The Lake hunters Book 1
by J.S. Welles
I confess I was a bit hesitant to pick this book up. The front cover reminded me too much of the dystopian novels that my oldest son has been reading. He loves them, but I’m a bit weary of that particular storyline.
However, the first sentence, caught my eye. It was well-written, with a description that indicated that the author knew her way around words. Okay, I thought, I’ll give it a go.
I really enjoyed this book. Writing was smooth, the characters memorable, and the conflicts (yeah, a little clichéd) tense enough that I buzzed through the book in a morning.
The story takes place in the community of Bitterfield where children are expected to abide by the rules, remain within the community, and not venture outside the expected norm. Into the setting J.S. Welles places the non-conforming siblings Petra and Mathias. It would be easy to create protagonists who simply rebel for the sake of rebelling, but J.S. Welles is careful to add another dimension to these two. Yes, they want change and they are unhappy with their situation, but they also love their parents and respect their community. Their internal conflict really drives the story and is handled very well. I really empathised with them.
The external conflict of the story is less satisfying. From the very beginning, the author dangles a disturbing, nightmarish carrot in front of her reader, but isn’t quite given enough of a nibble to satisfy. I don’t mind mystery in a novel, and as there are two more books planned after this one, I expected there to be lots of unanswered questions, but without a single ‘Aha!’ moment in this book I found myself quietly dissatisfied at the end. I felt that while the narrative arc of the personal conflicts of Petra and Matthias were very good, the narrative arc of the overall story (which will take place over three books) didn’t take me far enough along the curve.
J.S. Welles is hard to find information on, but here’s a Facebook URL.
Dark Tide Trilogy Book 1
by Dayne Edmondson
Paperback, 170 pages
Published December 31st 2016 by Dark Star Publishing
ISBN: 520265298 (ISBN13: 9781520265292)
Emergence is military science fiction. Attacked by a belligerent species known as the Krai’kesh, a group of soldiers, government agents and mages find themselves suddenly fighting for their lives.
This is a first for me. I have come across references to ‘genre-mashing’. I see the appeal. And why not? Bookstores often put Sci Fi and Fantasy in one section. Why not put them in one book?
It was a relief to find a good mix of characters in this novel. Too many times female characters in novels like this exist only as eye-candy for the male protagonist. Here, women play a rather more meaningful role, and if one of the characters takes a minute to ogle a female colleague, well, at least that’s as far as it went. I was disappointed that there didn’t seem to be any real motivation for the Krai’kesh, however. I couldn’t decide if the author was saving the motivation for a later novel, or if he was comfortable with the whole ‘they’re bad because they’re bad’ thing. The author avoided making things too facile for the protagonists by putting a limiter on the magic, which is necessary or the story would be very short (‘ZAP! Begone, monster!’).
Unfortunately, there is so much action in this novel that the author has neglected to build his characters. They’re not real people, and, as such, I just didn’t care if they won or lost. An ‘action-packed’ novel STILL needs fully-fleshed, believable characters. I had no sense of that here.
There were issues with physics. I’ve always thought that if you want to describe space dog-fights in terms of in-atmosphere battles, stick your ships in an atmosphere. But when in space, which is so FREAKING COOL, why not make an effort and write battle scenes like they would happen in space? We SF writers need to stop imagining space dog-fights the way we see them on TV. TV breaks the laws of physics because of special effects limitations. A writer’s imagination doesn’t have those.
The writing is decent, and there is evidence of a well-thought-out back story. The author is clearly dangling ripe fruit in hopes of luring readers into the second book. Unless he works on characterisation and motivation, however, it’s not likely I’ll be reading book 2.
Dayne lives in southeastern Michigan with his wife and daughter. When he is not working on his Saga of the Seven Stars series and his next novel, you can find him reading, watching television with his wife, biking, walking and playing on the computer or with his daughter.