A Truly Captivating Read

In House of Johann, Kathi Gosz shares her love of 19th-century Rhineland from the perspective of her ancestors, the Rauls, a farming family in the village of Oberzerf. Gosz’s gentle approach is immersive – while events and details were thoroughly researched and information-packed, I experienced them not as though I learned them, but as though I’d lived them as a member of the Rauls family. The writing is straightforward and endearing, setting the perfect tone for relating the joys and heartaches of these unpretentious hard-working folk. Through Gosz’s remarkable tale, we glimpse a slice of the Rhineland during a simpler time – at least as far as the technology goes. For when it comes to the strong-willed Rauls, we are reminded that few things in life are as complex as family.

Note: Mom knew Kathi Gosz in passing when they were both students at St. Mary’s High School in Menasha. I’m sorry Mom didn’t get a chance to read this–historical fiction was her favorite genre, and I’m sure it would have made her smile.

Book Review: The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe

In The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe, Kij Johnson enables the reader to journey the world of Lovecraft through the eyes of a sensible and accomplished woman of a certain age. Beautiful stylized prose escorts Vellitt to increasingly fantastic destinations at a determined but contemplative pace fittingly evocative of precisely what one might imagine a dream-quest should be. For me, the allure of fantasy as a genre lies in its potential for breaking molds—my preferences run to well-crafted stories that take me places I haven’t been before. With Dream-Quest, Kij delivers. Very nicely done.

Book Review: The Slow Regard of Silent Things, by Patrick Rothfuss

Bravery and wisdom–Mr. Rothfuss has displayed both here. And talent–let’s not forget that. Brave, because he dared to risk making public a story so non-standard that he couldn’t help but risk offending a significant percentage of his fan base. Wise, because he took the extra step of describing up-front his intended audience–warning them in no uncertain terms this creation would not be for everyone. As a result, I knew exactly what to expect before it arrived.

It exceeded those expectations brilliantly.

I’ve been a consumer of Fantasy for over thirty-five years. What has always drawn me to the genre was the freedom it afforded the author to play with convention. Though I find them less commonly than I used to, fantasy still offers the slender hope of a story that is truly unique. When I find such a story–that is when I’m most delighted. That is what the Slow Regard of Silent Things delivers, and it does so using beautiful prose and an exquisitely gentle touch. It demonstrates that a quiet, contemplative story, when written well, can keep me turning pages, and that a subtle, understated implication can form the basis for an unexpected and satisfying ending. As a reader, I was more riveted by the action, pacing and cleverness of The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear, but as a writer, I’ve learned far more from this comparatively tiny vignette.

If you read fantasy only for unrelenting action, swords, sorcery and gore, be sure you read the Author’s foreword before you buy. If you revel in something that’s well-crafted, subtle, and heartwarming, though you’ll still want to read the Author’s foreword first, likely Auri’s tale will win you over. It did me.

Review of “With Mercy,” the latest in “The Nephilim Chronicles” by Jeremy Lee James

A taut, superbly crafted thrill ride. (Five Stars!)

“With Mercy” is the second installment of Jeremy James’ urban fantasy thriller series “The Nephilim Chronicles.” Half-angel Jequon struggles to survive and to discover the identities of his mortal enemies, the Sons of Jared. He’s accompanied by Mercy, a woman raised from an early age specifically to kill him, but who has incentive to cooperate instead since she views his aid as vital for rescuing her best friend. The action takes place in the context of an ambitious and fascinating back story that integrates vampires, the Dead Sea scrolls and the seven signs of the apocalypse. I was sucked in from page one. The pace is relentless, the characters compelling, the writing bold and gritty, and the craftsmanship, superb. Can’t wait for the next installment. Highly, highly recommend!