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The Desert Spear #BookReview

Title:
The Desert Spear – Demon Cycle #2

Author:
Peter V. Brett

Genre:
Fantasy

Book procurement:
Bought a copy from Exclusive Books – Greenstone

Rating:

Tedious 3 out of 5

Synopsis:

The sun is setting on humanity. The night now belongs to voracious demons that prey upon a dwindling population forced to cower behind half-forgotten symbols of power.

Legends tell of a Deliverer: a general who once bound all mankind into a single force that defeated the demons. But is the return of the Deliverer just another myth? Perhaps not.

Out of the desert rides Ahmann Jardir, who has forged the desert tribes into a demon-killing army. He has proclaimed himself Shar’Dama Ka, the Deliverer, and he carries ancient weapons–a spear and a crown–that give credence to his claim.

But the Northerners claim their own Deliverer: the Warded Man, a dark, forbidding figure.

Once, the Shar’Dama Ka and the Warded Man were friends. Now they are fierce adversaries. Yet as old allegiances are tested and fresh alliances forged, all are unaware of the appearance of a new breed of demon, more intelligent—and deadly—than any that have come before.

Book Review:

First Thoughts

I had high expectation for this second book in the Demon Cycle series. Especially since the fifth book “The Core” was announced this year. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. The first book was absolutely brilliant in my opinion. I looked forward to seeing Arlen embrace his destiny.

The Story

The story is broken up into two parts, with the third becoming a clash of the first two. We are introduced to Ahmann Jardir as both a young boy torn from his family,  and as the Shar’Dama Ka (The Deliverer) who looks to conquer the world to fight the demons. We see how he becomes the Shar’Dama Ka, and understand why he raids the lands conquering.

The second half of the story brings back Arlen as the Warded Man, and to the people in North, the Deliverer. He himself hates this name. Nonetheless he does what he has to, to arm the people so they may fend of the demons by themselves. We also meet the previous cast as they have grown into their roles. Leesha has taken over for Bruna and runs Deliverer’s Hollow as their Herb Gatherer. Gared Cutter has become a formidable demon hunter. Rojer continues his role as Jongeleur and remains at Leesha’s side while Arlen travels. And many others come together.

The story also revolves around this idea of the Deliverer, the chosen one who will unite mankind in their battle against the demons, yet as you may have gathered, there can only be one Deliverer. Is it Jadir or is it Arlen?

Then we have the Demon Princes who have risen from the core, and take in the proceedings from the outskirts. Waiting. Watching. Learning.

Writing

The writing is slow and tedious in most parts, where we focus on the individual lives of the main cast, mainly Jadir, Leesha and Arlen (also views at others – like Abban – who will play a role later in their lives including a cast from Tibbets Brooke and various duchy). Not that this is a bad thing, but compared to the first book it feels like reading side arcs that have some relevance to the bigger story but not the most important.

The writing also tends to be repetitive, where we watch a scene twice but from different people’s perspectives but with nothing new but the new character’s thoughts during the scene.

The fighting was epic, even though some fights seemed to be taken for granted because, well, you can’t go into in-depth action with every fight scene.

The characters were well written and remain consistent throughout this new book. Demon magic and its use has been expanded to show how the people have started to move from helpless demon-fearing fodder to a formidable force. Character growth.

Final Thoughts

It wasn’t my favourite book, and I am unsure whether or not I will complete the series. The whole book felt drawn out and I was reading just to finish rather than to enjoy. It wasn’t bad either so I can’t say I hated it, even though there were times I was sure I did. If I do read the next book (which I own) I hope it will be better.


The Desert Spear was published April 13th, 2010. (How long have I had these books o_o)

Did you know: Peter V. Brett also wrote the Red Sonja: Unchained graphic novel for Dynamite Comics.


Are you an author who wants your book reviewed? Contact me on my site: NthatoMorakabi.com

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Genre Writing: Horror – Crafting the Villain

Oh yes my favourite part of writing horror. The villain. The antagonist. The creature of the dark who stalks their prey with nothing more than malice and a sick, twisted mind. *cue scary music

Okay no that’s not at all what I will be doing. Instead, think of a villain you hate and ask yourself why your hate them. Is it because of what they do? Who they are?

