Review: The Oracle’s Flame (The Oracle #1) by Mell Eight

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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5 (rounded up to 4):

The Oracle's FlameThe Oracle has looked into the future and sees nothing but devastation and ruin after the King of Altnoia, along with his Queen and  Heir are killed, assassinated by his cousin who then assumes the throne.  Missing from the carnage is the rightful’s King’s young son, Prince Edan.  Missing or dead?  Only the Oracle knows the truth.  If the Kingdom and all who live there are to survive and thrive, then Prince Edan must be found and restored to the throne.

Dragon, the newly minted Dragon of Fire, has been chosen for the job.  He must find Prince Edan and then keep him alive, a desperate mission when the forces of the Usurper are scouring the Kingdom looking for the Prince as well.  But it’s Prince Edan’s secret location that upsets Dragon most of all.  Edan is hiding out on a pirate’s ship and the last place a fire loving dragon wants to be is on the high seas and seasick.

Not only seasick and sick of the water, no one will tell Dragon which pirate is the prince.  And not even the Oracle could have prepared Dragon for a pair of sexy twin pirates and the feelings they engender inside a lonely dragon.

New author, new series.  Both things make this reviewer extremely happy.  Add a dragon or two and things get just that much better.  The Oracle’s Flame, the first in The Oracle series, sets the foundation for this universe and the stories to come.  The story begins in the Monastery, built into and under the Sacred Mountain.  In this ancient building, more city than single structure, the Oracle and the Four Castes live and carry out the Oracle’s plans.

Mell Eight has created a wonderful, fascinating universe for this series.  The Oracle herself is thousands of years old, exchanging human bodies as is necessary but retaining the knowledge and feelings of all the Oracles inside.  At the moment, the Oracle is a young girl, the previous body/person having recently perished.  Into her personal chambers she calls for her new Dragon of Fire.  As Dragon proceeds down the hallways of the Monastery, he recalls the chain of events that made him the Dragon of Fire only three days prior.  Inside the Oracle’s chambers lie the testing room into which all the young are called to be tested.   When they leave it will be as a member of one of the Four Castes, Air, Water, Earth, and of course, Fire.  Each young person leaves changed in appearance and with a tattoo marking their new position and Caste on their backs.

For Dragon, his hair has turned cherry red, the color of flames.  And his eyes are the bluest of blues that you find in the hottest center of a candle’s fire.  All members of the Fire caste have red hair and blue eyes after testing.  But only one has the red dragon tattoo on his back, signaling his high position.  And only the Elder Flame is higher in the cast then the Dragon of Fire.  So many rich details….and the author continues to add continuously to the atmosphere and minutiae of the Monastery and the world created within to the reader’s delight.

But  Mell Eight has the dragon leaving this mesmerizing location for a mission he must succeed at otherwise the Kingdom of Altnoia will be lost. From deeply serious to highly humorous and back again, the narrative swings merrily as Dragon boards the pirate vessel in a most unusual manner, assuming a lower caste position to hide his true nature and lowly name to go along with it.  Quite naturally, a fire dragon will not be pleased to be surrounded by water, rained upon and or tossed about by waves.  And at all times, it is easy to remember that Dragon is also quite new as a Dragon of Fire and out on his own for the first time in his life.  It’s an all around precarious position for Dragon and the author makes the most of it here to our delight and sometimes consternation.

There are many other characters involved in this story, including a pair of brother pirates, twins Shev and Shov. Physically identical, they couldn’t be less alike in personality.  But both brothers are attracted to Dragon who is confused by his attraction to them both and unsure of what it all means.  There is a charming naivete and innocence to Dragon, one recognized by the brothers and other pirates aboard.  I enjoyed the fact that aspect of Dragon’s character was valued rather than exploited by those around him.  And that aura of innocence that surrounds Dragon makes the relationship that finally evolves between the three of them not only something the reader will be able to relate to but all aspects of their unusual relationship as well. That The Oracle’s Flame involves a m/m/m relationship as well as one that includes twincest feels as though it was meant to be instead of something kinky or misplaced.  It does occur towards the end of the story for those readers who find these elements not ones they normally read but the events that lead up to it feels natural and not strained by circumstances.

What will everyone find marvelous?  Oh, the wonder when an angry dragon takes flight!  Mell Eight makes us feel the fury and the beating wings, the fire as it explodes upon contact and the happiness of a dragon when a tiny flames dance in his hands.  During those moments, Dragon is so alive, so unbelievably real and magnificent that you wish dragons were as real as Dragon feels on the pages before you.  Of course, he felt that way too as he moaned with seasickness and shivered under the onslaught of a torrential rain, pitiful and endearing always.

Ultimately, it’s the characters that make a story or series.  In The Oracle’s Flame Mell Eight has provided us with many to love and wonder about.  I only wish that I had seen more of the fight to win the throne.  How satisfying that would have been.  But I was happy with this tale of love and adventure and thrilled with Dragon and his twins.  I think you will be too.

Cover art by London Burdon.  Minimal but it works for the story and as series branding.

The Oracle series includes:

The Oracle’s Flame, #1
The Oracle’s Hatchling, #2

Book Details:
Publisher’s Warning: Contains twincest and a threesome relationship
ebook, 18,700 words
The Oracle’s Flame at LT3 Press

Published November 20th 2013 by Less Than Three Press LLC (first published November 19th 2013)
original title The Oracle’s Flame
ISBN13 9781620042823
edition language English

Review: The Blight by Missouri Dalton

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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

The Blight coverNoah Abbott is the only one who knows he isn’t crazy.  He knows what he saw all those years ago when he was a younger was real just as he knows the fantastical beings, the trolls and the goblins he sees walking around him unnoticed are too.  The trouble is no one else sees them.  Just Noah.  And that fact got him a trip and long stay in a psychiatric ward when he was 16 and Noah’s not going there again.  Now Noah keeps his head down and his eyes to the ground, he works in a box factory doing menial work for menial wages, and he says nothing to anyone.

