Category: Excessive Violence in Literature

A #WyrdAndWonder Anthology Review | “EQUUS” (Rhonda Parrish’s Magical Menageries, Collection 5) edited by Rhonda Parrish

Posted Sunday, 29 May, 2022 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

#WyrdAndWonder Book Review Year 5 badge created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: I never had the chance to finish reading this particular anthology series which I fell in love with by the Indie publisher World Weaver Press. Sadly, after I purchased “Sirens” and “Equus” I learned the sad news this publisher was only going to release one new anthology which debuted during Wyrd And Wonder (ie. “Mothers of Enchantment”) but there will be no new releases moving forward. I was thankful I have a few years at least to gather copies of the rest of their anthologies I would like to read (especially as they have an impressive collection of Solarpunk!) whilst sorting which other titles aside from “Mothers of Enchantment” I would also like to purchase before they close their doors forever without a way of acquiring their titles. I highly recommend you back-read through my reviews for this publisher and see which titles you’d like to gather yourself, too.

On a happier note, I purchased “Sirens” and “Equus” to continue my journey into the vision Ms Parrish had for her Magical Menageries series of anthologies – as I began this adventure within the pages of “Fae” (see also Review), then “Corvidae” (see also Review) and “Scarecrow” (see also Review). It has been such an incredible and thrilling ride!! Especially as I have found such depth of centre within the stories I’ve blogged about as I made my way through each anthology – those writers captured me truly by the ways in which short fiction can truly transcend the shortness of its tales.

I was not obligated to post a review on its behalf. I am sharing my thoughts on behalf of this anthology for my own edification and a continued journey of sharing my readerly life on Jorie Loves A Story. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Note: I received the Press Materials from the publisher World Weaver Press after requesting to use them for Wyrd And Wonder whilst I shared my reviews for both Sirens and Equus which would complete my journey with this anthology series edited by Rhonda Parrish.

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Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!

It has been about six years since I was caught inside the JOY of reading this anthology series which had bewitched my imagination and endeared me to the artfulness of how anthologists put together their anthologies! Yet, it was with a heavier heart I realised after contacting this publisher about the press materials, I would have to seek out titles I had planned to purchase within a shorter time-frame lest they go out of print before I have the chance to read them. Whilst at the same time, I’ve been a book cheerleader for the publisher ever since (2015) when I first read FAE. The anthology which started my journey into the Magical Menagaries series.

A week ago I was able to traverse through the stories set against the fable and lore behind SIRENS – whilst a few writers also entertained me with their variations on the classical stories of mermaids which I felt befit the collection as much as Ms Parrish! Let me share a glimpse into my final takeaways of reading SIRENS before I proceed to share my reflections on behalf of EQUUS.

I was thrilled to be able to peer into stories which thoughtfully played off the Classical and Modern spins of thought about sirens. There was emotional strife, comedic relief and thought-provoking tales which gave you more fodder to chew on than you first realised possible! I enjoyed being in different settings as well – from deep Space to a cruise ship to being seaside whilst a siren goes through her process of dating and finding herself forevermore disappointed by her choices. Yet, even when you feel you’ve reached your emotional limits – you find yourself in a war drama set against the foils of the Gods themselves!

The lovely imagery and imaginative eye of the writers who are inclusive of this anthology truly enthralled me with their ability to capture the vision of their story but also, giving me such fantastical glimpses into mermaids, sirens, and the Gods or Goddesses of Greek Mythos. There was a beautiful synergy of interest throughout the stories I read which parlay themselves into new fables to be told and listened too. Which was the beauty of it of course, because most Mythological stories are fables full of lessons of life or cautionary tales of one variety or another. I appreciated the diversity of the stories as much as the voices within them, too.

It is hard to believe I’ve almost concluded my time within the Magical Menageries series as I only have Equus left to read! Blessedly, there will be other collections and anthologies by Ms Parrish to chase after next and for that, I am grateful I first found her editorial work through World Weaver Press. As much as I hope some of the writers, I’ve found through their anthologies I can read again – either in new anthologies by other publishers and press or in their longer format stories. They each have a lovely style of etching out the fantastical and for that, I am a grateful reader!

-quoted from my review of SIRENS

It is with a heavier heart I am reading EQUUS, knowing that this is one of the final anthologies I’ll be able to read via World Weaver Press. They still have quite a few anthologies I’d like to purchase before the publishing house disappears into the ethos and only is a fragment of memory which was such a keenly joyous part of my readerly life these years I’ve been a book blogger. It will take time to find another publisher who is publishing the kind of anthologies I enjoy reading but thankfully Ms Parrish has a lovely variety of ones to collect which will keep me ruminatively satisfied!

