Scary Review Redux: Vampirism and You (Guidebook #01) by Missouri Dalton (A MelanieM Review)

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Vampirism and You #2Louis’ whole life was planned right to a bite on the neck at his seventeenth birthday. The British native has a whole lot of changes coming his way. There’s the cravings, the urges, the relocation to rural USA…it’s a lot for a teenager to handle. Throw in the possibility that he might not be as straight as he always thought and it’s a tangled mess as Louis tries to navigate his new life as a vampire.

Things aren’t going to be easy though, and his foster-vampire Duncan is determined to make Louis a fine upstanding example of vampirism—or else. Louis has his handbook though to explain well, some things. But not everything.

When a new vampire shows up in town, Louis thinks he’s finally found someone to confide in, except Eli has his own agenda and Louis is about to find out that being a vampire means more than drinking blood and causing mayhem—there are also dirty politics, dark secrets, and a whole lot of reading assignments.

Louis Von Graves has had an unusual childhood. His family name is Krekowski but his parents named him Louis Von Graves. It’s almost as though they knew what would happen to him. You see, Louis’ family are indentured servants to vampires, specifically, The Countess and have been for more generations than can be remembered. When he was younger, Louis’ name was picked out of a hat filled with the names of children from all the servants. Why? So that the chosen one would be turned on his 17th birthday and become a vampire, a child of the Countess. It doesn’t matter what the child wants, its wham, bite, death, and you’re a vampire.

So here he is, 17 and a new vampire. He has been taken away from his family and friends in England and given over to a foster sire who will teach him how to be a vampire and all the rules and regulations that go along with it. But no one told him he would have to go to America, and no one told him he would have to go to school. With a bunch of american high school kids no less. So what is a sullen, pouting, teenager to do when his world has been turned upside down, he has powers he doesn’t know what to do with and a overwhelming desire to drink his classmates blood? Why be given a guidebook of course.

But the book, Vampirism and You (A Beginner’s Guide to the Change) that his foster-vampire sire Duncan gives him can’t prepare him for everything. A new vampire appears at the house he shares with Duncan and while Eli appears to be friendly, Duncan hates him and tells Louis to stay away from Eli at all costs. And while Louis wants to eat the girls around him, he doesn’t want to date them. Does that make him a gay vampire? Louis isn’t sure what the answer is but increasingly all the questions about his sexuality seem to have Duncan as their focus.

But soon Louis learns that life is not all vampire fun and games. There is great intrigue, and evil court politics to contend with. Plus Louis is having nightmares that keep getting more vivid all the time and the answers seem to lie in his past. Louis must contend with unexpected evil, horny cheerleaders, and the possibility he just might be gay all at the same time. Hopefully the guidebook can help him, now only if he could remember to read his homework!

I have found a new addiction and it’s not one book or even two. It’s a new series from Missouri Dalton and Torquere Press’s YA Press, Prizm Books. The Guidebooks series revolves around a group of supernatural guidebooks, each a part of a series for a group of supernatural practitioners and/or supernatural beings. Whether it be necromancers or vampires or something more, each book is delivered or given to a teenager as they come of age (whether it is being turned or coming into their powers). The first book in the series, Vampirism and You (A Beginner’s Guide to the Change) is given to one Louis Van Graves shortly after he is turned on his 17th birthday.

