Michelle Scott has been a fiction junkie all of her life, but she didn’t start writing until junior high. Over the next decade, she wrote many (really awful) poems, short stories, and limericks.
A native Michigander, she attended Calvin College in Grand Rapids, earning her BA in psychology and meeting the guy of her dreams. After marrying said guy and spending two years doing nothing of great importance, she went on to earn an MFA at Wayne State University in Detroit. Fortunately, her writing improved considerably, and since that time she has published nearly a dozen short stories in a variety of magazines. The Dragons of Hazlett is her first novel.
Currently, she teaches English at a community college in southeastern Michigan and lives with her husband and three terrific children, all of whom are addicted to fiction as much as she.
Where to find Michelle Scott online
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Smashwords book reviews by Michelle Scott
on Oct. 29, 2011
The book, Lastborn, chronicles the lives of two very different people: Black Wolf (aka Donovan Banning) who strongly believes in both justice and non-violent protest, and Nara-Ya (aka Ayuma), a young woman whose murderous temper provokes her into acts of cold-blooded aggression. In a very complex series of events, these two meet and band together to save their land from an evil witch and a despotic king.
The writing in Lastborn is some of the best I've seen in an indie novel. Not only is the language very smooth, but the descriptions are wonderful and detailed. Not detailed as in endlessly long, but detailed as in precise. Forde excels at painting pictures in the reader's mind. I also appreciated the characters of Black Wolf and Nara-Ya. They are complex individuals who are each trying in their own ways to right injustices. I loved how they grew as individuals and as a pair.
Unfortunately, there were a quite a few things that I didn't like as well. The biggest issue I had was with the book itself. I couldn't tell what it was. When it began, it seemed like a story of indigenous people fighting against colonists. Then a unicorn showed up. Then the story shifted yet again to an urban setting in which Donovan was struggling to unionize workers from the iron works, giving things a quasi-steampunk feel. Finally, midway through the novel, the native peoples theme came back into play. These diverse sub-genres did not make for a good mix. A steampunk unicorn might be a unique story element, but that doesn't mean it's a good one.
The book also contained so many different peoples, countries, villains, and secondary characters that it was very difficult to keep everyone straight. Admittedly, this was written as an epic novel; however,there was only one major plot. Without significant subplots, all those characters were superfluous. The pacing was also very slow. Months would pass with the characters doing nothing but waiting.
Lastborn has potential. I'd love to see the author edit it by tightening up the plot, losing a number of minor characters, and focusing on one sub-genre. Although I didn't care for this book, I do think that the author's talent shows.
- Under Witch Moon
on Nov. 22, 2011
Maria Schneider's urban fantasy novel, Under Witch Moon, is one of those rare, wonderful books that transports the reader into an entirely different reality.
Adriel knows that being a witch is hard. It's not only the difficulty in finding just the right spell for just the right job, it's also the troubling clientele. The humans demand perfection, the weres are hunting for a good time, and don't even get her started on the vamps. Add a smoking-hot man, a murder mystery, and a truly evil witch into the mixture, and it's no wonder why being a witch is nothing but trouble.
One of the biggest reasons I enjoyed this story so much is that the author makes magic appear so realistic. After reading the book, I swear that I could work magic providing I had the right herbs and enough silver. The supernatural beings are also very real, especially the weres. Their human sides take on some of their animal characteristics, and their animals sides are, well, very animal. After dealing with idealized versions of these creatures in other stories, it was a relief to read something so grounded.
I also loved the southwest setting. Having visited Sante Fe, NM, myself a few years ago, I could really relate to the book. But even if I had never been to the American southwest, the author describes the places so wonderfully that the reader would feel as if she's been there before. The mix of Hispanic, Native American, and Anglo-American characters was also a nice reprieve from the typical vanilla cast in so many urban fantasy novels.
The book centers on a mystery, and it was that mystery that kept me turning the pages. There aren't any detailed subplots, but there are enough distinct threads running through the story to give it depth and make it interesting.
One thing that I wanted to read more of, however, was the interplay between characters. I love reading about emotional entanglements, and while there was some of this, I wanted more. Adriel, a rather paranoid young lady, has maternal feelings towards a stray teen named Lynx, and mixed feelings for her yuppie sister. I found these relationships very interesting and wanted to read more about them. Also, at times, the descriptions of the magic become too detailed so that the world-building overshadowed what I would consider the more interesting parts of the story.
Overall, Under Witch Moon, is a fun urban fantasy populated with interesting characters.