Review: Silent City by G.R. Matthews

Is it fair to say that an author did too well?

Silent City by G.R. Matthews is a post-apocalyptic underwater sci-fi thriller.  It wasn’t until I read this book that I realized just how claustrophobic I might be.  This book showcased all the dangers that come with air-breathers living below the waves, and if it wasn’t bad enough that the main character (Corin Hayes) could drown, or suffocate, or find himself unable to escape from falling debris, or be caught in explosions or torpedo fire, there was the threat of gunfire, guards/soldiers with excellent combat skills, and more.

Hayes is a troubled man with a past that he is trying to avoid.  The story is told from his first-person perspective as he seeks to discover the truth of what is going on around him.  I would have liked a little more depth to his character, but I suspect that is unrealistic given how much time he spends alone with no interaction with others.  Plus, given that this is the first book in a series it is likely that more will be revealed in later stories.

The science and world-building seemed well researched and very plausible, again perhaps too well done.  As I mentioned earlier, this felt claustrophobic, which comes partly from the descriptions of the environment and the threats related to it.  (The first person perspective heightened this sense even more, I suspect.)

I tend not to stray away from fantasy, but this was a quick, action-packed, intense sci-fi story that will surely impress those readers who can handle the threat.  Perhaps I was not that reader, and the book made me more anxious than I would have liked.  Again, it might have been too well done for me.  I will still give it a 3.8 out of 5 stars (rounded up to 4 for Goodreads).  This is (cautiously) recommend for those more daring than I am.

(I was given a copy of this book by the author through the TBRindr program in exchange for a fair and honest review. Thank you G.R. Matthews!)

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Review: The Inheritants by K.M Macmurdie

This is a difficult book for me to review. On one hand I am fairly impressed since this is a debut book by K.M. Macmurdie, and it is clear that she is very creative with some skill in crafting an intriguing story. There is some depth to the characters, especially the main character (Meredith Earl) who is clearly a conflicted woman, and who is forced to deal with some difficult decisions. There is also some very intense action that occurs, and the layers of depravity that some other characters will stoop to in their quest for revenge is quite gruesome at times.

Where this book missed the mark for me, it might easily be a bulls-eye for someone else. My biggest issues were in the use of sex in this book. I don’t mind “romance” in general, and a few more explicit scenes are OK, but I do not enjoy scenes like rape or where sexual deeds are done with non-consenting partners. There is one character in particular has power that is strengthened by this, and, while it adds an element of suspense, darkness and creepiness, for me it is not enjoyable.

I will add that the book did get better as it went. I nearly stopped during the first part of the book. (It is written with three parts.) However, the first part was troubling enough so that I ultimately gave the whole book 2.5 out of 5 stars.

(I was given a copy of this book by the author through the TBRindr program in exchange for a fair and honest review.)

Review: Fate Lashed by Josh Erikson

Last year, Hero Forged by Josh Erikson surprised a lot of people (myself included).  As a debut novel, the book was well received and became a semi-finalist in the current SPFBO contest.  I was especially impressed with the audiobook, especially since the author self-narrated it.

In Fate Lashed, we pick up where the last story left off after Gabe and Heather have spent a brief time in seclusion.  Unfortunately for them, that time of quiet comes to an abrupt end, and the two of them find themselves in a the-fate-of-the-world-is-on-your-shoulders situation.  They are quickly enlisted to join a team to retrieve a long-lost artifact that is believed to hold much power.  To reach that goal we meet many new allies, new enemies, and others that we never know for certain whether they are friend or foe.  Plus, a number of the characters from Hero Forged are back.

What makes this book most impressive is that it takes some key elements that worked very well in Hero Forged and dials each of them in to be even better in Fate Lashed.

Of particular appeal to me are the excerpts from Gabe’s book-in-writing called ConScience, many of which are as though his words are spoken directly to the reader.  Honestly, this is one of the parts of the audiobook that appealed to me the most.  These passages come off as vulnerable, honest, personal and at times therapeutic.  In these glimpses into the mind and heart of Gabe his words express a depth that goes far deeper than the persona he shows to everyone else.  Much of the writing in Fate Lashed (as in Hero Forged before it) is very conversational and authentic, and these are the points when that shines the most.

In addition to the ConScience excerpts, we see so many layers to who Gabe is becoming.  He still has the same sass and wit, but there is so much more to him.  We see him questioning the core of who he is.  What does he want in life?  Does he want a relationship, and with who?  Can he be something other than a selfish con-man?  What will he do with some power?  What matters most to him?  Why does he tend to put himself down so easily?  In some ways, Gabe offers himself as a mirror to let readers see the best and worst of themselves, while quietly encouraging us all to be better than we are.  It is so easy to cheer for this guy.

This book is very much more action-based than the former book both in frequency and scale.  In general, this isn’t necessarily good news for me, and there were some times when it was a bit much, but these scenes were well done and featured a motley crew of interesting monsters and creatures.

Overall this is a great new Urban Fantasy series by an up-and-coming author.  Do yourself a favor: if possible, listen to the audiobooks for this series.  The author/narrator gives each character his/her/its own voice and puts so much personality into each line.  Plus, the writing style of the book somewhat seems like it was written so that it would be read out loud.

Bravo, Mr. Erikson!  You are now 2 for 2.  This was highly enjoyable and I will quickly swoop up book #3.  I highly recommend this book.  4.5 out of 5 stars.

(I was given a copy of this book by the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.)