Book Review: Tamesa by Tom Fallwell and A. Hall

Tamesa Front Cover - FINAL S Synopsis: A divided world. A corrupt ruler. A forbidden rite.

Tamesa is a world torn asunder by one man’s lust for power. Herid Mhau, leader of the Ecumenic Order, used the forbidden incantations in the Xusarta Scrolls to summon the infernal Nyeshetari, causing a cataclysm that split Tamesa into two. Now, Herid rules Tamesa’s western hemisphere, seeking the power of the Zayzahrin, to transform himself into a god: immortal and unstoppable.

In a world bereft of heroes, ordinary men and women must endure the inconceivable to attempt the impossible. Tinshu Egraven, a transient thief, denies the existence of gods as he struggles to survive in a world ruled by the Ecumenic Order. After he rescues a mysterious red wolf, he discovers secrets from his past that irrevocably impact his future.

As Herid slaughters innocents to build his army, Tinshu must choose to accept what he’s rejected his entire life. A new family, a new faith, and a new found courage in not only himself, but also the whole of mankind. Who will prevail when the enemy you must first defeat lives within you?

Review: Tamesa is a refreshing new fantasy. I’ve read numerous fantasy books from Tolkien to fledgling writers and it’s good to read something original that’s both entertaining and thought provoking. The beginning was slow, but after a few chapters, the story just took off and kept going until the last word.

This isn’t your usual good vs evil story littered with one fantasy trope after another. There’s romance budding in Tamesa, but the elements around that romance are gripping and the supporting cast is just as interesting as the main characters. The young character Darweshi’s story arc had me in tears in some places. Tamesa is exceptionally well written getting you emotionally involved in the characters lives and struggles. That alone is worth a 5 star rating.

Another thing I enjoyed is how the characters are described. These aren’t the typical cookie cutter handsome and beautiful fantasy creations. They’re ordinary people struggling with physical differences that make them unique and powerful. Such a pleasure to read.

 

Book Review: I Was a Teenage Weredeer by C.T. Phipps and Michael Suttkus

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Synopsis:  Jane Doe is a weredeer, the least-threatening shapechanger species in the world. Blessed with the ability to turn furry at will and psychically read objects, Jane has done her best to live a normal life working as a waitress at the Deerlightful Diner. She has big dreams of escaping life in the supernatural-filled town of Bright Falls, Michigan, and her eighteenth birthday promises the beginning of her teenage dreams coming true.

Unfortunately, her birthday is ruined by the sudden murder of her best friend’s sister in an apparent occult killing. Oh, and her brother is the primary suspect. Allying with an eccentric FBI agent, the local crime lord, and a snarky werecrow, Jane has her work cut out for her in turning her big day around.

Thankfully, she’s game.

Review: I Was a Teenage Weredeer by C.T. Phipps and Michael Suttkus isn’t my typical read. I enjoy various fantasy genres, but I don’t usually read many urban, YA, or shifter novels. That said, I found I Was a Teenage Weredeer interesting enough to keep reading. It wasn’t the typical shifter tale, nor did Phipps and Suttkus stray from the normal tropes you’d expect to find in this type of novel. That isn’t meant as a fault. I rather enjoyed the numerous deer puns, witty quips, and the carefree nature of the story.

When the protagonist, Jane Doe’s (see what they did there?), brother is the prime suspect in a murder, she’s pulled into a world that she never knew existed. Whereas the knowledge of shifters isn’t a secret in their society, numerous other aspects of that culture and the lineages within it are.  From vampires, lycans, and shaman…oh my…we’re introduced to a limitless variety of shifters and the abilities each possess.

I Was a Teenage Weredeer is an entertaining story, but there are a few important issues that are dealt with as well. Prejudice was a topic reiterated throughout the narrative (at times, a bit too much). Since there are a plethora of different shifters, there is also a hierarchy of sorts. So, even though you’ll probably LOL at times while reading, there is more than a light YA shifter tale to consume. We experience a growth in Jane as she uncovers secrets whilst coming to terms with who she is during her investigation to aid her brother.

I Was a Teenage Weredeer was a quick and easy read. Anyone who favors urban, shifter fantasy will probably enjoy it. There aren’t many twists or surprises, but it’s a fun story that does what it was intended to do. 4.5 stars, easily.

Book Review: The Stone Doorway by Cassandra Scherer

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Synopsis: Step out of the mundane and into The Vale, where suddenly bullying, family issues, and homework seem trivial. Can the trio defeat the Calego and return, or will they too remain forever young, forever scared, forever seeking their way home?

