Book Review: ‘Robin Hood: Wolf’s Head’ by Eric Tanafon

Every now and then, as a reader, I experience an incredible moment of revelation when I take in an expression or image of something that is so powerful, it takes my breath away.

No sooner had I started reading ‘Robin Hood: Wolf’s Head’ than I had to stop and experience the moment. I had just read an extraordinarily beautiful sentence: “The forest clearing was a web of moonlight and shadows.”

What perfect imagery!  It is simple and direct, but powerfully evocative at the same time.

In that moment, I was there. I had been transported to that forest clearing and drawn into the world of the story, even before I knew anything else about it.

This is the magic a writer works when wielding the wand that is their pen.

Eric Tanafon Robin Hood Wolf's Head

Tanafon continues to cast these spells with magnificent imagery throughout this book. As tales are told and the various storylines develop, the author provides the reader with a feast of sensory morsels that both satisfy and delight the reader.

At times, such images can be consumed at speed. Others, like this one, demand more thoughtful digestion to fully appreciate the skill in Tanafon’s craft:

“The autumn day had dawned softly, with light mists gathered around the sun like a veil. In the late morning the forest was still sweet and moist, haunted by the ghosts of decaying leaves.”

As a writer, I lost count of the times I read a sentence or two and thought to myself, “I wish I had written that!”

Tanafon’s genius in reinventing the story of Robin Hood as a paranormal adventure is equally as enchanting as his writing. The stories of Robin Hood, his band of followers and of their enemies are interwoven, not as a braid but as a rich tapestry. Thus the old stories are retold, stripping back the gloss of legend and hero worship and offering the reader a far more thought-provoking and deeply engaging retelling of the famous tales.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It’s not just a fantastic read: this is literature absolutely worthy of the top shelf.

Available on Amazon.
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Book Review: The Dragon Warrior Of Kri by Lyra Shanti

Lyra Shanti Dragon Warrior of Kri

An enthralling tale of self-discovery and destiny.

Set in the complex and dynamic world of Shanti’s Shiva XIV series, The Dragon Warrior of Kri is a powerful short story that explores part of the early life of Meddhi, whom we meet as an older man in the Shiva XIV novels.

It’s a thought-provoking storyline enriched by beautifully written sensory detail and powerful undercurrents of love, self-discovery and rising to meet the challenges of one’s destiny.

The characters are vivid and engaging, each one portrayed as complex, highly individual, and conflicted both by their own flaws and by others’ expectations of them. This makes them highly relatable, and keeps the reader hoping that their favorite will prevail.

Shanti is a master of world building and story telling. Her writing draws the reader into this world and envelopes them in the drama and crisis points of the story so effectively that it’s hard to put the book down.

Although it is a short story that fully complements the Shiva XIV series, it works perfectly well as a standalone story.

New readers should consider themselves warned, though: this book will leave them wanting more. Thankfully, Shanti’s novels and other stories set in the same world are able to provide exactly that.

The Dragon Warrior of Kri is available on Amazon.

Read the Book Squirrel’s author spotlight on Lyra Shanti.

Book Review: Moon Breaker by Matthew Marchitto

Matthew Marchitto Moon Breaker

This is a highly interesting and exciting story that gives the reader plenty to think about.

In Moon Breaker, Marchitto delivers a gripping, brutal portrayal of a society breaking down from within through a tribal fantasy adventure story that explores what happens to a society when its people abandon the values that underpin it.

Moon Breaker raises significant ethical questions about how the value a society places on the wellbeing of the individual vs that of the collective, and the impact that value has on what is considered right and wrong.  The events and characters of the story challenge the reader to think about what happens when common understandings of truth and right are actually based on lies, as well as when those lies are confronted and exposed, and the consequences this can have for individuals.

This book is really well written. The central characters are complex and well-developed, while the necessary qualities of the secondary and minor characters are portrayed clearly and effectively in the light of the key ideas and message of the story.

Marchitto’s expression and imagery was creative and powerful, delivering his ideas in profound ways. My favourite line in the book is where Nala, in her grief, watches keepsakes possessions burn along with something more sacred and valuable. With the conviction that nothing mattered anymore, her observation is that “they all burned the same in her eyes.”
That line made me pause and think about how realistic that was as a portrayal of the effect of grief on an individual who has lost far more than “things”.

The story moved at a good pace and kept me intrigued from one phase to the next.  The ending is as profound as the discoveries made along the way by Nala, Koll and Kohn.

All in all, it’s a ripping good read that offers a fascinating study of human nature along the way.

It’s a solid five stars from me.

You can find Moon Breaker on Amazon.

Book Review: The Undernet by J.S. Frankel

‘The Undernet’ by J. S. Frankel brings new definition to the age-old contest between good and evil, and between truth and deceit as a young man seeks answers that seem determined to remain hidden.

Jesse Frankel The Undernet

Frankel has crafted realistic, likeable and engaging central characters in Milt and his girlfriend, Robbie.  They’re not perfect, and their mistakes have consequences, which makes them easier to empathise with and understand. Insights into Milt’s thoughts and gut reactions, and his feelings about Robbie, draw the reader into the often very confronting story of his quest for justice and truth.

Part of Frankel’s genius in casting this story is designing characters who live and work in the shadows, so that the reader has to keep questioning whether they are the good guys or the bad guys. There are so many layers of intrigue and concealment in this story that the reader is kept curious and wanting to know, much like Milt throughout this story, seeing the truth despite layers of concealment and misinformation. In this sense, the Undernet and the Dark Net take on the roles of additional impersonal characters that deliberately obscure reality in this story, just as they seem to in actual fact.