If you’re as keenly interested in short stylised fiction as much as I am, I hope you’ll consider SIRENS, EQUUS or any of the other lovely editions of the Magical Menagaries series to be your #nextread! And, remember – there is a limited time frame in which to collect them before they go out of print.

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

A #WyrdAndWonder Anthology Review | “EQUUS” (Rhonda Parrish’s Magical Menageries, Collection 5) edited by Rhonda ParrishEquus
by (Editor) Ms Rhonda Parrish
Source: Purchased | Personal Library

There’s always something magical about horses, isn’t there? Whether winged or at home in the water, mechanical or mythological, the equines that gallop through these pages span the fantasy spectrum. In one story a woman knits her way up to the stars and in another Loki's descendant grapples with bizarre transformations while fighting for their life. A woman races on a unique horse to save herself from servitude, while a man rides a chariot through the stars to reclaim his self-worth. From steampunk-inspired stories and tales that brush up against horror to straight-up fantasy, one theme connects them all: freedom.

Featuring nineteen fantastic stories of equines both real and imagined by J.G. Formato, Diana Hurlburt, Tamsin Showbrook, M.L.D Curelas, Laura VanArendonk Baugh, V.F. LeSann, Dan Koboldt, J.J. Roth, Susan MacGregor, Pat Flewwelling, Angela Rega, Michael Leonberger, Sandra Wickham, Stephanie A. Cain, Cat McDonald, Andrew Bourelle, Chadwick Ginther, K.T. Ivanrest, and Jane Yolen.

Genres: Anthology Collection of Short Stories and/or Essays, Short Story or Novella, Equestrian Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, Mythological Fantasy



Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-0998702209

Published by World Weaver Press

on 18th July, 2017

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 263

Published By: World Weaver Press (@WorldWeaver_wwp)

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Collection No.1 in this series is FAE | Info on Editor’s Blog | Info on Pub

Collection No. 2 in this series is Corvidae | Info on Pub

Collection No.3 in this series is Scarecrow | Info on Editor’s Blog | Info on Pub

Collection No. 4 in this series is SIRENS | Info on Pub

Collection No. 5 in this series is EQUUS | Info on Pub

Converse via: #DiverseSFF, #SFF, #SciFi, #Fantasy & #Anthology

+ #MagicalMenageries (the series tag!)

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Available Formats: Trade Paperback, Ebook

Genre(s): Fantasy | Mythology | Short Stories
(Inspired by) Horse Mythology (ie. Pegasus, Unicorn) | Anthology

About (Editor) Ms Rhonda Parrish

Rhonda Parrish

Like a magpie, Rhonda Parrish is constantly distracted by shiny things. She’s the editor of many anthologies and author of plenty of books, stories and poems. She lives with her husband and three cats in Edmonton, Alberta, and she can often be found there playing Dungeons and Dragons, bingeing crime dramas or cheering on the Oilers. To stay in touch her website is updated regularly and her Patreon is updated even more regularly.

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission. Read More

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • #WyrdAndWonder
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Posted Sunday, 29 May, 2022 by jorielov in #WyrdAndWonder, After the Canon, Anthology Collection of Stories, Classical Literature, Content Note, Excessive Violence in Literature, Fantasy Fiction, Fly in the Ointment, Folklore, Folklore and Mythology, Inspired By Author OR Book, Inspired by Stories, Novellas or Short Stories, Twitterland & Twitterverse Event, Vulgarity in Literature

A #WyrdAndWonder Book Review | Exploring Dark Fantasy within “The Shadow of the Skytree” by K.J. Taylor

Posted Monday, 9 May, 2022 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

#WyrdAndWonder Book Review Year 5 badge created by Jorie in Canva.

Gifted Book By: This novel “The Shadow of the Skytree” was part of a gifted #bookhaul of mine from my Mum and Dad for #WyrdAndWonder, Year 4! They happily surprised me with a lovely bundle of books I featured during Wyrd And Wonder Year 3 celebrating the Indie Publisher Odyssey Books! This continues my readings of those novels as I was overjoyed I can read all the lovely stories I had either showcased and/or featured but wasn’t able to read during our Year 3 Wyrd And Wonder.

Thereby, I was gifted a copy of “The Shadow of the Skytree” by my parents and I was not obligated to post a review on its behalf. I am sharing my thoughts on behalf of this novel for my own edification and a continued journey of sharing my readerly life on Jorie Loves A Story. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Note: I received the Press Materials last year from the publisher and had asked if I could re-use them if and when I was able to read and/or review the stories I was featuring during Wyrd And Wonder Year 3 (2020); and thankfully was given permission to do so which is why I am using them during my readings this 5th Year of Wyrd And Wonder.

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Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!