What a spectacular idea for a series! And with Missouri Dalton, an author I have come to throughly enjoy, as it’s creator, the series has really taken flight into the realm of classic storytelling. Louis Van Graves is that typical teenager at 17 years of age who has been made to do something he never wanted to do. Of course, we aren’t talking woodshop here. Louis has been made into a vampire through no true choice of his own. Not only was his name picked out of a hat but he also was promised something huge by the Countess if he agreed to be turned. In exchange for his mortal life, the Countess agrees to let his sister live a normal life and his family leave her employ to become “normal” once more after centuries as indentured servants. But that meant that Louis had to become the sacrificial lamb for his sister and family, something none of them even tried to stop. So Louis’ feelings here are more than the normal sullen, pouting teenager. In Dalton’s hands, we have a young intelligent man, separated forever from his family, forced by love to become something he never wanted and removed to the American Midwest, a foreign place in everyway, including culture no matter that we both speak “English”. Louis is profoundly hurt, not that he would ever let on and he is trying to figure out what it all means. Just as any teenager is trying to do but in extreme circumstances. The character of Louis manages to come across as not only a believable teenager going through the appropriate stages of emotional growth but also as a realistic young vampire trying to figure out his newly dead and supposedly long lasting status. Such a dichotomy, to walk the halls of high school, navigating the social cliques of that age but having to walk hallways full of newly categorized food.

Louis has to contend with not only relocation and new status as a vampire but a foster sire as well. Duncan (another marvelous character) has taken control of Louis as the Countess is not “terribly maternally”. This is Louis’ first introduction to Duncan his foster sire. Louis has been shipped off in a coffin, wearing clothes more suitable to a 18th pirate than a teenage boy:

Then again — the hearse went over a particularly large pothole, knocking my head into the lid of the coffin. It didn’t budge so much as a centimeter, seeing how I was locked in. Apparently her ladyship thought I might try to make a run for it. How right she was. The hearse quite suddenly rumbled to a stop. I heard the doors open and close. And then my coffin was being lifted and carried. An odd sensation I’ll admit.

There was the sound of doors — sliding doors, sucking sounding, like at the market. Footsteps echoed outside the coffin, not wood floors, tile probably.

They didn’t take me to a morgue did they?

Another ten minutes of jostling and my coffin was set down — not far down, probably on a raised surface. There was a jingle of keys and click of one turning in a lock before the lid was pushed open. I rolled over and sat up, and was met with the speculative look of a man much better dressed than myself. His dark hair was slicked back neatly, and his striped blue button-down shirt was tucked into pressed black slacks.

“Hello, Captain,” he said, blue eyes hiding laughter rather unsuccessfully.

“Bite me.”

“I may take you up on that.” Without a word, he slid his arms under my legs and armpits and lifted me out of the coffin, setting me down on my feet.

“Bloody hell!” I glared, “I didn’t ask for help.”

“Uh huh.” He picked up a clipboard from a table next to my coffin, which itself was on a metal table in the gray-tiled room with gray walls and flickering overhead 6 lights. There were three other tables, two of which held open coffins.

“I see you’ve come to us from Countess Von Graves.”

“Yes.” So the Von Graves name came from her ladyship — it’s still ridiculous.

“She’s marked you as a flight risk — well, first things first, a change of clothes.” He jerked his thumb at the door. “Follow me.” Not having any other choice, I followed. The next room was carpeted, narrow, and long. A table ran along the length of the left side of the room, mirrors covered the right-hand wall — not that I could see myself in them anymore — and there was a door at the very end. The table had a myriad of things. Boxes filled with odds and ends, files, clothes, and a couple of coolers. He grabbed jeans and a plain black T-shirt from the table and tossed them to me. Of course it was black. Never mind that I looked much better in other colors. “Put these on.” He turned around, I suppose to give me privacy, and I stripped down as quickly as I could and redressed in the fresh clothes. Much better.

“All done.”

He turned to me and grinned. “Good.” Walking farther into the room, he dug through the clutter on the table to retrieve a small metal vial and a bracelet that had an obvious setting for the tiny vial at the front. He stepped back to me. “Now, the Countess marked your file, but I prefer to just ask. Are you a flight risk?”

“No,” I snapped.

“So yes then.” He nodded. “You get a tracking device.” He held up the vial and bracelet. The bracelet he snapped around my wrist before I could blink. Then, he bit down on his lip, drawing blood, and dripped one drop into the vial, closed it, and slid it onto the bracelet with a click.

