My Rating: 4 Stars
What a read! Unique, imaginative and very dark: what is there not to like?
The story takes place in 1910 where occultist and adventurer Ingrid Redstone travels to the City of Angels in search of the Aztec portal to the afterlife. She didn’t count on meeting Death on the side and get on a ride through the history of the city. As their relationship develops and grows deeper, Ingrid realizes that their worlds' weren’t meant to cross and in the end, she will have to choose between a life with the living or amongst the dead.
I admire the author for the work on the organization of the storyline; in the beginning, it was a bit tricky and complex to understand and follow but then it really drew me into the story. I think it’s the first time I read a novel that manages to mix dark fantasy with historical fiction, vintage times, mystery, supernatural and romance. It is a dangerous attempt but the author managed to successfully create a unique, refreshing and new style entirely. There is an exceptional view of the underworld, how it works, how time passes differently; details that built this dark world. The way the characters explore past times and meet several notables of the old days is a great idea. I wish I had the chance to sit with Alfred Hitchcock! The historical settings of the novel are also very well described and I really do enjoy a good story that takes place in the jazz days.
The characters are solid and their interactions are very human. It’s a love story but it’s not a fairytale either; they have communication problems, misunderstandings. It’s easy to see that Death isn’t used to interact with anyone, especially not with a human woman. I see Ingrid has a more quiet type and more hesitant when it comes to Death. She jumps into the unknown without thinking very much about it and how it actually might end for her but at the same time she lets him take all the initiative, which was a bit frustrating at times.
Overall, a great, unique, thrilling adventure that I recommend to all the fans of a more complex romantic fantasy.
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Rocket Surgery Books. and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
My Rating: 5 Stars
An epic fantasy worth all the five stars!
Two young men from different circles have a greater destiny beyond their wildest dreams and hopes. Quint is the son of a powerful religious family and leads a sheltered life, but everything changes with the introduction of the tribes of Dragonborn. When his life is turned upside down, Quint has to lead and advise his people. Will he be able to since he knows very little of his responsibilities? On the opposite side, Whym’s life has always been haunted by poverty, being born in one of the poorest parts of town; he has little hopes for the future. His life changes when he is given the opportunity to become the apprentice of a mysterious figure. Both men will have to face the journey of their lives, forced to go through dangerous geographical and political paths and war, filled with hidden enemies, dangerous lies and glimpses of truth.
I have a lot to write about on this novel. I loved every moment, every page of this story: I was taken into a different world, immersing myself in its history, its complexity, its characters and social life. But allow me to start from the top.
The style of writing is mesmerizing and I truly admire how the author managed to described and give depth to the world of the Lost Lands and its characters without leaving the reader bored or tired of the descriptions. Furthermore, the organized and methodical structure of the novel leaves no space for loose ends, which is the best satisfaction a reader like me could have. It starts with the lightness in the first chapters, thoroughly building up, providing background stories, introducing characters that sooner or later will have an impact in the story. I have this image that the words are like puzzle pieces that come together to create something bigger and beautiful. I got completely absorbed by the words; it was difficult to put the book down.
The characters are just as complex as the reality they live in. I have to be honest and confess that I did have to make a list with the names of the characters and who they were since I did end up forgetting who they were at some point, but that didn’t influence my view of the novel at all. It is an extensive list of characters however and all of them have a distinctive way personality, and they are all very aware of the issues of their society. They have depth and are well-developed; it was easy to connect with them. The way the novel is written gives the reader the opportunity to get to know the characters as individuals and then as a group. I really felt their connection with each other, not only based on their conversations but also their actions.
Overall: beautiful scenarios, unique characters and a thrilling story-line make this a very promising fantasy series! I vividly recommend this novel to all the fans of fantasy that want to live a unique adventure in this wonderful world!
Thank you, J. Kyle McNeal for reaching out and giving me access to the novel through NetGalley.
My Rating: 5 Stars
An amazing, memorable read! The Book of Whispers was the winner of the Text Prize 2015.
In the 11th century, in the time of the Crusades, the young Luca de Falconi is anything but ordinary. Born with the ability to see demons, Luca hides who he is and what he can do. When his father joins the Prince on the Crusades, Luca finds his way to the holy pilgrimage, not satisfied on staying behind to take care of their estate. Taking only a secret book written in a cryptic language that his father gave him, Luca embarks on a journey that will reveal secrets, corruption and evil lurking in the shadows. When a mysterious girl named Suzan joins him, he realises that he isn’t alone; Suzan has powers of her own. Together, they have to discover the secrets of the book and stop the unknown plan of demons as the crusaders make their way to Jerusalem to free it from the Saracens.
This novel brings everything together perfectly: romance, adventure, loss, magic, change and history. The descriptions are incredibly written. From the vicious, violent confrontations to the harsh conditions of the Crusades through hot sand, burning sun and lack of water, they served as a reminder that even though we don’t talk about them any more, it was still one of the biggest bloody periods in history. The descriptions of the sights and ancient places are mesmerising and the way Jerusalem is portrayed is breathtaking. It’s definitely a place that I would like to visit for its rich history and architecture.
The plot is complex, fast-paced and clues to understand the book of whispers are revealed in a good pace; not a single moment of boredom from this historical journey. The romance between the two main characters is beautiful and it complements the story-line perfectly. The way I interpreted it was, even in the darkest moments, there is always something good that should be kept and fought for.
An amazing novel that I highly recommend!
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Text Publishing, and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
My Rating: 4 Stars
Beyond the Absurd was a delight to read. Being a fan for the Theatre of the Absurd, specially Waiting for godot by Samuel Backett and No Exist by Jean-Paul Sartre, I’m familiar with the style.
These 12 short stories, focused on the absurd, take the reader in a journey to the deepest and darkest corners of the human mind and actions, and the paradox of human choices and opinions. These tales are a mix of genres that go from fantasy and sci-fi to dystopia and even humour.
Alexander Tomov is a great writer and his writing style is amazing. The language is simple and it completely matches the simplicity of life and the banalities of our daily lives. I must admit that in the beginning I got a bit lost since I didn’t know if the stories were somehow related or not. It’s nothing that can’t be clarified with an introduction to the book. Furthermore, I think that a quotation on the subject or theme in the beginning of each story could help the reader to understand the story better.
Some of the stories were really creepy like “The machine” that can create the ghost of someone for your past or the 4-year-old boy that committed suicide because he hated the world since he was 2. My favourite stories were “The Taxicab” and the “Firekeeper”. These two stories are related to the thing but in a different perspective: time. They’re about travelling to the past or the future and an old-man that can burn ghosts from the past. For me, it’s about that human desire to relive distant memories with people that are lost and the inability to aspect that our past, no matter how dark, is what makes us who we are now.
The story that really made me laugh is the devil having an orgy in the United Nation’s room since hell is out of room and “Heaven has gone bankrupt” from the lack of pure souls. A story about power and how leaders only take notice to the details that are in their interests.
These are the type of stories that made me think and to see the absurdity of life, the contradictions of what we see and choose to see has banalities. For example, the end of world, the death of children, how we would like to change something in our lives but don’t and then wish to change the past. Tomov inserts tiny details that complete the short-stories and make them even more human.
It was a great reading that I recommend for the fans of the absurd. I’ll definitely keep an eye open for Mr Tomov’s future works.
I want to thank the author Alexander Tomov for his advanced copy of his book in exchange for an honest review!
Hope you find an idea for your next reading here.
Disclaim: All the images used serve for illustration purposes only, I don't own them. All the reviews and opinions are my own.