Category Archives: book review

Review of Incarceron, by Catherine Fisher

I purchased a copy of Incarceron, by Catherine Fisher.

Description from Goodreads:
Incarceron is a prison so vast that it contains not only cells and corridors, but metal forests, dilapidated cities, and wilderness. It has been sealed for centuries, and only one man has ever escaped. Finn has always been a prisoner here. Although he has no memory of his childhood, he is sure he came from Outside. His link to the Outside, his chance to break free, is Claudia, the warden’s daughter, herself determined to escape an arranged marriage. They are up against impossible odds, but one thing looms above all: Incarceron itself is alive . . .

Soooo, what to say about Incarceron? It’s good. The writing is stellar. The idea is big and interesting. I appreciate the world-building and the characters. But I felt like I’d been reading this book for 15 years, instead of a week. A lot happens, don’t get me wrong. But it just felt really slow. I’ll read book two at some point. I want to see what happens. But I’m gonna give myself a break from it first.


Review of The Red Sword, by Michael Wallace

I received an Audible code for a copy of Michael Wallace‘s The Red Sword.

Description from Goodreads:
Markal, an apprentice wizard, is thrust unexpectedly to the head of his order when his master is decapitated by a gray-skinned assassin. The order’s walled gardens have the power to restore their dead master to life, but only if the apprentices can protect his body long enough for their sanctuary to work its magic.

When a barbarian warrior named Bronwyn invades the gardens wielding a soul-binding sword and accuses the order of harboring a powerful sorcerer, Markal thinks she is another assassin come to finish the job. But Bronwyn is a paladin, a holy warrior from across the mountains, and her presence is a harbinger of a greater threat than Markal had imagined, a necromancer with the power to command the dead.

Together, they must join forces before the necromancer destroys Markal’s order and overruns Bronwyn’s homeland.

Honestly not bad and the narrator, Rosemary Benson, did an excellent job, which really enhanced the story for me. There was quite a bit of humor in the way the apprentices interacted. Each had a distinct voice. I really appreciated that there was more than one male/female platonic friendships. And the writing is pretty good, though I would call this YA fiction despite the characters ages.

All in all, I was pretty pleased with the story. I found a few aspects of it unbelievable and I would have like more explanation of the magic system. What’s up with all the bleeding, for example? But I only really had one major complaint. Or rather one, three pronged complaint. This is a bit of spoiler, be warned.

One of my favorite characters, and more to the point, an important character, the character on the cover died. This I could handle, except for three factors. One, it’s completely anticlimactic. She was basically just thrown away with no fanfare or importance. Her death was like three sentences in the background. This completely didn’t fit her importance in the story up to that point. Two, if you’re going to throw a character away as meaningless, I don’t think you can also put her on the cover of the book. Sorry. This annoyed me. Three, she was one of two female characters in the book (not counting the background servants). The book really did need her or at the very least another HER.

Review of The Calling Tree: A Tale of Immortality, by C.F. Waller

I received an Audible copy of C. F. Waller‘s The Calling Tree through AudioBookBoom.

Description from Goodreads:
Dominick Dunn is in people acquisition. When the phone rings he shuffles off to the far corners of the globe to retrieve the captured, then turns them over to his employer. He doesn’t actually believe these people are immortal, but the pay is good and he likes to travel. Despite rumors that his quarry meets an unthinkable fate at the hands of his employer, he’s content with his lot in life. 

Aaron Wessker is miserable. His life has not gone according to plan. Trapped in a dead end job bartending in Vegas, he longs for a family he lacks, or at least the possibility of a girlfriend. 

Their lives are about to intersect, causing them both to rethink their place in the world. More importantly they will have to change their opinions of the possibility of immortality. 

Unfortunately for both of them they will have to do this very quickly. Dunn’s quarry is also being pursued by something much more deadly than his employers. 

Dominick Dunn is about to become the hunted and Aaron’s world is about to be turned on its side. 

A solid three stars. Awesome cover and I enjoyed the story and the characters a lot, but there is a formalness to the writing that never let me wholly sink into it. And as I listened (I had the audio version) I finally figured out what created this terseness. Two things: there is s decided lack of contractions and the speech tags are too often not simply ‘said.’ I’m not one who claims a writer should never use anything other than “”bla, bla, bla,” she said.” But it sure is hard to make “”bla, bla, bla,” she reiterated” as inconspicuous. None of this is helped by Baker‘s narration, which, though smooth, is additionally stiff in places, with a couple oddly pronounced or emphasized words. As an aside on the narration, I greatly disliked the echoing effect used to show internal thoughts.

There were one or two possible consistency issues that I raised my eyebrows at. For example, at one point a waitress walked by after I was sure the characters had left her bar and gone to a different restaurant. Maybe I misunderstood something, but…

Lastly, there were a few aspects of the story that irked me a little, though these are personal pet peeves and might not bother others. Most of them are men relating to women issues that I figure are symptoms of a male author, as there is a decided male gaze.

One, every waitress in the book is hit on by someone. The vast majority of female background characters, in fact, only seem to be there for a man to comment on. Two, the ‘hero’ gets the girl for no apparent reason at the end. I suppose just because that’s what is supposed to happen. There is nothing up to that moment to suggest there is a romance in play or even that she is a woman interested in romance. Three, (sorry to be vague, but I’m trying to avoid a whole spoiler) the very last little twist isn’t possible without the ‘wife’s’ death. And since they all know that would be inevitable in order for that twist to occur, that means they threw her life away in the end. This seems unlikely if he loved her so much, but also and more importantly, makes her feel like a substance-less prop, as female characters so often are.

All in all, not bad at all, but maybe not my favorite of the year.