Review: The Stone Doorway by Cassandra Scherer is an enjoyable, fast-paced YA fantasy. As we learn about the life of Tori McKenna, we are transported from a typical suburban life of a troubled teenager, into a fantastical world filled with both wonderment and anguish.

For Tori McKenna, life has become routine: a requisite for those who yet breathe, but aren’t necessarily alive. With her only comfort coming from her best friend, Allen, and the freedom she experiences running track, Tori feels more a spectator than a participant in her life. After an abusive relationship and numerous family conflicts, Tori hid within herself, until a boy named Dean rescued her from a dangerous situation. When he returns to enjoy a night of pizza, companionship, and stargazing, something happened that changed their perceptions, and their lives.

The Stone Doorway is a quaint tale, following Tori through a difficult time in her life and the struggle to reclaim, or, discover the true strength that lies within her. After a debilitating journey through a Portis, Tori and her friends must confront not only their inner demons, but the torment of physical and emotional ones as well. With Seth’s assistance, she realizes more about herself and possibilities for the future. Will she embrace what can be and forfeit what was, or lapse back into complacency and fear?

A short and fast-paced read, The Stone Doorway has likable characters, instant love attractions, shifting personalities, teenage angst, and some familiar creatures.  An enjoyable story for young fantasy fans.

Reviewed for Readers’ Favorite

Book Review: The Shades of Winter by Morgan Smith

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Synopsis:
An aging band of sea raiders set out on one last voyage of revenge, and get a whole lot more than they bargained for.
Tam Isliefsdottir wasn’t planning to end her life in a futile attempt for vengeance, but when your brothers- and sisters-in-arms need you, what can you do? Leaving her son and her granddaughter behind and sailing to the shadowy island of Alvandir, she expected to die gloriously for the sake of her country, her king, and her own reputation.
Nothing is as it is supposed to be, however, and it hasn’t been for the last twenty years. Tam and her Kyndred are in for the surprise of their lives.

Review: The Shades of Winter by Morgan Smith is an exceptional addition to the Averraine Cycle series, and demonstrates why Ms. Smith is one of my favorite fantasy authors. The characters are compelling, complemented by a unique world and inhabitants that entwine into a multilayered plot, entrenching you into a phenomenal story, where you experience every captivating facet with the characters.

The Shades of Winter begins during a late summer harvest in Dyrsholt. Although a necessary task, it’s also tedious: especially for aging sea raiders. This is explicitly so for Tam Isliefsdottir, who relates this fantastical tale from her point of view.

When a ship appears on the horizon, the harvesting halts, and the denizens arm themselves to defend against possible raiders. However, Tam was startled to learn that her Kyndred (brothers/sisters in arms) were sailing into port. After arranging a quick welcoming feast, they meet in the hall for not merely a celebration, but to deliver some astounding news about a raid on a shrine at Heilaegr.

Author Smith provides a fascinating history of the battles, fallen kings, lost comrades, and the state of the current world…and what, if anything, aging warriors can do to soothe old wounds and avenge fallen heroes.

In a world Tam considers made for the young and strong, at times, those more wizened, battle-seasoned, and yearning for past glories, make the most formidable heroines/heroes. With nothing to lose but their lives, Tam and her Kyndred embark on an expedition of vengeance, which escalates into life altering events, unexpected reunions, arcane magic, murder, manipulations, and buried truths resurrected by desperation…not desire.

Morgan Smith has exceptional insight into ancient cultures and ethos, whilst adding her distinctive elan. The detailed sea voyages, attitudes, characterization, and fighting techniques and armaments are impeccable. I appreciate the strong female characters that stood on their own, without the need to lessen the masculinity of the males. They stand on equal footing: in intellect, banter, and battle.

The Shades of Winter by Morgan Smith is an amazing journey with an engaging plot and extraordinary characters. Once the foundation is laid, you’re propelled into a magnificent tale where events and people aren’t necessarily what they appear to be. I can’t wait for the next novel to find out what new adventures are to be had.

 

Book Review: The Pellucid Effect by N.W. Moors

51dGbLZEDsL Synopsis: When the Cymrian refugee ship lands on the planet Manx, they find a peaceful people, the Manxi, already living there. The two different peoples live side by side for many annums, but the Cymrians are the only ones who gain powers from the pellucids in the Singing Caverns.

