Wednesday, November 8, 2023

 Fancy Something A Little Different?

Vita Nostra

When I first began to read this story, I must admit, I had difficulty adjusting to its style and some of the phraseology used. But, remembering this is a translation from another language, (Russian), I persisted. And I’m glad I did, for what started off as a dissonant, tongue-tripping slog smoothed out into a magic carpet ride of an intellectual adventure.
Vita Nostra – Latin for Our Life – tells the story of Sasha Samokhina, a teenage girl living at home with her mother, who stands at a crossroads. She must soon decide her future. Does she go off to university as everyone expects to become a tiny cog in part of the big machine that is society, or should she strive for something better?
It’s as she ponders that conundrum that she meets the mysterious Farit Kozhennikov. A man who knows more than he’s letting on, and someone who seems able to compel her to carry out ridiculous tasks as a way of measuring her character.
Whatever that special something is, Sasha has it, and she is offered the opportunity of attending an obscure place of learning nobody seems to have heard of: The Institute of Special Technology.
Sasha accepts that placement against her mother’s wishes, and discovers to her cost how different the institute is.
I’m never one to give away the plot, so all I’ll say is . . .
What follows is a deeply intimate and skilful exposition that deals with – dependent upon your viewpoint and character – some of the major hurdles/stepping stones in life: the nature of reality; the influence of philosophy; the true magic of mysticism; the power of faith – and how all these factors combined can lead to a metamorphosis of self beyond our wildest dreams.
Far from tripping over my hypothetical tongue, I ended up skating through a thought provoking – if disquieting – tale, one that should appeal to the chrysalis in all of us

Friday, October 27, 2023

 359 Today!

28th October, 1664

A date no brother will ever forget.

Raising a glass - the wide world over 

Thursday, October 19, 2023

 The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of


As followers of my blog will know, I’m something of a Neil Gaiman fan. So, when I stumble upon a story that reminds me of his work? Well, I’m all in. And James Brogden does just that in, Tourmaline, a thoroughly absorbing novel that helps you to escape the confines of this life and its troubles . . .

As the blurb highlights:


The Tourmaline Archipelago is a place of wonder and grotesquerie which exists on the other side of our dreams. In our sleep we sail its seas and walk the streets of its cities like phantoms. Sometimes we bring back souls from the other side when we wake. Lost, confused, and possessed of powers which leak through from their home, these exiles are pursued by the mysterious Hegemony, which seeks to enslave them. When a woman appears who exists in both worlds simultaneously, she must run for her life from enemies who will tear apart the boundaries of existence and plunge each into chaos in order to possess her abilities.


Yes, how often have we wished it was possible to escape the troubles that crowd in on us every day, by escaping to a dream world where life exists as one great adventure?

Well guess what?

That dream world exists. But the thing is, if you do find yourself winding up there, there’s every likelihood you’ll be desperate to get home as quickly as you can.


Ah, I’ll let the blurb tease you – and James Brogden himself explain in detail as you go tread warily through the pages – because you’ll find Tourmaline to be an ethereal journey that twists reality in the most deliciously despicable way. (Think Clive Barker’s, Weaveworld & Neil Gaiman’s, Neverwhere, and you’ll be on the right track.

It’s abstract and compulsive; complex, yet easy to follow; and as delightful to read as it is refreshingly different. I loved the concept Brogden dreamed-up for this story. Action. Adventure. Damsels in distress. Heroes in the making discovering what they’re made of. Secret societies and mysterious government agencies out to get you. And insidiously deceptive monsters. NEVER forget the monsters . . . no matter how friendly they might appear.

And better still, a large part of the story is based in my hometown of Birmingham. I’ve walked, driven, visited the places mentioned in this story, so it helped me connect on a personal level to the events depicted within the pages. And you’ll be able to do that too, no matter where you call home, as Brogden’s writing style is as appealing as it is satisfying.