Do you understand why they do what they do?

If you take a look at a lot of villains, from the Joker to the Wicked Witch of the West to Megatron, there is more to their villainy than just pure evil. Each one has some sort of goal, and the only real difference between them and the hero, is that they don’t mind doing the dirty work to achieve that goal. (except you Captain Jack Sparrow – damn pirates). Like an athlete who is willing to trip their competitor (or break their ankle) beforehand in order to win the race.

Also, it’s important to humanize the villain. It makes them relatable and likable, which means you’ll hate/love them more for it. So, how do we do that?


Creating the Perfect Villain

Last week’s post “Genre Writing: Crafting a Character” can be applied to creating the perfect villain. Individuality, motivation, conflict, character flaws and strengths. You must know who they are before they became a villain. Who they are during their villainy, and who they become afterwards.

Multidimensional Villains

No one likes a boring character, let alone a boring villain. So how do you make them interesting? Well, you make them complicated. Consider your own personality, life, character traits, faults and successes. Are they all simple? I hardly think so.

  • Mentally-Multidimensional

Here you consider the intellect of your villain. Are they simple-minded with focus on a single goal and nothing else. Or are they highly intelligent and able to manipulate, and figure out ways to reach their goals. Nothing bores me more than a villain who doesn’t seem to have thought things through and keeps getting foiled (unless its for comedic effect, though even that has limits).

At the same time, when you compare a zombie to a vampire, you can see how both these undead entities vary in intelligence and yet both those attributes are scary in their own way.

  • Emotionally-Multidimensional

Is your villain angry all the time? Why? Can someone be perpetually angry? Or sad. Or bitter. Or paranoid. Etc. You should know how your villain will react when they receive they favourite thing or when they lose it. You should know if your villain could fall in love and what would happen if they were abandoned by the love of their life.

Remember, they do not have villainous thoughts 24/7 after all, even Professor Moriarty spent time reading and drinking tea.

  • Chronologically-Multidimensional

Has your villain been the same as a child or did they grow up to become the Great-Big-Bad? Some, like Dexter (the serial killer cos the other Dexter is still a child sooooo) were born that way, and we see him killing neighbourhood animals as a child. Compared to Anakin Skywalker who was good and his fears drove him to the dark side, leading to him becoming Darth Vader (spoiler?). Was it the old battle of “Nature vs Nurture”? Was it a natural path for them to take? What has happened from their formative years to drive them into villainy?

 

 My Antagonist

As it stands, my antagonist is just a concept. A creature who feeds on the regrets and past failings of your every day Jane/John Doe. I only realised later how close this creature is to a Dementor except Dementors can’t time travel. And they are blind. And they suck the soul out. And float about in dark cloaks. It’s the whole

“they glory in decay and despair, they drain peace, hope and happiness out of the air around them.”

That part. That’s very similar to my antagonist.

Of course there is a slight twist to the tale and to tell you what that twist is, is to ruin the coming novel so I’ll leave it there. Nonetheless it will incorporate the multidimensional aspects of character building, which means this won’t be no regular demon of the night.  It will be something worse. Something… terrifying.


How’s your’s NaNo prep going? Did you find my advice useful? Do you have a villain in your story? What are they like in one sentence?

Thanks for dropping by!

Beyond the Pale – Recommendation

Travis Wilder, bar-owner and drifter, is given a mysterious stone by a friend. Grace Beckett, ER doctor, finds a gunshot victim with a heart of iron. Both Travis and Grace must step beyond the pale and enter Eldh, a world where they are caught in a battle between good and evil.


I think this book was my first real foray into Fantasy. I must have read it when I was thirteen, and I remember stalking book stores trying to find the remaining books in the series and failing. Also I was too young to drive soooo…. Anyway, I still remember scenes from the book. That’s how much of an impression it made on me. In this digital age (how old am I? Wow.) it should be easier to find this series. My quest begins!


Mark Anthony learned to love both books and mountains during childhood summers spent in a Colorado ghost town.

