Category Archives: Matthew Scott

The Battle of Verril by Lallo

verrilThe final book in The Book of Deacon trilogy, Myranda and the Chosen must face the invaders from another world. But the generals of the D’karon are fearsome enemies that apparently can’t be killed. Even more troubling, the prophecy that brought the Chosen together states that only four of them will survive the final battle, and one will die.

The Battle of Verril
The Book of Deacon #3
by Joseph Lallo
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
July 31, 2012

As the final book of the trilogy, the author’s writing shows quite a bit of improvement, and I can only imagine that the act of writing such a lengthy trilogy was a growing experience and a labor of love.

That said, it was quite a labor to reach this point in the story, and there are plot holes and problems from the previous books that continue to overshadow the successes made with this final chapter of the trilogy.

The characters, both good and bad, actually begin to take on more layered personalities, but their rocky foundations still leave much to be desired.

As final battles go, things continue as you would more or less expect them to. Although I couldn’t help but wonder why a war that has lasted for over a century and was supposedly engineered by an invading force from another dimension would only just now be reaching its conclusion.

In the end, the overall story isn’t bad, just poorly executed. The entire series would have probably done better as a single book and with a generous amount of editing. Still, the author has shows quite a bit of improvement and has since written a few side stories that take place in the same universe, but have a much higher quality of writing.

Anyone who has managed to make it this far, should definitely check out some of the author’s later works.

Matthew Scott is the Dark Fantasy & Horror Editor of who describes himself as just another average reader who enjoys sharing his opinion on various books, authors, and whatever else may cross his path.

The Great Convergence by Lallo

greatconvThe second book in the The Book of Deacon trilogy, picks up directly where The Book of Deacon left off. Now that two of the Chosen have been found, it would seem the Perpetual War may finally end. But Lain isn’t interested in stopping a war, and while the prophesied spirit named Ether has finally been summoned, she has emotional bearing of a petulant child. With an end to the war in sight, Myranda has taken up the charge of finding the remaining Chosen, but dark forces are gathering to oppose her.

The Great Convergence
The Book of Deacon #2
by Joseph Lallo
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
July 31, 2012

Delving a little deeper into the world, The Great Convergence actually starts to build up to a workable plot. Unfortunately, it still suffers from a lot of the problems that plagued the first book. The overall story is still rather convoluted, and the characters too often come across as flat archetypes.

We do, however, finally have a villain or troupe of villains to address. As it turns out, Myranda’s world is being invaded by forces from another dimension, and the war that is currently being fought is really just an excuse to wipe out humanity.

But the villains all come across as the exact same, and I honestly had trouble trying to keep their names straight, since they all seemed to be clones of one another.

Myranda attempt to actually take charge in this book, but since she has no means of forcing the Chosen to act, her attempts to direct them just comes across as whining and nagging.

Lain remains flat and dull as he constantly broods in the background, and his friend Desmeres is little more than greed incarnate. (Actually both characters seem to have absolutely no moral compass and are motivated solely by their own selfish reasons, so it’s little wonder they get along.)

Ether and Ivy are introduced and act like spoiled children throughout the entire story. Ether is snobbish and cruel, looking down on everyone but Lain and herself. Meanwhile, Ivy has all the social grace and attitude of a five year old. And while it’s clear that the author wanted Ivy to be painted in a sympathetic light, her childlike naivete and constant whining wear on the nerves rather quickly.

Ultimately, the story doesn’t really go anywhere, since once again, the narrative comes to abrupt end and we’re left to wait for the next book. But for anyone who has bothered to read this far, the final book is more of an inevitability than anything else.

The Book of Deacon by Lallo

bookofdeaconOrphaned, homeless, and alone, Myranda is a young woman who is just trying to stay alive. The Perpetual War has been raging across the land for years now, and Myranda is one of the few people who sees the constant bloodshed as a waste of life. Her views make her unpopular, and she is forced to wander from town to town seeking shelter. Her life is completely changed, however, when she finds a dead soldier in the frozen wastes and ultimately takes his place in a prophecy that might just save the world.

The Book of Deacon
The Book of Deacon #1
Joseph Lallo
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
March 18, 2012

Before diving too deep into this book, it should be noted that this is the first in a trilogy. However, unlike a traditional trilogy, the books aren’t self contained stories. Instead, the narrative in the first two books simply drops off and is immediately picked up in the sequels. This makes it a bit difficult to get a clear picture of the overall story from just one book.

As for the characters, themselves, they’re rather poorly designed. Myranda is hopelessly passive and spends the majority of the book being tossed from plot point to plot point. The fact that she has all the personality and bearing of a sack of grain makes her a poor protagonist. She isn’t so much a part of the story as the story happens to her.

