Takeover Ad
Takeover Ad
Roderick Donald

Welcome to the News & Reviews section here at Doctor Who Online! This is where you will find all the latest Doctor Who related news and reviews split up into easy to use sections - each section is colour coded for your convenience. The latest items can be found at the top, and older items follow down the page.

Archived news and reviews can be accessed by clicking on the relevant area on the News / Reviews Key panels to the right.

E-Mail NewsE-Mail Reviews
9 November 2020

Publisher: HK Doodles

Written By: Kip Koelsch

RRP: £8.09 / $9.99 (Paperback) | £3.21 / $4.15 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 9th November 2020

Not knowing what to expect in a book is a rare treat for a reader, in a world where certain themes, plots, devices and even characters can seem like they're treading old ground or rehashing old favourites. Kip Koelsch's Piercing The Celestial Ocean, however, constantly has the reader guessing and wondering what direction it will go in.... and we LOVE it!

This is an epic story, essentially, about two universes coming together (in more ways than one). With wormholes, multiverses, time travel and AI (to name just a few popular devices), there's so much going on that you can't wait to find out what crazy turn is around the corner. That being said, at no point does the narrative become muddy or complicated; we get explanations along the way and if there does appear to be a short moment of time where you start to wonder what's happening, it's not long before Koelsch sets things on course again.

The sheer amount of work that has gone into fleshing out one of the main cultures in the story (the P'nesians) has to be commended. You really get a feel for the people and their hierarchy and it's so interesting when you blend this with the multiverse and other cultures.

Anyone who has read Koelsch's other works, particularly Wendell's Lullaby, will know that the author has a close affinity with the ocean - something that is very much present here in this book, and is rather cleverly used as a key part of the whole story. To draw a parallel to Star Trek (something that you will feel strong flavours of in this book) it had us thinking back to Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home - except this time, the author got it right!

Piercing The Celestial Ocean is old-school Science Fiction that seamlessly connects to modern day aspects of the genre. It seems the multiverse is very much an in thing at the moment within SciFi, but rather than feeling like it's keeping up with the trend, this books use of it feels natural and certainly not shoe-horned in.

The tagline of this book is 'The Saga Of The Cerulean Universe Begins' and begin it most definitely has! By the time you reach the end, you feel like you're only just scratching the surface of what's in store. We very much looking forward to following this saga!

+  Piercing The Celestial Ocean is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.com!
+  Follow @KipAAuthor (Kip Koelsch) on Twitter.

31 October 2020

Publisher: Wild Rose Press

Written By: Mark Rosendorf

RRP: £12.99 / $15.99 (Paperback) | £3.98 / $5.19 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 31st October 2020

Mark Rosendorf's The Witches Of Vegas is a fantastic new YA / Urban Fantasy with a thrilling supernatural twist. Think The Greatest Showman meets Twilight and you get the recipe for this thoroughly entertaining book.

Set against the titular backdrop of Las Vegas, the story follows Isis; a young witch getting to grips with her magical powers. Following a troubled childhood she is saved and subsequently taken in by a coven of witches who give her the family she's always wanted.

And now to the really clever bit... the Witches have a sell-out show at the Sapphire Resort in Vegas -  displaying (unbeknown to the audience) real magic. This is a genius move by the author to create a device where the Witches can hide in plain sight, whilst using their talents, and earn a tidy crust on the side.

As well as Witches we also have a rather nasty Vampire, which compliments the story wonderfully by giving us a worthy, and may we say unexpected adversary. There's also room for a little Romance in The Witches Of Vegas, and whilst we don't want to give anything away, we did enjoy the fresh way in which it unfolds in the story.

There are characters that you will simply love; outside of Isis, Sebastian, Luther, Valeria and Zack were among our favourites and were all layered and delightfully complex.

Not only does Rosendorf bring to life a rich palette of characters, but he also brings Las Vegas to life in the pages of the book. It's clear this is somewhere he has researched, walked the streets and breathed the atmosphere, and it reads very much as a character in its own right.

The conclusion was incredibly satisfying, whilst leaving you wanting for more, and you will love how everything regarding the show itself has a poignant part to play for our beloved coven.