And with that, Louis’ education begins.

I love how beautifully Dalton incorporates the typical teenage feelings and moods into a 17 year old newly formed vampire with it’s own newly acquired needs. Louis has not just regular teenage hormones to contend with but the hyped up sexuality of a vampire. Quite overwhelming to someone who has never dated. Louis must traverse not only the pitfalls and crevasses of an american high school but those of vampire society, each with its own dangers.

Missouri Dalton never loses track of the age of her main character or of her core audience no matter how dire the circumstances of Louis’ life or unlife becomes. Louis’ has a singular voice, so typically teenage but full of personality. He is alternately sarcastic and hopeful, wry and hurt, little sparks of youthful arrogance appearing when you least expect to do along with equal amounts of hidden humility. So engaging, that you become involved in Louis’ plight immediately as the true precarious nature of his status becomes known. And that leads us into the darker sections of this novel.

Yes, there are plenty of funny situations here but there are also just as many dire ones as well as the book continues, these are vampires after all. There are references to some horrific events, none of which are described or actually referred to in terms that I think might be warranted. There is a “blood rape” where one is bitten against their wishes. That is described but not in overly vivid terms. Dalton doesn’t need them in order for us to see and feel the horror of the event. And there is more, also either in the past or not described. But they do occur.

This is also a book about a teenager finding out not only he is gay and coming to terms with his sexuality. But it’s also about being a sexual person. OK, think of teenagers and their hormones and then multiply that. And Louis’ has to come to grips with all of that and more. It’s funny, it’s painful and at one point horrific. And at alls times, it also feels very real. There are no explicit sexual scenes here, just the wants and emotions associated with sexuality. Louis’ emotions are those we can easily understand with dealing with growing up and becoming a sexual being. It’s confusing, confounding, and can overwhelm our senses. Plus with Louis there is something more going on. The vampires or at least a contingent of them are dark, evil beings and have been so for centuries. And they want Louis. Not a good thing, trust me.

Missouri Dalton has also populated this book and her series with one memorable being after another, each a fully fleshed out (for the most part) character with real feelings and emotions backing up their actions. Her settings too ring with authenticity from high school plays and social dynamics to the Courts of Vampire Society that feel as real as the high school gymnasium. Not a hint of a jumbled narrative to be seen here.

My only issue is a slight one and that would be the ending. A few loose ends still frayed and lagging in the wind. They are tied up neatly in the beginning of Necromancy and You (Guidebooks #02) but still those bits here keep this from a perfect 5 star rating. This is a YA story but definitely geared towards the older crowd. I am thinking 15 to Adult, nothing younger. There are some very dark issues here that have to be addressed, not just youthful hormones. I can’t say anything further because I won’t spoil this book. But if you have a sensitive child, read the story for yourself first before giving it to them. Always a good idea at any rate.

I have to admit I read Necromancy and You first, and then came back to pick this one up. How do they fare? Well, I found this story to be a little darker but both are just outstanding and I will be recommending this series as one of the Best of 2013 and 2015. it holds up that well. Whether you are 15 or 50 and older, this story and this series is for you. Memorable characters, thrilling narrative, great dialog…really it has it all. Start at the beginning and work your way through. What a marvelous journey it is going to be.

Book/Series Covers by LC Chase. Each cover is the cover of the Guidebook given to the teenager in the story. This a great idea and the covers work perfectly in every way.

Sales Links: Torquere Books |  Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 199 pages
Published January 29th 2013 by Prizm Books
ISBN1610404297 (ISBN13: 9781610404297)
edition language English
url
series Guidebook #01

October Scary Reads and Other Things that Go Bump in the Night – Narratively Speaking!

