IAM Review…Medusa by Tony Talbot

Guest Feature

To finish our Indie Author Month for 2014, I thought I would surprise my fellow author/blogger Tony with my review of his latest book Medusa. I hope you’ve enjoyed the event this year, it’s been a little quieter on features, due to my technical problems, however, I hope you’ve liked the features from the authors you’ve met and perhaps found a new writer to try…

Mel x

Medusa-ResizeMy Review

Well, I finally got the time to knuckle down to some reading for fun last week and it has started really well: I just finished Tony Talbot’s great new book Medusa. This is the second book of Tony’s I’ve read and I was not disappointed.

We meet Lissa Two – captain of a strange ship with some interesting technical skills – in an apparently post-apocalyptic world of water. Giant ‘seasteads’ form the main areas of civilisation and Lissa uses her ship – Connie – and the particular powers she has, to salvage items for sale in the underground souks in her own seastead home. A random meeting with a man thrown from a strange flying machine; the mysterious disappearance of an apparently strong seastead and Lissa’s own questions about Connie provide the ingredients for a fast-paced, cocktail of adventure.

I really like Tony’s writing style, he has a real way with words (helpful if you’re a writer, I know!) But what I mean, what really stands out in this book for me, was his ability to create a world you felt completely transported to: there is beautiful description throughout the book, whilst he walks his characters through the fast-paced plot, leaving you the feeling that you could reach out and touch the world Lissa inhabits. Now and again, I would find myself noticing something, not because it jarred, but because it just flowed so naturally. Unfortunately, some of the best examples I highlighted would need spoilers to explain – so I’d say you have to check it out to know what I mean.

Medusa is one of those books you get sucked into quickly and struggle to find a place to pause, when reading – you just want to know ‘what next’ the whole time. Especially once Lissa’s questions start taking her down interesting paths, it gets even harder to stop: I read the second half of the book in one day. And it was worth it! 🙂

Overall, I’m going 4.5* for Medusa, I thought the characters, pace and writing in the book was even better than Eight Mile Island, the main reason it gets the same rating is because I loved the way EMI sucker punched me in it’s concluding chapters. I didn’t get quite the same left-field shock as I did with that one, but overall, I would say I enjoyed Medusa more and if you’re thinking of trying one of Tony’s books, this is the one I’d recommend.

Recommended for: fans of dystopian YA / post-apocalyptic world settings; I think people who liked the relationships in Angelfall would enjoy this, as well as Hunger Games / Blood Red Road fans looking for something with a feisty female protagonist in an unusual setting.

 

 

IAM Interview with…DJ Swykert

Guest Feature

Guest Feature

Our guest author for Indie Month today is author DJ Swykert, a former 911 operator…Check out the intriguing blurb for his latest book here and then find out more about the man himself in one of our quick-fire Gimme 10 interviews.

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The Death Of Anyone

The Death of Anyone, Melange Books, March 2013, is a fictional story of Detroit Homicide Detective, Bonnie Benham, who convinces the District Attorney to allow a Familial DNA search as she investigates the murder of several young girls. The book reveals standard investigative homicide procedures and the frustration of the officers as all leads go nowhere and the body count continues to mount. A task force is put together and Bonnie and her partner, Neil Jensen, who understands Bonnie’s frustration, become inseparable as they track this killer of children.

 

Author, DJ Swykert is a former 911 operator. His work has appeared in The Tampa Review, Detroit News, Monarch Review, Lunch Ticket, Zodiac Review, Barbaric Yawp and Bull. His books include Children of the Enemy, Maggie Elizabeth Harrington, Alpha Wolves, The Death of Anyone and The Pool Boy’s Beatitude. You can find him at: www.magicmasterminds.com/djswykert. He is a wolf expert.

 

 

DJ Skwyert

DJ’s Gimme 10 interview…answer each question in 10 words or less – that’s what makes it tough but fun!