The Witches Of Vegas is simply screaming out to be a movie series. The glamour and sparkle of Vegas juxtaposed with the magic and dark undertones of the story would convert so well on the big screen. One can only hope that Hollywood snaps up this incredibly engrossing adventure.

In a conversation with the author, we were pleased to learn that there will be a sequel, which is just as well, as we felt like we weren't done yet with Isis and her fascinating world. Expect big things from Mark Rosendorf - an author you most definitely have to have in your library!

+  The Witches Of Vegas is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.com!
+  Follow @MarkRosendorf on Twitter.

16 October 2020

Publisher: Bookbaby

Written By: Ryan Hastings

RRP: £7.06 / $10.76 (Paperback) | £6.04 / $7.80 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 16th October 2020

Ryan Hastings' Rituals is a fresh take on the SciFi / Fantasy mash-up genre, and takes no time in throwing the reader straight into the action. In the city of Evermore a treacherous son is about to make a decision that will be the catalyst of a war between good and evil.

Our protagonist's, Galai'el and Yana battle the evil Dom'rel, together with Baalta, whilst saving a princess along the way. All the right ingredients are here for a fantastic adventure and Hastings pulls it off with lustre.

There is some fantastic world-building in Rituals, with the world of Harth and the kingdom of Malene painted in glorious detail - sometimes at the cost of added character depth, but with such a wonderful roster of characters, the author can be forgiven for painting some with lighter brush strokes than others.

All the action (and there's a LOT of action) ticks along at great speed, and as a reader you are constantly being propelled to continue reading - even, at times, when your eyes may need a rest, there's a wonderful propulsion to find out what happens next. 

There's a wonderful morality tale at the heart of Rituals. Sure there is the obvious strands of good vs evil, but there is a religious theme that beats away gently throughout, and you can't help but feel like being a slightly better human at the end of it all. In fact, Hastings' closing paragraph is rather apt and bookends this story perfectly.

We were pleased to learn that there are two sequels to Rituals (Rituals: Storm And Serpent and Rituals: Wars, Worlds And Wards) - both titles we hope to review in due course. We enjoyed the escapism of Harth and cannot wait for our return ticket!

+  Rituals is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Follow @DragonFrisky (Ryan Hastings) on Twitter.

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.

7 October 2020

Publisher: Grimprint Publishing

Written By: S.B. Norton

RRP: £12.00 / $15.00 (Paperback) | £2.83 / $3.49 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 7th October 2020

By day, Hope Kelley is a bespectacled, dorky, adolescent girl, but by night she enters the dream world of Sombre and becomes Halliday Knight; a kick-ass 'Gatherer' who battles the violent incumbents of this nightmare world. This Clark Kent / Superman type duality works wonderfully in S.B. Norton's spirited yet macabre story.

Just three pages in, you realise this isn't your average fantasy, as horror very much plays a (rather exciting) part in this Gaiman-esque tale. In fact, the horror goes about as far as you may be comfortable with, and just dips its toe on the other side, at times - something that makes you feel uncomfortable in a surprisingly welcoming way.

The many journeys Halliday goes on almost makes us reminisce the Fighting Fantasy books of our youth, with such gruesome details in the creatures (and their inevitable demise). You can almost imagine John Blanche's artwork being accompanied with Norton's monstrous descriptions.

"The devil-imp was a hideous cross of Neanderthal baby-human and shaven mangy street dog. Claw-like hands scratched at the dirt. A wasted, bony body and leathery, oily skin. Prowling on all fours it coughed and spat more blood."

Norton, S.B.. Sombre (p. 5). Grimprint Publishing. Kindle Edition. 

Hope / Halliday is joined by a cast of incredibly likeable, diverse characters who lift off the page; both good and evil. Dave is probably our favourite - an almost foil, to Halliday. 

We mentioned the Fantasy and Horror genres, but one other that fits so perfectly in this world is that of Steampunk. In fact, it's a genre that - quite literally - sits at the beating heart of Sombre. Take Halliday's Machanihorse, for example:

“A mechanical horse,” Dave pondered scratching his stubbly chin. “Does she ever breakdown? What does she eat?” “A Machanihorse, Dave,” Halliday corrected him as she stirred the balance of her drink with a straw, she nodded, “And not a lot, really. Pecks the grasses, drinks from The River occasionally. She is quite chock full of her mechanisms, you know. She needs a tweak from The Menders here and there.”

