Stone and a Hard Place

Stone and a Hard PlaceStone and a Hard Place
(Alistair Stone Chronicles 1)
by: R.L King


305 pages [Nook Book]

Occult Studies professor and mage, Alistair Stone, reluctantly accepts an apprentice and attempts to assist an old lady who senses something sinister in her home. Things don’t go according to plan.

Thanks to the wonderful ebook-hunting-entity known as BookBub, I got the first four books of this series for $.99. The excerpt that I read seemed promising. As it turned out, this book was alright, but also a little disappointing. I’m hoping that perhaps the second book will be better. Fingers crossed.

It starts off well enough. Cool nerds are my favorite, and Alistair fits that description nicely. Also, he’s British. I don’t know why that makes his character more appealing, especially since I can’t hear his charming accent in the dialogue, but it does, just a little.

There are two main problems with this story, lack of depth and a plot based on mistakes. Regarding depth, we know absolutely nothing about Alistair’s background. Even just a hint of something greater would have been nice, something to create a greater arc for the series, like in The Dresden Files books. Regarding plot, I can forgive the apprentice, Ethan’s, stupidity to a certain extent, but Alistair is continually unprepared and often overlooks key elements. I prefer a plot where people make good decisions and things still go wrong, rather than things going wrong because he was too busy to pick up the phone or grill Ethan on his extracurricular activities. There were just so many assumptions on both character’s parts driving the plot.

The magic was well enough thought out, with some rules and such to govern it, but I would like to know more about it. The supernatural “thing” was pretty cool, and its presence built up slowly, which kept it interesting. The ending was a surprise, even if it was a bit abrupt.

I feel like there is potential with this series and I’m not quite ready to give up on it yet, and not just because I want to get my 99 cents worth. Until next time…

Happy Reading!

The Twelfth Enchantment

The Twelfth Enchantment

By: David Liss

(Historical Fiction/Fantasy)

This 19th century historical fiction novel blurs the line between magic and alchemy, with secret societies, and appearances by Lord Byron, so naturally I loved it.  However, for some inexplicable reason, I found I was reading it very slowly.  Perhaps I was just in a slow reading kind of mood, or maybe the misery of the main character and how unfairly she was treated was a little bit of a turn off.  These elements are completely necessary to the story of course, but that still might have slowed my pace a bit.  That all changed once I was down to the last hundred pages or so.  What had taken weeks to slowly absorb, I wrapped up easily in one day.  By that point in the story everything starts to come together beautifully and surprising details are revealed about characters and events introduced in the first three hundred pages.

The main character, Lucy Derrick, is gutsy but painfully aware of her limitations, and I appreciated the honesty in that.  How does a young woman in nineteenth century England truly fight evil while keeping within the inflexible boundaries of society?  To put it simply, I liked her, and I’m a little surprised that such a convincing female character was written by a male author.

At the very beginning of the story Lucy is instructed to “gather the leaves,” and I love what that phrase comes to mean later in the book.  I also happened to  learn a new word as a result of reading this book…so that’s always nice.  It was used twice, and now I don’t think I’ll ever forget it: Somnambulist: a sleepwalker

*** SPOILERS! ***

Normally, I like to stay away from specifics, but there was one thing I wanted to comment on anyway.  So if you have any plans to read this book you might want to stop here.  Read on at your own risk.  (Highlight to read)

This might not be that much of a spoiler really, but I just had to mention the awesomeness of the Mutus Liber.  A book without words.  A simple concept and yet captivating at the same time.  This object was so well described with it’s bizarre imagery, and the energy it seemed to possess within its pages, that I truly wished I could hold it in real life.  The book felt very real, which made Lucy’s quest for it all the more meaningful.

Overall, this was a good read, with it’s combination of historical events, magic spells, and characters who aren’t what they first appear to be.  I’ll have to have a look at David Liss’ other books the next time I’m craving some historical fiction.  Until then…

Happy Reading!