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Smashwords book reviews by Stef Maruch
- The Unquiet Grave
on Sep. 28, 2012
Fun, well-written novel with a compelling ghostly mystery to solve. The main characters have an established marriage and work well as a magical and investigative team. The sense of place is really strong. A bit unusual for a paranormal fantasy in my experience, the magic is based on modern pagan/Wiccan/shamanic practices rather than vampire and werewolf mythology. If you like your entertainment reading to teach you stuff, you'll appreciate the Celtic music references (I hope a future edition of the book will come with a mix CD :) and learning how to read Tarot cards.
- She Moved Through the Fair
on Sep. 28, 2012
The second book in the Caitlin Ross series is even better than the first. The setting (a small town festival) is vivid. I really care about a lot of the human characters; they have a variety of realistic motives. The gods and demons that Caitlin has to interact with to solve the mystery are mysterious, thrilling, and scary. Caitlin's magic and its terrifying effects are beautifully described.
- A Maid in Bedlam
on Sep. 28, 2012
The third book in the Caitlin Ross series is an ambitious and disturbing story full of loss, pain, and evil. It also has some of the most powerful descriptions of magical and emotional healing that I've found in contemporary fantasy.
- Dragons of the Mind: Seven Fairy Tales
on Nov. 18, 2012
This collection of modern fairy-tale-inspired short stories is superb. I read it in one big gulp and couldn't put it down. The writing has a clarity and sweetness that's like drinking pure cold water when you're very thirsty.
- The Fits o' the Season
on April 08, 2013
Fifth in the Caitlin Ross/Timber MacDuff series. This book relies on knowing the stuff that happens in the third (A Maid in Bedlam) and fourth (The Parting Glass) books in the series. (So buy all of them!)
The series is in the small-town fantasy/paranormal romance genres, but with a difference, in that the POV characters are human witches and shamans, not vampires/werewolves/faeries.
The previous books in the series are from Caitlin's point of view but this one is a set of interrelated shorts from Timber's point of view. Interesting magical and shamanic (and quite violent) things happen. Katherine Lampe knows how to make magick vivid and real. But what I especially like about this novella is that the underlying thread is an exploration of love for the long term, the kind you need to start building after the pedestal you stuck under your loved one crumbles. A lot of urban-fantasy/paranormal-romance books look at this from the point of view of a female protagonist, and this is the first one I've read that looks at it from the point of view of a male protagonist.
Timber is a complex character. He's a broken guy who does a lot of bad things, but without being a rogue (so you like that he does bad things, because you secretly wish you could do them) or villain (so you enjoy hating him). You're just with him all the way hoping he is going to make it. He has a balance of positive and negative qualities such that he has to struggle hard to get where he needs to be.