This 5th Year of Wyrd And Wonder, I am finishing my readings of the Odyssey Books Fantasy stories I showcased during our 3rd Year! Except for one of the novels which I am still trying to secure a copy of and has remained a bit elusively out of reach.

Last week I was completely absorbed into the world of Tarya within Rachel Nightingale’s Harlequin’s Riddle novel which sets the stage for her trilogy. I knew I wanted to read her trilogy back-to-back but I also wanted to read Taylor’s novel which has had me curious about how she was going to introduce us to her dwarves, elves and gnomes as well as other recognisable fantastical creatures within the pages of The Shadow of the Skytree.

Before I share my thoughts about the story, I wanted to share an excerpt from our conversation and implore you to re-visit the interview before you continue to read this review or shortly after you’ve read my reactions. All the authors I interviewed through this publisher and/or hosted with guest posts during our 3rd Year were very giving of their time and you’ll find a wealth of loveliness to read through if you go back through those showcases.

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As your novel “The Shadow of the Skytree” has both elves and dwarves inclusive to the world – how would you describe both of them to a first-time reader who hasn’t read too much Fantasy outside of Tolkien and has limited knowledge of elves and dwarves? What is uniquely different about them compared to your gnomes like Lavendar?

Taylor responds: Speaking of avoiding tropes, one I was particularly tired of is elves written in imitation of Tolkien but with all the flaws removed so you end up with an obnoxiously perfect race of superbeings who are the best at everything. I wanted to explore the idea of what a functionally immortal people would more realistically be like, and especially when they’re so cut off from the rest of the world. Which is why my elves are hunter-gatherers with no technology. Their magic means they never needed to develop any, and their longevity makes them so slow to change that they found themselves incapable of adapting to a world that was changing around them and became insular and extremely xenophobic. And I gave them a darker skin tone because you’d realistically expect a race of people who spend their lives mostly outdoors to have adapted accordingly.

As for the dwarves, I won’t lie – I partly designed them for the sheer coolness factor. Stereotypical dwarves live underground and spend most of their time mining, and I thought – well, what if they were so well adapted to living among minerals that they could literally live off the stuff? They’re pretty much living humanoid versions of the volcano they call home – black on the outside, full of fire on the inside. So it made sense that they’d live off a diet of mostly charcoal; if they don’t keep that internal fire fuelled, they die. And they ride on giant lizards because that’s just metal as hell. (Well, and big reptiles would be attracted to hot places. Horses would quickly sicken and die if they had to live in a volcanic environment with no grass).

Meanwhile the gnomes are naturally underground dwellers who are very in touch with the natural world, but are naturally childlike and simple-minded compared to everyone else. Your average gnome doesn’t have a mean bone in her body and can’t really comprehend wanting to hurt anyone, which is why our heroine, Vender, finds the whole conflict going on around her so bewildering. Why can’t people just say sorry and learn to get along?

I love when I find authors re-invent a creature or species other authors have made famous – either to redirect us onto a different path of understanding them or to entreat into a different viewing of them entirely as a race. As like you said, without flaws and without a way of showing growth – the context of those species can become stagnant and predictable. I could also see why you patterned their beliefs and behaviours as you had – as they were definitely a more exclusive race and have kept to themselves in order to survive. I oft wondered about skin tones – sometimes I read a story (Fantasy or otherwise) and know a character is predominately outside – yet, it is not reflected in their character’s profile or disclosed in their story. Even a heavy tan would make better sense than to give the illusion anyone can spend copious amounts of time in direct sunlight without any affect of that kind of exposure to them.

I had to laugh – about why lizards won out over horses. The laughter was sparked because of how true of a statement this is – and how some might have overlooked its importance! Besides anytime you can use a different animal for a species transportation that is outside the box is one I’m going to enjoy getting introduced too! I also had to smirk about the dwarves diet and why they are attracted to volcanoes! They can definitely have that environment – I live where there is volcanic heat (sans the volcano) and humidity – I melt yearly and hope to live elsewhere eventually. This clime doesn’t work for some but I could see a family of dwarves settling into it as if they found the best ‘vacation’ spot of their kin!

I agree with your assessment about gnomes. Mind, to this day, the only route of understanding them was a children’s programme on tv called “David the Gnome” (does anyone remember that one?) I oft felt they were the innocents of their world and had a very positive outlook on everything round them as well.

-quoted from my interview K.J. Taylor

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A #WyrdAndWonder Book Review | Exploring Dark Fantasy within “The Shadow of the Skytree” by K.J. TaylorThe Shadow of the Skytree
by K.J. Taylor
Source: Gifted
dnf

The reserved elf Lyell Blackfletch is an ambassador for his people – and the holder of a dark secret. Plague is spreading among the human race, with the fire-loving dwarves already driven to the edge of extinction. Only the human Fiorella is close to finding a cure for the sickness, and with her death it is up to her friend Lavender the gnome to deliver it to her people in the steam-powered city of Vaporcitta.

