Friday, 30 June 2017

Review: Of Angel's Blood by Martyn Currill

Sharriana Grey lies dead, and The Order is now prospering under the rule of Deimos Black. But even as he struggles to rebuild in the wake of his insurrection, a dark, malevolent power begins to rise against him, a being so powerful even he may not be able to match it...

Read, in his own words, of the threat to all he held dear - and the lengths he must go to defend it.


This July brings all the things you might expect to follow the longest (or shortest) day of the year, including swords, blood and vampires.

Deimos Black takes the time to share another chapter in his life with us. This one even darker than the last. Personally, I'm always a little let down when a book two comes off as a rehash of its predecessor, rebounding from the same adversaries with the same tricks as before. (This book doesn't, making that clear right now.)

Of Angel's Blood doesn't try to make Deimos "human" again and pit him against the same struggles. The changes he experienced in A Life in Blood become his new normal and the darkness he faces becomes subsequently tougher. Currill dares to do the right thing and explore what happens when Deimos must face the absolute evil of his new vampire family. When it counts, he doesn't shy away. Instead, he includes us and draws us down with him in the open, blunt and sometimes shamefully painful way he does in book 1. He brings us along in a desperate and consuming challenge to who he is and I could not look away.

Deimos remains an articulate and consistent narrator who continues to bring his observations and feelings to life.

I also loved his dialogue and the way he brings his friendships to life. Second only to Deimos himself, the real people he surrounds himself with give this story heart and make all the action meaningful.

And speaking of action, while there is less than in A Life in Blood, there is plenty where it's most important and where I found myself hanging on most tightly to my plot-feels. (It's a thing.)

Of Angel's Blood has the courage to ask what happens when we step completely away from who we are and what happens to our very selves when we get to the other side. When the path is dark and desperate, will the soul remain intact? 

Turn on some lights and get yourself a copy. Deimos Black continues to mark all the X's in blood.

Oh, and here's my blurb =)

Deimos Black, former vampire hunter and human, has already shared both the best and worst days of his "life" with us. Through his insurrection and assassination of Sharriana Grey, former leader of the Order, he's brought a tentative peace to the world's vampires.

With this peace, however, comes what may be his undoing. A dark, malevolent power rises against him. Vampires killed or driven mad by indescribable means pile up and Deimos himself becomes the focus of the being who seeks to consume all he holds dear.

Read, in his own words, the lengths he must go to defend everything and most importantly, himself.

Review: Deathwings by Donna Maree Hanson

Life on the ravaged world of Margra is more difficult than ever… Salinda and Garan blasted the evil Gercomo into the sky. Except … he didn’t die, he transformed into a dragon. Final moonfall looms ever closer and the world is on the brink of destruction. 
Gercomo’s vile influence spreads among his dragon herd and he is reaching for power in both the human and dragon worlds. 

Salinda has the means to stop him and save the world. 

And Gercomo wants her dead. 


It's hard to believe it's been more than two and a half years since I first reviewed Shatterwing and Skywatcher, the first two novels in the Dragon Wine series by Donna Maree Hanson. The pair of dark and fantastic tales drove the plot of the first right into the second and have been dressed up into a single volume (in addition to stand alone titles) with gorgeous new covers that brilliantly reflect their grim and gritty nature. While the ending contained a satisfying amount of flame and fighting, enough remained to leave me wondering where the tale might go so I was excited when I heard she had four more novels planned.

I recently read Deathwings, book three, and am very pleased it holds up well both in its continuity of the plot of the first two and in the way in which it remains true to the original world building and treasures the nature of the characters we continue to follow.

Deathwings picks up in the rubble and carnage following the ending of Skywatcher. Hanson winds the characters up with a heavy mix of personal failures and desperate goals then sends them off on their interconnected trials. Even though it has been so long since I read Shatterwing and Skywatcher, I reconnected quickly with the characters and fell into the story and setting.

My favourite character thus far is Nils, a time-traveller of sorts who woke after a thousand year sleep to find himself the only living person in his vast underground city. He is always portrayed as isolated and alone, pale, invisible and even hiding in the shadows. Even his name, Nils, (I associate it with nil, or nothing) enhances the idea of him being on the outside. Ironically and in spite of Nils and his lost society existing on the outskirts of the surface dwelling Margran society, he may be keeper of the only clues that may save the surface dwellers from their falling moon.

It's also hard to describe these books without using words like grim and dark over and over. Deathwings is written with an incredible economy of words in that people, places and even thoughts have been described in a way that maximizes the impact of Hanson's words. She shares the ugly and the beautiful with a deft hand for quickly creating memorable imagery.

Having read much of Hanson's work, Deathwings is the most powerfully written tale I've experienced from her yet. Her words build tension and power the action. Not once did I find a distracting choice of word or 'dropped in' patch of back story to bump me from my engagement.

As a middle book in a series of six, Deathwings secures its place as the plot anchor both wrapping up the first half and setting up the volumes yet to come. It's such a great feeling to be in the middle of a series you love and know you still have three full stories to read for the first time. I look forward to more adventure and recommend you fill out your fantasy collection with this quintet.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Review: Darklands by M.L. Spencer

Compelled to obey the dark god he pledged his soul to, Darien finds himself tasked with delivering the people of the Black Lands from under the curse of darkness which shrouds the skies. With the enemy mage Azár, Darien sets out across a barren darkscape to assume his place as the leader of a people who despise him.

As he journeys deeper into the shadowed waste, Darien is confronted with difficult truths that force him to question every loyalty he has ever held. For there, in the brutal proving grounds of the north, Darien will be inexorably forged into the most dangerous adversary the Rhen has ever faced.


My fabulous brother in law and fellow Virgo knows just how pull my strings. He gives me, oh say, book three in a series, then watches in full-on amusement as I drop everything, helpless against the impulse to run to the book store for books one and two.

Being "she who must have the entire set" can seem like a nonsense compulsion, but getting more books isn't really a bad thing at all, right?

So when M.L. Spencer offered ARCs of Darklands, I readied myself to burn through the first two.

When she said I wouldn't have to read the first two in order to have a good grasp of the goings on in book three, I decided the only way to know for sure was to hold back my inner collector and start reading.

First, I was super happy to see Darklands was edited by the fantastic Morgan Smith, writer of solid, honest heroines and immersively tactile fantasy worlds.

Though loaded with repercussions, heartache and grief from the previous two books in the series, Darklands opens with its own ominously laden action. The line between life and the afterlife quickly blurs and left me with the feeling of straddling both sides of the conflict filled streams winding through the book.

I also loved the balance of voice between the various characters. To me, none stood out over the others and each clearly availed me of the differences in the way they see each other. Each change in point of view made a point of pushing the plot further or pivoting it around in a new direction while maintaining a great feel of being its own small story.

I also felt a good sense of The Rhen and The Black Lands though I suspect much of the setting for book three is in areas not yet explored in books one and two. Though there are a good part of the lands I didn't get to by jumping in to book three, they have the solid feel of the place where your best friend, mage mentor, etc. grew up and gave them life through their first-hand telling.

Darklands is a complete, dark, anything goes fantasy that brings together one of the ultimate challenges in fiction, the balance between life and death, and with it what happens when the very balance of light and dark is thrown awry. Find room for Darklands on your bookshelf and in your escape time. At night. Outside.

So, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to Virgo my way through Darkstorm and Darkmage.

I received an advanced review copy from the author in exchange for my honest opinion.