Poe samples two light MG fantasies and some darker matter for teens.
Year of the WereCurse--WereWhat?
By Debi Faulkner
Self-published August, 2011
Poe thinks this is MG contemporary fantasy/humor
First Sentence: The creature watched the line of torches wind through town from the bay below, while more villagers closed in from further up the mountain.
"The creature" gets squished to goo by the end of the paragraph, and we're off on a fast, fun-scary ride. Worry-wart Jack Henry Hoboken sounds like a 12-year-old Woody Allen--pessimistic, sarcastic, and lobster-phobic. When his family inherits a mysterious castle perched on a sea-side cliff, we pretty much know what will happen. But we very much want to find out how.
Debi Faulkner has a wild imagination and an energetic, colorful style. She gets extra points for crediting her editor and her cover designer by name in the front matter.
Rated S for snapped up.
Poe will definitely sample other Debi Faulkner titles in future posts.
The Trouble With Demons
By Terry Spear
Published March, 2011
Poe thinks this is YA dark/demonic urban paranormal fantasy
First sentence: "Why do we have to do it here in this stinking, filthy place?" a woman whispered.
More murders than usual plague the city. Three teens, all half demon, recognize the evil behind the killings. Poe finds much to admire here, including a complex fantasy world, cinematic writing, a dark mystery, high stakes, and A+ line-editing. Yet the book still feels a bit slapdash. There's a lot of info-dump in the early scenes, and the info comes in haphazard bits. Many readers will enjoy piecing the puzzle together, but Poe felt more frustrated than fascinated. (The blurb clarifies a lot--but Poe thinks that flap copy shouldn't be required reading.)
Spear also publishes traditionally; Heart of the Wolf was listed among the Best Books of 2008 by Publisher's Weekly. On her web page, Spear explains that she can't put the stories out fast enough to satisfy her readers. For those readers, and perhaps for you, a dark, intricate plot matters more than anything. So
Rated I. If story matters most, and the stories you seek are dark urban paranormals, then make sure you know this author.
Poe also sampled Spear's The Dark Fae, and will review that sample in a future post.
By Linda Joy Singleton
Originally published 2005(?)
Poe thinks this is MG fantasy/humor [historical]
First sentence: "Rattlesnake grass!" Skye Jones exclaimed.
Sixth-grader Skye Jones lives with two aunts who brew goat-milk soap (and possibly other, more interesting potions). There's a slight false start, as Skye claims to suffer the very worst day of her life because she got an F on a test. But we quickly forget the F as Skye's real problem jumps into focus: she has no friends. Her sympathetic aunts suggest she seek a pen-pal via the miracle of mail-order; sure enough, a catalog bristling with funny innuendos advertises "Special-Tee Fiends," and Skye writes away for one. The sample ends with two terrific forwards: while we wait for the perfect Fiend to arrive, the only really nice girl in school suddenly invites Skye to eat lunch with her.
A popcorn book--light as air, tasty, and easy to gobble up. Alas! like popcorn, contemporary MGs can go stale quickly; today's young readers might find the idea of a pen-pal quaint, and they'll wonder why nobody in this story orders anything online. So, within 10 years of being published, this book already feels like historical fiction. Considered as such, Poe gives it an I.
If you enjoy cute monster-in-the-house books, then you can order this one online (or, fittingly, via snail mail as a POD paperback).
Singleton, whose traditionally-published books include the witty Dead Girl Walking series, began to publish ebooks as early as 1971 through Hard Shell Word Factory--on floppy disks! She recently re-issued several of those titles. Poe will sample others in future posts.
Poe's Rating System:
- S for snapped up (Poe has already purchased the full)
- Q for queued (the book is on Poe's to-be-read-someday list)
- U for underwhelming (Poe will always explain the reason)
- I for If/then (not Poe's cuppa, but perhaps it's yours)
- R for rejected (Poe will always explain the reason)
- E for editorially challenged (Poe will not mince words)
Caveat Emptor Internexi: Poe's reviews are intended to provide a springboard for further browsing. Genre and age classifications are Poe's guesses based on short samples, and may or may not accord with the classifications suggested by authors, publishers, or anybody else. The buyer is always responsible for deciding whether the book as a whole is appropriate for the intended reader's age, interests, and reading level.
Poe's opinions do not necessarily reflect those of other members of this blog.
If you'd like SC Poe to sample your ebook on this blog, please follow submission guidelines.