It's still 2013 here (just) but the year is slipping away fast. There's still time for me to thank everyone who entered my giveaway on goodreads; all 1026 of you! I was blown away by the interest so thank you. The lucky five winners should be receiving their signed copies in the post very soon. In fact, I was so impressed with the number of entrants that I am going to be hosting another giveaway very soon, right here on my blog.
What I've been Reading recently...
The whirlwind in the thorn tree
I discovered S.A. Hunt, who is based in Georgia USA, while I was searching for a cover designer for my own books. It was the quality of his artwork and his creativity that captured my attention. His novel's cover(s), shown here, are his own work and you can check out more of his designs at his website http://theusualmadman.net
The Whirlwind in the Thorn Tree is his first completed novel; it is book one of The Outlaw King. He describes it as a dark fantasy, and I have to agree.
Here's my review:
The novel starts with a death... the death of a man called Ed. At this point, I had no point of reference on which to judge this deed. Ed, described only by the thoughts of the assassin who kills him, simply vanishes into thin air when he is shot. I didn't know if Ed's death was a good or bad thing. I didn't know who had killed him. The jump to Ed's point of view, where he lands in a stream mortally wounded, cleared up only a small fraction of the mystery and intrigue. He hadn't been on Earth when he was shot...
... and I was hooked.
S. A. Hunt's writing style is bold and dynamic. Mistakes in grammar or formatting are very few. His use of description and simile throughout the novel is incredible. Every location, every deeply original facet of the world he has created has been painted in my mind by his ingenious use of language. Some of the language, I should add, would be unsuitable for younger readers... but the more coarse vocabulary was not overused or wasted, in fact it added to the parts of the story it was used in; helping to display the raw emotion and the darkness and depravity of the situations.
Throughout the novel, the writing jumps from 1st to third person. It adds an edge to the story, and enables S.A. Hunt to feed us a little extra information occasionally. In the first person, we are privy to the thoughts and experiences of Ross Brigham, a soldier who has just returned home... to find his wife has left him and his father, Ed Brigham, famous author of the Fiddle and the Fire book series, is dead.
Ross Brigham is a complex character, a soldier, artist and writer struggling with everyday human problems and emotions, like self-doubt and loss, while he takes us on an amazing journey through a fantasy realm of strange creatures and Old West style shootouts. In him, I believe, there is an identifiable reflection of every one of us regardless of whoever or wherever we are. Ross is easy to identify with and easy to love.
I don't like giving away spoilers, so that's all you're getting as far as the content goes. Except I must explain one thing, because I find it incredible and it's what makes the book a winner for me. This novel, the story of a bereaved son and his new friends discovering a fantasy world, has been put together with thought and patience. S.A. Hunt has created a novel inside of a novel, with titbits of the work of (fictional) Ed Brigham interspersed. I think perhaps the excerpts are my favourite detail of the novel, not because of content but because they add another layer to the believability of the world.
I know I've enjoyed a book when I struggle to find a negative point to gripe about, but there's one thing I am happy to moan about in this case... talk about leaving me hanging at the end! I'm perhaps guilty of creating my own cliff-hanger, but come on... gah! I need the next book; Law of the Wolf which is out now on Amazon.
S.A. Hunt is a very talented author and artist. I wholeheartedly recommend this book.
Happy New Year Everyone! See you in 2014