Loners: A Mercenary DND Dwarven Dark Fantasy by D.B. Bray & Wahida Clark

Book Description

Jari Rockjaw just wants a quiet life and a homestead to call his own. He has been a bounty hunter in Labrys for over 100 years. And it’s getting old. Battle after battle, allies lost and gained, he now wants to smoke his pipe in the solitude far from the human cities he despises. An option to do so comes his way when the king of Ekepia asks for a favor. Jari is tasked with destroying the evilest dwarf ever to walk the world! 

With Jari’s best mates at his side, they team up for one last mission…a mission that will be nearly impossible to pull off. But just like everyone else, if the juice is worth the squeeze, you take the risk. The only question he must ask himself is…. Is retirement worth dying for? 


My Review

I was given an audiobook by the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you D.B Bray. The narration is done by Walt Allen and is really exceptional. His voices brought each of the characters to life and were very well defined. He had me laughing out loud, especially with the gruff voice of the female minotaur, Betha and Toli Hookhand’s cackling laughter! Lord Polis, the human, seems to be somewhat Scandinavian in accent and Zog the orc sounds Russian. Walt Allen is a real master of voices and accents!

Map of Labrys by @ChaimHoltjer

Loners is a rip-roaring hearty adventure full of humour and plenty of fast-paced action scenes. The pace is set right from the beginning of the prologue and continues relentlessly throughout the story.

Set in the land of Labrys, the story follows a misfit band of mercenaries who collect scalps for money, led by Jari Rockjaw, a fierce one-eyed dwarf. In his band, Jari is accompanied by Betha the gruff Minotaur and another dwarf called Toli Hookhand, a comical character obsessed with female dwarves whose warcry is “For the dwarven lasses asses!” In contrast, Jari seems rather serious. The no-nonsense leader has decided it might be time they all retire if they can only earn enough money.

Zog the drunk orc, partial to drinking gut-rot, is coerced into joining them by Betha. We learn that his entire tribe was killed, making him another Loner. Betha is the band’s ruthless muscle with a checkered past, which she doesn’t talk about. Each of these characters is well-rounded and believable if decidedly quirky in their own way!

Despite the name of their fellowship, the Loners are a good example of found family. They are a close-knit group of companions brought together by a need for coin, kept together by familial loyalty.

They are offered a contract which could be their ticket to retirement if only they can survive. It seems like an offer they can’t refuse, especially since they have been mercenaries for over a century and are getting tired of the hard life. On this job, they face many scary foes in battle, including Red Widow spiders, and end up with various wounds and scars, both physical and emotional, due to the tragic outcome of one episode.

One of many funny parts has the group learning to ride the fearless Bohal goats, to differing degrees of success. The goats are hesitant of these inexperienced riders and they end up being bucked off in a variety of unsavory positions. Oh and did I mention there are riddles in an encounter between Jari and a ghost. I always love a riddle!!

This story would be enjoyable for most fans of fantasy and D n D, who enjoy groups of companions on a journey fighting whatever may come their way. Or equally for fans of well-written characters with a ton of heart and irreverent humour thrown in for the hell of it. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Buy Loners here:

US: www..amazon.com/gp/product/B08MDSRSZP

UK: www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B08MDSRSZP

Add Loners to your To Be Read list here:

www.goodreads.com/book/show/55851186-loners


About the Author

D.B. Bray is an author and the publishing director at WClark Publishing, the best traditional publishing house in the world. During COVID, he decided to get on Instagram for the first time in his life, and just woke up one day and thought, “I want to start a show called The OoooWeeee Chronicles to showcase underrepresented African American creatives.”

And so began the IG show, The OoooWeeee Chronicles where he has interviewed some of yours and his favorite writers of all time. After asking Wahida Clark to come on the show (with a really janky flyer), his life changed in more ways than he could have dreamed. And every day he gets up, he thanks God for the opportunities he’s been given.

He is the author of the crime series Blood & Whiskey, narrated by the magnificent Irishman, Karl Haycock. The YA adult novel The Last Tribe, narrated by the supercalfragalistic Walt Allen (also of Emperors & Assassins). And as a personal accomplishment, D.B. has co-written with the Queen of Street Lit, on her way to becoming the Queen of Fantasy with your help!

They have co-written The Loners, a mixed mercenary companies of DND characters with a street lit edge. And the topper is their collaboration, The Light Brigade, a new age inclusive Underworld, releasing soon.

When not signing talent, writing, zoom calls, or anything else that happens in his crazy day, he enjoys spending time with his wife, Dolores and his three dogs (Japanese Chins), Chin, Juno, and Sushi. Most days you can find them walking the quiet streets of Ft. Monroe in Hampton, VA.


