Tag Archives: fantasy novel

Dagmar of the Northlands (Gortah van Murkar Book 2) by John C. Adams Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A new heroine arises in the north as the stepdaughter of the Northland’s Jarl is slain, and his killer, her half-brother, takes his place, leading an attack on the kingdom of Gortah while he seeks to rekindle his relationship with his Queen Dextra of Aspatria after a year apart in the epic fantasy, “Dagmar of the Northlands”, the second book in the Gortah van Murkar series from author John C. Adams


The Synopsis

From Albedo One Magazine Contributing Editor and double Aeon Award Longlister John C Adams comes a delightful fantasy romance featuring brand new heroine Dagmar Strongarm of the Northlands in the thrilling sequel to Aspatria.

Dagmar of the Northlands is edited by professional editor E S Wynn-Rubsam and features a powerfully evocative cover from Fiona Jayde Media.

When her stepfather Konung Thorlak of the Northlands dies, the jarls rally round Dagmar’s half brother Njal and make him their new ruler. Dagmar is disturbed by their ability to do so, when Thorlak fell at Njal’s own hand.

The new konung orders a raid on Gortah van Murkar’s island territory of Orkna to deflect attention from criticism of his rise to power and his treatment of his sister Yeen. Dagmar puts her yearning for romance with close friend Frakkok Warmhearth to one side long enough to join the raiding party, but her sister Ragnhild’s pregnancy from their mysterious house guest Jon, rumoured to be the human form of the Northlands’ Sea God Grunn, is also weighing heavily on her mind. Dagmar’s thoughts often drift back to her homestead, Barnahus, the aptly named House of the Women.

It isn’t long before Njal is proving himself unfit to lead, and the Men of the North are running amok. Dagmar and her cousin Magnus Broadchest step up, leading the raid on the crofters of Orkna to plunder whatever pitiful treasure the islanders have hidden away. They also do their best to rally the Men of the North’s allies to attack the island’s capital, the towering stronghold of Castle Longhope, before Gortah can get wind of their arrival and send reinforcements to hold this distant outpost of his massive empire.

Dagmar longs to return home and begin a relationship with Frakkok and to ensure that Ragnhild comes safely through the birth of her son. First, she must stiffen the resolve of the Men of the North to fight as a disciplined band within the coalition of forces the Gods have amassed to assist the Northlanders in taking Castle Longhope. With Magnus injured in the earlier raid, and his wound festering, returning home to Barnahus seems further away than ever for Dagmar.

Meanwhile, in his opulent capital Zwaarstad, Gortah awaits the return of his wife Queen Dextra of Aspatria and her much younger other husband Lord Ludwig Berg. The king and queen have been apart for a year following the death of Dextra’s baby son, Crown Prince Aelred of Aspatria, but Gortah has formally demanded her attendance at his fiftieth birthday celebrations, amid continuing speculation in Murkar and Aspatria about the stability of the royal marriage.

Just as Gortah hopes to celebrate Dextra’s return in peace, the Eirans gather an immense warhost and ride for the border with South Eira, Gortah’s possession across the Silent Sea. The commander at Fort Belshan sends urgent word that reinforcements are needed, and Gortah’s youngest son Prince Eugene leads those forces into battle. However, Eugene’s thoughts are clouded on and off the battlefield by tempting visions of the King of Eira’s youngest daughter, Princess Emer o’Eira.

Is the delightful and playful spirit who visits Eugene in the night hours at Belshan a true likeness of Emer in beauty and good nature? Eugene becomes more determined than ever to meet the princess in person and find out. But Emer’s father Domhnall o’Eira is determined that any match with the Murkan prince will be with his eldest daughter, Briana, even if it means breaking her betrothal to childhood sweetheart Chieftain Jarlath o’Cruach.

The return of Benedict Dartelend gives Gortah the thrill of seeing his old lover again after thirty years, but it is tinged with sadness and regret that Benedict has come home to Murkar after decades of ill health to say goodbye. 

The Review

Author John C. Adams has outdone themselves with this truly incredible novel. The author managed to capture the magic and intensity of the epic fantasy genre that fans of Game of Thrones have come to know. The narrative felt like equal parts Game of Thrones and equal parts The Last Kingdom, infusing some Viking-esque story elements and settings that made the world the author created in book one so much larger. The balance struck between the fantasy action found in the grand battles and invasions amongst the kingdoms with the conflicts in politics and how each kingdom differs in its practices and means of ruling made this story so engaging.