Later he was trained as a paleoanthropologist but along the way grew interested in a different sort of human evolution—the symbolic progress reflected in myth and the literature of the fantastic. He undertook Beyond the Pale to explore the idea that reason and wonder need not exist in conflict.

Mark Anthony lives and writes in Colorado, where he is currently at work on his next writing project.

Also writes under Galen Beckett.

GP: The Joys of Writing Styles by Nthato Morakabi

I had the privilege of being a guest blogger on The Eternal Scribe site. Here’s the post. Enjoy 🙂

The official site of Ari Meghlen

This week’s guest poster is the wonderful Nthato Morakabi who discusses the concept of writing styles.  Enjoy! 

authorpicTITLEThe Joys of Writing Styles

by Nthato Morakabi

Stephen King, Clive Barker, James Herbert and China Mieville all have different writing styles. Pick up either of their books and that distinction is immediate.

Now imagine you could write a story as either of these authors and your readers couldn’t tell the difference.

That would be amazing, wouldn’t it? And what’s the distinction between all of them that sets them apart? If you read the title of this guest post then you will know the answer. That’s right, it’s writing style.

View original post 1,042 more words

Genre Writing: Horror – Crafting a Character

In my writing, I’ve noticed that I spend a lot of time building worlds and using descriptive language to tell the story. The one thing that I have always lacked, and hope to improve, is my characters. I know I reference Stephen King a lot. Like a lot, but one thing I keep mentioning about his work is how well he does his characters. Long after I’ve read the book, I can still recall his characters.

Character Building

So how do you build the perfect character? That’s quite difficult to say, although there are fundamentals we can pick out. You can use these basics for any story, whether it’s horror or Sci-Fi, or Fantasy.

  • Individuality

A friend of mine (Nicky from Chasing Dreams Publishing) has some great ideas on how to craft characters readers will enjoy. The one thing I extracted from her post is making characters unique. This may seem like a given, and in your mind you may see them as individuals. It’s how you bring them across that is important. Things like how they speak (voice/tone), how they carry themselves (body language), and how they act.

  • Motivation/Conflict

Everyone around you wants something. A personal goal that keeps them ticking. It doesn’t have to be anything epic (find the special item of immeasurable power) or world domination. These goals and motivations define what is important to your characters and they will act accordingly. Then have something that conflicts with their goal whether it’s a person or a personal trait.

  • Character Flaws

Usually this tags along with some sort of cliche. The red-haired is feisty. The ex-cop is a drunk. The religious lady is a crazy zealot. Etc. Most flaws are a little less eccentric, but can be written to be the character’s downfall or lead to something believable yet out of character. For instance, in Dreamcatcher by Stephen King, the one character stopped picked up chewing on toothpicks to get over a bad habit. This later leads to a very fatal end when he’s in a strenuous situation and just needs his toothpick. NEEDS it.

My Protagonist

The innocent Jane/John Doe whose life is thrown into disarray after discovering an evil entity in their home/child/parent/school, feels over done. I’ve watched a lot of horror movie trailers (and movies) as well as read a couple of horror book blurbs with this sort of premise. While I don’t always shun cliches, this idea is boring for me.

To change it up, my protagonist won’t be an innocent, ordinary Jane/John Doe. Instead I have:

One-Who-Must-Overcome

Profile: Must appear innocent to characters in book yet reader must get a sense of a deeper darkness. A troubled past they have embraced. An uncertain future they wish to clarify and brighten. Broken and hopeful.

Conflict: What defines them is exactly what they want to change. A journey of self-discovery, with very difficult choices that contradict their goal even though it’s supposed to help.

Strengths and Flaws: Carefree attitude allows them to shrug off lots of things, while nursing a crippling fear of the “darkness” within them that forces them to shun people. Troubled past has grown and matured them mentally and emotionally to live an almost normal life, while a small part is mischievous and playful to reconnect to that lost past they wish to regain which causes issues.

Jake Chambers The Dark Tower Stephen King

Jake Chambers from Stephen King’s the Dark Tower is an interesting character, especially since he is quite young. Also, he fits this description well. Too well…

Look Around You

Last point. Be observant of the people around you. There are living, breathing characters right in your vicinity and could make wonderful additions and mixes to your story.