Naïve but rebellious, Lavender chooses to place her trust in Lyell – but is her confidence in the cold-hearted elf misplaced? With the cure stolen and a secret genocide uncovered, they must both make a choice – but it may already be too late.

Genres: Australian Lit, Fantasy Fiction, Dark Fantasy, YA Fantasy



Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781925652796

Also by this author: The Shadow of the Skytree

Published by Odyssey Books

on 25th November, 2019

Pages: 244

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Published by: Odyssey Books (@OdysseyBooks)

Converse via: #YAFantasy, #ShadowOfTheSkyTree
as well as #OdysseyBooks & #WyrdAndWonder

About K.J. Taylor

K.J. Taylor

Canberra author Katie J. Taylor attended Radford College, where she wrote her first novel. She studied for a Bachelor's Degree in Communications at the University of Canberra, and graduated in 2007 before going on to do a Graduate Certificate in Editing in 2008. She is also the author of three fantasy trilogies.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • #WyrdAndWonder
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Posted Monday, 9 May, 2022 by jorielov in #WyrdAndWonder, Content Note, Dark Fantasy, Earthen Magic, Earthen Spirituality, Elves & the Elven, Excessive Violence in Literature, Fantasy Fiction, Fly in the Ointment, Folklore and Mythology, Horror-Lite, Indie Author, Twitterland & Twitterverse Event, Upper YA Fantasy

#EnterTheFantastic | Enter the realms of “The Gifted and the Cursed” – in the conclusion of the trilogy “The End of Dreams” by Marcus Lee

Posted Wednesday, 3 March, 2021 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

#EnterTheFantastic Book Review banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: During my 3rd Year of co-hosting @WyrdAndWonder, I was able to participate on my first blog tour with Storytellers on Tour which was featuring the author Brianna Sugalski on her “Disenchanted” blog tour. What I appreciated about Storytellers on Tour is their dedication to Indie Authors of Speculative Literature and their ability to find authors who are telling stories in Fantasy which intrigue me to read. Fantasy has been a challenging genre for me to explore even a bit moreso than Science Fiction – which is why I feel blessed to be on their blogger team. Whilst some of their tours I might seek out a book to consider for review, I also actively enjoy hosting creative content using book photography and/or featuring their authors in conversation (ie. interviews) or giving them the breadth of joy to write a guest post based on a topic of my choosing. Overall, Storytellers on Tour are dedicated to creating community and for championing those of us who are choosing to share our readerly lives each day we bring content to our book blogs. 

I received a complimentary copy of “The End of Dreams” direct from the author Marcus Lee in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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My thoughts on behalf of “Tristan’s Folly”:

At the heart of the series is the love story of Maya and Taran – of how they found each other and how their love grew out of the battle to survive the oppressive overreach of Daleth. Theirs is a romance that is rooted out of their relationship having a strong foundation of friendship and the mutual respect they each shared for the others’ gift. Without each other by their side, I am quite sure they would not have survived as long as they have now as they have a way of renewing each others’ strength as much as they are the truer compliment of each other as well. You cannot help grieve alongside them when their fears and anxieties about the prospects of their future are revealled – of the checks and balances they undertake to better recognise their advantages and disadvantages to re-engage in war with Daleth and yet, find small measures of joy in renewing their affirmed love for each other as well. The ways in which Lee has presented their relationship’s growth throughout this sequel re-affirms why this series seeks to redirect the reader off the war itself and re-align the reader’s eye on the more important aspects of what life is meant to give everyone. It isn’t about conquest or war nor is it about the rise of power – there is a unifying will to seek out one singular part of our lives which redefines the purpose of all men (and women) and truly illuminates our purpose through the strongest light possible.

Yana’s efforts to insurrect her own footing into the confidences of those round her was a bit discomforting knowing that her intentions were without honour. She could have given more to their cause if she hadn’t turnt her back on what a more just person might have pursued. Her mind was stuck on one particular goal and whatever came next paled in her original plans to overturn a relationship she had no right to interfere against. It spoke to her truer nature and of how she never set out to establish her own path to walk. She was constantly conniving her way into measures of confidence and trust with those round her and yet, part of me questioned how she could ever find true happiness if her happiness was completely tethered to the destruction of joy in others.

The greater crust of the story is about the battles themselves – the art of warfare and of how those who fought for either Daleth or Tristan had to choose their actions wisely against the intelligence of their enemies. Neither side would admit defeat and both sides felt they had the upper hand against each other – to more or less extent, this was true but the greater issue is what this world would yield once the battles concluded. What could be left of a world where everyone was pitted against each other and where those in power had their own agendas to see through which contradicted the reasons why the men and women fought in this war?

