This is Hoagland's first full length novel, a Bronze Age sword and sorcery setting comprised of anthropomorphic animals. The story follows a young cou...moreThis is Hoagland's first full length novel, a Bronze Age sword and sorcery setting comprised of anthropomorphic animals. The story follows a young cougar barbarian named Brennus who is tasked by a fertility mother goddess to recover a meteorite filled with iron ore before the ore can be used to make weapons. Vying for the secrets of the ore is the head priest of cult to a new tyrannical god. Brennus's quest ties him to Tazia, a serval thief, slave girls, a wandering wizard and craftsmen looking to take the ore for themselves.
First off, this book is very sexual. In the setting sex and nudity are out there and open. Which is not uncommon for the Howard-esque S&S genre, but there are also descripted sex scenes every few pages. There are perhaps 10 sex scenes in a 160 page book, but each individual scene isn't very long. There are also interior illustrations with nudity.
The high points: there is a decent amount of regular violence and fantasy action - the most of any furry fandom book to date - of 5-6 scenes. The dialogue is fun, the prose is satisfying enough, and the plot is solid. The setting is also interesting in passing, but we don't learn that much about it. There's also a little bit of humor that works. The illustrations are nice but don't add much overall.
The low points: the plot lacts any real tension or suspense, as the villains of the story are neither in a rush nor are that threatening. There is a bit of a Deus Ex Machina at the end, but it's not too bad and makes for an interesting final scene. The amount of sex actually distracts from the story, because there's just too much of it. While there is a lot of species variety in the book, there is so much that it seems as though species were randomly chosen.
Overall the book is not bad, worth an afternoon read. Compared to Hoagland's Tales of Perissa (vol. 1 and 2) it is a step down however, as the short stories are stronger because they're shorter, have more life to them, and aren't bogged down with sex. (less)
While I appreciate the effort of this story, I feel it didn't work.
Beyond the knowledge that "something is going to happen" because it's tagged as a h...moreWhile I appreciate the effort of this story, I feel it didn't work.
Beyond the knowledge that "something is going to happen" because it's tagged as a horror story, there was little reason for me to keep reading; the story is dull. Very little indication that anything untoward is going on, no build-up of any creep factor. It's just 'story of people helping other people, more of the same, more of the same... BAM TWIST ENDING."
And while yes, there is in fact a twist ending I didn't see coming, when I look back over the story the second time, the characters' behaviors seem less consistent given what I now know.
Pucket's writing is at least sound - the prose is nice and the characterization works, but my issue is more with the 90% before the twist ending, not the last 10%. The build-up is poor and the characters actions do not support the ending.(less)
It's easy to write a glowing review about something awesome, and it's easy to write a review about something that's awful. It's another thing entirely...moreIt's easy to write a glowing review about something awesome, and it's easy to write a review about something that's awful. It's another thing entirely to write about something that that is not quite good enough, that could be better, that is ultimately flawed but promising.
Basecraft Cirrostratus is set in a 1930s-style world, about a cougar named Elor who flees a harsh regime to a flying airport where he falls in with a bad crowd, as well as his ex-boyfriend, getting tangled up with killings, gun running and a love triangle. All around international intrigue. The setting reminds me of Bioshock and its criminal underbelly, had Rapture been in the sky rather than the sea.
Sounds promising, doesn't it? Well it is promising. That's the thing. It's a wonderful setting. The story itself is nice - some real Coincidences, some things that don't quite make sense, but solid.
The flaw comes from the author's style. Many things draw the reader out of the story. Characterization, telling not showing, presentation, perspective, certain plot points - there are places they could have simply been better. It's clearly his first book.
But it's not bad. The author has a real talent at description, he knows his setting and he knows his technology in that setting. He knows his characters, but sometimes details their machinations a little too much. The story, as I repeat, is solid. It just could be better. Despite the flaws, I am satisfied with the story as a whole.