Then things slowly start to change.  One of his coworkers, Christian, follow citizen on the outskirts of society, takes an interest in him, one that goes far past friendship into that of potential lover, new ground for a virgin like Noah.  And a young woman, Hannah Regent, approaches him and asks for help.  Turns out she sees the trolls and goblins too and needs Noah to help fight them off and keep her safe.

And with Hannah’s appearance, Noah’s reality is shattered.  Turns out he’s an elf on the run. Hannah too.  And that monster he saw all those years ago?  Well, that monstrous troll is back and hunting them both.  With  a Goblin King,to aid them, Noah and Hannah flee to another  universe, one that is their home.  There awaits a mighty quest for Noah, and the fate of all the elves hangs in the balance. But Noah isn’t sure he is up to the challenge.

Wow, what a story.  It has been several days since I finished this book and I am still trying to decide how I feel about it.  Missouri Dalton brings a number of intriguing and thought provoking elements to this story of a “Magpie” child. Noah has been hidden in the human world to protect him (and Hannah) until he can be found and returned to his rightful place as one of the remaining elven royalty.  But that world, Noah’s  “human world”, is that of most people’s nightmares.  He sees things.  Awful things that do harm to others and they are coming for him.  A basic bump in the dark  nightmare that explodes into reality for Noah only no one believes him.  Dalton plays further into our fears by having Noah confined to a less than desirable  psychiatric ward for years, abandoned by family and friends.    This element of the story is so artfully conceived and accomplished that it kept me up thinking for hours on end.

The Noah that is let out of the ward after learning to “play the game” is a person that anyone might meet on the streets today.  Head down, eyes averted, trying to stay as inconspicuous as possible.  His posture is exactly that of a person recently released from a mental institution.  That has also been his persona at work, a box factory that is one of the few places willing to hire excons and the mentally unstable.  Again Dalton has found the perfect setting for Noah and his post “crazy ward” life.  Her descriptions of Noah’s job and coworkers is grounded in the reality of such workplaces and it plays out that way in the story too.

Noah is such an interesting character because he is such a dichotomy himself.  A fake human, a false past, a newly reclaimed elf who just happens to be young by elven standards, a elf teen going through pubescence, it all throws Noah through the proverbial emotional and mental loop until he is not sure who he really is.  Is he a hero?  A virgin turned slut by his own Elvish pheromones?  It is a tumultuous journey that Dalton takes both Noah, now Neiren and the reader on.  Trust me when I say its not a real enjoyable journey, nor are some of the situations and events that happen along the way.

One issue I had with The Blight is that the multiple romances were all too new and shallow to become as meaningful as they needed to be.  Noah/Neiren is a highly charged hormonal elf, new to sex and possibly love.  And he behaves just like you think such a character would.  He is promiscuous, conflicted about love and relationships as well as what is truly acceptable behavior now that he is an elf once more.  So much of human morality has been ingrained in his mind and emotions but that has nothing to do with his current and true reality and quite naturally Noah/Neiren is having problems adjusting.   I thought the author did a great job in making Noah’s dilemma real but those readers who have issues with multiple sexual partners (m/m, potential m/m/m, m/f, m/?) as well as what might be seen as “cheating” will feel uncomfortable with these elements.

And the same can be said about the deaths that occur within the story as well.  They happen fast and the events that follow leave little room for grieving.  I think most readers will be shocked and hurt by these deaths.  We won’t see them coming and neither do the characters making their impact on all of us genuine and  pain filled.

There is something here to upset everyone.  Main character deaths, deaths of beloved characters,  characters behaving badly, polyamorous relationships (no one on one relationships here), and finally maybe a happy for now ending.  Missouri Dalton gives the reader instance after instance of moments and events that will have the reader wanting to put this book down and walk away.

And that would be a mistake.

Because as put out as all of above items will make you, there is also so much substance and wonder to be found here as well. The magic of the Goblin Kingdom, and the Goblin King himself.  The grotto of lost elves, shaking mountains and black dragons, its all here too. I can’t call this story heartwarming because its not.  But it has so much to recommend it, the lovely descriptions of magical place hidden away from our mundane human society, and all the beings trying to survive a calamitous time of war and race death.  The scope of this story and the descriptions make it worth your while to pick it up and decide for yourself.

For me, it was worth the journey.  Here is a taste of how it all starts:

“Noah Abbott, this court has found you incompetent and your parents have decided it is to your benefit to give over guardianship to the state of California. It is the decision of this court that you are to be remanded into the custody of the St. George Psychiatric Hospital until your twenty-first birthday, upon which time you will be re-examined for mental fitness.”

She banged her gavel down. “Court is adjourned.”

I felt the shock of it run over me; it was like being hit by a truck. As I’d been hit by a truck, I was able to make this comparison with some accuracy.

“I’m not crazy, I know what I saw! I am not crazy!”

“Bailiff, please remove Mr. Abbott.”

The men took my arms to take me away; I jerked in their grips, and my tired body protested.

“I know what I saw! I know what I saw!”

The bailiff and his friend dragged me out of the courtroom.

“I know what I saw!” I screamed, my voice hoarse. “I know what I saw!”

That cover illustration by BS Clay is magical.  I love it and think it is one of the best of the year.

Book Details:

ebook, 192 pages / 53000 words
Published September 11th 2013 by Torquere Press
ISBN 1610405714 (ISBN13: 9781610405713)
edition language English