The Second Coming

March 22, 2010 at 2:13 am (review) (, , , , )

The Second Coming by David H. Burton. Available in lots of formats, links are at DavidHBurton.com.

Summary: “Travel to a future of blood sacrifice, demons, witchcraft, and an immoral God that has returned to reclaim his former dominion.”

Score: 4.25/5

It’s Earth, in the future, after the planet has shifted on its axis. All sorts of demons, horrors, and magic have been released upon the world by the shift in energy. The undercurrent everywhere is fear and persecution. It’s in this environment that a brother and sister get separated, a monk leaves home to seek the Beast, and witch hunts are a daily occurance; all these separate plotlines converge in a giant battle of good vs. evil. The heart of this book is good guys against bad guys, but the good guys get confused, the bad guys change their minds, and the whole situation degenerates into a complete shitstorm, figuratively speaking. Literally speaking, it’s great reading.

This is a dark and secretive novel, but beautifully and delicately written. The worst-case scenario is usually the one that plays out, and all the characters struggle constantly between their wants, duties, and vices. It’s mentally tiring to keep up with all the burdens the characters have to bear. It goes both ways: I think some of the ever-present despondency I sensed was just my own brain projecting my feelings onto the scenes. I like when this happens, because I feel like I’m deeply connecting with the author and the story.

The book mixes some Native American and Christian lore in with new stuff, and some of the regions and countries retain their present-day names, which make familiar anchors for the reader in this otherwise foreign new fantasy world. Each character’s story and background are revealed in media res, through flashbacks and small tidbits revealed here and there. Infuriating at times, when something is revealed at the end of the story when crises would have been averted had it been mentioned at the beginning, but basically foolproof for making the reader stay up long past her bedtime.

The Bottom Line: Read it if you want to try out some dark fantasy with familiar elements to make it easy.

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Whole World Blind

March 16, 2010 at 8:55 pm (review) (, , , )

Whole World Blind by Michael Mefford. Available at Smashwords.com.

Summary: “One man trudges forward, his life in ruins. A psychiatrist, he’s done his best to guide others, but some of his guidance has gone wrong. Very wrong. One man lost his mother to suicide and was left with a monstrous father. He vows revenge on the psychiatrist that turned his childhood into a nightmare.”

Score: 2.9/5

This is a dark, psychological thriller with a crazy serial killer who focuses his efforts on the doctor whom he blames for his mother’s death.

I started to have a problem with this book when the main character, Dr. Carson, has no problem giving the police the names of and details about his former patients. The police are able to walk into a family planning clinic and ask where the files are and if they can see them, and the manager of said clinic freely admits the files aren’t locked up, and she proceeds to let the police paw through them. The conclusion I must draw here is that this book was written before the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act was passed in 1996, and indeed before any concept of doctor-patient confidentiality, which is part of the Hippocratic oath. Either that, or it is simply a grievous oversight by the author or a way to cut corners.

Any person trained to work in a hospital, doctor’s office, or pharmacy knows to never give out any patient information, unless a compelled by a court order. People make mistakes, but Satan would be ice skating to work before any police officer was just casually granted permission to look through patient records. This may not be important to you, and it only affects part of the story, but to me, this is like saying rocks roll uphill or the sun sets in the east.

Some creative thinking could have been practiced to circumvent this very real dilemma. The female cop could have seduced Dr. Carson into telling her the names. Bribery or threats could have been used. Anything except a simple asking and granting of permission. Even a single sentence: “Once the court order went through, they drove over to the clinic…” etc. As is, it takes credibility away from the whole novel.

I think the story could have been a little spicier. The police happen to guess everything right the first time. No spoilers, but one of the conclusions they came to was, I thought, pretty remote. This book could easily be a hundred pages longer if a few more people were questioned, the killer taunted Dr. Carson at the hospital a bit more, or more background about Dr. Carson’s life was given, rather than only the info pertaining to his car accident. I got a sense of the whole thing just being rushed.

As a thriller, Whole World Blind fell a little short for me. There are some suspenseful parts, but they are so brief that it’s impossible to savor them. The story idea is good, and once the author’s writing muscle is exercised a little, I think a lot of incredibly creepy and suspenseful stories will be produced. The end of this book is left open to a sequel, and if one comes I’d check it out.

If anyone’s ever wondered about what goes on inside the head of a writer Thomas Harris when he writes about Hannibal the Cannibal, you’ll feel the same way about Michael Mefford. Some people just have a talent for deliberately expressionless delivery of shocking information, and he is one of them.

The Bottom Line: I’d recommend it if you want a quick read, and you like the police procedural/serial killer genre.

