Review of Matriarch, by Adam Wing

I just finished reading the delightful fantasy/horror/fairy-tale novella Matriarch, by Adam Wing. This independently published novella was a pleasant and very welcome surprise. I have come to expect that most indie novels will be poorly written and even more poorly edited, but Matriarch did not fit that expectation at all. It was very well written, fast paced, and had a wonderful plot with a great  twist at the end. Overall, it was an enthralling read.

Since Matriarch is a novella, it was an easy and quick read. I read it all in one sitting, with a short break for supper. When I reached the end, I wished it had been longer, but I’m not sure what more the author could have written. He got to the end and stopped. Can’t ask him to keep writing after the story is over, can we?

One of the things I liked best about Wing’s writing was his rich use of figurative language. Whether he was describing a silver bracelet with tarnish “painted on” by time and neglect, or a tree that lunged like a viper, every pageand nearly every paragraphwas brought to life by vivid images and unique metaphors that helped me see with new eyes.

The editing was pretty good. A few British spellings surprised me, but I couldn’t tell if that was consistent throughout the story or not. There were, however, a few missing punctuation marks and a few word-choice errors, such as bobbles instead of baubles, overwriting instead of overriding, and exaltation instead of exultation. But those errors were few and did not detract from the story.

There were several surprising twists in Matriarch that I did not really see coming. The final twist was a very good one, but I was delighted that once that twist was revealed, Wing let the story continue long enough to build a great deal of suspense. Nicely done.

Overall, Matriarch, by Adam Wing, was an exciting novella. I recommend it highly and give it a good solid four thumbs up.

Available on Amazon by clicking here.

Review of Songbird at Midnight

John McDonough’s debut novel, Songbird at Midnight (Charming Dragon Press, 2020), absolutely blew me away.

I was just a bit skeptical when I saw that this was an independently published novel. I’ve read some very poorly written and edited indie novels lately, and I approached this one with gritted teeth. But from the first page, Songbird at Midnight dispelled my skepticism. It is an astonishingly good read. The writing is professional and clean, the plot is satisfying, the pace is fast, and the characters are believable and alive.

McDonough’s love of music and his intimate knowledge of Austin, Texas, are interwoven with his understanding of history, mythology, government corruption, and the deep state. His realism smoothly metamorphoses into fantasy so seamlessly that the fantasy elements seem real and believable.

In the story, Austin musician Lochlan Nohr and his band Trip the Shark are rapidly becoming successful in the Austin club scene. When two attractive strangers offer the band an extremely generous recording contract, their good fortune almost seems too good to be true. But then Loch’s triumph is quenched when his unrequited college love goes missing. Loch immediately shifts into amateur detective mode and begins searching for his lost friend.

This cross-cutting detective/adventure/urban fantasy/mystery story kept me reading breathlessly until eleven-thirty at night. If it had been longer, I would have read all night.

I had only one (very minor) complaint about the story. In most stories like this, there is one spectacularly beautiful female character, and none of the other women in the story can compare to her. In Songbird at Midnight, it seems that every woman is more beautiful than the last. Now don’t get me wrong—I don’t mind living in a world where every woman is eye-poppingly beautiful. But by the end, the fact that all of the women are dazzling beauties means than none of them really stands out.

I was glad to see that the cover proclaims Songbird at Midnight to be “the first Lochlan Nohr novel.” I can’t wait for the second.

I can recommend Songbird at Midnight without hesitation. It’s an exciting story and a great read.

Five Thumbs-Up!

 

The Makings of a Cult Classic

Julia Benally’s novel “Pariahs” (Ilings, Book 1) is not for every reader. But in my opinion, this madcap adventure/fantasy/horror story has the makings of a cult classic. There are people in this world who will absolutely love it. Perhaps you are one of them. Of course, there are probably others who will hate it, and still others will stumble away from it dazed and bemused, wondering what just happened to them. But no one will read this book and walk away without some kind of powerful emotional reaction to it.

In “Pariahs,” Julia Benally has created an insanely complex world with fourteen sentient races (seven big ones and seven little ones) and an insanely complex system of magic, and she has created an insanely complex plot that races along at about a hundred miles per hour. Almost nothing in the world of Ilo bears the remotest resemblance to anything on earth. Sentient beings might have tails or scales or poison fangs or hair up to their knees or some combination of the above, but they all call themselves human beings. And then in the middle of all of it is one pretty little six-year-old girl in a cream-colored dress with short, puffy sleeves.

By the time I was a couple of chapters into “Pariahs,” I thought the whole book was meant to be a joke — a comedy. After a few more chapters, I realized that it wasn’t a joke, but I was not sure exactly what it was. A few more chapters in, and I was totally bewildered. Then I found the glossary (Hooray!), which explained a lot and helped me understand what was going on. Don’t wait as long as I did to find the glossary. By the time I got to the last chapter, I didn’t want the story to end.

The plot is extremely complex and travels at breakneck speed. There’s a new nightmarish horror around almost every corner, with monster bosses that won’t stay dead and just keep coming back. But in the middle of the horror and danger, the little “family” of Vijeren, N’Nar, Sibare, little Miranel, and Zhin are able to find courage in the face of danger, faith to keep on striving, love for their family, hope for their future, and even joy in the almost spiritual ties that bind them together.

Altogether, “Pariahs” was a unique and most remarkable work.