Book Reviews – Emeline & the Mutants / The Ring of Lost Souls

Well, I have a double whammy for you today – not one but two reviews!

I’ve recently read both of Rachel Tsoumbakos’s books back-to-back. Here’s what I thought of them:

Emeline And The Mutants

EATM

I’d heard some good things about this book and had wanted to read it for a while – I’m pleased to say I wasn’t disappointed.

It did take me a few pages to really get into this; the meticulous world building at the beginning read like a bit of an info-dump yet the author managed to keep my interest. Once I read past this, I was engrossed.

Emeline is feisty, independent and doesn’t take crap from anyone. She’s also a crack shot with both gun and bow and has a very keen sense of smell. With the exception of her brother, Warwick, all her family are dead, so when he’s murdered in their kitchen her world turns upside down.

I loved Emeline’s character. She is very well crafted as a sort of urban warrior who’s in the Australian bush. Her hardened exterior makes her a little aloof from people around her yet it’s understandable with all she’s been through. It was nice to see her vulnerable side emerge as a result of Warwick’s murder and endearing the way she grows to really care about Gwennie (Warwick’s girlfriend). When she sets out to discover why her brother was killed, Emeline has to dig deep in an effort to piece everything together whilst coping with her grief. What she uncovers shakes her foundations, especially when someone she trusts turns out to be the biggest villain of them all.

The supporting cast are equally as well drawn. Gwennie grows on you as she becomes Emeline’s companion; she has a gritty determination which blends well with her softer and more caring side. This makes her a perfect sidekick for Emeline. Milosh, the charismatic, caring and handsome leader is not all he seems and as the author’s skilled hand reveals his ‘alter ego’, we see a deliciously cold, power-driven, murderous individual who doesn’t care how many lives are lost (including that of his own brother) as long as he can continue down his chosen path. Besnik (Milosh’s brother) is a little difficult to puzzle out at first – can he be trusted or not? It is a testament to Tsoumbakos’s characterisation that she keeps you guessing as to his true intentions for a while.

The plot is well thought out and scarily believable. Tsoumbakos portrays the mutants and how they came into being in a plausible manner and the story races along at quite a pace. At the end I had a few unanswered questions, leading me to wonder whether a second book was being considered. However, there was enough closure for this to be a standalone novel and a damn good one at that. One of the things I liked most was the originality; this book is a blend of genres which work really well.

My only criticism of this very enjoyable read was the number of mistakes I found which should have been noticed and corrected prior to publication. This didn’t really spoil my reading pleasure, but did lose it one star.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this!

The Ring of Lost Souls

TROLS

This second novel by Rachel Tsoumbakos is an exciting blend of fantasy, paranormal and suspense.

Isobel, the main character, is starting to get her life back together after a painful break-up with her boyfriend and losing her job. She takes up jogging, and what she finds in the grounds of an abandoned mental facility radically changes her life.

Isobel has been well-crafted. She’s strong and determined, but also vulnerable and to a degree, a little too trusting – at first. The way she deals with events are totally realistic and readers can share her burgeoning love, fear, distrust and puzzlement as things unfold. This woman could have done with a little more laughter in her life, but it wasn’t the path she was meant to tread, so you never feel that it’s missing from the story. That, to me, is the sign of a good writer.

The supporting characters were also well written, especially Lottie. She’s quite mysterious and it’s not until the end you find out who she really is and what’s on her agenda.

The setting, Larundel, actually exists. The former mental hospital, as it’s depicted in the book, is a broken down building covered in graffiti, which is slowly being reclaimed by the flora and fauna surrounding it. It’s been plundered for most of its valuable assets and now resembles a bomb site with rubble, abandoned furniture and general rubbish left around to trip up the unwary. As Tsoumbakos takes you through the halls, wards and various rooms, you get a real sense of how it looks. It’s so well depicted you can easily picture it in your mind.

I loved the blending of genres in this book and the author builds the suspense in an artful way. Many a night I read into the wee small hours, because I just had to find out what was coming next. The fantasy and paranormal side is believable and put together in an interesting concept – one that I really enjoyed.

If there was one thing I didn’t like about this book, it was the number of missing words. However, putting that aside, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this – it’s a fantastic read!

So there you have it. Rachel Tsoumbakos sure knows how to spin a tale and keep a reader entertained. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next! If you want to find out more, or better yet get a copy for yourself, click on the titles for links to Amazon.

Rachel

The lovely Rachel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Review: YUM by Nicole Antonia Carson

I’ve been meaning to write a review of this fantastic book for months and I’ve finally gotten around to it. YUM is not your normal horror; it has shades of dark comedy and plenty of suspense. George Orwell meets George Romero in this interesting novel.

 Yum

This dark comedic horror offers thrilling suspense and enough plot twists to tie you in knots!

The premise of this well-written and unique tale, set ninety years in the future, is that animals have mastered the art of speech and are equal with man. Animals are fitted with opposable thumbs and as a result they are able to fully contribute to society, hold down jobs, live in houses and socialise with other species. Consequently, in all but a few countries in the world, laws exist to protect both humans and animals alike from being eaten and if caught, the penalties are severe. The new society works well until a rash of feedings begin . . .

The two main characters, Dr James Lewis and Emily Lewis (Dr. Lewis’s great-granddaughter), are beautifully characterised. James is a champion for animal rights and spearheaded the changes to society at great personal cost and sacrifice. He is a brilliant man with a gentle soul, but at 93 years old, he needs a little help from modern science to keep his faculties intact. Carson has given this character great depth, successfully hooking the reader into liking and caring about this fragile old man. She artfully explores the different sides to his character and manages to make him jump of the page. Emily is a teenager growing up in a family of very high achievers and she feels overwhelmed and dwarfed by it. However, she has inherited her great-grandfather’s determination and love for animalkind, giving her the strength to follow her own path and not the one her high-powered mother has in mind. Again, Carson has crafted an amazing character; the reader can feel and relate to the angst Emily suffers as well as her loving nature. Emily is no pushover though and has a bit of a temper, which has been realistically portrayed.

All the supporting cast have been brought to life and each given their own personalities so you find yourself attaching to them as well.

The plot is interesting with unexpected events occurring throughout and culminates in the most unexpected twist of all. It moves along at quite a pace and the author has timed it extremely well, giving you moments of respite before the next whammy hits. The tale is very different and enjoyable. Whilst there is a little comedy, it’s subtle and in no way detracts from the serious side. The dialogue is realistic and relatable and Carson does well to make it specific for each species. I felt the description was a little underdone in places, particularly when it came to some of the more emotive scenes. However, Carson sets the scene sufficiently for the reader to imagine what’s missing.

For me, the mark of a good book is when you want the story to continue after you’ve turned the last page and that’s what I wanted with Yum. A great and entertaining read from an author to watch!