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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-02-13 13:13
The Devoured by Curtis M. Lawson
The Devoured - Curtis M. Lawson,Jason Sprenger

The Devoured by Curtis M. Lawson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Desperately on the trail of his missing son, an old Confederate solider will stop at nothing to reunite the remnants of his family, even if he has to slay every trace of Utgard filth along the way. Finding unexpected companionship in a young orphan, the gunslinger closes in on the god responsible - Thurs, he who hails beyond the stars.

(WARNING: This review contains spoilers.)

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to Curtis M. Lawson for giving me the opportunity.

If I wasn't so pessimistic about book to movie adaptations, I'd say this would make a brilliant film - in fact, I imagined it as such; Lawson's stunning use of words did wonders to create vivid imagery inside my head. I found myself thoroughly impressed by the intelligent, highly attractive prose, and by how each scene seamlessly came together to tell an exciting yet ultimately tragic tale. Despite being a short novel of less than two hundred pages, it expressed itself with a lot more substance than other full-length books I've read. A part of me wishes it was longer, but I realise it may have lessened the overall impact.

The character of the "old man" was probably the pinnacle; he was so utterly badass, and believe me when I say I don't use that term lightly. Smart, skilled, and completely unapologetic about his paternal devotion - he's someone I won't forget anytime soon. I'm not saying he was a perfect man, far from it, but he owned every scene he was in. He was the sort of being that would draw an entire room to his entrance, and not just because of his (suspiciously) large size. Emmett, however, whilst starting out with good intentions, truly lost his way as he succumbed to the unsavoury power of Utgard. I could relate with him in a way, in that I'm well aware of the pain of watching a parent slowly fade away. Nothing compares to that feeling of hopelessness, and if given the same opportunity, I'd have likely welcomed the same solution.

Moving on from that painfully honest bit of information.

As with all books I read, I tend to look deeper into things; for meaning in aspects that are probably meaningless. Both Emmett and his father shared a particular trait of being tall, bulky and at times, questionably strong. The fact that Utgard's a stronghold of giants, I was left contemplating a connection. Could it be, that the old man's ancestry is intermingled with otherworldly blood? If anything, at least, I can have my theories, incorrect and insignificant as they may be!

I can't say the Old Western theme has ever appealed to me, but I now feel inclined to seek out similar tales. Of course, few, if any, are going to have such a factual and accurate setting seeped in unforgiving folklore. The historic element of the American Civil War worked wonderfully with the touch of Norse and Native American mythology, and I was impressed with the knowledge poured into it. Either Lawson did his homework, or he simply knows his stuff. I also loved the brutality of the surrounding world- cannibals and witches, oh my! Seriously, sometimes witchcraft should be punishing, rather than glamorous.

In conclusion: The unnamed hero has been one of the coolest characters I've ever had the pleasure to read about. Whilst including both history and the supernatural, Lawson makes a short novel seem like an epic best-seller.

Notable Scene:

"Thought - critical, logical thought - that's what separates a man from an animal. That's what keeps us progressing further and further. That ability to think our way around any and every problem is why the Devourers fear us."

"And what about memory?" Hank asked.

"Memory is what keeps us strong in the toughest times, and it's what prevents us from becoming monsters when our hands are forced to kill. It's the memories of love and happiness that let us come home from the dark places where the world sometimes takes us. It's memory that lets a man find the strength to fight the gods themselves for what's right."


© Red Lace 2018

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Source: redlace.reviews/2018/02/13/the-devoured-by-curtis-m-lawson
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review 2018-02-04 15:28
October by Michael Rowe
October - Michael Rowe

Just look at that gorgeous cover! One would never guess the pain hiding behind it, but it's there. It's there in spades.

 

In a small Canadian town, two awkward teens are just trying to make it through high school. Mikey, a young gay man, and his best friend Wroxy, a loaner and a goth girl, try to support each other as best they can. But Wroxy can't protect Mikey from the jock bullies and it seems no one else can either. After witnessing something in the woods, and then soon after going through the worst experience of his life, Mikey decides he's had enough and takes matters into his own hands. Will he exact his revenge upon the jocks? Can he do it on his own? You'll have to read this novella to find out.

 

As in both ENTER, NIGHT and WILD FELL Michael Rowe's bewitching prose captured my attention and held it tight. His characters are so well developed it's easy to understand their motivations. They are also so human that the reader cannot help but to empathize with them. Then, once Rowe has you in his clutches, he puts those characters through hell and you're just along for the ride.

 

OCTOBER will join Rowe's last two books on my list of favorites. It's beautifully written, evocative, brutal and surprising all at once. I only wish it could have been a little longer.

 

Highly recommended to fans of LGBT and dark , dark fiction!

 

You can find a copy here: October

 

*I bought this e-book with my own hard earned money and this is my honest opinion.*

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review 2018-02-04 04:41
Basic Witches: How to Summon Success, Banish Drama, and Raise Hell with Your Coven - Jess Zimmerman,Jaya Saxena

I received this book for free from the publisher (Quirk Books) in exchange for an honest review.

 

I’ve been wanting to read this book for the longest time. I’ve been very interested in witches and witchcraft since I read the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and watched the Craft and the Love Witch (I really recommend this movie if you haven’t already seen it).