Leo/Lain might as well have truly been two completely different characters as his entire nature changes halfway through the first book. We aren’t really given an explanation for his sudden shift in personality, except that the story seemed to call for it.

The rest of the characters randomly appear and disappear, all for the sake of moving the scenes along. Their personalities are little more than archetypes to the point that they might as well have been named like the seven dwarfs in Snow White (Happy, Grumpy, Bashful, etc.).

And then the book ends. Where we’re going and why we’re going there is never really explained beyond a few vague references to a prophecy. The story does pick up and improve as we move to the second and third book, but it still has a tendency to drag.

If you’re looking for something fantasy based that is light, fluffy, and doesn’t require too much thought, the book isn’t too bad. But if you’re not willing to read through all three books to get the whole picture, I’d advise you not to even start.

Matthew Scott is the Dark Fantasy & Horror Editor of who describes himself as just another average reader who enjoys sharing his opinion on various books, authors, and whatever else may cross his path.

Bad Radio by Langlois

badradioDuring WWII, Abe Griffin was a member of a special task force that took on the strange and supernatural. One event in particular, however, left its mark on Abe. Now, sixty years later, Abe hasn’t aged a day, is preternaturally strong, and can heal from just about anything. But Abe’s abilities are more than they seem. The same ritual that gave Abe his abilities is being recreated, and the man responsible is determined to finish what he started. All he needs is Abe, and he’ll kill anyone that gets in his way.

Bad Radio
The Emergent Earth #1
Michael Langlois
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
August 21, 2011

Corpses and living people filled with parasites, giant worms, and blood rituals ensure that there is no shortage when it comes to gore in this particular tale. Throw in some psychics and obscure magic and you’ve got yourself a story. Or so you’d think.

But the truth is that this story just suffers from plain old bad writing. Characters are mortally wounded one moment and then they’re fine the next. Nobody even questions the fact that Abe seems to be able to heal from multiple stab wounds in minutes until three-fourths through the story. (Although no explanation is given as to how everyone else is alive and up walking around. All that blood has to come from somewhere.)

The story also has a nasty habit of using any and every lull to drop into lengthy exposition. I honestly almost laughed during one scene where a character was lying on the ground, supposedly bleeding to death and waiting for an ambulance, but manages to have an entire cellphone conversation chronicling Abe’s past.

Even worse is the fact that some of the exposition is literally a repeat of information already shared. It’s as though the characters have forgotten the details of each other’s lives, despite the exact same conversation having happening two chapters ago.

Really, I could go on, but the point is that the book is a mess. There’s already a sequel and I imagine this first book is meant to be part of a series or a trilogy, but I honestly don’t think I could bring myself to read more.

Matthew Scott is the Dark Fantasy & Horror Editor of who describes himself as just another average reader who enjoys sharing his opinion on various books, authors, and whatever else may cross his path.

Graveminder by Marr

graveminderRebekkah Barrow’s grandmother, Maylene, was the Graveminder. Exactly what that meant, Rebekkah never knew, but through most of her youth, she followed Maylene to every funeral and watched as Maylene performed a strange ritual with food and drink. Now Maylene is dead, and Rebekkah has returned to Claysville for the funeral. But unbeknownst to Rebekkah, she’s been chosen to take over the role of Graveminder, which means she has quite a task before her. Starting with finding out who murdered Maylene.

by Melissa Marr
William Morrow Paperbacks
January 17, 2012

This book hovers somewhere between love story and supernatural thriller, but can never seem to decide which it wants to be. As a result, it has trouble committing to either, and the story flounders a bit in the process.

On the one hand, we have Rebekkah and Bryon, an on-again, off-again couple. Byron is in love with Rebekkah, but Rebekkah apparently likes to randomly desert Byron every time they start getting serious. (As in Byron wakes up to find Rebekkah is gone and has moved half away across the country.)

On the other hand, we have undead spirits/zombies wandering around and eating people, and an entire town that is under a sort of magical oath that prevents them from even talking about it.

Where the problem comes in is that neither side is given a chance to truly develop. The magical aspects of the story are heavily downplayed through the majority of the book. Instead we focus on Rebekkah and Byron, and are given several flashbacks through their lives. Unfortunately, the history of their relationships doesn’t paint Rebekkah in a very positive light, and she comes off as flighty and downright cruel as we watch her abandon Byron again and again.

Then two-thirds through the book, the magic comes back full force, and we’re suddenly spending entire chapters in the land of the dead. It’s a bit like reading Romeo and Juliet, and then halfway through it switches to Night of the Living Dead.

Perhaps if the book has been longer, it would have had a chance to delve deeper into both of its aspects. But as it is, I finished the book with more questions than answers.

Matthew Scott is the Dark Fantasy & Horror Editor of who describes himself as just another average reader who enjoys sharing his opinion on various books, authors, and whatever else may cross his path.

