Thursday, January 21, 2016

Review: Black Dragon by Amos Keppler

  When you read a Keppler-novel you get a complex story where it’s downright impossible to guess the ending. You certainly don’t get a thorough explanation of the plot on the first page or something. The story is shown, not told.
  You have to be both a curious and aware human being to find out what’s going on and that’s great. There’s way too little complex storytelling out there.
  The reader is pulled into a world where superhuman powers have become commonplace, and we are shown the effects of that, both on individuals and society as a whole. We witness the true ramifications on a society where super-powered individuals and groups are present, how the real-world dynamics are completely different from what is shown in comic books. Even though there are similarities, this is something completely different from other stories featuring costumed and superhuman vigilantes.
  The novel is 175 000 words, far thicker than most books. It needs to be in order to describe in necessary detail the story as it progresses.
  Vigilantes and crime fighters aren't described as positive forces at all. What we see unfold is fascism in its most sinister form. It's actually one of the best descriptions of it I've ever read. We are shown how initially well-meaning people can change and become pretty much what they initially despised, something politicians and others starting adult life as idealists certainly should take to heart.
  It also shows in excellent ways how a cruel society crushes the human spirit until almost nothing is left but ashes.
  There are burning emotions, sizzling passion and hatred here, making me shake in my boots.
  The novel contains themes and angles not covered in most books I’ve read and most certainly not in comic books.
  This is a deeply troubling book. It starts off fairly modest, but slowly grows darker, as you flip the pages.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Review: Shadows in the Starlight by Elaine Cunningham

  I quite enjoyed Shadows in the Darkness, the first novel in this series. This one isn’t as good as that one, but still has many of the same qualities. It is a fairly mature story, can’t easily fit a genre and doesn’t have many good things to say about the police and other dominant forces in society.
  Gwen, the main protagonist is still searching for the truth about her life and origin. She isn’t human and struggles to come to terms with what she is: an elf, another species that have existed side by side with humanity for a very long time. They have a different and occasionally cruel set of rules and motivations compared to the human society she grew up with, and she has trouble reconciling herself with that.
  She is a former cop with a rather strained relationship with many of her former colleagues, also a good thing to cover, and strangely enough not an angle covered much.
  I do think the story is too short. The reader has just taken a bite or two of the juicy action and then it’s over. I feel like I’ve only read the first third of a book or something. It ends too quickly, very much where the action should have started.
  I still appreciate the author’s attempt at creating something different, also with a strong woman as protagonist and strong, multi-level black characters, though. It’s way too rare in today’s mainstream marketplace.
  Hey, Elaine, I’m still waiting for the next book in this series. If no one wants to publish it, try self-publishing. I’m told it’s easy and inexpensive in this digital age.