Thursday, December 22, 2016

Review: The King's Justice by Stephen R. Donaldson

This was a collection of two novellas by Donaldson.

The Kings Justice: A stranger named Black arrives at the isolated village of Settler's Crossing tasked with investigating the brutal murder of a child. While Black is much more than he seems so is the murder. 8.25/10

The Augur's Gambit: Mayhew Gordian is a self-effacing Hieronomer who is attempting to aid the queen of an isolated island nation to avoid two fates of enslavement from an unknown power from across the ocean or a descent into barbarism after protracted civil war. What's more Mayhew is in love with the queen's daughter. 8.5/10.

My experience with previous shorter fiction by Donaldson is that he is able to effortlessly create intriguing world's in minimal words that leave the reader wanting to see more. These two pieces are no exception. Both stories were well-paced with well developed protagonists and support casts. I enjoyed the The Augur's Gambit slightly more as I found Mayhew quirky and more human that Black and for that reason I'm glad of the order the stories were printed in.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Review: The Sudden Appearance of Hope by Claire North

Hope Arden is afflicted with a rather peculiar condition. When she was a teenager those around her gradually came to forget she existed until even her own family forgot they had a daughter. Now everyone she comes into contact with will forget her within a few minutes of being out of her company. Hope uses her peculiar condition to become a master thief. After a woman Hope has grown found of kills herself due to a mobile phone application called perfection, Hope decides to publicly embarrass it's creators, not knowing that there may be far more sinister forces in play.

The concept is similar to North's two previous novels, a protagonist who is afflicted with an unexplained condition that the majority of the population are not effected by. Hope is an interesting character and North captures the emotion of her plight beautifully. The little nuances she adopts to help herself cope are cleverly incorporated into the prose and make this a very human story. I found the support characters slightly inconsistent especially towards the end of the novel where their actions did not gel with what had gone before. Once the plot moves away from Hope's personal struggle I found the perfection angle less engaging.

Overall North once again has built a very human and engaging protagonist, less care with the support characters and plot detract slightly from what could have been a masterpiece. 8/10.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Advent Ghosts 2016: Under the Mistletoe and Tree

Matt lurched, almost falling, as he mounted a table.
His boss frowned but screw it Matt was salesperson of the year. Noticing his empty glass Matt made a beeline for the bar.
Pamela from accounts glanced at mistletoe above them.
“Not on your life Pimply Pam.” Matt scoffed.
“Mistletoe wards away evil spirits.” The bartender huffed and poured a shot of whisky.
“This is the only spirit I’m interested in.” Matt countered snatching the bottle.
“A woman scorned is nothing to scoff at either.”
Just as he found a quiet corner to enjoy his whiskey icy fingers encircled his neck.  

Carya eyed the river of stone distrustfully. All was quiet but recent experience had made her wary. Without warning one of those mechanical monstrosities could appear in a blaze of flashing lights and howling noise.
Taking a deep breath she dashed across. After all she had nothing left to lose. Her daughter was dead and she would know why.                    
Then…….she didn’t know.
The increasingly faint pulse of her daughter’s heart tree had led her to this strange dwelling. Steeling herself she peered inside and keened in agony. 
Why had they desecrated her daughter’s body in garish colours and twinkling lights?