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Jason Dark Series

March 4, 2010 at 12:34 am (Uncategorized) (, , , )

Jason Dark: Ghost Hunter is a new series of gothic horror novellas written by Guido Henkel, a former computer game designer and programmer.

Summary:Where fog shrouds the streets of Victorian England, where evil lurks behind street corners and nightmares dance in the souls of men, comes the Geisterjäger. Descended from an ancestral line of ghost hunters, Jason Dark is the Geisterjäger of his generation. Facing the horrors, the demons, the vampires, the werecreatures, and every other diabolical monster imaginable on behalf of a more civilized world. Risking his own life, sanity, and soul, Dark faces unmentionable terror – perhaps even the Devil himself. Join the Ghost Hunter in his arcane and ethereal exploits – unless, of course, you’re afraid of the Dark.”

At the author’s invitation, I read the first three volumes of this series. Each volume has ghost hunter Jason Dark and crew battling evil creatures and helping a few people in the process.

Volume one: Demon’s Night
Volume two: Theater of Vampires
Volume three: Ghosts Templar

Story: 3.5/5. All three stories were interesting and fast-paced. Each story builds on the one previous, but I don’t think it would be absolutely necessary to read them in order, if circumstances didn’t allow it. I liked the characters but I wanted to know more about Jason Dark. There’s no explanation of his ghost hunter title, but perhaps it will be revealed in another volume. From the description of the series, and from the beginning of the first story, I was expecting Dark to be a Victorian-era James Bond. He has a scary job, he’s the right age, and he has a laboratory in his flat. Cool, right? But it’s not until the second volume that anything is actually made in the lab, and most of the time Dark seems like an alarmingly average bachelor instead of the rugged warrior type I was expecting.

In “Demon’s Night,” Dark acquires a sidekick of sorts, whom I like very much. Instead of a Sherlock Holmes/Dr. Watson type dynamic, where one party is subordinate to the other, Jason Dark and Siu Lin are on more equal ground, with each bringing completely separate areas of expertise to the table.

“Theater of Vampires” was my favorite of these three adventures. In “Ghosts Templar,” Dark and Siu Lin travel to a different setting which keeps the storyline fresh and lets the reader see how they do out of their normal element.

Editing: Suffice it to say, the grammar and usage in these novellas aren’t perfect. I don’t want to beat a dead horse over it but they need an editor’s eye. I do feel that the usage problems diminished from the first to the third volume.

The Bottom Line: These novellas are a fast, entertaining read. They’re more scary and suspenseful than they are gory. There are a few bloody scenes, but I think they would be fine for young adults over 13. Of course, use your own discretion.

You can visit the author’s website, which includes the books as well as Jason Dark merchandise and news about the series. www.JasonDarkSeries.com

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Thin Blood

February 26, 2010 at 3:27 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

Thin Blood by Vicki Tyley.

I heard of this book when the author kindly brought it to everyone’s attention at mobileread.com.

Available for $3.97 at Smashwords.com.

Summary: “A stockbroker’s wife disappears. Blood on his hands and an adulterous affair with the missing woman’s younger sister sees him charged with murder. With no body and only circumstantial evidence he walks free. Ten years later, journalist Jacinta Deller decides to investigate, only to become embroiled in a warped game of delusion and murder.”

Story score: 4.5/5. This is one novel I grudged putting down, even to sleep or get on with household chores. The characters are believable, especially the protagonist, Jacinta Deller. She’s a woman whose drive to succeed in the workplace sometimes overshadows her personal relationships, but through her struggles she’s never trite or helpless. It would be fabulous if this were a series, so we could find out more about how things turn out with Jacinta and her stepbrother.

Editing score: 5/5. Thin Blood looks great and reads great. Word choice is varied and sentence and paragraph structures are interesting. Nothing to complain about!

Style score: 5/5. It’s written in a style that makes you forget you’re reading at all. The story flows so easily that before you know what’s happened, fifty pages are gone. It practically reads itself.

The author is brilliant at giving exactly enough detail, for example: time drags when Jacinta is home alone at night and hearing noises outside (as it should), but the details of Jacinta’s work day that don’t have much of a bearing on the story are finished in one paragraph. Overall Thin Blood moves at a nice canter from person to person and incident to incident.

The Big Picture: This comes highly recommended from me. If you like murder mysteries, female sleuths, or both, this is a must-read. I thought I had the mystery solved until the very end, but I was wrong.

I will definitely be telling my friends about this book.

Visit the author’s website at vickityley.com to receive a Smashwords coupon code to download this book free! Good through February 28, 2010.

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