Tag Archives: speculative fantasy

Clown by Paul Montgomery

CLOWN-WEB-smallReview: An intriguing premise can always catch my eye, and having a character whose face changes pattern daily whether they wish it to or not, was definitely one. And even as basically simple as the cover image for Clown is, I felt it strongly and strikingly conveyed most of the mood of the story: a kind of aimless wandering of Clown, both physically and emotionally.

That being said, it’s that same quality which made it rather difficult for me to progress through the book. Especially, at over 450 pages of roughly the same feel, I didn’t experience a sense of purpose, a build-up, climax or true resolution even if there are some scenes and characters who brightened or added complexity to the narrative. Overall, I just felt a number of revisions could have added focus and drive, which certainly can always be challenging to any author. Maybe I’ve missed the point of the work, but it’s listing as Book One suggests there will be more and many of the questions might finally be answered.

Description: “Fantasy, adventure, heroes, legends, dragons, and a man named Clown.

Clown never felt like he belonged. Even in the circus, where he was abandoned as a child, he never felt fully at home. Every day he woke to find his face wearing a different pattern, denying him the chance to ever see his true self. On a mountain, which no one else could see, he made a deal to save the life of a phoenix, and sparked an adventure which led him from our world to the world that once was. A world filled with old heroes and legends, gods and demons, ghosts and monsters.

From the depths of the earth, to the haven which once hosted gods, and on to the very moon, Clown’s path will lead him through triumph and sacrifice, discovering what it is to be a hero, and how the world can be shaped. And in doing so, he will learn why some deals are more dangerous than others, some souls are worth saving, who the mysterious Gabriel is, and maybe, just maybe, bring him face to face with a dragon.”

  • Kindle Edition, 455 pages
  • Published April 14th 2012
  • ASIN: B007UFS45Q
  • Available on Amazon.com, .uk.
  • Source: Author

Author Profile

I moved from Liverpool to London in 2000, and on to Kent in 2012.

I enjoy a variety of genres, but enjoy horror, fantasy, comedy and the occasional thriller the most. Accepting reviews is opening my eyes again, and I’m quite enjoying a few different tastes out there.

I cheerfully admit to being a bit of a geek (it’s our time now!), enjoying various comics, games, movies, etc. So you may find some random and relatively obscure references.

I’m happy to chat, offer ideas, feedback, reviews, promotions, interviews and help in any way I can.

Website: http://truejdk.com/

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Filed under Books, Fantasy, Reviews, Speculative, Writers and Writing

Shadowed by Ken Hughes

Review: A very well-written, edited and formatted book, which was what notably caught my eye when first viewing Shadowed. Crisp, clean and thorough, it was a pleasure to see considerable care had been taken to present a professional appearance.

The premise of the story itself, someone discovering abilities in themselves they cannot fathom or understand, which distances them from other humans is a more common theme it seems these days. Paul, the main character, struggles with his heightened awareness, making choices and decisions after secretly observing sometimes nefarious others while still trying to protect his family and find out what happened to change him in this way.

Maybe it is why it took me a few tries to get started and finish, but I found I couldn’t connect with Paul and his motivations for the most part, nor the secondary characters with which he interacted. The story itself, however was told in a complex, suspenseful way other readers might enjoy.

Description: “He can hear a whisper across the block… and can’t remember why.

Open your mind, to a city where mystery chases up and down office back stairways, turns brother against brother, and plays out on frozen sidewalks where lives may be shattered if the enemy even looks at the ragged man passing by in the crowd—and even that man cannot guess what memory will be next to batter his mind.

Paul was no detective, no thief, only a student trying to get some distance from his father and brother. When he found himself marked by the power to enhance his senses, he had only that treacherous gift and what few tricks he dared to teach himself, to search for some explanation—or at least the chance to give it meaning by exposing a few petty corruptions.

Paul thought if he lived in poverty to keep his existence secret from the world, at least nobody could force him to use that gift as a weapon against others. But just when he thought he was untouchable, the last thing he expected shakes his world and drags him into the perils of his family, his power, and two women who each have a different claim on his life.

As Paul begins to play cat and mouse with enemies he can’t even name, he must break every rule that’s kept him alive, in every frantic chase and every gamble he makes to break his family free. And all the while, he knows his greatest enemy may still be what lies behind his own secrets.

If you think you know everything a paranormal thriller can do, take a closer look.”

To read more, see Chapter One.

SHADOWED can be ordered from any bookstore, and is available on AmazonAmazon Kindle, and Barnes & Noble, including free viewing of the first several chapters. (From the author’s website.)

  • An E-book and Paperback
  • Published May 12th 2012
  • Publisher: Windward Road Press
  • ISBN 0985048409
  • ISBN13: 9780985048402
  • Source: Author

Author Profile:

Ken Hughes is the author of Shadowed, a paranormal thriller published by Windward Road Press.

