A NOTE ON IMPARTIALITY To be clear, Matthew Adams is a friend of mine, and any readers of this review will have to make their own judgements about itsA NOTE ON IMPARTIALITY To be clear, Matthew Adams is a friend of mine, and any readers of this review will have to make their own judgements about its impartiality. For my part, I try to be objective and evaluate everything I read on its own merits. I can be very hard to please—just ask my crit partners.
DESCRIPTION Alannah Brynne is a Touchstone, a being who endures the burden of raw human emotions gifted to her by the Gatherers. Her only solace lies in her Winnowing, a release from the torment of feelings she bears.
Her devotion to Eamon, a Light Gatherer, cannot overcome her distrust of his kind, nor dispel the bitter loneliness she feels.
One day she meets a human in Central Park, where she went to be alone. Instead, he draws her picture as a Sleeping Beauty, surrounded by thorns . . .
Enticed by a chance to masquerade as a human and liberate herself from her own sense of fate, Alannah develops a secret relationship with the young artist, Liam Griffin. Yet as they grow closer and she realizes Liam is falling for her, she feels torn by her deceptions to him, as well as by her own lingering love for Eamon.
MY IMPRESSIONS First, let me say this is a thoughtful, moving, and involving read, but how to review a book like Glowstar? I don't want to discuss specifics of the characters or the plot, as the unravelling of the mystery is where the book's appeal lies. Its genre? There are elements of urban paranormal and romance, but the style is definitely literary. The plot? For me, this is a book of moods and feelings. If you are looking for a book where lots of stuff happens, then this isn't it; it isn't thrash metal or light and breezy pop—think of it more as a classical symphony or possibly an ambient CD. There are themes and movements, interlinked by threads and phrases, which make up the lyrical prose. It is an intimate story about relationships outside of humanity, yet that mirror our own. It is about identity and self-discovery. It is about closeness and detachment. It is about hope, love and loss, and about finding happiness and contentment in life within the boundaries that confine us. It is about mortality, and living with it. It is about choices—coming to terms rather than overcoming. Glowstar is introverted, never extrovert. To read Glowstar is to experience a journey, not an adventure.
If you have reached this point in the review and I have done my job, you are thinking one of two things: either you are intrigued, or you are feeling frustrated and you are looking at your screen thinking, "Get on with it! When are you going to tell me what's going on? When is something going to happen? When do we get to the action, to the reveal?" If you are in the latter camp, then I can say, with reasonable certainty, that you will probably find Glowstar slow and frustrating.
I'm not in the latter camp—if you enjoy intimacy, mood, symbolism, subtle dialogue, effective use of setting, and solid characterisation that work together seamlessly to create a sense of the ethereal, a sense of otherness and mystery, then you will find Glowstar a very rewarding read. It is because of the mystery and intimacy of Alannah's experiential and emotional journey that the book has the power to move the reader. Matthew Adams paints word pictures with artistry and subtly blended tones on a small canvas. This tale drops you into Alannah's world, and then gently draws you deeper. The book does not give up its secrets easily, but when it does, each is another careful brush stroke that adds greater perspective to what is already there rather than turning everything upside down in a tumult of new events, characters or shock revelations.
I will not give away the ending, but I will say it is beautiful and bittersweet, and handled with intelligence and sensitivity. As a piece of writing Glowstar is a crescendo—a slow building of themes and subtleties toward a triumphant climax. The mysteries of the story are laid bare, with a few surprises, but these surprises interweave seamlessly with what has gone before and add depth and meaning to the preceding narrative. For me, the ending is the fulcrum on which the book's success pivots—without it, the subtleties would be interesting, but leave the reader in a mire of tangled threads. However, the narrative is pulled together skilfully; each thread is illuminated in such a way that the beauty of the whole pattern can be seen allowing the reader to step back and digest the experience. It may sound clichéd to say reading Glowstar is an "experience", but it is one of those haunting books that stays with you a long time after you turn the final page.
