, I may be delving a little bit further.

The story revolves around an unknown girl trapped in a cellar by a man called Sad Man. Initially, the book is claustrophobic and very tense as Sad Man makes his demands. He keeps her in darkness in the cellar, only allowing her light when he visits her and dresses the girl in what we learn are his daughter’s clothes.

However, aid comes from her former teacher, Dr Bobby Houndstooth (also known as Teach, or Teacher), which sets off a chain of events that includes shadowy organisations, underground tech geniuses and an android that likes to dance, interwoven with a story of a girl who is learning to live in the outside world and her capabilities.

In Moon Rising, Daniel Weisbeck gives us a fast moving Sci Fi action thriller that after the initial set up, takes off as quick as the gliders in the book. The plot is compelling and you cannot help but be drawn into the story. The characters are well realised and have an ability to grow, which is surprising in light of the brevity of the book.

The story is written from the first person perspective. However, what he cleverly does is use each of the three main characters perspectives to flesh out scenes that they have all been involved with, so you are able to navigate how each of the different protagonists feel about the same scene. This works surprisingly well.

As an introduction to both Daniel Weisbeck’s writing and to the series as a whole, Moon Rising is an effective and solid introduction,  I enjoyed Moon Rising and I am looking forward to seeing how the series  progresses and develops.


About the Author

 


Daniel Weisbeck is the award-winning author of the bestselling series Children of the Miracle, a dystopian adventure. Daniel is a native US citizen but has lived in the UK for over over twenty years working in the technology and software fields, bringing a unique and authentic voice to his speculative science fiction. Daniel is an openly gay author who has been happily married to his partner for over twenty years. When not writing about androids and hybrid humans in the future, you will find him taking care of his three dogs two rescue racehorses, and thirty rescue sheep who all live in the South Downs of England.

Website: http://www.danielweisbeckbooks.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/djwbooks

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/children_of_the_miracle

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/danielweisbeckauthor/

  




Friday, 12 November 2021


When two painted-faced nobles take a guided raft trip on a muddy river, they expect to rough it for a few weeks before returning to their life of sheltered ease. But when mysterious swirls start appearing in the water, even their seasoned guides get rattled.

The mystery of the swirls lures them on to the mythical wetlands known as the Living Waters. They discover a world beyond their imagining, but stranger still are the worlds they find inside their own minds as they are drawn deep into the troubles of this hidden place.

The Living Waters is a sword-free fantasy novel featuring an ethereal love story, meditation magic, and an ancient book with cryptic marginalia. It is the first book in the Weirdwater Confluence duology.


Okay, let’s get this out of the way, I loved this book!

There, said it! Job done!

You can all go home now!

Erm, erm, sorry! No, no, don’t go! I do have a few more things to say, but I hope you get the fact that I liked this book.

There’s a lot to admire in Dan Fitzgerald’s writing. I like how he is pushing the boundaries of fantasy to tell unconventional stories, which is always going to get my attention.

Now, I know that much has been said about the fact that this book does not contain a sharp pointy thing called a sword, and that makes no difference to the level of threat that is there in the story, except it comes from a different source than loads of fantasy peoples running around or threatening people with oversized cutlery.

The story centres around a raft trip down a river, and the events that happen on the trip.

Temi and Sylvan are two members of an aristocratic society who come from two ends of the specctrum. Sylavn is from a highly successful, well to do family, whilst Temi’s family are down on their luck and are hoping that the hue of Temi’s skin will bag her a rich, powerful husband in order to save the family’s fortunes.

The thing that these two have in common is that they are planning to take something called a Roughabout. A kind of trip that is designed to give the rich folk a bit of resilience and character. A sort of toffee nose rite of passage that lets the pampered, cosseted children of rich folk experience ‘real’ life.

Along with Temi and Sylvan is Leo, the organiser of the roughabout, and Gilea, Temi’s protector and aide.

Now whilst they all have one thing in common, they all have very different goals. Sylvan is a scholar of nature, particularly marine nature and biodiversity, and hopes to study the environment and compare what he finds to a work of scholarly art that he received for his graduation. Temi has her own plans that do not involve any of these things. Leo is in it for the money, but also some level of excitement and a hope to find The living Waters. Whilst Gilea is initially in it for the money, but finds that she has other motivations on the trip.

