Book Review: ‘Prince of Sorrows’ by D.K. Marley

A tragic story, very well told.

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D.K. Marley Prince of SorrowsWhen one sets out to retell an old, world famous story, it is essential that both the plot and the characters are crafted well enough to keep the reader engaged when they already know what’s going to go wrong and how things are going to work out. This first first title in a ‘Fractured Shakespeare’ series by D.K. Marley does not disappoint in its new delivery of the ages-old story of Hamlet.

‘Prince of Sorrows’ is a novelised retelling of the story of Hamlet with a much less ‘Anglicised’ feeling about it than Shakespeare’s play. In fact, this story feels so authentic and well-developed, it actually seems as though it’s more like the original story from which Shakespeare might have drawn his plot and characters. The characters are complex and intricately drawn, and bear names that are definitely more Scandinavian than those used by Shakespeare, yet many are not entirely dissimilar. The story is just as dramatic as the play itself, capturing the intrigue of politics within the castle of Elsinore and the rollercoaster of Amleth’s thoughts and feelings as the tension increases and the story reaches its climax.

Even as a reader who knows Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’ extremely well, I enjoyed this adaptation of the play to prose. It’s a tragic story, very well told.Acorn Award I Golden

‘Prince of Sorrows’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.
Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘Locksley Vol. 1 – Brotherhood’ by Mark Brownless

‘Locksley’ is an entertaining and very worthwhile read.

Mark Brownless Locksley 1 BrotherhoodThis book takes me back to the days of watching Robin Hood on TV in old black and white movies, and in the cartoon series in which Robin was a fox. The legend of Robin Hood is one I grew up with, and yet ‘Locksley’ delivers a fresh and interesting portrayal of the character and the stories that surround him.

This is only a short volume, but it is a most enjoyable one. It captures some of the history of the time at which the stories are set, framing legend with the history with which it is so richly entwined. It is well-written and the characters are nicely developed.

Acorn Award II Silver

‘Locksley’ is an entertaining and very worthwhile read which has left me keen to read the next instalment. It has been awarded a Silver Acorn.

Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘The Artist’ by Lyra Shanti

The Artist: A magnificently rich historical romance.

Lyra Shanti The ArtistThis novel tells the story of a gifted artist and musician from youthful desperation to the dizzying heights and desperate lows that are the successes and failures of Apollo Vidali’s life. The reader is immersed in the decadence of the gifted artist and musicians’s life and mind as he searches for meaning, fulfilment and redemption. Vidali immediately appeals to the reader’s sympathy in his resistance to his father’s oppression and restraint, which contrasts with his own salacious and self-indulgent nature.

Magnificently and richly written, the narrative is enhanced by layers of poetry and vivid imagery that embellish the characters and settings with intricate detail and splashes of colour. The characters are complex and varied, and more than once I found them bringing the story to life on the movie screen of my mind.
Not only is this a most enjoyable read, it’s a wonderful sensory experience. There is mature content, so it’s not intended for a young audience.
Acorn Award I Golden
‘The Artist’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘Galatine’s Curse’ by T.J. Green

‘Galatine’s Curse’ delivers plenty of adventure, fun, and heroic action .

T.J. Green Galatine's CurseIt is a fine author indeed who can craft complex and varied worlds and realms, and interweave them seamlessly with the stuff of time-honoured legends so that the reader feels as though this is where those legends must have always taken place. The Other is one such world – connected to ours by portals, vast and incredibly varied and complex. Green has proven her finesse in world building, and in the crafting of unique and interesting races as its inhabitants.

‘Galatine’s Curse’ is the third in T.J. Green’s YA Arthurian sword and sorcery fantasy series. Once again, Green takes the reader on a journey through The Other with Tom, Beansprout, Woodsmoke, Arthur and Merlin, where they encounter new challenges and a variety of new characters that bring dangers of their own.

Tom in particular faces bigger, darker threats than previously, providing plenty of heart-in-the-throat moments and tension that drives the story toward its conclusion.

