Andrew Barber


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Smashwords book reviews by Andrew Barber

  • Snowdrops Wilt At Dawn - The Demonic Series bk2 on Oct. 05, 2013

    Snowdrops Wilt at Dawn is the latest spine tingling adventure in the Demonic Series by Maree Ward Russell. As I have come to expect from this author, the pages are turned with great anticipation, as lines burnish a gripping tale that will keep you guessing until the end! Maree has us posing questions of ourselves and society with her usual skill, while supporting her work with vividly illustrated characters and scenes that take on a wonderful detail. The characters are deep and the cause of some sweeping emotions. The author has explored a few new areas, but this only serves to enhance the read and show further the depth of her talent. As always for her style, she paints sensuality and horror without actually giving enough detail to make it gratuitous. In my view this is the perfect balance! This was a far more emotional read for me than Roses or the books in the Castle series. At different times my reaction would jerk from elation to dread, as Maree cleverly has the reader draw an association with the characters. If you read this book before Roses at Dusk, you will enjoy it just as much as if you read it after – But your expectation of the stories direction will change! (Please imagine me winking)!!!! For those, like me, who have read Roses, the pages offer a rollercoaster – you find that you already know things about the characters that fill you with dread of how the book will end. This genuinely was an emotional journey for me as I found such an association with the characters and felt myself almost twisting with the plot. I love the Epilogue which dips briefly back into the lives of characters from someplace else (Roses actually). I guess the romantic in me immediately clung to all sorts of possibilities. It doesn’t matter if that was the author’s intention; it was as close to a perfect ending as could ever be achieved. The book reflects on some hard core topics, Maree hasn’t pulled any punches and asks some very interesting questions. She challenges everybody to look at their morals and decide for themselves where they stand on certain issues, most particularly with regard to crime and punishment. There is bags of metaphor and plenty of room for people to go away with their own thoughts and feelings. At times the book jolts with graphic and shocking illustration of things we push far from our minds. Maree tackles all the hard subjects responsibly and with a frightening accuracy that will touch the nerves of many as it adds to the realism of the book. In short, this is a work of fiction that feels frighteningly real! I could talk for hours about this masterpiece and I would welcome the chance to chat more with anyone else who wishes to do so. A must read!
  • The Transient - The Castle Trilogy on Oct. 05, 2013

    Having read Maree Ward Russell's excellent paranormal suspense - Roses at Dusk, I couldn't wait to read her latest offering - The Transient. Billed as a ghost story (fantasy) for young adults, this book offers an escape for all ages. As seems to be this writer's trademark, she is able to paint any picture she wishes without crossing the lines of indecency. With each new page I was consumed by an urgent need to continue to the next, reading nearly half of the book in one sitting (this simply never happens)! As usual, Maree gives us strong characters and a twisting path, but she adds an innocent softness that brings only joy. It was like returning to an earlier time in my life and being filled by the essence of its glow. I didn't want the story to end, and the good news is, a sequel is due soon ... so I won't need to wait long for a return to these lines. If you are my age or older, this book will remind you of some of the things our world has lost, it will retrieve memories of reading C.S. Lewis at primary school and it will leave you feeling happy. If you are younger than me, this book was written for you - so what are you waiting for!!!! As I now expect from Maree, the well written prose weave their magic about you as you fall in love with the setting, the characters and the plot. It doesn't matter how old you are, you will love this book and though it may sound odd, it will love you right back! The most enjoyable read I can remember - I will read it again, just for the magic it can bring.
  • Roses At Dusk on Oct. 05, 2013

    Maree Ward Russell's excellent paranormal thriller - Roses at Dusk is a must for any fan of the genre. The author's imagination, combined skilfully with her talent for painting an image, leaves you keenly turning pages and wanting more! It has been some time since I last ventured into paranormal fiction and did so with relish - the book in no way left me disappointed! The story provides ample surprises with lashings of suspense and an explosive conclusion. Strong characters, a well thought out plot and well written prose all go to ensure a hunger to devour each line while longing for the next. Better than a night out at the cinema - I have discovered a rising star of paranormal fiction and cannot wait for her next book!
  • The Soul Keeper - The Castle Trilogy on Oct. 05, 2013

    Sometimes words can bring life to a page, reaching out from lines and pulling you in tide on journeys way. A page may tumble, one to the next, pulling you in currents as would the story flow. Maree Ward Russell is less a writer and more a master of crafts, pulling you headlong in tumultuous race, through a swell of crashing emotion - to arrive joyfully fulfilled. The second in the Castle series, Maree continues seamlessly on from The Transient while again managing to raise the bar. New characters mingle with those we had already grown to love, bringing a new dimension and pace. With each page came changing emotion, new turns in a twisting journey that never left me wanting. I laughed from the belly, cried from the heart and smiled from ear to ear. This is a book to fall in love with, its characters portraying a bond we all wish we could share. As always, Maree has given us powerful imagery presented through a filter of innocence, but the pace is brisk and the story strong. You cannot help but fall in love with the characters as they struggle and fight their way toward an explosive conclusion. The book is billed as Young Adult (YA) paranormal but is a must read, page turner, that will suit the tastes of even the most discerning of reader, regardless of age. This is a journey that will tax a range of emotions and leave you breathless in your need to read more. Maree, as always, carefully depicts a vivid kaleidoscope of action without feeling any need of gratuitous subplot. I sailed through these pages, totally absorbed and was left screaming for more. Maree again has set new standards and I for one can't wait for her next release! Deservedly 5 stars!