Related Posts


I Was a Teenage Ghost Hunter (Bk. 1) by Brian K. Henry

Book Description

Moody sixteen-year-old barista Devin Mulwray is doing his best to ignore bizarre manifestations at his job in the chilly Northern California town of Arcata. Already teased about his recurrent ‘phase-outs’, the last thing he needs is to get pegged as a guy who sees ghosts. It doesn’t help his state of mind that his boss is a sarcastic slacker, his single dad is always on the road with clients and local occult fan girl Nayra is spreading ‘ghost boy’ rumors about him online. But when violent paranormal activity badly spooks teens at an abandoned estate, Devin’s pushed into investigating by his eccentric friends Clive, a budding composer, and Rex, a tech head excited by ghost hunting gadgetry. At first reluctant to get involved, Devin’s encouraged when Emily, one of the more empathetic girls at Grey Bluff High, is impressed with his daring. Together the friends explore the creepy Rousten manor. But as the only person able to perceive the manifestations, Devin soon finds himself going one-on-one against a powerful spirit who attacks the locals and infiltrates Devin’s own dreams. Devin must face his fear of confronting the spirit world and get to the bottom of the hauntings before the specter unleashes more havoc on him and his friends.

Cover art by Christopher Park of Plant Monster Studios


My Review

This review originally appeared on www.bookblurb.ca

I Was a Teenage Ghost Hunter is a YA ghost story set in a contemporary world of eye rolls and hair flicks, in a small seaside Northern Californian town called Arcata.  Devin Mulwray is a pretty normal 16 year old high schooler, working part time in a local coffee shop, apart from one thing – he can see ghosts. It all started when he was at camp in Junior High and had a ghostly vision. He has forgotten all about this but his friend who was also at camp remembers. Combine that with the ghostly woman he often sees in the walnut tree over the road from his work, and Devin is getting scared by his paranormal abilities. It doesn’t help that his friends do not respect his wishes for them to keep quiet about these experiences, and one of them posts on the social media platform ‘GhostSpace” while the other let’s stories spread around school. Now Devin is getting called “ghost boy” and finding himself distracted and having “phase-outs” in class. Brian K. Henry has managed to write the typical sarcastic banter of these teenage friends and bring the teenagers to life really well.

A mysterious event during a party leads Devin’s quirky British composer friend Clive to the abandoned Rousten House to try and record eerie sounds, and in the process Devin finds himself responding to a terrified phone call from Clive, begging for his help. The author’s description of the outside of the Rousten property is very atmospheric and sets a spooky scene for the events that are about to unfold. Devin eventually locates Clive and the two of them search in the dark haunted house for Clive’s phone which he dropped when pushed by a ghostly presence. Separated, Devin experiences another ghostly vision but Clive only hears a voice shouting “Intruder”.

Devin’s friends Rex and Clive are set on starting a ghost investigation of the seemingly haunted Rousten mansion but Devin doesn’t really want a part of it. Unnerved by his newfound abilities he just wants a quiet life. However when Rex buys a whole host of investigation equipment from the ghost store Devin reluctantly agrees to be a part of the plan, becoming more enthusiastic when a girl he likes calls him to say how brave she considers him and his ghost investigations.

Devin discovers he can also talk to the ghosts he sees and tries to calm down the enraged Rutherford Rousten who then starts throwing books at him. He tries to speak to the ghostly lady he often sees when he is at work but this proves not to be useful to the team’s Rousten House investigation. Meanwhile clothes start attacking people in a part of town near the mansion house and the boys’ online investigation finds out that Rousten was a clothier – could this all be connected somehow? What did the ghostly lady want to tell Devin?

I particularly liked a scene where the three boys took off in pursuit of flying books, trying to see where they were headed – it reminded me of scenes from Disney films such as The Sorceror’s Apprentice or Beauty and the Beast. Devin is also attacked by a floating rug, which brought to mind the flying carpet from Aladdin.

All in all I Was a Teenage Ghost Hunter is more humorous than scary and the banter between the characters is entertaining and works very well:

“Spooky as hell. It’s kind of big, rippling and kind of bat-like. Like it’s got some dark freaky wings.”
“Where?”
“Right on the center of the roof!”
Devin looked around, saw nothing incredibly creepy, then realized his jacket was blowing out fiercely on both sides.
“That’s me, Clive. My jacket’s whipping around.”

I found the characters likeable and although there was a lot of teasing and sharing of rumour on social media, when asked not to, it couldn’t really be classed as cyber-bullying. By the end of the story the boys were considered heroes and had gained the respect of their fellow classmates. I did find the ending a little disappointing – it could have been much more exciting and spookier.

Do the boys find out why the ghost of Rutherford Rousten is haunting his manor? Will Devin get the girl? Read I Was A Teenage Ghost Hunter to find out!

Add it to you To Be Read list here:

www.goodreads.com/book/show/21494405-i-was-a-teenage-ghost-hunter

Buy here:

www.amazon.com/Was-Teenage-Ghost-Hunter/dp/1530759358


About the Author

Brian K. Henry holds a PhD. in English and is the author of the humorous fantasy novel “House of Prension” and the sci-fi parodies “Space Command and the Planet of the Bejewelled Concubines” and “Space Command and the Planets of Doom.” Henry’s other works include a variety of comedy screenplays (“Zak Bedford, Punk Detective”, “Inspirational Movie” and others) and numerous short prose pieces. His script work includes collaborations with the Tyrants in Therapy and Rajesh Golla, co-writer on “Devil’s Highway Blues”.


