Monday, November 30, 2015

RELEASE DATE BOOK REVIEW! Hellmaw: Dragon Dreams by Chris A. Jackson

Aleksi is feeling the crunch of grad school, but thanks to a new adviser and project that promises an exciting dissertation, suddenly things seems to be going her way. Her new advisor, Dr. "Hutch" Hutchinson, is generous, attentive, and engaging with all his students. Aleksi has always been a hard worker, and this project he's come to her with is right up her alley.
But there's something hidden in the fossils she's examining. A journal, explaining why this particular sample isn't what it's been documented to be. There's almost nothign left but a few teeth, and all the imaging they get suggests this is a creature no one's ever seen before.
Then Aleksi starts having dreams. Blood, meat, people screaming. Hunting. Aleksi is changing, and so is Derrick, another grad student who has been trying to horn in on her project. But he's not quite turning into what she is. There's something very wrong with Derrick. It just doesn't smell right.
She may not be human any more, but Aleksi doesn't think Derrick was human to begin with.

That's my summary. Here's the ones I pulled from amazon

Bestselling author Chris Jackson brings us the second HELLMAW novel, an up-close-and-personal exploration of what happens at university when brilliant researchers uncover far more than they were expecting. Will it be murder, daemons, dragons, or love?

Jackson's book is set in a modern-day Harvard, and his research shows through in the technological processes Aleksi and her partners (especially Bob) go through. I'm not a paleontologist-- in fact, I'm just not very science-y at all) but even I was able to follow, at least in theory, what was going on in the labs. There was very little in the way of world-building, other than to familiarize myself with a place I've never been to. That left my brain's adjusting free to take in all that technobabble I mentioned a moment ago.

It was very easy to sink into Jackson's writing. Even more satisfying is his subtlety, particularly in character development. The small changes in Aleksi's behavior, as the physiological transformation went on, were perfect. Tiny things happened one might not notice at first-- especially Aleksi herself-- but as the book went on, they became more and more apparent. This book was origami, or a delicate piece of lace, or a fine painting-- every detail in its place, and I fully believe that if I were to read it again, I'd notice even deeper details I hadn't spotted the first time.

My Thoughts
I can honestly say that this book was a crescendo, from beginning to end. I was hooked from the start, riding along on Aleksi's excitement (and her perils at the hands of her original adviser). Once the project began, the developments of it intrigued my own curiosity. I wanted Aleksi to work herself to the bone finding these answers. But it was nearing the halfway point that the plot exploded. Even then, though, things progressed like a fire creeping across a field. It kept growing faster the longer it went. The further I read in this book, the less I wanted to put it down. It was perfectly paced, in my opinion, though I can see how some would probably consider it slow or even boring at first. This was a downhill roller coaster the whole way, getting faster as we neared the end. All in all, reading this book was a great experience.

Would I Recommend This Book? Absolutely! I loved the slow build and explosion of plot that Jackson achieved with this book. It was engaging from start to finish, and I had the whole nail-biting, yelling at the book when bad things happen experience here. There was even a particularly appalling moment that he diffused with shocking relief. This was just a plain out great book. I give Hellmaw: Dragon Dreams a carnivorous 5 of 5 stars!

For more information on the author, visit

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Book Review: Pirate's Promise by Chris A. Jackson


Torius Vin and the crew of the Stargazer always enjoy a chance to tweak the noses of slave traders, but those opportunities don't come often. Especially now that Torius and his lover Celeste are on vacation out in the desert. but when an old "friend", Vreva Jhafae, contacts Torius with an offer to join a band of slave liberators, he can't refuse the change. There's just one problem-- Vreva is being hounded by a inquisitor who doesn't realize her quarry is right under her nose. And worse, Vreva is falling for her. Will Vreva's cover be blown and bring down Torius and his crew? Or will Vreva be able to take her new lover out of the equation before that happens?

That's my summary. Here's the one I pulled from

Torius Vin is perfectly happy with his life as a pirate captain, sailing the Inner Sea with a bold crew of buccaneers and Celeste, his snake-bodied navigator and one true love. Yet all that changes when his sometime friend Vreva Jhafae—a high-powered courtesan and abolitionist spy in the slaver stronghold of Okeno— draws him into her shadowy network of secret agents. Caught between the slavers he hates and a navy that sees him as a criminal, can Torius continue to choose the path of piracy? Or will he sign on as a privateer, bringing freedom to others—at the price of his own?