The hardest part of the story of course are the attacks of conscience of the players in this war whom are not below undermining others free will in order to gain something themselves. They seek to take what they feel is rightly theirs when in reality, it never was theirs at all. This plays out continuously as two persons in this story are content to pine after what they cannot have and then in the end, choose to take what cannot be given freely. It is this under-thread of deceit which has the greatest power to change the course of the souls in the series because of how much their survival is connected to the war itself. Each battle won is a small step forward towards the freedom of the world and yet, some battles are not on the battlefield but held in closed quarters where people bank against their own soul for the prize they desire moreso than the life they breathe.

-quoted from my review of Tristan’s Folly

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On my connection to Marcus Lee: I first crossed paths with Lee during the blog tour for Kings & Daemons in August 2020. Being fellow writers and voracious readers – it felt like a natural extension of the first blog tour, we would have something to talk about together about this world being built within the series of the Gifted and the Cursed as well as outside of the series itself. We continued to ‘chat’ privately after the blog tour and then, shortly before the start of the second we reconnected finding we’re both at different junctions of our writerly careers. However, I withheld discussing my thoughts about the sequel until my review for the second blog tour was released.

I am disclosing this, to assure you that I can formulate an honest opinion, even though I have interacted with Lee through our respective joy in being writers as well as enjoying discussing the merits of Speculative Fiction as it applies to Dark Fantasy. I treat each book as a ‘new experience’, whether I personally know the author OR whether I am reading a book by them for the first time or continuing to read their releases as they are available. This also applies to hosting a guest feature by the author I share a connection.

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Notation on Cover Art: I am simply in love with the cover art for this book series –

#EnterTheFantastic | Enter the realms of “The Gifted and the Cursed” – in the conclusion of the trilogy “The End of Dreams” by Marcus LeeThe End of Dreams
Subtitle: The Gifted and the Cursed (Book Three)
by Marcus Lee
Source: Author via Storytellers on Tour

As Daleth the Witch-King and his horde ready themselves for the final battle, a small alliance prepares for a desperate last stand.
However, the alliance is weak and fractured, led by a king interested only in retaining his wealth and a lord commander consumed by his thirst for revenge. With a seemingly unbeatable army before them, invisible foes amongst them, and broken hearts between them, the alliance appears destined to fall.

Yet in these dark times, her light almost extinguished, a peasant huntress is soon to be queen. But if she can find what was lost, she might prove to be more powerful than two kings combined.

This war will bring about the end of dreams, but for whom, the gods have yet to decide.

Genres: Cosy Horror, Dark Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, Fantasy Fiction, High Fantasy, Sword and Sorcery



Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 979-8598984192

Also by this author: Kings and Daemons, Tristan's Folly

Also in this series: Kings and Daemons, Tristan's Folly


Published by Self Published

on 23rd January, 2021

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 400

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The Gifted and the Cursed Trilogy:

Kings and Daemons by Marcus LeeTristan's Folly by Marcus LeeThe End of Dreams by Marcus Lee

Kings & Daemons (book one) | see also Review

Tristan’s Folly (book two) | see also Review

The End of Dreams (book three)

This is a Self-Published novel and series!

Converse via: #Fantasy, #EpicFantasy or #HeoricFantasy or #SwordAndSorcery
as well as #StorytellersOnTour #  & #EnterTheFantastic as #JorieReads

About Marcus Lee

Writing hasn’t always been a serious hobby for me … but it has always been there, lurking in the shadows, serving me well when called upon.

As I look back over the years, I realise I was guilty of writing many short stories, as well as poetry, and I’d like to think, that even if they were never intended to be published, they were nonetheless warmly received by the intended recipients.

Then in 2019, I was inspired to write not just a short story, or poetry, but a book. Then, suddenly, one book turned into a trilogy and a labour of love, and it was a love I wanted to share with the world.

So, here we are. The pandemic that put my career in sport on hold also gave me the opportunity to lavish time on my alternative hobby, or if demand dictates my new career.

However, only you, the reader, will decide whether this trilogy, which is still a work in progress, will be the first of many. I genuinely hope so.

Who knows, now these creatives juices are flowing, I might just keep on writing anyway.