Related Posts


Gifted (A Valens Series #1) by Andy Lewter

Book Description

Expected Publication Date: Spring 2021

Genre: YA Fantasy/ Urban Fantasy

The last thing Abigail Everett thought would happen over spring break was having her
world shift into an entirely new perspective. Unfortunately for her, that’s exactly what happened.

Between struggling to master her newly-formed abilities, coming face-to-face with dark, deceiving mind tricks by those that seek her leadership, and learning of a mythical world that she never deemed possible, Abigail risks everything with the future of mankind and the safety of its people in her hands.

Coming Soon!


My Review

Today is my stop on the blog tour for Gifted by Andy Lewter, organised by R & R Book Tours.

I was given a kindle version of Gifted in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Shannon from R & R Book Tours and the author, Andy Lewter.

This YA fantasy re-release is set in contemporary America, with a teenage girl, Abigail Everett,  as the main character.

Written in first person, from the perspective of high schooler Abby, a twin whose father is no longer alive, Gifted tells the story of how Abby gets supernatural powers over Spring Break and has to become accustomed to her new abilities. Her twin sister is vacationing in Texas and her lifelong best friend, gorgeous Miles, is also away, leaving Abby to come to terms with having to spend a lot of time with her mother and get used to a lot of weird changes happening to herself both mentally and physically. Her muscles pump up and her skin becomes glowing with health, she is suddenly able to feel the emotions of others and sometimes the intensity of other people’s feelings overwhelm her.

On a spa outing with her mother, she meets Nicholas by chance. He had previously appeared in a dream she had. Abby feels an incredibly strong attraction towards Nicholas and falls deeply in love with him immediately. She is surprised to discover that he feels the same way about her as well. However, when he meets her mother and realizes who she is, he gets very angry and has to leave, but he promises to return for her.

I felt like the whole insta-love part of this story took up too much of the book – I would have preferred more action and less ‘staring lovingly into each other’s eyes’’, but I am not generally a big fan of a lot of romance in books, so it probably wouldn’t bother everyone.

When Miles’ family returns home and Abby visits their house, Miles’ grandma, Navi explains everything. Abby, Miles, Nicholas and all of Miles’ family apart from his younger brother Damian are part of a race called the Valens. Abby is an elite Valens and due to her bloodline, one day she will be queen of the Valens. Her aura is very strong, which denotes a leader and her great grandfather had been their king. Miles “turned” several years ago, in other words he got his powers,  and he has been keeping an eye on Abby waiting to see if she would also turn. The Valens mostly live on an island called Salvus Island, and Nicholas and his family, the Ludovics, kidnap Abby during the night, injuring her in the process and take her by plane to the island. Here she meets all the Valens, who are eager to have a leader once more, and she is shown to her mansion. Everyone refers to her as Lady Everett which she feels uncomfortable with.

It seems there are two sides in a conflict between the Valens, Miles and his family are on one side and Nicholas and his family are on the other. Abby feels torn between the two, but even though her love for Nicholas is very strong, she realises that he makes her feel vulnerable and that she is not prepared to give up her normal life with her Mom and her twin sister Olivia. Miles and his family fight the Ludovics and eventually Miles takes Abby back home. 

Apart from Abby, the characters in this novel were all fairly stereotypical. Abby’s sister, Olivia with her obsessions with the colour pink, her clothing and appearance. The girls’ mother was a typical single Mom character who had to work hard and was having problems relating to her teenage daughter Abby. Miles was the hunky best friend who all the girls wanted to date, but who only had eyes for Abby. Nicholas was the gorgeous love interest who had all the right moves and lines to make Abby swoon. Abby was more interesting because the story was entirely written from her point of view so we got to know more of her thoughts and feelings and she felt much more fleshed out than the other characters.

I would have liked to know more about the history of the Valens and a little more world-building on Salvus Island, but on the whole this was an enjoyable read and set up the story nicely for its continuation in the next books.

Buy Gifted here:

www.amazon.com/GIFTED-Valens-1-Andy-Lewter-ebook/dp/B08YLFNJXB

Add Gifted to your To Be Read list here:

www.goodreads.com/book/show/57414950-gifted-a-valens-series


About the Author

Andy Lewter is an urban fantasy/fictional writer that loves a healthy dose of character development. She’s a true Potter-head at heart with a deep love of nature, cooking, and comfy clothes. Andy is constantly plotting and pondering her works to come, and has many exciting things in store.
Connect with Andy here:

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Amazon

Tour organised by R & R Tours


Related Posts


Dark One by Brandon Sanderson

Book Description

Paul is a young man who sees visions of strange and fantastic worlds–visions he initially believes are hallucinations. But these visions turn out to be prophesies, dark projections of a world in which Paul is a tyrant who destroys the world and the creatures that reside there.


My Review

I read an ARC e-book from NetGalley.