Norton, S.B.. Sombre (pp. 28-29). Grimprint Publishing. Kindle Edition. 

This is most definitely a fast-paced story that will have you putting off your daily duties, just to get a little further. Rather aptly, you almost feel like Hope; trading your mundane life to pick up the book and enter a vividly more exciting one.

Without spoiling things too much, it's safe to say that a sequel is coming in 2021 and we're rather excited (if a little scared) to re-enter this wonderful world that S.B. Norton has created.

+  Sombre is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Follow @SBNorton1 on Twitter.

21 September 2020

Publisher: Self Published

Written By: Leah Reise

RRP: £8.33 / $11.00 (Paperback) | £3.20 / $3.99 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 21st September 2020

This time around we're dipping back into the world of vampires in Leah Reise's 'The Beauty In Darkness: A Vampire Story'; a refreshing take on the supernatural genre.

Edrea, our central character, is dead. That is, she has just died - on her 29th Birthday of all days. It gets worse though, as Edrea has been turned into a Vampire and she's not keen on this new "life". With an opportunity to end her existence once and for all, she's about to go through with it until she hears the scream of a woman in trouble. Suddenly, Edrea is given fresh new purpose and, rather fortunately for us, (spoiler alert) doesn't go through with her initial plan.

This story is also about Edrea's sister, Rena; someone who only knows her sister is missing - and not the grave truth about what actually happened to her and what she has become. The story flip-flops between each sister's perspective, but rather unusually we get a third-person perspective for Rena as opposed to Edrea's first-person. Not a critique - it still works and I guess it focuses us more on Edrea.

I think what makes this book so engaging is the inner turmoil that Edrea is constantly going through. She is fighting against her new instincts and it wonderfully emboldens just how strong she is in doing so. You want a strong, female character here - you got it! I also love her self-titled 'dark heroine' persona that she eventually comes to accept. Taking the supernatural out of it, there are so many parallels to everyday struggles we as humans face, and it's so nice, regardless of gender, to see them reflected in Edrea's own struggles.

At its heart, this is a morality tale, and one that despite the subject matter and some of the macabre tone, will actually give you hope and comfort. No better can this be evidenced than by something Edrea says, herself:

"No one is ever truly alone, because we're all lonely together"

There are some great characters throughout, although some which you wish you knew a little more about and have fleshed out. Finally, I want to commend Reise for her excellent use of pacing; everything starts off with a bang before settling down to the meat of the story with a gradual build to a satisfying conclusion.

The Beauty In Darkness is an easy read, to the point that (at the risk of sounding cliche) you don't want to put it down. When you do reach the end, there's a rather lovely letter from the author with the promise of a sequel - something we are very much looking forward to reading.

+  The Beauty In Darkness is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Follow @LeahReise on Twitter.

14 September 2020

Publisher: Self Published

Written By: Evangeline Greene

RRP: £12.43 / $14.99 (Paperback) | £3.25 / $3.99 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 14th September 2020

Sophia Violet And The Fiery Orb revolves around the titular Sophia; a 14-year girl with violet eyes who is about to discover her life isn't quite as it seems...

Right from the first chapter the reader is gripped as we are launched into the moments after Sophia's birth, with her parents scrambling as they give over their precious newborn Daughter to protect her from an, as-yet, unseen threat.

Enter Rayson, a changeling (and one of our main antagonists) who we first see as a giant Panther, pursuing Sophia's parent's as they try to escape the hospital car park. What's rather clever, is Rayson looks at Sarah (Sophia's mother) and thinks that the baby is yet to be born, giving precious time for her adoptive parents to escape the hospital.

Without giving too much more away, we then cut forward to present day, where an adolescent Sophia, now living in New York City, begins a new school. And so begins the adventure as our protagonist discovers the truth that she is a child of two worlds, as well as the important path before her to save them.