The character growth was phenomenal to read. The author was able to create equal parts of new characters and heroes to root for such as Dagmar herself with existing characters like Gortah and Dextra. The romance element of the narrative took these characters in so many different directions, from the LGBTQ romance looked at through Dagmar and Frakkak to the existing marriage of Dextra to both Gortah and the younger and more vile Ludwig was so interesting and heartfelt (and heart-wrenching). The twists and turns in these relationships were only elevated by the growing conflicts within their respective kingdoms.

The Verdict

Larger than life, haunting, and truly entertaining, author John C. Adams’s “Dagmar of the Northlands” is a must-read epic fantasy novel! The author’s ability to world-build and craft powerful and meaningful characters that fuel some truly grand storylines is truly staggering to behold, and this is one epic fantasy series that readers do not want to miss out on if they are missing their epic fantasy fix. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

I’m a non-binary proofreader, editor, reviewer and author.

You can find out more about my proofreading and editing services here:


I review for the British Fantasy Society as well as placing reviews and articles across a wide range of blogs and magazines.

I have a Postgraduate Certificate in Creative Writing from Newcastle University.

You can subscribe to my blog here: https://www.johncadamsreviews.com/

My horror novel, ‘Souls for the Master’, my fantasy romance novel ‘Aspatria’ and my fantasy and horror anthology ‘The Red Dawn and Other Stories’ are all free on Smashwords retailers. ‘Dagmar of the Northlands’, the sequel to ‘Aspatria’, and ‘Blackacre Rising’, the sequel to ‘Souls for the Master’ are also available from Smashwords retailers.

Although I write mostly long fiction, since 2015 I have had stories published in anthologies from Horrified Press, Lycan Valley Press, Fantasia Divinity and Jersey Pines Ink. My short stories have also been published in the Horror Zine, Swords & Sorcery, Sirens Call, Blood Moon Rising, Lovecraftiana and various other magazines.

Every emerging writer needs plenty of encouragement right at the start, and entering lots of competitions early on made a real difference to my confidence to press on with writing longer fiction and think about submitting short fiction to magazines and anthologies in due course. In 2012, I was longlisted for the International Aeon Award Short Fiction Contest for ‘The Visitors’ and again in 2013 for ‘We Can Finish Your Baby’s Brain For You’. My writing was also recognised by the Enrico Charles Literary Award (runner up in 2012) and by the University of Winchester Writers’ Conference in both 2012 and 2013, including a Commendation in the First Three Pages of a Novel category, and other nominations in poetry and short fiction.

I read PPE at Somerville College, and I am a non-practising solicitor. I live in rural Northumberland, UK, and I combine my career as an reviewer and critic with raising my kids and caring for a severely disabled relative. I’m always busy!



Sword & Sorcery: Frostfire (Sword & Sorcery Book One) by Ethan Avery Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A young warrior growing up on the streets must find a way to save his friend from the jails meant for him, while a young woman studying magic struggles when she has no magic of her own in this fantasy-driven narrative studying class systems and destiny in author Ethan Avery’s “Sword & Sorcery: Frostfire”, the first book in the Sword & Sorcery series. 


The Synopsis

Who’s right and who’s wrong is all a matter of perspective.

Erevan has a problem. He grew up on the unforgiving streets of Bogudos and has the scars to prove it. His friend, however, is stuck in jail because of his mistake. But when a suspicious courier offers him a chance to fix things, should he lift his sword to aid her cause?

Meanwhile, Aireyal has been accepted into the wealthiest and most prestigious magical school in all the land. There’s just one problem. She can’t do magic. But that’s far from the only secret within the walls of Darr-Kamo. And what she discovers might just change the world.

The Review

First and foremost, I absolutely loved the world building in this novel. The classic fantasy and magical elements that one hopes to find in these epic stories was paired so perfectly with the more in-depth and honest approach to class systems and how everyone brings a different and unique perspective to the same situation. I love the exploration of what “good and evil” truly means, which in epic fantasy stories can often be pretty cut and dry. Yet the author elevated this narrative to new heights, and created the right amount of tension and atmosphere to keep the story flowing smoothly and the action feeling intense while creating thought-provoking conversations on how people approach everyday topics of discussion.

The world-building was equally on par with the author’s amazing character development as well. Having not only multiple POVs but storylines running adjacent to one another helped showcase just how vast the world the author crafted was, and allowed the two main protagonists to shine brightly in their own stories. What was also so unique early on was seeing how each protagonist was like a mirror image of the other, with Erevan being more of an act first, think later kind of warrior, whereas Aireyal was more of the bookworm who would often get lost in her own mind. That allowed their individual metamorphosis throughout their narratives to feel equally powerful and great to read. 

