Kahtar: Warrior of the Ages, S. R. Karfelt

Kahtar: Warrior of the Ages, S. R. Karfelt

Kahtar: Warrior of the Ages

SR Karfelt’s Kahtar: Warrior of the Ages opens with a speeding ticket awarded by a part-time police chief to a woman on her way to a new life. Beth White has just left a highly successful, jet-setting career as an investor to buy an old house that she found a picture of in a library book and start a shop in it. Quite why she feels so strongly attracted to this particular house, she doesn’t know. She also doesn’t know why the community of Willowyth seems determined to make her leave, when she feels more at home there than anywhere else. Even being arrested and racking up four traffic tickets in half an hour aren’t enough to change her mind. In fact, for some reason, arrest from the Willowyth Police Chief could almost qualify as incentive to stay.

Kahtar: Warrior of the Ages is a fantastic opening book to the series, featuring engaging characters and a plotline that made me sorry to step out of it. SR Karfelt expertly creates a world within a world of Covenant Keepers, living beside the modern world, invoking touches of the folklore of the faery land of Underhill woven in with Christian mythology. The characters are plausible and well-developed, drawing you to share Beth’s frustration and Kahtar’s conflict, personifying a collision of cultures between the punk rock of the new world and the ancient and hidden traditions of the Arcs. I can’t over-recommend this book; humour, action and an enticing world make it an entrancing read.

Reviewed for Readers’ Favorite.

The Roar of Smoke, Candace Carrabus

The Roar of Smoke, Candace Carrabus

The Roar of Smoke

The Roar of Smoke, by Candace Carrabus, draws you into the kingdom of Cirq, which is dying, drowning in killing apathy. Legend has it that only the return of the horses can reverse the cycle, but with no Horsecaller, Tressida and Galiann, a pair of teens, are the sole surviving females of breeding age in the city. The people around them are fading away. However, Tressida has no plans to become a broodmare for her country or anyone else. Her focus is to join the Horseguard, whether or not there are any horses. It isn’t until the city is attacked that she discovers that plans for her future, whether her own or anyone else’s, might as well be written on air. Fleeing moments ahead of an invading force, she realises that she harbours a strange power, and it’s out of her control.

The Roar of Smoke is a well-written, evocative tale, drawing in the details of a country crushed by despair and invaded by a ruthless army, seen from the point of view of a teenage girl. Tressida’s fear of her own power and her conflicts with authority figures will draw you back to your own teens, and her search for self-determination and a mentor she can trust is compelling subject matter. The story is fantasy at its best, with danger, magic, and fascinating allusions to the ancient Celtic mythology of the horse gods of fertility and protection. Carrabus’s vivid storytelling will keep you turning pages and dreaming right to the end.

Reviewed for Readers’ Favorite.

Storm on the Horizon, Michael Scheffel

Storm on the Horizon, Michael Scheffel

Storm on the Horizon

Michael Scheffel’s Storm on the Horizon offers a behind the scenes view of world politics spiralling out of control, as the first rumblings of something amiss begin to percolate through the anonymous hands of the intelligence services. From Gibraltar to Afghanistan to Plymouth, the limited forces gather, supported by cruise ships and fishing fleets, to face a threat reported through a man whom no one trusts, by an agent who can’t be named, to politicians unwilling to risk their careers on action. The new world order of peace and negotiation is a status quo that a China-backed Argentina is relying heavily on in a new attempt to capture the Falklands out from under the British. The question is whether a handful of men approaching their pensions can manage to sway political opinion in London in time to avert a disaster … and if Britain’s pared-down, scattered forces can respond in time if they do.

Storm on the Horizon is an intensely detailed view of the realities of the military and intelligence services through the back door of military supply, undercover agents, and fighters on the front lines of combat, contrasted with news report views massaged into a socially digestible summary. Michael Scheffel’s story-telling gathers disparate threads to provide a multi-faceted view of his subject matter, through the eyes of widely divergent characters. There is a very real sense of frustration and desperation evoked throughout, which adds to the realism of the book. Fans of the genre will revel in the carefully-researched capabilities of the forces involved, as well as the practicalities of the tactics and action-packed engagements.

Reviewed for Readers’ Favorite.

Four Weeks, Kunal Roy

Four Weeks, Kunal Roy

Four Weeks

From the exterior view, Four Weeks contained some of the staples of a traditional sci-fi story – aliens, threats of destruction and conflict.

Unfortunately, once I opened the book up, I was washed off my feet in a flood of adjectives describing that apotheosis of humanity, the computer student. Our twenty-year-old hero, about to complete his doctorate, equipped with abs and a chiseled jaw to make Michelangelo lay down his tools in despair, also coincidentally has a stunningly beautiful girlfriend, who is also (coincidentally) about to complete her doctorate in the same topic. I’m afraid that the sheer perfection of the main character shot the plausibility of the book down in flames as far as I was concerned pretty much on page one.

Four Weeks also has a tendency to combine slang with a rather formal lack of casual contractions in the dialogue, giving the faintly unnerving impression that the speakers are octogenarians experimenting with colloquialism. Combined with the point of view slips between the omniscient and the third person and the continual descriptions of trivia, the writing continually got in way of the story for me.

However, our hero’s admirable ability to watch his mother be killed, and bounce back to build a house from scratch with no money in the space of an evening and still have time left over to design alien-killing weapons to save the world in the same day is impressive. Sadly, my resilience wasn’t as remarkable, and I had to leave this book as a ‘did not finish’ at about 15% complete.

Four Weeks cover

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Tangled Web, L W Tichy

Tangled Web, L W Tichy

Tangled Web

Arrynna is an orphan, whose stories of myths and monsters leave her on psychiatric medication at a young age. When she is the only witness to her adoptive brother’s disappearance, and all she will say is that the monster took him, her adopters put her back into the system, and Ryne spends years institutionalised. By the time she is finally adopted again, she has learned not to speak of what she sees – and her strategy works, right up until she accidentally walks into a Lord of Faerie on the street. The world of Faerie has ignored her only so long as it believed Arrynna could not see it…

LW Tichy’s world of Tangled Web pulls on all the threads of our childhood fairy tales, with beings from the realms of Faerie walking glamoured amongst humans. The character-building is credible, well-geared for the YA genre, and the descriptions are well-done, evocative and colourful without sweeping the reader off their feet in a flood of adjectives. The story provides a light and cheerful read that nonetheless draws on serious themes, from the need of a child to feel it belongs to the power of trust and friendship. Definitely a worthwhile read with much to offer for YA and fantasy readers alike.