I had heard a bunch of good things about “Out of the Shadows” by fellow authors, so when the books popped up as a bundle sale I immediately bought all three in one go… and then let them sit on my kindle forever because I suck. But I did it! I finally read the first book! “Out of the Shadows” follows Lenore as she tries to hide from the sins of her parents, rejected by society and forced to steal for a living in a world where such crimes could land you in prison and tortured for the rest of your days. The land Lenore lives in is post-apocalyptic, but not set in a broken city like most other books. Instead, the people remember the great war that led to the end of magic and wondrous contraptions, and gave rise to the brutal peacekeepers known as the Enforcers. Lenore is barely surviving, when a chance encounter that could be ruinous turns into a blessing and opens a world of opportunity, as long as no one ever finds out who Lenore really is.
Have you ever wondered what it’d be like if Wonderland was real? If the story by Lewis Caroll was just a poor retelling of a traumatized princesses’ desperation to hold on to her memories regarding the home she had to flee, and has no idea how to return to? That’s precisely what “The Looking Glass Wars” is all about. Using Caroll’s narration style and twisting his world, Beddor brings to life an alternate telling of “Through the Looking Glass” where Alice is actually Alyss Heart, next in line to the throne, and her aunt Redd (The Red Queen) has been driven mad with lust for power and brutally wrestles control from the young princess. Mad Hatter is not a riddle loving tea addict, but an elite bodyguard for Alyss known as Hatter Madigan. The Cheshire Cat is now a shape shifting assassin known as The Cat, and the magic of Wonderland is based on the powerful imagination of its rulers. It’s really rather clever in terms of retellings with wonderfully dark twists that are perhaps more suitable for older fans of Alice in Wonderland, who aren’t so purist in their love that they won’t mind the liberties Beddor takes.
Reading “Beyond the Amarathine Veil” often had me believing I was reading a fan fiction of The Witcher video game series—which isn’t a bad thing, I love those games—mixed in with some classic sword & sorcery and Dungeons and Dragons. Our main character, Tristan, is a former Templar, once bound to protect a brilliant sorceress. Now, he’s a monster/bounty hunter sporting two swords—silver for monsters and steel for people—and keeps company with a charming bard, smart tongued rogue, and a gruff knight. Seriously, it has all the makings of some of my favorite types of games. Tristan, who commands a small amount of magic himself, has now been tasked to bring peace to his kingdom by marrying a noblewoman from its rival kingdom. An uncertain arranged marriage soon blossoms into more as Tristan does his best to keep his bride-to-be safe, and ensure peace between their nations. With stakes that high, you just know it’s a recipe for disaster. Which I normally love! But this wasn’t as fast paced as I generally like for these kinds of stories.
The title of this book, coupled with the vaguely angelic looking, tribal painted model would have you think this book is some introspective art piece, I mean, the title is essentially a messenger’s speech/monologue, which, it actually is. The monologue I mean, not the art piece. Messenger, the 16 year old main character, is telling the story of what happened to him, his family’s tequila farm, and his entire family plus his love interest, to a therapist of sorts while he recovers in a hospital. The entire book, with very few exceptions, is told through this dialogue, recounting the recent past. Basically, on one rather normal day, Messenger’s farm is destroyed by three alien ships as they land and then begin hunting for something on the property. What follows is the main characters tale of how they ran, what they found, and how everything changed from that moment on.
“Furthermore” feels like a mesh between The Secret Garden and an Alice in Wonderland retelling, something only compounded by the main character being named Alice, as well. In the land of Ferenwood, everyone is blessed with an abundance of bright colors, from their eyes, to their hair, to their skin, and the more color they have, the more magic they can command. Alice is almost completely white, except for a bit of brown around her eyes. She has always hated this; hated that she wasn’t as colorful as everyone else. And when her father vanishes (three years ago from the story's start) she hates her lack of color and her talents even more. With a mother who ignores her and seems to not like her, and with a town that rejects the talent she offers them, Alice runs away with her “friend” Oliver to bring the only person who ever understood her and loved her just as she was back: Father.
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