Throw in shapeshifting aliens, mysterious orbs and a meaty plot that holds everything together perfectly, this is one young adult fantasy that will keep your attention to the final page. There's also a rather poignant environmental message that courses through the story - one which reflects the current climate change issues in our own, real-world lives. It's also a mark of genius how Greene uses this as a device within the story - again, not trying to give anything away.

As you approach the end, there is a satisfying finish to the story whilst leading directly into a (fingers crossed) sequel. In fact, that whole last page reads almost like a screenplay, and you can just imagine yourself sitting in a movie theatre as it cuts to black after the final description. Marvellous stuff!

Whilst the character and setting descriptions throughout are top-notch, it is the author's grasp at relationships - particularly teenage relationships, that shine through. They are rich and layered and, more importantly, believable. You’re not short of decent character’s, either; there are plenty of strong female characters without the temptation of making them ‘kick-ass’, and the foil between the protagonist and the antagonist is in perfect balance.

There are parallels to Harry Potter and His Dark Materials, but Sophia Violet is still very much its own thing; it's just nice to have the comfort of feeling that this book is holding its own against those cherished genre bedfellows.

A genuine treat to have read, Sophia Violet and the Fiery Orb is the coming-of-age, head-turning fantasy that you've been waiting for!

+  Sophia Violet And The Fiery Orb is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Follow @GreeneAuthor on Twitter.

5 September 2020

Publisher: BHC Press

Written By: Mackenzie Flohr

RRP: £19.95 / $25.95 (Hardback) | £11.95 / $14.95 (Paperback) | £1.49 / $1.99 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 5th September 2020

We've been incredibly excited to get stuck into Mackenzie Flohr's The Rite Of Wands - a fantasy saga that will speak to anyone who loves this popular, if crowded genre. Indeed, it takes something special to stand up above the crowd and get noticed; something this book did right from the off with some help from the striking cover artwork by Vern Firestone.

This is a tale of two young warlocks; Mierta McKinnon and Orlynd O'Brien - both wishing for more than their lot and coming to terms with their newfound powers. Both are wonderfully complex characters who share a number of similarities, but each are very much treading their own path. This is helped by the way in which Flohr keeps their stories separate, flip-flopping between chapters.

What we loved most about The Rite Of Wands, was how unpredictable it is. Yes, there's good and evil, but there are so many shades between that Flohr explores - particularly with Mierta. As the book progresses we see a time jump where our main protagonist has changed and you are left not really knowing where he or his intentions are going. This is someone you care about and the frustration you feel as a reader is just fantastic. Talk about gripping! The unpredictabilty is always in the back of your mind; just when you feel like you know a character, Flohr may just throw a curveball to flip the script (and your perception).

There are shocks, surprises and moments that will genuinely have your jaw dropping to the proverbial cobbled floor. We’ve not read a true fantasy adventure so captivating as this is since The Lord Of The Rings, and it's all down to Flohr's masterpiece in world-building. Rooms that characters enter are described in such rich detail that you feel like you're actually there. Characters faces are described in similar detail that you actually see them in your minds eye; Mierta's servant is a prime example: 

"He was a tall young man in his late teens. His long, curly, black hair had been tied back at the base of his neck. A short well-trimmed beard covered his strong jaw line, and his upper lip was covered by a thin moustache under a long beak-like nose. His fiery brown eyes betrayed his weary countenance."

Flohr, Mackenzie. The Rite of Wands (p. 35). BHC Press. Kindle Edition.

We mentioned earlier about a jump in time, and another tool that Flohr uses, rather fantastically, is the ability to go back and forth in time, seemingly effortlessly to fill in the character's backstory, whilst not too obviously distracting from the plot. With a character who can also see into the future, this also makes for an interesting device in the storytelling.

There's a great cliffhanger involving a certain character's fate - one which we will not reveal here because SPOILERS, but it is excellently played out and leaves you desperate to find out what happens next in this enchanting tale.

The Rite Of Wands is a perfect mesh of Doctor Who and Harry Potter, with the added adventure and fantasy of The Lord Of The Rings thrown in for good measure - it's literally all our favourite fandoms in one book!

Book 2 (The Rite Of Abnegation) was released earlier this year and DWO will be covering this title, shortly. Cant wait!