Mic is a Manxi who dreads the idea of his Cymrian friend, Anais, gaining such powers he will not receive. He worries it will cause a rupture in their budding relationship. Anais is convinced Mic will be the first Manxi to receive pellucids but is it just a vain hope?

Are the Singing Caverns sentient? Do they bestow powers when there is a need, and if so, will Mic and Anais use them to confront the enemy who invades Manx?

Review: The Pellucid Effect by N.W. Moors is an interesting fantasy with a touch of science fiction. It begins with a young Manxi hunter, Aaz, pursuing some prey for his impoverished family’s dinner. Most of his planet, Manx, is barren and the inhabitants lead primitive, but happy lives. When Aaz encounters a group of Cymrians that crash land on their planet, all of their lives and futures are irrevocably changed.

All of the Manx inhabitants have pale features and hair, whereas the Cymrians have golden complexions, dark brown eyes, and raven hair. Despite their outward and technological differences, the Manxi Elders and the Cymrian leader, Osiris, reach an amicable agreement to share both resources and the planet. Shortly after establishing this new agreement, Aaz leads Osiris to a cavern system under the mountains, bespeckled with glistening pellucid stones. Until that day, the stones were dormant. Howbeit, they enlivened when Osiris entered, humming and merging with their new Cymrian host.

Each Cymrian entered the cavern, merging with pellucid stones, granting them exceptional magical abilities. With these new powers, Manx began to flourish, establishing guilds for the magic users to discover and use these gifts to better the lives of all people.

The story continues a century later with two interesting new characters: Mic- a Manxi, and Anais- a Cymrian. They are best friends, but both have deeper feelings for the other. Mic is disheartened since they’re approaching a mandated assimilation ceremony in the ‘singing caverns’ that will dictate their futures depending on which pellucid stones merge with them. No Manxi has ever received a stone, and once Anais’ assimilation is complete, she’ll join her guild and Mic will be forced to accept an occupation designated for those deficient of magical abilities.

Though pervaded with foreboding, Mic completes his ritual regardless of what changes will inevitably impact his life. At times, our deepest desires can also lead to our greatest desolation.

The Pellucid Effect is an engaging tale with intriguing, likable characters. The improbable romance Mic and Anais attempt to forge is littered with trials, prejudices, despondency, and angst. The Manxi and Cymrian people never mated outside of their own species. Anais endeavors to change that.

I enjoyed The Pellucid Effect, and read it in one sitting. Although I felt the ending was a bit rushed, I wasn’t dissatisfied. There were some interesting and important characters introduced near the end that I wanted to know more about, and an antagonist that needed more screen time and development. A pleasure to read. 4.5 stars.

Book Review: Kurintor Nyusi by Aaron-Michael Hall

KN-Front-SEALSynopsis: As the gods battle in the heavens, darkness descends on earth.

The Keepers of Nine guide the primordial Kurintor warriors protecting the mortal world from the demons of Ashemohn. But after a god’s corruption empowered their demon goddess, Sokka, her manipulations have brought the Kurintor to the brink of extinction.

Can the Keepers of Nine awaken the Kurintor descendants in time to defend the Fifth Kingdom, or will the eidolons Sokka has sent forth destroy them?

It isn’t prophecy, destiny, or a birthright, that will decide the fate of the mortal world.
It is choice.

Review: Kurintor Nyusi is one of the most exciting and refreshing books I’ve read in a long time. The plot was not the usual fantasy fare, the world not like the usual worlds you find in the genre, and the characters…well, it was the characters that made this tale a pure pleasure to read. The author has created something very unique, and this is sure to be an award-winning story.

Through the eyes of these believable and well-portrayed characters, the reader is treated to a wonderfully enthralling experience, seeing the world through their eyes and coming to care for each and every one of them. We feel their emotions, share in their pains and joys. Even the antagonists. Nurisha, Xavion, Qaradan, Zuri, Alyelu and so many more. Yet, while there are plenty of characters, I did not feel overwhelmed at any time while reading this book.

This is fantasy as it was meant to be, not focused on creatures and landscapes, or even on the events, but on the people who live them, and we get to experience it all right along with them. I cannot say enough about how well-written this story is. This is an author all fantasy fans should keep their eyes on, and I highly recommend reading Kurintor Nyusi. I am anxiously awaiting the next book, and if this book is any indicator, the next will be magnificent! It deserves more than a mere 5 stars.

Book Review: Melokai: In the Heart of the Mountains by Rosalyn Kelly

51NpZ0clkbL Synopsis: Legendary warrior Ramya has successfully ruled as Melokai for longer than most. Prosperous, peaceful, and happy, her people love her. Or so she thinks.