  1. Where do you find your inspiration? Observations of the drama of everyday life around us.

What is your favourite aspect of The Death of AnyoneIt has multiple themes and conflicts to be resolved.

Who is your favourite character from The Death of Anyone and why? Jack Joseph, he resolves his conflict and finds real love.

What are you working on now? Romance between older soldier/cop and younger suicidal woman.

What do you love about most about writing? Unlike real life, I decide how it ends.

 

IAM Interview with…Dyane Forde

Guest Feature

Guest Feature

Today we welcome Canadian author Dyane Forde to the blog, for an interview and to hear about her books.

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 Wolf's Bane

 

Dyane FordeDyane Forde’s love of writing began with an early interest in reading and of words in general. She was always amazed at how linking words together in different ways had unexpected and pleasing results. People enjoyed what she created! This sparked a life-long desire to write all types of things, from short stories, novels, flash fiction, poetry…she enjoys trying genres and forms of writing which are different from what she’s used to; every story or book represents new joys and challenges. Dyane views writing as an amazing and intimate communication tool, meaning that it becomes a means through which she seeks to connect with others on a level deeper than intellect.

Dyane is a social worker by profession. Learning to see the world through other people’s eyes as well as sharing in their pain has influenced and enriched her as a person, as well as her writing. She is also a wife, and mother to two children, a cat named JackJack and a dog named Sparky.

She can be reached at her writing blog at www.droppedpebbles.wordpress.com, where her other writing projects, and information and samples of her upcoming books can be found. Please write! Dyane loves to hear from her readers.

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1) What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

I love anime and Asian movies. I enjoy their unique method of telling stories through solid (and often complex) character arcs and stupendous imagery; they take risks which mean you either get on board for the ride or miss out. I think I connect with anime in particular because I feel that they show stories the way I see them in my head, something I’ve never really seen anywhere else. So, I’m hooked.

2) How do you react to a bad review?

With fear and trembling and a dip in confidence. It sometimes takes a few days to get over, but eventually I do and then get back to writing with new focus or perspective

3) Which authors have influenced you most, and how?

I read Lord of the Rings when I was 12 and that book blew my mind. However, The Silmarillion is my all-time favorite. Though I don’t write that kind of fantasy, the sense of wonder, magic, and drama are elements I hope to capture in my stories, whether in fantasy or some other genre. Hemingway was another writer I loved for his minimalistic style. I emulated it for years, and though my style has changed over time, I still work hard to keep my work uncluttered and focused. The Knife of Never Letting Go, by Patrick Ness, told in first-person point of view in present tense, also had a big impact on me. The sense of immediacy and intimacy created by the combination of the POV and the tense helped me figure out how to add a layer of depth and feeling to my own writing so that my characters ‘feel’ like real people. Lastly, Margaret Atwood, my fellow Canadian, is my role model. She’s a fantastic writer and she can and does write anything. She’s gripping, funny, sarcastic and witty and she has a writing legacy that spans generations and countries. Her book Surfacing just gutted me, and The Edible Woman was a wonderful and humorous commentary on society and gender roles.

4) How did you celebrate the sale of your first book?

lol Well, my parents bought the first books, but they were so proud and happy that, of course, I felt great. Any sale after that was just a blessing.

5) Night owl or early bird?

I love to sleep in, but not for long or too much of the day is gone. When you’re a mom and working and writing, you need to grasp at every second of the day you can.

6) One food you would never eat?

Lol Only one? Lima beans, liver, eggplant, oysters, really spicy food…

7) Your most unusual or random habit?

I like to twist my hair. It’s a habit I gave to Nyssa, the female protagonist in The Purple Morrow.

8) What are you working on at the moment – do you have any other books in the works?

I’m currently revising Wolf’s Bane, book two of the Rise of the Papilion series, and book 3, Berserker, is in mid-production. I have a slew of short stories and flash fiction on my blog portfolio and a few novels-in-progress on the back burner. Most of my books are in the fantasy genre but my short stories are a mix of various genres and styles.