Epic fantasy has been my favourite genre since I first read The Odyssey and The Illiad as a seven-year-old. Now it’s my turn to see if I can bring another world to life in the imagination of others.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • #EnterTheFantastic
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Posted Wednesday, 3 March, 2021 by jorielov in #EnterTheFantastic, ArchDemons or Demonic Entities, Blog Tour Host, Content Note, Cosy Horror, Dark Arts (Dark Magic), Dark Fantasy, Excessive Violence in Literature, Fantasy Fiction, Fly in the Ointment, High Fantasy, Horror-Lite, Immortals, Indie Author, Self-Published Author, Storytellers on Tour, Supernatural Creatures & Beings, Sword & Scorcery

#EnterTheFantastic | Enter the realms of “The Gifted and the Cursed” – within the second novel of the trilogy “Tristan’s Folly” by Marcus Lee

Posted Monday, 30 November, 2020 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

#EnterTheFantastic Book Review banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: During my 3rd Year of co-hosting @WyrdAndWonder, I was able to participate on my first blog tour with Storytellers on Tour which was featuring the author Brianna Sugalski on her “Disenchanted” blog tour. What I appreciated about Storytellers on Tour is their dedication to Indie Authors of Speculative Literature and their ability to find authors who are telling stories in Fantasy which intrigue me to read. Fantasy has been a challenging genre for me to explore even a bit moreso than Science Fiction – which is why I feel blessed to be on their blogger team. Whilst some of their tours I might seek out a book to consider for review, I also actively enjoy hosting creative content using book photography and/or featuring their authors in conversation (ie. interviews) or giving them the breadth of joy to write a guest post based on a topic of my choosing. Overall, Storytellers on Tour are dedicated to creating community and for championing those of us who are choosing to share our readerly lives each day we bring content to our book blogs. 

I received a complimentary copy of “Tristan’s Folly” direct from the author Marcus Lee in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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What kept me rooted to the pages of “Kings & Daemons”:

As you first alight inside the Ember Kingdom you are greeted by such a terrible reckoning of the high fatality rate which has afflicted the women in this world. For a couple who knew what was coming the day their daughter was bourne it was not bringing them the luxury of happiness (by her birth) but rather the pain of the loss which was imminent. Except to say if that had happened this story would not have a fierce warrior as a heroine as even in infancy. Maya had a special awareness about the world as she intuited pain and understood healing. The lengths in which her parents went to keep this secreted from others in their world points to a harder look at what any parent would do to defend and protect their child. You feel emotionally rooted in these opening scenes to where you want to stand in solidarity with this family and also become one of the guardians of Maya to ensure she is allowed to grow in this loving environment of her family without outside influences which might seek to separate her from her parents.

To keep herself removed from her own society she had become a forager of whom was allowed to be gone long hours of the day and return at dusk. The hardest part to understand about Maya’s life as she was growing out of girlhood into womanhood is the loss of her mother which was never fully resolved and the fact that in order to be alive she had to mask her truer nature as much as  her true identity. Even the ways in which she presented herself was the illusion her parents had chosen for her rather than the most ideal situation to continue for such a long time without drawing notice to oneself. You feel for Maya because she is not allowed to live authentically nor is she allowed any of the common courtesy you’d expect a child and young woman would be granted – such as conversation, friendship and being one with her own community. She was living a full step removed from this community and you had to wonder – what were they afraid of? What threat did her birthright and gift afford her that others afeared? Those are the thoughts going through my mind as I entered into the initial chapters and tried to muse about what could have happened in this world to have such a locked mindset which heavily prejudiced itself against each other.

There is such a humbling and honest scene involving Maya and the awakening she had with her gift – it is tender and sweet, with the innocence of how new birth and a re-genesis of the organic healing from within her can affect the natural environs she touches with her presence. It involved a rose and it is how this particular flower found its new roots under Maya’s tenderness of care and the thoughtfulness of how she helped a plant heal itself was truly a remarkable passage in the opening pages of Kings and Daemons! She is someone who can cause a transfiguration of growth – from the point of decay to the celebration of rebirth and it is beautifully written to give you this founding sense of what her gift means to her as a person (as it renews her own spirit to use it and cultivate it) and how that gift translates into the world in which she lives.

Taran by contrast is an interesting bloke in this world who is also harbouring a secret of his own about the innate gift he has developed first out of fight or flight circumstances and secondly out of his own instincts which have served him well. His own childhood had its own challenges wherein where Maya was folded into a loving home life despite the concerns of her parents that others might discover her truer nature – Taran was blighted with a childhood wherein his art of defence and skill to deflect his father’s domestic violence against himself and his mother was a defining part of his younger years. Yet despite what they had against them both Taran and Maya shared the will to not just survive but to survive with their gifts aiding their efforts.

