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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Book review: Diavola by Jennifer Marie Thorne

 


Book links: Amazon, Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Thorne is an American author of books for adults and young readers who writes from a nineteenth-century Cotswold cottage in the medieval market town of Minchinhampton alongside her husband, two sons, and various other animals.

Publisher: Tor Nightfire (March 26, 2024) Page count: 296 pages Formats: audiobook, ebook, hardcover, paperback Genre: horror

Monday, May 27, 2024

Hell For Hire by Rachel Aaron (reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)

 


Official Rachel Aaron Website
Pre-order “Hell For Hire” over HERE
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of The Last Stand Of Mary Good Crow 
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of “The Battle Of Medicine Rocks:
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "Forever Fantasy Online"
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "FFO: Last Bastion"
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "FFO: The Once King"
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "Nice Dragons Finish Last"
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "One Good Dragon Deserves Another"
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "No Good Dragon Goes Unpunished"
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "A Dragon Of A Different Color"
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "Last Dragon Standing"
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "Minimum Wage Magic"
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "Part-Time Gods"
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of “Night Shift Dragons” 
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of “By A Silver Thread”                               
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "The Spirit Thief
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of “The Spirit Rebellion” 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of “The Spirit Eater” & “Spirit’s Oath” 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of “The Spirit War” 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "Spirit's End"
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "Fortune's Pawn"
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "Honor's Knight"
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "Heaven's Queen"
Read Fantasy Book Critic's joint interview with Rachel Aaron & Travis Bach
Read Fantasy Book Critic's Interview with Rachel Aaron
Read Eli Monpress series completion interview with Rachel Aaron
Read Fantasy Book Critic's Interview with Rachel Bach
Read Fantasy Book Critic's Heartstrikers interview with Rachel Aaron
Read Fantasy Book Critic's Second Heartstrikers interview with Rachel Aaron
Read "Why A Nice Dragon" by Rachel Aaron (Guest post)
 
AUTHOR INFORMATION: Rachel Aaron lives in Colorado with her family. She has graduated from University of Georgia with a B.A. in English Literature. She has been an avid reader since her childhood and now has an ever-growing collection to show for it. She loves gaming, Manga comics & reality TV police shows. She also posts regularly on her blog about publishing, books and several other intriguing things.
 

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: The Crew

A hulked-out wrath demon who eats gamer rage and loves cats, a shapeshifting lust demon who enjoys their food a bit too much, and a void demon who doesn’t see the point of any of this. They’re not the sort of mercenaries you hire on purpose, but Bex wouldn’t trust her life to anyone else.

Ever since the ancient Mesopotamian king Gilgamesh decided death wasn’t for him, killed the gods, and conquered the afterlife, times have been rough for a free demon. But the denizens of the Nine Hells aren’t the quitting sort, and Bex and her team have been choking a living out of the Eternal King’s lackeys for years. It’s not honest work, but when Heaven itself declares you a non-person, you smash-and-grab what you can get.

This next gig looks like more of the same…until Bex meets the client.

The Job 
 
Adrian Blackwood is a witch with a problem. His family has skirted the edges of King Gilgamesh’s ire for centuries, but thanks to a decision he made as a child, Adrian is personally responsible for putting his entire coven in Heaven’s crosshairs.

Determined to set things right, Adrian drags his broom, caldron, and talking cat thousands of miles across the country to Seattle where he can fight the Eternal King’s warlocks without bringing the rest of his family into the fray. But witchcraft--like all crafts--takes time, and if the warlocks catch him before his spells are ready, he’s dead. So Adrian does what any professional witch would do and hires a team of mercenaries to keep the warlocks off his back. He didn’t expect to get demons, but when you’re already on the killing-edge of Heaven’s bad side, what’s a bit more fuel on the fire?

Sometimes, you get more than you paid for.
 