The Woodcutter by Danley

woodcutterThe Woodcutter is a man of legend. He is the keeper of peace between the Twelve Kingdoms of Man and the Realm of the Faerie. So when a young woman is killed under mysterious circumstances, it is up to the Woodcutter to discover the cause. However, a dark new force is moving through the Twelve Kingdoms, and the stories of legend are changing. Magic, itself, has been perverted, and a war between the Realm of the Faerie and the Twelve Kingdoms is imminent. All that stands in its way is the Woodcutter.

The Woodcutter
Kate Danley
November 6, 2012

Imagine every fairy tale you’ve ever read. And not the modern versions that are all about happy endings, but the dark, original tales where men and women were maimed, blinded, and killed. Then roll them all together into one story, a fairy tale that combines them all, and you might come close to describing The Woodcutter.

The entire story is written in the same, almost lyrical style of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, which was initially a bit off-putting for me. But once I became accustomed to the writing, I barely noticed it, as I was completely enraptured by the story.

Despite the book drawing heavily on famous tales like Snow White and Little Red Riding Hood, the story itself is wholly original. The ease with which the writing slips between and combines these classics is amazing.

But even if the book hadn’t drawn on these time-honored tales, the core story would still strike me as belonging with those favored classics. Honestly, I loved how intricate the writing was.

The Woodcutter is definitely going into my list of favorites, and I encourage anyone who loves those old fairy tales to read this book.

Matthew Scott is the Dark Fantasy & Horror Editor of who describes himself as just another average reader who enjoys sharing his opinion on various books, authors, and whatever else may cross his path.

Abhorsen by Nix

Abhorsen2Concluding the Abhorsen Trilogy and picking up where Lirael left off, Abhorsen details the final battle between our heroes and Orannis, the Destroyer. With an evil necromancer and a Greater Dead manipulating Nicholas Sayre, the problem of Orannis’s resurrection has been solved by an unlikely fusion of magic and science. To make matters worse, the current Abhorsen Sabriel and King Touchstone are no where to be found. Lirael and Sameth must stop the Destroyer and save Nicholas, but neither are experienced enough to carry out such a monumental task. But if the Destroyer awakens, all their lives will be lost.

The Abhorsen Trilogy #3
by Garth Nix
October 6, 2009

Abhorsen brings the events of Lirael into fresh light and finally reveals the truth behind Lirael’s past, Sameth’s skills, and the origins of the Disreputable Dog and Mogget.

Much of the history of the Old Kingdom is explained, and we learn just how this strange and complex world was originally created. Of course some mysteries still abound, but answers to the larger questions are finally revealed.

Nix skillfully ties together the various threads of plot, and brings the story to a satisfying climax in which good and evil, life and death, and creation and destruction must battle to win. Of course no victory is assured without sacrifice, and Nix does well to draw the reader in with the promise that not all of our heroes may survive.

Looking back over both Lirael and Abhorsen, a lot of information and quite a few events are thrown at the reader. By the time I got to Abhorsen, I found myself in need of a refresher, having long forgotten some of the smaller details and side characters presented in Lirael.

With that in mind, I would strongly recommend anyone interested in the later story to at least start off with Sabriel as a way of easing into the more complex landscape of Lirael and Abhorsen. As far as good fantasy books with a touch of darkness go, I definitely recommend all three books.

Matthew Scott is the Dark Fantasy & Horror Editor of who describes himself as just another average reader who enjoys sharing his opinion on various books, authors, and whatever else may cross his path.

Lirael by Nix

liraelpbFourteen years have passed since the events of Sabriel, but all is not well in the Old Kingdom. In the second book of The Abhorsen Trilogy, we are introduced to Lirael, a daughter of the Clayr. However, unlike most Clayr with their dark skin, blond hair, and light eyes, Lirael is pale to almost white and her hair and eyes are black. Even more troubling is that Lirael has never once shown any sign of possessing the Sight, the ability to see into the possible futures and the birthright of the Clayr. But Lirael may be more than she imagines, and her life among the Clayr may soon be coming to an end. Something more terrible than the Greater Dead is coming and Lirael’s unique heritage may make her the only one able to stop it.

The Abhorsen Trilogy #2
Garth Nix
October 6, 2009

As is the case I find with the second book of many trilogies, Lirael doesn’t have a true ending. Instead it suddenly cuts off and is picked back up in the third and final book, Abhorsen.

The content of Lirael is much more in depth, however, and we are introduced to a host of new characters and dynamics. Sabriel, Touchstone, and Mogget all return, but they are no longer the central characters. Instead we meet Sabriel’s children, Ellimere and Sameth (although not much focus is given to Ellimere), as well as Sameth’s friend from Ancelstierre, Nicholas Sayre.