I have been reading The Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson, and also read his debut, Elantris earlier this year, so I was intrigued to see what his graphic novels would be like. I could not imagine Sanderson’s rich world-building and detailed magic systems fitting into the graphic novel format, and I think this story would have been served a whole lot better as a novel. It was an interesting concept for a story and the duality of two world’s Mirandus and Earth being side by side and reachable only by certain people was intriguing and well thought out. The confusion of the main character, Paul Tanasin, when he finds himself on Mirandus is endearing and I really liked this character. He is introduced in the story as a fairly ordinary teenager living in New York, but who sees and is able to converse with a girl who claims to be his sister, but who is not really there. The world-building of Mirandus is actually really well done despite the graphic novel format. We learn about The Narrative from Rasik, one of the Drull, a subservient race who reminded me of the Skaa in the Mistborn trilogy:

“The Narrative is the bedrock upon which our world is built. It is not a book – it is the web of life, time, fate and destiny.”

The Narrative repeats in every generation. A Dark One rises and is countered by a Destined One, both of whom have always been from Earth. But is it perhaps time to change the narrative?
I recommend this graphic novel to fans of Sanderson and fantasy stories that are just a little different.

Dark One will be published on 18th May 2021

Add to your To Be Read list here:

www.goodreads.com/book/show/49798827-dark-one


About the Author

Brandon Sanderson was born in 1975 in Lincoln, Nebraska. As a child Brandon enjoyed reading, but he lost interest in the types of titles often suggested to him, and by junior high he never cracked a book if he could help it. This changed when an eighth grade teacher gave him Dragonsbane by Barbara Hambly.

Brandon was working on his thirteenth novel when Moshe Feder at Tor Books bought the sixth he had written. Tor has published Elantris, the Mistborn trilogy and its followup The Alloy of Law,Warbreaker, and The Way of Kings and Words of Radiance, the first two in the planned ten-volume series The Stormlight Archive. He was chosen to complete Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series; 2009’s The Gathering Storm and 2010’s Towers of Midnight were followed by the final book in the series, A Memory of Light, in January 2013. Four books in his middle-grade Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians series have been released in new editions by Starscape, and his novella Infinity Blade Awakening was an ebook bestseller for Epic Games accompanying their acclaimed Infinity Blade iOS video game series. Two more novellas, Legion and The Emperor’s Soul, were released by Subterranean Press and Tachyon Publications in 2012, and 2013 brought two young adult novels, The Rithmatist from Tor and Steelheart from Delacorte.

The only author to make the short list for the David Gemmell Legend Award six times in four years, Brandon won that award in 2011 for The Way of KingsThe Emperor’s Soul won the 2013 Hugo Award for Best Novella. He has appeared on the New York Times Best-Seller List multiple times, with five novels hitting the #1 spot.

Currently living in Utah with his wife and children, Brandon teaches creative writing at Brigham Young University.


Related Posts


The Place Below by Dan Fitzgerald

Today is my turn on the Storytellers on Tour Blog Tour for The Place Below by Dan Fitzgerald, the third and final book in the Maer Cycle trilogy. Thank you to Justine and Timy for having me along for the ride! Be sure to take a look at the reviews from other bloggers taking part on the tour and take a look at the amazing giveaway at the end of this post as well!

Book Details

The Place Below by Dan Fitzgerald

Series: The Maer Cycle (#3)

Published: March 4, 2021

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 291 (Print Length)

Content Warnings: Violence, Death


Book Description

It’s been twenty-five years since the Battle for the Archive. Peace reigns over the Silver Hills, and humans and Maer are preparing to sign their first trade agreement. Even warring tribes of the Free Maer have set aside old quarrels.

Sasha is a young scholar of mixed Maer and human parentage, traveling throughout the Maer lands collecting stories of the Ka-lar, the buried Forever Kings. She finds a reference in the Archive to a Ka-lar named Kuun, a scholar in life, who was laid down in an ancient brightstone mine, beneath a mountain said to be the home of the fabled Skin Maer. The lure of the tale is too strong to resist. Joined by some old friends, Sasha sets out to uncover secrets that have lain buried for over a thousand years.

In The Place Below, the Maer Cycle comes to a close as the darkest mysteries of the Maer are at last brought into the light.


My Review

I was kindly sent a kindle version in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Justine, Timy and Dan Fitzgerald!

The Place Below is the final book in The Maer Cycle trilogy. It is set 25 years after the events of The Archive and has many of the characters we are familiar with, but they are now in more secondary, support roles within the story rather than taking centre stage. Final books of a series carry with them a responsibility to the reader, who has already invested the time and emotion in reading two books, hoping that the third will bring the story to a satisfactory conclusion. In the case of The Maer Cycle, The Place Below does not fail to deliver on this angle. The world is a familiar one and we are used to the Maer now, so this story concentrates more on the mysterious Ka-lar, long dead kings lying preserved in barrows, one of whom we met back in Hollow Road.

Sasha drawn by Elena Tarsius

Sasha, the daughter of Carl and Ujenn, is our new main character. Half Maer, half human, she is a scholar with an impressive talent for learning languages. Sasha is a sensitive, empathetic soul who is able to sense the emotions and worries of people when they touch her, so she doesn’t like to be touched if she can avoid it. She is studying and collecting stories pertaining to the Ka-lar. The Maer greatly value stories and often use them as a kind of currency. Sasha pays for a meal on her travels by telling a story. During a trip with Tcheen to investigate the barrows of two of the 144 known Ka-lar, long dead kings and leaders, Sasha discovers she has the death-link – an ability shunned by most Maer and considered a curse. She can sense the dead and can feel what they were feeling in their final moments. Her magical mental abilities also allow her to detect when someone is lurking nearby spying on them, which proves to be a useful skill when she and her friends are traveling the countryside, camping outdoors.