+  The Rite Of Wands is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Follow @MackenzieFlohr on Twitter.

31 August 2020

Publisher: BHC Press

Written By: J.W. Garrett

RRP: £10.95 / $14.95 (Paperback)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 31st August 2020

Following on from our recent review of Remeon's Destiny, we are thrilled to have just finished the sequel (or rather, prequel); Remeon's Quest.

This time around, we find ourselves back in time to 1930, where America is still in the crux of the Great Depression. The story sees our main character, Jack Livingston, dealing with a tragedy at work that takes his best friend Sam from him. Left with a note from Sam, Jack begins to carve out the new future he initially planned with his friend, when life takes another, unsuspecting turn...

I want to begin by commending J.W. Garrett for such a gripping start to this story. From the  gut-wrenching loss Jack deals with, to the journey he goes on with Harry, the reader is pulled along at a fantastic pace that somehow also allows you to breathe in the sights along the way. Such is Garret's attention to detail, from the cold beginning in Utah to Las Vegas and - quite literally - BEYOND, you really feel like you are travelling a first class, evocative ticket with the characters.

Speaking of characters, Remeon's Quest is brimming with a whole host of rich, new characters, as well as some old (or should that be younger?) favourites from the previous chapter in the Realms Of Chaos saga. Of these new characters, Whisterley is definitely our favourite; another strong, female character that helps balance the book, whilst giving our central character some much-needed happiness.

Again, we have a wonderful, expertly crafted blend of Science Fiction and Fantasy, with the added sprinkling of a love story between Jack and Whisterley, that holds central to the book.

As with Remeon's Destiny, you never know what is around the corner; be it a new best friend, an oncoming spaceship or true love, but one thing you can count on is a thrill-ride full of adventure.

This is some genius storytelling, and whilst it's not a movie (gosh what a movie series this would make!), it does reflect a little of the clever use of time travel seen in Back To The Future. Little nods that come back to play out later on - not to mention the time jumps.

There's some real momentum with this series and with book 3 (Remeon's Crusade) having just been released, I cannot wait to see what happens next, chronologically.

+  Remeon's Quest is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Follow @GarrettJLW on Twitter.

28 August 2020

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press

Written By: Beverly Torres

RRP: £2.27 / $2.99 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 28th August 2020

At just 93 pages long, Beverly Torres' The Moon's Pull is one of the shortest books we've  reviewed so far, but boy does the author pack a lot into those pages!

Right from the off, we're thrown into the action as our lead character, Sam - a small town detective who seeks her peers' acceptance - arrives at a horrifying and rather mysterious crime scene. Sam is being watched from the nearby foggy hillside, by an equally mysterious character who we come to learn is Quentin Blackstone - our other main protagonist, and who also happens to be a Werewolf...

The story flip-flops between Sam and Quentin's point of view until they are thrown together through their attraction for each other and the common interest in the recent spate of murders.

The change of scenery between the detective work, with that of the exciting, supernatural world of werewolves acts as a fantastic contrast. Whilst you are constantly wanting to get back to anything with Sam and Quentin in it, you realise that the mundane gives necessary balance.

Torres' use of names is inspired, too. Carrick, Quentin and Baylock all sound like they are from an age gone by and fit perfectly within the Werewolf genre. Indeed, it feels like the author has done some incredible research on Werewolf lore as it feels so fleshed out and believable.

As one would hope, there is a poignant and utterly perfect climax to the story. Torres has got everything right here and on paper, for a story so short, it shouldn't work - but it does. This is a lesson in world-building and storytelling that proves you don't have to write an epic saga to pull off a good story.

There are so many well-written moments, and without giving too much away, there was a whole section near the end featuring a werewolf/human ceremony that was so beautifully written that the visuals it conjured are still vibrant in our mind.

The Moon's Pull would make a terrific TV movie; it's like a cross between Torchwood and Twilight, and let's be honest, werewolves are much cooler than vampires. Speaking of which, there are some racy scenes in the middle of the book that will please those wishing for a little bit more than what we got from Bella and Edward's foray in Twilight.