The Verdict

Masterful, gripping, and entertaining, author Ethan Avery’s “Sword & Sorcery: Frostfire” is a must-read epic fantasy novel and the first in a brand new series readers won’t be able to get enough of. One of my top picks so far in 2022 for fantasy reads, the author found a great harmony between the world building without sacrificing character growth, and the ability to craft characters that reflected the dynamic and diverse nature of our own world and create new heroes that readers can become engaged with was just truly amazing to read. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy on April 22nd, 2022, or preorder your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Ethan Avery believes in the power of stories. As a child growing up in Ohio, they gave him a chance to see a bigger world, and to hear what life was like for people that didn’t look like him or believe what he did. And now years later, he hopes to do the same for others. For more information on Sword and Sorcery and what Ethan’s writing next, please visit www.storiesbyethan.com 

Revenge Seeker (Vital Impetus Book 2) by V.K. Tritschler Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A young woman who has become the heir to a multiversal kingdom must protect her loved ones and stop her maniacal grandfather, who took her own father’s life, in author V.K. Tritschler’s “Revenge Seeker”, the second book in the Vital Impetus series. 


The Synopsis 

Her Grandfather took her father’s life, and now Jess wants revenge.

Heir to a multi-verse kingdom Jess should be the most powerful woman in the world, able to keep her loved ones safe and bring peace to the realms. But with her newfound powers, came newfound dangers.

Jess is determined to protect the people she loves. To keep her sister, mother and boyfriend Peter safe, she sends them away, where her enemies can’t find them. When, Peter’s parents find out she’s the offspring of their mortal enemy, they are determined to keep them apart forever.

Going alone is perilous, and it’s hard to tell the difference between friend and foe. Determined to bring down her maniacal Grandfather, Jess is just beginning to realize the depth of her ties to those around her and the strength they bring to her.

Will she become the great protector or is she more like her Grandfather than she wants to admit?

The Review

This was such a fast-paced and entertaining read! The author did a truly fantastic job of world-building and crafting a very rich and descriptive narrative that really brought a large sense of imagery that captured the essence of these various worlds and realms the narrative took the protagonist in. The balance of character growth and mythos was perfectly captured, bringing both heart and creativity to the worlds in which Jess found herself. 

The character exploration in this story was unparalleled. The examination of protagonist Jess was especially brilliant, as her gifts and her mission for revenge were really tested when faced with the strain it put on her relationships, both with her mom and sister and with her longtime friend and boyfriend Peter. The twists and turns that came as a result of her desire to protect them as well as her need to avenge her father’s death were amazing. The tension and grim reality of her family life came to life in her battle with her grandfather, as she had to not only discover what life was like in his kingdom and under his rule but had to discover the lengths to which his villainy and desire for power extended. 

The Verdict

Captivating, engaging, and adrenaline-fueled fantasy action and adventure, author VK Tritschler’s “Revenge Seeker” is a must-read novel and the perfect next chapter in the Vital Impetus series! The twists and turns in Jess’s journey and the exploration of the corruption that power can bring and the blurred line that can come when seeking both justice and vengeance made this story really come to life, and the cliffhanger ending that left the fate of several characters up in the air made this a book that couldn’t be missed. So be sure to grab your copy of this wonderful read today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

VK Tritschler is the definition of very busy. Having both a fulltime job, a growing family and a career as an author she has a lot going on both around her and in her imagination. She lives on the amazing Eyre Peninsula in South Australia, having moved there from her hometown of Christchurch, New Zealand. Her family consists of a very patient husband, two rampant boys, and too many pets to mention.

She has a wonderful set of amazing writers who support her in the form of Eyre Writers, and in return, she offers crowd control services for the Youth section who are the future best-selling Australian authors.

Her first book “The Secret Life of Sarah Meads” was released in 2018 and since then she has participated in the NYC Writing Challenge, the Clunes Booktown, and helped organise and run the Eyre Writers Festival. Next came the paranormal anthology of “Magic & Mischief” with her story “Vital Impetus” which came out in July 2020.

After this, “The Risky Business of Romance” was released in October 2020 – a romantic suspense set in rural South Australia, and Trade Secrets is a rom-com based in Adelaide came out in December 2020. “A Town Called Nowhere” a paranormal romance about were-panthers set in rural Australia, was released in April 2021, with the second book out in October 2021.

Ever available to her readership you can find her at:





Keeper of the Jewel: Highcliff Guardians Epic Fantasy Series (Soul Forge Universe Book 1) by Richard H. Stephens Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A young heir to the throne is sent away to be protected from a looming threat, but finds sins of the kingdom’s past may find their way back to her in author Richard H. Stephen’s “Keeper of the Jewel: Highcliff Guardians Epic Fantasy Series”, the first book in the Soul Forge Universe series. 


