Reviews of books written by current up-and-coming independent authors. The Two Doctors Review analyzes books and board games of all shapes and sizes. We're fair yet critical, though we believe value rests in every story told and every game designed. Feel free to reach out to us for a review!
If you’ve been reading our reviews for some time now, you probably know we don’t pull punches. If a book deserves critique, we critique it; if a book deserves praise, we praise it.
We try our best to avoid being mean, and I think we do a decent job.
So when I say Legend of the Stone Keepers is the best YA fantasy I’ve read yet by an Indie Author, you know I’m telling the truth. This book blew me away with its worldbuilding, characters, and themes. I’m a sucker for strong themes, and the narrative J.L. Trepanier plays with in Stone Keepers has far-reaching implications not only for the world of her book (Terranium) but for our world too.
The world’s in crisis. A group of people (the Agraxians) have been outcasts for centuries, but now a deadly winter is devastating their people. The world sees Agraxians as monsters, but the Agraxians send their heroes, led by Elaro (the POV character) on a mission to unite the world to fight back this deadly threat.
Not only did Legend of the Stone Keepers remind me of my own writing in Legion of Mono, it made me happy to see someone approach the same issues and expand them in a direction worth exploring. I think it’s proper to classify Stone Keepers as climate fantasy, a genre I have plans to engage in future stories. As our planet faces its own climate crisis, its a genre that needs to grow!
There’s a particular moment in Stone Keepers where the narrative hits incredibly close to home. The heroes visit a town of humans, and the human reaction to their stories of death and destruction amounts to disbelief and an inability to accept a threat capable of disrupting their comfortable lifestyle. I hope everyone reading this review recognizes the analogy utilized by Trepanier.
Oh, and did I mention there’s a lot of fun magic in this story?
Read this book. You won’t regret it.
Writing: 8/10. A few POV lapses here or there, but otherwise the writing is solid and perfect clarity for YA fiction.
Characters: 9/10. By the end of the story, you’ve grown attached to the party of seven traversing across human lands to save the world. Which is a mighty feat in 300 pages; it’s hard to care about that many characters so quickly, especially with only one POV character.
Setting: 9/10. I want a map! They visit plenty of exciting and exotic locales, and near the end of the book, Trepanier intersects her magic with her world in a way rarely seen in fantasy fiction.
Plot: 10/10. Incredibly character-driven yet global in scope, the story leaves you hanging waiting to know what happens next. And there’s so many incredible possibilities for the future of Elaro and the Legend of the Stone Keepers.
Overall: 9/10. Five stars! It deserves it. What a story. Read it . . . it’ll suck you in, thrusting you on a whirlwind of magic, fantasy, and introspective thought as you consider the roadblocks facing our own world. We’re facing down a climate crisis, just like the Agraxians. The stakes are just as high, the barriers just as big.
It’s official! We’ve launched the first #ShortStorySaturday, where we’re encouraging everyone on Twitter to read specific short stories, collectively, review, and discuss. Hopefully, we can give a few writers a boost each week! Follow the new novelty twitter account at @ShortSaturday. If you’re an author, we’ll follow back!
This week, we’re starting with Boko Haram’s Greatest Hits, by D.H. Schleicher, housed over on the website of our good friends at A Million and One Magazine.
I love this story. It’s got a clever twist that reminds me of Simulating the Senses of Trolls, a short story I penned for A Million and One a few months ago. Seriously, you won’t see it coming, and it’s exceptionally well written too. We can’t leave reviews on short stories on website, but if I could, I’d absolutely give it five stars.
Next, we’re taking a look at A Final Farewell, by Dean Jones. Available on Amazon for only 99 cents, it’s a decent twenty minute read. It’s been awhile since I’ve read classic literary fiction, and A Final Farewell falls squarely in that genre. The experiences of the characters feel positively British; you can feel Dean Jones weaving the experiences of his homeland into the lives of a family stricken by tragedy. While I didn’t find it as well written as Boko Haram’s Greatest Hits, the emotions of the tale hit you hard, especially as you near the end.