Neither Adrian nor Bex knew what to expect when they signed their contract, but witch-plus-demon turns out to be a match made in the Hells. With this much chaos at their fingertips, even impossible dreams start to come back into reach, because Bex wasn’t always a mercenary. She used to be the Eternal King of Heaven’s biggest nightmare, and now that she’s got a witch in her corner, it’s time to put the old magics back on the field and show Adrian Blackwood just how much hell he’s hired. 

FORMAT/INFO: Hell For Hire is 378 pages long divided over eighteen chapters and an epilogue. Narration is in the third person via Adrian Blackwood, Bex & a couple of other characters. This is the first volume of the Tear Down Heaven series.
 
June 4, 2024 marks the e-book, paperback & hardcover publication of Hell For Hire and it is self-published by the author. Cover Art is by Luisa Preißler.
 
 
OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: A new Rachel Aaron series is a gift and for readers like me, she’s been rewarding us wonderfully for the last fifteen years. This is the eighth new series (ninth if you count her foray in the Attack On Titan world) that she has gifted us with. Mark my words, Tear Down Heaven is the start of something special.
 
The story begins with Adrian Blackwood, a witch of the Blackwood clan who arrives in Seattle with a specific plan and for that plan to succeed, he needs a very special and determined crew. Enter Bex, the head of the only free demon crew, a diminutive and smart demon who captains Iggs, a wrath demon, Lys a lust demon and Nemini a void demon. This crew is a special one and one that keeps its own agenda. Both Adrian and Bex however share a common enemy in the Eternal King Gilgamesh who captured heaven over five millennia ago and swarmed all the hells to enslave all the demon queens & their demonish denizens. Gilgamesh hates all magic other than his own and demons are a special anathema to Heaven.
 
This is the amazing start up for Hell For Hire and a new series that absolutely promises to unleash all the sort of mayhem that we Rachel Aaron readers have come to love. With Tear Down Heaven, Rachel gives us a world that feels absolutely radical and yet quintessential Rachel Aaron. This book while having Adrian Blackwood as the main protagonist, isn’t really just about him. We also get a solid insight into Bex. Both these characters are people who are trying to do right by their loved ones but are under a tremendous amount of pressure.
 
Rachel Aaron’s characters are the biggest highlight of her stories, be it Eli Monpress or Devi, or Julian or Marci or Tina or Mary Good Crow. They are intelligent, and kind and generally good people. They are also bad asses when they need to be and can be counted upon to do what needs to be done. Rachel continues in this vein by giving us two (more) admirable folks namely Bex and Adrian. Adrian is a man who’s being hunted for reasons out of his control. He however is not looking to simply exist, he has a plan for his pursuers and all he needs is time to do what’s necessary. Bex is someone with an even bigger target on her back and the readers will have to find out why that's the case.
 
I enjoyed Adrian’s character arc but it was Bex who was the main draw for me. The revelations about both their pasts really set up a fascinating future for us readers to find out. These two are the main draw and I believe they might rival Julius & Marci for their adorable interactions. However this story is a lot darker than the Heartstrikers was. So I’m not a 100% sure how it might all end up but given that it’s a Rachel Aaron story, there will be hope and that’s something I can always count on.
 
Besides Bex, and Adrian, we also get an enthralling side character cast consisting of Boston (a magical talking cat), a talking sword and the demons (Iggs, Lys & Nemini who all have their quirks). I can only hope that this cast will be expanded upon as the series goes forward. This aspect  is very exciting as even the villains are muti-dimensional and I hope the author explores their motivations.
 
The worldbuilding in on another level. Previously with Heartstrikers, Rachel Aaron combined midwestern geography with magic, unbridled capitalism & dragons. Here we find a new world that amalgamates the Pacific northwest, Sumerian mythology, Demons and some seriously creepy (& cool) witchcraft aspects. Overall I’m thrilled to see how the author interprets Sumerian mythos within her world and how it will impact the overall saga. The author also includes her own twists on the various hells as well as witch covens. It will be intriguing to see these aspects explored in future volumes. I must highlight that the worlbuilding hinted within this series opener is seriously akin to an epic fantasy title. It is very much comparative to brilliant efforts from stalwarts such as Elizabeth Bear, Alec Hutson & Brian Staveley.
 
