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15 October 2020

Publisher: Self Published

Written By: Philip Raymond Brown

RRP: £9.60 / $15.99 (Paperback) | £2.39 / $3.08 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 15th October 2020

It Gives You Strength by Philip Raymond Brown is a SciFi / Fantasy / Historical mash-up, set in New York during the Prohibition in the 1920's.

The story begins in 1918, with a spaceship carrying the royal family of the planet Dagan, in a mid-space standoff in our own solar system. Faced with a shocking ultimatum, the family are forced to send their Daughter (the Princess Halana) to Earth, using an experimental procedure that deposits a person's life-force into the nervous system of another, until it can be retrieved. I love that the time period of 1918 conjures up a post-World War I, non-technological era, yet, in contrast, hovering over the planet is an established, technologically advanced alien civilisation, capable of transferring one's life-force. Just because it's 1918 on Earth, it could be the equivalent of the Year 3000 to others. Brilliant!

We then skip forward 8 years as we're introduced to alien anthropologist, Tashan Zho. Zho is transported to Earth on a mission to recover the princess, before the Dagan's launch all-out war on the Humans as 'revenge' for killing the Daganian Royal Family. Zho himself is deposited into the body of Ryan Costello; a (recently deceased) alcoholic bootlegger. Due to the.. *ahem* state of Costello's body, Zho has trouble accessing his mission files, and only has a nugget of information to go on. And so begins his mission to find the princess and save the planet in the process.

Along the way, Zho encounters a number of real-life historical figures, including Jack "Legs" Diamond, Edith Cavell and Jack Dempsey - something that felt right off the screen of a Doctor Who adventure. It's these moments that add connectivity to what is ultimately an alien recovery story, and it's wonderful having Earth as the touchstone.

As the story progresses, Zho's mission objectives change, which lead to some surprising and unforeseen outcomes for both the character and the reader - expertly executed by Brown, this page turner always has you on the back foot, guessing what could possibly happen next.

If one could draw a comparison, It Gives You Strength is Quantum Leap meets Battlestar Galactica meets Once Upon A Time In America - there are elements from all 3 that are echoed throughout, and it makes for fantastic reading!

Without spoiling the end, it is clear that the author has done his historical homework - especially considering one particular character (albeit with some rather neat dramatic license). We're unsure if there will be a sequel, but as a standalone, this was an incredibly engaging book with some clever tools and devices by its author. Readers will be gripped and nowhere else can you throw boxing, bootlegging and aliens into a story and expect it to stick, but stick it does and it's purely down to Brown's literary craftsmanship.

+  It Gives You Strength is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Follow @philipraymondb1 on Twitter.

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