Scrolling Covers

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Demon Queen and the Locksmith by Spencer Baum

In Turquoise, New Mexico, a small group of hippies believe that the mountain north of town emits a constant, resonant hum that is only audible to a chosen few. They call themselves the Hearers, and the fact that fourteen-year-old Kevin Brown has never trusted them makes it all the worse when his own ears begin to ring, and he comes to realize "The Turquoise Hum" may be much more than a sound.

common failing of self published books is a lack of editing and too much reliance on narration to move over parts of the story. None of these are a problem for author Spencer Baum in his novel The Demon Queen and the Locksmith.

With Great pace in his dialogue and a style reminiscent of early Stephen King I became enthralled. The story slowly unwinding itself in a complex origami of plots and subplots that came together in the final chapters to reveal an original tale filled with horror and suspense.

Kevin Brown is the young hero of the story who becomes transformed from a teary eyed victim of school yard bullies to a believable character who faces the horror of the turquoise mountain with companions Joseph and Jackie.

The story does take some time to establish a sense of direction, it was a good seventy six pages through the tome before I got a feeling for what this story was ultimately about. The opening chapters are still very interesting but don't expect an Indian jones style ride to the finish right from the start. This story is more subtle in it's build up. A few flash backs to earlier events adds dimension and flesh to the main villains bones. So while I did feel at times the story dragged a little, once the three teenagers got a call warning them of mortal danger the story was unstoppable and couldn't be put down.

Baum has a great narrative style with some of his florid descriptions very elegant. Most of the time you got a real sense of presence and at time I found myself listening for the cursed hum of the mountain.

Things did get a bit fanciful in the grand finale, maybe a choice between fluidity and completeness caused of a few 'glossed over' areas with expedient plot devices to creep in. Sticky yellow nano goo might have been one such example.

So definitely a story I recommend to my readers, fine narrative, believable dialogue and an original and unexpected ending.  Will definitely be a hit with the boys who like gritty and fun stories. Will undoubtably disappoint all this mushy romance loving sops who read vampire books. 5 stars from me.

Author: Spencer Baum
Word count: 61,000 words
Genre: horror fantasy
Price: Free download
Format: Ebook
Smashwords Download

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Helium 3 by Nick Travers

Today, at the centre of our galaxy, dwell small colonies of a most extraordinary species – humans. Fourteen-year-old Mervyn Bright has courage, tenacity, and three close friends from the Space Academy: Loren, a brilliant but despised out-worlder, Tarun, heir to a once-powerful dynasty, and Aurora, niece to the embattled Patriarch. Together they make a formidable team. 

Reviewed by Dale

First off let me say I liked it. Since this is a series I can see plenty of room for Travers to grow the characters. They did appear a little two dimensional and it seemed as though their personalities were only trickling out slowly. One character, Aurora, left the greatest impression in my mind as I was reading. I could clearly picture her striding down the corridors of the space academy with her entourage of suck-ups in tow.

I felt Mervyn to be an interesting young guy. I think Travers could have had him react more strongly to the destruction of his home world and abduction of his father. We might have seen his friend Lauren comfort him here as well. Still this sets a great stage for events to come and the deviously evil little De Monsero came across as exceptionally callous when asked to help Mervyn catch the spy rocket.  This was followed up by a very exciting game of swot. A giant game of ping pong played in low g with your body instead of a paddle. This was one of the most exciting chapters in the story and I felt the desperate frustration that Mervyn must have felt as events transpired against him.

It is clear that Travers has a good grasp of science and the story is workload with great sci-fi ideas throughout. Carbon nano fibers that change colours with the flick of a switch. The see through titanium crystals in the viewing room and the biolinks people use to communicate are all great ideas that add to and help set the scene as a futuristic space collage. Though I was a little perplexed to see people still using email. But I guess they have to call it something.

I noticed in the blurb someone mentioned this was a story apart from the usual wizards, wands and vampires stories that are saturating the market at present. This is certainly true, this story is set in space and without a wizard or techonomage in sight but I can't help drawing some parallels to Harry Potter. Three friends, underdogs at a new school. The swot game resembled the game played in the Harry potter books and the vile De Monsoro is a ringer for the evil Melfoid of Potter fame.

I think Travers is on to something here. With only a hint of the very interesting Lauren's character revealed and the mysterious Aurora still to show her true colours and loyalties I can see plenty of potential for exciting times for these misfits.

I give it 5 stars because its short comings are easily addressed in view of it being a series. Though I have yet to read the others. It is very clearly a professionally written story. A few typos and so on are found in modern best sellers just as often as indie publications and indie authors often take greater pride than the industry publications.
The story is also a step up from a lot of what I have read coming from the indie world of books. A lot of it is poorly written and this story is definitely a work apart and very well written. Easy to read and thoroughly enjoyable.
274 pages
This book is part one of a 3 part series

Available as ebook from smashword:
Or in Print via LULU