There's no word on a sequel, but we're hoping that Torres may dip back into this world in the future as there's loads of potential for further adventures. Whilst it was undoubtedly short, The Moon's Pull is an incredibly easy and captivating read. 

+  The Moon's Pull is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Follow @Btorres3 (Beverly Torres) on Twitter.

12 July 2020

Publisher: Independently Published

Written By: Meg MacDonald

RRP: £3.99 / $4.99 (Kindle) | £12.99 / $15.99 (Paperback)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 13th July 2020

Meg MacDonald's world building is the first thing that hits you in Oath Sworn; an epic gaslamp fantasy that feels so much bigger than the sum of its parts. The sheer scale and richness of detail make this a read that even Tolkien would be proud of - for this is the calibre that the author deserves to be compared to.

To give you but a taste of what we mean, here is an extract, mere pages into the first chapter:

"Beyond mullioned windows, the late-winter sky was plum-dark, the low-lying parish streets cloaked in mist. Even on a clear night, the broad expanse of the northern heavens offered precious little moonlight so close to year’s end. Only a single moon shone brightly, the others waning crescents, slivers of melting ice soon to turn dark faces on their world."

It's by far one of the most original fantasy stories we've read in a long time, and we've read some truly fantastic titles over the past few years. Think Lord Of The Rings meets Star Wars meets The Witcher and you are starting to enter an adjacent postcode to Aralt's world.

We drew the comparison to Tolkien at the start and like The Fellowship Of The Ring, it's a slow build, but one that you can savour every description and character that graces the page. There's adventure, too... You want sky pirates - you got it! Awesome weapons in the form of crystal swords that are tuned to the hands of their keepers - you got it! A foreboding enemy hell-bent on destroying souls - you better believe it! 

There's bags of emotion, too; due to the hard work put in early on, you really care for the characters and cultures within, and the tumultuous relationship between the main protagonists (Aralt & Lian), will keep you entertained throughout. Not ashamed to say we *may* have reached for the tissues more than once.

All the effort put in by both the author and the reader at the start, gradually build to an epic conclusion - you could not of hoped for a better conclusion than the one we get here!

One final thing we would be remiss not to mention and which we absolutely loved were the many journal extracts, teachings and notations that prefaced each chapter. Whether or not it was intentional, they allowed for a brief pause to take yourself out of the action and ponder the sentiments, before being launched back in again. Excellent tool from the author!

To have left things where they are in just one book would have been a disservice to all the hard work that MacDonald has poured into Oath Sworn, and without giving anything away, we thankfully have a sequel in the form of Blood Sworn, which is slated for release later this year!

If you want an engrossing Summer read that will take you away to a far off world (and then some) - THIS is the book for you!

+  Oath Sworn is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Follow @Kyrrimar (Meg MacDonald) on Twitter.

1 July 2020

Publisher: BHC Press

Written By: J.W. Garrett

RRP: £10.95 / $14.95 (Paperback)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 1st July 2020

Remeon's Destiny follows the story of Thomas, a young man growing up in 1940's rural Virginia, who dreams of more than the expected path set before him. Immediately we felt pangs of nostalgia due to the loose parallels with Superman and Star Wars; Clark Kent growing up in rural Kansas - destined for greater things, and Luke Skywalker growing up on a moisture farm on the desert planet of Tattooine - destined to bring peace and order to the galaxy.

It's a recipe that works so well as we all root for the central character to achieve their aspirations, but it's always so refreshing when an author actually adds something new and unexpected to that recipe - and that's exactly what J.W. Garrett has done here.

The juxtaposition between the setting of post-World War II America and that of the futuristic world of Remeon is stark and ultimately meaningful as events, experiences and choices made in the future, make for fantastic character development in Thomas and for the messages and warnings that are underlying for our own planet.

Speaking of characters, those featured in Remeon's Destiny are rich and well-rounded, and whilst Thomas is our main protagonist, there are some fantastic female characters full of depth and who give great poignance to the story. It feels wonderfully balanced and, as a result, real.

Garrett's skill of painting both mundane life in rich, beautiful detail, coupled with the far out complex strokes of a distant world in the same brush is commendable. All this whilst maintaining a driven, entertaining story that compels you to keep on reading - and boy does it do that! 