I’m not giving A Final Farwell the full Two Doctors Review treatment, but it earns a solid four star rating primarily due to the tears that almost welled in my eyes, and it’s hard to make me cry!
So those are my initial thoughts regarding Boko Haram’s Greatest Hits and A Final Farewell.
Do you agree? Disagree? Have other thoughts? Write your own reviews, comment below, grab a copy of A Final Farewell on Amazon, talk about it on Twitter using #ShortStorySaturday!
Crystal and Flint (by Holly Ash) has been on my list for a few months, and I read most of it while on a plane back and forth between Washington DC. It’s a fun read; the premise shows promise, and the book delivers a creative, character driven narrative, leaving you hanging on a number of plot points until the last thirty pages or so.
Was the book perfect? No. We’ll see what the scores say below, but Crystal and Flint had very high “highs” and a few mediocre “lows.” However, I was never bored, and I was always thoroughly entertained when reading it . . . but there was something about the book that stuck weird in my mind as I turned its pages. More on that later. In the end, I think it’s a good thing, at least for other readers.
First, let’s talk about the novel’s premise. Crystal and Flint posits a world called Neophia connected to Earth through a gateway of some sort, though it was originally discovered via spaceflight. A fascinating concept, and while the mechanics of travel between the planets isn’t fully expounded, what’s more important is that Holly Ash uses the device to create a fascinating societal dynamics between the humans and the natives of the new planet. Fast-forward a few hundred years, and humans and the people of Neophia have interbred and created a new, dynamic culture.
Now, evolutionary questions aside (plenty of scifi allows for interbreeding of humanoid species), I do hope the relationship between Neophia natives and humans is explored in a later book. There’s lots of fun ways to do it (Stargate is my favorite). But for now, we’ll assume Ash has a clear explanation that may or may not be explored further down the line.
Through interbreeding and technological exchange, humanity intertwines with Neophia. Naturally, not everyone likes the established colonial relationship, and war comes to the people of Neophia. And in the midst of a Cold War, we follow the story of two young women, Crystal and Flint, military commanders for a super-submarine called Journey (hence the series name, Journey Missions). They’re on the same side, but their ambitions cause them to knock heads with one another. It’s a fun conflict to watch, though I was less than satisfied with its conclusion in Book 1. Fortunately, there are hints near the end that the conflict will gain new strength throughout future tales.
As their conflict waxes and wanes, romance enters the fold, too, in more ways than one. Crystal has a checkered past, and I won’t spoil how lost romances drives the building military political drama happening behind the scenes, but its well done. Yet at the same time, Crystal explores a new relationship with one of her soldiers . . . and thus we arrive at the part of the story that sat weird with me.
Crystal and Flint, at its core, is military science fiction. Holly Ash uses her environmental engineering background to explore big-picture tech concepts, through the creation of a really cool military sub, hints at complex and depressing environmental conditions on Earth, and a Cold-War-esque conflict brewing on Neophia. Yet at the same time, I felt like I was reading a Young Adult novel.
Now, that’s not a knock on Young Adult novels. As a genre, YA has a lot of great strengths, and one thing it does really well is communicate “love-triangles” and the complexities of growing older amidst conflict and strife. However, in Crystal and Flint, the main characters are all around the age of 25. The relationship sub-plots are written well (a few cringy lines here or there, but hey, romance is cringy sometimes!), but they felt out of place in the start of an otherwise military-scifi-political-epic.
But I think that’s a matter of taste for me. When I think of Military scifi, I think of books written by David Weber, 500 to 600 page behemoths about space battles occurring at millions of kilometers, or the Expanse, or even Forever War.
But I don’t think Holly Ash was trying to emulate those books. In Crystal and Flint She’s writing her own thing, and she’s created a bridge between YA and Military scifi worth applauding. So while I may not have enjoyed the mix on every page, people looking to taste military scifi should absolutely read Crystal and Flint, especially because its only 330 or so pages, as opposed to the regular length of the military scifi I read!
