Book Review: The Fire Mages Daughter (A Part of the Brightmoon Annals) by: Pauline M. Ross
I give this book three out of five stars for being an entertaining read with competing magic systems and atypical representations of women in power and leadership positions.
What I like about the book:
1) Ross has a consistent style with ideas that construct vivid cultures, magic, and fantastical societies. I can count on this author for breathing new life into old ideas or showcasing things new and different ways.
2) This is a strong feminist piece, yet I don’t think the author intends it to be such. The heroine, the mentor, the primary antagonist, and two of the largest supporting characters are women. Basically the coolest characters in this book are women, and men comprise roles which women are more commonly cast.
What I think could have been done better:
1) EMOTION, where is it? The book is written from a first person point of view, but most of the time it feels like reading something third person. The ideas and magic in Ross’s books are so vivid yet something is consistently is missing: emotion. The characters withhold how the action in the story impacts them and most major feelings are not conveyed well to the reader. In general I only found out a character was distraught when the character said they were crying. If the reader could be in tune with the characters emotions more this book would be a five star home run.
Book Review Poe by: J. Lincoln Fenn
I give this book five out of five stars, and I need to remember to not read J. Lincoln Fenn’s work when I’m home alone. This book was awesomely scary, laugh out loud funny, and touching in unexpected ways. The characters are strong and relatable. The plot had interesting twists that made the read enjoyable and hard to put down.
What I loved about this book:
- The humor, I never expected this book to make me laugh as much as it did. For me any book of the horror genre that can make me laugh as much as this one, deserves five stars. The funny character banter and perspective made them even more endearing to me.
- The characters, all of them were very well done. Each one had something unique and unforgettable about them, which made remembering the many supporting characters easy. The descriptions of Dmitri’s co-workers, and the characters collected at the mansion on Halloween were unforgettable and so funny.
- Dimitri’s grief and the impact it had on him felt real to me. Whenever his grief was touched on it rang with a deep sincerity. It’s the kind of honest insight I love, where I’m left wondering if I stumbled onto a part where the author bled into their work.
Lincoln Fenn has a clean style with a clear voice. Everything conveyed is necessary, and her plot structure omits all trick ponies and plot devices. I really look forward to reading her future works.
The Fire Mages by: Pauline M. Ross
I gave this three out of five stars for a lovely fantasy world, a well defined magic system, and a plot that pulled me through from start to finish.
What I liked:
1) The magic system. It has layers and levels of mysteries. Most of the magical things were defined through the action of the story or in bits of exposition as needed. For the amount of magical material it is a feat that readers are spared from lengthy info dumps. I especially loved the library and the city built for mages. I really thought the dangers in this city for non-mages was wonderfully constructed and made for a great twist towards the end of the plot.
2) The plot. I was rooting for the young Kyra from the beginning, hoping she saves the needed money to attend school and pursue her dreams. It was a fun ride watching her navigate obstacles capable of derailing or destroying her.
3) The fantasy realm. It’s well defined and different enough to feel like a strange and foreign place, but relatable with human customs and behaviors.
What I didn’t enjoy.
1) The protagonist. She was too selfish and emotionally immature for my taste. To me her inability to read other people or empathize with them meant she is at best sitting somewhere on the autism spectrum, or at worst is some form of sociopath. It was detectable in the beginning when she easily loses all sentiments and ties to her family. She was far too willing, and had zero emotional reaction to the contract forcing her to give up her child. It took far too long for her to decipher her attachment to Cal. I also think it’s the only way you can explain a character saying in all sincere honesty to her long-term mentor, “I didn’t know you had a mother.”
2) The lack of dialog. The best scenes in this book are ones where the ongoing action of the story is presented in a scene with dialog. Too many of the dramatic character interactions are filtered as a memory or passively mentioned with major emotions about the other character stated as a fact of how the protagonist felt at the time. It killed my emotional tie to the ongoing action.
3) The romantic pacing. The romantic tie was in the scenes presented, but if more of the moments mentioned in passing had been presented and not filtered, the emotional resolution would have had a greater impact. The ending left me a little cold. If their confessions had come before the final climactic arc, the entire ending would have been more dramatic.