Despite what I say above, I do believe you should give it a chance. I am confident the author, Justin Lamar, threetails, will have a much better second book. And a third book. And a fourth. Basecraft Cirrostratus is a good first try, and it's clear the author is learning from it. I look forward to his next publication.(less)
In the first five pages we found Scott has died and he's in a new, furred body and part of some secret organization. If that sentence intrigues you th...moreIn the first five pages we found Scott has died and he's in a new, furred body and part of some secret organization. If that sentence intrigues you then you might be interested in Pile. "So we get to see what this organization does, Scot's reaction to it, and his trials and tribulations?" Well... almost.
Instead of telling you what Pile isn't, I'll first focus on what it is: a story of transition. Going from one life, one idea of identity, to a new one with new rules, no people, and a new purpose. Our primary conflict is Scott adjusting to his new body and the other characters in the same situation. Of what we see of them, the characters are easily realized, with clear and interesting personalities, and good dialogue. The story flows nicely, pulling you along without any parts where you might want to just flip through it in boredom. The story has a clear beginning and end. The book is good based on the what it is.
The problem comes in what Pile is not. It's not about anything but Scot's transition; we see nothing of the organization and Scot's role in it in action, we're really only introduced to the other characters, and then it's over. Pile reads more like the first chapter of a gripping military action novel, or the pilot of a TV series, not a stand-alone story. Rather than making me feel as though I want to know more, on the last page I felt abruptly cut off from the rest of the story. It's frustrating to see a situation cut off when things start to get Interesting.
There's two instances of sex in Pile, but each one is maybe a page, maybe two. However I will put out a warning here for those who might be squicked (also, spoiler warning): there's sex with a sentient character whose in the body of a four legged animal.
Based on the quality, I want to give this four stars. However the abruptness and shortness (and the cost) reduces that score down to 3.5 stars. (less)
I want to give this story 3.5 stars, but have rounded up to 4. It's interesting, starting good. It gets surprisingly vulgar, then weird and intriguing...moreI want to give this story 3.5 stars, but have rounded up to 4. It's interesting, starting good. It gets surprisingly vulgar, then weird and intriguing, before ending.
The shortness works in the story's favor, so that's not an issue. The sex - or rather, the focus on the main character's masturbation - was unexpected and a little jarring. The monster is neat in and of itself.
Still the story has a downside, and that is that I never feel the main character is in any sort of real Threat, so the only horror comes from the bizarre nature of what he's dealing with, not because it may mean (shower)curtains for him.
I found this book kind of dull. Far, far too much about the characters than I wanted to know, and not enough of the monsters. It picks up in the last...moreI found this book kind of dull. Far, far too much about the characters than I wanted to know, and not enough of the monsters. It picks up in the last third, but still The Narrows felt like a slog, more focused on the stagnation and death of small towns than focused on the murder of its characters.
The design of the creatures are actually rather interesting, when all the details are brought out. Far more interesting than your typical vampire. Sadly we don't get to see much of the thing behind it all, and as monster stories go it's kind of disappointing.
I will say Malfi can turn a phrase. "Her voice had the squeaky, broken quality of a badly dented trumpet." I read a sentence like that and just smile. Although there are only a few gems like this in the book.
The good points here: the character narrative. You get an actual feel of how Romero, the main character, thinks and talks and a solid idea of him. The...moreThe good points here: the character narrative. You get an actual feel of how Romero, the main character, thinks and talks and a solid idea of him. The dialogue is varied enough that no one character sounds alike, so even the side characters who appear on a page stand out. Another strong point is Curran's descriptions - how the monster sounds, how characters feel - all are nicely visceral. Finally the pages move quickly - I could not put it down, and found myself breezing through the story. Also I enjoy the situation of a murderous monster set loose inside a prison.
The bad points: Far, far too much telling and not enough showing with regards to the prison. We are told time and again how awful it is, and in some cases the same lines repeated (three times he mentions how hot it is in the summer and cold in the winter, in nearly the same language). It would have been nice to actually see just how brutal and vicious the prison is by way of character behavior. Also Curran is repetitive in his descriptions - every single time he tells us in great detail about the primal fear the guards are having. Descriptions of feelings go on and on.
The plot is fairly simplistic and resolves easily enough. That's not necessarily a bad thing, given the shortness of the piece, although I didn't feel any real pressure or suspense as the story moved on. The creature is interesting enough, although some of the How is not explained very well.
Given the ebook is $3, it's worth the price of admission.(less)