Tag Archives: Dark Fantasy

Xan & Ink by Zak Zyz – Review

Title – Xan and Ink
Author – Zak Zyz
Genre –  Dark Fantasy
Length –  274 Pages
Publication – October 2016
My Rating – 4/5 Stars

Synopsis

Two disgraced brothers, a fanatical priest and an escaped slave venture into the foreboding Kalparcimex, an uncharted jungle teeming with an incredible variety of wondrous and murderous insects. When the legendary ranger Xan refuses to help the adventurers on their quest for redemption, they enter into an ill-advised pact with Ink, a cursed sorceress who stains everything she touches. Caught in the conflict between the two powerful figures, the four banished heroes must confront their darkest desires to escape the Kalparcimex!

Review

This was a rather interesting read. Each character is very unique with their motivations, brought together for the same cause. Can they trust each other? Will their differing viewpoints cause issues?

The story starts with the four main characters being sent out to save a kingdom that is under siege from the weird and wonderful animals of the Kalparcimex.

We are thrust into the dark world quickly as a number of people die very quickly indeed which sets the tone of the book nicely.

Xan foretold the Kalparcimex would expand many years ago and after a short debate our would be heroes set out to find him to see what can be done to stop these animals spreading any further.   Xan is brilliant.. the first meeting with him told you everything you need to know about him.. he’s sure of himself.. knows he was right.. and acts like a bit of an arse because of this. The would be heroes quickly learn he’s not going to help them.

From here we meet Ink.. I’m not going to spoil anything about how the group come together but Ink has a way with people..she can easily control them..and she’s powerful. Since Xan won’t help our heroes Ink decides she will.. although you know her motivations aren’t going to be as honest as she makes them appear.

From here the group head into the Kalparcimex to hunt down an animal which can rid their kingdom of the tinks which are attacking their people and livestock.. The Kalparcimex is a strange and very complex place. This is Xan’s home.. he knows the place better than anyone. What takes place next is a cat and mouse game and Xan does everything he can to stop them.

This is where the book takes a very sharp twist.. it’s no longer a fantasy tale where heroes search and find what they need to save their kingdom. They are divided.. hurt.. changed..It’s all very dark and very very unique

The group consists of Sandros and his brother Gregary. Gregary is a solider..big and strong.. Sandros on the other hand isn’t.. but he has power.. he can control fire. We also have Brakkar the priest and Osolin the former slave.

What happens in the Kalparcimex is so completely out of the box.. like nothing I’ve read before.. not in my wildest dreams could I have imagined what was to come. This is what made the book stand out..dark and creepy and so unexpected

Each character has their own journey at this point but it really did feel like Ink stole the show at this stage as she manages to entice a few of the characters into some very graphic sexual experiences.. up until this point I would have said the book was suitable for all but that very much changed.. I’m no prude but even I looked around while I was on the bus to make sure no one was reading over my shoulder ha

Again I don’t want to give the plot away but my favourite thing was the journey Brakkar goes through… he changes.. it takes a lot of imagination to come up with a plot like this. So many twists and competing stories but it worked and everything felt right..

For me the only thing that was hard to imagine was the monsters of the Kalparcimex, near the beginning of the book we are introduced to one of the animals when it attacks but at that point you know nothing about it so it was a little hard to imagine the action as it happened.. it didn’t spoil anything for me but it would have flowed better for me if the dangers had been discussed between the characters before they appeared so I could follow things a bit easier.

The ending while pretty good did come abruptly.. but I feel this was due to the authors very unique way of storytelling. The end is nothing like what I expected and did leave me wondering if another book is planned of if the author is planning to leave the future in the readers hands..

Unique is a word I’ve used a few times in this review and that’s how’d id sum the tale up. Thoroughly enjoyed the tale and was left with the wow felling afterwards as it’s so clearly different from anything else I’ve read

If you enjoy dark fantasy and like the idea of a quest being turned on its head then this is the book for you. A dark, weird and wonderful world awaits you..

I do hope the author goes back to this world.. There’s so many possibilities

The book is out now! To find out more head to Goodreads, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com

My thanks go to the author and Margot at Gut Punch Press for the chance to read/review the book

The author has very kindly given me a few facts about himself that as a reader you’ll never know.. take a look

zyzauthorphoto

Zak Zyz has worked as a welder, electrician, roofer, and cryptologic linguist, and is currently a sinister systems administrator in DUMBO, Brooklyn. He hosts The Surreal Symphony, a late-night call in show, and Strategically Correct, a Brooklyn board gaming society. Zak has been published on Tor.com and appeared on Hour of the Wolf. His first novella, SURVIVAL MODE, was published in 2015. Xan and Ink is his first novel.

 

More about the author –

1: Zak has hitchhiked cross-country and visited all 48 contiguous states. He has many stories about weird, dangerous and wonderful encounters he had while thumbing across America. He has also backpacked extensively in Europe and Central America.