The pace of this story is very much like an urban fantasy and for those who have read previous Rachel Aaron titles will find plenty to love within. There’s some fantastic action sequences and for those folks who have missed the sword battles (from the Monpress books), there’s some epic action showcased and a promise for more mayhem to come. Lastly the cover of this story is another homerun by Luisa Preissler and I seriously can’t wait for this series to be finished so I can see how gorgeous all the covers look together.
 
The only complaint I had about this book was that it very much feels like a big prologue to the actual conflict that’s foreshadowed within. Let me be clear, there’s a complete story told within and the ending sets the stage perfectly for the sequel(s). But overall it felt like this was a teensy appetizer rather the complete meal (Nice Dragons Finish Last) was. For me, this story just left me wanting more than the satisfaction it provided at the end and perhaps that’s more on me than the author intended.
 
 
CONCLUSION: Hell For Hire is an absolute blast to read as it combines action, comedy, and lots of magic for a unique story. Rachel Aaron with her eighth (or ninth) series opener showcases exactly why she has no peers in the urban fantasy genre. If you want to have lots of fun, thrills and action, look no further. Hell For Hire is available to fulfill all your needs and more.


Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Book review: Thrill Switch by Tim Hawken

 


Book links: Amazon, Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tim Hawken is a literary hooligan from Western Australia who writes dark sci-fi and fantasy. He is a 2-times winner of the AHWA’s Flash Fiction Competition, has been shortlisted for an Australian Shadows Award twice, and likes to add a twist of wicked humour to his work. His debut Hellbound Trilogy was a cult hit, which garnered attention from Hollywood, including being pitched to Netflix by producers for a series adaptation.

Tim has recently contributed to best-selling books such as Dear Santa, Dear Dad and Dear Mum, and released a literary fiction novel under the pen name T.S. Hawken.

Tim posts a 100-word, art-inspired story most days on Instagram (@tim_hawken). You can find more about him and his work at timhawken.com

Publisher: Seahawk Press (October 29, 2022) Length: 228 pages Formats: audiobook, ebook, paperback Awards: SPSFC 3 Finalist
Thursday, May 16, 2024

Guest Post & Cover Reveal: Fool's Promise by Angela Boord

 

Official Author Website
 
As a reader, I love trying to figure out how a cover relates to the story before I check out the blurb, and John Anthony De Giovanni has an amazing ability to make art and title resonate. I sent John an early draft of Fool’s Promise—the draft with the original boring part 1, before I rewrote it roughly a million times—and gave him my usual vague thoughts about how probably Arsenault should be on the cover since Fool’s Promise is really his book, and I thought it would be good to show him holding the dagger he uses to make the “fool’s promise” that gives the book its name.
 
John sent me three sketches and at the last minute added a very brief sketch of a fourth. Strangely, even though it was much less detailed, Arsenault’s personality jumped out at me from that fourth sketch. When I chose it over the others, John confessed he’d included it on the spur of the moment—so I can only conclude that Arsenault knew what he wanted and was whispering in John’s ear.
 

I love the “let’s seal this vow with blood” trope (so of course I put it in my book), and I think John did a fantastic job of capturing Arsenault’s mix of determination and protectiveness. He has a “don’t mess with me, I’m serious about this” expression that I love. The core of Fool’s Promise has always been built around Kyrra and Arsenault’s relationship; it was probably the easiest of all my books to title, but it was a difficult book to write because it’s about what happens after the “happily ever after”. I wanted it to be a book about commitment and recovery—physical, mental, and emotional. And I think John has captured that vision perfectly.
 
I feel really lucky to have worked with John and Shawn T. King on three covers now, because I feel like they are both able to take the feeling I put into my books and translate it into imagery and typography. It might sound trite, but there is something magical and humbling about being able to see the people who have only been living in my own head. They’ve always seemed real to me, but now they're real for other people, too. That will never stop being an incredible feeling.

 

Official Release Date: June 27th 2024

Official Book Blurb: Will love be enough to bind these two broken souls?
 
Reunited after years of separation, Kyrra and Arsenault long for a peaceful life together. But the magic keeping Kyrra alive is also tearing her apart. When a mysterious piece of ancient metal falls into Arsenault’s hands, he gambles that it will prove to be Kyrra’s salvation despite the secrets from his past it threatens to reveal.
 
Kyrra is willing to sacrifice everything to free Arsenault from the vengeful god who haunts him, even if it means embracing the magic killing her. But Liera is on the brink of war again, and an unlikely alliance with her greatest enemy may be the only way to save it from destruction.
 
With their love tested by powerful forces, Kyrra and Arsenault face a heart-breaking decision between their own happiness and the greater good. As the dark truth begins to unravel, can their promise hold—or will they find it was a fool’s promise after all?
 
Get ready for an emotional rollercoaster in Fool's Promise, the exciting second book in the award-winning Eterean Empire epic fantasy series by Angela Boord. If you like rich worldbuilding, complex characters, and epic love stories, then you won't want to miss this thrilling tale of love, sacrifice, and redemption.
 
  
Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Mushroom Blues by Adrian M. Gibson (reviewed by Matthew Higgins)

 

Official Author Website
Order Mushroom Blues over HERE
 
OFFICIAL AUTHOR INFO: Adrian M. Gibson is a Canadian author, podcaster and illustrator (as well as occasional tattoo artist). He was born in Ontario, Canada, but grew up in British Columbia. He studied English Literature and has worked in music journalism, restaurants, tattoo studios, clothing stores and a bevy of odd jobs. In 2021, he created the SFF Addicts podcast, which he co-hosts with fellow author M. J. Kuhn. The two host in-depth interviews with an array of science fiction and fantasy authors, as well as writing masterclasses.

SPFBO X Introduction Post - meet the Fantasy Book Critic Team




We're excited to announce we'll be participating in SPFBO for the tenth time. This year, we will have five judges on board and we're happy to welcome one new: Shazzie. Here is a brief introduction to all of us involved in the contest:
Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Review: Two Twisted Crowns by Rachel Gillig

 

Official Author Website
Buy Two Twisted Crowns
Read a review of ONE DARK WINDOW

OFFICIAL AUTHOR BIO: Rachel Gillig is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Shepherd King series. If she is not ensconced in blankets dreaming up her next novel, Rachel is out walking in beautiful central California with her husband, son, and their dignified poodle, Wally.
Monday, May 13, 2024

Interview with Craig Schaefer : Celebrating A Decade Of Dark Fantastical Tales (interviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)

 


Official Author Website
Order Dig Two Graves over HERE
Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Cover Reveal: The Wingspan Of Treason by L. N. Bayen

 


Official Author Twitter

 Q] Welcome to Fantasy Book Critic Lamia. To start with, could you tell us what inspired you to be a writer in the first place?

LNB: Thank you for the warm welcome!

Review: How to Become the Dark Lord and Die Trying by Django Wexler


Official Author Website
Buy How to Become the Dark Lord and Die Trying

OFFICIAL AUTHOR BIO: Django Wexler graduated from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh with degrees in creative writing and computer science, and worked for the university in artificial intelligence research. Eventually he migrated to Microsoft in Seattle, where he now lives with two cats and a teetering mountain of books. When not writing, he wrangles computers, paints tiny soldiers, and plays games of all sorts.

FORMAT/INFO: How to Become the Dark Lord and Die Trying will be published by Orbit on May 21st, 2024. It is 387 pages long and told in first person from Davi's point of view. It is available in paperback, audiobook, and ebook formats.

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