Pirate's Promise takes place not too long after the previous book in the series, Pirate's Honor. While a reader doesn't have to read the first book for this one to make sense, it would help establish the characters and their interpersonal relationships better.

My Thoughts

Pirate's Promise is a fitting followup to Pirate's Honor. While we still have the good old crew, we get more information on some smaller characters this time, and the original main people are developed even further. The adventure aspect is still high, with some great battles and promises of intrigue and tension.  I love the way Torius's relationship with Celeste has grown, and how he and Vreva get along in this book. But I honestly think my favorite character line in this book was actually Vreva's. She intrigued me from the beginning in Pirate's Honor, and my curiosity was well-sated with this book.

The plot was the rich tapestry I've come to expect from Jackson, with three solid threads (Vreva, Celeste, and Torius) each with compelling trials and conflicts that were just plain excellent. And of course, they all tied together perfectly come the end. I won't lie, I want more of these books. A lot more.

Would I Recommend This Book? Absolutely! With Torius and his crew on a new adventure, there's plenty of fun and excitement to be had. Throw in answers to questions about characters' pasts that I desperately wanted, and this was a recipe for success. I give Pirate's Promise an iron-collar-wearing 5 of 5 stars!

For more on the author, visit

Book Review: Pirate's Honor by Chris A. Jackson

Nobody crosses Torius Vin.
A pirate captain doesn't have to be a scoundrel, but when someone turns the authorities on Torius and his crew, he has to get even. Now, Torius and his loyal crew, including his girlfriend Celeste-- a serpentine navigator-- and his new first mate, plan to get even. Celeste will have to pose as a human and even seduce another man to make their plan work. Everything seems to be pointing towards a strain of Torius and Celeste's relationship, only complicated by Torius's addiction to Celeste's venom. Is their vengeance doomed to fail?
Or is there another betrayal in the works?

That's my summary. Here's the one I pulled from

A pirate captain of the Inner Sea, Torius Vin makes a living raiding wealthy merchant ships with his crew of loyal buccaneers. Few things matter more to Captain Torius than ill-gotten gold—but one of those is Celeste, his beautiful snake-bodied navigator. When a crafty courtesan offers the pirate crew a chance at the heist of a lifetime, it’s time for both man and naga to hoist the black flag and lead the Stargazer’s crew to fame and fortune. But will stealing the legendary Star of Thumen chart the corsairs a course to untold riches—or send them all to a watery grave?

Torius Vin and his crew live in a fantasy world that is rich with lore. The characters have pasts, parts of which matter and some that don't matter to the narrative. The world has history, customs, cultures, races, and tons of other information that makes it full and believable. Torius and his crew are just part of a larger world, but their story is cohesive and fulfilling in itself. The world taunts at so many more stories to tell, but Jackson keeps things clean and contained, which had to be no easy feat considering all the goodies he had to choose from in the world.

My Thoughts
Pirate's Honor is a Pathfinder book, based in the world and lore of the tabletop RPG game. As a player of Pathfinder and Dungeons and Dragons, it felt like coming home. I have to be honest, even as a tabletop gamer, I never really found much drive to read books set in the gaming worlds. It wasn't until meeting Chris that I decided to give a game book a whirl.
I am glad I did. I was always afraid that reading gaming books would make me cringe, that it would be stunted, just a clear attempt of a writer to narrate their own game campaign. WOW, was I wrong. I should have known better.
Pirate's Honor had adventure, dialogue, well-fleshed-out characters, and was just plain a joy to read (or have read to me, as I listened through Audible). Sure, I sort of expected fights to be awkward... but I was wrong about how that would go, too. This book was ridiculously exciting, and was nothing like reading, watching, or playing Pathfinder itself. It was a novel first, a gaming world second. THAT was a winning move for me.
I love how Jackson really thinks of his readers. He's a subtle writer, giving the reader hints of insight into future events and conflicts with just enough advance notice for you to guess at what's going to happen. He encourages the reader to think, to try and figure out things, before you realize what's really happening. Sometimes, I was even right. But he manages to keep me surprised along with his characters, and that is just plain brilliant. And he gives an ending that satisfies. I am ready to dig into the next one!