OVERALL Highly recommended for the thoughtful and patient reader—5 out of 5 stars....more
This is a collection of nine short stories by male and female authors. The title may give the impression that the stories are very similar—in commonThis is a collection of nine short stories by male and female authors. The title may give the impression that the stories are very similar—in common they do have a dark tone and, obviously, demons—but there is a refreshing range of genre, theme and writing style to be found.
Deal, by Karen Davies The anthology starts with a light fantasy action / adventure feel. A thief takes refuge from his pursuer in some ancient ruins, but he finds he isn’t the only being inside—he meets an imp who is a tormentor of scribes and a collector of quills. This short has some good characterisation and snappy dialogue that held my interest. The twist at the end is well executed.
Inheritance, by Phil Hickes Stark and atmospheric; a son returns to his families’ mouldering estate after reading his deceased grandfather’s letter. Posthumously, his grandfather fills him in on the history of the estate and the onerous duty that comes with it. There is an effective dialogue between the dead man, via the letter, and the grandson as he reads it—the clash of mystical olde-worlde values and self-assured new world cynicism works well. There are two likely endings, but the execution of the last scenes keeps the one the author chose feeling fresh.
Serpent’s Kiss, by Krista Walsh This is the hottest of the demon stories, with a believable chemistry between the two ‘romantic’ protagonists. It is well written with an economic fluid style, and the sexual tension is built with enough skill that the writing doesn’t need to be explicit to hold the reader’s interest—an effective and enjoyable update of the succubus myth.
Sam & The Spear, by Gary Bonn This one stands out from the others as its style is very different. A boy, into role-playing, finds himself thrown into a situation where he must play the hero for real. A strange mix of dreamscape coupled with an almost YA style of writing—it is imaginative, but for me, not as well executed as some of the other stories. The simplicity of the writing and the ending lends charm—still an enjoyable read.
Numen, by V. Đ. Griesdoorn Imaginative, but I found the writing style difficult in places—the piece is sprinkled with, what were for me, awkwardly phrased sentences: “Stacey switched on the overhead kerosene lamp with a switch near the door.” The story is stronger—a child grown to adulthood returning to discover a parental legacy—her deceased father had a gift for making things. How she pieces together the mystery is quite intriguing, although some of the physics and the ending are a little woolly. The midsection works well though—there is pace there, and engaging ideas throughout.
City of Light and Stone, by Laura Diamond One of the most involving protagonists of the anthology can be found here. An anti-hero tortured and in thrall to his master, he must murder to escape his damnation. For a story of this length it is very well characterised and well written. The premise is imaginative, although I was left feeling a little unclear as to how the underlying theology works—but that may be due to the twisted perceptions of the main character. The theme, that we have more to do with our own damnation than any entity, is nicely handled—almost an adult Grimm morality tale. A good read.
Cost of Glory, by Edward Drake A well-written classic fantasy anti-hero returns home story. If you could distil any modern fantasy epic by taking out the travelling and stir in a little Conan, you would end up with something like Cost of Glory. The ending wasn’t especially surprising, but the characters, setting, pace and action are all well handled.
A Mother’s Love, by James M. Mazzaro One of the strongest stories of the nine, it packs an impressive number of twists into its short length. It is great to read about a female hero who is intelligent and believable. Willing to pay any price for a child, she decides to play a demon at his own game. Convincing and well put together.
The Devil and Mrs Milton, by Sarah Anne Langton Possibly the most haunting and memorable, and not just because it is the last. Sarah Anne Langton demonstrates real artistry as a writer—she isn’t afraid to go off the beaten track in terms of story or style. We spend most of the time reminiscing with an old woman, but it is written with enough skill and flair the experience is engaging, not boring. As the story closes, with an unavoidable and unwelcome visitor, there is a genuine sense of tension and concern for the fate of the main character.
