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Monday, November 27, 2017

SPFBO: The Final Semifinalist Update (by Mihir Wanchoo)


For the last batch of books, I decided to combine all the remaining ten books into one group and see which books would join the 5 previous semifinalists. So here are my thoughts on all of them:

Miss Landon and Aubranael by Charlotte E. English: ML&A is a delightful story mixing romance and fairytales and the author wonderfully writes these characters who are endearing to say the least. A simple story told with gusto and a truly vibrant cover made this book a worthy read. Plus as a reader who generally doesn’t get hooked by Regency romance plots, this book had me chuckling along and enjoying myself with its flair and pace.

The Heartstone Thief by Pippa DaCosta: The Heartstone Thief was another intriguing title which had a spectacular cover. The story was a dark one and I enjoyed that aspect. The characterization wasn’t spectacular but it kept me intrigued and in the end while I enjoyed the story settings. I didn’t find the plot to be gripping enough and so while I completed the story, it didn’t leave an impact..

The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale by Danielle E Shipley: This was a unique book with regards to its plot and settings as it mixed the Robin Hood mythos within an urban fantasy setting. The story however was a bit drier than I would have liked and the pace was also on the slower side. Hence this book didn’t work for me.

Shadows for a Princess by Dominique Kristine: This was an epic fantasy book with some really terrific female characters however the plot is more than a bit standard and hence this book didn’t make the cut for me.

The General's Legacy by Adrian G Hilder: Adrian Hilder’s fantasy debut checks all of the boxes that fantasy fans love. Epic action and battle sequences, check. Relatable, heroic characters check. A world filled with magic & intrigue double check. All in all this was a book that while ending on a cliffhanger-ish situation (due to the book being split into two volumes, of which this is the first). I appreciated that the author had given me the heads up about it. This book while not doing anything out of the box, certainly provides a very enjoyable fantasy story. That’s something that every debut author should strive for.

Thunder Hunter by Rachel Medhurst: Thunder Hunter had me excited as it was an urban fantasy which had its roots in norse mythology. The writing style and the main character voice reminded me a lot of Tim Marquitz in terms of action mixed in with the machismo of the main character. However unlike Tim Marquitz’s Demon Squad series, this book didn’t have that flair to carry it across and I lost interest in the middle.

Gods of Color by C.H. Baum: C. H. Baum’s debut effort was a nice mix of dark and epic fantasy and to top it off there was an interesting magic system which reminded me a lot of the one in Brandon Sanderson’s Warbreaker. The book’s pace also helped in this read and it was a dark and strong effort.

Andy McBean and the War of the Worlds by Dale Kutzera: This was such a fun book, I loved the author’s twist on the War Of The Worlds storyline and how he managed to infuse this children’s book with so many antics. Overall this is a book and series which pokes fun at the classic SFF stories and it will definitely have its audiences among the adult and kid audiences.

Haven of Shadows by Ken Lozito: After reading Haven Of Shadows, one thing is imminently clear Ken Lozito certainly knows how to write and write well he does. This book had shades of epic fantasy mixed in with S&S and to top it off the characterization was very engaging. Overall this book had me reading it all the way till the end and I had very few complaints from it.

Night of the Chalk by Samuel Gately : This book was the one whose cover had me intrigued and once I started reading I found there were even more things to make it stand out. Firstly kudos to the author for the world building and for creating a plot that engages the reader to look further for clues. I certainly enjoyed the “less is more” aspect of the author’s writing style as he carefully constructed each chapter to build upon the last and increasing the claustrophic confines of the story. Mixing spy craft, dragons & good writing, Samuel Gately certainly won me over.


Overall within this round, I had quite a few good titles and authors mixed in and it was certainly hard to narrow down my choice to just two titles but I felt that would a fair decision. So the two titles which made the semifinal cut are The General’s Legacy(Part I) and Night Of The Chalk. A tip of my hat to Charlotte English, Dale Kutzera, & Ken Lozito who narrowly missed out.

I’ll be reviewing all the three remaining semifinalists within this week and will be announcing the FBC’s finalist by the middle of next week. Many congratulations to our seven semifinalists as I believe this lot of 30 books had a lot of good titles and I can safely say that this was the group of death in SPFBO 2017

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