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Scary October Books Header

October Scary Reads and Other Things that Go Bump in the Night

Melanie’s Scary Novels and Frightfully Wonderful Storiesskeleton reading books

I’m the first to admit that while I like my vampires and werewolves and ghosts and ghoulies I don’t want my stories to go dark DARK ! Taunt me with details…that make my mind goes horrible places, don’t really give me the specifics.  Go ahead, call me chicken.  I own it.  I do like my angst, suspense,   knuckle biters, eye popping “oh no, you didn’t” scenes and many of the  books, series and authors I’m  going to mention gave me that and so much more.  There’s no order to my list, its more along what popped up in my head…as usual.  Some are old releases, some new, something a little Monstery?

Here they are:

Author Missouri Dalton:

Hanged Man's GhostNightShift185Hellfire Legacy coverVampirism and You cover

 

 

 

 

 

Her Night Wars Series will gut you (dead children and more). I read them out of order. Don’t.

The Hanged Man’s Ghost (The Night Wars, #1)
The Night Shift (The Night Wars #2)
The Hellfire Legacy

Guidebook Series

Vampirism And You! (Guidebook 01) ~ my review here
Necromancy and You (Guidebook 02) ~ my review here

Pretty Monsters coverPeek A Boo coverTriple Feature coverJosh of the Damned The Final Checkout

Author Andrea Speed:

Josh of the Damned Series – humor and the Supernatural -killer combo along with outstanding covers

Josh of the Damned Triple Feature #1 (Josh of the Damned #3) by Andrea Speed
Pretty Monsters (Josh of the Damned, #1)
Peek-a-Boo (Josh of the Damned, #2)
Night of the Dust Bunnies (Josh of the Damned, #3.5)
Josh of the Damned Triple Feature #2: The Final Checkout (Josh of the Damned #4)
Merry Christmas, Josh! (Josh of the Damned #4.5)
Josh of the Damned: The Complete Collection

Also don’t miss out on Andrea Speed’s Infected: Prey series…but that’s for another time and reviewer – see Paul’s Paranormal Post this month.

The Devil's Bedpost coverDrawing Dead PF 2015 coverBlinds Man's Bluff coverDiamond Draw cover

Pulp Friction 2015 – Authors Lee Brazil, Havan Fellows ,Parker Williams and Laura Harner

There there is the Hauntingly Marvelous Pulp Friction 2015 Series this years with authors  Parker Williams, Havan Fellows , Lee Brazil and Laura Harner.  There are ghosts, ghost hunters, sexy succubi, werewolves in love with vampires, psychics, demons and so much more all wrapped in interconnected stories and mysteries that pull at your heart strings while making you jump that the evil goings on.  Right  now Round Five is just beginning. The first in each series is listed below.  5 books in each series, 6th book is written by all the authors.  Splendidly frightening, sexy too!

I also love a little elegance with my horror.  That brings up the following stories and authors:

The Mingled Destinies of Crocodiles and Men by Eric ArvinMingled Destinies of Crocodiles and Men cover

And finally, two short tales of such lyrical elegance and narrative poetry I read them over and over in admiration.   These should be on everyone’s must read list!

Lily CoverLily by Xavier Axelson

Sand and Ruin and Gold by Alexis HallSand and Gold and Ruin

What are you reading this All Hallows Eve?

 

 

 

Now from some of our other Reviewers:

In A Dark Wood civerKraken coverWinter Kills coverDown cover

BJ:

Now BJ loves her dark stories, just check out her review for Kraken by M. Caspian just last week. Missed it, did you?  I’ve linked it to her creepy recommendations listed below.  She also loves one of my all time favorite author’s, Josh Lanyon, a not to be missed author.

Creepy Halloween M/M Romance Recommendations from BJ

In a Dark Wood by Josh Lanyon: If you want something scary-creepy to make you cower under the blankets and double-check the doors and windows. Look no further. Who knew Lanyon could rival King, in this I see the making of the Master of M/M horror. And this horror buff wants more of this style of writing from Lanyon please.

