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Tuesday, February 11, 2020

The Scaled Tartan by Raymond St. Elmo mini-review

Official Author Website
Buy the books HERE(USA) or HERE(UK)
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Quest of the Five Clans series

Author information: Raymond St. Elmo is a computer programmer living in Texas. A degree in Spanish Literature gave him a love of magic realism. A fascination with artificial intelligence gave him a job. His books tend to be first-person fantastical accounts with frequent references to William Blake, Borges and PKD.

The Scaled Tartan was self-published by the author on January 16th, 2020 and is available through Kindle Unlimited and in ebook and paperback formats. It counts 404 pages. Cover art by Mark Summers. 


Every soul is entitled to a daily ration of madness.

The Scaled Tartan, the fifth and final book in the Quest of the Five Clans series, finds Rayne Gray in the morgue. Dead. 

More or less. 

It’s complicated. 

The Scaled Tartan delivers an excellent conclusion to a unique series. If you fancy hopping on for the ride, you want to start at the beginning with The Blood Tartan to get the full immersive experience. Elmo’s eccentric cast of characters and the town itself never cease to surprise and entertain. If you enjoy classic, you’ll find plenty of references to William Blake, John Milton, or Poe. If you like philosophy, you’ll find it here as well. Plus, humor. Never forced, always funny. Like this line about modern traffic.

“In the war I once drove a gunpowder cart down a mountain,” declared Black. “The cart aflame. Lightning striking to left and right. Knife in teeth. One hand on the reins, the other firing a pistol. French dragoons leaping from all sides.” He stared into the past, beholding glory. “City traffic is only a bit more difficult.”

Memorable and peculiar characters include the Lovecraftian monster finding the term Abomination impolite, an AI unlucky in love, relatives both sinister and adventurously rebellious, dragons, and many more. Rayne has to deal with a combination of old crimes and choices coming back to roost, hidden portals to the past, and modern (Un)London. 

New revelations, strong twists, excellent dialogues, and exciting fights bring everything to a satisfying conclusion, but it’s the journey that counts. Definitely worth a read, especially if you’re looking for something different.

CONCLUSION: I loved The Scaled Tartan. Not only for its distinct narrative voice, fascinating characters, and great settings, and not just because Elmo’s prose style appeals to me. I loved it in part for its peculiar atmosphere, of course, but also because it’s not afraid to be different and to disregard fantasy market trends and expectations. And by doing so it offers something fresh and thoughtful.


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