There are so many moments that jump off the page and feel like a full-on emotive scene that you'd expect to see in a big-screen movie.

There's one particular line near the end of the story, and without giving too much away, it captures a moment every son hopes to have with his father; an acknowledgement of change and being accepted as an adult:

"James desperately searched for answers as he combed the face he thought he knew so well. “Son,” he said, as he grasped Thomas’s shoulders, his voice quivering, “you’ve changed. I can see it in you. A man’s eyes don’t lie.""

That sense of journey; a beginning, a middle and an end - the load-bearing principles of good story writing are all here, but there's so much colour and attention to detail that, (if you pardon us one more arty metaphor), you end up with a masterpiece so full of depth you'll want to bask in it time and time again.

Whilst we are aware the is a prequel to this story now available (and we are very much looking forward to reading it), we cannot help wanting to see what happens next in Thomas' story. As of writing we have just had news that Book 3 in the series (Remeon's Crusade) is out in August - and we cannot wait!

+  Remeon's Destiny is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Follow @GarrettJLW on Twitter.

21 March 2020

Publisher: Self-Published

Written By: Darren Edden

RRP: £8.99 (Paperback)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 21st March 2020

If there was a book we could review that was current with what's going on in the world right now, then Darren Edden's 'The Mirror Of Our Creation' is that book! The story is set in the UK (so nice to have a UK-based story, by the way) in a dystopian future - a future that is at threat from a mysterious influenza-type virus that's wreaking havoc on peoples lives and financial markets - sound familiar?

Ok, maybe the dystopian future part isn't quite what's happening right now, but we are possibly closer that we have ever been to imagining that future, and The Mirror Of Our Creation, in part, is a Nostradamus-like foreshadowing of what could be.

For an author, you couldn't hope for a more poignant and well-timed release for your book - this is a relatively new title, having been released less than a year ago, but from every page you turn it's like a mirror world reflection of our own - and that's before you get stuck into the real meat of the story. Drones, attacks in London, British hospitals packed out with patients... It's all here!

We actually had a cold chill down our back as we read the following line:

"The UK Health Service is starting to creak under the increased pressure of the influenza virus as it continues to spread further throughout the country."

Edden's ability to immerse the reader in his world is testament to his skill in describing the scenes and the characters to a point where they are rich and fully rounded - not just a pencil sketch. You can't help but feel that bit closer to the action, and because of this it's hard to book the book down as you're itching to find out what happens next.

Without giving too much away, it was from Chapter Nineteen that there is a change in tone, direction and location. We head to Jupiter where the character's encounter other intelligent life, in a completely refreshing and ingenious way that feels rejuvenating in the Science Fiction genre.

The Mirror Of Our Creation is split up into three main sections; Part One: The Signal, Part Two: The Contact & Part Three: The Return. A tidy way of storytelling, and coupled with the various 'Newsfeed' sub-chapters throughout (as well as the detailed descriptions mentioned earlier), you feel more part of the story than the normal distanced perspective of a reader.

There are several poignant moments throughout; some because of what’s happening in the real world right now, but some because of the journey taken in the story. One particular moment springs to mind later on, involving a cup of coffee - the juxtaposition of the moment compared with what has just happened...well...without spoiling it, you will know what we mean, where it is and just how poignant it is when you read it!

Again, not wanting to give too much away, but the end is left open for a sequel - one that we hope will come very soon, as Edden and his seemingly prophetic skills, could come in handy in the months and possibly years to come...

A truly captivating story that fans of Science Fiction with hold on to with great relish!

+  The Mirror Of Our Creation is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Follow @DarrenEdden on Twitter.

24 November 2019

Publisher: Rude Cat LLC

Written By: Randy Smith

RRP: £15.99$17.99 (Paperback)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 24th November 2019

Something that Doctor Who and Star Trek has taught us is that Science Fiction doesn't always remain a fiction. Whilst Randy Smith's The Raffle may be nestled in a SciFi / Cyberpunk genre, the story itself is set in a dystopian future, just a few years from now (2026-2027), and serves more as a speculative glimpse into what could be.