After that needlessly long tirade, it’s time for the scores!
Writing: 6.5/10. Holly Ash writes exceptionally clear, and it’s easy to understand. I give it higher than my usual average of “6” for writing because it communicates the story so effectively. It doesn’t go higher, though, because the writing, while clear, felt a bit wordy in certain passages.
Characters: 8/10. The dynamic rivalry between Crystal and Flint is fun, even if it wanes a little earlier than I expected. I hope it gains full force in subsequent books!
Setting: 7.5/10. This is one of those books I think could have benefited greatly from a map. The historical and scientific worldbuilding performed by Holly Ash in this novel is exceptional, but I could never establish a sense of place in my mind.
Plot: 7/10. It’s a good story. I expanded on my issues in mixing a YA romance dynamic into military scifi as not to my taste, but I think it works, and more importantly, I think it was the story Holly Ash wanted to tell, and it’s a story worth telling.
Overall: 7.25/10. Crystal and Flint earns four stars! If anyone’s been unsure about the military science fiction genre, Holly Ash’s debut novel is for you. Give it a shot, you’ll turn those pages faster than you might think.
One of my favorite novels of all time is Dark Matter by Blake Crouch. If you’ve not read it, it dives deeply into the ever-expanding philosophical quagmire of infinite universes. It’s terrifying. It’s heartbreaking. It’s a near perfect sci-fi novel.
Duckett & Dyer: Dicks for Hire by G. M. Nair is the exact opposite of Dark Matter in all the right ways. Where Dark Matter goes dark, Duckett & Dyer goes absurd. Where Dark Matter goes hard science, Duckett & Dyer says “screw it, it works how we want it to work because we say so.”
I cannot understate the simultaneous ridiculousness and seriousness that occurs in this novel. It’s like if Weird Al Yankovic wrote a sci-fi novel.
I don’t want to talk much about the story of this book because it’s too good to hint at in a review. Don’t want to spoil a single thing! I’ll just say this story has the potential to suck you in. I read the entire second half on a plane ride today. If I had one complaint about this book, it’s that the first half is too slow . . . but the set-up of the first half is necessary to land the satisfying conclusion to the book.
Well done, Nair.
Writing: 8/10. No complaints here. High quality prose, nothing stood out to me as fantastic but I was never bored nor did I feel as if the writing lacked flair.
Characters: 10/10. What a duo, Duckett & Dyer. Nair expertly crafts conflict between his two protagonists, fueling the insane plot while developing their relationship in a nuanced and creative fashion.
Setting: 9/10. While I never got a strong sense of place for the generic city they live in throughout much of the story . . . there are a lot of really cool moments of absurdity in the world of this book that nail the comedic nature of this book with graceful poise.
Plot: 8/10. Clever. All of its just clever. The first half was slow, as I emphasized above, but I think that’s good. Some readers may not enjoy it, but it’s all necessary to establish what turns into a very creative conclusion . . . and an ending that sets up future tales with flair.
Overall: 8.75/10. A clear five star review. It hits all the marks of a high quality indie authored novel, I’m glad I put this book on my list. Seriously, go grab yourself a copy.
Just a bunch of Anti-Vampire Propaganda. Blood Drive, by Daniel Aegan, stunned me with its creativity, wit, and dry humor. It's satire, but it's not on-the-nose satire. You could easily read this book thinking it's deathly serious with its approach to vampires, but just beneath the surface lies subtle social commentary, boundless movie and tv allusions, and solid writing to boot.
Within the first few chapters, I immediately found myself reminiscing to evenings with my family as a kid watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. You've got your religious vampire hunters, sassy bad boy vampires, and crazy werewolves. Throw in a few weird behaviors of the vampires, actions sequences straight out of the Boondock Saints (yes, I know, not Vampires) or even Blade.