Winter: Haunted Heart by Josh Lanyon: For those who want more of haunted-creepy, Lanyon has you covered there as well. Check out this lovely ghostly mystery that I thoroughly enjoyed. The audio version’s narrator is excellent if you’re into audiobooks.

Kraken by M. Caspian: Ready for the creature feature now guys? Then check this one out. It takes creepy to a whole new level. You know the slimy, make-your-skin crawl kind. *shiver*

Down by Ally Blue: Features violence and death trapped seven fathoms below the deep. Creatures with glowing purple eyes and sharp teeth and a horror that could annihilate the human race-EEK! Tantalizing beginning and an ending that circled nicely back to it. The author’s writing style didn’t work well for me personally, but many others loved it and the story is most certainly eerie and quite unique.

 

From Sammy:

Slasherazzi cover

As for favorite scary reads…
Slasherazzi by Daniel A. Kaine

Favorite shifters…
The Tameness of the Wolf series by Kendall McKenna

From Barb the Zany Old Lady:

Hainted coverHainted by Jordan L. Hawk

Spirit by John InmanSpirit cover

A MelanieM Scary Review Redux: Necromancy and You (Guidebook #02) by Missouri Dalton

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A Scary Review Redux!

Rating: 5 stars out of 5   ☠☠☠☠☠

Necromancy and You cover full sizeAlter (Al) Skelton is just like  any other 15 year old who is obsessed with death.  He has a purple and black bedroom full of skulls, walls decorated with Day of the Dead posters and a vent where he hides all his copies of Raising the Dead from Cemetery Comics.  Shortly after his 15th birthday, Al sends away for a copy of  Necromancy and You with a coupon out of the back of his Raising the Dead comic along with the box tops from three boxes of Count Chocula cereal. The book he receives in the mail is so much more than he expected.  Instead of a paperback, Al gets a heavy leather bound book addressed to him and immediately his life starts to change dramatically.

From the moment Al starts to read the book, he realizes something is weird.  The spells in the book are working for him as a disastrous incident in his science lab demonstrated.  Al can raise the dead.  Now he’s a boy with a plan and the ability to raise the dead.  That plan? To raise his dead father and get his family back together.  But so many obstacles block his path.  The man his mother is dating is hateful and abusing, too bad he is also Al’s psychiatrist. An evil group called the Coalition operates a school for Necromancers and they will do everything in their power to bring Al into their fold. Suddenly Al’s world is full of ghouls, ghosts, vampires, and talking dead frogs.  What’s a young budding necromancer to do when danger is all around him in a world turned more dark and scary than usual?

Missouri Dalton has created an instant classic for older teens and adults alike with Necromancy and You, the second story in the Guidebook series.  Never have I been so enthralled by a young 15 year old like Al Skelton.  As created by Dalton, Al is a brilliant, depressed social outcast, who lives for his Raising the Dead comics and memories of his old family life.  His father died five years before when Al was 10, an event that happened while his dad was away on business so Al never got to say goodbye. Since then, his mother has turned cold and distant, spending all her time either at work or with her  new boyfriend, a sadistic man who also happens to be Al’s psychiatrist.  With his present life a nightmare, Al would like nothing better than his family back together again, happy and whole, an impossibility considering his dad is dead.  If this description starts to conjure up visions of Harry Potter, then yes, there are similarities.  But for me, I find Al Skelton far more interesting and quite a bit darker.  He is also far more sarcastic and self aware than Harry seemed to be.  But I guess that comes with being a Necromancer. albeit a budding one as well as being a bit of a smartmouth.

Dalton’s narrative is so clever, so enthralling and her main character so charismatic and appealing that the reader is pulled in instantly, immediately hooked on Dalton’s world building and Al’s life. Oh the life of a teenager at 15, it’s such a tough one.  Hormones are raging, poised between child and adult, the world can be a harsh place, especially if that teenager is just a little different from everyone else.  Dalton takes this truism and gives us a darker version.  Al doesn’t just think everyone is out to get him, they really are.  Lonely, upset and missing his father and the way his family used to be? That should sound familiar to any number of kids these days. And if the normal world is scary place for them, what would happen if you then find out that vampires, ghouls, zombies and ghosts are real and you are not quite human?