Would I Recommend This Book? Absolutely! Jackson has created a competant crew and a great adventure that challenges their wits and abilities. It's a pleasure to read and just plain out fun. I give Pirate's Honor a grog-swilling 5 of 5 stars!
For more on the author, visit

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Book Review- The Black: Arrival by Paul E. Cooley


The scientists at Houston Analytical Laboratories (HAL) are prepared for a hectic weekend of rush-job tests on the crude oil found by the offshore drilling rig Leaguer. It's routine, but there's a big bonus in it for them if they can get things finished by Sunday. The preliminary tests from the rig itself have to be false. There's no way oil can be this sweet and pure. It's a gold mine if the barrel HAL is about to receive really carries such perfect oil.

But there is something unexpected in the barrel they receive. It's giving odd, unbelievable results on all the tests. It moves on its own. It seems to be... alive.

And it wants to eat everyone.

That's my summary. Here's the one I pulled from amazon

The crew of the deep-sea exploration rig Leaguer discovers oil sweeter, purer, and sure to be more easily refined than anything that’s ever existed. To confirm their own analysis of their billion dollar find, a test barrel is flown from the drill site off the coast of Papua/New Guinea to Houston Analytical Laboratories (HAL).

As the unsuspecting scientists at HAL await the arrival of the oil, they ready their lab for what they know is an important job. They’ve seen the test results from Leaguer; this find could make history.

While the barrel is on its way to Houston, an “infection” breaks out on the far-away rig. And as life aboard the rig descends into chaos, the scientists at HAL make their own discovery—what Leaguer found is indeed historic; it just isn’t oil. Instead, they’ve brought up a dangerous organism that could threaten all life on earth.

Trapped in their labs, the scientists must find a way to fight a creature that defies chemistry, physics, and biology.

The Black: Arrival, a parallel story to the Amazon Horror Best-Seller The Black, is a page-turning suspense novel that will fill you with claustrophobic terror.

Now that The Black has arrived, will humanity survive?

I loved that The Black: Arrival isn't a "traditional" sequel. It's not even really a sequel. It's, as I've heard Cooley refer to it, a paraquel. The events of this book dovetail with a point in The Black, and events run in tandem with the other book. It's a brilliant move on the author's part, if you ask me, and I'm very eager to find out where the next book is going to take things.

You can check out my comments on Cooley's writing style (especially for The Black) here.

My Thoughts
After reading The Black, I was chomping at the bit to find out what happened when It reached land and broke out. Because we all knew it was going to. I loved the terms Cooley set for it to come out, with the labs and its ongoing construction, as well as how it events initially got going. The dread he set up for us in The Black are hyped up more with the threat of exposing the world to the nastiness of It. The whole time I read it, I was just dreading the signs of the thing appearing, even before the characters were, just because I knew what to look for. You don't need to read The Black before this book, which is great. You can read one or the other first, and things will make sense, but either way, I think you'll start dreading things pretty quickly, and it's great.
The main issue I had with The Black: Arrival was getting lost. With the construction and the two buildings, even knowing they were joined with the skybridge, I just could not get my bearings, and it caused me a lot of trouble the more the book went on. I had no idea where I or my characters were a lot, and it detracted so much from the reading that I got frustrated.
The characters were maybe a little flat, but I only think that in going back and really thinking about it. There was nothing "wrong" with them, really, but I don't know that I was able to get attached to any of them. Overall, though, it is a great book, and I am ready for the next one!

Would I Recommend This Book? Yep! The Black: Arrival is a book you can pick up and read through without reading the "first" book of the series. They don't have to be in a specific order, which is great. If you want to read a book and have a sense of dread all the way through to the end, this is a great one to pick up. I give The Black: Arrival an under-construction 4 of 5 stars.

For more on the author, visit

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Book Review: A Broken Magic by Justin R. Macumber

It has been nearly a year since Skylar discovered she had magic, that she was descended from a race from another place whose rebellion spilled over into our world. With the threat gone and the portal closed, things could only get better. Except that the world is now cut off from the foreign magical source, and what's left is poisoning Skyler. Determined to heal the world and find others who might be suffering like her, Skyler and her companions find themselves drawn to a lost foreigner, an Elrul named Enwyn, to find help.