Ramya’s time is up. Bracing herself for the gruesome sentence imposed on all Melokais who have served their purpose, she hears instead a shocking prophecy.

Is the abrupt appearance of a mysterious, eastern cave creature the prophesied danger? Or is it something darker, more evil? And what of the wolves? Will the ferocious war with their kind oust her from power?

Suddenly Ramya must fight threats from all sides to save her mountain realm. But while her back is turned, a conspiracy within her inner circle is festering. Ramya and her female warriors must crush an epic rebellion before it can destroy her and devastate her beloved nation.

She thinks it’s the end, but it’s just the beginning…

Review: Melokai: In the Heart of the Mountains by Rosalyn Kelly is an engrossing, dark and diverse fantasy that propels you into the world immediately. The cover alone promises an epic read, and author Kelly didn’t disappoint.

In the opening, Melokai Rayma is accompanied by her counselor and Head Scholar, Chaz, to entreat the Stone Prophetess Sybilya. Each Melokai ruling the matriarchal society of Peqky serves for a decade, and then a new Melokai is elected. After which, the departing ruler’s tongue is removed and they’re banished from Peqky. This isn’t a prospect that Rayma or her counselors relish, since their fates would be the same, save the banishment.

Rayma visited the stone goddess each week for her ruling, but instead of proclaiming Rayma’s rule at an end, the goddess remained silent. As a result, Rayma had ruled two years longer than any other Melokai. Howbeit, this visit would be different. The stone goddess spoke a prophecy that will inexorably alter the Peqkyians future.

Although bemused by the prophecy, Rayma continues to lead her people and make great strides to improve the lives of her denizens as well as lessen the severe treatment of the pleasure peons (PGs). Regardless of some opposition, she is loved by her people and surrounded by loyal counselors and warriors. Or is she?

The Peqkyian society is also intriguing. Most inhabitants display catlike features and also communicate with their feline companions. In the times of Xayy, a thousand years past, men had a place of ruler as the Melokaz. However, after the then stone prophetesses cursed them, that changed, and now the males (peons) are considered lesser citizens, and nothing more than a means to procreate and provide physical pleasures. Unfortunately, if males can’t demonstrate their ability to provide the latter, they are disposed of in a most horrific way. The PGs (male pleasure givers) existence is better than most other males. Notwithstanding the threat of castration and an excruciating death if they can’t satisfy their female summoners, they live and are treated modestly well.

Another interesting (and relevant) element is the Peqkian children. Women can choose a soulmatch if they feel connected to a certain male. Evenso, once they birth children, they’re taken to a communal pen. Naturally, with the use of PGs, women are pregnant often, and Peqkian law mandates that no child can know their parents and vice versa. “Mothers” have positions in each pen facility to rear and teach these children until they reach the appropriate age (fifteen). If the young boys can’t pass a ‘usefulness test,’ they are disposed of immediately.

With the dire implications of the prophecy, distrustful allies, warring wolves, and a banished, foreign Trogr (Gwrlain) arriving in the city, fealties are wavering, and the brittle filament tethering the Peqkian together could shatter at any moment.

That’s quite a bit to absorb, but it’s merely the tip of the iceberg. Author Rosalyn Kelly has created a vividly intriguing world pervaded with new species, deities, talking animals, concepts, great battles, and milieus that immerse you in this epic world whilst tickling every fantastical desire to satiate even the finickiest of readers. With numerous sub-plots, betrayals, manipulations, and intricately scrupulous treacheries, you’ll barely have time to catch your breath.

Melokai by Rosalyn Kelly effectually whisks you through multiple lands and societies (not all human), and a huge cast of interconnected characters. With the sexual content and brutalities, it’s intended for mature readers and not those unfamiliar with dark or grimdark fantasy. I don’t have an issue with such content when it’s used for characterization and along with the plot…not in place of one. Melokai is the former, and I was captivated from page one, and can’t wait to see what’s next revealed…especially with Sarrya, V, Artaz, and Gwrlain. What appears to be an end will certainly be a new beginning.
Easily 4.5 stars.

Book Review: The Brittle Riders by Bill McCormick

RGB Trilogy Color I Synopsis: In a far future, Earth had already been visited by an alien race called the Sominids, who came here for the express purpose of drinking and having sex with everyone they could. When one of their infamous parties resulted in the moon being cut in half, and killing everyone who happened to live there, they quietly left. Their encounter with the Sominids had taught the human race many things, primarily that faster than light travel did not exist. Denied the stars, the human race began to dwindle in numbers and terminate all of their space programs.

