I know Monday is usually the day for “Writing Has Taught Me…” posts, but I’m going to switch things up. Today, I’ll be doing a book review on a brand new book for release.

 

The Roar of Smoke

Tressida is a smoke-spinner, a meldborn. It’s a lethal legacy, a forbidden force. Daughter of Crone and Sage, she should have been killed at birth.

Now she’s seventeen, wanting only to be a member of her land’s vanished Horseguard and discovering she is more than she ever knew, as first her eyes and then her hair turn to smoke. Just as she learns she can fulfill her dream of working with horses, her talent awakens an ancient and deadly feud.

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On one side—those claiming the honor of destroying a meldborn. On the other—those intending to use her for their own ends. Tressida must master her power in order to save herself and those she loves. Is she strong enough?

Or will the roar of smoke consume her?

 

My Review: 3.5 Stars

Right off the bat, the book made a simple mistake: it didn’t hook me with the opening sentence. It started out a bit too slow, and only picked up a page or two in.

There is a lot to love about this book: a new world, a mystery about this girl’s powers, and fear of death. But by the time the book reaches its third or fourth chapter, the flaws begin to show.

The dialogue is stilted and doesn’t flow, as is the narrative in many places. It feels choppy, and there are a few no-no’s that should have been caught by an editor: sentences with two unconnected clauses, phrases like “even though”, word repetitions, typos, grammar mistakes, homonym misspellings. At one point, the characters change weapons mid-fight. Some expressions made it hard to read, such as, “The idea expanded and stretched behind her breastbone like an emerging seedling reaching for the sun.” Perhaps a bit too much purple prose for me.

The characters were a bit two-dimensional. There is no real suffering or loss for the main characters, and it feels like there’s no real growth beyond their discovery of their skills as warrior/mage. Perren, in particular, reacts oddly for a strong male hero character, and his reactions seemed inconsistent with the idea the author had in mind. The emotions and reactions of all the characters are a bit odd or discordant with what’s happening. The author describes the emotions of the characters, but failed to make me feel them.

The story doesn’t follow a single thread, and there’s no real cohesion between one “cool idea” and the next. There is no big crescendo or climax, and there’s no “phew” moment when the villain dies/hero wins/day is saved.

Loved the idea of the magic system (smoke vs….I didn’t really understand what the mages’ power was), and the world was rich and detailed.

 

Here’s a Taste:

Rage and fear seethed in the room. Their leader—a lord by his lavish dress and haughty stance—rested one hand on his sword hilt.

That is when she noticed Gran. At least, she thought it was Gran. The woman stood directly in front of the queen. She wore the same stained white tunic she always wore. There, the similarity ended. Her hair hung loose to her thighs, she appeared taller, and the look on her face could only be called fierce.

A Derrian feinted toward her, his sword level with her chest. Tressida barely bit back her scream. She scooted up the last steps and flattened herself against the wall outside the doorway.

Gran flicked her hand and the Derrian flew back like a dry leaf before a cold season wind.

“You are not welcome here,” she said. “Take your shiny playthings and return to whatever bleak hole vomited you out.”

The woman was her Gran, but the voice issuing from her mouth, not to mention the words themselves sounded like the south wind when it whistled from the sea to slash the city, biting, sharp, and cold.

Queen Naele stepped back, her hand to her throat, as if she did not believe it, either. The Derrian lord laughed.

“Do not threaten me, hag. Stand aside or see your blood stain the floor this day. We have no quarrel with you or your kind. We simply need the queen to accompany us.”

Her kind? Gran had said something like that, too.

He stepped forward, made a sharp movement with his hand, and his men surged toward the dais.

Gran disappeared.

Or not.

A black whirlwind spun where Gran had stood. Tressida felt the force of it on her face. Roaring filled the room as Derrians hacked at the billowing mass. Men and swords and arrows wheeled through the air. One blade whooshed past Tressida’s ear to be embedded in the backrest of a hallway chair.

Unable to grasp what she was seeing, Tressida screamed, “Gran!”

The vortex bounded to the ceiling and paused. Something took form at its center. Tressida backed in horror as the cloud swooped closer and Gran’s beloved face emerged. All that was clear were her eyes. The storm raging there turned Tressida’s bones to ice.

Gran’s voice shrieked out of the smoky cloud.

“Run!”

 

About The Author

Multi-published author Candace Carrabus writes fantasy, mystery, young adult fantasy, and metaphysical fiction. Some of her stories are for adults and star women of a certain age because, well, women of a certain age like to have adventures, too, right?

Candace lives on a farm in Missouri with her husband, daughter, a pack of dogs, clowder of cats, and herd of goats. Her horse couldn’t take it and got his own place. Although riding is high on the list, her greatest pleasure is sitting on the back deck, sipping tea, reading a good book, and watching the birds.

Not surprisingly, her stories are often infused with the mystery and spirituality horses have brought to her life. Dogs and cats are usually around, too. A portion of Candace’s profits are donated to animal shelters.

The book is freshly released on Amazon, so find it here: http://www.amazon.com/Roar-Smoke-Candace-Carrabus-ebook/dp/B00WF47RTG/

Read her thoughts on her website: http://www.candacecarrabus.com

Chat her up on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorCandaceCarrabus

Tweet at her: @CandaceCarrabus