And the true charm of the book is that it's self-aware. It knows how ridiculous many vampire films and stories are . . . and then plays with those ideas and subverts them in creative ways.
In the end, the book ends up feeling like a classic B 90's Action Film; one of those movies that you know isn't a masterpiece, but it wasn't intended to be a masterpiece. It's entertainment value is what matters, and if you pick up Blood Drive, I promise you'll be entertained . . . and maybe think about what it means to be human, too.
On to the scores!
Writing: 7/10. Generally solid writing, there were a few scenes that fell flat in execution and some minor typos throughout. The author occasionally slips into third-person omniscient while the story is primarily told through third person limited of a different character in each scene, which is always a slightly jarring experience when POV shifts. However, nothing detracted from the narrative nor distracted me.
Characters: 9/10. Every character on the page plays a role, and many, even non point-of-view characters, find growth throughout the story. The story loses a point, though, for its lack of a significant women playing a role. There are a few side-characters that are women, and many of the victims of the vampires are women, but none of the drivers of the story are women. Now, given the story being told (and some of the underlying social commentary of the narrative), it does make sense that the main characters are all men. However, the fact that the lack of women stood out to me is worth noting.
Plot: 9/10. The characters, and their choices, are the blood of this book; and they're driving the whole way. I know, I crack myself up. Evan, Christian, Father Matthew, The Russo Brothers, even Pete; it's all about agency in this book, and they all make choices that push the story toward its action-packed climax.
Setting: 9/10. The story just takes place in America; but behind the veil of the modern day United States, Aegan actually develops a complex hierarchy of vampires, werewolves, and even Papal interactions with this "evil" underworld of bloodsuckers. In only 230ish pages, that's impressive!
Overall: 8.5/10. Argh! The 8.5s are always hard. I'm going to lean toward 4 Stars on this one, but it's more like 4.5 stars. I can't give it a 5 because I don't think it compares to my other five star reviews, but it's incredibly close. Well done, Aegen!
The debut title of C.C. Francis, Elysia follows the adventures of Will Darkwood, a new hero on a planet where technology is indistinguishable from magic. It’s a fun premise; a world disconnected from humanity’s home by Millennia, watched over by immortal guardians with conflicting philosophies for the future of the species.
And in the middle of it all, an ordinary man from a backwoods town is plopped into a position he didn’t ask for, but he’s perfect for the job.
I loved C.C. Francis’s exploration of the future, the philosophical inquiries (especially at the end of the book), and the creative environments the story plunges through page after page. There’s so much good in this book! And I look forward to future writings from Francis.
At the same time, The Two Doctors Review must stick by its principles and discuss the good and the bad of every book read. And there are two significant points that, for me as a reader, made it difficult to fully engross myself in Elysia.
First. And I don’t want to belabor this point, because I know other reviewers have pointed it out; Elysia has a few significant formatting issues Francis needs to fix in the novel. Fortunately, they don’t detract from the narrative itself, but they do detract from the reading experience. I purchased a paperback of the book, and the type-setting was only left-aligned, not block justified to the right, creating a jagged edge on each page. And the half-inch indent was also frustrating.
Similarly, the lack of commas connecting dialogue tags to the dialogue slowed down the pace of reading the dialogue, every period causing a longer than necessary pause.
Second. The story included too many side-characters whose significance was lost upon me as I read. Fortunately, there are three of the supporting cast that blow the others out of the water (Khel, Tiberian, and Anaia). But other stragglers attached to Will Darkwood’s story detracted from what otherwise could have been a tighter, thrilling plot.
That all being said, I encourage people to give Elysia a chance, especially if you have a Kindle Unlimited membership. As an indie author debut, Francis has a lot of room to grow, and I’m incredibly excited to see what future fantastical adventure he conjures into his mind next.
Now onto the scores!
Writing: 5/10. This score results from the issues identified above: Improper formatting and jarring dialogue punctuation. If Francis re-releases this book and fixes these issues, the score would most likely rise to a 7 or 8. It’s otherwise very good prose, though I do wish the chapters were a bit longer to fully engross myself in a few of the more fascinating scenes.