Kuun drawn by Axel AKA Urban Skeleton Knight

Kuun is one of the Ka-lar and has been in hibernation for almost seventeen hundred years.  We are treated to alternating chapters from the point of view of Sasha and Kuun, who has been awoken by a group of Skin Maer, a tribe of Maer who are less hairy than most Maer, more similar in looks to a human than the other tribes of Maer. Kuun needs to feast on blood to keep renewing his strength, which the obedient and awestruck Skin Maer are only too happy to oblige him with. Kuun’s eyes are light sensitive and his skin is papery thin and cracked. There is no moisture in his body after so long. He is an intriguing character and I found myself looking forward to his chapters more and more, wondering what his ultimate goal would prove to be. 

The Skin Maer live underground in an ancient brightstone mine, having been trapped there by a landslide many centuries before, which closed off the entrance to the mine. Kuun has a magical rod which he seeks to power with a large brightstone if only the miners can provide one without chipping or breaking it during the extraction process. 

Kuun was able to feel Sasha’s presence when she and Tcheen were near to the mine and he hopes she might be the key to unlocking the secrets of his rod of power if he can make it work before she returns. 

As with the first and second books in the Maer Cycle, The Place Below contains a clear message of tolerance and acceptance of anything unfamiliar.  Sasha is clearly upset when stories are told concerning interbreeding of Maer and humans or Skin Maer and other Maer. She is made uncomfortable by the stares and comments she receives about her appearance since her heritage has meant her face is not as hairy as other Maer. She is understandably upset by the comment made by the Ram Maer guard that she is a ‘mongrel’ and then angered by him calling her ‘half-breed’. Dan Fitzgerald is clearly against discrimination of all types, and he makes his views clear on this subject throughout the Maer Cycle.

Tcheen drawn by Elena Tarsius

My favourite character in this book is Tcheen. Tcheen is the non-binary leader of the Dragon Maer tribe, a highly intelligent mage and warrior, with ascerbic wit and a tongue held firmly in cheek. Their preferred method of communication is via deep frowns and glares to let people know exactly their opinion without saying very much. They are also a master of dismissive snorts and short sentences. This often leads to some amusing interactions between Tcheen and Sasha:

Tcheen: “Well, my Southish is in ruins, so I hope you don’t expect me to say much.” 
Sasha: “I never do.” 

The tone of The Place Below is darker than the previous two books and the tension in the story rises as Sasha and her friends make their way into the mine inhabited by Kuun and the Skin Maer. What will happen when the two groups come face to face? Can Sasha’s advanced linguistic knowledge help smooth the way for a peaceful meeting despite the fact that both groups are prepared for a less than friendly encounter?

From Kuun, Sasha is able to learn the reasons behind the hibernation of the Ka-lar:

“The Ka-lar were laid down for many reasons, mostly the fear of disease, death, or old age.”

“There was a great plague in my time, one that killed many thousands of Maer, king and farmer alike. This was to be my solution, the Rod of Life, as I called it. I worked with a group of great artificers, scholars, and mages to perfect its dimensions, materials, magics, and bindings. It was the work of many years, but time was running short. Half of the team had fallen ill, and most of those died.”

For a lot of the time, I was unable to guess what Kuun had in mind, which lead to many unexpected surprises. I was particularly taken by surprise by the last action of Kuun. Perhaps I should have expected it as there had been some foreshadowing, but I had not considered it. It made for a pleasant conclusion for a character who had shown he had a lot of potential to turn irredeemably nasty.

The story reaches a satisfying conclusion and all of the loose ends appear to have been tied up rather nicely. I thoroughly enjoyed this series and look forward to seeing what Dan Fitzgerald has in store for us next!


Add The Place Below to your To Be Read list here:

www.goodreads.com/book/show/56818527-the-place-below

Buy The Place Below here:

US: www.amazon.com/Place-Below-Dan-Fitzgerald/dp/B08XZNBK4W/

UK: www.amazon.co.uk/Place-Below-Dan-Fitzgerald/dp/B08XZNBK4W/


The Giveaway

Prize: The Maer Cycle Megapack! – Signed copies of Hollow RoadThe Archive & The Place Below, all artwork, and the final set of the Hollow Road character cards. That really is an amazing prize – and it’s INTERNATIONAL!

Click here to enter or on the banner below.

Starts: March 24th, 2021 at 12:00am EST
Ends: March 31st, 2021 at 11:59pm EST


About the Author

Dan Fitzgerald is a fantasy author living in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington, DC with his wife, twin boys, and two cats. When he is not writing, he might be gardening, taking photographs of nature, doing yoga, cooking, or listening to French music. The Maer Cycle is his debut trilogy, with Hollow Road and The Archive on several book bloggers’ best-of lists for 2020, and The Place Below coming March 4 2021. His upcoming duology, The Weirdwater Confluence, will be published in October 2021 and January 2022. All books published by Shadow Spark Publishing.

