This month, every book I finished was written by an indie author, and that's always a win in my opinion! I read Brett and Rodge by E.B. Dawson, Discerned by Sarah Addison-Fox, and By Ways Unseen, by Daniel Dydek. I enjoyed all of them, so if you're looking for some independent authors to read, look no further!
My rating: ★★★★
Brett fills in the backstory of a character Dawson first introduced in The Traveler. It's a bit of a feels-jerker, (which is always a compliment in my book), and as always with Dawson's writing, concise and to-the-point. It was nice to have Brett's history illuminated, and I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the Lost Empire short stories!
My rating: ★★★
I remembered Rodge as being one of my favorite minor characters from The Traveler—aside from Anissa’s house ;)—so I was excited to dive into this short story and learn more about him.
His history, unfortunately, is one that too many share... an illegitimate child raised by his mother, and a father that isn’t often around. Add to that the fact that he’s brilliant but bored, and he soon gets himself in trouble. I think I would have liked this story a lot more if I had been able to see inside Rodge’s head. Sure, he had a rough start in life, but I wasn’t really able to connect with him in the time given.
It’s still a very good short story, however, and marked by Dawson’s precise, clean-cut writing style. I’m glad to have gotten to know Rodge better!
My rating: ★★★★
~ I received a free ARC in exchange for an honest review ~
I have been privileged to read all three of the previous books in the Allegiance series, and I have to say—they’ve never disappointed. Discerned was a wonderful way to cap off the end of the series, and it really brought things full circle.
More than one long-standing plot arc was wrapped up, and I enjoyed seeing married people take the lead in a YA book for a change. And can I just mention Torrance and Amaya for a minute? Those two are serious scene stealers, let me tell you. I love both of them, but especially Amaya. Lady Enjolras strikes again. :P
Then we have Mick and Celeste, who are still working, growing, and learning how to trust Etra more with their lives. Mick still stumbles all over himself from time to time (which is honestly one of his most endearing traits), and Celeste still struggles with believing she’s loved, but they never stop moving forward.
As for content, there’s the usual drinking and smattering of curse words, but the thing I struggled with the most is probably the continued use of sexual innuendo--however—it is used with a godly perspective. The characters are more concerned with marital fidelity than falling for whichever good-looking guy (or girl) happens along next, and I appreciate that.
Speaking of which—an extremely good-looking girl does happen along, which creates problems. For most of the book I wanted to chuck her out of the window, but after hearing a little bit more about her past, I was able to pity her. There were certain things about her brief arc that I wasn’t really satisfied with, however. And another character that had been around from the beginning ended up with a really sudden Love Interest™, which felt rushed.
But nitpicky gripes aside, Discerned delivered a satisfying ending, and anyone that enjoys action-packed YA with a vein of romance will enjoy the Allegience series.
By Ways Unseen
My rating: ★★★★
By Ways Unseen is a LOTR-esque high fantasy adventure that I quite enjoyed. There was a new and interesting use of magic, a good dose of fantastical creatures (some of which I haven’t seen in a novel before), and a quartet of characters that grew together through thick and thin. “And who are these characters?” you ask. Well...
• Haydren: The Main Character. The Hero. The guy who has the most growing to do. Honestly, he could be a little irritating at times, but aren’t we all? I appreciated that Dydek put a character out there that wasn’t always likable. I also enjoyed his character arc, as regarding the God of All.
• Geoffery: While we’re talking character archetypes, we can’t forget the Mentor. But he wasn’t always right, and I loved how his backstory was revealed as the plot progressed. There was a very good reason he believed what he believed, and I liked that he wasn’t right “just because,” as some mentor characters are apt to be.
• Pladt: *tosses actual archetypes out the window* This li’l character was the Cinnamon Roll in my unofficial official opinion. It didn’t take long for Pladt to become one of my favorites, and he provided some much-needed comic relief. I kept grinning whenever he was on the page.
• Sarah: The… Sorceress? She provided the female element to the story, and on the whole, I rather liked her. The only thing that somewhat bothered me was how she seemed inclined to buckle under pressure—but on the whole she carried herself with dignity, without coming across harsh—and that’s something sorely lacking in today’s stories.
Another thing I enjoyed was the creatures, and the enormous scope of the world. The creatures were a pretty eclectic mix (kobolds, and gremlins, and dragons oh my!), and the huge scope of the story put me in mind of The Lord of the Rings. Granted, I was soon lost with all the directions being given, but that’s probably just me, since I'm notoriously bad at geography.
I also liked how the magic was handled. [spoiler] It reminded me of that verse in 1 Corinthians that says all things are lawful, but not all things are helpful. [spoiler finished] I can’t say I’ve seen magic done that way before, and thought it was a unique twist.
As for content, the book is pretty clean, aside from a little drinking, non-gory violence, a trip hiding in the back of a wagon with cadavers, (yikes), orphans were mentioned to usually be the product of prostitution, a scene where a woman was asked whether she had begun her “women’s custom,” and another where an extremely bad-tempered not-morning person threatened to castrate the person that woke him up.
All told, By Ways Unseen tells a familiar tale about good vs. evil, and making tough choices. The characters weren’t perfect, and some elements of the storytelling felt a little uneven, but it was a good book in the end.
Welcome to Katelyn Buxton Books! I'm a Christian author and blogger, with a passion for writing stories that are not just enjoyable, but also lead people closer to Jesus. Feel free to look around, and enjoy your stay!