Wayward Children Trilogy – Recommendation

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children
No Solicitations
No Visitors
No Quests

Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere… else.

But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children.

Nancy tumbled once, but now she’s back. The things she’s experienced… they change a person. The children under Miss West’s care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world.

But Nancy’s arrival marks a change at the Home. There’s a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it’s up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of the matter.

No matter the cost.


Oh my gosh I have never immediately fallen in love with a book series like I did with the Wayward Children series. I’m currently reading the third book “Beneath the Sugar Sky” and just love, love, love it!  I thought it would be like Miss Peregrine, but it’s not. It’s better.

New favourite author!


Seanan McGuire, author of the Toby Daye series (Rosemary and RueA Local HabitationAn Artificial NightLate Eclipses), as well as other works. She is also Mira Grant (www.miragrant.com), author of Feed and Deadline.

Born and raised in Northern California, she fears weather and is remarkably laid-back about rattlesnakes. Seanan watches too many horror movies, reads too many comic books, and shares her house with two monsters in feline form, Lilly and Alice (Siamese and Maine Coon).

Brother’s Ruin – Book Review

Title:
Brother’s Ruin

Author:
Emma Newman

Genre:
Historical/ Fantasy

Book procurement:
Received a copy for Gamecca Magazine from Tor.com.

Rating:

Fascinating 4 out of 5

Synopsis:

The year is 1850 and Great Britain is flourishing, thanks to the Royal Society of the Esoteric Arts. When a new mage is discovered, Royal Society elites descend like buzzards to snatch up a new apprentice. Talented mages are bought from their families at a tremendous price, while weak mages are snapped up for a pittance. For a lower middle class family like the Gunns, the loss of a son can be disastrous, so when seemingly magical incidents begin cropping up at home, they fear for their Ben’s life and their own livelihoods.

But Benjamin Gunn isn’t a talented mage. His sister Charlotte is, and to prevent her brother from being imprisoned for false reporting she combines her powers with his to make him seem a better prospect.

When she discovers a nefarious plot by the sinister Doctor Ledbetter, Charlotte must use all her cunning and guile to protect her family, her secret and her city.

Brother’s Ruin is the first in a new gaslamp fantasy series by Emma Newman.

Book Review:

First Thoughts

Well to be honest the novella had me at Gaslamp. I mean, I’m a big steampunk fan (next to horror) and when I think gaslamp and fantasy, I get excited. Especially with the interesting synopsis from the book. I was actually looking forward to it. Only it’s not really about the fantasy or the gaslamp or the mages in the end. It’s not even, really, about the brother either. Not completely.

The Story

We follow Charlotte Gunn, a multi-talented woman who must live her life as a “woman must be seen not heard” kind of world. She witnesses how mages are recruited by the Royal Society, at the same time understanding how many see being recruited as a privilege. When Benjamin, her brother, is deemed to be a mage, Charlotte does what she can to prove them right, hiding her own abilities. Only everything spirals out of control as secrets are spilled and it puts Charlotte, her family, and her city into jeopardy.

It’s a story of sacrifice. Of political intrigue. It’s drama as Charlotte tries to balance the conflicting forces in her life, especially when it comes to her family and the secrets that come to the fore. The story ends on a cliffhanger, which sets up the Industrial Magic series well.

 

 

Writing

 

The writing was great. Elegantly put down in a way that reflects Charlotte Gunn’s personality (and the fact that she’s a woman). The magic is fascinating, and the fantasy inspired Great Britain makes for a dark, twisted world.

We are introduced to Charlotte Gunn first. Immediately we get a sense that there is more to her than meets the eye. She’s a strong, independent woman effectively born in the wrong era. Or at least that’s what I get from the book. She has to live in false pretense because the world she lives in does not see women as very important. Makes sense considering the Victorian Era theme of the book.

Benjamin wants to do what is best for his family, wanting to protect his sister too. Only he has failing health which makes working difficult. So when the Royal Society wants to recruit him, he does what any guilt riddled brother would do. Accept.

The remaining characters in the story are also fascinating. Such as Doctor Ledbetter, Magus Hopkins and other well written characters in the book.