Why not treat yourselves to a trip into the Tourmaline Archipelago. It might be a one-way trip you’ll never regret.

amazon Review

Saturday, October 7, 2023

 Looking For Something Speculative To Read?

Then look no further
Legion Press

Filled with a smorgasbord of stories from a multitude of writers.
There'll be something here for everyone. So, don't be afraid to take a bit.

(Featuring my own little contribution - Hindsight)
A cautionary tale about looking before you leap

Thursday, October 5, 2023

 Time to Kill?

How About a God?

The Killing God

I’ve been a fan of Stephen Donaldson for forty-five years. (Yes, I’m old) So, as you can imagine, this final book of The Great God’s War series has been on my reading list for some time. And believe me, it was well worth the wait, as the blurb highlights. . .


They are coming.

The kingdoms of Belleger and Amika had been fighting for generations. But then they learned of a terrible threat moving through them to destroy the Last Repository, an immense hidden library. To face this greater enemy, King Bifalt of Belleger and Queen Estie of Amika allied their lands and prepared for war.

They are at the door.

Now the time of preparation is over. Black ships and sorcery test the cannon that defend the Bay of Lights. Treachery and betrayal threaten the kingdoms. The priests of the Great God Rile sow dissent. And Estie rides for the Last Repository, desperate to enlist the help of their Magisters-and to understand the nature of her own magical gift.

They are here.

Bifalt hates sorcery as much as he loves Estie, and the discovery that she could become a Magister shatters him. But he must rally and fight. Belleger and Amika are all that stand between the Great God's forces and his ultimate goal: the destruction of the Last Repository and its treasure of knowledge.


The blurb paints a bleak picture for the people of Belleger and Amika. As well it should. Rile has been planning this war for decades, and during that time, has insidiously inserted his agents throughout the land in preparation for the arrival of his forces.

An apt analogy, as it conveys the vibe of the entire story perfectly. Donaldson is the master of the slow burn, as he so aptly demonstrates throughout the first two books of the series: Seventh Decimate and The War Within. And here, in The Killing God, he continues that vibe, but with a delicious twist.

Relentless, building tension and rolling action. Action that actually maintains its momentum throughout the entire story without becoming exhausting. So, kudos there!

Yes, the great god Rile has arrived, and within a few chapters, we are plunged into a war of attrition where the seemingly endless wave of invaders can afford to waste themselves against King Bifalt’s defenses. A tactic that soon overwhelms everything Bifalt and Estie have fought so long to build.

I absolutely adored this story. As always, Donaldson manages to capture the anguish each of his characters have to face; their fears; their own shortcomings and desperation as they struggle to meet challenges they can’t possibly hope to survive. Yet meet them they do – not always successfully, mind you – in a battle for survival that is as rich, detailed and unconventional as you could imagine. In doing so, Donaldson draws you into the struggles of those characters, so that you end up cheering for them, or, as the case may be, cursing their weaknesses and failure to live up to what’s expected of them. Superb stuff. And therein lies the magic.

This is an epic fantasy, after all. Yet Donaldson works his arts, so that make-believe becomes believable. Credible, even, in a profoundly satisfying way.

If you’ve never read Stephen Donaldson, then make sure you add him to your list. It’ll be a lifelong commitment you’ll never regret.

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Latest Review for The IX

Ever wondered what happened to those lost Roman Legionnaires? What about the US cavalry, engaged in a secret mission for President Lincoln? And whatever happened to the Special Forces Unit from a future time who disappeared during their mission to stop a nuclear disaster?

The IX has the answers and they are out of this world. Literally.

I gotta say, this fascinated me. What a great way to explain the disappearance of thousands. And what a world the author built.

At the point of death, these people were whisked away to a distant galaxy by an alien race. The inhabitants of that planet are being killed off and face extinction. They need warriors, now. Told they fight or die, these people must work together, live by the code, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” if they are going to survive.