Find out more about Dan and his books at www.danfitzwrites.com, or look him up on Twitter or Instagram, under the name danfitzwrites.

Website: http://www.danfitzwrites.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/danfitzwrites
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/danfitzwrites 
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/danfitzwrites 


Related Posts


Something Wicked by Tom Williams

Book Description

 *A peer of the realm dead in his study, his body drained of blood *

* A tango club where the Undead and the living dance together *

* A 500 year old policeman *

Are some crimes best left unsolved?


My Review

Read on Kindle, kindly sent to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Photo by kat wilcox on Pexels.com

Published in February 2021, Something Wicked is a contemporary fantasy which takes place in modern day London. It begins like a run of the mill whodunnit murder mystery with police being called to the murder scene of Lord Christopher Penrith by the victim’s butler. Chief Inspector John Galbraith is in charge of the case but there are few leads, apart from the possibility that the victim could have met his murderer at a Tango club he used to frequent. 

The tone of the novel changes with the introduction of the tall, dark and sinister Chief Inspector Pole from the mysterious ‘Department S’, who takes Chief Inspector Galbraith to Brompton Cemetery. There he reveals that he is in fact a 500 year old vampire and that the victim was killed by another vampire. His role is to police the ‘Others’ as the vampire community like to be referred to, and ensure no one discovers their existence or the crimes they commit. 

The story is full of detailed historical information imparted by Pole, since he has been around for a very long time, which I enjoyed immensely. I also liked the way when he was talking to Galbraith his voice would send Galbraith into a kind of trance from which he would experience a detailed vision of the story the vampire was telling him. The author is very talented with descriptive detail and the scenes he paints come alive. 

Photo by Marko Zirdum on Pexels.com

It transpires that Pole is employed by the crown, dating back to King Charles II. He accompanies Galbraith to the tango club, La Cieguita, where Galbraith believes the murderer may have met his victim and together they interview a young woman, who unfortunately also becomes a murder victim soon after their encounter.

Galbraith is a likeable down to earth character in his 40s with a penchant for quoting Shakespeare. A self-proclaimed “old fashioned copper”. The development of his relationship with Pole as they work together is interesting and at times fun. They get along fairly well and behave like a tag team during the interview of John Bates, their prime murder suspect.

Together they hatch a plan to tie up all of the loose ends surrounding the case and this leads to an exciting and explosive conclusion back at Brompton Cemetery.

I have not read any vampire stories for a few years having been put off by the famous sparkly vampire.  This story was very enjoyable and a fairly quick read. 

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Add Something Wicked to your To Be Read list here:

www.goodreads.com/book/show/57140132-something-wicked

Buy Something Wicked Here:

www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08W2CYS68

www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B08W2CYS68


About the Author

Tom Williams used to write books for business. Now he writes novels set in the 19th century and books about vampires that are generally described as fiction but which are often more realistic than the business books. The stories have given him the excuse to travel to Argentina, Egypt and Borneo and call it research.

Tom lives in London. His main interest is avoiding doing any honest work and this leaves him with time to ski, skate and dance tango, all of which he does quite well. In between he reads old books and spends far too much time looking at ancient weaponry.


Related Posts


Hollow Road by Dan Fitzgerald

Book description

Legends describe the Maer as savage man-beasts haunting the mountains, their bodies and faces covered with hair. Creatures of unimaginable strength, cunning, and cruelty. Bedtime stories to keep children indoors at night. Soldiers’ tales to frighten new recruits.
It is said the Maer once ruled the Silver Hills, but they have long since passed into oblivion.
This is the story of their return.
Carl, Sinnie, and Finn, companions since childhood, are tasked with bringing a friend’s body home for burial. Along the way, they find there is more to the stories than they ever imagined, and the mountains hold threats even darker than the Maer. What they discover on their journey will change the way they see the world forever.
Travel down Hollow Road to find out which legends are true, and which have been twisted.


My Review

I read Hollow Road on Kindle.

This book revolves around the friendship and journey of a group of three childhood human friends, now adult, who have been commissioned to take the body of their friend, Theo, back to their home village of Brocland for burial. It is a character-driven low fantasy and the main characters have very distinct personalities and are from different backgrounds. I liked Sinni and Finn equally, but Carl was a little too serious and brooding a lot of the time.

The descriptive detail and world building in this book is very well done. I could easily envision the countryside they were traveling through and other locations such as the mine and the castle.

As with most fantasy, there is magic, but it is not a huge part of the story. It is presented as the weapon with which Finn fights and defends himself. Sinnie has her arrows, Carl his sword and Finn his magic.

Carl, back from a spell in the army and the apparent leader of the group, Finn, the trainee magic user and Sinnie, the archer and circus performer embark on the journey which will ultimately test their deep-seated belief in superstition and their prejudice when faced by the Maer. Growing up they were told the Maer were beast-men – dangerous, vicious creatures to be afraid of. Indeed their first experience with the mysterious facially hairy Maer is an ambush and so their prejudice does not initially waver. 