Character: 6/10. Khel and Anaia and Tiberian felt like the real protagonists of the story. Will Darkwood acts as a great “naive” blank slate through which readers can observe and learn about the world, but I wish we’d seen him grow a bit more throughout. Though there’s something endearing about his reckless nature.
Setting:8/10. The highlight of Elysia, the world takes you for a tumble throughout the novel. In particular, two particular locations at the end of the book, and their accompanying societal commentary, make the entire book worth reading.
Plot:7/10. I wish Will was more in the driver’s seat, and I think a few sub-plots could have been cut. More importantly, the conflict between [SPOILER] and [SPOILER] was the real story we observed through Will’s eyes. I would have loved to see that fleshed out even more. Francis explores the conflict briefly through a piece of really cool magic tech (not gonna reveal the awesome name he uses), but that storyline slides to the wayside halfway through. All that being said, Khel’s role in pushing the plot toward it’s conclusion raises the score from a 6 to 7.
Overall: 6.5/10. Elysia receives three stars! I’m excited to follow Francis’s future works; Elysia is a masterclass in worldbuilding. Francis has endless room to grow in building stories to fill the worlds inside his head.
Growing up, I had a weird obsession with American folk tales. My family had a book that retold the fictions of Pecos Bill, Paul Bunyan, and John Henry, and I read it way too often. So when I picked up Legends Untold, for the first few chapters, I was thrust back into my childhood, revisiting characters previously loved years ago.
As the story continued, that magic held on. E Gubbins succeeds in re-envisioning these fantastical characters in a new way; though at a price I’m not sure was necessary to pay.
The central plot follows Annie Oakley as she searches for her husband, Frank, who’s gone missing in the New York mountains. She quickly encounters “Pecos Bill,” a snake-medicine dealing swindler who spins tall tales. He quickly wraps her up into a tale in her pursuit of her husband, but it turns out this time, he’s got a bit more truth to his words.
The narrative moves along quickly, but I actually think it’s bogged down by the choice to inject multiple point of views and the occasional bout of third person omniscience. Annie Oakley was a fun POV through which to see these larger than life heroes (quite a few make an appearance, but I won’t spoil their names). But by shifting into the minds of other characters, we lost the opportunity to see true character growth and immediacy of experience through Annie’s eyes. While I’m not opposed to multiple POV books, I think this one was a bit too short to work in more than one POV.
The story’s dialogue and twisting world-building, however, makes up for the occasional problems I had with its writing. And as I said; this story runs on nostalgia! Was it my favorite book ever? No. But was it fun? Absolutely.
Onto the scores!
Writing: 6/10. The book lacked a consistent POV (some chapters were third person limited, others were third person omniscient), and certain climactic scenes lacked the emotional gut punch I would have hoped for, rather sticking to cursory explanations.
Character: 6/10. As much as I loved revisiting my favorite tall tales, I felt Legends Untold relied a bit too much on readers recognizing the names of the characters going into the story. Nostalgia is a blessing and a curse.
Setting: 8/10. While the characters themselves lacked force, the author did an incredible job of tying together these tall tales into a intricate web of truths and lies.
Plot: 7/10. The plot was creative and compelling up until the climax, which I felt lacked the tension necessary to make it land on two feet. And the principle antagonist wasn’t a character from a Tall Tale, at least one I recognized, so his primary motivation wasn’t clear to me. Though the creepy world building behind the antagonist was a fun piece of exposition!
Overall:6.75/10. A blast of nostalgia for those who love tall tales! Though without that background knowledge, I think the book loses its flare. Legends Untold earns just shy of 3.5 stars.
How Not To Be A Rogue, by Zack Brooks, may have one of the strongest first person voices I’ve read in a long time. I’m starting with that emphasis because this book lived and died on its first person perspective. And I mean both words literally!
Image provided by the author, Zack Brooks, upon request.