Final Thoughts

From a storytelling perspective, Brother’s Ruin is a great delve into the struggles of a powerful woman who is made less powerful by her situation. Where she hopes to overcome through sacrifice and determination.

The worldbuilding is great, and I was transported into that dark Victorian era where no one can be trusted.

The characters are all distinct and have been well written to reflect both the times and their situations. From the parents who just want the best and will do what they can, to the representatives of the  Royal Society.

No doubt I enjoyed it, and would definitely read the rest of the series.


Brother’s Ruin was published March 14th, 2017.

Did you know: Emma Newman is a professional audiobook narrator and also co-writes and hosts the Hugo-nominated podcast ‘Tea and Jeopardy’


Are you an author who wants your book reviewed? Contact me on my site: NthatoMorakabi.com

Genre Writing: Horror – Crafting a Story

Coming up with a story can have varying origin facets. From a single word heard during a conversation, to a writing prompt or even a random thought sparked by the world around you. Inspiration comes in many forms after all. In this particular case, for my unnamed NaNoWriMo horror novel, inspiration has been hard to come by. And trust me, I’ve been trying everything.

So what does one do when inspiration doesn’t come knocking? Easy. You go knocking on inspirations door.


From Nothing to Something

When I was creating my NaNo novel in the dashboard, there were a few things to fill out. One of these was the synopsis. I had no idea what to write in there, so I put down the most basic premise of a horror:

There was a person and a creature and lots of people died horrible gruesome deaths.

Pretty simple right. I wasn’t even thinking too much about it when I wrote it down. However, after looking at it for some time, I picked up four fundamental elements in it:

  1. The “person” is the main protagonist.
  2. The “creature” is the antagonist
  3. The “lots of people died” is the progression of the story
  4. The “horrible gruesome deaths.” completes the horror aspect.

And you know what, most horror films follow this thread. They change the “person” (mother/father/caretaker/camp counselor/detective) but they are all effectively the same. They change the “creature” (evil entity/ghost/serial killer/haunted house) but they all play the same role. Lastly, this changes how “lots of people died” and what “horrible gruesome deaths” look like, but they still happen.

Inspiration

There are various ways that one can tackle the great plague known as “Lack of Inspiration” A.K.A Writer’s Block. When it comes to crafting a story, your idea’s building blocks will either make or break your story, and moving from nothing to something while “blocked” makes it harder. I usually scourer the internet, recollect my favourite scenes in books/movies, listen to music etc. until I have a solid foundation that gets me excited about the story.

Also, just to note, I’m not talking about epiphanies or getting over the block. I’m talking about slugging through the lack of ideas by pounding against them until you get a breakthrough. That’s what I will be sharing with you.

  • The Prompt Finder

So you go to http://www.google.com right, then in search you type in “(Genre) writing prompts” and voila, an entire internet of results. Then you open about 100 tabs and read through all of them until a particular idea lights the fuse of your creativity. Sometimes it’s the 42nd tab (pun).

Letterpile – Horror Story Ideas

PS: You know it doesn’t have to follow the prompt to the T right? Just enough to put fuel into the fire.

  • The Reddit Prowler

Reddit is as close to the dark web as I will ever get. The things you find on it are just… wow/disturbing. Nonetheless, there are plenty of people like you and me, lacking inspiration, who post interesting topics, stories, and ideas to inspire. Below are my favourite horror haunts.

r/horror
r/nosleep
r/darktales

PS: There are other parts of Reddit that display the dark side of the human condition. I wouldn’t suggest visiting those places in fear you’ll be scarred for life. There are also really great fluffy places that I do not visit for the fear I’ll be scarred for life.

 

  • The Myth Buster

Okay maybe not busting myths, but there is a lot of interesting creatures and entities in mythology and folklore that creep me out. Like the Jorōgumo, who is half spider half woman. She sometimes appears as a woman holding a baby, who asks men passing by to hold it. Only for them to discover that the “baby” is made up of thousands of spider-eggs… and they burst open.