Some parts of The Undernet are definitely uncomfortable to read. In graphic contrast to the sincere and honest friendship Milt has with Robbie and with his best friend, Simon, Frankel gives his readers a solidly-written exposè of the dark side of human nature as one is likely to find it on the dark side of the internet – or anywhere. This is delivered with confronting realism and honesty. Through all of this, It was the strong identification I felt with with Milt’s “ordinary person” response to the ugly side of life that enabled me to keep reading and hoping for him to find the resolution he was so desperate to find.

The Undernet is available on Amazon or from devinedestinies.com

Book Review: Longing by R.M. Gauthier

Literature Lemur LeafThe Literature Lemur has been reading some great books lately! Today, our lovely lemur friend brings us a review of ‘Longing’ by R.M. Gauthier, who has been featured in Book Squirrel reviews and an author spotlight previously. 

Blurb:

Longing is the story of a Special Forces Officer and a Business Tycoon becoming unlikely partners in their fight for justice and revenge. Leroy, a Special Forces Officer, returns home from Afghanistan after serving 8 terrifying years, only to discover that his nightmare has not ended. After learning that his sister has been missing for months, Leroy sets out to find and bring her home. Meeting Landon Miller, a Business Tycoon and owner of an exclusive club exposes Leroy to a world of corruption that he had no idea even existed.

 Renee Gauthier Longing

ADR S&S Book Review:

Longing is a prequel to The Mystery of Landon Miller series, in which Gauthier gives us a peek at how everyone’s favorite Guy Friday ended up with the job of a lifetime: working for Landon Miller, himself.

In this short story, Leroy leaves the desolation of war only to find more misery waiting for him at home. His sister is missing, and Leroy will move heaven and earth to bring her home again. Along the way, Leroy discovers there is a whole lot of evil out there, and the deeper he digs, the dirtier it gets.

Once again, Gauthier has created a story where anything can and does happen, bringing life and soul to characters who we, as readers, feel connected to. Whether or not you’ve read “Control” and “Bound”, “Longing” is one short story you won’t want to miss.

You can find all things R.M. Gauthier at:    www.RMGauthier.com

Order “Longing” here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0180FSU1W

Absence of Colour: Spectrum of Colour Book 1 by Susan Wee

‘Absence of Colour’ is an engaging and intriguing tale of escaping the past and searching for identity and justice.

 
Susan Wee 1 Absence of Colour

The band of characters in this book are quite well developed, and the reader is drawn into a strong feeling of empathy with Conny, Frankie and Twig in particular. The villain is well-drawn and distinctly odious: there are times when  his actions do make the reader uncomfortable and quite angry. This sets the action of the story in motion: each of the main characters and a number of the minor characters must work together to achieve justice and to reclaim that which has been taken from them.

The book brings some resolution to the conflicts faced by Twig and Conny, along with a sense of relief in the immediate circumstances, but the reader is also very aware that there are still questions and problems that remain unsolved. In this way, the reader is strongly motivated to read the second book in the series – ‘The Colour of Evil’.  The title itself is both enticing and ominous, leaving the reader intrigued and eager to know more.

I’ve given this book a good solid 4 stars.

You can find Absence of Colour Book 1, and the rest of the series, on Susan Wee’s Amazon page.

Book Review: ‘Call of Kythshire’ – Missy Sheldrake

Holy moly. I started this book with absolutely no idea what was going to happen to me as I read it. Now that I have finished it, I find that I am completely and utterly in love with the characters and places that I encountered in this magical, mystical fantasy tale that has woven its tendrils around my heart.

It’s taking most of my will-power to write a missy-sheldrake-1review before I pick up the second book. And that’s not the worst of it. I have work to do. And there are other things I have committed to read.  Drat you, Missy Sheldrake! Because of you, I am in the clutches of a bona-fide “I don’t want to adult,  I want to stay in the world of the book” dilemma. It’s a very good thing  for us both that there are sequels!

The first book in the “Keepers of the Wellspring” series, ‘Call of Kythshire’ is completely enchanting. It  has been on my TBR list for a while, looking completely innocent and unassuming while sitting on the shelf, but as soon as I opened it, my fate was sealed.

Missy Sheldrake began to work her magic on me from the first chapter, drawing me in until I was fully invested in the journey that my imagination and emotions were being taken on. It’s a beautifully crafted quest through faraway lands that become very real and much closer to our own world as one reads, accompanied by some of the most feisty and determined yet loveable characters I have ever met. I travelled with them, stood by them as they faced challenges from others who sought to misuse their powers, and encouraged them to conquer their differences and internal conflicts to overcome them. I’m not even sure I would have made all the same decisions, but then I remember Rian’s words: ” “Who are we to decide who’s worth saving and who’s worth punishing? What would you have done in such a desperate situation? Can you honestly say that you wouldn’t do everything in your power to help the ones you love?” and I know he is right.

Reader, beware. You will get hooked, and there will be absolutely nothing you can do about it. Except read the next in the series, that is.


Big News! As it turns out, and completely unknown to me until I had already written this review, book #4 comes out on Friday, March 3! On that day, the first three ebooks of this series will be ABSOLUTELY FREE on Amazon! It’s true!

There’s also a short story, ‘Snowberry Blossom’, that fits between books 2 and 3 of the tetralogy.

You can see for yourself on Missy Sheldrake’s own blog, which you should probably follow because you’re probably going to end up being a huge fan, just like me.