Sci-Fi – Fiction Book Review: The Strange Affair of the Spring Heeled Jack

The Strange Affair of the Spring Heeled Jack by Mark Hodder

After his former partner tries to commit suicide and then disappears, Sir Richard Francis Burton receives an amazing position as a detective for the government. His first job is to investigate the legendary Spring Heeled Jack, with whom Burton had a recent run-in, and to investigate sightings of what seem to be werewolves in London. Poet and thrill-seeker Algernon Swinburne joins Burton in his investigation, which leads them to the heart of a dark and vast conspiracy.

The Strange Affair of the Spring Heeled Jack is first in a creative steampunk series. Set in an alternate London in 1841, steam technology is more advanced than it should be and eugenicists have altered animals to make them more useful to society. Humorous altered biology and technology add a fun and light-hearted element to an otherwise dark and sometimes ominous setting.

While it took a few chapters for me to really get into the story, once I was there I was hooked. There’s a mash-up of several genres, woven together in a complex and surprising way. With colorful and eccentric characters, an engaging plot, and creative technology, steampunk fans won’t want to miss this. This is an impressive debut – full of mystery, adventure, danger and suspense.

Sci-Fi – Fiction Book Review: Fear

Fear by Michael Grant

The former town of Perdido Beach is now called the FAYZ by its survivors located within the dome surrounding town where everyone over 15 years old suddenly disappeared. Just as an uneasy peace has fallen over the survivors for the past several months, the dome is changing, losing its light. The weakening of the dome is an opportunity for the enemy called the Gaiaphage. It could mean escape from its prison. But the children fear the coming and consuming darkness, as their world goes completely black.

The children of the FAYZ have gone through an incredible ordeal – starvation, sickness, infestation, mutations, brutality, murder, and more. There are some major changes in this installment, but it’s still not the end. One welcome addition is the story of the adults outside the dome. We finally see how they’re handling the giant mystery and the change/weakening of the dome. Grant’s characters are certainly flawed, yet there’s still the greater struggle of good versus evil. This fifth novel is just as dark and intense as before and answers are finally coming to light. Very violent and at times heart-wrenching, this story has the feel of Lord of the Flies meets young X-Men. I have read that the series will end with the next installment. This action-packed, suspenseful series has me eagerly awaiting the final resolution.

Browse inside and check out an excerpt here:

Fear will release from Harper Teen on April 3, 2012

Fantasy – Fiction Book Review: Illuminate

Illuminate by Aimee Agresti

Haven Terra is just turning sixteen and given the opportunity of a lifetime. She and two other top students have been granted internships at a luxurious, high profile new hotel in Chicago. Haven immediately sees something different about the hotel staff (dubbed The Outfit) – they’re all model-beautiful with little personality. Haven quickly forms a crush on the gorgeous second-in-command Lucian, who barely looks out of high school himself. But with information given from a mysterious book, Haven soon realizes the hotel staff has a dark plan – trading souls to the devil. Now, Haven and her friends are all that stand against the evil threatening the souls of Chicago.

Agresti’s debut novel is impressive and surprising. Marketed for young adults, the subject matter is age appropriate yet dark and suspenseful enough for older readers as well. The hotel management and Outfit are incredibly ominous and creepy. Yet Haven’s innocence and goodness seems unshakable. While some of the outcomes are predictable (especially since the big mystery for Haven is unfortunately given away on the back cover), the suspense is not lessened in the least. While the novel is lengthy, the story didn’t seem to lag, keeping an even pace and steady character development. The characters were completely engaging, and the story had me hooked from beginning to end. Don’t miss this recent release from a talented new author.

Fantasy – Fiction Book Review: Adventurers Wanted: Albrek’s Tomb

Adventurers Wanted: Albrek’s Tomb by M. L. Forman

Alex Taylor joins his third adventure to find the long-lost dwarf Albrek and his magical ring that helped the dwarves find land rich in minerals to mine. Alex now has a staff and is no longer an apprentice, but has full wizard status. But the group of adventurers is in for variety of trials and obstacles before they discover what happened to Albrek and his final resting place.

Alex has matured and grown more confident in his abilities, yet still seems doubtful when he hears about his potential. The adventure and excitement are even greater in this third and final installment in the Adventurer’s Wanted trilogy. Though, there seems to be endless stories to tell, so I hope Forman continues to write more in exceptional fantasy world. His worldbuilding and unique characters are fascinating and engaging. A thrilling, quest-based fantasy – this world has its share of evil, but the majority of characters uphold honor and charity above greed and material wealth. Which is funny considering that on the surface an adventurers’ career goal seems to be accumulating wealth. I highly recommend this light-hearted, epic fantasy trilogy to readers of all ages.

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