There’s no going back. There’s only the the Horde, an enemy that doesn’t hesitate to die by the thousands. They must be stopped or all perish. And what’s to stop them from finding Earth and doing to us what they are doing to these beings? And then to another planet, and another.

What a movie this would be! I’d kill, just kidding, to have a part in it. Even as an ugly Kresh!

My description is simplified. There’s so much happening. This book comes in at a whopping 565 pages. But don’t let that deter you. By the time you reach the end, you’ll be wishing it was longer.

Though I stumbled over some of the alien names and terms, laughed at my own attempts to pronounce them, I quickly came to recognize them, along with the numerous human characters. There are a lot, yet it doesn’t take long to recognize the individual voices.

The plot for The IX is mind blowing. The author gives you many sub plots, plenty of history, and an amazing world to explore. He was able to make this all flow easily. You’ll fly through this in to time.

The writing is superb. Ever read a book and see the entire story play out like on the big screen. Except for not being too sure what those nasty Kresh looked like, I could see this in vivid color and detail. Imagination is a wonderful thing, as is this authors talent.


See the Review on Site Here

Friday, August 25, 2023

 Do YOU Like Stories With Bite?

Mutation – When Darkness Falls

This second installment of the When Darkness Falls series – Mutation, deals with the immediate aftermath of the creature outbreak, as the blurb highlights:


Since the appearance of the alien creatures the world has drastically changed. Electricity still has not been restored and people are panicking. The creatures that hadn’t fled the area to chase the moon, were hiding in the shadows while guarding their offspring.

Infected people are growing ill and morphing into something sinister. Losing their humanity, their only instinct is the primal need to feed their insatiable hunger.


Yes, if ravenous, bloodthirsty creatures and their taserlike little offspring weren’t enough of a problem for the survivors to deal with, they now have to contend with the consequences of getting bitten.

Fever sets in, highlighting the spread of an infection that turns normal everyday people into savage automatons with only one thing on their minds: feeding. 

As you can imagine, this allows the fast and furious pace of the first novel to continue, and as the number of main characters begins to gradually decline, you’re better able to keep track of where the overall story arc is heading. Yes, there’s obviously more to this ‘invasion’ than meets the eye. However, Hollstein has wisely avoided the temptation to give everything away too quickly. Instead, we get enticing clues as to bigger picture, and what’s in store for the dwindling number of survivors who don’t seem to have a hope in hell of seeing another day. . .

Or do they?

Find out for yourselves in a story that definitely has bite!

Thursday, August 17, 2023

 Fangtastic Fun

See My Review of. . .

Awakened – When Darkness Falls


I do like a story that grounds itself in an element of truth. And it’s fair to say, global warming is a big issue at the moment. The ice caps are melting, and as they do so, scientists are discovering ancient bacteria and other life forms that are capable of regenerating. Even now, after so many millennia.

Well, M. A Hollstein builds on that concept, and takes it one stage further. . .

As the blub highlights:


Awakened, after millions of years of imprisonment, a prehistoric alien threat has been freed and is now wreaking havoc on the earth. Becoming more powerful by draining electricity all over the planet, the earth is plunged into darkness making humanity more vulnerable than ever.

Follow several groups of people on the first night of their journey in this apocalyptic adventure. Little do they know that this is just the beginning. Something more sinister is about to emerge, changing life as they know it.


This was most pleasing dip into the horror side of science fact mixed with science/horror fiction, because. . .
Well, you never know what we might uncover if the ice caps keep melting.

And in this case, it’s a promising story that gets right into the action from the outset, and keeps going until the very last page.

Now, please be aware, you’ll be introduced to a lot of characters in this story. A lot. But M. A Hollstein does a good job of holding things together so you don’t lose place of what’s happening; to who; and where. And she also engages you enough so that you start to build a relationship with those characters. Some you’ll root for. Some, you’ll cheer when they meet a grizzly end. And others you can’t wait for to hurry up and die because they are that aggravating. (So you see, you get a good mix).
And better still, the story rounds off to the point where you have a basic understanding what’s happening. . .
And now you’re looking forward to finding out why and how things are going to evolve.