A thousand years after that, a scientist named Edward Q. Rohta circumvented anti-AI laws, laws which had been on the books for millennia, by creating organic creatures to provide manual labor. Instead of dying after ten years, as promised in the company brochure, they would develop flu-like symptoms and go into hiding. Eventually, fed up with the mistreatment they suffered at the hands of humans they rose up and killed every man, woman, and child on the planet.

This is the story of what happens next.

The Brittle Riders; Apocalypses are funny that way.

Review: The Brittle Riders (Book I) by Bill McCormick was an unexpected pleasure to read. While I love science fiction and fantasy, it took me a while to immerse myself in this new and creative world. This debut novel commences with a preamble establishing the atmosphere that caused the apocalyptic demise of humankind. We’re introduced to Edward Q. Rohta, who is a brilliantly arrogant geneticist (and avowed hedonist). Since the “Plato Wars,” the creation of artificial intelligence was forbidden. Howbeit, Rohta circumvented that law by developing organic hybrids designed to assist humans. The transgenic beings he created were categorized as pseudo-humans and granted no rights. Rohta continued his research, creating more mutated and intermixed species called gen-o-pods, selling them as international slave labor and sex slaves. After fifty prosperous years, a succubus visited Rohta, stating that her contemporaries had studied humanity and deemed humans unscrupulous and indecent creatures that were a blight on their world. War soon followed.

Once the humans were defeated, the gen-o-pods constructed new communities and rid themselves of anything that was reminiscent of their human creators. However, like in all societies, not everyone desired a world of peace. Instead, they launched a war of their own, enslaving other brands (species) they deemed inferior. Xhaknar and Yontar (super soldiers), devastated the new world, and decimated numerous brands.

So, what happens when a succubus, a wolfen, a badgebeth, a rangka, and a braarb walk into the haven bar for a meeting over a few flagons of skank? No, seriously, that’s what happens. What comes next is an intriguing tale regarding those fringe dwellers of the wasteland, and an unfathomable plan by “the dead one,” Geldish.

The Brittle Riders is a well-crafted and intricate tale about these unlikely ‘heroes’ on a quest to free Arreti (formally earth) from its new, tyrannical leader. Author McCormick interweaves the backgrounds and the histories of their brands into an engaging, multi-layered plot. It isn’t merely a good vs evil story. Both concepts are interspersed with gradations of each, creating a compelling tale that you won’t want to stop reading.

As an added benefit, there’s a meticulous accounting of all brand names and descriptions, as well as the new measurements of time, days, years, etc. I referred to it a few times, but after I was well into the story, I didn’t need it. However, it’s always a pleasure when an author includes such details for the readers’ benefit.

The Brittle Riders is full of multidimensional characters, great battles, and the complexities of seeking new allies amongst sectarian brands to benefit the whole of Arreti, whilst rectifying wrongs of the past. In some places, the prose appeared a tad stilted, but once the story unfolded, it flowed quite well. There’s also some adult content, but not overly so. It’s used to demonstrate the turpitude and maleficence of integral characters. Definitely a “Zanubi” of a story, well worth 4.5 stars.

“La’Kyee Shhak.” You’ll understand once you’ve read it.

Book Review: Going Forth by Day by: Mary Woldering

51nU70ZsCEL._SY346_Synopsis: Marai, a former shepherd who discovered a fallen ‘star’ and was gifted with amazing abilities by the unearthly Children of Stone, has been separated from those he loves. Kept apart by forces seeking to control all of them, they must independently grow to understand their own powers while continuing their journey to wisdom. Will they be reunited? Will Marai rise up and begin to Go Forth By Day? Will those who care for him survive without his guidance and love?

Going Forth By Day, the second book in the Children of Stone series, is the story of Marai’s companions, Ariennu, Deka, and Naibe-Ellit. Through their involvement in the lives of the royalty of ancient Kemet, new alliances form, loyalties shift, and the comfortable lives of some are shaken to their core.

Blending history, ancient literature, mythology, classic archetypes, and personal inspiration, Woldering takes the reader on a speculative and emotional journey through the ancient world with detailed and thought-provoking characters whose stories weave themselves into the tapestry of history.

Review: Going Forth by Day by Mary Woldering is the second installment in the Children of Stone series. As with her debut novel (Voices in Crystal), Woldering delivers exceptional world-building and characterization. The intricate details and setting attest to not only the extensive research, but also Woldering’s delight in immersing her readers and herself into this world.