Lucky for us, we get to find out as Al goes from normal teen to powerful Necromancer and beyond.  This is how it all starts:

When the package arrived, that clear crisp morning on the twenty-third of October, I knew it would be a good day. The package was green, vibrant and shiny, tied with black string. The address label was white with black letters that spelled my name.

Alter Skelton

215 Bridge Lane

Verity, IL 34055

It was a package I’d been waiting for seven weeks and three days. Waiting ever since I mailed in the coupon out of the back of Raising the Dead along with the box tops from three boxes of Count Chocula cereal. The ad had caught my attention immediately, gleaming on the slightly thicker glossy paper of the back cover, in bright green and black and white.

Learn to control the forces of life and death! This book will change your life!

I knew in a heartbeat I would do anything to get my hands on it. So despite my normal tendency toward not eating breakfast, I ate it. I also started to act less strange around my mother to decrease suspicion. And now, on a Saturday morning, I had my book.

I took the parcel immediately to my room. My mother was out shopping, so I had a good couple hours to peruse the book before shoving it behind the vent cover where I kept my issues of Raising the Dead and the pornographic magazine Tommy had foisted on me after his mother started cleaning his room again.

And then later on, once Al is safely in his room:

I cleared the detritus off of my bed, mostly clothes, and unwrapped the parcel.

The book was heavy, and as I tore away the paper, I noticed it was not the paperback copy I’d expected from the photo in the back of the comic. The cover, by the feel, was leather, black. On the very front there was incised decoration: bright green lines indented as a border around a white skull that felt and looked like bone. Over the skull, in silver lettering, was the title.

Necromancy and You!

Underneath the skull was a secondary title. From A to Zombie

There was no author listed. On the interior page was a notation.

A Stone House publication copyright 1344. Do not redistribute. Books sold without covers are considered stripped books; the house nor the author receives payment. Please refrain from purchasing stripped books.

And on the next page.

Welcome, young master! You have chosen to take the first step in a wonderful journey! Herein are the methods, practices, and rules of the way of Necromancy! Please read the entire first chapter thoroughly before proceeding to the Practical Applications to ensure safety!

Well. Safety was important. One wouldn’t want to raise anyone on accident or anything. No need to get the neighborhood riled with corpses walking about. Or skeletons. Or both.

No, secrecy was key here.

The neighbors were too nosy as it was. Then again, so was my mother.

And from the moment Al opens the book and begins to read, his journey (and ours) has started.  There is no going back, not that he would want to of course, at least in the beginning. Al has a unique voice, it’s quirky, it self effacing and it definitely belongs to a teenager.  It has just that right amount of young perspective and cluelessness while still sounding aware and confident.  How I love this boy.  Al is also remarkably resilient and he has to be. Because before him are so many unpleasant truths about his world and horrifying events to cope with that the ability to take such things in stride is necessary for his survival.

Along his journey he also meets a cadre of remarkable personalities and creatures, some friend, some foe, and some just well….we just don’t know where they stand.  But all of them are exquisitely created.  They team with life or unlife (!) as the case may be.  Some are personalities that we have met already in Vampirism and You (Guidebook #01), including that m/m couple of foster vampire Duncan and 17 year old Louis.  They loom large in Al’s future but more than that I won’t say.  You will have to discover the details for yourself.  All the characters involved are memorable, some charming, some chilling and several downright evil.  But no matter what side they fall on, good or bad, they are all believable and realistic right down to the smallest detail.