Fangtastic fun! Go on, enjoy yourself.

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

 No Bubbles Required in This Review Of. . .


In this third book of the Bloodshot series, the chaos caused by multidimensional misdeeds begins to unravel everywhichway at once . . . and, as the title so aptly highlights, everything turns into a bloodbath:


After being shot, left for dead, and dumped into a parallel dimension by the universe-hopping murderer and drug dealer Wyatt Kole, SFPD Sgt. Randy Dexter survives and makes a life for himself among strangers with familiar faces. With Captain Sean McGrath’s help, he is back on the force, and within three months promoted to lieutenant. He’s also dating Gemma, the girl whose murder he was investigating in his former life. Here in this reality, she is alive and well. Although she still works with the Wyatt Kole of this world, she has broken romantic ties with the physicist. Life is good. But that’s all about to change.

People are suddenly turning into flesh-eating, bloodthirsty cannibals; the psychotropic drug Bloodshot has somehow stalked him to this new dimension. Has the Wyatt Kole of this world followed in his counterpart’s footsteps or has another Kole come to this universe, bringing murder and mayhem with him? Either way, Gemma’s in danger.

Dexter and McGrath race to Kole’s but what they find is even more horrifying than they expected. Kole—not Gemma—is the one lying on the kitchen floor, shot and bleeding out. A portal to another universe is still open, and the murderer is making good her escape, a murderer with the face of the girl Dexter loves but now with a look of insanity in her bleeding eyes. As Gemma steps through the portal, she turns and fires, wounding McGrath. The next instant she disappears. And within that same instant, before the portal can close, Dexter follows. To somehow save Gemma from the effects of a new and even deadlier strain of Bloodshot, he must navigate a sea of familiar strangers. But can he save her? The only other alternative is to kill her, for she must somehow be stopped. Because in her wake is a bloodbath of half-eaten corpses.


Fred Wiehe ramps up the action, the tension, and your tenuous grasp on reality when worlds collide – literally! It seems everyone is hell-bent on getting their hands on the device that allows them to travel between universes. And if they also control the drug that helps facilitate the accompanying mayhem, then all the better . . . especially if they can tweak its formula to create one or two additional side effects.

I found this final book in the series was great fun. Wiehe ensures to deliver conflict, bloodshed, and thrills aplenty by altering the tempo of the ever-evolving story arc in such a way that you know there’s going to be an explosive and casualty-riddled conclusion. But as to who’ll be left standing at the end? Ah, you’ll have to find out for yourselves in an apocalyptic action adventure that will keep you guessing to the very end. 

Bloodbath. A rather apt title to a visceral series you really need to read.

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

 Fast Paced Mayhem!


This second book of the Bloodshot series, Bloodlust, ups the ante, as the saying goes. McGrath and Dexter are not only contending with their own personal demons, but they’re doing their level best to combat the spread of an insidious new drug craze, while clawing ever closer to the truth of the catalyst behind it.
And the blurb gives you a little hint at how hectic things are:


The devastating effects of the psychotropic drug Bloodshot on the San Francisco Bay Area intensifies, reaching out in all directions—up and down the peninsula and across the bay into Oakland and points farther east. Despite its deadly side effects, sales are up, and casualties continue to mount. SFPD cops Lieutenant Sean (Mac) McGrath and Sergeant Randy Dexter thought they had seen and heard it all in their long careers. But the mayhem, murder, exploding heads, and cannibalism plaguing their city is taking its toll on their resolve. Their sanity is also being tested as undeniable proof points to the existence of multiverses and a maniacal genius—world-class physicist Wyatt Kole—who has developed a device that opens portals to travel from one parallel universe to another to murder his girlfriend time and time again. Moreover, an exact duplicate of McGrath lies dead in the morgue and a body found in the Santa Cruz Mountains is identified as Professor Kole. How can that be? As impossible as it may seem, the only plausible explanation is the existence of duplicates from a parallel universe, which forces McGrath and Dexter to admit that their suspicions of Kole as a universe-hopping murderer and drug dealer are true. But they have no proof the professor murdered anyone or that he’s responsible for Bloodshot. To make matters worse, they are both fighting their own personal demons—McGrath, alcoholism and Dexter, the fear that he suffers from hallucinatory psychosis like his father. But somehow, they must overcome before Kole can open a new portal and disappear, taking Bloodshot and its horrifying bloodlust effects with him to plague yet another reality.