Mythological Creatures
Mythology and Folklore (Blog Posts) – By Carin Marais

  • The MusicMovieMan

So I love watching movies and TV series right. Right now I’m watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine and it’s hilarious. Andy Samberg is my favourite person in the world. Sometimes you just watch something and it sparks a feeling. An idea. A story. Use it.

The second half of it is music. Usually the music I listen to reflects my mood. When I’m writing, I try to listen to songs that fit the mood of the story, the scene or even the character. For instance, when I wrote my short story called Love Will Tear Us Apart, I was literally listening (on repeat) to the Fall Out Boy version of Joy Division’s Love Will Tear Us Apart. When I’m writing a serial killer, I’ll plug in Slayer or Slipknot or something heavy. The music creates scenes in my head. It’s beautifully disturbing.

My Story Idea

So I perused every prompt, listened to many songs, watched series, went out for walks, and pet other peoples dogs. The story that I dreamed up was uninspired and boring. And then I read this really deep blog post about regret. That’s an emotion I resonate to a little too strongly. Then I read about a creature that possess people, and me, I love this kind of stuff right. Then the two ideas merged into my next NaNo Novel…

Emotionally Charged Horror Novel

There was a person (who lived with some sort of very deep regret) and a creature (who fed on it and took over this character) and lots of people died horrible gruesome deaths (trying to protect themselves from the regret-filled human-creature trying to fix his mistakes or trying to get rid of the creature by fixing their mistakes).

So expect lots of emotive language, broken characters, gruesome deaths, and plenty of crying. It also sort of fits how I’m feeling right now.


How’s your NaNo planning going? Are you experiencing any writer’s block? How do you overcome “The Block” and what sites/music/blogs do you use to help you in your writing?

Blogger Prompt Chain

I was tagged by my good friend, and fellow writer/blogger/gamer (and all round awesome) Rachel Poli to do a Blogger Prompt Chain. It was created by A.J. Alexander – you should visit her blog too. The idea is to create a “chain” of stories written by writers and bloggers across the blog-o-sphere.

Since I didn’t have a post for today, and Rachel so kindly invited me to participate, I thought, why not.

But first…
Hipster Ariel I Don't Do Challenges

The Rules:

  1. Pick one of the five given writing prompts (picked from Rachel’s blog – link above)
  2. Set up the Blogger Prompt Chain banner and publish your story under the banner.
  3. After your story, continue the chain by forwarding an invitation to five bloggers or writers. (In case a writer doesn’t have a blog, guest posts can be offered)
  4. Don’t forget to link the writers to your blog and back to the one who invited you.
  5. Publish the five writing prompts and rules!

The Prompts

The End of The Bucket List
Write a story about a character who finds out that he or she is dying and has been knocking things off his/her bucket list and has finally reached the last item.

Get Out of the Car With Your Hands Up
You’re driving to your favorite city when you’re stopped by a police officer. Sure, you were going a few miles over the speed limit, so you’re not overly surprised. But you are surprised when the police officer gets to your car and screams, “Get out of your car with your hands up!” This leads to an unexpected night for you. Write this scene.

Hiring a New Villain
Your old villain quit over creative differences, so you’ve put yourself in charge of hiring a new villain for your novel. What questions do you ask? What does the new villain’s resume say? Write this scene as if it were a job interview.

At The End of The Rainbow
You and a friend have decided to try and follow a rainbow to see if the end holds a pot of gold. But when you finally reach the end, you find something much more valuable than a pot of gold—and it changes your life. Write this scene.

The Letter All Writers Should Write
Write a letter to a person who supported your writing career, whether that be a friend, a family member, a teacher (even one that supported you at a very young age before you knew that it would blossom into a writing career), an author you’ve never met but have been inspired by his or her writing. Do you thank them? Do you blame them? Take the letter in any direction you want.

My Choice: At The End of The Rainbow

“You know, scientifically, we can never reach the end of a rainbow. You know this right? Right.” Chae says, pushing his glasses up his nose.

“No science today buddy, only faith.” I reply. Chae shakes his head.  Dried grass crunches under our feet, the sun a welcome sight parting what little clouds remain. A rainbow, clear as day and completely translucent, arches perfectly ahead of us.

“I’m all sweaty. Not even five minutes and it’s searing hot.” Chae says. “That humidity.”

