Tag Archives: mythology

Loukas and the Game of Chance by Anthony L. Manna Review

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

A flute player who finds good fortune from a dancing snake finds his greek overpowering him, and must trek on a journey to find his good fortune after losing everything in author Anthony L. Manna’s “Loukas and the Game of Chance”.

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The Synopsis

While Loukas is playing his flute at the seawall one day, he befriends a mysterious talking, dancing snake that rewards him with fortune and favor. Some years later, tempted by greed and pride, Loukas loses all his riches and his family. He must now set off on a treacherous journey through a frightening forest filled with suspense and strange creatures to find Destiny, her son Ilion, the Sun, and her daughter Luna, the Moon. These celestial guardians will surely allow him to reverse his misfortune, restore his honor, and win back all that he loves and treasures, won’t they? A reimagined Greek folktale, Loukas and the Game of Chance is illuminated with dramatic and evocative pen and ink drawings that provide an ideal backdrop for the dark intrigue that fills this haunting story of human struggle, courage, and resilience. 

The Review

This was a profound and captivating reimagining of Greek folklore. The author does an amazing job of writing in a way that vividly paints an image of the story to life through engaging imagery and a fantastical atmosphere. The adventurous and hero’s journey elements of the narrative immediately jump off the page, and the mythical tone of the author’s writing brings readers into the magical frame of mind.

The beautiful story that the author tells early on between Loukas and the snake when combined with the themes of love, loss, and the power of kindness over greed made this a truly thrilling story to behold. The way the author is able to relate this story to young readers and still maintain the magic and wonder that has resonated with all readers throughout the time that other fables and folktales have done time and time again was amazing to see come to fruition.

The Verdict

Thought-provoking, entertaining, and mesmerizing, author Anthony L. Manna’s “Loukas and the Game of Chance” is a must-read folktale and children’s Greek and Roman Myth story. The wonder and atmosphere the author infuses into this narrative and the rich character development made this a short yet powerful read that young and older readers alike won’t be able to put down. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

ANTHONY L. MANNA, Ph.D., is a retired professor from the Department of Teaching, Learning and Curriculum Studies and the English Department at Kent State University, Kent, Ohio, where he taught Children’s Literature, Young Adult Literature, Writing, and Educational Drama and served as one of the co-directors of Kent State’s National Writing Project (sponsored by UC/Berkeley).

A New Jersey native, he received his doctorate from the University of Iowa, Master of Arts in Teaching degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University (high honors), and his B. A. from Seton Hall University (with honors). He has taught on nearly every grade level, from preschool to graduate school, and has held positions at the American College in Istanbul, Turkey, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece, the University of Maine (Farmington), and the Center for Literature and Medicine (Hiram College/Northeast Ohio College of Medicine), where he received a fellowship to research the intersection of the arts and the practice of medicine and healing.

He is the recipient of Kent State University’s Distinguished Teaching Award, Kent State’s Student Choice Award, and the Arbuthnot Award from the International Reading Association for outstanding university teaching.

Manna is a former member of the executive board of the Children’s Literature Association, former Director of Publications for the Association, and former editor of various columns in the Children’s Literature Association Quarterly.

He is co-author of Children’s Literature for Health Awareness and co-editor of Many Faces, Many Voices: Multicultural Literary Experiences for Youth and Art and Story: The Role of Illustration in Multicultural Literature for Youth. He has published numerous articles, book reviews, and book chapters on literature, drama, and teaching both in the U.S.A. and abroad.

The children’s picture book he co-authored with Soula Mitakidou, Mr. Semolina-Semolinus: A Greek Folktale (Simon & Schuster, 1997; Aladdin Paperbacks, 2015) was selected a 1998 Notable Children’s Book of the Year by the American Library Association was listed among the one hundred best books of the year by the New York Public Library, and was the recipient of the 1997 Marion Vannett Ridgway Award for first-time authors and illustrators.