Yes, what to do when the only explanation for the relentless mayhem unfolding in the city makes you appear as if you need locking up in a psychiatric ward?

Rest assured, Lieutenant McGrath and Sergeant Dexter have their work cut out. All of them! (We are dealing with a multiverse hopping psycho after all). And that’s the great thing about this story, because Fred Wiehe neatly overcomes the dreaded ‘2nd book in a series dip’ by upping that ante I mentioned. The action fairly explodes everywhichway at once. And the great thing is, a rather nifty plotline helps you keep track of what’s happening, to whom, and where.

I loved it. The multiverse concept allows Wiehe to experiment with his main and supporting protagonists and antagonists, which, in turn, not only helps you see the depth and scope of their characters and the things they’re dealing with in their personal lives, but it also allows you to have fun with the story arc(s).

If you love fast-paced thrillers that are as gory as they are brutal, then you really need to give this series a go. Highly recommended.

Amazon Review

Sunday, July 16, 2023

 A Multiverse of Suspense!

See my Review of. . .


This is the first book I’ve read by Fred Wiehe, and I have to say from the outset, it won’t be the last. And really, for those who know me and my background, it’s easy to see why. As a former cop and astrophysics geek, this story has my name written all over it.

And the blurb helps you see why I’m so excited:


Do multiverses exist? And if they do, does a duplicate of each of us exist in every reality? These are questions Lieutenant Sean (Mac) McGrath and Sergeant Randy Dexter must come to terms with to solve a murder and stop the widespread use of a new psychotropic drug dubbed Bloodshot. 

Almost simultaneously, a young woman is murdered in Haight-Ashbury and this dangerous drug hits San Francisco’s streets. Taken through the retina and optic nerve, Bloodshot degrades and disrupts the neural network and central nervous system, turning people into crazed killers and bloodthirsty cannibals. Their investigation quickly takes them down a strange path that borders on science fact and science fiction, a path that reveals horrors more akin to nightmares than the real world, a path where they both begin to doubt their own already fragile sanity.

For if they are to believe the mounting evidence before them, they must also believe their prime suspect invented a device that can open portals to parallel universes, a device that enables him to travel from one realty to another and murder his ex-girlfriend time and time again—because apparently once just isn’t enough.



So, what did I think?

Well, first off, I loved it! Bloodlust is built on a great premise; it’s skillfully executed; the characters are as flawed as they are relatable; the action is delivered in wonderful energetic pulses that keep you tuning the page; and the plotline is liberally sprinkled with clues that allow you to anticipate how the story might develop. It’s superb!

It reminded me is some respect of David Walton’s Superposition, a story where advanced physics and multiverses go awry, and I can’t wait to see how things develop in the next story.
(And YOU should get to know this story too).

Thursday, July 6, 2023

 See my Review of. . .

Dark Sins

In this final book of Marcus Abshire’s Ways of the Warlock series, it looks as if Jakobus Shaw has finally bitten off more than he can chew.
As the blurb highlights:


 I’m not proud of my past, and I’m done running away from it.

The dark elf D’oreal, Lord of Endless Night and my ex-girlfriend’s father is trying to unleash a hellish nightmare on the entire world. I have to say, I don’t think that’s a good idea.

