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Friday, May 12, 2017

The Prince of Knocknafay - Truly a Noble Bastard of a Man!

Today, I am reviewing the mythological stew of a story Travers McCraken: The Prince of Knocknafay by Bret Bouriseau. A self-styled “grown-up bedtime story,” Travers reads more as a goulash of old-world faerie tales and Christian and Islamic myths, bundled up into a well-seasoned meal.

I give this book a 4/5. Here is my breakdown.

Characters: 4.5/5. Bouriseau has definitely spent a lot of time with his characters; they’re distinct, lively, and credible as beings. The good ones are good (though often roguish), and the bad ones are bad (to the tune of eating human flesh). Their banter is entertaining and definitely gives off the impression that these people have known each other a long time. That being said, some of the supporting characters - in particular Margay, the current object of Travers’s affections - fell a little flat. On occasion, she felt like her main purpose was to stand in awe at the things Travers was doing or showing her, and I got very little in the way of development from her actions.

Plot/Storyline: 4/5. Simple but effective. The rakish Travers McCraken steals away a sultana from an angry lord, and the story splits in two as he prepares to bring his treasure and love interest to Cibonay while the aggrieved Sultan hatches his own plot to destroy Travers. The fun part comes in the interplay between the characters and in the flipping back-and-forth between the antagonist group and the protagonists. It made for a fun reading experience that I’m eager to return to.
Flow: 3.5/5. Bouriseau chose to use a heavy brogue to represent his characters’ speech patterns. While I was able to understand most of the speech, there were times when I had to backtrack or sound it out to myself in order to piece it together. As a fast reader, the brogue felt like a speedbump, tripping me up and ripping me out of my verisimilitude. That was the only negative quality about the flow, however; the story moved at just the right speed, and we spent a good amount of time with each character and scene without dragging it out.
Spelling/Grammar: 4/5. Bouriseau’s editor and proofreader did a solid job. There were a few issues - mostly missing quotes at the end of a paragraph or line - but nothing that disturbed me or presented an issue.

Overall: 4/5. Solid and entertaining. The world of Knocknafay is engaging, intriguing, and a load of fun. While the book isn’t perfect, its flaws do nothing to detract from the ingenuity and creativity of the author. I look forward to the next installment, which drops around Christmas!
For those interested, you can find Travers McCracken: The Prince of Knocknafay at Bret Bouriseau’s website: http://knocknafay.com/.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Tatyanna (Light and Darkness Book 1): A fun adventure into a deeply-described fantasy world!

Today, I am reviewing the Fantasy story Tatyanna (Light and Darkness Book 1) by Lindsay Johnston. A solid and enjoyable “portal” fantasy which pulls elements from both Eastern and Western mythologies, we follow the titular Tatyanna as she grapples with feelings of alienation and being pushed to the fringe...only to find out that those feelings are justified. She is different. She’s destined to save a world.

I give this book a 4/5. Here is my breakdown.

Characters: 4/5. I enjoyed these characters very much. Tatyanna was interesting and fun to follow as she went through her journey, although I did feel that some of her reactions to the strangeness were a little subdued; she seemed to accept things much more easily than I would have at 21. Her companions, especially Emmett and Dimitri, were also well-fleshed out and real. My favorite, though, was Malek, the Phoenix Lord (I don’t know if that was an official title or not). He felt extremely realistic and deep, and I look forward to learning more about him!

Plot/Storyline: 4/5. Nice and solid. While I wouldn’t point to any elements of this storyline that really wowed me or made me stop in amazement or shock, I did enjoy the entirety of the book. I didn’t notice any holes or unrelated elements that would have pulled me out of my reading. The story is classic, a standard “hero’s journey,” but that doesn’t make it any less fun to read.
Flow: 4/5. The book moved forward at a good clip, taking just enough time to set the scene before dropping the next bomb. The only reason this didn’t receive a higher score is due to the author’s tendency to ignore contractions in dialogue. The dialogue itself was solid, even enjoyable, but the constant use of “I will” rather than “I’ll” or “He is” instead of “He’s” makes the speech seem stilted and artificial. Contractions are your friend!.
Spelling/Grammar: 3.5/5. There were several minor typographical errors and a few moderate problems that I noticed. A couple of times, there seemed to be paragraphs that duplicated content immediately previous to them, almost as if Johnston had gone through and changed it up during an edit but forgot to delete the previous version of that paragraph.

Overall: 4/5. A solid, fun, enjoyable work that I’ll recommend to anyone who likes this kind of story. While a few elements were classic and a little derivative, I really liked the way Lindsay put them together and fleshed out her world. The universe she’s created is, itself, unique and interesting, and I look forward to the sequel.