on July 29, 2010 :
After reading the second in the series I really wanted to like this book. The author has undeniable talent and can definitely tell a story but is in desperate need of a good and rigorous editor. The epub version is badly formatted, and finding more than three different sizes of font on a single page of body text can be extremely distracting for the reader. Whilst no author can be expected to find all the errors in a manuscript, - some always slip through - an unforgivable number of typographical errors made it into print including at least two occasions where the omission of a negative changes the meaning of the intended sentence entirely. At one point an additional letter in the name of the principal antagonist renders it as the Sturgeon Stalker, leading me to expect a character any moment to make a remark about how the case was very fishy.
Such humor would not be untypical of the writer's style. As someone who has worked on various archaeological digs I know there is a dark humor around those who deal regularly with bodies and matters relating to death. However I found the humor in the story somewhat discordant and unconvincing. Humor in such situations needs careful and cautious handling and for me it rarely worked.
Perhaps this was because I thought the characters felt more like plot devices than living breathing people despite a good effort on the part of the writer to provide detail to them.
The story is engrossing, a slowly unfolding murder mystery with a paranormal dimension. The more fantastic though a tale is, the more need for realism to provide the reader some tether and here I think the author often fails. The main detective initially seems a lot less skeptical than I would expect when confronted with a group of people with psychic abilities, which deprives the reader of an opportunity for slow integration and acceptance of the people and events depicted. Though he does sometimes display disbelief it is only when it suits the author's purposes and doesn't feel like it projects a consistent world view on the part of the character. When a cynical cop is introduced later he is a shallow stereotype.
Events particularly in the early chapters do not feel like they flow naturally but are visibly steered by the hand of the author. Dialog is often strained and convoluted and at times absolutely made me wince.
Whilst as a pagan I appreciate the positive image of modern pagan practices which the story projects sometimes it feels too much like proselytizing rather than information arising naturally in context. All of the group have talents which would not be accepted in mainstream society and which would have once led to them being condemned for witchcraft yet they all too readily turn on the member who is a self-confessed witch.
Here then is my problem with the work as a whole, it stretches credibility too far. Not in the magical aspects but the mundane. Too much is asked of the reader in submitting to the author's will. Humans feeling threatened will sometimes resort to extreme measures, as these characters do, but it is the writer's job to carry the reader with them, to make them feel the fear and pain of the characters, to show how the desperate situation forces them to overcome normal social mores and I never felt that was convincingly done. To feel for the characters one had to have a sense of them as people and for me that was never achieved.
The plotline is gripping, with many a twist and red herring as befits the genre. The paranormal aspects are well used and successfully add a different flavor to the narrative which means the reader cannot easily anticipate what comes next. The author is erudite with a good power for descriptive text and when successful can really pull the reader into the story, unfortunately for me, problems with dialog and a lack of empathy with the characters counters this all too often. Taken as the story alone it is easily worth 3* however if one takes into account the problems with fonts and multitude of typographical errors all of which detracts from the overall reading experience I feel it has to be marked down lower. Whilst this book is free later ones in the series are not and I would need to be convinced they had considerably more polish than this one in order to purchase them.
(review of free book)
on May 6, 2010 :
I really enjoyed this book. Its about a group of young people who each have their own special gift, when one of their own is a victim of the surgeon stalker they go to extraordinary lengths to protect themselves and each other.
I will be reading more from this author
(review of free book)