He wants my help and he’s threatening to kill my friends if I don’t give it to him. Shareal, the dark elf from a past I can’t remember, wants to stop her father’s mad scheme but trusting dark elves isn’t something a sane person would do.

I’m used to working alone, but if I want to keep a dark god of madness and death from plunging the world into the black void of insanity, I’ll need to call in a few favors.

Elder gods don’t like it when a mere human not only forsakes their power but escapes their punishment for doing so. I’ve pissed off a lot of people, monsters and creatures born from darkness, but spitting in the eye of a god is damn foolish, even for me.

My past is clouded, my future unclear, yet one thing I know for sure is that I’m not going to let anything happen to the people I care about, even if it kills me.


Yes, the past seems to have caught up with Jakobus, culminating in the mother of all stand-offs. One that nobody will walk away from.

But as we’ve come to learn, this former warlock has something of a stubborn, defiant streak. And he didn’t survive – and indeed escape – from the deep by giving up when all seems lost. Perhaps his tenacity will see him through?

One thing’s for sure, this final chapter of the series is highly entertaining. Once again the cast comes together to deliver a high-octane performance where the dialogue, humor and action all combine to set your world on fire and keep it burning to the last page. But as to who lives and who dies? Ah, you’ll have to find out for yourselves. But it truly is an epic conclusion.

I’ve really enjoyed reading this series and will be sorry to say goodbye. And isn’t that what we all want from our readers?

Amazon Review

Saturday, July 1, 2023

 If You Build It - They Will Come

(And They Do . . . You'll See)

I’ve been a fan of Jeff Crawford for a few years now. I’m particularly drawn to the mood he manages to encapsulate within whatever topic he writes about. So, when I spotted this recent release, I just had to check it out. And I was glad I did.
Apart from one of the best openings scenes I’ve ever read, the blurb only hints at the malevolence, simmering away beneath the surface. . .

See for yourself:


Appearances can be deceiving. One of the most serene and idyllic settings houses a secret that is nearly unthinkable and unimaginable.

Rob knew something was wrong, had known it for a while, but even though he waited to be told of it, his wife wasn’t saying anything. Jennifer knew why she was acting as she had been, but she was keeping it to herself, just as she had been for nearly two years.

In an effort to put things back to right, Rob shows uncharacteristic initiative and plans a three-day weekend for his wife and himself. It is his hope and prayer that the peaceful and gentle surroundings of Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley will lend themselves to be the help he needs in repairing whatever has gone wrong between them. Assuring his wife’s happiness is all he’s ever wanted to do. Now, he just needs to know how. But a much bigger problem lies in front of them. There are secrets in the valley, secrets that no one outside the small community that Rob and Jennifer find themselves stranded in are remotely aware of. Beneath the pastoral setting lies something dark and sinister that has been growing and evolving for more than a century and a half.

Relying on the kindness of strangers is all well and good, unless no kindness abides within those strangers. Little things that claw and scratch at Jennifer’s mind tell her continually that all is not as it appears to be, but when the pieces start to come together and make sense, it is already too late. The rot that surrounds the small community has, without Rob’s and Jennifer’s knowledge, already enveloped them, and made its plans for the couple.

Every detail must be taken note of, every word has to be paid attention to if an escape is to ever be possible, but more than that, trust in each other becomes a necessary evil. But can they ever trust each other ever again, after Jennifer’s own dark secrets are revealed?

Fields of Ghosts exposes things that were never meant to see the light of day. Secrets that the community kept, secrets that Jennifer kept. Coupled together, will it prove to ruin completely everything that all within the small community, including Rob and Jennifer, have ever known?


In keeping with the blurb, I will also do my best to give nothing away regarding the plot. That’ll be for you to work out as you read along. And you will. Believe me, as Crawford sprinkles the breadcrumbs for you to follow, and in doing so, not only sets the scene for what’s to come, but allows a brooding menace and an ever-present sub current to begin building and bugging away in the back of your mind. Something that calls to that part in all of us, and warns us . . . Hang on, something’s not right here.