Essentially, I felt that it was a very gentle story about development and growth, and how experience affects each of differently. Each of the characters grow throughout the book in different ways and it was such a delight to see how each of the characters took different things away similar experiences and how they interpreted those experiences.

The book is a character driven book, and I got attached to all the characters in different ways. Temi and Sylvan are both nobles, and I found the construct of the upper eschelons quite fascinating. The nobles in The Living Waters paint their faces, and cherish their lightened skins as a way to denote their wealth and standing. Conversely, the regular folk of the country who work outside have sun browned skins that imply that these are commoners.

I adored each of the characters in the story, although I liked some more than others. I think most people will find Temi and Gilea’s arc the most satisfying, and I did enjoy their stories. Temi is strong willed , she becomes quite ill in the story with a disease that resembles consumption (Tuberculosis), and she bravely copes with this condition. However, I liked Sylvan. He has an unassuming way of looking at the world. He is constantly in awe of the natural world and the environment that he finds himself in, and in the end undergoes a dramatic change that shows his strength and willingness to assimilate into new cultures and experiences.

I have to say that I did find Leo a little overwhelming at times, he just never sits still, or goes off on impulsive little side trips. He is at once charming and aloof, and at times a little difficult to emapthise with.

Now I know that I said that this is a gentle story. However, that does not mean that there isn’t action and tension, because quite the opposite, there are a number of scenes of tense action. Particularly the end, and the dangers posed by the different events that occurs on their journey.

The journeying aspect of the book give it a chance to introduce a rich source of world building that Dan Fitzgerald does in organic and underwhelming manner. He evokes a rich and well realised world that constantly changes at different parts of the river. In addition to this, he brings in a lot of cultural and environmental diversity.

Furthermore, there is an intriguing magic system in the book that doesn’t involve explosions of fireballs, but revolves around a mixture of natural magic, alchemy and a spiritual and meditative approach, and this becomes more prominent when the gang meet the Ipsis and the Sitri.

The Living Waters is an ambitious book, showing how fantasy can be used to tell different types of stories, and it is one of those books that will stay with me. 

If you want to add The Living Waters to your Goodreads list just click here

If you want to purchase the book you can get it on Amazon UK or Amazon US

Alternatively you can go to Shadow Spark Publishing (and there are a load of different authors on the site that are also worth checking out!)


 
 


Thursday, 11 November 2021

The Witches of Woodville Part 2

July, 1940

 
In a quiet village in rural Kent, a magical mystery leads to murder . . .

Woodville has returned to 'normal' after the departure of the Crow Folk. The villagers put out fires from aircraft shot down in the Battle of Britain, and Faye Bright discovers that magic can be just as dangerous as any weapon.

The arrival of a trio of Jewish children fleeing the Nazis brings the fight for Europe to the village. When their guardian is found dead, Faye must play nanny to the terrified children while gathering clues to uncover a dark magic that threatens to change the course of the war. And she must do it quickly – the children have seen too much and someone wants them silenced for good.

For fans of Lev Grossman and Terry Pratchett comes the second novel in this delightful trilogy of war, mystery and a little bit of magic . . .

 


Babes in the Wood is the second in Mark Stay’s Witches of Woodville series, and I have to say that after reading The Crow Folk (not that long ago, I might add), I can’t stop raving about these books. They are just bloody brilliant and so much fun.

The story starts not too long after the events of The Crow Folk, with Faye now being a fully fledged trainee witch under the tutelage of Mrs Teach and Mrs Southill. However, whilst she has finally got her wish of being a witch, things aren’t working out as well as she planned and she is learning more about what not to do, rather than being a proper witch that helps people.

In the midst of this, she keeps having ‘funny turns’ in which she can see the future.

The book really kicks off when a Hurricane crashes into the local garage and she has to save three German children and a young German man called Klaus from a crashed car, though these are children who have been saved by the KinderTransport (the organised rescue effort during World War Two to rehome Jewish children) and sent to stay with the local Lord and Lady Aston

It is when she meets the children and Klaus that her visions really start to become more of a problem as she starts to have visions of death and murder.

Not only that, Faye has to deal with a problem much closer to home – Boyfriends!