Ken has been living for storytelling since his father first read him The Wind In The Willows, and everything from Stephen King’s edge to Hayao Miyazaki’s sense of wonder has only fed that fire. He has worked as a technical writer in Los Angeles at positions from medical research to online gaming to mission proposals for a flight to Mars.

Website: http://www.kenhughesauthor.com/

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Serere, A Prelude (The Garden) by Andy Frankham-Allen

Review: Georgian England is one of my favorite time periods to read and study, especially when it involves the popular society’s cant, so it was a pleasure to read a story beginning in this era.

What I enjoyed about Serere, although it is short, novella length: it is dense. It isn’t a quick read. Each sentence has inflection and nuances that could be missed if you skim along. It’s intriguing to learn more of beings whose traits suggest vampirism, but promise to be much more and far beyond the common offerings of blood drinkers and sharers that have flooded the market. It’s a chilling angle that left me anticipating how the characters and story will develop, their motivations and ultimate goals.

We are taken briefly through a few time periods, but my preference was for the classic setting instead of the contemporary, where the modern language type with it’s particular curses were a bit much for me , but I always enjoy the fine descriptions and very readable, flowing style Frankham-Allen uses, “Serere” is the introductory tale in the series “The Garden”, which will be launched simultaneously in print from Hirst Publishing and in ebook format from Untreed Reads. I’ll be looking out for the next installments.

Note: This is a review I did for QMO Books as a guest reviewer, April 2011. Although it is also posted on my profile at Goodreads.com it seems I’d previously forgotten to ever post it here.

  • eBook, 1st
  • Published March 1st 2011
  • Publisher: Untreed Reads Publishing
  • ISBN13: 9781611870763

 Description: In 1788 a mysterious man arrives in Newington Green, England, to discuss something of the utmost importance with Isobel Shelley. While there he happens upon the pages of the Book of Origin, and finds himself caught up in a series of events that lead him back to Newington Green 214 years later. There he bumps into a man called Willem Townsend; it is an accidental encounter that will change the lives of both men forever. Things have been set in motion, a prophecy waits to be fulfilled…

“A man can surely do what he wills to do, but cannot determine what he wills.”

This ebook-exclusive novella is a prelude to Frankham-Allen’s upcoming series The Garden, launching in March 2011 with Seeker. The series will be launched simultaneously in print from Hirst Publishing and in ebook format from Untreed Reads.

Author Bio:

Welsh-born Andy Frankham-Allen’s passion for writing began with a love of Doctor Who. He’s been writing since as far back as he can remember, and, although unsuccessful, he wrote a Doctor Who novel for BBC Books in 1996 after an accident caused him to be out of work for four months. Following that writing fell back into a hobby until 2001 when he began an ongoing fan-fiction series called Doctor Who: The Legacy, which carried on until 2006.

He has been writing professionally since 2004, through several official Doctor Who short stories, and since 2010 with horror shorts of Untreed Reads Publishing. March 2011 saw the release of his novel, ‘Seeker’, the first book in The Garden Saga, published in print by Hirst Publishing and in all digital formats by Untreed Reads.


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Huckleberry Milton by Bradley J. Milton

Review: Rather like the description provided by the author below, I found the novel itself trying really hard to be something, but I wasn’t really sure of what, as it didn’t define itself for me. I’ve never read Huckleberry Finn, nor ever had the desire to do so. And almost from the first paragraph of this work, I found the wording difficult to understand. The format of switching left to right side justified throughout was unnecessarily distracting for me as well.

I found the work “Huckleberry Milton” to be surprising and refreshing in a way, but that still makes me question the generalization of phrases like “today’s sensibilities.” Today where, or in what society?  Not to mention, the fact it would be liked by anyone “appreciates the rare, odd humor of a mind”…I appreciate the rare and odd humor of a mind, but humor can be individual besides cultural and more, and just because it didn’t appeal to me doesn’t mean I am not. So the descriptions itself, with so many labels of how groundbreaking, original, new, shocking in its power and entirely new American (that one especially since I am not) the novel is, was somewhat off-putting for me.

To me it boils down to this: Huckleberry Milton is a very, very interesting novel but I also found it somewhat pretentious, but perhaps that was the intention in the spirit of Mark Twain’s world-renown works.

Description: Having made the international news in 2010 after publication of a new “politically correct” version of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, in which the infamous and controversial “n-word” in Twain’s classic novel had been replaced with something less offensive to today’s sensibilities, now we get the full monty: business executive, former Deadhead and ’80s technologist Bradley J. Milton has gone far beyond a simple one-word search-and-replace.