Rob and Jennifer are an average couple, whose marriage has lost some of its original spark. In an effort to remind each other that they have something worth working for, Rob decides to plan a romantic weekend away. Something, he hopes will revive their flagging spirits.

But the thing is, he never actually gets to find out if it will work or not, because they get lost on the way there, and, the car breaks down.


What follows is the stuff of creepy nightmares. You know the kinda thing; it’s an iron fist in velvet glove scenario, where those who seem to be helpful and friendly, aren’t. And it all starts out so amicably and insidiously pleasant.

And that’s where Crawford comes into his own, for he takes that seemingly innocent situation, and adds a sickly-sweet, too-good-to-be-true tickle that warns you from the outset. There’s an agenda here. An agenda so well hidden, that its development and revelation are all too plausible.

You can’t quite believe it. It’s repulsive, yet at the same time, strangely hypnotic. You just need to test the water that little bit more – just to see if your suspicions are true – and then you’ll walk away. . .

Only to find out, too late, you’re in a web from which you’ll never emerge.


And that’s what makes reading Field of Ghosts so darn enjoyable: The tone is outstanding. The sense of hidden menace is tantalizing. And you end up wanting to know, just what the heck these people are up to?

And the superb twist, right at the end? Absolute magic.


Dare you miss it!

Amazon Review

Thursday, June 22, 2023

 It's In Your Hands

See my Latest Review Of. . .

Dark Fate

I’m sure we can all relate to those nights of revelry lost to drink, where the carousing continued into the wee hours and you wake up the next day, remembering hardly any of it. But what happens when you discover huge chunks of your memory have been taken by a stunning dark elf, apparently, with your consent in order to . . . what? Your guess is as good as mine. Why? Because you can’t remember and no one will tell you, THAT’s why!

Ah, such things are just another day to Jakobus Shaw, as he highlights:


I’ve been through a lot in the last few years.

I escaped from the Deep, a prison of eternal torment, fought living nightmares, stopped wars, and banished an immortal dark phoenix in the eternal abyss of an Old One’s fathomless mind. All while making some damn good friends and allies along the way.

I’ve done all this and yet, when Shareal, a dark elf, a creature of beauty and danger, returns from the past I didn’t even know I had, I can’t help but be afraid.

Shareal needs the safety of my bar to house a meeting of the world’s most powerful and treacherous dark elves. I don’t want to do it, but the elf drives a hard bargain, so…I better put out the good silver.

Dealing with dark elves is never a wise thing to do, but I’ve never been renowned for my intelligence. They say blood is thicker than water, but for the dark elves, power is the only true family they have ever known.

I tried to run from my past, tried to bury it and hope it stayed dead, but the seeds I planted long ago are growing fruit and it’s time I started reaping what I sowed.



Yes, Marcus Abshire presents us with a corker of an adventure in Dark Fate, as the past begins to catch up with Jakobus in ways he can’t begin to comprehend. And that’s the thing when you’ve been involved with the deepest, darkest magic. It never goes away, and the consequence of wielding it can turn up out of the blue when you least expect it.

The thing is – and without giving anything of the plot away – why now? What has Jakobus been involved with in the past that now obligates him to a certain course of action that may not only result in his own death, but the end of everything he holds dear? And why are the dark elves so certain in his compliance?

Yes, not everything is as first appears, and as Jakobus begins to navigate this latest path of magical eggshells, he must try and unravel what it is about his abilities that everyone seems to want a piece of.

As always, we have a roister-doister, action-packed, mayhem filled adventure, where our protagonist’s penchant for getting down and dirty often gets in the way of making swift progress. But THAT’s where the fun lies. Because when the fate of the world lies in your hands, who wants boring and easy? Blunt humor; great dialogue; superb interaction between characters; thrills & spills galore. It’s all there, waiting for you to turn the next page.


