SPFBO CUTS Round One: Pour One Out For The Fallen

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Team Weatherwax is getting down to the nitty-gritty of this competition and we’ve arrived at the most uncomfortable and difficult part of the competition – cutting books. All of us love supporting indie authors, so none of us took this part of the competition lightly. Unfortunately, these books just didn’t click with any of the judges, however, we did want to provide a mini review for them in the hopes that someone picks them up thinking it would be more to their taste than ours.

Edit: Damnit, Esme. Always forgetting things. Here’s a drink that Wol made for the fallen <3 It may take the edge off, and it GLOWS.



Thunder: The Shadows are Stirring by Hannah Sullivan


I ended up making it to 30% of this one before I gave up. There were a few reasons for this, but ultimately it came down to the characters’ exploits just never grab my attention fully. It follows 3 children who are orphaned in a car crash, and they end up in the care of a  shapeshifting horse-man storyteller who is training them (they are special kids who can travel through dimensions) to save the world from dimension-shifting beings known as Sliders (*whispers* Sliderssss). Some things just rubbed me the wrong way about it. For instance, the first thing this self-proclaimed foster care provider did was leave these three kids (12, 10, and 8, I think, at the time) alone in a mostly-empty dimension for a year with a book on survival to fend for themselves… Just throwing this out there, but neglect and abandonment are reasons why many kids are in the foster system in the first place, so… yeah. Mainly though, this one was just not really gripping me. It’s something like The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe meets A Wrinkle in Time. About that same reading level too. I’d put this one at middle-grade. 10-15 year olds would probably dig this book more than I did. It’s definitely got an audience out there, that audience just isn’t me.

To Walk a Road of Ruin by A.J. VanOrden


I didn’t make it to the end of this one either, and it’s not for anything except for the writing style/dialog. This story follows two scholars/rogues named Saga and Richter as they try and dodge the trouble they caused when looting a ruin accidentally unleashed all kinds of evil upon the world. I was honestly really excited for this one, because I love love love me some rogues, but I couldn’t get over the really *really* flowery way that both Richter and Saga spoke. It was like a thesaurus had possessed them, and it got old for me very quickly, and I just couldn’t commit to an entire book of it. This is another one that definitely has an audience. I’m sure that this book will tickle someone’s fancy, but it just wasn’t for me, and I can tell you that this fact disappointed me real hard. I wanted to love you, rogues. 🙁


Liath Luachra: The Swallowed by Brian O’Sullivan


This one strikes me as very unfortunate because it’s simply a case of the novel not being my personal cup of tea. It has a very solid grounding in Irish mythology and I don’t doubt that some readers would absolutely love it – indeed, our very own Kristen was sadly disqualified from having this in her pool as she’s already a fan of the author and had already given it a positive review, which I would urge you to read if you’re interested in this book. For me, the oppressive atmosphere, lack of dialogue and the frequent repetition of phrases (e.g. the IMO redundant “woman warrior” -313 times, and “grey one” – 624 times) were simply too much for a book of only 361 pages. The story was otherwise well written, I applaud the author for doing something very unique, and I can only apologize that I wasn’t the right person to read it. Such is the nature of the competition.

Daughter of Atlas by Kirsten M. Corby


This was a novel which had some intriguing ideas – in the very first scene our main character communes with dolphins, who warn her that disaster is looming for the people of Atlas. And then… nothing happens. Or rather, the same thing happens over and over again. Herata warns people of what is coming, they don’t believe her despite mounting evidence, and she grows increasingly frustrated. The power structure and magic were well thought out and the overall plot was strong, but while the ideas were interesting and I enjoyed the female and male leads, the dialogue and prose needed work and the pacing issues were such that I had to DNF at around 70%. I think the author has potential but would benefit hugely from a good editor.


Shield of Kings by Christina Ochs


I ended up making it to the 25% mark before deciding to DNF this book. On the surface, it has many of my favorite aspects of epic fantasy: warring political factions, no clear “good guys,” and hints at a vast world. My two main issues were dialogue and somewhat immersion-breaking plot elements. For instance, if someone were to burst into the room in a panic and tell me that people were coming to kill me, I probably wouldn’t tell them to calm down. And I find it a bit unlikely that someone could walk up to the royal navy and assume complete control by telling a quick lie with nothing to back it up. Overall, the book had a lot of potential but there were several things that prevented me from immersing myself in the story.

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