9) What inspired you to want to become a writer?

I love crafting stories, and using words to create something memorable and unique while giving readers an unforgettable experience. It’s great to know that there are people out there looking forward to my next story or book excerpt.

10) What has been your most rewarding experience since being published?

The feedback. It’s always amazing to hear that people who don’t usually read fantasy really enjoyed The Purple Morrow because the world-building and the characters engrossed them to the point they forgot about the genre and allowed themselves to experience the story as it unfolded.

11) If you could jump in to a book, and live in that world, which would it be?

The world of Middle Earth in the Silmarillion era–but only as an observer since everyone who lived in those stories was miserable or endured some pretty crummy circumstances!

12) Is there a song you could list as the theme song for your book?

There’s this song by Deadly Avenger called Outro, and every time I hear it I can envision the book (movie) trailer for Morrow in my head. It’s a fantastic song.

13) What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?

Two things, actually: 1) Don’t expect writing quality pieces to come easily– perseverance is the key. Achieving powerful writing takes time and lots of practice, so expect to rewrite over and over again. And again. 2) Learn to love to edit. Learning to find and correct your own mistakes only makes you a better writer, and a good edit is essential to making your final vision a success.

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TPMCoverThe Rovers were sent to decimate the Southernlands. Instead, they awoke its savior.

Ten years have passed since the Rover army tore through the Southernlands, leaving behind a trail of devastation and death. Most believed the attacks were random acts of brutality. The wise, however, knew the truth: the Rovers sought to destroy the one thing powerful enough to thwart their conquest. They were searching for the Papilion.

A new commander, bent on completing the mission left unfinished by his predecessors, leads the Rovers back into the Southernlands. Fierce and determined, he comes armed with a precious artifact and a secret purpose.

While the Southernlands reel under the new terror, the Purple Morrow, a harbinger of hope, appears to Jeru, an unsuspecting and solitary clan hunter. Finding himself enmeshed in a series of incredible events beyond his control, Jeru is compelled to take the first steps towards discovering his ultimate destiny.

 

Want to know more? Check out the links!

Dyane Forde, author of The Purple Morrow

Blog: www.droppedpebbles.wordpress.com

Twitter @PurpleMorrow

Google G+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+DyaneForde/about

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

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7340969.Dyane_Forde

Amazon Author Page:http://www.amazon.com/Dyane-Forde/e/B00J8R81A2/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=286343198

 

 Buy Links:

Amazon: The Purple Morrow

IAM Book of the Day…The Awakening

IAM2014 - Logo

Book of the Day

Today we’re welcoming author Emma Jones to the blog, she’s sharing an excerpt of her debut novel The Awakening with us, as well as tackling the tricky, rapid-fire answers of our Gimme 10 interview – enjoy! 🙂

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 The AwakeningSynopsis 

Do you believe in vampires? Ghosts? The supernatural world?
Meet Lauren who instantly clicks with Gavin at a friend’s BBQ. Everything goes well until Lauren starts to experience strange things and hears a weird voice. It seems like a warning, but from what? Lauren eventually makes the startling discovery that Gavin is a vampire and it has profound consequences for herself.

The arrival of Daniel makes things even more confusing for Lauren as she is warned he is bad news from a ghostly source. Laurens life is turned upside down as things she thought were myths and legends become real and she struggles to cope with everything she has discovered.
Will Lauren and Gavin’s relationship survive and what about the mysterious Daniel?

Excerpt from The Awakening

In the next bar, Gavin and I ended up in a corner together and I suddenly began to get an awful headache. “You ok?” Gavin asked, gently holding my arm, but my headache suddenly intensified and I shook him off. Images started to swarm through my mind: shadows, light, and whispers that were getting louder and louder. “Lauren are you ok?” I could hear people speaking but couldn’t make out where it was coming from and then black.