The Synopsis 

Something evil lurks beneath the palace.

A phantasm from a darker past makes its presence known to Khae Wys, Queen of the Elves.

Braving the perils of a haunted tower, the queen seeks the counsel of the mysterious Fae, for only they can predict what is to come. A future that doesn’t bode well for her only living child.

In a desperate attempt to save the heir to the Willow Throne, Princess Ouderling is exiled to the only place capable of protecting her. Highcliff, the home of the coveted Crystal Cavern and the dragons that watch over it.

The Duke of Grim, however, has other plans for the princess.

The Review

I absolutely loved this book! The world-building was phenomenal, and the imagery the author infused into the narrative, (both literarily speaking and literally) was superb to see. The use of artwork throughout the book was an inspired choice, as the author was able to give readers a visual representation of the tone and quality of the characters that strengthened the emotional connection readers had for them.

I loved how complex and realistic the relationships and personalities of these fantasy characters felt. While I absolutely love fantasy-driven narratives, some novels can get so heavy with the fantasy elements that character choices and personalities can feel stuffy or disconnected in some way. Yet this author found a great way of making the characters either relatable or realistic enough for readers to recognize. Even protagonist Princess Ouderling perfectly represents the young woman who must undergo a heroic journey and face the past of her kingdom, but also holds that youthful sense of rebellion and need for an identity all her own, which will resonate greatly with younger readers especially.

The Verdict

A brilliant, entertaining, and amazingly haunting world of epic fantasy that readers won’t want to miss, author Richard H. Stevens’s “Keeper of the Jewel” is a must-read novel and the perfect start to a brand new fantasy series. What really was great to see was that this book was the first of a new series, but was set within an even greater series the author already has written. Yet the story felt fresh and was able to be enjoyed seamlessly by newcomers while still hitting great story strides with established lands and characters at the same time. It made for such a rich and powerful read. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Born in Simcoe, Ontario, in 1965, I began writing circa 1974; a bored child looking for something to while away the long, summertime days. My penchant for reading The Hardy Boys led to an inspiration one sweltering summer afternoon when my best friend and I thought, “Hey, we could write one of those.” And so, I did.

As my reading horizons broadened, so did my writing. Star Wars inspired me to write a 600-page novel about outer space that caught the attention of a special teacher, Mr. Woodley, who encouraged me to keep writing.

A trip to a local book store saw the proprietor introduce me to Stephen R. Donaldson and Terry Brooks. My writing life was forever changed.

At 17, I left high school to join the working world to support my first son. For the next twenty-two years I worked as a shipper at a local bakery. At the age of 36, I went back to high school to complete my education. After graduating with honours at the age of thirty-nine, I became a member of our local Police Service, and worked for 12 years in the provincial court system.

In early 2017, I resigned from the Police Service to pursue my love of writing full-time. With the help and support of my lovely wife Caroline and our 5 children, I have now realized my boyhood dream.


Interview with Author Paul Francois

Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

A: My day job is being a computer geek for a global technology company. I’ve always been a geek and proud of it. Technology was always in my blood. My first job was an avionics system control specialist on F-111 fighters in the US Air Force. I started writing to quiet the voices in my head! Ok, seriously…I always felt I had better ideas for stories and movies than most. It was sometime in 2011 that I kept getting ideas waking me in my sleep and disrupting my day-to-day activities. Finally, I had to write. It was the only action that helped calm the voices.

Q: What inspired you to write your book?

A: I used to play Shadowbane online and was intrigued by the lore. The game designers intertwined Greek, Celtic, and Nordic mythologies so well that I had to expand upon it. So many ideas rattled around in my mind until I just had to pour them out onto paper…or a computer to be precise. This was my second book but I kept writing and writing until I realized…this was my first full sized novel. I was horrible in high school English classes. I wanted to write creatively, but the teachers wanted uniformity, conformity, and structure. I felt as if they were drowning me with rules and restrictions.


Q: What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

A: I would like readers to feel that anything is possible. You never know where life will take you or what destiny may lie ahead of you, just waiting for you to discover it. 

Q: What drew you into this particular genre?

A: I’ve always loved the SciFi and Fantasy genre. I find everyday life boring and sometimes limited, but in the Fantasy genre you can create anything you like. Create a new realm, a new creature, or anything you can dream…your imagination is the only limitation.

