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Saturday, May 11, 2013

Mini-Reviews: Demon Squad: Beyond The Veil by Tim Marquitz and The Witch's Eye by Steven Montano (by Mihir Wanchoo)

Official Author website
Order the book HERE
Read the first chapter HERE 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Armageddon Bound
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Resurrection 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of At The Gates
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Echoes Of The Past 
Read Fantasy Book Critic interview with Tim Marquitz 

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: Beyond the Veil is the fifth book of the critically under-appreciated Demon Squad series. It’s a series that is a big favorite of mine because of the unique approach taken by the author. Tim’s series protagonist is a guy who would be a villain in most and would not survive more than a book or two. Frank is a guy who is shady, lecherous and immature to a certain degree but he’s also loyal, kindhearted and best of all a wise-cracking dude whose inner monologue will leave you in splits. He’s the kind of guy who they say is a diamond among the coal however you would have to dig really, really deep and perhaps the diamond might be more than flawed in a jewelers estimate. His actions though have lead many readers to be enamored of him and also a bit leery as well.  

With this being book five, the review becomes a bit hard as there will be minor spoilers for the previous four titles so be warned those who haven’t read the previous titles. With the previous book’s climatic cliffhanger, things were left precariously for Frank as his girlfriend Karra is missing and no one knows where and who took her. Frank is hellbent on involving Longinus (her father) as he doesn't want to the ex-AntiChrist on his bad side.The DRAC folks however are wary of involving Longinus and want Frank only in a supporting role. The key to finding out Karra’s location is the alien Mihheer and he’s in no mood to talk. Frank will have to decide where his loyalties lie and how will he get Karra back and still stay sane with all the revelations that have been sprung on him and how many more secrets will he have to burden himself with. 

The last book was a lot different than the previous three volumes and I mentioned that it was a very introspective volume. This book manages to combine that introspection with the fast-paced nature of the third book. Let’s begin with why I think Tim Marquitz outdid himself with this one, firstly the action shifts to a plane other than Earth which I’ll leave the readers to RAFO. Then we finally get to know the main, main reason why God and Lucifer have left Earth. This is the biggest plus point of the book that only do we get to know the all the reasons but we get to actually “know” the fundamental crisis behind it. This was the big reveal of the book, of all the secrets that were teased throughout the past four books; we get a big dose of revelations in this one. Plus for those wishing for the action found in Resurrection & At The Gates will be heartily rewarded as Frank, Longinus and others get down and dirty in new places. 

The action sequences and plot pace are what can be expected from a Tim Marquitz novel and by this I mean they are of the fast and furious kind that leave no quarter for the protagonist and will pull the reader along. These are the shining facets of the story and I was glad to see my Tuckerized version get a stellar cameo role to play in the events of this book (continuing from the book four). Lastly with Frank, Tim has been putting him through a world of pain and in this book, he gets closure of a sort to many of the questions that have haunted his past and lingered throughout his life. As a character the readers love to see him pick himself up debacle after debacle and try to live a decent life. With the climax of this book, I can’t wait to see where he goes next. The book basically delivered on all fronts for me and so I can’t wait to see where Tim takes Frank next and what new story will he explore. Though knowing Tim’s nefarious ideas, it won’t be something that Frank will enjoy but as a reader it could be fun to read about it. 

With this book I didn't have any complaints however the other readers will have to decide if that was the case for them as well. Beyond The Veil basically caps off the first arc for Frank Trigg in the Demon Squad series in high style. Readers who have followed the series so far will be sumptuously rewarded with world and back story revelations that surprise and astound to a high degree. If you haven’t read this series so far, kindly remedy this mistake immediately. As for urban fantasy naysayers, the Demon Squad series is the one of the many solid reasons that might change your opinion about this beloved sub-genre of mine. 

Order the book HERE 
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of Blood Skies 
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of Black Scars 
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of Soulrazor
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Crown Of Ash
Read Steven Montano's guest post on Cross-genre writing
Read an excerpt HERE

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: Steven Montano’s books have made me a fan of his after I first came across his debut last year. Even though it was a bit rough, the potential within in regards to the writing and the series convinced me that this was an author worth paying attention to. Since then I've read and reviewed all four books of the Blood Skies series and it’s safe to say I haven’t been disappointed. Before I begin the review, I would like to re-iterate that by discussing certain aspects of the fifth book, I’ll be spoiling some of the earlier four prequels. So those readers who haven’t read the previous ones, be warned...

With the fourth book, certain events occurred that made the book a great and equally tragic one. We got a POV from Kane and it was great to see the happenings from his eyes. The author then continues his POV run by giving Ronan a narrative voice with this book and it’s a different experience as well. The story begins with not two but three distinct threads. The first one is centered on Ronan and Maur and he try to get back to the Southern Claw. The second tract focuses on Cross who is back to the land of the living but having aged nearly more than a decade with his sojourn in the Shadowlands. Lastly we get to see what happened to Danica especially after the events of the fourth book and we learn that she faces a cruel fate as did Cross in the last book. She is made to serve the vampires albeit with a different name and with a different set of circumstances

The biggest change of the series is the change in the number of POV characters, with the first two books we have had only Cross as the sole POV, however with the third book, we gained another set of eyes into the world and since then with every book, there has been a POV addition. With this book, we get to see the world via Ronan’s mind and that is a great facet for this book. The story so far has been a grim one with each book having a few character deaths and a few of those have been main characters as well. This has led to the readers never being sure who might survive in each book. With this book, the story becomes even grimmer if that was even possible with such a dark world to begin with, but the author goes out of his way to further torture his characters. Now while that doesn't speak all too well about a person I haven’t met, I must say it makes for some fascinating reading. Steven Montano has surprised greatly with the direction of the story he’s taking and even with the world he has created, he continues to add further facets to it that make it seem as mysterious and foreboding as it was when I discovered it in the first book. 

The characterization is what makes this story such a terrific one, Cross, Danica and Ronan have been pushed physically, mentally and talents-wise. Their struggles to remain as a team and save each other make this story worth reading. With this book we learn a good deal about Ronan’s past (not that it makes him any less scary), Danica continues to evolve further and after the events of the last book she seems like a whole new person (there’s also certain plot points which facilitate this transformation) but I’m also talking about her overall character arc, which has been a great one to read so far. Maur is another of my favorite characters however doesn't get much page time for reasons that have to be discovered by the reader. Cross also returns and furthers his evolution as the soul of his team and the person who has given it his all multiple times before and will be forced to do so again. 

The author has started a four book arc beginning with book three and this is the penultimate book in that arc as there are many references to events of the past three books. There’s also the further peeling back of the curtain for readers to understand what truly is happening behind the scenes. After being mildly disappointed with book three, the fourth book and this one have completely reinvigorated my faith and interest in this series and I can’t wait to see what happens next. The Blood Skies series comes highly recommended for readers who would like reading a heady mix of genres and books that are bloody, dark and action-packed as those by David Dalglish and Matthew Reilly to a certain degree.



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