I woke up with bright lights around me and in an unfamiliar room, it took a few minutes to realise I was in a hospital bed. I tried to sit up, my head thumped, and I rested back down. I looked about and then realised Gavin was sleeping sat up in a chair near my bed. I was just about to speak when a nurse come over “You’re awake.” she smiled kindly “I think you gave your friends a bit of a shock. Passed out and gave you quite a bang on the head.” It was only as she said this I realised I had a bandage on my head and raised my hand to touch the dressing. “You had to have a few stitches and as you were so drowsy we decided we’d better keep you in but you should be able to go home this afternoon,” the nurse informed me. “Your friend here insisted on staying in case you woke up and was confused. Oh look he’s just waking now, would you both like a cup of tea?”

“Um yes please that would be lovely,” I croaked and tried again to sit up. Gavin got up from his chair and stood at the end of the bed looking pale and worried,

“Do you remember much about last night?” he asked his voice full of concern,

“Not really, I remember getting a headache and that’s it.”

“Oh right that’s good then.”

“Why what happened?”

“You just passed out but you said some weird things that are all but don’t worry.” At that point, the nurse returned with two cups of tea and Gavin said he just had to pop out for a minute to make a call. I drank my tea and dozed back to sleep waking to find Gavin back in the room. “The nurse said once your blood test results are back and they check your blood pressure again you will be able to go home.”

“Oh that’s great I really need a shower and my own bed. What a weird night. I think it’s you Gavin.” I joked, “You seem to have a weird effect on me headaches and nose bleeds and now I pass out. Must be your super manliness!” I laughed. Gavin smiled back but looked anxious and the smile didn’t reach his eyes “I’m ok you know it’s only a joke.” I said trying to reassure him,

“I know. You just worried me that am all.” he replied.

Later that day I was discharged and Gavin took me home, insisted on making me some dinner, and stayed for a while although the whole time he kept some distance and seemed worried I might collapse at any time. After a few hours, he left and I rang my friends to let them know I was ok and apologised to Sophie for ruining her birthday night out and I decided an early night was in order. Thankfully, I slept with no problems and woke feeling much better although my head was still thumping slightly so I phoned work and explained I wouldn’t be in for the day and chilled out at home instead. Gavin called and although I assured him I was feeling fine now he insisted on coming round to check on me as soon as he finished work. When he arrived, he looked nervous and as we chatted, he kept his distance, which caused me to worry. I made a cup of tea and then sat on the sofa sensing he wanted to discuss something important. He moved forward and for the first time in over 24 hours touched me. He gently touched my arm, my head suddenly felt terrible again, and images much clearer flashed before my eyes. Gavin removed his arm and looked at me with alarm and worry, the images came faster and faster, and I felt a sudden rush of power and clarity. I put my head in my hands and squeezed my eyes tightly shut and concentrated on the images flying through my mind. I suddenly gasped and felt my heart rate speed up and then pop. The light bulbs in the living room smashed and fizzed. In the darkness, I said, “I know what you are.”

“I was worried you were going to say that.” he softly said.

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Meet the Author…Hi, I’m Emma. I have always absolutely loved reading. I remember reading The Worst Witch, Judy Blume and Point Horror when I was younger (I still love Point Horror). I have dabbled in writing for 7 years but only recently decided to dip my toe into the self publishing world after months of deliberation. My writing started as a hobby whilst on maternity leave but over the last 18 months has become my passion. I love all things vampire so naturally my first book is based on this theme. My first book The Awakening is out now and there is a short story called Origins which accompanies it. The short story focuses on Drake and Emily. I hope you enjoy.  Please feel free to come over and say hello or comment. You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and my own Blog. I’d love to hear from you. X

Gimme 10 – Mini-Interview

Please answer each question in 10 words or less – that’s what makes it tough but fun! [Symbol]

Where do you find your inspiration?  Books, TV, conversations, my children and friends plus real events.

 What is your favourite aspect of The Awakening? I love how the truth is revealed.

Who is your favourite character from The Awakening and why? Argh! That’s tough. Lauren because she’s my leading lady.