OVERALL This is a disparate collection of short stories, but because of the strong central theme they sit comfortably alongside each other. With anything from an indie publisher the question of production quality is often raised—generally I found DoD to be on par with some traditionally published books. There are some typos, but not enough to detract from the reading experience. The quality of the stories varies from fair to excellent, but none are a waste of your time or money. If you love the smell of sulphur in the morning and want something brimming with creativity to put a little fire in your belly, this is probably it....more
In this, her debut work for adults, writer S.L. Coelho weaves a rich tapestry of impending threat,Tense, layered and engaging - well worth a read.
In this, her debut work for adults, writer S.L. Coelho weaves a rich tapestry of impending threat, action, claustrophobic interpersonal drama, and expansive setting into a highly engaging read.
Everything starts out innocently enough with the main protagonist, Mike, his girlfriend and friend, out planting trees for cash around Black Loon Lake. S.L. Coelho effectively builds the tension in classic disaster movie fashion, letting the reader in on information about recent events around the lake the characters know nothing of. She intertwines the three main themes of character verses environment, interpersonal strife, and the arrival of a notorious sex offender in the area very well. This is coupled this with some vivid descriptions, an effective sense of place, and well paced action scenes - the story layers conflict on top of impending danger on top of looming menace until the reader genuinely doesn't know which way the narrative will go.
As their trip to the wilds degenerates, the reader's relationship with the characters also changes as initial impressions are proven false and the character's expected roles and alliances shift in a convincing manner in response to the dangers they face and what they discover about themselves and each other.
For me, it was the atmosphere, layering and subtly that I enjoyed most about the story. Recommended....more
In this short story Jen Wylie has managed to preserve the feeling of a fairy tale / nursery rhyme with her use of simple, yet effective, prose. SheIn this short story Jen Wylie has managed to preserve the feeling of a fairy tale / nursery rhyme with her use of simple, yet effective, prose. She juxtaposes this successfully with a modern setting and characters leaving an intriguing contemporary feel with the reader at the story's end.
Being a short story, the reader stays with the main character throughout. Fortunately Aaron is likable and interesting, absorbed by his love of music and loyalty to his family.
Shay, Aaron's antagonist, also intrigues. He is portrayed well, balancing an apparent friendliness with an enigmatic self-interest leaving both Aaron and the reader unsure as to where they stand with him. Aaron's reactions to Shay's strangeness ring true, as does the rationale that their shared love of music can still hold them together.
In common with some of Grimm's tales this one has a sweet innocent beginning, but like a thriller film score the tune that it weaves becomes darker as it continues until... well, you'll just have to read it.
For me the main appeal was the 'feel' of the piece, which Ms. Wylie's writing evoked so well....more
This book is a charming, engaging, and imaginative story on one level, but with a necessarily darker tone than some children’s books that enables theThis book is a charming, engaging, and imaginative story on one level, but with a necessarily darker tone than some children’s books that enables the discussion of the danger from strangers between parent and child...
The Story: In the second book in the series, the adventures of the pair of child-magicians continue, as this time they venture into the dark depths of the attic in search of a wand for Julia. Living in such a magically charged house it is, perhaps, unsurprising when things do not go according to plan and they spot a large shadow on the wall. When the large shadow disappears into the wall Mikolay, as curious and impulsive as ever, decides to follow. Julia, although afraid, reluctantly goes too, knowing Mikolay will likely get himself into trouble and need her help.
There they find a strange circus, filled with of cages full of hungry children and badly treated animals. Milkolay and Julia discover they have all been imprisoned by the mysterious and evil Strangers, the owners of the circus. Our heroic duo resolve to free everyone, and every beast, and get them home. Will Mikolay and Julia be captured themselves? Will they have to choose between freeing the children and the animals? What will the evil Strangers do, if they find our dauntless heroes? Read the book to find out more!
Overall: Despite some caveats, my son and I both thoroughly recommend this book. He loved the story, and I found it an incredibly helpful way to teach him something about the real world that I wish I never had to.