Q: If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

A: It would choose Gaal. I loved creating this character and developing an arsenal of witty comebacks for him. I would ask how he felt about always being referred to as an abomination and what it was like growing up in the Carloon Outpost as a Shade. I always felt I could have elaborated on his life, but then again…I doubt the Shade would be very forthcoming with details.

Q: What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

A: Goodreads and BookBub. Most other sites would reach out to just any members, even if they did not know you were a writer. With my last name being French in origin I mostly received scammers speaking French wearing revealing clothing.

Q: What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

A: If you’re writing for a profit, find a new line of work. If you just care about publicity, then you can write what you “think” the public wants to hear. However, if the desire to express yourself and the yearning to create new worlds, stories, and characters just burns deep in your soul…write what you want, when you want, and how you want. If your one true desire is to be a creative writer, then write what you want. If they like it, great. If they don’t…then screw them! At the end of the day the only person you have to answer to, and that you can’t lie to, is yourself.

Q: What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

A: Due to life and health issues, I’ve had to take a hiatus from writing for a few years but I hope to get started on a trilogy series soon featuring a young female protagonist who is a strong leader and not afraid of showing it. I’m tired of some showing that females have to have a soft side and that they are so easily hurt, while the males are brave and fearless. It doesn’t always work like that in the real world. Also, I might write the prequels to the Shadowbane series, since I loved writing the Age of Aelfborn.


About the Author

By day, Paul Francois is a mild-mannered IT professional. He has been in the technology field for over 20 years. One day, in 2011, he started pondering story ideas until they leapt out of his brain and onto paper…onto the computer to be precise.

Join him as he discovers which genre suits his writing style best. Fantasy, Sci Fi, Thriller, or perhaps…all of the afore mentioned. The road is dreary and his journey long, sit back and enjoy a tale as we travel it together.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/AuthorPaulFrancois

Twitter: @AuthorFrancois


Shadowbane: Age of Aelfborn by Paul Francois Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A young man who witnesses great tragedy must go on an epic quest to save his sister and fulfill his destiny in author Paul Francois’s “Shadowbane: Age of Aelfborn”. 


The Synopsis

During a time of strife, Megildur must traverse Aerynth to rescue his sister and fulfill a destiny ordained by the All-Father. Finding Shadowbane, the mighty but cursed sword, will be challenging enough for this young Aelfborn. In a world torn apart by treachery and conflict, it is every being, or creature, for themselves.

This novel combines qualities from Lord of the Rings© and Greek mythology, with a few twists on some new races…such as Irekei, Aracoix, and of course, Aelfborn. This is the first novel to reveal the lore behind the epic player versus player game, Shadowbane.

Aerynth exists within a shroud of betrayal and deceit for over 100 years. In this realm of chaos, Megildur finds help from an unlikely pair…a sneaky Shade and a nomadic Nephilim. Can this unique trio bring peace and order to Aerynth, or fall prey to the Terror of Terrors? 

The Review

This was such an epic and captivating fantasy read. This definitely would feel right at home for fans of epic, deep-cut level fantasy storytelling, delving into a world of mythological creatures from all varieties of mythological backgrounds. I absolutely loved this mashup of different cultures and myths to delve into, as well as the author’s use of imagery and atmospheric buildup in the narrative. 

What struck me was the utilization of the hero’s journey for this novel, as protagonist Megildur grows from a young boy desperate to save the last person connected to his family to a leader and hero that is destined to save the world. The author’s use of writing style felt very much like it was written for fans of video games, which was such a breath of fresh air for the genre. From the journey itself feeling like an open-world game to the various creatures the protagonist had to face (or bosses), the stylistic choices of this narrative made this a true standout novel.

The Verdict

A remarkable, entertaining, and epic fantasy novel, author Paul Francois’s “Shadowbane: Age of Aelfborn” is a must-read novel. Fantastic world-building and mythology kept me hooked the entire time, and the cast of characters kept readers invested in the hero’s journey the protagonist found himself on, making this a remarkable story worth diving into. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

By day, Paul Francois is a mild-mannered IT professional. He has been in the technology field for over 20 years. One day, in 2011, he started pondering story ideas until they leaped out of his brain and onto paper…onto the computer to be precise.

Join him as he discovers which genre suits his writing style best. Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Thriller, or perhaps…all of the aforementioned. The road is dreary and his journey long, sit back and enjoy a tale as we travel it together.


Lluck (Qwyrk Tales #2) by Tim Rayborn Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Qwyrk and Jilly are back again, this time hoping to help a young boy named Lluck with the ability to bend events to his will, who is being hunted by several people and beings in author Tim Rayborn’s “Lluck”, the second book in the Qwyrk Tales series. 


