Blog Archive

View My Stats
Friday, September 1, 2023

SPFBO9: The Last Attenuation & Semifinalist Update (by Mihir Wanchoo)

 


Read FBC's First SPFBO9 Update


As you, folks have already seen with the past four FBC updates’, each of us have read through our lot of six books. With this being my ninth year, I was very excited to see what titles would fall into my lap.

These were the six titles, which I got, and I was very excited to see the diverse genre mix: 
 - Night's Reign by Daan Katz
 -  The Cataclysm by Aaron Jackson
 - The Daughter Of The Ice by Luis Filcao de Magalhaes
 - The Girl And Her Demon by M.X. Walker
 - The Legend Of Black Jack by A.R. Witham
 - The Sparrow and The Oak Tree by Jamie Jackson


I read the blurbs and picked out the order that I wanted to read them. Before I jump into each of them, a bit of a housekeeping. I read nearly 25% of all titles before deciding which titles to continue ahead with. While I do have my personal preferences, when it comes to SPFBO titles, I always focus on plot, characters, pace, world building and overall enjoyment.

 Here are my thoughts on each of the titles:

 


The Legend of Black Jack by A.R. Witham was my first book that I picked based on how awesome the blurb sounded and I dove in. The story begins in our world with a young boy and his loving father: “A boy is best seen through his father’s eyes.”

 Jack Swift is a brilliant seven year old whose father Dr. Alex Swift is a good man. Jack is shown to be a brilliant savant and has what is now called an eidetic memory. Things happen as they do in fantasy books and soon the story turns into a portal fantasy. The story then takes some wild turns and turns into an adventure with hijinks of the best kind. The story is absolutely incredible and possibly has is the most unique by having an appendix removal surgery being described for the first time ever in a fantasy story.

 TLOBL is a story that has to be read to be believed, filled with magic, action, a talking rhinoceros and more adventures than the slim volume suggests. I loved how much fun this story was and I raced through it with gutso. Plus all the interior artwork was an additional treat and only served to make the story that much more beguiling. The story blurb and the actual plot don't quite match up as many readers might go in expecting an epic fantasy story whereas the actual story is a different one.



The Girl And Her Demon by M.X. Walker was a book that set of my intrigue with its simple cover and the blurb that promised a tense story focusing on a girl and her demon trying to make her way into the Ademmon Academy. Emiria is a child who after the death of her mother doesn’t find any happiness in her home. Her father has found a new wife and her children, Emiria really dislikes her step mother who treats her harshly. Determined to change her fate, she makes a pact with a demon named Epherekeen, and forces her way into a magical academy where she has to deal with a lot more issues.

This story then focusses on the academy with its mix of secrets, magic and royal personage. Emiria as a main character is a tough one but a bit immature and the story exploits that aspect solidly. She’s smarting from the loss of her mother but finds kindred friends and discovers her demon might have a different agenda after all. This story was quite fast paced and ends in a manner that will make you excited to read the sequel. It didn’t pack any big surprises but still has a lot of familiar tropes that new readers will enjoy it thoroughly. Overall this was an fun and mysterious book that kept me on my toes.

 


The Sparrow And The Oak Tree by Jamie Jackson was an interesting fantasy standalone based on a mythological story of Tristan and Isolde. In the book, Isolde is the lone sorceress who’s been tasked by her king to suss out the mystery of the terrfied child who has returned from the forest and has been sequestered in the town of Perdition. She is accompanied by a gruff warrior who refuses to reveal his name but answers to the name of Bear. The child is terrified but has reasons of his own to not reveal what he saw inside the forest. This central mystery then plays smoothly as we the readers are given solid clues as to what might truly be happening.

 This romantic fantasy was one that surprised me because it told a complete story with solid characterization and with a central mystery that unfold smoothly. The one major drawback was the pacing, which is a bit lackluster in the middle. However the characters were intriguing enough for me to continue on and the mix of first person and third person narratives made it exciting. Lastly the climax mixed action alongside the eventual mystery revelation and gave a very sweet ending. Overall I really enjoyed this retelling.

 


The Cataclysm by Aaron Jackson was an interesting fantasy story that was set in a world that is trying to get back on its feet after a global apocalypse. Each chapter begins with a vignette about what happened and slowly the readers can start piecing together what really happened. The story focusses upon Asher and his partner in crime Deishiro who are given a new mission and are facing multiple obstacles in their way. I thought this was a good story and especially the vignettes in each chapter were very cool and added a mysterious element. However the story seemed to be a bit stereotypical for its genre and beyond the halfway point and I was losing interest and had to DNF it.

