Review: Star Winds At Dusk by Robert DeFrank

Genre: Dark Fantasy

Rating: Yay, with some caveats

First, let me say that DeFrank has descriptive writing chops. He weaves prose that can amaze and even mesmerize. I was impressed with the level of writing, and at how easily I could slip into this Lovecraftian universe he’s created.

Second, this is a book of short stories. The themes within and the underlying current lead the stories to have some effect on one another, but you can’t skip one in favor of another. In order to grasp the entire story I had to read everything. Characters pop up multiple times throughout, including an ever elusive and feisty feline.

Some parts of the tale were very reminiscent of Poe and King. A horror that seeped into my bones, and made it a bit difficult to continuing reading when the children went to bed and the majority of the lights were shut off. Though I didn’t stumble across graphic violence or horrific scenes, DeFrank offers a subtle horror, which permeates throughout the novel.

If you enjoy tales that spark the mind, dive into mythos off the beaten path, and contain Lovecraftian elements like the famed Cthulhu and other bits/pieces from Lovecrafts stories. In ways this is a decent homage to Lovecraft’s cosmos and tales and overall it’s a play on established mythos with new bits of horror and suspense that kept me engaged.

The big attention grabber is how the stories are connected. Descriptions of certain characters, names not quite revealed, had me guessing if the person was who I thought it was or a new piece of the puzzle. I can honestly say the ending surprised a bit and the horror element kept me from giving up before all the pieces fell into place.

If you’re a fan of dark fantasy or if you enjoy Lovecraft this may be up your alley. If you’re a fan of linear story-telling with a chronological order or books that play the rules I would invite you to check out the posts for other books we’ve reviewed this month.

Get a copy of Star Winds at Dusk at:

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This Week’s Read: Star Winds At Dusk by Robert DeFrank

StarWindsatDusk_LRGA father searches through the woods for his missing daughter, and confronts demons of the past in an abandoned cottage. 

A vampire recalls his sanguine birth into the society of the undead, an immortal life that has seen the rise and fall of empires, and an attempt to bring forth the Old Ones. 

A brilliant but disgraced professor and hunter of the supernatural experiences déjà vu in an accursed town where death stalks victims in their dreams. He must decipher the meaning of his premonition to have a hope of survival. All the while his foes have set deadly snares for him. 

A young man is trapped in a witch’s enchanted garden that becomes carnivorous with the rising of the moon. 

A young woman interviews a man who tells a story of his boyhood during the Depression, when he is hired to help bore a well and instead brings eldritch horrors to the surface. 

And a man scarred from war and loss enters a haunted pharos that broods over all realities, to bargain for the power to save his world. 

Each plays a role in a greater story than they can imagine in this mosaic novel of dark fantasy adventures set in a Lovecraftian cosmos. 

These are stories that take place at the edge of things, at dusk, at the changing of the seasons, in places where the walls have thinned and the immutable laws of reality have become mere suggestions. These are stories of people who find themselves at the borders and discover heroism – or horror. 

There is no peace at the gate.

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Review: Sorrows by Donna Fernstrom

Genre: Urban fiction

Rating: Yay

When Jayson Wallace is turned against his will, he’s taken in by a group of people, humans and vampires, known as a Law Enforcement Circle, where he somewhat learns the ins and outs of vampirism. Jay needs to testify in a trial against his sire, Malachi, who’s basically committed every crime known to man.

Throughout the novel, which covers probably a few weeks of time at the most, Jay is incredibly unsure of himself. Prone to depressive fits and often questions himself. Admittedly, it’s sometimes difficult to like Jay, but for his faults, the characters around him tend to make up for it.

My favorite was the rael-shaa character, Ryan. Rael-shaas are a kind of shape-shifter that can shift from human to wolf, and they often work with the Law Enforcement Circles. Ryan is adorable. He’s bouncy and kind and becomes Jay’s best friend, so we get to see him often.

The story itself is a good story. There’s great worldbuilding elements, including quantum realities (think alternate realities), and travel through those realities. At one point, one of the characters, Nick, takes Jay to a different quantum reality where no humans ever existed. The ideas are pretty neat.

Jay’s self-pity and depressive episodes do tend to drag down the pacing a bit, but overall the story is good, cohesive, and peppered with fun characters.