Whilst reading Taran’s entrance into the story, I must admit, part of me wondered if this bloke could run out of luck because he enjoyed living on the edge of society. He might not have chosen this life for himself as that was a consequence of his father’s domestic abuse (which personally felt like an injustice of its own) but it was a life he had carved out of the embers of his former life and it had enabled him with enough to survive on in a world that was unwelcome to both change and strangers. As a wanderer you could say Taran would immediately connect with Maya because she wanders in a different way than he does in her own community. Each of them self-exiled away from both prying eyes and the framework of their societies.

I was truly bewitched and enchanted by how Lee has writ this novel – you feel so dearly rooted to both Maya and Taran whilst your reading that you can barely notice anything else in your own world after you’ve entered theirs! So much so, when Maya was being pursued by a hunger-mad pack of wolves it brought me back instantly to seeing The Neverending Story for the first time as a child and the terrifying moment where Atreyu has to defend himself against a wolf. Not since that cinematic moment have I found another writer whose writ such a harrowing account of predator vs prey when it involves a wild animal and a human. You are on the very edge of your seat as you want to encourage Maya as she flees for her life but then, at that moment where both instinct and hope seem lost – it is a battle of will to turn the pages and see what happened!

-quoted from my review of Kings & Daemons

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On my connection to Marcus Lee: I first crossed paths with Lee during the blog tour for Kings & Daemons in August 2020. Being fellow writers and voracious readers – it felt like a natural extension of the first blog tour, we would have something to talk about together about this world being built within the series of the Gifted and the Cursed as well as outside of the series itself. We continued to ‘chat’ privately after the blog tour and then, shortly before the start of the second we reconnected finding we’re both at different junctions of our writerly careers. However, I withheld discussing my thoughts about the sequel until my review for the second blog tour was released.

I am disclosing this, to assure you that I can formulate an honest opinion, even though I have interacted with Lee through our respective joy in being writers as well as enjoying discussing the merits of Speculative Fiction as it applies to Dark Fantasy. I treat each book as a ‘new experience’, whether I personally know the author OR whether I am reading a book by them for the first time or continuing to read their releases as they are available. This also applies to hosting a guest feature by the author I share a connection.

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I will be the first to mention, this series is completely removed from my regular readings of Fantasy and a complete forward step outside all my zones of comfort – which is why if you are curious why I was originally tempted to read the trilogy and why I am continuing to read it now – it is quite simple: I love to challenge myself! To go into a niche of genre I am not as well versed in travelling through and/or to seek out stories with the layers of depth I love finding as a reader. Even if on the outside of starting those stories it would look like a full step removed from anything I’d generally seek out to read. Sometimes those are the moments you discover the stories which give you a hearty challenge to both read and dissect. This is one of those series for me.

Yet, it wasn’t until I started to binge watch the military drama series “Army Wives” this November (ie. I nearly saw the full three seasons of the show within less than a forthnight of watching it!) – I couldn’t quite put my finger on how I came to have an appreciation for Sword & Sorcery stories. The truth of it is – it was the fierce spitfire character of Pamela (Chase’s husband on the series) who tipped the missing gaps of my memory – as she was involved with an ill-fated tv series I loved back in the ’90s which was ROAR.

However, it won’t surprise too many of you who’ve been following me for awhile to know I have had occasion to blog about this particular genre in the past, as I was smitten with the ‘idea’ of a tv series pilot moreso than I was keenly curious to watch it. In other words, I sought out a way to interview the actors involved with the Sword & Sorcery pilot as well as the filmmaker and author behind the series; knowing I couldn’t read the books series which inspired it nor could I watch the pilot itself considering what you see on the takeaway shots and BTS videos via YoutTube! Take a gander at the interview I’m mentioning and perhaps the series might be a better fit for you – as it stands, I’m wicked proud of the interview and what I learnt out of interviewing everyone I choose to speak with about the production and their role in it.

If you visited with me for my first review in this series, you already know I have made a few notations about the level of violence and excessive use of violent sequences within the context of the story itself. Which became a bit of an underline issue with me as I am not a reader who appreciates explicit or excessive violence in any of the stories she’s reading but as you gleamed from my review, this particular book was the exception to the rule in regards of finding an author who redeemed himself by the breadth of how he wrote the larger scope of the story itself and how he endeavoured to give a layered central arc to thread into the next two installments of the trilogy.

Again, I could have had quite a few small battles excluded from the journey Maya and Taran were taking towards the Witch-King because it soon became a bit too repetitive for me to constantly see people swinging swords or stabbing with daggers and all round was nothing but death and the dead stacked in a reckless act of violent outrage. And, that too is also a keen aspect of the novel – as Dark Fantasy illuminates the darker variants of ourselves and our souls – keeping to that theme, Lee has used different techniques to showcase how darkness can overtake the mind, the body and the soul to where it is a maddening fight to find freedom from under that kind of influence and that is at the heart of where we first enter into this series. These people are fighting for not just the right to live and the will to live but they are fighting a battle against an enemy they cannot even fathom being real.