In Babes in the Wood, Mark Stay changes the focus of the book to focus more on the war in this book and the residents of Woodville realise that the war is closer to home than they think, what with the Battle of Britain raging in the skies overhead and the injured soldiers being housed at the local Manor House.

In addition to that there is the actual effects that the war is having on other people, particularly with the introduction of the three Jewish children.

I couldn’t fail to be impressed with Babes in The Wood and the Witches of Woodville as a whole. Mark Stay deftly interplays light and dark whilst keeping the comedic element to his book. He will skilfully interject moments of comedy with some pretty dark horror elements, and they will creep up on you without notice.

As I said, the tone of this book is a little different from the first one but it continues to maintain its allure. Babes in The Wood at times plays like a cosy murder mystery set in the quintessential English countryside village that never was, but then it becomes more of a spy thriller and then something that’s akin to a Denis Wheatley novel, whilst falling on classic sci-fi/horror like The Midwich Cuckoos (which is referenced quite nicely in the village fair scene).

In addition to this, Mark Stay will carefully interject some quite weighty subjects like anti-Semitism, classism and prejudice whilst masking it with a rose-tinted comedy lens.

Again, all the characters are brilliantly realised (and heightened to just this side of parody), and Faye is her usual gobby and irreverent self, reminding me of Emily Lloyd in the film Wish You Were Here. Especially when she cries ‘Up Yer Bum!’ several times in the story. Furthermore, the village gets expanded somewhat and we get the introduction of new characters, such as Dougie Allen, the car mechanic from Glasgow who talks to his cars.

If you haven’t read The Witches of Woodville series, I highly recommend it. Yes, it is very light, but it is just so much fun. It is filled with brilliant characters and is a wonderful breath of fresh air. But don’t be deceived, whilst it might seem all jolly hockey sticks and full of jinks and japes, it has that nice touch of weirdly dark stuff happening just under the hood.


 



Tuesday, 9 November 2021


 
 

Nothing is trickier than the truth.

All Loki the trickster god of Asgard wants is a peaceful life where he’s free to stir up a bit of harmless mischief. But when he’s struck by a painful vision of blood, ash, and death he knows his fun has run out.

Refusing to have his life obliterated by some stuffy prophecy, Loki feels he must save Asgard. Except the gods stand in his way. They don’t trust the God of Lies—which means his only hope is to return to Odin, the man he wished to forget thanks to their complicated history.

When Loki meets a mortal woman, his plans hit a snag.

Sigyn is delightfully stubborn and quick with a blade. She also, inexplicably, possesses a divine element found only in a god.

As Loki falls deeply in love with her, he never expects their bond to fulfill the prophecy threatening all their lives.

Forced between honoring his oath with Odin or protecting the woman he loves, Loki will discover that the only thing crueler than truth are the lies behind it all.

And the truth changes everything.

 


 

The end is coming, but let us start at the beginning!

Loki, the titular god of mischief has arrived in Basel, naked and five hundred years out of time. He is discovered raving in the Munster Cathedral by an unknown person. Whilst, waiting for the police, Loki tells his story to the human.

Lyra Wolf's Truth and other Lies, is a story of mischief, love, obsession and shocking consequences. It tells of how Loki helps Thor to regain Mjolnir from the giant Thrym. Of how Loki falls in love, and how he loses a couple or five millennia.

Loki is a very popular member of the Viking pantheon at the moment, and I have read several books with the God of Mischief being his usual charming self.

Now you would think that with all these iterations of the silver tongued devil, everyone would be all Loki'd out, but somehow, Lyra Wolf manages to present the God of Mischief in a different light that seems fresh and interesting.

In addition to that, she manages present the rest of the Norse Gods in an equally refreshing light. For instance Thor the God of Thunder is an oaf with no more than one fading brain cell, and Odin is a conniving figure who manipulates his way through eternity.

With Truth and Other Lies, Lyra Wolf introduces us to her version of Norse Mythology, interweaving the tales of the gods in delightfully a modern way and Loki is more human in this book, as we journey with him as he discovers that he has feelings and emotions, whilst accepting his own nature.

His interplay with Sigyn, the earthly woman he meets and falls in love with, shows us that he has a softer side to his personality, although quite a few times throughout the book he makes some extremely questionable decisions in order to protect her.