In 2002, he co-authored a collection of twenty stories titled Folktales from Greece: A Treasury of Delights (Greenwood Press World Folklore Series). His most recent picture book, The Orphan: A Cinderella Story from Greece (Schwartz & Wade/Random House 2011) was selected a Bank Street College of Education Best Book of 2012.

The Sacred Mountains by Kinga Szumska 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 must leave her village and find her place in the world after discovering the power within herself in author Kinga Szumska’s “The Sacred Mountains”. 

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The Synopsis

We are all on a journey. Some of us see our mountain very clearly but some can see just a glimpse of it from a distance. Some of us are confident that there must be another world than the one we were born in, while others don’t question it. But far beyond the forests in a village was a girl who decided to go on a journey and learn which world she was really from. This is a story about finding the world we belong to. I am sure you’re on your quest too.

I dedicate this book to all who one day felt out of place but had the courage to cross the bridge.

The Review

This was a beautifully written and profound story of mythology and legends meets coming-of-age storytelling. The imagery and atmosphere spoke to the power of storytelling itself, exploring the power that stories have on a people’s culture and how future generations can learn from the past to grow into their futures. The themes the author explores here, from the iconic “hero’s journey” to the power of dreams and the importance of forging our own paths in life kept me invested in the story of Lola and her journey into the mountains outside of her own village.

The dynamic character development and world-building balanced out the emotional pull of the journey the narrative itself takes. The story of Lola will resonate greatly with many readers, as her heart and her passions in life lead her to an almost outsider status in her village, with her dreams separating her from the lessons taught and embedded into the majority of the villagers. The power she discovers and her otherworldly origins play well into the mythos the author builds upon and keep the reader both entertained and enthralled by the journey.

The Verdict

Thoughtful, captivating, and engaging, author Kinga Szumska’s “The Sacred Mountains” is a must-read folklore and mythology-driven narrative. The empowerment and encouragement Lola’s journey gives the reader and the magic of the storytelling made this a compelling and entertaining journey to go on and made this a brilliant story that showcases the amazing talent of this up-and-coming author. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Kinga was born in Poland and now lives in London. She writes inspirational stories on personal and professional development, work, and travel on her blog: http://www.kinga.blog. Kinga is certified by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and is a Qualified Performance Coach and talent hunter. Besides writing and creative living, Kinga is a keen traveller, speaker, painter, foodie, and social media junkie.

https://www.kinga.blog/

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0BLT7QJ8Z/ref=x_gr_w_glide_sin?caller=Goodreads&callerLink=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.goodreads.com%2Fbook%2Fshow%2F68754902-the-sacred-mountains&tag=x_gr_w_glide_sin-20

Interview with Author Justine Johnston Hemmestad 

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

I’m a mother of seven kids, five of them grown, and a grandmother of two beautiful boys. But years before all of that, when I was 19 and newly married, the car I was driving was hit by a city bus. I sustained a severe brain injury and nearly died; my prognosis was not good. However, being a mother a few years after, as well as writing, helped me to slowly recover. Almost 15 years after my brain injury I started college again and now I have a Master’s Degree in English Literature (I felt that if I wanted to hone my writing skills I needed to read and learn from the masters of the craft). 25 years after my car accident my first book was published, and now 32 years after my car accident my third book has just been published. So writing has essentially been my rehab.

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2) What inspired you to write your book?

I was just learning that I have Scottish ancestry, and I also love Shakespeare and read that he had based the three witches in Macbeth on the Three Fates of ancient Greek lore. I thought that was so interesting and I asked, “What if…” which I wanted to explore. I felt there would be so many questions that would drive my story and there were. I’ve also always loved fantasy, so I knew those things would be the components for my story, but when I commissioned my oldest son Bradley Hemmestad to create a book cover for me was when I became really inspired – his art helped shape my story completely.

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

That we learn from past, present, and future – I would love readers to see things in a way they hadn’t thought of before, through the lens of fascination.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

The realm of possibility drew me to fantasy. I love history and the lessons that fill history, then embellishing that history within fantasy so I can stretch boundaries.

