Stone and a Hard Place

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

(Supernatural/Magic)

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!
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The Oversight

The OversightThe Oversight

By: Charlie Fletcher

charliefletcher.com

(Victorian/Supernatural/Fantasy)

434 pages (Trade Paperback)

 

An organization known as The Oversight polices the line between the normal and the supernatural, but only a few remain. “When they fall so do we all.”

*   *   *

It is a curious thing, how novels written in Victorian or pseudo-Victorian time periods are so often written at a higher writing level than your average book. Sentences are crafted a bit more artfully and there are more than a few big words for me to look up, like horripilant and crepuscular. I’d like to point out that my spell check doesn’t even think horripilant is a word, but that may be because this is more of a British usage.

My biggest problem with this kind of writing is that it slows me down. In this case the story wasn’t difficult to follow, it just took a little more time to digest all the verbiage. There are plenty of books out there that are written far more elaborately than this. Personally, I prefer clear writing to fancy writing, not to say that fancy writing can’t be clear on occasion. I don’t want to break up the story to look up words I don’t know, I just want to jump in and immerse myself in it. For me, the more advanced the writing the more distance I feel between me and the story, and it’s more difficult for me to get into it and bond with the characters.

Now to solve this problem authors either need to write more simply, or I just need to become smarter. Hmmm…I’ll work on that.

As for the story, even though I felt like the writing overshadowed it a little bit, it was good. The perilousness of being the last people secretly holding everything together, keeping the things that go bump in the night in check, added a great sense of urgency. The characters were ultimately great, but it took me most of the book to warm up to them. By the end I really liked them, which would have been more of a problem if it were a standalone novel, but since it’s a trilogy (from what I can tell) nothing is wasted. The magic was grounded in folklore which made it feel more plausible, and the idea of getting lost in a maze of mirrors for all eternity is especially cool.

Sophisticated writing aside, it was an interesting story, and I’ll be adding the sequels to my reading list. I guess I’ll just have to start reading the dictionary in preparation for the next one. But hey, being smarter is never a bad thing right? Until next time…

Happy Reading!