Truth and other Lies had me gripped from beginning to end, and I have to say that I don't think that I have read a book that uses Switzerland as a back drop, which Lyra Wolf does with tremendous effect.

With Truth and other Lies, Lyra Wolf has managed to give Loki quite a nuanced character. Yes, he does do mischief because it is in his nature, but she also shows a multi faceted side to his character that gives him more emotional depth and it works to great effect. Oh yes, he does make questionable decisions that you know are going to have repercussions later in the story. However, what this does, is illustrates his fallibility, making him more real and less godlike.

I loved all the characters in this book, even the spiteful Frigg, who spits more venom than a basket full of cobras.

And you cannot leave a review without mentioning the end (no spoilers mind!). The ending is something that I didn't see coming at all (although I should have guessed because Lyra Wolf does interplay myth so effectively throughout the whole story). Nevertheless, I did not see it coming and was shocked by it.

I just wanted to mention that I listened to the audio version of the book, which the author gifted me in exchange for an honest review.

The audio book is read by Casey Eades who does a fantastic job of bringing the story to life. Each character is distinct and recognisable, and she manages to evoke personality and individuality to each character by using different tones and intonation for each separate vocalisation. In addition to that, there will be the addition of soft accents that accentuate the character. The production itself is cracking and you can hear every word clearly and distinctly. In fact, I have to say that this is one of my favourite audio books I have listened to recently.



Friday, 5 November 2021

 

 


 


For fans of Lev Grossman and Terry Pratchett comes this delightful novel of war, mystery and a little bit of magic...

As Spitfires roar overhead and a dark figure stalks the village of Woodville, a young woman will discover her destiny…

Faye Bright always felt a little bit different. And today she’s found out why. She’s just stumbled across her late mother’s diary which includes not only a spiffing recipe for jam roly-poly, but spells, incantations, runes and recitations… a witch's notebook.

And Faye has inherited her mother’s abilities. 

Just in time, too. The Crow Folk are coming. Led by the charismatic Pumpkinhead, their strange magic threatens Faye and the villagers. Armed with little more than her mum's words, her trusty bicycle, the grudging help of two bickering old ladies, and some aggressive church bellringing, Faye will find herself on the front lines of a war nobody expected.

Fall in love with the extraordinary world of Faye Bright - it's Maisie Dobbs meets The Magicians.

 


Charming, unputdownable and wickedly funny, Mark Stay’s The Crow Folk is a devilishly clever delight from start to finish.

The story revolves around our gobby heroine Faye Bright, and starts with her opening the pages of her mother’s book of spells ‘Wynter’s book of Rituals’ and as soon as she issues the words ‘Blinkin’ flip mother’, I was sucked into Mark Stay’s world of rural witchery, shambling scarecrows and daft silly buggers pretending that they were in the army with broomsticks for guns.

The story is set in the midst of World War 2 in the idyllic Kentish village of Woodsville, where peculiar, odd and witchy is standard operating procedure. Most of the men have gone off to fight that particularly nasty bloke, Mr Hitler and his marauding army, leaving behind those who are not eligible to fight and the wives and mothers. However, the most dangerous thing in Woodsville are the church bells and a stray light that will be greeted by the bellow of ‘put that light out’ from the local ARP warden Mr Paine.

However, not everything is as it seems in Woodsville, there are witches in the form of Philomena Teach and Charlotte Southill (who sleeps in the nuddy, with a frog on her tummy) and there are also some strange happenings in the form of ‘The Crow Folk’ a group of scarecrows come to life, lead by the mysterious Pumpkinhead.

The Crow folk is a gloriously fun book, that has that warm cosiness of a BBC Sunday night adaptation. Every page is a delight and I have to say I just fell in love with this book, devouring it in a matter of days.

More than that, it is full to the brim of quirky and unforgettable characters. Each one vibrant and individual, from Faye herself, to even the character with the least page time, Herbert. Doris the milk woman’s son, and every one in between.

Mark Stay writes some gloriously comedic scenes that had me laughing out loud throughout. In all honesty, I couldn’t pick a favourite moment because all the book was a favourite moment. I veritably devoured this book, barely coming up for air until I had finished it. It was one of those books where ‘one more chapter’ meant that I was still sat there an hour later issuing the same statement I had made previously.