“It will be worth it. Trust me.” I say. In my pocket is a piece of concrete slab. Etched into it hours before, as the rain poured down around me, is an ancient symbol. One that grants access to a rainbow. A perfectly arched rainbow.

“I do trust you. That’s the problem.” Chae says, squinting against the sun. The rainbow seems to recede with every step we take.

“I’ve been waiting a long time for this. Faith won’t fail me today.” I say, running my fingers along the sharpened grooves.

“Faith isn’t going to solidify a rainbohmygosh.”

The rainbow, which was seemingly far, and fading quickly, is suddenly a solid, hued path dropping right at our feet from nothing. It expands forward ahead of us in a path wide enough for a car.

“Impossible!” Chae says, taking off his glasses to wipe them. As though the smudges and dust creates the vision before us. Only we both know its real.

“Faith my friend.” I say, feeling a smile tug at my lips, “Let’s see where the rainbow-brick road leads.”

We step onto the path and immediately a cold shiver runs through me. I turn to Chae to find he has paled considerably.

“No.” Chae whispers, “No. No. No. No. Somethings wrong. Something is very wrong!” His voice screeches.

“No man, it’s perfectly okay.” I say although the pounding in my chest says otherwise. I know it’s not okay at all. However, if we have reached the end of the rainbow then there must be some nugget of truth to the whole pot of gold myth. If only the sudden menacing presence around us wasn’t so strong.

“Do you notice something weird?” Chae asks. His eyes cast about the veld that stretches out around us. I notice it then.

“The world looks transparent.”

“I think we should turn back. I really think we should turn back.”

Chae begins to whirl around but something glints just ahead of us. I grab his arm and whirl him around.

“Look!”

“We cannot continue along this… this fantasy!” He yells without looking ahead.

“We found it Chae!” He stops long enough to look, then he runs.”

“Dude! Wait what if…” But he’s already reaching whatever it is ahead of us. I go after him, seeing that it’s not a pot of gold after all.

“It’s…”

“A book?”

Chae lifts it up. The cover is pure gold, yet bends and flexes easily. He casually turns the blank pages.

“Well that was a waste of time.” He says, shutting the book with a snap.

“Maybe if we write in it, whatever we write will come to life.”

“That’s just stupid.” He adjusts his glasses, dusts his pants before pulling out a tiny clutch pencil from his back pocket.

“I thought it was stupid.” I say with a grin.

Chae shrugs,

“So is finding a gold-bound book at the end of a rainbow.”

We put it down and I take the pencil from Chae.

“Don’t write anything stupid.”

“Shut up.” I laugh. Thinking. Then I have an idea,

We turn around and there’s a pot of gold.

“That’s really stupid.” Chae says, but he turns around. “Oh no…”

I look up from the page and follow his gaze. There’s a pot of gold alright. A pot made of gold. I sigh.

“I guess we need to be more specific.”

“I wasn’t “oh no-ing” about the pot…” Chae says. I look beyond the path and feel my stomach drop. Shadows rise up around us in coils of smoke. They block the path back but worse than that, they each hold similar books. They begin to shamble towards us. Chae clutches his chest like he’s having a heart-attack. I look at the book in my hand, at Chae and at the shadows. An idea pops up.

“As the figures draw closer, they part long enough for us to run through. We escape unscathed.”

Only the words begin to twist on the page, and words vanish and reform.

“As the figures draw closer, Chae sacrifices himself, parting them long enough for me to run through. I escape unscathed.”

“Wait no!” I scream at the book.

“Run!” Chae says. I look up to find him launching himself at the closest shadows, who part long enough to create a path. My feet suddenly move on their own.

“No!” I scream as my body jolts itself forward and runs. My arms reach for Chae but he’s too far.

“Chae!!”

But the figures clutch him tightly and I am propelled off the rainbow-path and into the heat. I turn around, only to find the rainbow has faded into the distance.

“Chae!”


I Invite:

  1. Carin Marais
  2. Nicky – Chasing Dreams
  3. Jen – Fictional Jenn (Where’s your site JEN!)
  4. Kelly Griffiths
  5. Tyron “Odly Otter” Armstrong

You don’t want to participate but it would be amazing if you did. If you do, please leave a link to your story!