 


Night's Reign by Daan Katz was an interesting story, it began in a way that made my interest click however as soon as the characters were introduced. We are introduced to Niels Bosch a priest with severe guilt and Beldenka Nadinov Cantor, who prefers to go by Bel. Bel is in a wheelchair but does not let the frailties of her situation define who she is. The author focuses on both of them strongly and we get an in-depth look as to who they are and possibly, what their past might contain.

 We don’t get much of a why things are happening as they are but there are hints strewn within. The world is a curious mix of technology and magic and it was refreshing to see a world that’s a curios mix as such.  This story is one where the entire focus is on the characters and both Niels and Bel are enigmatic ones but with completely different life outlooks. The author has to be praised for showcasing a physically disabled protagonist and never sugarcoating her situation. Bel is a strong-willed and remarkable character however she’s not invulnerable and the story does its best to remind us of that.

The story however didn’t’ quite work for me as the plot showcases both Bel and Niels’ pasts and this robs the book of its momentum a bit.  I stopped around the 40% mark as I wasn’t the right fit for this dark story, therefore I feel quite bad in having to cut it. I must say folks who have read and enjoyed Sarah Chorn’s books will most certainly enjoy Daan Katz’work. So give it a try if you want to read a dark, character focused fantasy story.

 


The Daughter Of Ice by Luis Filcao de Magalhaes is a quick paced sword and sorcery story that has a multi-POV structure and focuses on several fantasy stereotypical characters. However the author does his best to make them three dimensional and one of the best things he does is also give a POV to the big bad. With a quick paced plot, we are introduced to Eregar the elderly, straightlaced knight, Jonah the thief, Annah the manipulative assassin, Ando the adventure hungry warrior and Eileen.

 The author also has several correspondences listed as epigraphs that furthers the plot in interesting ways. I really enjoyed how the author introduced the main evil early on and then set all the characters to discover what is truly occurring. I thought this was an interesting move and the pace of the story kept me chugging along. This book is filled with enough action and escapades which will certainly keep readers entertained and the ending is an action packed cliffhanger that makes the next volume a must have.


 

After reading these six books, three titles immediately came to the forefront in my mind. Those three were :

- The Legend Of Black Jack
- The Sparrow And The Oak Tree
- The Daughter Of Ice


All three titles kept me entertained, had a good focus on characters, a solid engaging plot that compelled me to read all the way. It was very hard to choose my semifinalist amongst them as each of them had their pluses and a few drawbacks.

Black Jack had an infectious energy and a sense of wonder but the story’s seven year protagonist’s superhuman feats would have Gary Stu saying “c’mon man” and thus strained my credulity even in this fantastically fun story.

The Sparrow And The Oak Tree was a heartwarming story and the main characters were endearing. However the worldbuilding left a lot to be desired and the author used a couple of plot contrivances to get the climax to where it needed to be.

The Daughter Of Ice was a fast-paced epic story that plays on fantasy tropes and delivers an action packed story but it has a staid cover that might detract readers from picking it up and the story doesn’t set itself apart from most of its contemporaries within the genre.

 

I forced myself to focus on the writing aspect in order to figure out which book gave the most joy while telling as complete a story as possible.

 

In this regards one title came out just a hair ahead of its contemporaries. So without further ado, my choice for the last FBC semifinalist is …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

 


.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.


.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.


The Sparrow and the Oak Tree by Jamie Jackson.

My commiserations to A. R. Witham and Luis Filcao de Magalhaes, their books were a lot of fun. However TSATOT managed to win me over with its charm and heartwarming ending. Now I look forward to what my fellow team members think of it as I will be reading the other semifinalists. 

We will be announcing our Finalist hopefully by the end of the month.


0 comments:

NOTEWORTHY RELEASES

Click Here To Order “Barnaby The Wanderer” by Raymond St. Elmo
Order HERE

NOTEWORTHY RELEASES

Click Here To Order “Barnaby The Wanderer” by Raymond St. Elmo
Order HERE

NOTEWORTHY RELEASES

Click Here To Order “Miss  Percy's” by Quenby Olson!!!
Order HERE

NOTEWORTHY RELEASES

Click Here To Order “The True Bastards” by Jonathan French!!!
Order HERE

NOTEWORTHY RELEASES

Click Here To Order “Rumble In Woodhollow” by Jonathan Pembroke!!!
Order HERE

NOTEWORTHY RELEASES

Click Here To Order “The Starless Crown” by James Rollins!!!
Order HERE