What are you working on now?  I’m working on book number 2. I’m at 25,000 words.

 What do you love about most about writing? The freedom and escape.

Want to know more? Check out the links!

https://www.facebook.com/BooksbyEmmaJones

Twitter @booksemmajones

http://booksbyemmajones.blogspot.co.uk/

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/19393207-the-awakening

Purchase the Book

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00H5UM4QQ

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00H5UM4QQ

IAM ‘Sorry’ Post…Aside from Writing

I have no idea what’s happened in the last couple of weeks in my email – my only guess is that it has something to do with my inability to use googlemail when I log into it online…

I’ve spent some time in the last couple of weeks, trying to find the information for posts sent back to me by authors to feature. For some reason – the whole conversation on the subject of Indie Month has disappeared from my inbox, along with everything anyone sent, and also everything I sent out. I’ve got a feeling that the new fancy looking googlemail page has let me delete the whole ‘conversation’ rather than the single message I meant to (yes, it’s gmails fault – not mine!)

So – I’m really sorry – if you are one of the authors who sent stuff back – I have no trace of anything!

If you see this and would like to re-send me the stuff, I’ll post as author spotlights – and I promise, I’ll use gmail in the way I normally do and not try logging in online again!

Sorry 😦

 

IAM Writing Tips…Pace Yourself

Guest Feature

Today Tony is with us to talk about the magic of pacing…

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Pacing in books is a bit of an odd thing. You’re reading at the same speed as you normally do, but suddenly the story is whipping by in a blur and you can’t stop reading.

How do writers do it?

It’s magic tricks actually, an illusion – and some simple illusions at that. Magicians aren’t supposed to tell you how it’s done, but what are we here for if not to share? And it’s not like you can’t Google this and get the answers anyway. 🙂

At first, I didn’t hear his movements in the trees behind me. The forest was beautiful this time of year, the naked trees clothed in ermine snow, nature reduced to a frozen slumber. As I breathed out, the condensation steamed up my glasses and the world turned momentarily foggy and blurred. My feet in the heavy boots crunched and squeaked through the unbroken snow, toes starting to freeze.

I twisted on the spot when the branch cracked behind me, scanning the frigid world as the hairs on the back of my neck rose and stretched.

That wasn’t a deer, I thought.

Nothing moved, but I knew he was watching me. Every shadow was suddenly malevolent and dangerous.

I heard the breathing first: Short, ragged gasps. Like a man running, from my left somewhere.

Coming closer.

Trying not to show how freaked out I was, I turned away slowly and walked on. Faster now, though. Focusing ahead and behind, trying to hear how he moved as I moved. The way he stopped when I stopped.

It didn’t matter how much I hurried my pace. He always kept up with me. Mewling to myself, I turned my head, still seeing nothing, but hearing him breathing beside me, ever closer.

My nerve snapped and I gave up the pretence, taking to my heels and starting to run, pummelling the snow so the white clods flew from my heels, trying not to slip on the now treacherous ground, pouring my strength through my lungs and into my aching legs, the air cold-burning my throat as it cascaded into me, breath streaming back like a silent scream.

I urged my dying legs to push me faster, faster, until my lungs burned with the agony of it, the cold taste of steel in my throat like a blade pushed into my larynx.

It wasn’t until I felt the hand on my arm that I stopped, dragged off my feet by the powerful backwards tug. I spun, lashing with an arm, hand forming into a fist. He batted it away easily, the side of my hand smacking into nothing.

My brain struggled to catch up with what I wasn’t seeing, not having time to react as the all-too-visible knife flashed towards my heart, the last thing I ever saw.

 I heard his voice around the exhalation of his breath when he spoke, the last words I ever heard.

“So. The invisibility cloak works then.”

I’ll break it down into how it usually works.

  Approach.

 At first, I didn’t hear his movements in the trees behind me. The forest was beautiful this time of year, the naked trees clothed in ermine snow, nature reduced to a frozen slumber.

