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Ivan Amberlake is an urban/paranormal fantasy writer, member of Breakwater Harbor Books. In December 2009 he began writing his first novel "The Beholder" and in November 2011 it was selected for review by HarperCollins on Authonomy.com.
Ivan Amberlake is in the process of writing Book Two of The Beholder Series called "Path of the Heretic" and a Young Adult Horror/Fantasy called "Diary of the Gone".
on Jan. 02, 2014 :
Diary of the Gone is the second novel I've read by this author; the first being The Beholder, which was also very good.
The author, Ivan's, strongest ability is his description. No doubt about that. He has a way with words and manages to set a mood simply by describing the scenery and that's not as easy as it sounds.
This novel was creepy, mysterious and original. The idea that the dead visit the main character, Callum, before passing on to the next world is very unnerving. Especially when you're put in his shoes. It's a curse, passed down to him and there are many side stories which connect at the end so you fully understand why things are the way they are. Why he has this ability. Why the swamp came to be, and why it mysteriously grows bigger each year. What happened to the boy who was killed many years ago. Who is kidnapping characters and why. It's a maze of questions and the book constantly keeps you on your toes.
Callum is a likable character. He's strong in many ways but also weak in other ways. He's bullied by the principal's son and is quite an introvert. He finds it difficult to talk to girls and the way he reacts, the way he is written, makes it very believable that he is a fifteen year old boy. I enjoyed being in his shoes and following him around.
The book had a build up of impending doom. You could feel it and it gave you chills. The scenes with the shadows (the dead) visiting Callum while he's writing in his diary to send them away, are very chilling even though very little actually happens. It's the way that it is written that makes you uncomfortable and that just shows the skill of the writer.
There were a few errors in the novel, such as grammar, but there was also the dialogue, the way it was written, which showed that the author is not a native speaker. I know he plans to fix that anyway, and to be honest, it never deters your enjoyment of the novel; the errors are that minor.
I love the cover, even more so than The Beholder's cover. I know the designer of the cover and he did a grand job. It's very eye-catching and quite pretty despite the fact it is ominous.
The flow of the plot is smooth and each chapter gives you something new to look forward to. Questions to ask and something to fear. The novel is actually a novella really but it feels a decent size. Everything that needed to be covered, is.
I recommend this book to anyone who likes mystery, urban fantasy and spooky stories. It isn't graphic but it is a little dark. Plus the twist near the end is definitely worth waiting for.
I preferred this novel to The Beholder, just because I liked how creepy it was. It was simple, short and sweet, with decent, well-formed characters; the mystery was well concealed and not predictable- I didn't guess what the twist was and I'm fairly good at that. It was just an enjoyable novel, and an interesting concept. I liked it a lot. So because I liked it a little bit more than Ivan's other novel, it has to get a higher mark. I gave The Beholder 4.5 out of 5.
It only makes sense that this should get full marks. FIVE OUT OF FIVE STARS!
(review of free book)
on Oct. 11, 2013 :
Amberlake's writing enthralls the reader. He creates concepts and worlds for his books which are both believable and fantastic, thrilling the mind as we read. I was a huge fan of Amberlake's debut release, The Beholder, and so as I picked up Diary of the Gone I was already anticipating an excellent read. I was well rewarded, and hauntingly rapt in Diary's pages.
Here we find ourselves in the mind of a boy named Callum in Olden Cross, a town surrounded by misty swampland and the disappearances of his peers. Callum sees the dead. Are they calling to him? What are they searching for? What connection does he have to their ghostly forms? You will have to read to discover the secret past of Olden Cross and the unknown of this place.
I began Diary of the Gone with the thought that I would read it over the month of October. I soon found I could not put the book down until I reached the end. A haunting work- well plotted and highly enjoyable. I sit in anticipation of Amberlake's next release.
(review of free book)
on Oct. 01, 2013 :
Callum is constantly pursued by the ghosts of the dead and the only way to stop them from getting him is to write about them in a strange old diary that he found. In the new quiet town that he lives in, ghosts leave him alone-until the day his friend Nathan shows him something strange in the woods. Now the ghosts of dead children are haunting him day and night and kids from his school are going missing, and Callum is the only one who can solve the mystery.
This was a creepy paranormal story with the 'don't go into the woods' warning to it. The plot was a bit different, which is always a good thing and not easy to do with a paranormal theme. The author's descriptive work is excellent, and you can see exactly what he wants you to see through Callum's eyes, right now to the colours fading from life every time the ghosts are coming. One thing that I have noticed about this author is that his word use is always perfect. The descriptions of the world he is building are always new, not a tired cliche that you have seen in countless other books, and it always seems to fit just right into the story. There is plenty detail about Callum's ghost problems and the diary to let you know what is going on but enough enough to bore the reader. I felt there was a nice balance.
Callum is quite likeable and I felt sorry for him because his sister treats him with such contempt, and the school bully seems to be picking on him for no reason. Nathan is the fun friend who tries to look out for Callum so you warm to him despite his appearance being brief. I didn't feel much of a connection to his other friends, other than Vivian as the book progresses, but it wasn't too vital for the story. Gloria was my favourite character though.
I did have a couple of minor plot niggles. I wanted to see a bit more of Gloria and her back story as she was the one who really fascinated me. I felt that she was a bit underused when she seemed so important to the story. I would have liked the scene in the library to have been longer and more detailed, giving us more about the previous missing kids. I also wish the attack at the school had been longer, along with the big finale. I guess I wanted more of these bits because they were the bits of the book that I liked the best. But these niggles are more about what I wanted to see in the book, and no reflection on the author's writing.
This book should appeal to anyone who enjoys a paranormal story, a creepy horror story or ghost story. I'd give this a 3.5 out of 5.
(review of free book)
on Sep. 23, 2013 :
A great MG-YA novella with elements of horror, supernatural, mystery and fantasy.
Callum Blackwell is our MC and he's a likeable character in the sense that he appears to be weak inside and out. But he mans up to face both outside events and also his visions of the dead. There are secrets in his family which, to his dismay, he's bound to unveil unknowingly, while one by one his friends are lost from sight for days.
Recommended to readers from 14-21 who are fond of supernatural-themed novellas.
(review of free book)