S.Y. Thompson’s new book Under Devil’s Snare — another reason to be ensnared by excellent writing

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Under Devil’s Snare 

 Without doubt, a good writer captivates readers. An excellent writer can deftly move between comfort zones — deftly taking readers to new, unexpected places, holding their attention, moving them into the world within the novel, veritably creating a space that they become, not just involved in, but a part of. S.Y. Thompson is just that sort of writer. I picked up Under Devil’s Snare and as a fan of Fractured Futures, Destination Alara. Admittedly, I somewhat expected a similar speculative fiction novel from her others which involved space/time travel. Honestly, I hoped for that, since I’m crazy for science fiction oriented speculative fiction. However, Under Devil’s Snare is assuredly a more of mystery novel, and an outstanding one at that. S.Y. Thompson reminded me, blissfully, that good mystery focal novels create that urge, no, a need, to sit still and read until the very end in one fell swoop – afraid that if you put the book down, something might happen without you! I read Under Devil’s Snare, cover to cover pausing only to actually to go to the market. It really is that good – and, it still is speculative fiction – just rather atypical.

So, why did the novel ensnare me? First of all, the story as a whole – a police oriented plot, with a series of murders that is neither a routine procedural or mundane. The relationship between Patricia (a U.S. Park Police Detective) and Samantha (the local sheriff), is sexy, complex, and multi-layered. Lesbian fiction that creates loving relationships that are neither overly simplistic nor merely sexually focal, to this reader, is rather a rarity. The interplay between each of the major characters have a depth and dimensionality that is intricate, layered, and genuine. Thompson’s character development, particularly her usage of dialogue with which readers can identify and hear as authentic, I find inevitably outstanding – every one of her books has that distinction. For this read, that is a necessity, I need to experience voices of the characters as if they are present beside me. Once again, Thompson successfully achieves this.   Furthermore, Thompson’s attention to detail within setting in this book is rich, sensual, and visceral. The reader can clearly envision the community of Panthera, the scenery, the people as unique beings. As a very visual person, being able to “see” where I am inside the novel’s world is an imperative. Thompson always does this well for me – again.

Under Devil’s Snare happens to be Book Two of the Under Series, yet in this instance, beginning with book two, I didn’t feel at a disadvantage. Thompson develops the story such that I felt completely able to immerse myself easily and never feel as though I had missed anything, or was left out of the story. However, beginning with book two compelled me to grab book one (I’m rather compulsive about such things). Now, I am even more of a fan of the series.   I look forward to continuing the journey.   Without hesitation, I highly recommend Under Devil’s Snare, by S.Y. Thompson.   Pick it up, get lost for a day or so.

Ascension: A Rachel Cross Novel, A Rachel Cross Novel: another Home Run for JL Gaynor

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JL Gaynor’s first novel, Drive, was a wonder debut novel – an outstanding, emotionally compelling story. However, Ascension far surpasses her debut work and places her squarely in competition with other writers of dark urban fantasy series. She does so by clear reverence for mythos, regard for storylines that make sense as continuing series (the sisterhood of the guardianship), and by virtue of a highly compelling manner of world-creation.

Gaynor creates a space in which the reader feels at once comfortable and ill at ease. That is to say, she creates a blend of tension that deftly drives the story from a present world to the world of magic and mystery. The notion of secrets to keep avoids the trappings of potential banality, or the mundane, by creating uniqueness, along with a pace that drives the story. Furthermore, Gaynor creates intrepid characters, fostering their development along both unexpected and unique ways.

As a fan of Dark Urban Fantasies, and especially those written as series, I look forward to JL Gaynor’s next novel. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find that the next book is even better than this one, as her writing seems to improve with every novel.

Ascension: A Rachel Cross Novel : an excellent, highly recommended book.

The Alleyway and Other Short Stories, by Rejini Samuel (aka RJ Samuel)

The Most Outstanding Collection of Short Stories in Years

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RJ Samuel’s collection of short stories, the Alleyway and Other Short Stories, written under her given name, Rejini Samuel is by far one of the better collections that I have read in recent years. In fact, three of the stories were short listed for an international writing competition (Over the Edge New Writer of the Year) – and rightly so. Her writing is amazing. Actually, to say “amazing” seems trite, but I lack the adequate words at the moment to fully articulate just how moved I am by the stories. RJ lifted me out of my room, allowing me to become a part of the conversations and imagery alive in each story. With each bit of dialogue, I could “hear” the speakers, the subtle dialect/accent, their unique manner of speaking. The descriptions, so vibrant, jump off the page — I could “see” what RJ wrote.

Certainly, I could give a snippet of each story, but as the stories are rather short, I’d be guilty of spoiling. Yet, three stories immediately stand out.   “The Alleyway” blew me away. The dialogue, allusion, emotional landscape, actually transfixed me, I truly “heard” every word as they were spoken by the characters; I could see the facial expressions; smell the aromas wafting through the alley. I admit, that as a writer, this is what I aspire to do, and RJ inspires me.   “Amy_Grrl” made me laugh out loud, with the most apt portrayal of fear of cyber dating and her internal dialogue about the standard lesbian relationship route (u-haul after a few dates) as the biggest thing that she must now attempt to avoid – again. Finally, “A Prison of Words,” struck a chord in me as a writer, speaker, and one who often feels trapped by what and how to say what I mean. RJ captured every emotion perfectly.

RJ is a brilliant writer. She speaks to me as a woman living in a diverse world, as a lesbian, as an artist, and as a person who seeks to connect with others and often feels at a loss as to how to do so adequately.   I highly recommend these stories. The brought me more than a little pleasure, the warmed my heart.