Part one focuses mainly on Lirael and her adventures with The Disreputable Dog, whereas part two switches to Prince Sameth, who struggles with his title of Abhorsen-in-waiting and the knowledge that he must one day take over for his mother.

Part three, brings Lirael and Sameth together, but ends with Nicholas missing and a terrible, ancient force threatening to be released.

Since much of the book is effectively just build up and only half of the whole story, it’s hard to really judge the book or its content. Nevertheless, I will say that the book did a wonderful job of immersing me back into the world of the Old Kingdom. Divided into three parts, each sub-story has it’s own mini-plot and challenges, while slowly introducing us to the characters.

The pacing is quite a bit slower than in Sabriel, but the story is just as captivating. It’s definitely worth a look.

Matthew Scott is the Dark Fantasy & Horror Editor of who describes himself as just another average reader who enjoys sharing his opinion on various books, authors, and whatever else may cross his path.

Sabriel by Nix

sabriel_coverSabriel is the daughter of the Abhorsen, a man tasked with ensuring the dead stay dead and are not left free to feast on the living. But Sabriel has been going to school in the non-magical land of Ancelstierre, where magic doesn’t exist and few believe such a thing even exists. However when her father goes missing, Sabriel must travel past the Border into the Old Kingdom and take up the title of Abhorsen for herself. The Greater Dead are stirring and something very old is threatening to break free past the gates that separate Life from Death.

The Abhorsen Trilogy #1
Garth Nix
October 6, 2009

The story of Sabriel is a very simple one, yet Nix weaves a very complex world of ancient magic and necromancy. The author doesn’t waste time with history or back story, and instead dives head first into the action. What little we do learn about the magic, necromancy, and the Old Kingdom is slowly pieced together through information spread out through the story.

Yet Nix’s easy going pace and simple prose doesn’t require the reader to understand more than the basic of concepts. At it’s heart, this is really a story about a young woman growing up, experiencing love, and finding her place in a confusing and troubled world.

If I had one complaint about Sabriel, it is that there wasn’t more. While Nix’s approach is sure to make the reading more palatable for those not wishing to be bogged down with the finer details, I found myself utterly swept away by this amazing and complex world. But the author expertly slips us only a taste of the Old Kingdom’s history and never tells us more that we absolutely need to know.

Fortunately, Sabriel is only the first in the Abhorsen trilogy. The book stands alone quite well, however, and even those not interested in continuing to the sequels are sure to enjoy this remarkable tale.

Matthew Scott is the Dark Fantasy & Horror Editor of who describes himself as just another average reader who enjoys sharing his opinion on various books, authors, and whatever else may cross his path.

The Silvered by Huff

In an alternate reality set in medieval times, there exists the kingdom of Aydori. Ruled by werewolves and mages, Aydori finds itself under attack by the Empire, a sprawling kingdom that wages war with the new and terrible powers of science. With the majority of the Aydori soldiers fighting on the front lines, the rest of the small kingdom is forced to flee to high ground. But a sneak attack by the Empire manages to capture five of Aydori’s most powerful mages.

The Silvered
by Tanya Huff
November 2012

With a prophecy foretelling the Empire and its king as the ultimate ruler of the land, and a holy war declared against the werewolves and mages, it falls to Mirian Maylin, a young girl who barely qualifies as a mage, and Tomas Hagen, a werewolf with no family left, to defy the Empire, rescue the captured mages, and see to it that the prophecy doesn’t come down on the side of the Empire.

I’ve always been a huge fan of Tanya Huff’s work, and this story certainly didn’t disappoint. And while the backdrop of a land ruled by magic fighting against the emerging power of science is not wholly original, Huff’s style of writing and character development puts a unique spin on the entire setup.

With that said, this book can be extremely complex. The number of characters, their relationships, importance, and rank can leave the reader juggling quite a bit of information early on. I actually had to reread the entire first chapter and make it a point to commit to memory exactly who was who.

It also bears mentioning that this is a book for more mature readers, in that it depicts quite a bit of bloodshed and death. The ravages of war leave no one untouched, and nearly every character loses a loved one on the battlefield.

Of course, like so many stories of its kind, the central focus is on a boy and girl and the feelings that develop between them on their journey. However, almost just as much focus is put on the captured mages, who aren’t simply waiting idly in their cells to be rescued. Huff also shies away from storybook endings where all the characters live happily ever after, and there are several moments in the story that are truly heartbreaking.

If you’re a fan of magic, werewolves, and good writing, you should definitely read this book.

Matthew Scott is the Dark Fantasy & Horror Editor of who describes himself as just another average reader who enjoys sharing his opinion on various books, authors, and whatever else may cross his path.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.