 

 

Agents of Dreamland – Book Review

 

Title:
Agents of Dreamland

Author:
Caitlín R. Kiernan

Genre:
Lovecraftian Horror

Book procurement:
Received a copy for Gamecca Magazine from Tor.com.

Synopsis:

A government special agent known only as the Signalman gets off a train on a stunningly hot morning in Winslow, Arizona. Later that day he meets a woman in a diner to exchange information about an event that happened a week earlier for which neither has an explanation, but which haunts the Signalman.

In a ranch house near the shore of the Salton Sea a cult leader gathers up the weak and susceptible—the Children of the Next Level—and offers them something to believe in and a chance for transcendence. The future is coming and they will help to usher it in.

A day after the events at the ranch house which disturbed the Signalman so deeply that he and his government sought out help from ‘other’ sources, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory abruptly loses contact with NASA’s interplanetary probe New Horizons. Something out beyond the orbit of Pluto has made contact.

And a woman floating outside of time looks to the future and the past for answers to what can save humanity.

Book Review:

First Thoughts

To be honest I did not know what to expect from this book when I got my review copy for Gamecca Magazine from Tor. I had never heard of Caitlín R. Kiernan and that synopsis said a lot but nothing close to what the novella explores. In the end I was pleasantly surprised… okay I really enjoyed the book and look forward to more.

The Story

This is an interconnected story that follows mainly three sets of characters:

Signalman is a government agent assigned to a peculiar case that continues to haunt him. Even as he proceeds to a diner where he has a meet up with a mysterious woman. They exchange valuable information that only escalates the situation. He moves forward with the hope of figuring out exactly what he saw inside a particular ranch.

Immaculata is a woman searching for humanity’s last hope against an approaching, devastating event. She floats between time, searching for an answer.

Salton Sea is the current home of Drew Standish, a cult leader, and his followers known as Children of the Next Level. The Children seek to usher in a new future as they transcend beyond humanity.

Lastly, something beyond the orbit of Pluto has made contact with NASA’s interplanetary probe, New Horizons.

Writing

To say my mind is so blown, I’m deeply disturbed, is an understatement. The writing is solid. Each characters has a distinct and personal voice. There is no unnecessary drivel to distract from the unfolding story, which eventually meets in the middle beautifully, then rides off into the sunset, leaving you bewildered and unbelieving of what just happened.

There is a lot of shifting perspectives, as you can imagine, with all the characters giving a different view of the ongoing events. From Signalman, who is the investigator, to the Drew Standish and one particular child of The Children, who has disturbing insights of what is to come, to Immaculata, the seeker of salvation and something a little more.

There is also a switch in timeliness literally between sentences. Sometimes it was off putting, but Caitlín did a good job of not losing me or my focus between these switches.  Thankfully, they show a wider, more comprehensive perspective on the bigger picture revealing itself into some mind-blowing stuff. *shivers.

There is also a very obvious Lovecraftian style to the writing, more towards the combination of science, bible, conspiracy, and a real, obvious entity we never truly see. I loved how Caitlín uses conspiracy theories (The Beatles’ music, Apple Records, Yggdrasil, Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil – basically APPLES), and parts of foreshadowing (Signalman watches a movie as a child, but misses a very important scene – also, this is not a spoiler), to build this world around the story.

It’s brilliant.

Final Thoughts

I have a love/hate relationship for Signalman. I’m deeply intrigued with Immaculata and her time-travel abilities (or whatever they are). Drew Standish is that charismatic type I would also probably follow, although I’d hate to be part of his particular cult (or any cult in general… the bad cults.) Together, they tell a compelling story. It’s a great novella which puts Caitlín R. Kiernan at the top of my favourite authors.

Rating: A well deserved 5 out of 5


Agents of Dreamland was published on February 28, 2017.

Did you know: Caitlín R. Kiernan wrote scientific papers in the field of paleontology, has written for DC Comics, and has over two hundred short stories, novellas, and vignettes published.


Are you an author who wants your book reviewed? Contact me on my site: NthatoMorakabi.com

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