 

Please be advised that this book doesn’t feature “real” witchcraft that Wiccans would use, so if you are looking for that, then I would suggest looking elsewhere. Like most of the books Quirk Books publishes, this is more fun than it is serious. Instead this book takes the spirit of witchcraft and combines them with the ideas of feminism and turns it into a self help book.

 

From the self help point of view, I found all the chapters to be really empowering and useful. I could definitely see people actually doing some of these rituals. The rituals/spells were all about your mind and how you view situations.

 

One of my favorite things about this book were the historical sidebars about witches. I always love learning little historical tidbits.

 

The only thing I didn’t like was that there wasn’t a concluding chapter. I have a thing about nonfiction books and conclusions. I hate it when they just end, without any sort of wrap up. I would have loved to have seen some final words from the authors.

 

Overall, if you are looking for a fun and different self help book, or want to dabble in witchcraft without going full on Wiccan, then definitely check this book out.

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review 2018-01-31 14:43
Circe
Circe - Madeline Miller

[I received a copy of this book through Edelweiss.]

A few years ago, I had read and really liked “The Song of Achilles”, and I had high hopes for Miller’s “Circe”. I wasn’t disappointed.

A retelling of myths surrounded Circe, daughter of sun-god Helios and nymph Perses, this novel focuses of course on the eponymous character, from a much more humanised point of view, making her closer to us and easier to root for. I haven’t brushed up on my Greek mythology in quite some time, and my memories of what I knew about Circe were a bit foggy, but I quickly found my marks again—the deities she’s surrounded with, the mortals she meets (Odysseus being the most famous), as well as slight variations (although I don’t remember reading myths where Circe and Daedalus meet, that was definitely a touching addition, and not an illogical one anyway).

I do remember how, when I was much younger and got interested in Greek mythology, most of the legends I read were the usual male-centric ones, with figures like Circe or Medusa presented as antagonists, somewhat evil and monstrous, impediments to the heroes’ journeys. So whenever I get my hands on a retelling from their point of view, and it happens to be humanised and qualified *and* well-written on top of that, as is the case here, I’m definitely happy about it. Here, turning Odysseus’ men is much less an act of evil than a way for Circe to defend herself before the sailors do to her what previous sailors did (and she doesn’t do it immediately, she does ‘give them a chance’ and studies them first to see how they’re going to behave). Here, the heroes are larger than life, but through Circe’s gaze, we also see their mortality and the imperfections that go with it, the difference between what the bards sing of them and the men they actually were.

No one is perfect in this story; not Circe herself, not the gods, not the humans. In a way, even though half the cast is made of immortal deities, this novel is a study of humanity. Circe’s voice—a voice the gods perceive as shrilly, but is in fact, all that simply, a mortal’s voice, soft and weak compared to theirs—has a haunting quality, too, thanks to the poetic and evocative prose that carries the story. And so it takes us through her contradictions, her pain and hopes, her realisation that she’ll never get her father’s approval, her exile, and her lingering her regrets at what she did in the past (Miller went here with a version similar to Hyginus’, making Circe the cause to Scylla’s transformation, as well as Glaucus’ through her first act of witchcraft). From a little girl neglected by her parents and bullied by her siblings, she goes through life making mistakes, angry and exiled, but also learns from this, and becomes in time a wiser person, who won’t hesitate to stand up for what she cares for, using her magic to better ends.

This read was perhaps a little confusing without more than just a basic notions about Greek mythology (the glossary at the end helps, though). I’m also not entirely happy with the ending, which I probably would have enjoyed more had it been reversed. Nevertheless, I found it mostly enjoyable and enthralling.

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review 2017-12-23 13:53
Sigil Witchery
Sigil Witchery: A Witch's Guide to Crafting Magick Symbols - Laura Tempest Zakroff

by Laura Tempest Zakroff

 

Non-fiction

 

This is a book about sigil magic, something that has roots in a spectrum of ancient cultural esoterica but became popular with the rise of chaos magick in the 1970s. The book starts with a general explanation and some history of some of the systems where sigil magick began. It then continues with a full chapter on pictorial art from cave paintings to symbols used by secret societies, hitting a few little known facts but missing out obvious things like Runes, which is later explained.

 

I have mixed feelings about this book. As a book about art and how to apply drawing techniques for interesting looks for sigils, it excels. On magic... not so much. I have no doubt that the author's spells would work for her, but the explanations of how sigil magic works falls short and in some instances contradicts safety information I've read from more experienced and trusted authors on the subject.

 

I noted that an early reference to the method used in chaos magic(k) gave me the impression that it had been taken from a couple of variations that might have come from Internet forums and thought the author could benefit from reading the book by Austin Spare where that particular method originated, then later she talks about having read that very book and suggests it's difficult to follow.

 

She also never mentions anything about charging the sigils, which is an important step in the process. For people new to sigil magic, I'd suggest people start at the known authors; Spare, Carroll, Hawkins and possibly Hine.

 

I think this book would be a good resource for someone who already has a working knowledge of sigil magic and is looking to expand on the artistic possibilities. Her information on art materials was excellent and it's clear she knows her stuff on that. This would be a good supplement for visual appeal and some alternative approaches, plus some I've read about elsewhere like motion sigils get more attention here than in the earliest sources.

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