Wayfarer’s Highway, Peter Petrack

Wayfarer’s Highway, Peter Petrack

Wayfarer’s Highway

Orson Gregory was just expelled from high school for allegedly attacking a prominent businessman. In small-town America, this makes him locally infamous.  His parents are forced to sell their farm – and the crumbling factory built on its outskirts – to get the charges dropped. However, just because Orson doesn’t believe his life can get weirder, doesn’t mean that life shares his opinion. When he takes a final walk through the ruined factory, he makes a discovery that will change his life forever. Whether or not he will survive it is anyone’s guess…

Wayfarer’s Highway is one of those stories that neatly straddles the normal and the impossible, couching the world of the supernatural in a seamless setting of the utterly mundane.  Peter Petrack’s writing offers the reader the possibility that there may be more to life than they think, and that anyone may become a hero, no matter how unlikely.  While the story plays heavily to finding the one key ally in an unexpected place to save our protagonist’s life and keep the quest going, the book is well-paced and imaginative, dealing with a threat that no one takes seriously until everyone’s way of life is threatened. Definitely a well-timed and thought-provoking read, this is a book I’d recommend to any readers of fantasy out there.

Wayfarer's Highway cover

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No Rest for the Wicked, Dane Cobain

No Rest for the Wicked, Dane Cobain

No Rest for the Wicked

No Rest for the Wicked is based on an interesting intermingling of science and religion, playing with the theory voiced largely by religious fundamentalists: that there are things man is not meant to know and pushing those boundaries will result in divine retribution. Here, author Dane Cobain has worked in an interesting reversal; while experimentation has unleashed something, there’s remarkably little divine about it—the only trace of the phenomenon calling themselves the Angels is a trail of tortured corpses.

The characters were a strong point in this book. Even though there were a plethora of characters, many entering the scene only to die only a few lines later, the author has a great talent for evoking a mannerism or a past event in a few words.

The structure of the novel was also interesting, in that the cameo scenes of the Angels’ killings intermingled with the main line of the plot to give the reader a very effective sense that the murders were everywhere, and random. While I found that this technique made the plot a little slow to gather itself together and get underway, and the clues as to what the protagonists were actually planning were rare to the point where I as the reader had no real understanding of why the characters were doing what they were doing, I did find that this book explored a fresh and interesting line of thought on this territory.

Reviewed for Knockin’ Books.

Raven’s Peak, Lincoln Cole

Raven’s Peak, Lincoln Cole

Raven’s Peak: World on Fire Book 1

Raven’s Peak takes a unique twist on urban fantasy, painting a thin veneer of normality across a reality of madness, murder, and demons, held back by the forces of the Council, a quasi-religious Star Chamber that works in total secrecy. However, the Council has its back to the wall, and their decision to bring one of their top hunters out of the black site prison where he’s been since he got too good at thinking like his prey precipitates the events of the whole story.

Lincoln Cole has managed to weave a lot of the Christian mythos of demons and exorcism into this plot, and the result is a nice mix of the darkness of ‘The Exorcist’ and the choreographed violence of ‘Kill Bill’. While I felt that the book could benefit from another proofread, the author’s talent and imagination were more than enough to draw me into the book, and his story and characters kept me there. The contrast between Haatim, a privileged son of the mundane world, and Abigail, a Council hunter trying to claw her way back after a demonic possession that cost her her mentor and most of her standing in the Order, is particularly well done.

Although Raven’s Peak is clearly the first in a series, it makes a strong standalone read and avoids the temptation to end in a real cliff-hanger. Abigail is guaranteed to please any reader who prefers heroines whose IQ exceeds their bust size, and the layers in the plot combined with the depth of the characters offers rich ground for many future books. I’ll be looking forwards to the next one.

Reviewed for Knockin’ Books.

Dark Hunger, Demetrius Sherman

Dark Hunger, Demetrius Sherman

Dark Hunger

Dark Hunger follows the small private investigations firm of Sunday and Grey, run by a pair of ex-cops tired of the corruption in the system. When Peter Sunday takes on a missing-persons case, he expects a typical story of a young Latino man run away to join a gang. He doesn’t expect it to tie into a string of shady get-rich-quick offers, murders, and disappearances going back months, and it isn’t until sources start turning up dead that he begins to see the deadly connections. However, even Peter, with all the cynicism imbued by years in the police force, has no way to predict the nightmare he’s going to find…

Demetrius Sherman’s novella offers a solid supernatural thriller, where the clues to the supernatural elements are laid early in the plot, allowing the reader to watch Peter stumbling closer and closer to the heart of the mystery while remaining completely oblivious to the danger. While I didn’t find the way the characters were written made me particularly sympathetic towards them, and in many places the writing got in the way of the story for me, I did find that contrast between the supernatural clues and the detective fixated on finding a normal explanation was an interesting, well-structured aspect to the story. Overall, despite feeling that the characters could benefit from more development, Dark Hunger certainly shouldn’t be dismissed, especially for thriller and suspense readers.

Bounty, J D Cunegan

Bounty, J D Cunegan

Bounty

In Bounty, the ass-kicking sequel to Blood Ties, Jill and her partner Ramon are called to investigate a gruesome murder – just another wonderful day in Homicide, or so they assume. However, Dr. Roberts’ murder quickly turns out to be only the start of Jill’s problems, as his death threatens to bring the top-secret modifications she underwent in the Army out in public – something the military and the unscrupulous billionaire who bankrolled the research will do anything to prevent. Jill is reluctantly forced to face the fact that to solve this case, she may have no option but to reveal her other identity to the world.

J D Cunegan’s storytelling adds that little something extra to this book to mix Bounty’s vigilante struggles, Jill’s investigative work, and the interpersonal relations between the characters into an explosive plotline. Facing the loss of her badge and betrayal by the one person she was certain she could trust, Jill’s struggle to keep going and stay alive makes for a powerful page-turner, her strength as a character making the fantasy elements eminently plausible. Studded with double-crosses, deadly stunts, and corruption in high places, this book is guaranteed to keep you turning pages right through to the end.

Forest: Loss, Love, Legend, Rod Raglin

Forest: Loss, Love, Legend, Rod Raglin

Forest: Loss, Love, Legend

In FOREST: Love, Loss, Legend, Rod Raglin introduces Mathew Bennett, a washed-up foreign correspondent, estranged from family and friends, and dealing with PTSD by drowning it in alcohol. Faced with a bleak future, Mathew doesn’t expect to hear from the small town where he grew up twice in one day, and certainly not in the form of a battered treasure map and a safety deposit key. It’s up to Mathew to face down his oldest memories and find out what really happened to his missing father in some of the toughest country to survive in on the planet – the forests of Canada’s Pacific Northwest.

Rod Raglin’s novel offers a compelling story, with daily life in small-town BC layered over a much stranger story of forest myths peering through from the shadows. Mathew’s character, a hard-bitten journalist, epitomises the contrast between the cynicism of modern society and his half-buried, childhood memories of the extraordinary. Tellingly, the contradictions between the two are making him doubt his sanity and his priorities. FOREST: Love, Loss, Legend neatly encapsulates the battleground of humanity’s greed for natural resources versus the cost to the environment in Mathew’s experiences, right down to his local town’s gang leader’s willingness to do whatever it takes to find out where Mathew’s father allegedly struck gold. Mathew faces weather, illness, beatings, and guns as he reforges ties with his oldest friends and finds out the reality behind the myths and memories. This is a compelling story, studded with evocative detail and underlaid by a very real question – definitely worth the read.

Reviewed for Readers’ Favorite.