But someone else is looking for Enwyn. Her twin brother, Embreal. He wants Enwyn's remaining magic for his own purposes, and he's groomed another young woman, Cassandra, to act as his tool in claiming her. he and Cassandra will stop at nothing to reopen the portal and claim the world for their own.

That's my summary. Here's the one I pulled from amazon

On a quest for domination, evil sorcerers from another land tore apart the barriers between our worlds, and the release of magical energy burned the Earth. Ten years later, a young woman named Skylar took control of the magic and used it to stop the sorcerers and seal the rift. Earth was saved.

Or so it seemed.

Now a new threat rises. Though the rift was closed, sorcerers from that distant land still lin in our world, and the greatest of them, Embreal, has vowed to open a new rift. Helping him is Cassandra, - a dark reflection of Skylar - who is devoted to him heart and soul. Will Skylar's magic be enough to stop them? And, when she finally comes face to face with Cassandra, will she user her power against someone she so easily could have become?

You can check out my comments on Macumber's writing style here.

My Thoughts
I was a little underwhelmed with the first book of this series, A Minor Magic, when I first listened to it last year. I gave it 3 stars. I did go back and give it another listen before diving into A Broken Magic, and I liked it much better the second time around. I would definitely give it 4 stars now. With that grounding, I approached this book with a clear palate, avoiding prejudices I originally had against the first book.
It was better than the first. From the get-go. I see a lot of what I call "Second Book Stigma" where the second book of a series (especially trilogies) pales in comparison to the first. Macumber did a spectacular job with A Broken Magic, and I am ready for the next book in the series. There has to be one, after this ending!
Macumber branched out more with the characters in this book, giving us multiple point-of-view characters so we got to get into Cassandra's head as well as a few other characters besides Skylar. It was well done, and each POV character had his or her own distinct ways of seeing the world. Macumber's characterization has always been great (I've read a few of his other books, too), and he just keeps getting better. I look forward to seeing where things take Skylar and Nathan next!

Would I Recommend This Book? Sure! Macumber writes cleanly, and this book keeps driving forward. his characters are real and present themselves that way, whether or not you ever actually get to see things from their POV. And he's really given an ending to grab the reader for the next book. I'm ready for it. I give A Broken Magic a uniformed 4 of 5 stars.

For more on the author, visit

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Book Review: Hunters Unlucky by Abigail Hilton


For sixteen years, the Creashia and the Ferryshaft have been in an uneasy peace. It's into this world that Storm, a half-orphaned runt Ferryshaft, is born. When he learns the Creashia raid and kill a certain number of his herd every year, he begins to question why. The bigger, stronger Ferryshaft don't speak of the raids, much less fight back. It's going to be up to Storm to change things.

If he can survive a world where everything and everyone seems to be against him.

That's my summary. Here's the one I pulled from the author's website

Storm is born into a world of secrets – an island no one visits, names no one will say, and deaths that no one will talk about. The answers are locked in his species' troubled past, guarded by the fierce creasia cats. But when Storm's friends are threatened, he decides that he must act, pitting himself against the creasia to show that they can be resisted and outwitted. To prove his point, he must stay one step ahead of clever hunters, who have more to lose than Storm imagines. 

For animals, generations pass much more quickly than they do for humans. Sixteen years has brought about three generations since the war ended, and yet the forgers of the peace are still alive. When lives move fast, so too will peace and war, especially in species that have fought each other for ages. When instincts fight with morals, Hunters Unlucky is what you get.

I've talked about Hilton's style before in my reviews of the Guild of the Cowry Catchers books (here). She remains true to being clear and easy to read while still giving great depth and painting wonderful pictures. You don't read her writing (or listen to it, since I experienced this book through audio) so much as you feel it.

My Thoughts
I got sucked into Hunters Unlucky from the onset. It's ridiculously refreshing as Hilton once again has no human characters. These animals are believeable characters with some human-like traits, but when you get down to it, they're still animals and have animal behaviors. They think like animals. If Animal Farm met fantasy, this is what you'd come up with, and Hilton really nailed it. I'm not talking about the social commentary, I'm talking about the value. Don't disregard this book because it's talking animals. It's not simple or childish in any way.
I never felt left out for being human, though. It would be so easy to fail to connect with the characters because they're not human. Honestly, I didn't care one bit. I still can't say for certain exactly what a ferryshaft is, but I have my ideas. Hilton never really explains them. It would not make sense in the book for her to. Being Ferryshaft isn't unusual for them, so why would they inspect themselves as if they were unusual? It's brilliantly done, and I can't imagine the work that went into making this book what it was.

