The Blurb on Other People’s Words – The Machine and Other Stories

October 17, 2011 at 11:14 pm (Reviews, writing)

The Machine by Ren Garcia

I was looking forward to reading the fourth book in Ren’s The League of Elder series, having really enjoyed the first three books, the last of which had been left with a cliffhanger. Ren offers a delightful mix of space fantasy and steampunk with multi-layered characters in all of his books, and The Machine was no different. I was happy to return to the escapism of his strange worlds and stranger people with the kind of larger-than-life heroes one would typically find in the old-fashioned serials, making his stories seem both very old and very new at the same time. Lord Kabyl, after surviving a near-death experience, must follow through on the Trials that will allow him to reunite with his love, the hauntingly beautiful Sam. With the help of family and friends, and against the wishes of his mother, he sets off to complete this task, leaving his parents behind to investigate the phenomena that almost killed him. This had all the qualities of high adventure: mystery, thrills, action and discovery. The entire book is great entertainment, but once the heroes reach Waam, it gets particularly exciting and the detail in his world-building is tremendous. I once again recommend this imaginative series, a must-read in speculative fiction.

Trestle Press Digital Tales

Here are some more gems I’ve discovered from Trestle Press, a great way to inexpensively sample these authors work.

Bad Angels by William Tooker

The start of his story is nasty, but those who know how much I like horror and dark fantasy can understand what I mean when I say that is a good thing. The terror is tangible and the description of the creature involved delightfully disgusting. Charity, who is in a very unpleasant spot, is “rescued” by something far from human. The scene is witnessed by a well-meaning neighbour, Kerry Shaw, who tries to play helpful the following day. As the story unfolds, we unravel more of the mystery as to why Charity was in trouble in the first place, why an “angel” is coming to her defence, and why she has been unwilling to accept help from others. The story has all the strong points I look for when I read, excellent characterization, description that captures the moment but isn’t excessive and several interesting twists. This is not a tale for those easily offended by mature content and violence, but for those who enjoy a dark and edgy tale, like me, it’s a great read.

Shana Black ,Volume 1: The Invention by Lisa Taylor

Another entertaining digital short, and first it a series, I was curious as to where the tale would lead from word one. We are introduced to Shana Black, a young West Point cadet who is also an inventor with a potentially ground-breaking creation. At the point where the story begins, her invention is up for a prestigious award and she is awaiting results. Success brings with it the unexpected, and suddenly Shana finds herself caught up in situation both frightening and exciting. As a result of her ingenuity, he unwittingly has embarked on an adventure of dramatic proportions.

Ms. Taylor’s style is appropriately concise with clear focus on the important story elements. It has bold, youthful appeal and I look forward to the next instalment.

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