Vanished

–  by Eden Darry

 

After reading and thoroughly enjoying Eden Darry’s debut published novel, “The House,” I was looking forward to reading her sophomore effort, “Vanished.” Although after reading its blurb, I realised that it wasn’t going to be a horror story, rather, a speculative fiction, more like. I was intrigued to see how Darry weaved an apocalyptic/dystopia story, even though this particular sub-genre of spec fic isn’t my usual cuppa.

In the first few pages, I realised that this “end-of-the-world” story was going to have a heavy religious connotation throughout. Two words: NOAH’S ARK. Even if you’re not from the Christian/Muslim/Jewish persuasion, I’m sure you’ve heard about it since it’s been so mainstreamed already. Anyway, Darry started off the book with a huge storm and then a massively blinding white light descending upon the MCs (and the rest of the world), which caused the vanishing of just about everyone overnight! Well, except for the select (“chosen”) few including Ellery and Loveday, the 2 MCs, along with their pet dog and cat.

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Chosen

– by Brey Willows

 

Just read Brey Willows‘ “Chosen.” Firstly, it wasn’t what I expected…in a fantabulous way, I can’t even! Yes, I went in preparing meself to read and feel about all the ghastly horrors of climate change (which I was dreading because of the knowledge that we’re actually heading that way IRL, what with all the horrifying signs and evidence of it already!), with the usual depressing, doom-and-gloom dystopian, post-apocalyptic atmosphere suffocating the air everywhere, violence and brutality signifying human decay, the lot. But that wasn’t the case!! At least it didn’t give me that expected feeling of hopelessness, which delighted me to no end! Me heart and mind literally did a little happy jiggle! Thank you, Ms. Willows, for smashing me awful preconception (I blame me past experience!) to smithereens, good and proper, renewing me faith in your brilliant story ideas and creativity!

Ok, before I start gobbin’ off, I must mention that “Chosen” was vastly different than the “Afterlife Inc. Trilogy.” What I mean is, this book, compared to the Trilogy, had a more deeply enriched and solemn “voice” from the start. Obviously because of its subject matter. So it wasn’t a surprise so much as it was a delight, like hearing a fresh sound that really sparked me interest right there and then. It’s like “Afterlife” was “Another One Bites The Dust” and “Chosen” was “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Both fabulously executed but for different occasions and emotional levels. Anyway, me mind wasted no time adjusting to the tune change with eager anticipation. And whereas “Afterlife” was a hyperactive, 100-mph mad dash of a perfectly executed roller-coaster-thrill-type piece, “Chosen” was much quieter and calmer, more deliberate, unhurried, presented at a decidedly restrained pace. And I appreciated Willows for that, for having the understanding that telling this story had to have a solid footing in every step of the journey, so the reader is grounded at all times.

As such, I had time to absorb every word and expression voiced out, ponder their meanings and contemplate the implications of every description of the circumstances that Willows deftly laid out in a world where the climate was earth and humanity’s grim reaper. Willows’ character elaboration was what I was looking for – detailed, nuanced, and had implications of what their choices, paths and journeys were to be as the story progressed, be it as the “chosen” ones (a group of scientists and highly-skilled specialists of certain targeted fields who were basically rounded up by the government/military to be shipped off to a brand new planet, whether they chose that path or not! Pfft! Chosen my arse! Pretty ironic to use that word, innit? I see what you did there, Willows! I’m on to ya, you genius!) or the ones left behind.

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Compass Rose

– by Anna Burke

After a captivating read of Anna Burke‘s latest novel, “Thorn,” obviously I HAD to read her debut work, “Compass Rose.” The critics were right. By gosh, what a fantastic, thrilling, captivating ride indeed! This swashbuckling action-adventure where I got to read about pirates, mercs, and the military all converging in the high seas (not to mention monsters!), marking their territories and warring for more was exceptionally depicted with persistently vivid visualisations of each and every situation, environment, surroundings, all described with such realism that I was transported to every scene that Burke created, like I was there meself, observing every action and sequence….virtually!

Burke’s “Compass Rose,” at times, was reminiscent of Jules Verne’s classic sea voyage adventure literature, “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea,” and at times reminded me of “The Pirates of the Carribean,” for me. Except, Burke’s voyage was infinitely better for me, imho, because of many factors, namely, all the badarse, kick-arse leading characters were WOMEN! Bloody hell YES! Having expressed just how much I loved Burke’s literary, lyrical writing style in “Thorn,” Burke continued to impress me to no end with her brilliant knack for creating a glorious sense of music in her richly descriptive, heart-tugging words in every scenario and dialogue/monologue that somehow transformed into lyrical notes in me head as I read on!

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