Would I Recommend This Book? Highly. Hunters Unlucky is unlike anything I've read in a long time (not counting Hilton's other work) and this book truly is a gem. If you're looking for something different from the norm, or if you miss the talking animal type books from your childhood but want an adult story featuring that sort of character, this is the book for you. It's a great mesh of nostalgia and the new. I give Hunters Unlucky a hidden 5 of 5 stars.

For more information on the author, visit

Book Review: A Tangled Web by John G Walker


When Tom Statford woke up after the disaster at Christmastime, he hardly knew who he was, and he certainly didn't know what had happened. He had no clue what landed him in a mental institution. There is something tugging at the back of his thoughts, though: certainty that he isn't supposed to be here.

But things are worse than that. The doctor who runs the place has photos of the murders he committed. An insane inmate is determined to beat the crap out of Tom in just a few days' time. There's a woman who keeps showing up in Tom's dreams, never really answering questions, but hinting that she knows what the truth is.

She knows what Tom himself doesn't know.

Who is Tom Statford?

That's my summary. Here's the one I pulled from Amazon

Tom Statford woke up a week ago in a mental institution, told he was raving of gods and monsters. Worse, he was told he was one of those monsters, killing a man in cold blood.
Now, he must discover who he is, what he is, and how to escape before another patient enacts their own form of justice. Nothing is as it seems and the lunatics run the asylum.
Time is running out, and the only place Tom may find the answer is the darkest place of all.

My Thoughts

The book before this one, All Good Things, left me chomping at the bit for answers. This book let me get the answers right along with Tom, and it was an amazing ride. Tom was still himself... though he didn't know it. Being a reader and outside Tom's head, I had information that he clearly didn't, so I got to be a bit of a sleuth sorting things out myself as the book progressed. That was amazing fun. Walker threw in some twists that even I missed, but that's the sort of craftsmanship I've come to expect from him.

I laughed at Tom's flippancy, I cried at a certain moment (or got close to it), and I was immensely pleased as the narrative came to its crux and all was revealed. And even that revelation came in bits and pieces and was all the more satisfying because of it. Walker hit it out of the park with this one!

Would I Recommend This Book? Definitely. Walker has progressed amazingly as a writer from book 1 until now, and I cannot wait to see how much better the next book will be. There were some typos that became more frequent as the book progressed, more than I could forgive (but not so many to dispute reading). So as much as I want to give a perfect score for content, that fifth star eludes Walker again. A Tangled Web get a sweatsuit-wearing 4 of 5 stars (but my heart gives the 5th).

For more information on the author, visit

Book Review: Gemini Cell by Myke Cole


Jim Schweitzer makes being a Navy SEAL into an art. But his career is cut short when a hostile group learns his identity and attacks his home. There are no survivors.

That is, until Jim wakes up again. The people who have him tell him some of the worst news a man like him could ever hear. Jim's family was killed, but he is going to go on living and serving his country as a talisman, a member of Gemini Cell. Not only is magic real, but he's now been touched by it. A long-dead soul, a jinn named Ninip, is sharing Jim's ruined body with him. After repairs to keep the body intact, Jim and Ninip go on missions to subdue rogue magicians who pose a danger to American safety.

But each moment is a struggle for dominance. Ninip wants to take over Jim's magically enhanced body and kill everyone in sight. Jim is determined to live as well as he can, with hopes that he'll get to see his family's graves.

When two dead men struggle, the only ones who suffer are the living.

That's my summary. Here's the one I pulled from

US Navy SEAL Jim Schweitzer is a con­sum­mate pro­fes­sional, a fierce war­rior, and a hard man to kill. But when he sees some­thing he was never meant to see on a covert mis­sion gone bad, he finds himself—and his family—in the crosshairs. Nothing means more to Jim than pro­tecting his loved ones, but when the enemy brings the battle to his front door, he is over­whelmed and taken down.
That should be the end of the story. But Jim is raised from the dead by a sor­cerer and recruited by a top secret unit dab­bling in the occult, known only as the Gemini Cell. With powers he doesn’t under­stand, Jim is called back to duty—as the ulti­mate war­rior. As he wres­tles with a lit­eral inner demon, Jim real­izes his new supe­riors are deter­mined to use him for their own ends and keep him in the dark—especially about the fates of his wife and son…