Brooks thrusts readers immediately into the life of a pauper living in the city of Amaford. From what I can tell, Brooks is slowly building a much larger fantasy world; the book comes with a beautiful map of the city at the beginning. I love maps. I’m a sucker for them.
And as a supposed “thief,” our main character Jimmy rushes around the city, doing rogue-like things. As the story progresses, Jimmy gets in over his head, bad things happen, and in the end, his situation progresses into a circumstance I can presume sets up future tales.
While the plot itself isn’t necessarily original by any means, the characters of How Not To Be A Rogue shine brighter than almost any indie book I’ve read so far. It is hard to write memorable characters, especially from a first person POV, but Brooks pulls off the impossible. I may have just finished the book, but I can recall the names of most of the cast: Jimmy, Grumps, Ma, Big Brother, Graham, Theren (shout out to having a villain with the same name as the character in my novel, by the way!). Yulie. Livia. Even the characters that weren’t on the page for long at all stand out in my mind (Jazmin).
Combine all of this with a dark, sarcastic, self-deprecating first person point of view . . . well let’s just say I read this story in practically one sitting.
On to the scores!
Writing: 9/10. Strong first person POV is hard to pull off. Brooks did it.
Characters: 10/10. Seriously. Read this book, even if its just for Jimmy’s banter with himself!
Plot:6/10. Perhaps the weakest point of the story. It’s not bad, but it didn’t surprise me, either. It’s the characters that drive this tale, anyway!
Setting:6/10. I can tell Brooks has a fantastical world behind the curtain, but we only saw a glimpse of it with this story. I didn’t get a sense of what made this world “fantasy” other than a few stray references to typical fantasy things. The city itself, though, feels alive with its Districts, and I love the map!
Overall: 7.75/10. A solid four star score! If you’re looking for mad, comedic, quick read, How Not To Be A Rogue will exceed all expectations. Its rich, multi-dimensional characters push the story from page to page; it barely feels like you’re even reading.
I don’t read a lot of historical fiction. Actually, I think it’s been more than a few years since I read a historical fiction novel. The Fiery Salamander was a fresh change of pace from the norm, even if it did leave me a bit wanting in the end.
Thus, this review is through two lenses: the reader C.D. Tavenor and the author/editor C.D. Tavenor.
The author/editor C.D. Tavenor appreciates The Fiery Salamander as an ambitious endeavor of historical craftsmanship, with meticulous research and careful thought toward ensuring characters were authentic to the time. The story is told through the eyes of James Kirpatrick, a young man coming of age on the colonial frontier. From the very early pages, it’s obvious Will Robinson has placed every word of this book to create an authentic atmosphere.
Even more so, Will handles the plot involving Native Americans with care. Given the United States tumultuous (for lack of a better word) past with indigenous people groups, it’s really easy to type-cast Native Americans as the “enemy” in this type of story. Robinson avoids this pitfall, writing their narrative with nuance.
However, Reader C.D. Tavenor discovered he no longer has an interest in this style of historical fiction. At no fault to Robinson’s excellent writing, I found it difficult to make my way through this book because it was so thoroughly researched. The historical details, in some sense, grounded it too much in the past, giving an eery sense of authenticity that at times made it feel like a case study from a history book. I think Kirpatrick as a character saved it for me, as his multi-dimensional personality kept the story moving from page to page.
Don’t take those comments as a critique of the book itself; it’s a probably more of a critique upon me as a reader!
Anyway, onto the scores.
Writing: 9/10. It’s hard to pull off first-person present tense with such a detail-oriented historical world to describe. Well done!
Characters: 8/10. Kirpatrick is a great POV character, and the nuanced approach to different people groups dealing with tensions on the frontier established multi-faceted motivations throughout the narrative.
Setting:7/10. At the beginning of the book, the immediacy of the writing made it difficult to really ground the story at the beginning. As the story continued, that changed, but Robinson loses a few points for the initial lack of place.
