Enden, David Kummer

Enden, David Kummer

Enden: A Dark Fantasy Novel

Enden is a young-adult fantasy adventure, with its protagonist, Jonathan, a farmer’s son from a remote settlement with a talent for archery. In the aftermath of a barbarian raid on his village, Jonathan attracts the attention of the king’s grandson.

It’s a tradition of the YA genre that the rebellious but otherwise unremarkable teen rises to prominence through luck and coincidence, and Jonathan certainly fits the bill. However, the character failed to gain my sympathy; Jonathan gave me the impression of an entitled pain in the rear for most of the book, more concerned with how everything affects him than anything else that’s going on around him. I do grant that this is a stereotypical teenaged attitude, but it switched me off the character, which is a bit of an issue with a protagonist. Ideally, even an anti-hero should have something that draws a reader in, even if only horrified fascination.

The other thing that made it difficult for me to really get into this book was plausibility. The populations are small enough that gossip about one boy picked up under odd circumstances by a prominent knight can spread fast and far, but there is enough of a population for an enemy army of 100,000 or more to be gathered, trained, and equipped, and not least, supplied as they travel across the kingdom fighting. Horses were able to travel at a gallop almost indefinitely. Items like that kept pulling me out of the story.

For me, this book had some undoubted strong points, not least the fact that the text was thoroughly and competently copy-edited, but the story as a whole didn’t enthrall me.

Between Two Worlds, Christy Santo

Between Two Worlds, Christy Santo

Between Two Worlds

Between Two Worlds is a fantasy story, following the experiences of a woman whose concussion turns into a coma of several months’ duration. It offers an interesting perspective of a combination of the protagonist’s real life experiences of her coma and the events around her, observed as through from an out of body perspective, interspersed with the experiences of another older woman from her hometown.

While the idea was interesting, I experienced some challenges with the read. The book is written in a first person, present tense style that, as a reader, always makes me wince. Some of that is the jerkiness that it gives a book; I find it impacts the smoothness of the writing and keeps pulling my attention back to the writing rather than allowing it remain on the story. That’s a personal perspective.

From a more technical side, the level of description of trivia in the story often overwhelmed the events, and dulled the emotional impact that the scenes may have been intended to convey. There were also a number of punctuation issues that periodically forced me to stop and re-read to ensure I had the passage correctly, and combined with the rest, meant that the story didn’t really draw me in and hold my interest as I read.

Overall, I think that the basic idea was strong, but the book itself would benefit enormously from a strong developmental edit or critique.

The Origin of F.O.R.C.E., Sam B. Miller II

The Origin of F.O.R.C.E., Sam B. Miller II

The Origin of F.O.R.C.E.

The Origin of F.O.R.C.E. has a plot strongly rooted in classic science-fiction; flying saucers, reptilian aliens, top-secret military bases in the desert working in fields ahead of their time of which the uninitiated are entirely ignorant—you name it.

Sadly, I wasn’t able to really get into this book. The thing that initially threw me was a lack of depth and a certain fatal similarity across the character types; the sociopathic, flesh-loving aliens, the men who were easily identifiable as being in the military because of their square jaws and muscular builds, and the lady scientists in pretty lipstick and alluring hairstyles. I kept going anyway, because sure, sometimes a book takes a chapter or two to really get into the swing of the story, but unfortunately that particular element stayed constant.

Additionally, while the style of the writing was actually very apposite to the plot, the frequent, gung-ho references in the narration to things like preserving the land of the brave and free kept making me want to laugh in inappropriate places, which I don’t think was the intention. There was also a great deal of description, which I found impacted both the realism and the pacing of the story. I don’t need to know what a guy weighs when his primary contribution to the storyline isn’t in a wrestling match, or that the meeting room in which the fate of the planet is discussed has a dimmer switch.

I think that this book would benefit enormously from a strong critique, or better yet, a full developmental edit. There are undeniable strengths in the work, but they’re desperately undermined by other elements of the story and writing.

Amber in the World of Shades, J K Riya

Amber in the World of Shades, J K Riya

Amber in the World of Shades: The World of Shades Series, Book One

Featuring a cursed ring, an evil wizard, star-crossed true love, and a fairy princess, Amber in the World of Shades is a YA fantasy novella mixing many of the traditional elements of the genre. Despite the colourful backdrop to the story and the imaginative mix of secondary characters woven into the plot, I found that the read was lacking the substance that would have kept me hooked.

Among other things, I’m a sucker for a strong protagonist, and unfortunately Amber’s main strength proved to be in getting other people to mount a timely rescue. Without someone else’s intervention in the nick of time, our heroine would have died something like five times in the novella, which wouldn’t have been a problem for me if she’d actually contributed more to her own survival. Her main contribution to the plot was being the catalyst through which a secondary character took their moment in the spotlight, which made her hard for me to relate to.

The plot also felt a trifle simplistic as I read; notably, the level of cooperation to kill the evil wizard that suddenly materialised apparently simultaneously with Amber. Some of the secondary characters, including some fairly kick-ass magic users, had spent up to half their lives imprisoned by this wizard, but within a few months of Amber’s appearance, they’d all learnt to pull together and get rid of him. Between those elements, the story failed to really convince me, and so, with regret, I can’t give this more than two stars.

Wondrous, Travis M. Riddle

Wondrous, Travis M. Riddle

Wondrous: A Novel by Travis M. Riddle

Wondrous is the story of Miles, a nine-year-old boy thrown across a rift between worlds to a place where several species are in the middle of a war. Magically transplanted, Miles slowly develops a number of magical skills, increasingly making him a weapon against the danger dividing the kingdoms.

While I feel that this book could make a worthwhile novel for younger readers, as it tells the story from the point of a small child whose parents are in the midst of a divorce and interweaves scenes of the family divorce as the basis of Miles’s burgeoning magical skills, I didn’t find that it pulled me in.

Although the range of species was impressively varied, they were all, at heart, good old guys willing to spend more or less endless time and resources looking after a somewhat spoiled nine-year-old while in the middle of a war. I didn’t find that beyond the scene-setting, there was any exploration of differences between the species. In addition, the frog-like Rompun species spoke bad French, and unfortunately my sense of humour is a very small verging on non-existent target to hit, so this didn’t really do much for me. The final nail in the coffin for me in terms of plausibility was that at least two of the main players walked away from certain death to come back and provide vital support for our young protagonist. If this book was designed for a very young audience, I can see why that decision might have been made, but the implausibilities made the story impossible for me to get into.