On reaching Brocland they are told of some brutal murders which the village is blaming on the Maer without any proof. During the resulting hunt for any remaining Maer the companions are surprised to discover that this civilization they know nothing about has art, language and culture of their own. They also discover a much more sinister mutual enemy, the Barrow Lords which the Maer call the Ka-lar:

Its mouth was pulled into a wide grin, baring long teeth that glistened yellow in the moonlight. It’s face was that of a corpse, taut and dry, with every sinew showing beneath its stretched skin.

The companions agree to take the remaining Maer back safely to where they originally came from, an ancient castle on a mountain. On their journey they begin to realize that monsters do exist in their land, but that they have a lot in common with the Maer who are essentially just like them (except hairier).

When they reach the Maer castle they are put on trial for killing some of the Maer. This is a gripping scene which further underlines the fact that the Maer and the humans are very similar and that the companions have seen the error of their ways and become more tolerant. Carl is even beginning to fall in love with Ujenn, the Maer sorceress and tells her he will return to her and that they can make a life together.

I heartily recommend this book to fantasy fans and look forward to starting the sequel, The Archive shortly.

Add to your To Be Read list here:

www.goodreads.com/book/show/54801285-hollow-road

Buy Hollow Road here:

US: www.amazon.com/Hollow-Road-Maer-Cycle-Book-ebook/dp/B08FDPR332

UK: www.amazon.co.uk/Hollow-Road-Maer-Cycle-Book-ebook/dp/B08FDPR332


About the Author

Dan Fitzgerald is a fantasy writer living in Washington, DC with his wife, twin boys, and two cats. When he is not writing, he might be gardening, doing yoga, cooking, or listening to French music.  

He writes fantasy in part because the state of the world demands an escape, but also because fantasy provides another lens through which to view what we are living now. Part mirror, part magnifying glass, part prism.  

He is fascinated by hidden and forgotten places, be they in the backyard or in the mountains of an imagined world.  


Related Posts


A Drowned Kingdom by P.L. Stuart

Once Second Prince of the mightiest kingdom in the known world, Othrun now leads the last survivors of his exiled people into an uncertain future far across the Shimmering Sea from their ancestral home, now lost beneath the waves. With his Single God binding his knights to chivalric oaths, intent on wiping out idolatry and pagan worship, they will have to carve out a new kingdom on this mysterious continent―a continent that has for centuries been ravaged by warlords competing for supremacy and mages channeling the mystic powers of the elements―and unite the continent under godly rule.

With a troubled past, a cursed sword, and a mysterious spirit guiding him, Othrun means to be that ruler, and conquer all. But with kingdoms fated on the edge of spears, alliances and pagan magic, betrayal, doubt, and dangers await him at every turn. Othrun will be forced to confront the truths of all he believes in on his journey to become a king, and a legend.

When one kingdom drowns, a new one must rise in its place. So begins the saga of that kingdom, and the man who would rule it all.


My Review

I was kindly sent a Kindle version of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review, thank you very much!

A Drowned Kingdom is written entirely from the perspective of Othrun, Second Prince of the island paradise, Atalantyx, son of King Atalan, The Falcon. Over the course of the first part of the novel Othrun shows himself to be a vain, snobbish bigot. A flawed, yet devout character, who we hope can change during the course of the novel.

Due to the first person perspective we only get to see the other characters through Othrun’s opinionated eyes, so it is difficult to form our own opinions of them. His dislike for his brother colours our feelings towards him; and Erthal’s wife, Dira, is only described in terms of her ability to seduce Erthal, persuade him to become pagan and in Othrun’s eyes bring about the ruin of the island.

The world building in this debut novel is extremely descriptive and very well done. It is clear from his descriptions of the land that Prince Othrun loves his kingdom dearly and misses it terribly when forced to be away. He describes everything in great detail, right down to the seasons and animals, weather and even the smells of his beloved country. The sovereign city of Atalantyx is the Circle City, which, unbeknownst to the majority of its citizens, is built around a dormant volcano, Mount Atalante.

There is a lot of historical detail given in terms of the line of succession and the courtly traditions, such as that of marrying one’s cousin in order to keep the bloodlines pure. The politics of the kingdom are also carefully explained to us by Othrun, in such a clever way that it kept me engaged through what potentially could have been less interesting sections of the story for me.

At the beginning of the main story (there is a prologue), Othrun and his older brother, First Prince Erthal have been sent by their father across the ocean to Norsoon on the continent of Acremia, hoping to plan a strategy for their father to overthrow the kings of the lands of Acremia. Instead Erthal is tricked into falling in love with, and promising to marry the pagan princess Dira in order that she not be sacrificed by her people. This episode shows us how much Othrun hates the heathens who do not worship his Single God. He has never met these foreigners before and does not understand their customs but despises them and longs only to be a part of his father’s plans to overthrow their kings and rule the continent of Acremia.

When Erthal falls in love with the pagan princess, Dira, bigotted Othrun is sickened to the core of his being and drives an immovable wedge between himself and his brother. His brother’s adoption of heathen practices, such as human sacrifice after marrying Dira lead Othrun and his allies to try and overthrow King Atalan and Erthal, his successor. Their failure leads to their banishment from the kingdom and ultimately saves their lives.