Plot: 8/10. As emphasized regarding the characters in Fiery Salamander, the complex motivations come together to tell a very intriguing historical narrative!
Overall: 8/10. Receiving 4 stars, I’d recommend this book for anyone interested in the late colonial period of the United States! Any Hamilton fans out there? Then this book is for you!
All right, that title may not set the bar high for this review, but believe me, we’re going big with this one. I make that comment in part because I thought it was a catchy title, but also because for every second I was reading Korrigan, by Rebecca F. Kenney, I was thinking, “Why does a book like Twilight get a multi-million dollar movie deal, and not this book?”
I don’t read a lot of young adult novels. And since diving into the world of independent literature, I’ve not been particularly impressed with the young adult works thrown my way. They’ve not been bad, per se, but nothing has yet blown me away.
I think Korrigan may have hit the mark, but we’ll see what the scores say below.
The novel follows two POV characters: Aislinn, a seventeen-year-old girl trapped by her guardians because she (SPOILER - well, not really, it’s in the Amazon description) turns into a beast every night. At the same time, we see the narrative through the eyes of a young man named Zane, a regular human who’s path intertwines with Aislinn.
Like any good young adult novel, a love triangle forms. A mysterious character known as the Far Darrig appears, goading Aislinn into various dastardly situations with temptation and power. And throughout the tale, Aislinn learns more and more about her true nature, her family’s history, and a world (or really, more than one world) kept secret from her for all seventeen of her years.
The story’s pace draws you from chapter to chapter, and the crisp, first-person present POV keeps each scene grounded through the eyes of the POV character. The closeness of the story to both Aislinn and Zane was both a strength and weakness of Korrigan, for Aislinn’s chapters definitely outshined Zane’s.
That’s not to say Zane’s chapters were bad. They were necessary to provide an additional POV in moments when Aislinn wasn’t around. But they definitely felt like secondary chapters, and Zane’s voice was much weaker than Aislinn’s. It made me want to push through them to reach the true power of Aislinn’s story!
What makes Korrigan truly shine, however, is its ability to tackle an incredibly complicated and heart-wrenching concept: abuse. I don’t want to spoil how everything goes down by the end of the book, but Kenney expertly weaves elements of stockholm syndrome into Aislinn’s mind, ensuring readers don’t truly understand how broken she is until the right moments.
Kenney deals with a few interactions that might make some readers uncomfortable; but that’s the point. Aislinn is broken. She’s working through her brokenness. She’s not ever experienced real love from anyone, and so her emotions and mind are a jumbled mess.
So in her search for a future and freedom, Aislinn’s story will stick with me for quite some time.
So - a better love story than Twilight? Absolutely! Now when’s Kenney getting her movie deal?
Writing: 9/10. Writing in first person present for two different POVs is incredibly difficult, just as writing in present tense effectively is difficult! And Kenney pulls it off. I didn’t notice a single typo, grammatical mistake, or moment where the writing pulled me out of the scene. Well done!
Character: 7/10. Aislinn is a character I’ll always remember; as is the Far Darrig. In some ways, even Maeve. But Zane and the rest of the supporting cast didn’t hit home for me. They’re written well, but they lacked their own distinct voice to latch onto.
Plot: 9/10. The characters drove the plot. The whole way. I never felt like there was a destination we were headed, and into the final moments of Korrigan, I didn’t know how it would end. That’s how you write a compelling plot.
Setting: 9/10. Kenney seamlessly weaves Irish mythology into the present day, pulling from the old and expertly inserting the new. It felt natural to the story, and nothing felt out-of-place, essential to a “real-world” fantasy.
Overall: 8.5/10. All right. I’m in that sticky situation where I must decide between a four star review and a five star review. I’m going to give Aislinn 5 stars, and Zane 4 stars, and since Aislinn is the true main character, Korrigan receives 5 STARS!
If you’re looking for a young adult fantasy with romance, fantastical magic, and an ever-expanding mythos, then Korrigan is a must-read!