The Synopsis

All Qwyrk wanted was a few winter days of rest and relaxation in the small town of Knettles in Yorkshire, but of course, it all goes wrong immediately. She’d like to spend time with her young human friend, Jilly, but Jilly and her not-so-imaginary friend Blip have met a remarkable boy named Lluck, who seems to be able to bend events to his favor.

Lluck is on the run from two big goblins with unnatural powers. On top of that, Qwyrk meets a mysterious and enchanting woman who’s also looking for the boy. And hiding in the darkness, something else wants Lluck for itself, but why?

Lluck is the second in a series of four novels about the comic misadventures of a group of misfits at the edge of normal reality in modern northern England, a world of shadows, Nighttime Nasties, witchy magic, remarkable Indian Fae, would-be superheroes, a lazy Komodo dragon, and even more elves…

though they continue to be a bit silly.

The Review

I have absolutely swept into this amazing world once again and I couldn’t have been more thrilled. What always strikes me about this series and the author is the perfect balance of fantasy-genre storytelling with dangerous adventures and humorous and witty character relationships that readers can’t get enough of. The rich mythology seems to just seep into the narrative so naturally that readers feel like they know this world for which the author has brought us all, even if this is the first novel that readers have picked up from the series.

The character’s balance and interactions with one another were not only the heart of this novel but the perfect way to bring life to the LGBTQ themes and character backgrounds in this narrative. The development of Qwyrk’s newfound relationship with someone close to newcomer Lluck was so brilliantly played out, and the exploration of Jilly’s backstory and family life more in this narrative not only added to the witty back and forth conversations she has with Blip, but the evolution of her character and her role in this growing magical world overall. 

The Verdict

A memorable, entertaining, and heartfelt narrative that is as captivating as it is magical, author Tim Rayborn’s “Lluck” is a must-read LGBTQ-driven fantasy and paranormal novel. The immediate story is so engaging to the reader, and yet the hints and illuminating moments that hint at the growing behind the scenes conspiracy first looked at in the first book in the series is the perfect payoff for fans of this growing series and leaves readers eager for book 3 to be released by this amazingly talented author. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Lluck - Tim Rayborn

Tim Rayborn has a new queer urban fantasy out, sequel to Qwyrk: Lluck. And there’s a giveaway!

All Qwyrk wanted was a few winter days of rest of and relaxation in the small town of Knettles in Yorkshire, but of course, it all goes wrong immediately. She wants to spend time and with her young human friend, Jilly, but Jilly and her not-so-imaginary friend blip have just met a remarkable boy named Lluck, who seems to be able to bend events to his favor.

Lluck is on the run from some awful and obnoxious goblins. On top of that, Qwyrk meets a mysterious and beguiling woman, who’s also looking for the boy. And in the dark, something wants Lluck for itself, but why?

Publisher | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CAN | Barnes & Noble


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Lluck Meme

“I’ll be dead in a few seconds… or worse.”

Still, he kept running, plowing through snowy lanes, stumbling more than once on wet cobblestones blanketed in a thin sheet of slippery ice and powder. His breathing was furious, his heart pounded, and he knew he was running out of time. He sprinted back out to a main street and worked his way through thronging crowds of holiday shoppers, trying to hide in their numbers.

“Blend in, shake them off!” But he knew his pursuers weren’t interested in these people; they were only after him. He ducked into another alleyway, sped for the exit on the other side, and almost crashed into a padlocked gate.

“No!” He slammed the bars with his fists.

They were near; he could smell them, like bad fast food and garbage, with a hint of cheap cologne. But he tried pulling on the lock, and sure enough, it came loose. He laughed and opened the gate. Dashing through, he shut it behind him and relocked it.

“Have fun with that, you knobs!”

He turned around and there they were: grotesque, lumpy goblin creatures with mottled grey skin, bulbous noses, and large, pointy ears. They were mostly bald, except for some wiry black curls under said ears. Their snarling grins revealed bared, off-white crooked teeth. Beady yellow eyes completed the horrific ensemble.

“Well, well, what ‘ave we got ‘ere?” the larger one grumbled.

“Looks like a lost waif in need of some assistance to get to where he’s goin’,” the other replied.

“I’m not going with you, you tossers!” he shouted, defiant. He raised his fists in front of him. They just laughed.

“You gonna take us on in a fist fight, little boy?” the big one mocked. “That oughta be entertaining. Maybe I’ll even let you get in a blow or two in before I mash your pretty face into the pavement!”

“Oh, I won’t fight you, you miserable troll! I’m just getting ready.”