Dalton moves her narrative along at a swift and smooth pace and you will want to scamper along with her, wanting to rush to see where the plot is taking Al and you next.  But slow down, don’t miss any of the details, even the ones that seem so insignificant.  There is so much layering here, of plot twists, relationship dynamics, family dynamics, young love (more on that later), the trials and tribulations of growing up….you name it and Missouri Dalton has incorporated it into her story.  But  Dalton does so effortlessly, her narrative never feeling jumbled up or dense.  Really, this is an outstanding book in a remarkable  series.

There are some things that should be noted. Necromancy and You as well as the Guidebook series are categorized as a YA book, a category I do agree with one limitation.  I don’t feel it is appropriate for anyone under the age of 15 (Al’s age).  While a kiss between the hero and heroine is the sexiest this gets, there are mild suggestive comments for the sexual activities of a few other couples.  Nothing explicit, nothing even major, but its there.  My limitations pertaining to age is more along the lines of the traumatic events that occur.  Al is hurt numerous times and while we are spared the details, it happens and younger children might be upset. People die and there are other potentially violent  scenes.  They are necessary for the book and work beautifully within the narrative.  Most of the violence is “off stage” as it were, but the emotional impact is huge.  These events are as beautifully constructed as the rest of the story so yes, you will feel them just as Al does.  This is an emotionally moving, heartfelt and heartrending story.  It has the power to bring tears to your eyes even as they are rolling down our hero’s face.

In addition to giving us an intrepid young man, Dalton gives us an equally resourceful heroine. This is a minor romance happening within the storyline.  Al is straight and there is a slight romance starting here.  One that I suspect will grow over the course of the series, along with that of our m/m couple Louis and Duncan.  Again, like every other teenage, young love finds a way, no matter your sexual preference.  But this series is geared towards suspense and mystery of the supernatural kind.  The romances that occur are secondary to the main focus of the series,  a battle brewing against good and evil, that eternal conflict with surprising elements to each side.  I wanted to order print copies immediately and go running along crowded sidewalks, passing them out and yelling at them to  “read this book”!!!!!  Teenagers, young adults, old adults, and everyone in between needs to read this book, invest themselves in the series.

As you may have guessed, I enthusiastically recommend this book and this series.  I will leave you with a few thoughts from Al himself:

I just couldn’t take normal life seriously.

“Mr. Skelton, are you paying attention?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Good, then you can complete the problem on the board.”

Do. Not. Kill.

That should not be anyone’s daily mantra.

While it may not be ours, I love that it is Al’s.  Run, fly, do whatever you have to do, but get this book!

Cover art.  I love the cover.  Doesn’t it seem just right for a educational tome?

Sales Links:  Torquere Books  |    Amazon | Buy It Here

Here is the Guidebook stories in the order they were written:

Vampirism and You (Guidebook #01) (strictly M/M)

Necromancy and You (Guidebook #02) (romance is hardly there at all)

Book Details:

ebook, 206 pages
Published July 3rd 2013 by Prizm Books
ISBN1610404939 (ISBN13: 9781610404938)
edition languageEnglish
series Guidebook 

 

A MelanieM Review: A Curse on the Mountain by Missouri Dalton

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

A Curse on the Mountain CoverLong ago the god Cai  was torn from the mortal woman he loved by Death and his fellow gods refused to let them reunite.  In a rage born of loss and pain, Cai cursed a city and watched his curse doom generation after generation of humans who live on a mountainside made almost inhabitable by Cai’s curse.

Perched on a mountaintop surrounded by a frigid swamp, the rain never stops in the cursed city of Var Eldore.  Here a former pleasure slave Myr lives in hiding, trying to stay a step ahead of his captor. But Myr is far more than he realizes, and fate has other plans for him. Reunited with his mate Ryall and their daughter Quinn, Myr and  his family gathers together a group of disenchanted soldiers, spies, nobles, and wizards  to oppose the king and all he stands for.  This includes certain nobles and their houses who perpetuate slavery   Myr and his following intend to fight for the freedom of their land. As they uncover secrets and conspiracies, each more tangled than the last, Myr also discovers he has unique abilities to aid their cause—the Redeemers.