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

I think I would be too scared to sit down with any of the main characters in my book; I think they would find it hard to contain their innate power. I imagine Clotho as so otherworldly that she likely wouldn’t communicate on human terms and would probably lose patience, I also think that Apollo would be terrifying because there’s no earthly limit to his power the judgements he makes, and I think Macbeth would be frightening because he was driven by the fortitude of his ancestors and the passion in his beliefs. They would all be larger than life. I really included any questions I want to ask them in my book itself – like what are ancient Greek gods doing in medieval Scotland?

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

https://aelpress.com/index.php/2022/08/31/macbeths-spinners-cover-reveal/ and https://www.amazon.com/Macbeths-Spinners-Justine-Johnston-Hemmestad-ebook/dp/B0BGQXWJ7P/ref=sr_1_5?crid=234DTASM14KLR&keywords=Antimony+and+Elder+Lace+Press&qid=1664473594&sprefix=antimony+and+elder+lace+press%2Caps%2C102&sr=8-5  and https://www.facebook.com/JustineJohnstonHemmestadauthor in addition to the wonderful interviews I’ve been so lucky to give.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Ask many, many questions of the characters in your story. They’ll reveal the direction they want to take. Listen to your dreams, like Toni Morrison did to write her masterpiece, Beloved. Don’t try to force your characters into a direction they don’t want to take or you’ll lose the sense of effortlessness that makes a story easy to get lost in.

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

The future holds A LOT of writing. I’m trying to get the word out about my digital novel Macbeth’s Spinners, and I’m also working on another novel about the disappearance of Roanoke in early American history (I’m planning to infuse that story with fantasy as well). 

Thank you for this interview, Anthony!

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About the Author

Justine Johnston Hemmestad is an editor, the author of three novels, and is included in several anthologies, including Chicken Soup for the Soul: Recovering from Traumatic Brain Injuries (after having been in a car accident that left her severely brain injured at 19). She is a graduate of The University of Iowa and has also graduated from the English Literature Master’s Degree program with distinction at Northern Arizona University. Her personal webpage is at https://know-your-craft.webnode.page/ , her amazon author’s page is at https://www.amazon.com/Justine-Johnston-Hemmestad/e/B01DHSLN0M?ref_=pe_1724030_132998060 and she’s on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/JustineJohnstonHemmestadauthor 

My publisher and I are donating part of the profits to Laughing at My Nightmare charity https://www.laughingatmynightmare.com/         

Macbeth’s Spinners by Justine Johnston Hemmestad Review

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

The legend of Macbeth gets a Greek Mythology twist when the three Fates merge to become one powerful woman as they flee the powerful gaze of a heartbroken god in author Justine Johnston Hemmestad’s “Macbeth’s Spinners”.

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The Synopsis

Macbeth’s Spinners is a love story. And like most love stories, things surrounding the lovers can both influence and be influenced by the lovers and their emotions. You know the fallout that can happen among friends when a couple has a spat in the real world.

Now imagine if they were gods? Imagine if the lovers had the ability to influence time and fold the land and sea, and steer the course of a nation’s history?

What if Macbeth was guided to become king not by three elderly witches — but by the Three Fates of Greek Mythos that were transformed into a single woman of remarkable power?

The Review

This was such a powerful and well-done story. The author found a way to bridge the gap between gothic dark fantasy storytelling and epic mythological themes in a very natural way. The twist in Macbeth’s iconic story was such an inspired direction to take the narrative, as it directly spoke to the idea of fate and destiny (quite literally) in ways the original could only hint at. The historical context of the story mixed well with the mythos that the other half of the narrative embodied. 

The character development and imagery played the largest roles here in this story. The game of cat and mouse played between the Fates, Apollo, and their pawn Macbeth all play well into the almost dismissive nature of these godlike figures to the everyday men and women, especially given the Fate’s desire to find a home and take care of its people, much as they did in their old lives. The redemptive nature of the narrative as time goes on and the heartfelt emotions that these powerful gods display help keep the story grounded in such a fantasy-driven world. 