 

2: Zak is an abstract expressionist painter and produces a lot of weird-looking art. He is a finalist for the Macktez summer stipend, and was recently featured in a forthcoming documentary about NYC artists by HAZEfilm. He sells space-themed handmade art and jewelry as Jupiter’s Forge. His methodology and art are bizarre and compelling.

 

3: Zak has been involved in numerous pirate radio stations and has been broadcasting for 20 years in a number of formats. In his time as a clandestine broadcaster he has been raided by the FCC, attacked by disgruntled DJs, and banned from a station for life by an angry anarchist tribunal. He continues to broadcast every tuesday night on KPISS, a tiny station in Bushwick that broadcasts out of a shipping container.

 

  1. Zak worked as a hotel manager in New Orleans during hurricane Katrina and defied the mandatory evacuation order to help defend The Olivier House Hotel against looters. He survived during the state of anarchy that followed and has many anecdotes about canoeing down Canal street, fighting off looters, delivering food to refugees and ultimately escaping New Orleans.

 

  1. Zak is an avid board gamer with an enormous collection of modern board games. Strategically Correct, his board game society is an invite-only gladiatorial rendezvous for some of the most combative minds in New York. STRAC’s members include former World Boardgaming Championship champions for Agricola, Race for the Galaxy, and Diplomacy. You can only join by defeating a champion at their own game. Zak is always up to date on the latest new releases, industry news, and trends in traditional board gaming.

 

Bloodwalker by L.X. Cain – Review

Title – Bloodwalker
Author – L.X. Cain
Genre –  Dark Fantasy
Length –  284 Pages
Publication – 4th October 2016
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

Lightning flashes. Another child disappears…

Zorka Circus’s big top roars with laughter and cheers, but when it moves on, children vanish.

Circus Security Chief Rurik suspects a killer hides among the performers, but they close ranks—they’ve always viewed lightning-scarred Rurik as the monster. He must find the culprit before anyone else disappears and his home is destroyed by the murders.

Into Zorka Circus comes the Skomori clan, despised as gravedigging ghouls. A one-day truce allows bloodwalker Sylvie to marry. Instead, she finds a body. Alerting others will defy her clan’s strict code, break the truce, and leave her an outcast.

When more bodies turn up, the killer’s trail becomes impossible to ignore. Rurik and Sylvie must follow the clues—even if they lead to something unimaginable…

Review

I can honestly say this one surprised me… the synopsis only scratches the surface of the tale and the twists that played out definitely had the shock factor

Two stories collide in this tale. The first being Sylvie, she’s a bloodwalker..although not a very good one. By some bloodwalkers would be classed as special but others look down on them. They help deal with death and I just loved how each chapter started with a quote from the bloodwalker handbook.

Rurik on the otherhand is a security guard working for the circus. When we are introduced to him you quickly learn he’s not an average man. He manages to put together the pieces to learn someone involved with the circus has been kidnapping children and he sets out to put a stop to this

Sylvie and Rurik meet when Sylvie and two other bloodwalkers are due to be married. The wedding takes place at the circus as one of the clans elders is married to the owner

From here things start going wrong fast..

Sylvie makes a ghastly discovery but has no time to tell anyone..Rurik is so driven he sees guilt everywhere and can’t risk confiding in anyone so goes it alone at first to find out who is committing the kidnapping

The author takes their time to reveal the truth of the tale..adding twist after twist to throw you off the truth. The plot was superb.. I couldn’t fault it..

These twists and turns meant there was a great chance to develop the characters which I really felt the author did well. Development is probably the most important thing for me.. I want to feel like I know the character and  I definitely felt like I knew what motivated the main players in this tale

This is dark fantasy at its best for me, right up until the end I had no idea how the tale would play out which kept me hooked in page after page.

Major plus point for this tale has to be the very unique plot. I won’t spoil it but this author has a brilliant imagination..i can’t even put into words how unusual and fascinating the tale is.

Overall a cracking dark and gruesome tale that held a lot of surprises. I don’t think I’ll forget this book in a hurry. 100% would read again

My thanks go to the author for the chance to read/review their work

The book is out today! to find out more head to Goodreads, Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Other links –

Lake Of Sins: Escape by L. S. O’Dea – Review

Title – Lake Of Sins: Escape
Author – L. S. O’Dea
Genre – Dark Fantasy
Length –   330  Pages
My Rating – 4/5 Stars

Synopsis

Lake of Sins: Escape is Lord of the Rings meets The Island of Dr. Moreau. BEWARE Hobbits!

“A dark, fantasy series with an OMG plot twist that you don’t see coming.” J. Urbanczyk 

On earth in the near future, all animals over twenty pounds are extinct and humans are not entirely human.

This new world is segregated by classes and for a Producer—the lowest class whose purpose is to produce all the food for the other classes—making the Harvest List can mean the difference between life and death.

Trinity knows her name won’t be on the Harvest List. They only choose the finest examples of Producers to stay and breed and she is far from a good specimen. She’s a mixed-breed and has hidden her differences—claws, fangs, the ability to see in the dark—all her life.