“Ready for what, lambkin?” the smaller one sneered.

“For this!” He threw his open hands forward in one jerking motion, and at once, both fell on their behinds, slid on the ice, and smacked their heads on the stones. They groaned, but didn’t get back up. He stepped over them (well, on them really, just to make a point; he might have even dug his boot heels in a bit) and made his way back to the crowds.

Once on the main street, he looked around and saw the town hall in the distance, with its multitudes packed in to celebrate the holiday festivities.

“All those people milling about; you can lose them there. Then get the hell out of here and head south.”

He paused, took a deep breath, and ran again.

* * *

“I do love a good festive celebration!” Blip announced. Resembling a bipedal frog sporting a handlebar moustache and a proper Victorian-style mutton chop beard, he strolled along the pavement in his Regency riding boots, while swinging an ornate walking stick, every so often accidentally hitting a passerby and eliciting an astonished yelp. A red, woolen scarf wrapped snugly around his short, froggy neck completed the ensemble.

“I love it too! It’s so much grander than the one in Knettles,” Jilly Pleeth said in a hushed voice. She looked down at him, quite grateful that a magical two-foot creature who liked to expound on nineteenth-century philosophy couldn’t be seen or heard by anyone over the age of thirteen, give or take a bit. Of course, there were plenty of children about, a few of whom gasped and stared; but most ignored him, being far more fascinated by the lights of the Leeds Christmas market, the aromas of cinnamon, nutmeg, and chocolate, the sounds of carols and stall hawkers, and the general merriment of the season. It was all rather like one of those displays in a department store window, but larger, louder, and less garish.

“We’ll have to keep an eye on the time, though,” she continued. “I need to meet mum and dad back at the train station in about an hour. They’ll be done with their stupid real estate meeting and keen to get back home before it gets too dark.”

“Come, come, my dear, no need to be so reserved, at least not in this instance! It’s the holidays, and the day of your birth is also upon us—twelve years!—so just this once, it is entirely satisfactory that we kick up our proverbial heels and live a bit. The holiday market is splendidly arrayed in front of us, a fine old tradition that I am glad to see being kept alive. So, throw caution to the wind, and embrace the revelry!”

“Oh, it’s not that,” she whispered. “It’s just, since most people can’t see you, I look like I’m talking to myself, like I’m a bit mad.”

“Hm, well yes, I do suppose that could cause some to think that you are a suitable candidate for admission to Bedlam, but again, this is the time for inversions of the social order in a controlled way, don’t you know? The Feast of Fools! The Boy Bishop! Saturnalian silliness! So I say, let them think that you are singularly odd and be done with it! And other children can see me, so what does it matter?”

“Yeah, but they probably just think you’re one of Father Christmas’s elves, anyway,” she said with an impish grin.

“Do not mention that reprobate in my company!” Blip admonished. “You know very well that the Father Christmas affair is a bone of contention with me!”

“Are you ever going to tell me what happened between you two?” she asked.

“A gentleman does not duel and tell, I’m afraid.”

“You fought a duel with Father Christmas?”

Author Bio

Tim Rayborn

Tim Rayborn is a writer and internationally acclaimed musician. He plays dozens of unusual instruments that many people of have never heard of and often can’t pronounce, including medieval instrument reconstructions and folk instruments from Northern Europe, the Balkans, and the Middle East. He has appeared on over forty recordings, and his wanderings and tours have taken him across the US, all over Europe, to Canada and Australia, and to such romantic locations as Marrakech, Istanbul, Renaissance chateaux, medieval churches, and high school gymnasiums.

On the writing side of things, Tim lived in England for nearly seven years and has a PhD from the University of Leeds. He has written books and magazine articles about music, the arts, history, and business. He currently lives amid many books, antique music reproduction devices (that is, CDs), and instruments, and with a demanding cat. He’s also rather enthusiastic about good wines, single-malt Scotch, and cooking excellent food.

Author Website: https://www.timrayborn.com

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/TimRaybornMusicandWriting

Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/Tim_Rayborn

Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rayborn.esoterica

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3160656.Tim_Rayborn

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Tim-Rayborn/e/B00DWY5J8E/

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The Last Families by Carla Doria Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

The remnants of four powerful families who hold onto powerful abilities find themselves in a fight for survival and must contend with a dangerous new home, all while dealing with the same family fighting and odds they have held onto for so long in author Carla Doria’s “The Last Families”. 


The Synopsis

Escaping their land’s destruction, the Kaptarish, Drontas, Verbaren and Ninfires have reached the island of Gambir. The last families with talents like mind-reading, extraordinary force, burning with their hands, and flying, hope to find refuge in this place.