As the strength of the Redeemers grows, so does the number of enemies they must face. Each member of their alliance has his or her own demons to battle, and Myr must confront the truth about himself and become the leader they need. Alongside his lover Ryall and the people who have become his family—as well as some unlikely friends—Myr and the Redeemers must prepare for war. If they fall, the city in the rain will follow.

I fell in love with Missouri Dalton when I discovered her Guidebook series (a must read that included Necromancy and You) as well as her Night Wars (The Hanged Man’s Ghost..)series.  Both are exceptional supernatural series which can always be found high on my Recommendations lists.  So I was thrilled to see a new story from Dalton from Dreamspinner Press and gobbled it up with  a certain amount of anticipation and glee.  But what I found didn’t live up to my high expectations for this author and book blurb.

What was amazing about The Curse on the Mountain was Missouri Dalton’s world building.  From the vengeful god Cai to the denizens of Var Eldore, Dalton brings alive a city dark, icy cold and constantly wet from the endless rains and snow.  Life is perilous unless you are weathy and on the right side of the King.  For those who are poor, out of favor and just unfortunate enough to block someone’s ambitions or path to power, well, then death would be favored over the imprisonment, slavery or torture that follows.   The author’s descriptions can give the reader a good case of the shivers based on the people and places that appear in her narrative.

Even Dalton’s characters hold out such promise for a suspenseful and rich story.  Myr, Ryall, and fierce adopted daugher Quinn are terrifically realized people and I would have loved to have seen a story that truly focused in on them, their past history, their love and fight for freedom.  Had that happened this would have been a different review.

But instead, Dalton starts piling on more characters,  more relationships (old and new) as well as couples who meet, come together, mate, part so quickly that they mimic the life of a mayfly.  Here and gone in a blink of a moment.  Or if they reappear, its as sudden and short lived as their first appearance.  Relationships and people age in a flash as time moves swiftly by as the Redeemers rebellion gains in power and strength and then we flash back to the past and prior events.  And along with that ever changing time line the author gives us side stories with Cai, foul supporters of the King, evil creatures, back to Myr and Ryall, past and present, all starts to cram together until it has all the density of a 10 year old fruit cake.  Yo can tell it is comprised of many different elements you would enjoy but it’s become so dense and unwieldy that it has become inedible. For me, that’s The Curse on the Mountain.

Dalton just piled on too many characters, plot threads, and elements that all get lost amidst the jumble of timelines, storylines, and relationships that keep folding back on each other.  Even if you start to get a glimmer of feeling and interest in certain beings and events, the focus moves away to another part of the story and the power of those characters is lost.  It makes it nigh to impossible to feel a connection to any of these people and their situations and the frustrations build as the reader tries to make sense of some of the events and happenings that occur…some threads I never did untangle in my mind. I mean I just take a look at my notes on the story and after a while all I see is a list of names and places and question marks.  It’s never a good sign when you feel you should have to storyboard a novel to make sense of it all.  Sigh.

Still because of the promise of the world building, the terrific mythology Dalton creates and the largess of the scope of her story, The Curse on the Mountain deserves a 3 star rating.  If you are a Missouri Dalton fan, you might want to pick this up and enjoy the elements I have talked about.  But if you are new to this author, I would recommend you start with her other series that I mentioned above.  They are marvelously addicting and will give you a true taste of this author’s many talents  as a storyteller and her wonderful writing skills.  Just thinking about those stories prompts me to pull them up on my Kindle again.

Cover art by Paul Richmond.  Loved this glorious cover, from its design to the colors used, it works on every level.

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press        All Romance (ARe)      Amazon     Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 214 pages, also available in paperback
Published December 29th 2014 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781632162823
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://www.dreamspinnerpress.com