The Verdict

Thought-provoking, imaginative, and entertaining, author Justine Johnston Hemmestad’s “Macbeth’s Spinners” is a must-read gothic dark fantasy read. The expanded upon and new twist on both the iconic Shakespearean tale and the memorable Greek mythology was a pairing that fit together so well that it felt like reading a brand new story much of the time. The imagery and atmosphere the author created spoke to the grand stakes of the novel and the raw emotions that these powerful figures conjured up. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Justine Johnston Hemmestad is an editor, the author of three novels, and is included in several anthologies, including Chicken Soup for the Soul: Recovering from Traumatic Brain Injuries (after having been in a car accident that left her severely brain injured at 19). She is a graduate of The University of Iowa and has also graduated from the English Literature Master’s Degree program with distinction at Northern Arizona University. Her personal webpage is at https://know-your-craft.webnode.page/ , her amazon author’s page is at https://www.amazon.com/Justine-Johnston-Hemmestad/e/B01DHSLN0M?ref_=pe_1724030_132998060 and she’s on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/JustineJohnstonHemmestadauthor 

My publisher and I are donating part of the profits to Laughing at My Nightmare charity https://www.laughingatmynightmare.com/         

Still, The Sky by Tom Pearson Review

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

Author and Poet Tom Pearson take readers on a coming-of-age journey using classic mythological tales and poetry to paint a picture of love and loss in the book “Still, the Sky”.

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The Synopsis

Still, the Sky is a speculative mythology rendered through poetry and art that combines the tales of Icarus and the Minotaur and creates for them a shared coming-of-age through a correspondence of written fragments, artifacts, ecofacts, and ephemera. This metaphoric framework conjures a labyrinth of fragmented memories, confessions, and tributes, all mixing in fever dreams and reflections on innocence and experience, flight and failure, love and loss.

The Review

I absolutely loved this collection of poetry. The immersive style of writing the author displayed brought the iconic and classic Greek myths and legends that people have come to know and love to live in a visceral way. The blend of poetry with mythology, as well as installation artwork and artifacts, made the collection feel vibrant and captivating.  The themes the author explores through these myths were quite profound, from the pursuit of glory and the realization of failure to the profound sense of love and loss. 

To me, the author’s ability to not only take these iconic myths and transport the reader into them through poetry but to give a more in-depth analysis and approach to these iconic figures was so mesmerizing and heartfelt. The depth of character development and heart that these poems brought to life was so invigorating, and the imagery used in the author’s writing and the art itself really captured the magic and power that ancient mythology tends to hold.

The Verdict

Heartfelt, emotional, and thoughtful, author Tom Pearson’s “Still, The Sky” was a marvelous and moving work of art that fans of poetry and mythology will not be able to put down. The natural fusion of imagery and poetry in this book brought the heart and passion that these classic mythological characters needed. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Tom Pearson is an artist and poet who works in dance, theater, film, visual art, and multi-media. He is known for his original works for theater, including the long-running, off-Broadway immersive hits THEN SHE FELL and THE GRAND PARADISE and as a founder and co-artistic director of the New York City-based Third Rail Projects and Global Performance Studio.

He is the author of two books, THE SANDPIPER’S SPELL and STILL, THE SKY. More information available at his website and on social media at: tompearsonnyc.com and @tompearsonnyc.

https://tompearsonnyc.com/

Reborn by Stephanie Ellis Review

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

Blood rituals, magick, and monsters take center stage as the rebirth of Cernunnos and the exploration of realms beyond our own lead to a dangerous journey in author Stephanie Ellis’s “Reborn”.

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The Synopsis

Return to the Weald, the world Stephanie Ellis introduced us to in The Five Turns of the Wheel.

Reborn is the story of Cernunnos, the Father of all, who has risen. Born of blood offerings, he travels to the Layerings—one of those places, like Umbra, which sit just beyond the human veil.