Gemini Cell takes place before Myke Cole's Shadow Ops trilogy (find my reviews here), but it doesn't make it a prequel... not really. It's an entirely new cast, a whole different situation, and honestly, a very different time. Magic is just starting to surface in Jim's time, as opposed to when it's fairly common, as in the trilogy. Honestly, Cole has been very smart in handling this new set of stories. A brand-new reader to Cole's works could pick up with Gemini Cell or with Shadow Ops: Control Point and sink into the universe with no confusion. Both Control Point and Gemini Cell are perfect entrypoints, and readers of either entry point can happily get a Cole-fix by reading the other material. It's brilliantly done.

This makes the fourth of Myke Cole's books that I've read, and while it has been some time since I finished Shadow Ops: Breach Zone, I remember how easy it is to read his prose. I zoomed through Gemini Cell in less than a week, partly due to ease, partly from excitement. I was waiting for this book, and when I finally got to read it, I didn't want to put it down.

The only thing that I think does get in the way, and this might be my own failing in comprehension, not in Cole's writing, is that some action scenes get a little too chaotic. The pacing goes so quick, and so much happens in a small space, that I got mind-tangled a few times. It didn't detract from the story or anything, but I do recall one incident where I had no idea a character had entered the fray... until Jim was already in the middle of grappling with him. That incident I think was my failing, but if the other character's entrance was so fast it was that easy to miss, I wonder if others have had the same problem. I might have just been reading too quick or been distracted a little. Not sure.

My Thoughts
I want to spend just 30 minutes in Myke Cole's head, particularly his imagination. The ideas behind Gemini Cell and the Shadow Ops trilogy are spectacular and intriguing. I haven't run into anything like them before, and I want more. I finished Gemini Cell  ready for the next book. Curse having to wait, but then again, I know what to expect from Myke Cole, and he'll take as long as he needs to get it right. When he puts out work, he does it very well.
That said, I loved Gemini Cell. It was a great step away (and back in time) from Oscar Britton and the Shadow Ops series, into a time when magic was just starting to come back. The Gemini Cell program is wholly different from the SOC in the Shadow Ops series, with a new school of magic at its center, and wow, does it make for some great conflict! I hope to see more development and information on the program and the jinn in following books.

Would I Recommend This Book? Definitely. I've been recommending Cole's books to people since I first read Control Point, and now I can add Gemini Cell to my recommend list. What's nice is I can recommend Gemini Cell to people with less intrigue in fantasy and magic and still get them a good story, and then maybe it'll whet appetites for the heavier fantastical elements in Shadow Ops: Control Point.  Or vice versa. I have a feeling that down the road, Cole is going to have a finger in a lot of genre pies, and that seems the way to be. I give Gemini Cell a rosewater-scented 5 of 5 stars.

For more information on the author, visit

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Book Review: Hellmaw: YOUR WORLD IS DOOMED! by Ed Greenwood


The war among daemons in another dimension has spilled over into the human realm. The losing daemons were exiled to live among humans, who are no more than cattle to them. Other daemons among the Victorious have followed after the exiles. Three humans: Shanklin Appledar, Shannon Chainsmith, and Nast Lanchester, all find their way tangled in the doings of daemons. Through daemonic magic and allure, these humans fight against the dark, with the dark, and against their own human natures. Will the horrors they see and live through change them, or will they accept transformation willingly?

That's my summary. Here's the one I pulled from ...sorry, I'm not sure where I got this. the Onder Librum site, maybe. I apparently didn't copy the URL, and I can't find it now. Sorry.

Shanklin Appledar, Nast Lanchester, and Shannon Chainsmith aren’t important or special. They don’t even know each other. They’re just three normal people trying to get by in the world—a world they suddenly discover they share with some very strange beings indeed.
Dangerous and scary beings. Alluring beings … up to something violent, something increasingly terrifying. And these beings have a message: Your World is Doomed!
But long before our world can meet its fate, these three people seem much closer to meeting theirs. Like right about… now.