Going Forth by Day opens with Marai’s wives: Ariennu, Deka, and Naibe-Ellit, awaiting the return of their beloved husband. Mariai’s sojourn to commune and study under the Great Count Prince Hordjedtef is nearing its end, or so his elder wife, Ariennu, believed. With the Children of Stone’s silence, and recent turbid visions, the sister wives have grown trepidatious. That trepidation amplifies when the inspector priest, Prince Wserkaf, arrives at their home with a contingent of peacekeepers.

After receiving some perplexing instructions from her stone, Ariennu prepares her sister wives for a journey that will alter every aspect of their lives.

Going Forth by Day details the sister wives’ disparate lives after an inimical separation and numerous perilous circumstances. Ariennu contemplates their futures, and attempts to decipher the Children’s warnings, whilst maneuvering into positions to impede their enemies’ plans, thus reclaiming their lives. Howbeit, the power, position, and manipulations of their ‘captors’ isn’t so easily surmounted.

Rife with magic, compelling characters, betrayals, enigmatic prophecies, and awakenings, Going Forth by Day is a fascinating read, laying the foundation for the final novel, Opener of the Sky. I can’t wait to read the climactic end to this diverse and enthralling epic trilogy.

Book Review: Darkrise by M.L. Spencer

DarkRise Synopsis: Darien Lauchlin betrayed his allegiance to the Rhen when he sold his soul to the God of Chaos. Now the unthinkable has occurred: war between Malikar and the Rhen looms on the horizon. As Darien prepares to lead an invasion against his former homeland, he struggles to unite a diverse people who still view him as the enemy. Darien is forced to abandon his former loyalties and confront the tragedies of his past. With the help of Azár, he embarks on a series of trials that will forge him into the Battlemage his people desperately need him to be. But will the price of becoming a weapon be the last of his humanity?

Review: Darkrise by M. L. Spencer is the fourth book in this unique epic fantasy series (counting the prequel, Darkstorm). If you’re looking for a satisfying conclusion in this novel, you’ll have to wait until the next book (maybe). If you’re seeking an enthralling epic adventure comprising the fantastical elements you love, Darkrise is that and more.

Darkrise continues from where Darklands ended. Malikar and the Rhen teeter on the brink of war if a peaceful solution can’t be achieved. Darien Lauchlin, revered as a hero by some and an enemy to others, is entrenched within a battle not only between civilizations, but also within himself. Regardless of his moral conflicts and waning integrity, he’s determined to ascertain a peaceful solution and stand as a bridge between both worlds. Howbeit, his desires are incongruous to those of his new oath and master. Darien struggles with retaining his humanity, whilst striving to protect it. In doing so, numerous aspects of his life must change as he realizes that in order to attempt the impossible, he must surrender to the unthinkable.

It wouldn’t be a Rhenwars novel without the beloved, misunderstood, and flawed, Quin Reis. He’s continuing his efforts to aid Darien on a separate, perilous journey of discovery and strife. Even so, there’s some interesting facets of his personality that are brought forth along with more insight into who and what he is. Can a touch of humanity deliver him from the turbidity encompassing his soul? One can only hope. As one of the most intriguing characters in the series, Quin Reis never ceases to sacrifice himself for others and continuously advocates for causes that are beneficial to the whole. I do love that numerous so-called ‘demons’ in this series comprise more rectitude and ‘goodness’ than those proclaiming morality and righteousness. Furthermore, those purporting other cultures as savage, display the very barbarity they assign to their nemeses.

With a few darker undertones than the previous novels in the series (at least to me), Darkrise comes closer to having a grimdark edge. Conflicted characters, demons, hell-hounds, magic, torture and war, are all interwoven into a compelling tale that I didn’t want to end.

The one thing that perplexed me was the sudden aberrant behavior of an essential character. Throughout the series and especially in this novel, he remained unflinching and cold (as he should). Even after proclaiming his ‘blood-thirst’ and elation at decimating his enemies (or friends…he’s like that), it completely changed when the opportunity presented itself. It was contrary to everything that he is and previously demonstrated. Perhaps, this aspect was needed to augment another character’s purpose and significance. He certainly benefited from this reversal in characterization. I can’t wait to read the next novel and see.

Darkrise by M.L. Spencer is a captivating read with relatable characters that you’ll care about. The world is richly drawn, enhancing the epic experience. Definitely recommended.