Reborn is the story of Tommy, Betty and Fiddler, the infamous troupe whose bloody rituals were halted by Megan, Tommy’s Daughter. Rendered weak by Megan’s refusal to allow them to hunt in the human world of the Weald, they seek their rebirth and forgiveness from the Mother and Cernunnos.

Reborn is the story of Megan, who follows Cernunnos and Hweol’s sons on a pilgrimage of hope—one that would see her husband restored to her and the dark presence of Hweol removed.

Ultimately, though, Reborn is the story of Betty, the most monstrous of the three brothers. He is Nature, red in tooth and claw. He is what the Mother made him. And who are we to judge?

With Reborn, Ellis delivers another powerful tale of folk horror that will captivate the reader from the first page until its final bloody climax. 

The Review

As a longtime fan of the mythology of different cultures, I loved the author’s extensive use of Welsh mythology and culture in this folk horror read. The haunting imagery and terror the author infuses into the atmosphere and tone of this novel kept me present and engaged with the narrative. The rich settings and intimate details of the mythos allowed me as a reader to become immersed in the story fully and completely, feeling every twist and turn the story brought as the grim reality of these ancient beings came to life.

To me, character development was the true heart of the narrative, both for the heroes and the villains of this tale. The hopeful pursuit that Megan goes on in hopes of restoring her husband clashes brilliantly with the destructive nature of the ancient deities, especially the three brothers, whose bloodlust and animalistic tendencies prove equally dangerous and disturbing. Yet the author’s ability to capture not only that folk element of the horror genre but showcase that these characters all reside in very deep shades of gray and no one character is wholly good or evil showcases the complexity and engaging elements of this novel.

The Verdict

Twisted, captivating, and harrowing, author Stephanie Ellis’s “Reborn” is a must-read folk horror read of the 2022 season. The perfect spooky season read for fans of ancient mythology and chilling horror novels, the gripping character development and thought-provoking themes the author explores make this a one-of-a-kind read that cannot be missed. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Stephanie Ellis writes dark speculative prose and poetry and has been published in a variety of magazines and anthologies. Her longer work includes the novel, The Five Turns of the Wheel and the novellas, Paused and Bottled. Her two new folk horror novels, Reborn and The Woodcutter are due out soon!

She is an active member of the HWA and can be found at https://stephanieellis.org and on twitter at @el_stevie.

Note: I am no longer leaving a star rating for my reviews – wherever possible.

Red Door (A Cry in the Moon’s Life) by Alan McGill Review

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

Three childhood friends find themselves at a crossroads filled with dangers lurking in the shadows as they find their lives changed forever in author Alan McGill’s “Red Door”, the prequel to the author’s novel A Cry in the Moon’s Light”. 

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The Synopsis

This is the story of a beautiful peasant girl and a farm boy who fall in love in the South of France, years before she becomes mi Lady, the Duchess of Harcourt and he becomes . . . something else. It is also the story of William de Parlimae, their childhood companion, whose path takes a different turn.

As children, the three played together. But when the Lord’s son embarks on an important mission with his two closest friends, they find that they’ve stepped past the threshold of youth and into a long, dark night filled with nightmares, cruelty, and vicious beasts.

In the darkness, the two lovers seek refuge at an abandoned village deep in the Dark Forest. But will the moon’s light be enough for them to tell friend from enemy, poison from perfume, and the stuff of dreams from the horrors around them?

The Review

This was an incredibly vivid and atmospheric read. The gothic setting and tone the author struck immediately kept me invested in the book, and the rich mythology and European culture the author infused into this story helps build upon the equally compelling mythos that the story this prequel plays into began. 

Yet it was the character development that truly kept me hooked on this story. The tension and chemistry these characters exhibited, especially the love story of Seth and Alessandra. The connection that their story had to the development of William as a villain and the way their story mirrored the larger mythos was incredible to behold. 

The Verdict

Gripping, entertaining, and chilling, author Alan McGill’s “Red Door” is the perfect gothic horror and fantasy novel for the spooky season and a definite must-read of the year! The brilliant world-building, haunting imagery the author infused into their writing, and the captivating characters made this a stellar novel that readers won’t be able to put down, and I can’t wait to see what comes next in the A Cry in the Moon’s Light series. If you haven’t already done so, be sure to grab your copy today! 