Sunday, June 11, 2023


Into the Vortex Book 2 of The Vortex of Worlds Series

By – Charles E. Gannon


I’ve been a fan of Chuck Gannon for quite a while, having discovered his Caine Riordan novels about ten years ago. The time and effort he puts into his world building really pays off in the substance of his writing. So, when I discovered he was branching out into fantasy, I just had to take a look.

The first book of his The Vortex of Worlds Series – This Broken World – was an absolute treat to read, and you can find out what I thought in the link provided at the end of this review.

Into the Vortex continues Druadaen’s adventures– and indeed, those of his erstwhile companions – as they try to discover the disparities riddling the land in which he lives, and especially, why knowledge of the truth might prove so fatal.


Here’s the blurb:


A little bit of knowledge can be a dangerous thing . . . but knowing the full truth might get you killed.

Druadaen, Outrider for the once-mighty Dunarran Consentium, has proven that there are irreconcilable contradictions between magic and physics on Arrdanc, the world of his birth. And what is his reward for this important discovery, made against all odds and at considerable personal risk? Exile—organized and compelled by nervous temple hierarchs.

However, Druadaen remains determined to uncover what several ancient persons and beings have urged him to seek: “the truth of the world”—which might only be gained by traveling beyond it. Indeed, the mysterious Lady of the Mirror speculates that he might find the answers by journeying to the other side of her unusual looking glass: a reflective, ethereal portal that she calls a “shimmer.”

But there’s a catch: because the mysterious portal only allows a single person to pass through, Druadaen must leave his companions behind. Unfortunately, once he has, they discover that the “shimmer” only allows travelers to leave Arrdanc, not return to it. So his friends, led by stalwart swordsman Ahearn, resolve to find another means by which they can retrieve Druadaen—and with him, the truth of the world.

There’s just one small problem with their quest: the closer they come to finding a solution, the more obvious it becomes that various powers on Arrdanc don’t want them to succeed. In fact, they’d rather Druadaen doesn’t return at all.


Yes, the reaction of those in power doesn’t add up. After all, why would they exile someone if all they were doing was searching for the truth?

We begin to see the answer to that question when Druadaen and his companions actually seek counsel with the Lady of the Mirror, and Druadaen ends up stepping through a mysterious portal into an entirely different world. He discovers people there, much like those from home, who have also endured chaos at the hands of an unknown power – from long, long ago – the likes of which was unmatched by all but the gods. And get this. The echoes of that chaos are similar to that on Arrdanc.

Of course, his friends are left floundering in his wake, so they also begin trying to fit the pieces of this larger puzzle together. In doing so, they begin to appreciate that the real truth as to the origins of Arrdanc has been hidden from mankind. And if they want answers, they’ll need to follow in Druadaen’s footsteps and journey across time and space to find them.

Thereafter, our story is told from two perspectives: By Druadaen, after his journey through the shimmer; and by his friends, who continue their efforts to be reunited with their friend, as they also strive to uncover the truth.

As before, the story arc is as compelling as it is thoroughly entertaining. It’s vivid, it’s bright, and dark and menacing. Murder, mystery, and mayhem, and abound in equal measure. That, along with engaging characters and an appealing, ‘you’re one of us’ dialogue helps to immerse you in the trials and tribulations of the gang as they begin to pick apart the scales masking the truth, to reveal a truly astonishing revelation As they do so, a bigger, much more complex, and insidious picture begins to emerge. (Fantastic world building there), which really adds an additional weight to an already well-established foundation.

Now, as to what that maleficent cancer is, you’re given plenty of clues (adding to those sprinkled throughout the first book). And as it continues eating away at the fabric of the world, you can only begin to imagine what’s coming. And whatever it is, it’ll be huge. The tension is building, and I for one can’t wait to see what happens.

And isn’t THAT what it’s all about?

Go on, enjoy yourself. It’ll be one hell of a ride.

Amazon - This Broken World