So, if you want some good witchy fun, with a mouthy main character, who might also be a witch, pick up The Crow Folk. It’s pure unadulterated fun that is full of brilliantly realised characters and a story that drags you along like a runaway carriage from the brewery pulled by a horse scared of spitfires.




Tuesday, 2 November 2021

 WITCHES UNLEASHED

BY

CARRIE HARRIS

Three extraordinary supernatural heroes join forces with Ghost Rider to capture Lucifer himself and return him to Hell, in this staggering Super Hero adventure from Marvel: Untold

Johnny Blaze, aka the Ghost Rider, has accidentally released Lucifer from Hell, and that’s a serious problem. While hunting the 666 fragments of Lucifer’s soul now loose on Earth, Johnny enlists the aid of witches Jennifer Kale, Satana Hellstrom and Topaz to track down a sliver of the demon which is possessing the body of Jennifer’s cousin, Magda. Lucifer is looking for the Tome of Zhered-Na, aiming to release the demon within its pages and unleash hell upon the world. But the witches are the Tome’s protectors, and they aren’t going down without a fight. Now the witches must work together, trust the Ghost Rider, and put their personal demons aside to stop the King of Hell in his tracks.

Devilshly good, Witches Unleashed is the latest from Aconyte’s Marvels Untold range and features Ghost Rider as its celebrity driver.

As well as Ghost Rider, Carrie Harris brings in three witches, Jennifer Kale, Toapz and Satana to give Ghost Rider some magical clout as he has to recapture the 666 fragments of Lucifer’s soul, which he inadvertently let escape from his fiery confines when the Ghost Rider escaped from Hell’s clutches.

Up until now, Johnny Blaze and his demonic occupant Zarathos, have bee doing pretty well , and have sent about 650 (odd) fragments on their way back to the fiery nether regions, but when he finds out that the latest fragment has gone and lodged itself in one of Jennifer Kale’s relatives and most likely has magical powers (in addition to his hellish ones!), he knows he is out of his depth and enlists the help of the sisters Lefay.

In reality, the sisters Lefay are not sisters, but as they are residing in Salem, they have adopted the name after they were brought together by Doctor Strange and are now running a magical shop in the town, in order to keep their cover and live as normal a life as possible. That is until Johnny Blaze comes a – knocking.

Now, I have to say that I have been really enjoying what Aconyte books have been doing with the Marvel books and letting writers bring their own individuality to the stories that they are putting out. However, I also admire the fact that they are not relying on the canon heroes to bolster these titles, but are bringing in some of the more unheard of characters in the Marvel Universe.

In Witches Unleashed, Carrie Harris does a fantastic job of bringing the sisters Lefay into the universe, and I must say for me, they were the stars of the book. From the moment that they enter into the story, the narrative just lights up. Firstly, there is Satana, a half demonic succubus who besides learning to curb her demonic side, is also embracing her human side and the difficulties of living with others. Then there is Jennifer Kale, the level headed studious type, who is coming to terms with the loss of her brother Andrew, killed by the demonic force Hellphyr. Who she guards in the book that she protects, The Tome of Zherad – Na. And finally, there is Topaz, the beating heart of the group. Who with her empathic powers carefully takes care of the group.

I read this at the speed of light and quite simply couldn’t put it down. I loved the Lefay sisters. If you like a found family trope then this has it in buckets. The sisters fight together (each other and everyone else), care for each other and laugh together. They all have such a big heart and this comes through constantly.

Granted, Jennifer can get a little annoying at times, and Topaz a little cloying. However, they all grow in the book and each have a good character arc, but for me Topaz is the one that has the best of the arcs, and I couldn’t help warming to her the most. Apart form all this, the three witches interact well with each other and the interplay between them is handled with such dexterity that even Johnny and his demon warm to their cozy little family life.

You cannot help but like Witches unleashed, it is just infectiously good fun that is written with a blisteringly fast paced that never lets up for a minute, and Carrie Harris manages to balance to balance the book perfectly with good characterisation and an action filled plot. Well worth a read!



 


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Welcome to my website. Hopefully, you are all like minded individuals here and are interested in the fantasy genre. Mostly, I will be reviewing books that I like. It might not always be fantasy, there might be some horror or science fiction.

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