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16 March 2021

Publisher: Austin Macauley Publishers

Written By: J.L. Haynes

RRP: £6.07 / $9.74 (Paperback) | £2.80 / $4.86 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 16th March 2021

We love a good space fantasy and J.L. Haynes' 'Zara Hanson And The Mystery Of The Painted Symbol' ticks all the right boxes.

The story centres on the titular Zara Hanson - kind of an interstellar Scully from The X Files with a dash of James Bond and Indiana Jones - but with superhuman powers. There's actually a scene in the story that will have fans of 'Moonraker' smiling and punching the air!

We live in a time where we are finally getting to see more and more strong female characters (we've seen it happen in Doctor Who, with a female lead for the first time in the show's 58-year history), and it's great to see it here in a space fantasy adventure. She has purpose, drive and strength, but balanced with the vulnerability of her own sense of self.

Zara Hanson And The Mystery Of The Painted Symbol is very much a story with mystery at its heart; not just for the mission our protagonist goes on, but for her own journey of self-discovery. One of our favourite parts involves the pyramid in Alaska - the whole section just grabs you as a reader before catapulting you into other worlds, dangers and mysteries. It's fantastically fresh and diverse, and with every turn your attention is held throughout.

This is a very different beast to similar titles we've reviewed recently; at times the narrative almost feels like an academic observation of our universe, and you'd be forgiven for being swept away believing what you are reading as fact. Such is the skill of the author, that the level of detail and language used, thrusts you head first into this galactic yarn.

At just 244 pages in length, it's relatively short and perfectly manageable for a weekend read, but despite this length, it's a story that will stay with you for some time. It is heavily layered with philosophical, comical, and, at times, religious brush strokes, and the reader will come away with their own questions about the world and indeed universe around us. 

It definitely feels like the beginning of a much wider saga, and look forward to where Haynes will take the story next. Read it - you'll feel surprisingly smarter by the final page turn!

+  Zara Hanson And The Mystery Of The Painted Symbol is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.com!
+  Follow @JLHaynes4 (J.L. Hayneson Twitter.

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