Yarisha, the only mind-reader in the Verbaren family, will fall in love with Malakay, the most arrogant sibling in the Ninfire family. She knows the young man’s mother and the matriarch of the Ninfires, Mandely, will never consent to this relationship since she considers the Verbaren family inferior to them.

None of the members in the families expect to find a land full of secrets where those with the darkest looking-skin have better chances to survive and where the leader, Ian, is planning to take wives by force.


The Review

This was a truly marvelous and engaging read. Immediately readers are hit with the urgency and anxiety that these characters are feeling, having lost their families and homes and seeking a safe haven after enduring so much loss. The balance the author found between the magic, power, and world-building that the fantasy genre brings with the desperation and fear that comes with a dystopian setting really elevated this narrative tenfold. 

Yet it was truly the world and character building and mythos the author crafted that allowed this story to shine. The author created such diverse and intricately detailed family dynamics both within each family and amongst the relationships between different families as well. The multiple POVs that this narrative had really did a great job of highlighting the differences amongst each family’s powers and perceptions of the world, and yet the same emotions and fears that resided within them all in this fight for survival they all shared.

The Verdict

An entertaining, thoughtful, and hauntingly thrilling dystopian fantasy read, author Carla Doria’s “The Last Families” is a must-read fantasy novel of 2021. The examination of what could happen if we tore our world apart so much that it was destroyed completely, and how inherent judgments and opinions can survive that destruction was so interesting to see, as was the need for survival that stripped those notions from some of these main characters enough to realize that those differences didn’t matter quite as much, making this a truly thought-provoking and emotionally investing read. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Carla Doria was born in Cochabamba, Bolivia. where she currently resides. Graduated as an Industrial Engineer, she decided to acknowledge her lost love from childhood: writing. She spends her time working, blogging, writing, traveling, doing yoga, biking, running, and enjoying the good life in the city valley of Cochabamba.

The Last Families is her first fantasy novel.

Book’s website: https://thelastfamilies.com/

Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09LJV5J7B

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/59067117-the-last-families 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cdoriam 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/carlisdm

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thelastfamilies/

Tumblr: https://thelastfamilies.tumblr.com/

Interview with Authors Scott & Ashley Roepel

  1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

Ashley has been writing stories her entire life. In her late teen and early adult years she published a lot of fanfiction that won community awards. It’s always been a passion for her and she has been able to write for some websites prior to publishing her books. For Scott, he was a local journalist for many years before writing for pop culture and car websites. We both mesh well in writing a book series together! 

Amazon Music: Six Months of Disney+
  1. What inspired you to write your book?

This book series is based off our D&D campaign. We both love the game so much and it has inspired so much creativity in our lives. It felt only right to turn these adventures into a book series. We had developed a world rich in lore and history with complex characters. Since our entire campaign was homebrewed, it made it really easy to translate into a book series. 

  1. What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

Many of the characters come from places or situations where they were told they have no value. We hope readers that struggle with the same message may find inspiration in these characters. Characters that find their own worth internally, and are able to discover their own strengths and confidence despite others telling them to the contrary. 

  1. What drew you into this particular genre?

We both have always loved fantasy. Especially from our early experiences with the Fellowship of the Ring film. What we like best is there are no limits. You can create your own world and put what you want in it. It is full creativity. 

  1. If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

Actually, we can! One of the best things about having this story start as a D&D game is we get to roleplay these characters. We get to do a deep dive into each character and learn all about them. All about their childhood and memories, and all about their future hopes and dreams. We get to explore their motivation and pain and what keeps them going each day. It’s one of the purest ways to learn a character. 

  1. What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

Twitter for sure. It’s so much more social and we are able to connect with other writers and D&D players and indie creators. Being able to have many conversations and post multiple times a day has been helpful. Our Twitter is @TalAndRu 

  1. What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Write the story you want to tell. Don’t worry about what other people say you should be writing or doing with your book. Don’t worry about a big following, that will come in time. Just tell the story that is inside you and that is important to you. At the end of the day, you should write something you want to read. 

  1. What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

Book III of Thread of Souls is currently undergoing its final edits and will be published on August 27th this year! It’s part of an eight-book series, so we have a release planned for each year. As we are currently playing the story’s D&D campaign at the table, we are playing through what will end being book seven and having a blast! 


About the Authors

Scott and Ashley Roepel are a husband and wife team of writers, creators, and travelers. They are co-founders of Tal & Ru Travels LLC which is focused on entertaining and engaging content. Deep lovers of fantasy, the two of them are avid D&D players and content creators.