As I breathed out, the condensation steamed up my glasses and the world turned momentarily foggy and blurred. My feet in the heavy boots crunched and squeaked through the unbroken snow, toes starting to freeze.

The approach is the setup for what comes later. Take as much time as you want over this part – in some ways, the slower the better. A good example is a section of “The Shining” by Stephen King, where Danny knows something is going on in one of the haunted hotel rooms and investigates. King doesn’t put Danny in the bathroom where he wants him – he starts off with Danny outside the closed hotel room door and spends three pages on the approach.

Anticipation. 

I twisted on the spot when the branch cracked behind me, scanning the frigid world as the hairs on the back of my neck rose and stretched.

That wasn’t a deer, I thought.

Nothing moved, but I knew he was watching me. Every shadow was suddenly malevolent and dangerous.

I heard the breathing first: Short, ragged gasps. Like a man running. From my left somewhere.

Coming closer.

Trying not to show how freaked out I was, I turned away slowly and walked on. Faster now, though. Focusing ahead and behind, trying to hear how he moved as I moved. The way he stopped when I stopped.

If you show an explosion, you get a bang for a second or two and nothing else. Show a countdown clock ticking down, and the tension can be kept as long as you like – countless movies have been made with nothing else driving the story but a countdown timer, after all. Anticipation is what keeps you reading and watching.

Also, notice what I’m doing here. The sentences and paragraphs are shorter – one of them only two words long – and the descriptions of the world around the character gone apart from describing the shadows. You read those 103 words faster than you read the 68 in the first segment. You didn’t have a choice.

Another way of speeding up the pace is a favourite of Dean Koontz. Have short, snappy dialogue without attributes that pull you down the page:

“Did you hear that?”

“Hear what?”

“That breathing.”

“Creepy.”

“Just a little.”

Also, try changing your tense – past tense shifted to present works really well. Your character is reacting, not just remembering. Just remember to change it back when you’ve finished.

Trying not to show how freaked out I am, I turn away slowly and walk on. Faster now, though. Focusing ahead and behind, trying to hear how he moves as I move. The way he stops when I stop.

My weapon of choice is more of a tumbling style though – run the sentences into one so they blur:

I heard the breathing next: Short, ragged gasps, like a man running, from my left somewhere.

Coming closer.

Trying not to show how freaked out I was, I turned away slowly and walked on. Faster now, though, focusing ahead and behind, trying to hear how he moved as I moved, the way he stopped when I stopped.

And you can combine them of course – tumbling sentences in present tense, whatever works the best.

 Reveal and Aftermath

My nerve snapped and I gave up the pretence, taking to my heels and starting to run, pummelling the snow so the white clods flew from my heels, trying not to slip on the now treacherous ground, pouring my strength through my lungs and into my aching legs, the air cold-burning my throat as it cascaded into me, breath streaming back like a silent scream.

I urged my dying legs to push me faster, faster, until my lungs burned with the agony of it, the cold taste of steel in my throat like a blade pushed into my larynx.

It wasn’t until I felt the hand on my arm that I stopped, dragged off my feet by the powerful backwards tug. I spun, lashing with an arm, hand forming into a fist. He batted it away easily, the side of my hand smacking into nothing.

My brain struggled to catch up with what I wasn’t seeing, not having time to react as the all-too-visible knife flashed towards my heart, the last thing I ever saw.

 I heard his voice around the exhalation of his breath when he spoke, the last words I ever heard. “So. The invisibility cloak works then.”

In terms of pacing, the running paragraph (My nerve snapped…) is one sentence of 66 words. There’s more internal world than external as well – no more looking at how wonderful the trees are; as readers we only care now if the ground will give up its traction, how cold that breath is.

Look how short it is. I spent 173 words getting this character freaked out enough to run for their life – I give them 66 words to describe it. The imagery has changed as well – from soft ermine snow at the start to the taste of steel now.