An angel appears to Othrun telling him he and his followers must leave the next day and also tells Othrun his father, the king, was actually never his biological father, but rather that the angel had visited his mother on behalf of the Single God and was his true father. Could this be the first sign of madness in Othrun? He himself is not entirely sure. Othrun is someone who certainly has a very high opinion of himself, despite being treated like a nobody by both King Atalan and First Prince Erthal throughout his life!

“He told me I was God’s chosen one. He told me that God directed him to create me, because with Anchali blood in me, I could be greater than other men. He told me that I would have the greatness to conquer all heathens and bring them under one devout king.”

Othrun

Thanks to the angel’s warning Othrun and 1800 other Atalanteans set sail the following morning for Eltnia. Much to their horror, as they sail away they witness the eruption of Mount Atalante, followed by an earthquake which splits the island in two, and a tidal wave causing the entire island to sink and everyone upon it to perish.

Othrun is convinced this was an act of his God – destroying the idol worship which had begun to take over the island and saving the 1800 people who worshipped Him. On they go, carried by the tidal wave’s aftermath towards Eltnia. Othrun intends to gradually take over the continent and sees the heathens living there as little better than animals. In his mind he is:

“The great Othrun, come to conquer”

Othrun

On the journey, Othrun sees the angel again and has a conversation regarding how he should proceed since his ally, King Wely of Lynchun is being joined in battle by Hor the Horrific of Carthleughe. The angel counsels him to educate the heathens in the way of ‘Combat of Champions’, which he does, and manages to kill the giant Hor and make an invaluable alliance with both Hor’s son King Hert and King Wely. Wely grants Othrun a new kingdom, The Golden Valley, to rule over in exchange for his aid in battle.

On the way to this land the three kings and their armies must overcome temptation from a beautiful mage, political intrigue and double crossing, a battle against an enormous army, a journey through labyrinthine caves, a possibly possessed sword, questioning of religious beliefs and unfriendly weather.

Thankfully all of this adversity and the trustworthy allies he finds in Wely and Hert help Othrun’s character to become less flawed. He develops an understanding and respect for the people he considered heathens and even begins to believe in their elemental magic.

The three kings plan their route hoping to avoid High King Ina’s Nyrimian army on the way to Othrun’s new kingdom. The prose in this section was so well written that even in the parts which had fairly long conversations about how best to grant Othrun a kingdom and the three kings planning their route through the mountains, which could have been somewhat dry, I found my interest was held.

The book ends on something of a cliffhanger and I am looking forward to finding out what happens to the three allied kings and how Othrun and the remaining Atalanteans fare as they try and settle in a new country with different beliefs and customs.

Goodreads | Amazon US | Amazon UK


About the Author

Hi everyone! I’m P.L. Stuart! Nice to meet you! I’m a Canadian high fantasy author, of Ghanaian and Barbadian descent. I live in Chatham, Ontario, with my wife Debbie. “A Drowned Kingdom” is the first novel in “The Drowned Kingdom Saga.” 

I’m an experienced writer, in that I’ve been writing stories all my life, yet never thought to publish them. I’ve written informally – short stories – to entertain friends and family, for community newspapers, volunteer organization magazines, and of course formal papers for University. Now, later in life, I’ve published what I believe is a great fantasy novel, and definitely worth reading, called “A Drowned Kingdom”. 

My target audience is those who enjoy “high fantasy”. “A Drowned Kingdom” is not “dark fantasy”. It’s written in a more idealized and grandiose style that I hope isn’t too preachy, and not too grim.Still, I’m hoping my book has appeal to those who don’t typically read this type of work – those who don’t read fantasy of any kind – because of the “every-person” themes permeating the novel: dysfunctional familial relationships, extramarital temptation, racism, misogyny, catastrophic loss, religion, crisis of faith, elitism, self-confidence, PTSD, and more.

Many of these themes I have either personal experience with, or have friends or family who have dealt with such issues. I’ve had a long professional law enforcement career, undergone traumatic events, yet been buoyed by family, faith, and positivity. I’m a racialized middle-aged man. I’ve seen a lot of life.

Ultimately I want the planned series, of which “A Drowned Kingdom” will be the introduction, to be one of hope, and overcoming obstacles to succeed, which I believe is my story as well. 

My protagonist, Othrun, will undergo a journey where he’ll evolve, change, and shape a continent. He’s not always likeable. He’s a snob, bigot, is vain, yet struggles with confidence. He’s patriarchal. Overall, he’s flawed. But even ordinary flawed people can change. We’re all redeemable. Ordinary people can make a difference, not just fictional Princes. I want that message to shine through my work.

I love to engage with readers and the Writing Community! Feel free to message me here on Goodreads if you wish to ask any questions about my writing, or to simply chat fantasy!

I am also active on Twitter! You can speak to me there @plstuartwrites! Take care, and have a wonderful day!

Visit P.L. Stuart at www.plstuart.com and follow @plstuartwrites on Twitter and Facebook.


Related Posts