John Scritchfield spends his days wrangling three future readers and his nights wearing costumes and pretending to hit people with blunt weaponry. There is very little money it. He holds an MFA in Acting, which he puts to use by teaching at a Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Michigan and as the Creative Director for the Calvin Theatre CompanyIn his free time, he enjoys playing Dungeons & Dragons, reading, writing, and spending time with his wife, three children, and two cats (Jasnah and Vin). Oh, he's also the new Booknest Admin.

I love overpowered characters. It’s a preference Booknest’s founder Petros and I both share. And let me tell you, Domaren the Godknight is…just that…overpowered. I know, I know with a super chill name like God knight you would think the guy would be a real pushover…but no. He is a powerhouse. He and his other Godknights use their power, gifted to them by the Creators, to quell rebellions, squash tyrants, and to try to guide foolish mortals while following the Creators’ orders. Unfortunately, pretty early in the narrative, this connection between Godknight and Creator is severed.

So, what does a Godknight do without their God?

This book is jam packed with powerful magics, monsters, colorful characters, and epic battles. Despite the immense power wielded by the main character, there is a weighty feeling of responsibility which feels like a character in and of itself. While I didn’t find myself fearing for Domaren, I was always keenly aware of the mortality of those he protects. His concerns became my concerns, and if that isn’t a wonderful way to relate to Superman, I don’t know what is.

Jeramy Goble does an incredible job making his readers feel the Godknights’ responsibilities and the internal struggle of conscience versus calling. In the end, it doesn’t matter who your boss is, what matters is who you have sworn to protect.

In what I expected to be a book about paladins swinging big ass swords and fighting dragons, Eulogy for the Dawn turned out to be a book about paladins swinging big ass swords and fighting dragons and so much more. Eulogy for the Dawn is a story with as much heart as it has magic, swords, and battles. Fun, intelligent, and heartfelt. I wholeheartedly recommend it.

And that Felix Ortiz/Shawn T. King cover art is spectacular (big shock). It’s my favorite combination going right now. They’re the best.

This is another book I would love to have a physical copy of. I’m not certain I can afford a big old hardcover edition right now, but in the future I’m thinking I’ll grab one. You should do so too! At the very least, grab a digital copy and settle in. Eulogy for the Dawn is fast paced and compelling. My favorite from this competition so far, and my semi-finalist pick.

The Look of a King by Tom Dumbrell was the most surprising read for my small part of this year’s SPFBO. At 272, it is one of the shorter entries Booknest has reviewed and yet it didn’t feel too short at all. Instead, this truly felt like a book that used the amount of words necessary to tell its story, and I deeply appreciate it. In a market where it seems quantity is oftentimes more valued than quality, I admit even I turn my nose up on occasion to books under 300 pages. It’s a failing, I’m aware. In any case, The Look of a King laid any of my apprehensions to rest within the first few chapters as I found the story and characters almost immediately interesting.

The story primarily revolves around two young men with very different lives: Cyrus, a young storyteller who feels confined by his mundane provincial life, and Augustus, a snooty princeling struggling to live up to the kingdom’s expectations. Our inciting incidents take place when the king is assassinated and Cyrus is driven from his home by soldiers. These ensuing chaos sets the course for the rest of the story.

Dumbrell’s prose is lean while never feeling stilted, which fits the magicless medival fantasy world. Our two POV characters are compelling and the shorter chapters gave the story a tremendous sense of forward momentum. This turned out to be a good thing as I read the entirety of it in a few sittings without killing an entire day. I would have been interested in a number of the side characters enough to actually read chapters from their POV. I don’t think it would have been at all necessary so I appreciate the lack of filler, but Dumbrell certainly has the writing chops (I hate that word) for a grander epic fantasy story.

In conclusion, I would gladly recommend The Look of a King to anyone who enjoys shorter works of fantasy or would like a break from the doorstops that dominate the genre. This is a self-published book I would be proud to have resting on my shelf.

Greed by Viljami J (Book Review) - Book Review 05, Oct

I have tried a couple of times to read Greed by Viljami J. I made it twenty percent on this most recent attempt, but I am finally giving up and calling this a DNF. The story seems to revolve around Ethan and Gabriel, two lifelong friends and unlikeable criminals, who within the opening pages of the story attempt to rob an old man, determine they’re going to plunder the wealth of Mount Valhalla, and meet a pair of siblings (a tough sister and her effeminate but not gay – the author lets us know – brother). The four determine to travel together because...sure...and they make it to a town where there are prostitutes, which is cool because Gabriel is, “no stranger to non-platonic relationships with women.”

I finished the chapter before I tapped out. Ethan calls his friend/brother “G” and the sister character says “y’all” a few times. Tonally, the story is all over the place. It tells and never shows. The narrator head hops to tell us what everyone is thinking and feeling. The characters are unlikable. The writing lacks any depth. For me, this read more like an outline than a polished manuscript. I would humbly recommend a developmental editor.