Your reveal can be a red-herring of course – this could be a deer following our character. Or it could be foreshadowing for a reveal later in the book and we never know at this point what it is.

In some ways, the reveal is the quickest part of the whole process. In the 407 words of this story, the reveal is 76 words and two paragraphs (It wasn’t until I felt the hand…), and one of those runs straight into the aftermath.

To go back to the example of “The Shining” – Once Danny is in the bathroom where a ghost waits for him, King only spends half-a-page describing it before going into the aftermath.

And don’t forget that aftermath by the way; give your readers some closure – or leave them hanging if this is the end of a chapter.

IAM Review: “Beyond the Shadows”, Anna Hub

Guest Feature

It was a delight to have Anna here yesterday for our interview, and today Tony reviews her first novel “Beyond the Shadows”…

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3/5

What would happen if your shadow was trying to consume you? Selena Parker is about to find out…

Selena is leading a normal life until a man in a restaurant tells her to watch her shadow. Dismissing his concerns at first, she comes to realise it’s moving and shifting on its own. She places a hand on it, and falls through to a primitive jungle world, then again and again, each time spending less time in the real world.

Selena’s responses are entirely realistic when she realises she can fall through her shadow. She dims the lights and researches mental illness, wondering if she’s going quietly mad while she tries to continue her normal life. She quickly comes to realise that even the dimmest lights cause shadows though, and knows she can’t fight back against it.

It doesn’t stop her fight though; Selena is an adaptable character who refuses to accept the inevitability of the jumps to and from the jungle. And when she’s forced to accept the reality of what’s happening to her, she adapts again. She learns how to survive in the wilderness, what berries and bugs are edible and how to make a fire. She tries to warn her family what will happen to her. When she is finally, irrevocably trapped in the jungle, she shifts her focus, trying not to linger on the family and life she’ll never see again.

In the jungle she meets Braydon – the man who first warned her of the shadows – who seems to have given up on ‘normal’ life quicker than her and settled to life in the jungle. Braydon begins to exhibit signs of being a ‘Hunter’, a semi-supernatural human with enhanced strength, agility and senses. Together they move out of the dense jungle and towards a settlement of humans who are also trapped at the edges of the jungle.

It’s a great concept for a story…how can you hide from your own shadow? And it was that which pulled me through the first half of the book. Selena’s attempts to keep up a normal life and her resourcefulness when it came to researching survival techniques and tracking down a comatose Braydon drew me to the character. I loved the way she dealt with the things life was throwing at her and got on with it. There isn’t a moment when she gives up.

I liked the world of the book as well, the way that distances ‘over there’ equate to distance ‘over here’. Her upstairs bedroom is on a rock; her living room is a cave under that rock. It’s all logical and consistent. What was missing was a full sensory experience: I wanted to know what that jungle smelled like and the assault of the colours on her eyes. Was the sky blue over there?

Where the book starts to lose a little of its power is with Braydon. I found him to be two-dimensional next to Selena, and I had the impression that if Selena could have found another guide in the jungle, she probably would have. Partly, he’s such a foil for her it’s hard to empathise with him; he’s quite negative to Selena’s optimism. There didn’t seem to be much chemistry between them beyond the basic need to survive and share body heat.

The antagonists of the book – The Hunters – don’t make much of an appearance either. We’re only told what they are capable of and don’t see them in action much  – one anonymous woman being chased, that’s about it. The main threat in the jungle is the remarkable cats with whip-tails, which is danger enough without the Hunters being there.

What also didn’t work for me was the transition from jungle to village of survivors. From being adaptable and resourceful, Selena seemed suddenly powerless when she was there, becoming quite passive and weak. The village transition takes place about half-way through the book, and from then on, Selena seemed almost a secondary character in her own story.

The book needed a few more edits. There are a lot of run on sentences (the author told me she grimaces over them now too), but it seemed to suit the narrative voice of Selena.

For a first novel, this was pretty good. A nice concept with the shadow-portals and a strong (for the most part) main character and a consistent world.