Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Odd Adventures With Your Other Father by Norman Prentiss / A Change Of Heart by Mark Benjamin / As Long As You Can by Tony Knighton

Odd Adventures with your Other Father by Norman Prentiss
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Buy the ebook from Amazon.co.uk

I received a copy of Odd Adventures With Your Other Father by Norman Prentiss as a reward for successfully nominating the book for publication through the KindleScout programme. Its publication date is Today! (31st May 2016).

Celia used to have two fathers, Jack and Shawn, but Jack died when she was only four. Now she is deemed old enough to understand, Shawn has been reliving memories of a fantastic road trip he and Jack took together straight from college so Celia can understand more about her other father. A closeted gay couple in the 1980s, Jack and Shawn felt obliged to keep their relationship secret and this resulted in not only a strong loving bond between the two, but also a deeper, darker psychic connection. Odd Adventures With Your Other Father has two main story threads: Celia's present day summer at camp and Shawn's telling of tales from the road trip.

I was hooked by the unusual premise of this story from the start and, although it is horror with descriptions of bizarre images and occurrences, I didn't find it too gory. Having said that, I could have done without being reminded of That Scene in Un Chien Andalou! The relationship between the younger Jack and Shawn is completely believable and this book is as much a romance as a horror novel. I enjoyed reading about their escapades and was also moved by their partnership and emotional bond. Celia and her friend Nora bring a lighter aspect to the story and their interactions, especially their dialogue, is sharply observed and fells genuine - often difficult to achieve with teenage characters.

I wouldn't be surprised if Odd Adventures With Your Other Father goes on to become a cult read as its blend of genres and subject matter is innovative and thought-provoking and should definitely appeal to a much wider audience than purely horror fans. The supernatural situations mirror and highlight real life homophobia and the psychological damage it causes, but in such a way that Odd Adventures never feels like it's hammering home a message. It's simply a wonderfully entertaining read.

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Norman Prentiss / Horror / Books from America

A Change Of Heart by Mark Benjamin
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Buy the ebook from Amazon.co.uk

I was contacted by author Mark Benjamin to review his new book, A Change Of Heart. The urban fantasy novel was published two days ago, the 29th May 2016.

Bullied his entire life, orphaned university graduate, Gabriel Harper, is bitten by a Royal vampire moments before sunrise, transforming him over the course of six terrible and exhilarating nights into a hybrid - human by day, vampire by night. Just as he learns to come to grips with what he has become, the Silver Legion, a covert vampire-hunting organisation, kidnap him and his three friends, forcing them to join their clandestine crusade. However, the Silver Legion remain unaware of Gabriel's nature until it is too late.

A Change Of Heart starts out well. The descriptions of Gabriel's attack by vampire is exciting and I enjoyed the anticipation of learning how he slowly changed, day by day, from entirely human to part-vampire. We meet Gabriel's friends and his dysfunctional adoptive parents which provides interesting background. The political machinations of both vampires and Legion are intricate with lots of betrayals and power struggles.

The novel is written with an unusual structure of short chapters being written in the third person, but with each from the viewpoint of a different character. Chapters are named for their leading character, but then mostly use a generic 'he said ..., he did ..., he thought ..., etc' (or occasionally 'she') which made it difficult for me to keep track of whose story thread I was following and, frequently, who individual sentences were actually referring to. Sometimes we jump person within half a page, other times we might stick with someone for three or four pages, and with a large cast, few of which we get to know well, I had to keep stepping away from the story to establish the protagonist. (Since I wrote this review, Mark has re-edited to address this problem prior to the paperback launch next month.) This considerably slowed the novel's pace as did the repetition of reading about the same events and discussions from multiple viewpoints.

I stuck with it though! There is a good overall storyline here which just needs stronger editing to allow it to shine. However, once we draw near to the close, I felt unrewarded. I had expected that the story threads I had painstakingly kept track of would be woven into an exciting finale showdown. However, (can you see my pet hate looming here?) most are left unresolved and tangled as our story just peters out and its potentially satisfying ending is replaced instead with a brief bizarre swerve into a completely new environment - presumably something to do with a planned sequel. It isn't quite as annoying as Amos Cassidy's abrupt mid-fight cessation (Crimson Midnight), but is enough to put me off further books in this series.

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Mark Benjamin / Fantasy / Books from England

As Long As You Can by Tony Knighton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Buy the book from Abebooks
Buy the ebook from Amazon.co.uk
Buy the paperback from The Book Depository

I received a copy of As Long As You Can by Tony Knighton from the publisher Crime Wave Press as a reward for signing up to their email newsletter. The short story is taken from Knighton's collection entitled Happy Hour And Other Philadelphia Cruelties and I am happy to have now got a copy of the whole book on the strength of this one tale.

Hank is a lifetime hustler whose day job is in a little call centre with a difference. This one was set up to con unsuspecting senior citizens out of large sums of money. Hank's second job is remarkably similar except that it uses stolen information in an extra layer of scamming - and his boss will not be happy if he finds out. As Long As You Can is eighteen pages long so doesn't have swathes of detail, but Knighton has created interesting characters with a sense of real poignancy to Hank's background and there is a disconcerting sense of menace throughout.

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Tony Knighton / Short stories / Books from America

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