There's an alternative history where on July 4th 2016, a multi-angle terror attack changed America forever; so much so that it is now known as the New United States. Our central character, Ramsey, has been separated from his wife and daughter for 10 years, and without trying to spoil anything, The Raffle sees his once-in-a-lifetie chance to be reunited with them.

Talk about prophetic; The Raffle predicted the election of Donald Trump, and there are many more instances within where the reader cannot help but feel spooked by the near-future clairvoyance in which author Randy Smith is worryingly good at.

If we could describe the series in a few words it's The Handmaids Tale meets The Matrix meets The Hunger Games. That being said, it's still very much its own thing and you will be swept along for the ride - a ride that is shocking, unpredictable and so addictive that you just want to keep reading and reading.

The Raffle was initially released as four separate novellas, and one can only imagine the torture as a reader as they got to the end of each book, desperately waiting to find out what happens to Ramsey next. Fortunately, this version brings all four novellas together, so you can tackle the saga in one sitting. The fourth part is considerably longer than the others and reads more like a full-on novel, and feels like a natural evolution of both the story and the author.

Perhaps, rather soberingly, The Raffle is the authors mouthpiece for the state of a country he so blatantly loves, and what could happen. Anyone that can predict the election of Trump NEEDS to be heard; The Raffle doesn't only serve as a fantastic piece of fiction, but a worryingly believable projection into where we are going if we don't change our ways.

After four distinct parts, there is still plenty more life in the series, and with an open ending, we really hope that Ramsey's journey continues!

+  The Raffle is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk!
+  Follow @TheRaffle2027 on Twitter.

6 November 2019

Publisher: Self Published

Written By: Marc W. Johnson

RRP: $12.99 (Paperback)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 6th November 2019

Back in early 2018 we discovered author, Marc W. Johnson and his 'Legacy' title. A chilling, yet thrilling horror that was incredibly intelligently put together. This is something that Johnson carries through perfectly in his latest offering; 'Husker', which focuses on our central character, Jennifer, her father's savage murder and how events from the past come back to play a part in Jennifer's life.

This is truly one of the most terrifying stories we've ever read; and we've read a LOT of Stephen King :) - Dare we say it, but even Mr King could learn a thing or two from Husker - it's as psychologically chilling as it is descriptively.

Johnson has such a talent as a writer; everything is so visual and has a real cinematic texture to the description and flow. In that respect, it really is unlike most horrors or thrillers we've read.

Below is an excerpt from Husker which encapsulates the suspenseful and cinematic genius of Johnsons words:

"Molly's ears perk up when a low wooden creak seeps through the dark, but the sleeping couple does not stir. Molly fixates on the rocker in the dark, she growls softly as she backs out into the hallway and sits, still extremely alert. The rocker sways without a sound while Molly watches." 

Earlier we mentioned about the authors intelligence in his writing, and this is heavily based in the way that, as a reader, you feel like you know where things are going (and feel rather clever in the process), only to have the rug pulled from under your feet and taken in a whole new direction. There's nothing more refreshing or exciting than surprise and Johnson knows exactly how to use it! 

You want settings, you got 'em; attics, corn festivals, parking lots (complete with chocolate pudding cups - something that you may find you have in common with the titular Husker). The characters are rich and drawn not from stereotypes, but complex palettes that make them feel the more genuine for it.

The journey that Jennifer goes on is both emotionally and psychologically draining and we're doing our very best not to give anything away, but every page is a step closer to the answers you are desperate to find out as the reader. The resolution, as with everything that goes before it, is a complete surprise, and, unlike some Stephen King novels, Johnson knows how to end his stories with reader satisfaction. 

We are genuinely terrified to see what Johnson comes up with next, and if form is anything to go by, we're probably going to need some holy water, a priest and a clean change of underwear!

+  Husker is Out Now!
+  Buy this book / Kindle from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Follow @WoordMan on Twitter.

E-Mail NewsE-Mail Reviews
RSS Feed
News Key
News Home
General
The New Series
The Classic Series
Spinoffs
Merchandise
Site
Blog Entries
Reviews Key
Reviews Home
Books / Magazines
DVD / Blu-ray
Audio
Toys / Other
TV Episodes
Search
Advertisements