She needs to discover where they take the teenagers who don’t make the list before they come for her. She’s been trying to figure this out for years and discovered a clue during her last trip into the forest.

With only one week left before she’s taken, she sneaks into the woods again but this time, she uncovers predators long thought to be extinct and creatures who should only exist in legends.

Every turn she takes, someone is hunting her but once she discovers the horrifying fate of her kind, can she return to camp and save the others?     

Review

I’ve previously read Rise of the River-Man: Mutter’s Story and was instantly interesting in the world the author had created. The population has been drastically lowered after great death hits the planet and of those that have survived.. They aren’t really human anymore. There’s a hierarchy.. and for producers this isn’t a good thing.. They are the lowest of the low

This tale follows Trinity, she wants to know what happens to producers when they are taken from her camp and after an altercation with some other producers the time to leave is now..

We are whisked away on a fast paced journey where we are introduced to the others classes such as Almighties who sit at the top of the chain, Guards, Handlers and Trackers. It’s not massively complex to get your head around the social structure but there’s a lot to digest at times.

The tale unfolds when she meets some unlikely friends in the forest.. they both have information that the other is after so join together to suit their needs at the time.. your left never quite knowing if this will last or if someone might end up dead

It’s a good story but again there’s a lot going on..3 distinct tales in my opinion and the book moves from one agenda to another but all written well and with a clear plot. The main focus being on Trinity but I was more taken by the story involving the handlers and the trackers..I’ve yet to read the next book in the series but the author has left a lot of questions unanswered..not in a bad way either I must add.. it’s left me wanting more.. that’s never a bad thing in my book

Again this author seems to like to throw in some gruesomeness now and again for the shock factor and the fate of the producers in one such instance..i thought it was brilliant if I’m honest.

The author has made a cruel and intriguing world, if you like your fantasy but want that added gruesomeness then this is the tale for you

It’s unlike anything I’ve read before and I enjoyed it a lot. I’ll definitely read the next book in the series. I need to know what happens next

To find out more head to Goodreads, Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

They Mostly Come Out At Night by Benedict Patrick – Review

Title – They Mostly Come Out At Night
Author – Benedict Patrick
Genre – Dark Fantasy
Length –    219 Pages
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

He locked himself away from the dark, but in the Magpie King’s forest nowhere is safe…

Lonan is an outcast, accused of letting the monsters that stalk the night into the homes of his fellow villagers. Now, he will not rest until he wins back the heart of his childhood love and reclaims the life that was stolen from him. However, locked safely in his cellar at night, in his dreams Lonan finds himself looking through the eyes of a young prince…

Adahy has a destiny, and it terrifies him. How can he hope to live up to the legend of the Magpie King, to become the supernatural protector of the forest and defender of his people? But when the forest is invaded by an inhuman force, Adahy must rise to this challenge or let the Wolves destroy his people.

Watching these events unfold in his sleep, Lonan must do what he can to protect his village from this new threat. He is the only person who can keep his loved ones from being stolen away after dark, and to do so he will have to earn back their trust or watch the monsters kill everyone that he holds dear.

They Mostly Come Out At Night is a Dark Fantasy novel from Benedict Patrick’s Yarnsworld series. If you like Neil Gaiman and Patrick Rothfuss then you will love this captivating, dangerous world in which ordinary people struggle to find their place in a land ruled by stories.

Start reading today to discover this epic tale of dreams, fables and monsters! 

Review

This book was a real surprise for me. I’ve never read anything quite like it.

The main thing I enjoyed about this book was the format, it switches between different viewpoints to keep you interested and inbetween you get little folk tales which fitted perfectly with the story but also broke up the reading making it flow and easy to digest. The way the book was paced was honestly the reason I read it so quickly and enjoyed it so thoroughly

Adahy has to be my favourite character, and the tale that unfolds towards the end surprised me. I knew something was coming but didn’t quite get it before the author gave you the twist in the tale.

I love fantasy and this is no exception, it dark, fast paced, creepy and wild

Another thing that really made it interesting for me was the “knack” the villagers possessed, each individual gaining their own skill to benefit their village. This really came in useful for the story when learning about Lonan and his story.. Although it’s fantasy I felt it was real, you really felt for him

The ending did not disappoint one bit, it gave me just what I was hoping for.. When I put the book down the only thing I could think to say was “Wow”

For me this book ticked everything and the way it was written made it fresh and easy to read. Usually when i read at night I might only read a couple chapters before I get too tired but with this I was so drawn in.. it flowed so well that I just kept going

I won’t spoil the plot for you but this story weaves two people’s lives into one with a very surprising and interesting twist.

Anyone who likes dark fantasy will enjoy this no doubt, any lover of fantasy in general also.. come to think of it anyone who just enjoys a dark tale, like the Brothers Grimm, not every story has a happy ending.

Love it!

My thanks go to the author for the chance to read/review their work

The book is out tomorrow at 99p! but only until the 22nd when it will go up in price so I’d grab a copy now if I was you.

To find out more head to Goodreads, Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com