Greenwood’s daemons are among us as you read this. Some of them can take the forms of humans, even humans you know. The likenesses are so cunning that you couldn’t tell, except for behavioral changes. Of course, sometimes they don’t even bother with disguises. Daemons may show themselves as grotesque tentacle monsters, shadows, horned monstrosities, or your mother-in-law. Yeah. Anything. The ease with which many of these creatures alter themselves is staggering, but this isn’t the sort of book you’re supposed to believe could happen. That doesn’t make it bad. It’s just not the sort of book I personally was able to “lose myself” in. Still, it was very accessible, as it was set in a world I’m intimately familiar with, so that eliminates learning curve needed to adjust to daemon presences.


This may not mean much to many of you, or it may mean a lot, but reading Ed Greenwood was like reading something I’ve written but lost all memory of writing. It’s very easy to sink into Greenwood’s settings, and holy cow, does he love em-dashes. He writes little asides that flesh out details, thoughts, or that deliver punchlines, right in the middles of sentences, and then the sentence continues like nothing ever happens. Sometimes, these little interruptions are hilarious, particularly in the beginning, in the introduction of Shanklin Appledar, for example. Other times, I got so lost in a long aside that when I returned to the original sentence, I had no idea what was going on. It was an odd experience that did take away from the narrative, but at the same time made the reading experience oddly enjoyable. In some small way, I would compare it to Jonathan Stroud’s Bartimaeus Trilogy (which I highly recommend even though I haven’t done reviews on them). Stroud’s books have footnotes that take away from the plot of the story, but they add tons to the reading experience. Greenwood’s asides aren’t to that extreme, but it’s a similar effect. At least, it was on my reading experience.

My Thoughts

Hellmaw: Your World is Doomed! Probaly isn’t something I would have picked up off a shelf. It’s not quite the sort of book I normally go after, but I have been trying to expand my reading tastes, so diving into Hellmaw made sense. As such, it’s hard to really compare it to other books of its like I’ve read, because I haven’t read anything quite like this. It isn’t fair to compare it to other genres where I am more widely read, because this doesn’t fit into any of those categories. This is my disclaimer. I’m going to do my best to review this neutrally, but if my tastes are a bit colored by other genres I’m more “into”, I apologize. So take this with a grain of salt.

To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t completely sure who I should be rooting for in this novel. Clearly, as a human, I was more intrigued with the human characters, and I sympathized with them better than the daemons. But I did find the daemons intriguing, even though much of how you see them is through the humans’ eyes, and they’re so foreign that they come off as, well, demonic (or daemonic). Aum, Jult, Shame, and the other daemons would have been so easy to detest due to the simple fact they’re not human, and they see us clearly as no more than a food source. But what’s the real issue underlying this novel: the human/daemon disjoint or the daemon war? Would one be better if the other wasn’t an issue? This really isn’t addressed, but I really got to thinking after I finished the novel. Who are the real bad guys, all daemons (simply by dint of being what they are) or one side of them? And if the latter, which side? It’s sort of enjoyable to think about. In truth, I think I’ve gotten more out of this book after reading it, just pondering, than I did while actually reading it.

There’s some good entertainment value to this book, especially if you’re into adult content. It wasn’t overly graphic, but there is some… well, some daemons can turn into tentacle monsters or shapeshift in other ways. I’ll put it that way. The narrative and plot are very raw at points, but if you look at it as top-of-the-foodchain sentients doing what they will to their livestock… yeah, that doesn’t make it any better. Humans are, as is a repeated theme, cattle. We are cattle, and the daemons behave as though we are such.

Did I enjoy this book? Sure. Will I pick up the next in line? Sure, why not. Will I be going nuts and waiting with bated breath for it? Not really, but I am curious to see what happens to the humans. Especially Nast. I didn’t like any of the humans more than the others, but some developments toward the end made Nast’s storyline much more intriguing to me, so I’ll come back for him if for nothing else.

And, sure. I like sex as much as the next person, I guess.

Would I Recommend This Book? Hell, why not? (See what I did there?) Hellmaw: Your World is Doomed! Panders to a somewhat specific niche, but what it does, it does well. Greenwood’s writing is distinct and clear, though you may have to read some short sections twice to get past the asides. That almost gives you two different meanings in the same sentence, which can be cool. It didn’t bother me, but it made me conscious I was reading a book. While this wasn’t perfectly up my alley, I still enjoyed the, uh… disturbing romp that was this book. I give Hellmaw: Your World is Doomed! A surgically-altered 4 of 5 stars.

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