 

Sorrows is available at the following:

Buy on Lulu (hardcover): http://www.lulu.com/shop/donna-fernstrom/sorrows/hardcover/product-21150229.html

Buy on Lulu (pdf): http://www.lulu.com/shop/donna-fernstrom/sorrows-pdf/ebook/product-21156643.html

 

 

This Week’s Read – Sorrows by Donna Fernstrom

fixedfrontcoverSorrowsKindleWrenched from his ordinary life by a violent madman and turned into a vampire against his will, Jayson Wallace must learn to adapt to a world he never knew existed; a world full of magic and wonder, where vampires, donors, and shapeshifting rael-shaa travel between quantum realities. It’s a dream come true… but not his dream. His sleep is haunted by blood and fear, and a terrifying voice that he cannot shake from his memory. The Circle who rescued him do their best to help, but a terrible betrayal sets off a cascade of events that give them problems of their own to deal with.

Despite a growing relationship with a beautiful young donor, and a strong friendship with a lupine shapeshifter, Jay finds it difficult to accept the contrast between the idyllic reality before him, and the brutal torture he endured. To make matters worse, somewhere, out there, the monster who changed him still runs free…

 

Buy on Lulu (hardcover): http://www.lulu.com/shop/donna-fernstrom/sorrows/hardcover/product-21150229.html

Buy on Lulu (pdf): http://www.lulu.com/shop/donna-fernstrom/sorrows-pdf/ebook/product-21156643.html

Review: Prudence and the Professor – Mari’s Take

 

Genre: Historical Steampunk Romance

Rating: Yay!

 

Ho boy, this book. I am practically wiggling in my seat about this one.

Prudence for print -with trim -300 dpi -CMYK The story is SUCH a delicious mix of romance and steampunk set in the Civil War era. Determined to carve a life out for herself after being tragically widowed by the war, Prudence takes a job in remote Montana for Professor Gerritt Rhinehart. Gerritt is a smartypants inventor whose ideas might turn the war in the North’s favor.

Prudence was such a great lead character. Smart and strong, but thankfully lacking the bullheadedness that leads to certain trouble. I always wonder how such smart women in romances can make so many dumb moves, and I am extremely happy to say none of that happened here.

The interplay between Prudence and Gerritt is both sweet and sultry. There were a few times where I would have liked some more indepth interplay, as I felt there was rehashing without new territory covered, but overall it wasn’t extensive enough to really bother me.

A cast of sidekicks keeps the story rolling. Hands down favorite was Alma, the smart-mouthed cook Gerritt employs, and who feels it’s completely appropriate to offer sexual advice to Prudence. I laughed so much when she was about.

Gerritt, by contrast, is both smart and sexy, and I really enjoyed having a bookishly smart man as the main love interest. Not every man needs to be some war chieftain carrying off his woman. Because of his smarts and apparently delicious bum –ahem!- I found myself wishing for so much more time in his head because it was so enjoyable.

Overall, this romance is a sweet, enjoyable twist on western romances, with the goody goodies, the bad baddies, and of course, nifty devices. A wonderful fast read perfect for an afternoon where you just want a good story.

 

Sibelle Stone is the pseudonym for award-winning romance author Deborah Schneider. As Deborah she writes Western and Americana romance novels. As Sibelle Stone she writes historical romance with paranormal elements (things like magic, witches and evil Druids), and steampunk with incredible machines. It’s the same person, but with two different sides.
Both Sibelle and Deborah reside in a small town near the Cascade Mountains in the Pacific Northwest. Deborah is employed by one of the busiest libraries in the country in a job that involves arranging programs with authors, storytellers, musicians, dancers and jugglers. Deborah received the Romance Writers of America Librarian of the Year Award in 2009.
Visit Sibelle at www.sibellestone.com, or find her on Facebook and Twitter
Prudence and the Professor can be found at:

This Week’s Read: Prudence and the Professor by Sibelle Stone

Civil War widow Prudence Worthington has vowed to never again be at the mercy of a man. Prudence for print -with trim -300 dpi -CMYKShe’s determined to make her own way in the world after being one of the first women to graduate from a business school in upstate New York. In search of adventure and independence she takes a position as a personal secretary to an eccentric inventor and heads to Montana Territory.
Professor Gerritt Rhinehart must develop his newest invention to meet a critical deadline. Someone is willing to do almost anything to stop him, and the distraction of a raven haired beauty he hired as his secretary makes it impossible to concentrate. But he must stay focused, especially when his invention could change the course of the War-Between-the-States.
Discover a rollicking steampunk romance from an award-winning author. The first book in the Brides of Jubilee series.
 
Prudence and the Professor can be found at: