SPFBO 2018
SPFBO 2018

SPFBO 2018 (33)

23, Oct

Touch is a serialized work of fiction in progress. As such, it is not yet a book which has been completed. A superhero story at heart, this is an urban fantasy. The commissioned cover art is credited to Shroonchu. Touch deals with sensitive subjects within its content. I did not expect the level of professionalism or engagement provided in this serial. The foreword from the author warns of this on the homepage where Touch resides. touchwebserial.com

"Dear reader. Welcome to Touch, a serial novel produced by myself, Rhythm. I write this message as something of a content warning. Please be aware that this story is not to be read lightly. It addresses some very heavy topics and some dark situations, such as child abuse and the psychological aftereffects of sexual assault. While every effort shall be made to approach these topics with dignity and awareness, you should be informed that if this story were a film, it would likely be rated for mature audiences."

As the story begins, we have three major characters, who through ability or accident, discover one another as having unique abilities. Two boys, James and Casper are school chums, and the other an older teen called Tasha who discovered the empathic abilities of one of the boys quite by accident. One boy, James, discovers he can fly, Tasha has super strength and Casper is an emotional empath trying his hardest to shut out the world. The ages of these characters are quite young, just eleven, twelve and fifteen years. Each one has a personal story arc and the circumstances of each are wildly different from one another. They soon find themselves in way over their heads when they attempt to liberate another child in distress from a cabal of an extremely unusual sort. There are powerful forces at play on a very large scale. The feeling that this is just a tiny portion of the world in which the story builds on both the back stories of each individual as well as their current predicament. Which quickly becomes more complicated as a secret organization of worldwide proportions is revealed to the reader. 

The writing is polished and the characters extremely well defined. Their interactions together as the tale unfolds are realistic looks into how children this age think and behave. The dialogue is easy flowing. The plot, as it develops, has a distinct draw. There are bad decisions and self-doubt that wrack the teens as they attempt to cope with trauma and new skill sets. The concise writing brings these aspects into play naturally. While not for everyone, due to its delicate content, Touch is well crafted, and a story which pulls in the reader.

I contacted the author and asked them a few questions on Touch regarding serial writing, anonymity, and the plans for the continuation. They were kind enough to engage in a lively discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of writing serial fiction. With the author's permission I am quoting their responses in part.

"Yes. My pen name is Rhythm in the mind. I try to remain authorially anonymous with regard to touch, because I find readers have a tendency to assume things of writers who discuss topics of a psychological nature. If they think I'm a woman, for example, they tend to assume I was a subject of abuse myself, and if they think I'm a man, they tend to assume the concept of James' rape is written from experience. I find such misconceptions uncomfortable, which is why I use a pseudonym. 

When I have it completed, I have some nebulous ideas about revising it into a compendium of sorts and sending it to a few literary friends for a rigorous edit. One of the flaws of writing online is that the process is less streamlined. Everything generally remains a first draft even after publication, which has its obvious flaws. You are right in believing that I intend to continue past what you have read, of course. In fact, what you read constitutes only roughly half of my current body of view-able work. I agree that it is not particularly impactful as a standalone novel in and of itself, which I again ascribe to the aspect of serialization. In a novel, plot threads are expected to be initiated and satisfyingly resolved within the space of a single work. In a serial, that process can occur longitudinally, more in line with a long running tv show than a novel, which I would call roughly analogous to film."

I wish the author well on their continued journey. Touch is off to a good start, and has been impactful to its intended audience. There are definite pros and cons to serialized fiction and some famous success stories for authors utilizing it. Follow the link provided above if you would like to read Touch.



The Cave Between Worlds (Shadowland Chronicles #1)
20, Oct

Freddy Fitzroy is able to see fairies. His brother Tom can't see fairies (supposedly). The two of them soon find themselves immersed in a war between the Earth's wizards and the supernatural races. Gradually, they become aware of things like centaurs and vampires in their backyard. They also discover that anyone who gives aid or succor to the supernatural races will be punished by death. They must make a choice whether to side with the human race's self-proclaimed champions or those creatures which are being hunted into extinction.

Continue Online Part One: Memories
18, Oct

This book... is an odd one. From the description it sounds like a pretty standard litRPG. Main character heads into virtual online game, adventures and personal growth ensue. But that's really not what this book is about at all. Continue Online is about trauma and one man's struggle to overcome the loss that has defined his life for years.

The Ember Child (The Godsbane #1)
16, Oct

My fifth and final review for the SPFBO! This a review of my last (but not least) book as a guest judge for Booknest in this year's competition. I guess I'm going to have to make a choice as to which book I put forward as a semi-finalist soon. It's not going to be easy. Today I'm reviewing a really terrific book called The Ember Child, by Anthony Mitchell. As a starting point, think Macbeth meets 300...

Twin Spirit (Domino Galaxy #1)
17, Oct

My SPFBO review number 4! That's four of the five books I'm guest judging for Booknest this year, and so far it has been a wonderful experience. Today, Twin Spirit by Matthew Thompson...

Dragon Bones (The Dragonwalker #1)
14, Oct

My SPFBO review number three! As I've mentioned, I'm a guest judge this year for Booknest, one of six, and my task is to read and review five of Booknest's batch of thirty books (no ratings), and forward my pick of the lot as a semifinalist. Today I'm reviewing D.K. Holmberg's Dragon Bones.

Orconomics: A Satire (The Dark Profit Saga #1
08, Oct

My second SPFBO review! As a guest judge this year, and one of six, my task is to read and review five of Booknest's batch of thirty books (no ratings), and forward my pick of the lot as a semifinalist. This week I've read and am reviewing J. Zachary Pike's Orconomics: A Satire. I'm just going to come out and say it, without reservation, shame, or regret - I loved this book.

Crystalline Vision (Energy Unveiled #1)
30, Sep

CRYSTALLINE VISION by Barbara Snow is a New Age urban fantasy novel primarily concerned with the in's and out's of spiritual energies as well as figuring out how to adapt what amounts to the Force to  highly expensive Silicon Valley project. It's a quirky little novel that accepts as defacto that the universe is a good place and that people who attempt to subvert mystic forces are going to end up screwing themselves over.

Corruption of Honor, Pt. 1: The Burning of Riverend (The Fall of Kingdoms #1)
24, Sep


Corruption of Honor is a classic sword and sorcery with a fairly unique perspective. The book begins early with a flurry of action and never lets up. I was able to enjoyably breeze through this book with no hiccups, errors, or missing words, so it has been well edited and provided a nice piece of entertainment. The author is not a debut and has a few laudable credits to her name with another fantasy series. I find myself intrigued enough to pick up some more of her work. 

Ghost Electricity (Hawthorn House #1)
23, Sep

My first official SPFBO review! As a guest judge this year, and one of six, my task is to read and review five of Booknest's batch of thirty books (no ratings), and forward my pick of the lot as a semifinalist. If all of them are as good as the first one I've read, Ghost Electricity by Sean Cunningham, I've got my work cut out for me. This could be a tough decision. 

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