A Life Removed, by Jason Parent



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There’s so much I want to say about this novel, I’m not even sure where to begin. There were so many layers and nuances to it that I could not put it down once I started. 
There’s a killer on the loose, carving out hearts and leaving the bodies on display. Aaron’s a good cop. He really is. But once he gets involved in the gruesome murders, his life is literally downhill from there. 
First things first, as a crime novel, I was really satisfied with how things were set up. Things started off vague, to keep both readers and cops guessing. Then the foreshadowing started to trickle in. “Aha!” the reader says, “I’ve got the whodunnit…what now?” Oh, boy. Let me tell you what now. Things explode. I mostly mean the narrative, of course. It expands and then turns itself on its head. I really liked both of the twists at the end. 
There were a lot of psychological and religious themes throughout. Both were tied heavily to morality and it’s grayness. I don’t mean peppered here or there; they were the main themes. Both were explored thoroughly through the narrative. They were both used in conjunction with each other to make their necessary points. What surprised me the most was how well-researched they appeared to be. And, throughout, the narrative remained respectful for all walks of life. 
Now, characters, because what’s a story without them? Relationships are put to the test. Some bend, some break, some are formed. Some are brought into question and re-examined when morality is threatened. There was quite a bit of development to go around, some good, others bad. I really liked how well done the “bad” character development was. It’s something that not a lot of novels choose to undertake. I was so happy that this one did. The police force was fallible, realistically so. It really, really made for a good story. It kept things from feeling too easy. 
I also enjoyed the realism of the police work. It allowed the reader to keep their attention focused on plot and story progression rather than fanciful detectives that miraculously know everything. It wasn’t boring. It didn’t feel overdone. Yet it was still realistic. 
I could honestly go on about this novel, so I should probably stop. If crime fiction with a bit of horror is your bag, please pick up this book and read it. I promise it will be worth your while. 
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The White Raven, by Carrie D. Miller

The White Raven - Ebook - 1000

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The White Raven gave me literal chills. Not just once or twice, either. Several times.

 

How many more lives must Aven live through? She’s on lucky number thirteen now. So lucky, in fact, that she settled in modern-day Salem, touting witchcraft freely. A fitting location for the mysteries of Aven’s past lives to haunt her. And everything was off to a great start, too.

 

I could honestly go on about this plot for days, it was that good. The thematic continuity was crafted so well. Not only did the author tackle good versus evil in an excellent way, they tried their hand at karma, too. The subject of karma comes up several times throughout the novel. The way it’s foreshadowed is brilliant. Key events and characters are placed at a point that the reader keeps them in the back of their mind. When the reveal happens, the message is pretty powerful.

 

Witchcraft has so many different renditions in the literary world. I loved the simplicity of magic in this novel. While it’s used often, it never feels like the characters are overpowered. It serves important purpose to the plot, so spells aren’t flashy or showy. The author took their time to make sure they did things right by modern witches, and it shows. The setting gave things a very traditional witchcraft aesthetic. However, modern Wicca makes a giant push for territory. The aesthetic really makes a difference in the tone of the novel. The way it’s written is almost a spell in and of itself. It draws the reader in so far that they lose sight of their own surroundings.

 

Characters came crafted with an expert hand. They had incredible depth. The cast also featured a number of women. The author turned the tables on many common tropes. The women were the stars of the novel, and I loved it. They were the ones in control. This time, it was a guy’s turn to be there as the love interest. I enjoyed the progression and the construction of the romantic subplot, something I don’t say too often.

 

And the ending. Oh, the ending. It was so deliciously evil. I hate it and I love it so much. The most brilliant way to guarantee readership for follow-ups, if there are any.

 

I don’t think I name one thing I dislike about this novel. I enjoyed everything about it–another rarity. This series is now on my watch list, and so is the author.

 

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Pnaramakhia, by Flavio Verna Santonocito

5_22_17 Pnaramakhia

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Fusion of steampunk and fantasy is neat. Not only does it cater to unique landscapes, but new story devices, as well. Use of magic takes on so many new possibilities. Pnaramakhia utilizes all the above.

 

The author went down to the nitty-gritty and created a whole new landscape from the ground up. Because of that, there’s a lot of information the reader needs. Instead of spelling it all out at once, it’s peppered all throughout the novel. It’ll take a second to adjust to the linguistics of a new culture. It’s like getting dropped into a country you only know some of the language for. The beginning felt a little clunky because of that. After that, it was pretty smooth sailing. There’s still a lot to learn, but it gets much easier.

 

Two siblings are on a mission to kill an ancient beast. There are some…complications along the way. They’re separated, and that’s when the novel branches into the many different storylines.

 

Now, the best part: the entire novel. The story blew me away in ways I can’t even describe. From what I’ve heard about Game of Thrones, this is so much better. There’s so many overlapping story-arcs that all blend seamlessly with one another. Political subterfuge, mystery, the undead…each served to bulk up the main narrative. It’s long, but the way everything is set up, it’s perfect. The author manages to pull the wool over the readers’ eyes for the majority of the novel. The answers to things are never so simple. The sequence of succeeding events wound up crafted in such an exquisite way.

 

The characters were great. Every interaction is a performance to marvel at. The writing style complimented it in all the right ways. It didn’t have the long, drawn-out, fantastical tone of traditional fantasy novels. Still, there was plenty of wonderment to go around, as description doesn’t lack. The environment came to life right along with the characters. A great amount of detail and thought went into constructing this new society, and it shows. The same goes for the characters. Dialogue flows right. It changes tone between characters. Perspective changes are smooth and easy. The list of things I could compare this to for references keeps growing.

 

This was one of the most satisfying novels I’ve read in a while. It was my first foray into steampunk fantasy and it set the bar awful high.

 

This is a must-read.

 

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