This book delivers plenty of adventure, fun, and heroic action and reminds the reader not only of the importance of friendship and loyalty, but also that there are some challenges and tasks that one has to face and undertake for oneself. Like the best YA novels, it’s a ripping read with plenty of depth and complexity to engage teens and adults alike.
Acorn Award I Golden

‘Galatine’s Curse’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn award.

Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘The Dance Plays On’ by D. Denise Dianaty

The Dance Plays On is an enchanting original Victorian Gothic story.

Denise Dianaty The Dance Plays On‘The Dance Plays On’ reads quite like a Victorian Gothic story. All the classic elements are present, and yet this story is quite original. In an opening scene that could have come right out of Austen’s ‘Mansfield Park’, the author introduces the main character, her guardian, and a handsome, heroic young man.

Elspeth is the most fully developed of the characters, while some remain somewhat two-dimensional. It must be said, though, that this is neither unusual nor out of place for a story of this length. While immediately positioned to like and favour Elspeth, the reader is less enamoured with her guardian, Mrs McIlroy, and experiences quite some relief to see her develop so that she becomes less aloof and detached, and actually demonstrates genuine care and affection for both Elspeth and her beau.

I enjoyed the melancholy, haunting tone and the eerie foreshadowing of the second half of the story, which kept the “heroine in distress” trope from being cliched or predictable.
Acorn Award II Silver

This beautiful story has been awarded a Silver Acorn.

Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘Iago Wick and the Vampire Queen’ by Jennifer Rainey

‘Iago Wick and the Vampire Queen’ by Jennifer Rainey: Deliciously dark and twisted.

Jennifer Rainey Lovelace and Wick 0This book’s brilliant opening was just a taste of the vivid imagery and dark, ironic humour that characterises the writing. Before I had finished the first page, I knew I had found an author whose work I would truly appreciate.

This story is deliciously dark and twisted, full of varied and creatively crafted characters who each have their own motivations and desires that bring some surprising twists to the tale. The story moves at a very good pace, with lots of interesting plot and character developments.

The other aspect of this story that I really enjoy is that it delivers a wonderfully unique combination of steampunk, science fiction, historical fiction and paranormal elements.

There is absolutely zero chance of boredom while reading this book, and it is perfect for my subversive sense of humour. I definitely intend to read this entire series.

Acorn Award I Golden
‘Iago Wick and the Vampire Queen’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘Once A Queen – A Story of Elizabeth Woodville’ by Samantha Wilcoxson

Excellent historical fiction that tells the story of a little-known queen.

Samantha Wilcoxson Once A Queen‘Once A Queen’ is a novella that tells of Elizabeth Woodville, widow of Edward IV, from the time of the accession of Richard III until her death. Being very familiar with this period of history and with Shakespeare’s version of the story, I was delighted to find that this book had been researched quite well, and that the author had not simply settled for the ‘Richard was a very bad man’ interpretation of history.

Instead, Wilcoxson develops her theory of events and those responsible in subtle yet persuasive ways, drawing the reader into understanding how the alternative theories could very well be true. Of course, it is impossible for us to know who was responsible for the disappearance of Elizabeth’s young sons – the princes in the tower, or their eventual fate. It is, however, most refreshing to find intelligent and plausible historical fiction that embraces the possibilities in such an insightful way.

Wilcoxson brings Elizabeth and her daughters, and the other characters with whom they interacted, to life in glorious colour and depth, skilfully animating them and filling their conversations with emotion, hope, and responses that make the reader feel that they really begin to know them. The narrative flows smoothly, delivering Elizabeth’s story with the occasional surprise twist to keep the reader interested and engaged. Indeed, there is nothing cliched or predictable about the way in which the author delivers this story.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book from start to finish, and will definitely read the other books in the author’s Plantagenet Embers series.
Acorn Award I Golden

‘Once A Queen’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

Find your copy here.