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Alan McGill is an American author who lives in an old farmhouse with a clowder of cats. Alan was close to his grandparents, who grew up during the Great Depression. They were married young and remained together until his grandmother’s passing. His grandfather served in the Navy during WWII and was a gifted storyteller who wove humorous tales about tough events. Alan grew up listening to these stories of right and wrong and watching fictional heroes–such as the Lone Ranger, Adam West’s Batman, and Captain America–stand up to bullies and protect those who count not protect themselves. This inspired him to always do what was right in his own life and shaped his love of storytelling. He is a multigenre author whose debut novel, A Cry in the Moon’s Light, combines horror, romance, and mystery. As with all his books, A Cry in the Moon’s Light centers on characters who strive to do the right thing regardless of the adversity they face. The book focuses on the theme of love–a pure and deep love that defeats all evil.

https://www.instagram.com/alanmcgill14/

https://cryinthemoonslight.podbean.com/

Screamcatcher: Sa’be Most Wanted (Screamcatcher Book 4) by Christy J. Breedlove Review

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

Four teens and a seemingly frail old man travel into the heart of the Shasta Forest to help a woman whose husband has disappeared hunting the invaders who killed their dogs and attacked their home in author Christy J. Breedlove’s “Screamcatcher: Sa’be Most Wanted”, the fourth book in the Screamcatcher series.

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The Synopsis

Jory Pike and the Badlands Paranormal Society get a strange and frantic call from a woman who claims her property has been invaded by unknown trespassers who have terrorized her and her husband and killed their two dogs. She says her husband has gone hunting for the culprits and disappeared. The Sherriff’s office performed a routine investigation and mysteriously quit. The woman also called a first nations tribe tracker to help her, but after a short investigation, he claimed she had something more dangerous than a bear and wanted nothing to do with it.

Jory’s 91 year-old grandfather, a full blood Ojibwe, believes he knows what this mystery is all about and demands to go on the hunt.

Four teenagers and a seemingly fragile old man find out, too late, in the deep Shasta forest, that they are the ones being hunted.

The Review

I absolutely loved this novel. As a longtime fan of this series, I was thrilled to be able to jump back into this world of paranormal and high strangeness for YA readers. The way the author was able to further the narrative for the cast of characters was brilliant, as longtime fans and newcomers alike were able to connect to the characters on an emotional level, especially the protagonist and her grandfather. 

Yet it was the world-building and mythos that really stood out to me. The in-depth way the author blended and utilized Native American mythology, in particular the Ojibwa Tribe’s mythos, with the paranormal aspects of the narrative was an inspired and creative choice that kept the story feeling fresh and unique amongst other YA novels. However for me, as someone who absolutely loves the study and looking into real-life paranormal and high strangeness cases, I am well versed in the lore of both the particular creature used in this narrative and the area known as Mt. Shasta. The author’s use of this setting was so fun and captured my attention clearly. 

The Verdict

Haunting, rich, and entertaining, author Christy J. Breedlove’s “Screamcatcher: Sa’be Most Wanted” is a must-read YA paranormal thriller and fantasy read. The perfect next chapter in Jory Pike’s journey into the Screamcatcher universe, the shocking twists and turns in the narrative, as well as the identity of the true culprits behind this investigation, will leave readers hanging off of the author’s every word. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Chris H. Stevenson, (aka Christy J. Breedlove), originally born in California, moved to Sylvania, Alabama in 2009. His occupations have included newspaper reporter, front-line mechanic and federal police officer. He has been writing off and on for 36 years, having officially published books beginning in 1988. Today he writes science fiction, fantasy, paranormal romance, young adult, thrillers and horror. He has a total of 19 titles appearing on Amazon. He was a finalist in the L. Ron. Hubbard Writers of the Future contest, and just recently took the bronze medal for YA Horror in the Reader’s Choice Awards. He writes the popular blog, Guerrilla Warfare for Writers (special weapons and tactics), hoping to inform and educate writers all over the world about the high points and pitfalls of publishing.

https://christysyoungadultimagineers.com/

http://guerrillawarfareforwriters.blogspot.com/

To Charm A Killer (A Hollystone Mystery Book One) by W.L. Hawkin Review

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

The High Priest of a powerful coven must search for a killer who is targeting witches as Hecate issues a dreadful prophecy he must race to prevent in author W.L. Hawkin’s “To Charm a Killer”, the first book in the Hollystone Mystery Series! 