I might be a hard sell at times as a reader but it boils down to each individual author and how they choose to tell their stories – if they do it well, they have me hooked into their world and if they choose to make choices which remove all my enjoyment of reading their stories; I am a reader whose never afraid to call foul and claim a book as an DNF.

As I saw the calendar ticking down the hours for me to begin reading Tristan’s Folly, I must admit I had a certain level of anxiety. Where would the sequel fit within my readerly barometer of what I can both handle reading and appreciate reading? Which of my personal thresholds of angst would be tested and how would I walk out of the experience as both a reader and as a book blogger who inks out her thoughts and shares them with her readers?

The one blessing I had is trusting whichever way I walked out of this novel, the author would understand what I had to share about it because he already knows my bookish preferences and where I stand on some of what is inclusive to his genre of choice and the methodology of how its written. When authors understand the book blogger experience it makes reading their stories as a book blogger much more enjoyable because we don’t have to defend how we blog or how we choose to blog our readerly life – because all of us are blogging our honest thoughts, impressions and opinions about the stories we’re reading. There is a certain vulnerability to that kind of experience and after seven years as a book blogger, I still find myself feeling especially grateful and blessed to be in a position to read as diversely as I can whilst seeking out new genres, subniches of genres and literary styles as I have every month I’ve sought to propell myself forward into new dimensions of literature.

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Notation on Cover Art: I am simply in love with the cover art for this book series –

#EnterTheFantastic | Enter the realms of “The Gifted and the Cursed” – within the second novel of the trilogy “Tristan’s Folly” by Marcus LeeTristan's Folly
Subtitle: The Gifted and the Cursed (Book Two)
by Marcus Lee
Source: Author via Storytellers on Tour

Tristan’s Folly. An ageing fortress built over fifty years ago to repel the invading hordes of the Witch-King, Daleth, an invasion that never materialised – until now.

Now the stronghold is a crumbling reflection of its former might, with a mere fifteen hundred men all that stands between Daleth’s savage horde of a hundred thousand, and certain doom for the Freestates.

As Kings and Daemons face one another, there is but one shining light that pushes back the encroaching darkness, but even her flame is slated to be extinguished thanks to Tristan’s Folly.

In this epic tale of a battle against the odds, the best and worst of humankind collide … sacrifice, bravery and love, set against betrayal, greed and hatred.

Genres: Cosy Horror, Dark Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, Fantasy Fiction, High Fantasy, Sword and Sorcery



Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 979-8698105718

Also by this author: Kings and Daemons, The End of Dreams

Also in this series: Kings and Daemons, The End of Dreams


Published by Self Published

on 26th October, 2020

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 291

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The Gifted and the Cursed Trilogy:

Kings and Daemons by Marcus LeeTristan's Folly by Marcus Lee

Kings & Daemons (book one) | see also Review

Tristan’s Folly (book two)

The End of Dreams (book three) ← forthcoming release!

This is a Self-Published novel and series!

Converse via: #Fantasy, #EpicFantasy or #HeoricFantasy or #SwordAndSorcery
as well as #StorytellersOnTour #  & #EnterTheFantastic as #JorieReads

About Marcus Lee

Writing hasn’t always been a serious hobby for me … but it has always been there, lurking in the shadows, serving me well when called upon.

As I look back over the years, I realise I was guilty of writing many short stories, as well as poetry, and I’d like to think, that even if they were never intended to be published, they were nonetheless warmly received by the intended recipients.

Then in 2019, I was inspired to write not just a short story, or poetry, but a book. Then, suddenly, one book turned into a trilogy and a labour of love, and it was a love I wanted to share with the world.

So, here we are. The pandemic that put my career in sport on hold also gave me the opportunity to lavish time on my alternative hobby, or if demand dictates my new career.

However, only you, the reader, will decide whether this trilogy, which is still a work in progress, will be the first of many. I genuinely hope so.

Who knows, now these creatives juices are flowing, I might just keep on writing anyway.

Epic fantasy has been my favourite genre since I first read The Odyssey and The Illiad as a seven-year-old. Now it’s my turn to see if I can bring another world to life in the imagination of others.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • #EnterTheFantastic
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Posted Monday, 30 November, 2020 by jorielov in #EnterTheFantastic, ArchDemons or Demonic Entities, Blog Tour Host, Content Note, Cosy Horror, Dark Arts (Dark Magic), Dark Fantasy, Excessive Violence in Literature, Fantasy Fiction, Fly in the Ointment, High Fantasy, Horror-Lite, Immortals, Indie Author, Self-Published Author, Storytellers on Tour, Supernatural Creatures & Beings, Sword & Scorcery