Using his neo-retro technology, a Windows PC and a dollop of hardcore psychedlia, he brings us an entertaining work so original, new, and entirely American that it shocks with its power — pushing the bounds of the novel with a message so unique, pressing and ultimately controversial that it may be the Finnegans Wake of our century.

It’s well into the second decade of the 21st century, where Osama bin Laden is dead and universal health care is coming for all — yet it’s also Evening in America, where the nation is faced with an unsolveable fiscal crisis at a time when, to the young generations, Woodstock is not even a memory … nor is Howard Cosell, Telly Savalas, CHiPs — or the original Charlie’s Angels, for that matter.

Enter the post-pomo meta-character Huckleberry Milton as he leaves the safety of his Twitter account and cramped office cubicle and goes off on a cross-country mindquest to bring this country together, melding the forgotten pop culture of decades past with the goings-on of now, reviving the counter-culture of the Sixties, and doing it with an amalgam of DIY technology: ’80s IBM PC software, 21st century future-tech, and plenty of hardcore psychedelia.

Can a robotic Jerry Garcia revive the Grateful Dead, playing ad-hoc (and continuous) concerts at local shopping malls, schoolyards and Subway restaurants, jump-starting a sinking economy and leading the way to a new, highly profitable American Dream?

Huck Milton — himself a product of Burroughsian cutup technique, AI experiments, gratuitous Notepad cut-and-paste operations, and something much deeper — shows the darkness, the fiery colors, the depth and originality of the idiot-savant mind of Bradley J. Milton.

A failed concert at Altamont over 40 years ago where the Hell’s Angels rough up the crowd quickly fades into Ed Wood graveyard backdrops, classic Hammer film horror scenes, Platonic dialogues between Laverne and Shirley — shots ring out in the cold air on the campus of Kent State, just beyond some grassy knoll — meanwhile back at the office, the new DOS 3.1 diskettes have arrived, and someone is dialing out on a modem with PROCOMM … a mysterious figure is attempting to be the next Jim Morrison, preaching to the dot-commer kids at Height-Ashbury … meanwhile on Twitter, delayed Morse code messages arrive from a capsized Love Boat (circa 1978), and tens of thousands of followers and members of the new ‘Generation SHOP’ are urging Yoko Ono to lead the new economic revolution.

Fans of Hunter S. Thompson’s drug-addled gonzo psychedelia, William S. Burroughs’ tripped-out routines, William T. Vollman’s deep weirdness, and anyone who appreciates the rare, odd humor of a mind that can blend five decades of pop culture into a musical lyric lullaby is going to love what this “business executive” (and former Deadhead) has conjured up: an American joyride that rockets through time, space, and several uncharted dimensions, bringing us to a crystalline happy Somewhere that we never thought we had access to.


Author Bio

Business executive and former Deadhead Bradley J Milton has spent years attempting to combine the American counter-culture of the 1960s with today’s global corporate reality, with a goal of making the world a better place — and highly profitable, too!

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Hotel Flamingo by Patrick O’Duffy

Review: A series of vignettes into a mysterious hotel where time itself has cohesion, the turns of phrases and artful imagination of the author paints of a vivid image of a speculative world just out of focus of our Earth. Presumably. Where words can become real, magic happens without comment, and a person can create their own fate.

“Hotel Flamingo” is stylishly creative, intriguing in and of itself, and has engendered many positive comments from readers but ultimately it didn’t inspire me. A cross between speculative fantasy and classic horror with some really great concepts, lovers of fantasy and the eclectic read would certainly find it of interest.


Description: 22 rooms. 22 characters. One mosaic novella following a tangle of destinies through a hotel packed with weirdness, coincidence and impossibility.

The cleaning lady eats time. The manager mourns his multi-gendered parent. A pirate radio DJ listens for God. An accountant prepares to kill again. And that’s only in four rooms of the Hotel Flamingo, where the room service is terrible and reality flakes and crumbles around the edges.
Come to a part of town where the dealers meet, where the forgotten people hide, where reality cracks and peels like cheap wallpaper. Where normal is a dirty word.

And while you’re here, come stay at the Hotel Flamingo – a refuge for resentful angels, feral symbols, disgraced magicians, broken-hearted foundlings, bad dreams and many others.


Published November 30th 2010
Publisher: Patrick O’Duffy, via Smashwords
ISBN: 0011146761
ISBN13: 2940011146763
Available at several online distributors and Smashwords
Source: Author

Author Bio:

Patrick O’Duffy is tall, Australian and a professional editor, although not always in that order. He has written role-playing games, short fiction, a little journalism and freelance non-fiction, and is currently working on a novel, although frankly not working hard enough. He loves off-kilter fiction, Batman comics and his fiancée, and finds this whole writing-about-yourself-in-the-third-person thing difficult to take seriously.

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