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The Synopsis

When a third witch vanishes from Vancouver, the witches of Hollystone Coven spin a charm to catch the killer. But spells ripple with repercussions, and in the ensuing chaos, an innocent seventeen-year-old girl gets caught up in the charm. As obsessed with the killer as the killer is with him, High Priest Estrada vows to find the man and stop him. Then, at their Samhain ritual, Hecate speaks through their high priestess and shocks everyone with her prophecy:

As one of you has spun the charm, now none of you are safe from harm.

One who all felt they could trust, breeds deception cloaked in lust.

One will gain their heart’s desire, while yet another pays with fire.

Before the dark of winter night, four souls pass over into light.

Once begun it cannot end, but circles round as circles bend.

To save the girl and catch the killer, Estrada journeys from the West Coast of Canada to Ireland and Beyond. Abduction, death, fire, and faeries. Who is the killer? Why is he killing witches? And how can he be stopped before Hecate’s prophecy comes true?

WL Hawkin weaves threads of Macbeth and ancient Irish myth with edgy romance in this mysterious urban fantasy. To Charm a Killer is the first in the Hollystone Mysteries series.

The Review

I have had the pleasure of reviewing quite a few books this past year from W.L. Hawkins. Her work always entertains and inspires me both as a reader and a writer, and the interesting thing about this series, in particular, is that I came into it starting with book 2 and then jumping around a bit. I’ve become quite invested in Estrada’s journey throughout this series, and getting to see the genesis of this character and the supporting cast was such a pleasure to read about.

The balance of action and mythos was so strong in this first novel. The way the author is able to integrate the supernatural and paranormal elements into the world so naturally was amazing to read. As someone who is fascinated with the real-world applications of magick, the paranormal, and the supernatural as a whole, it was great to see just how close the author was able to go through real-world practices and mythologies before integrating the more fantastic elements of the narrative.

Yet it was the mystery and suspense of the narrative that was truly great to read about. The shocking murders and the cat and mouse element of the plot between Estrada and the killer kept me hooked on the author’s narrative. Being able to keep the reader guessing the killer’s identity as the clues begin to unravel before them was such a fun aspect of the plot, and kept me on the edge of my seat.

The Verdict

Captivating, entertaining, and thought-provoking, author W.L. Hawkin’s “To Charm a Killer” is a must-read novel and a great first book in the Hollystone Mystery series! The twists and turns in the narrative and globe-spanning mystery blended well into the mythology and supernatural deep dive into witchcraft, magick, and the paranormal as a whole, making this a thrilling story. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

W. L. Hawkin writes myth, magic, and mayhem designed to inspire and entertain. Described as “intoxicating, lush, magically-edgy, page-turners,” her Hollystone Mysteries series features a coven of witches who solve murders using their wits and ritual magic with a little help from the gods. Wendy is also a published blogger, book reviewer, Indie publisher, and poet, with a background in Indigenous Studies and English literature. She loves myth and magic, so when she’s not writing, she’s studying Druidry, shamanism, and mediumship. Although she is an introvert, in each book, her characters go on a journey where she has traveled herself.

She defies genre by writing character-driven fast-paced mysteries and thrillers that involve fantastical characters. See her four book series: To Charm a Killer, To Sleep with Stones, To Render a Raven, and To Kill a King.

Her latest book, Lure, is set on a Chippewa Reservation in the American Midwest and tells the story of Jesse & Hawk.