About Me

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I write and live with my beautiful wife, Sandra, and sons (Solstice, Finnegan and Brahms) in a little-big house on a dirt road in a valley in the hills. My secret identity struggles through the grind of teaching high school English to the denizens of Vermont's Northeast Kingdom.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Review of The Reach by Nate Kenyon

Nate Kenyon is a relatively new horror writer. This is my first book of his I have read (his second novel). There is much to be admired about this writer's style, and there was nothing about the writing that seemed overwritten or awkward, but the plot, the characters and the suspense all seemed pretty tired.

Ten years after the strange birth of a girl and the subsequent burning of the hospital, Jess Chambers, a psychology grad student, is asked to visit with the ten year old Sarah, who is being kept in the basement of a ward for disturbed youth. As Jess gets closer to Sarah she also gets closer to a conspiracy and Sarah's own deadly powers.

First off, I will say that I wanted to finish the novel, which is more than I can say for a lot of writing I have read. This, however, did not seem like a horror novel, so much as a science-fiction, medical mystery. The characters weren't very memorable, nor was the action. I predicted the outcome of this way in advance. I don't think that's a good sign when you walk away feeling more psychic than the main characters. In any case, I would be interested in reading something else by Mr. Kenyon, and I can see how some people would enjoy this novel, it has intrigue, psychic powers and an apocalyptic climax.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Review of Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding

If you want to follow (and grow to love) a group of misfit aero-pirates as they face off against a conspiracy in 453 pages of action-soaked and amusing hi-jinx, then this is the very book you are looking for.

Frey is a down and out smuggler and part-time pirate in a fantasy world where the common mode of transportation is air ships filled with aerium. He has manned his ship, The Ketty Jay, with a motley crew of refugees and misfits. When, the crew of The Ketty Jay is set up to take the fall in a deadly conspiracy, the members will be tested at every turn and find out if they have the mettle to survive as well as the ability to put up with each other. This book is so full of harrowing moments and vivid characters that anyone looking for a good escape should jump aboard this ship.

The book starts out wonderfully, and Chris Wooding's deft characterization draws you in, as well as his ability to throw you into the middle of the action. After muddling through the first hundred or pages or so, you will find yourself hooked and rooting for the oddest group of misfits to ever take to the air. By the end, if you are like me, you will be touched by the story of the crew of the Ketty Jay and want more. Thankfully, I see that Mr. Wooding has given us at least one more volume, with a promise toward the end of at least a trilogy. I for one will gleefully jump on board the Ketty Jay and say hello again to the characters that by the end of the book, will feel like old lost chums.

If you loved Firefly and Serenity and appreciated Pirates of the Caribbean, if you loved the atmosphere of Stevenson's Treasure Island, but desire a dash of steampunk and helping of gothic fantasy, you will love Retribution Falls. I did.