Friday, November 15, 2019

Book Review: A SHATTERING OF GLASS by Deck Matthews


Title: A Shattering of Glass

Author: Deck Matthews

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: October 15, 2019

Rating: 9.5/10


The Riven Realm series has become a real comfort read for me over the past year.  It's the perfect fantasy series because the books are not that long (around 180-190 pages), yet the amount of action and intrigue is so economically packed into each book despite the lightness in page count.  This third book in the series continues the trend of moving the story forward significantly while adding a new plot twist that throws things on its head.

A SHATTERING OF GLASS continues the story of familiar characters Caleb Rusk, Corporal Avendor Tarcoth, and Sage Carvesh Tarne, as they continue to pursue the truth about what is causing the mysterious deaths in and around Taralius.  To make matters worse, just as the leaders from the various towns are beginning to converge for a special council, an assassin strikes down a prominent Abbott.  The assassin leaves behind a calling card identifying them as potentially being part of a notorious organization called the White Glove.  If the White Glove is indeed operating in the area at such a critical time where so many leaders are in one place, it could have disastrous consequences to say the least.

Meanwhile Shade, who was introduced in the previous book Dust of the Darkness, has embarked on her own personal mission to acquire a mysterious object that will assist in her vanquishing some enemies of the past (and quite possibly the present).  Her role in the events taking place in the story is still to be determined, but this adds an element of suspense and mystery that really takes center stage in this book.  

Oh and there's also the issue of the shadowbeasts that continue to terrorize the local villages, slaughtering many of the residents in the night.  Did I mention that there's a lot going on in these books?  The stakes couldn't be higher for all of these characters as they battle demons, plague, political enemies, assassins, and all matter of foes, both human and supernatural.  Set against the backdrop of a land teetering on the edge of chaos, A SHATTERING OF GLASS signifies a true turning point in this series, and one that had me reading this entire book in just two days.

I continue to be impressed with Deck Matthews and The Riven Realm series.  The world of Varkas is such a multi-layered one that is slowly revealing its secrets as the story progresses.  Just when I think I have an understanding of the nature of things, Deck Matthews throws a curveball at me and creates another mystery that has me scratching my head.  This is a good thing by the way.

I thought it was a brave choice to feature Shade as the more prominent MC in book 3.  That's not to say that the others took a backseat in any way, but it allowed for a fresh viewpoint and storyline that added to the already compelling plot from the first two books in this series.  There are still the same issues and problems present in the main story arc, but Shade being thrown into the mix makes you feel like things are eventually going to converge into a wonderful home stretch and finish in the upcoming books.

Another thing that stands out for me regarding this series and was once again proven in A SHATTERING OF GLASS, is how much the characters persist in the face of almost insurmountable odds.  I've mentioned before what an inspirational character Caleb is and he has come such a long way from the uncertain and tentative young boy he was in First of Shadows.  So the characters really make this a series worth checking out and I also must point out how much the tight dialogue contributes to them being very real and relateable to the reader.  

I feel like a broken record from my previous reviews but I really do like this series a lot and feel like it just keeps getting better and better.  You really should take the time to read these books if you enjoy fantasy in the same vein as Terry Brooks and David Eddings.  There's all of the same wit and adventure with a slight dark streak that makes it a bit more gritty.  I highly recommend diving into this series.  It should be on everyone's radar in my opinion.  I'm really looking forward to the forthcoming books to see what happens next!

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Book Review: IOTH, CITY OF LIGHTS by D.P. Woolliscroft


Title: Ioth, City of Lights

Author: D.P. Woolliscroft

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: June 20, 2019

Rating: 9.5/10


For those who have not read the Wildfire Cycle by D.P. Woolliscroft, I highly recommend that you do so as I believe it to be one of the best current fantasy series out there right now.  The first book in the series, Kingshold laid the foundation beautifully for this second full-length entry (there's also a 1.5 book of short stories called Tales of Kingshold that both relates to and enhances the main story arc).  

IOTH, CITY OF LIGHTS begins with a sea battle, so we are immediately tossed into the action from page one.  Right away I could tell that the tone and pace of this book would be significantly different than Kingshold.  The former bard Mareth is now Lord Protector of Edland via the people's election, and the wizard Jyuth is nowhere to be found.  His daughter Neenahwi is now left to monitor things and to make sure that stability, peace, and prosperity rule the day within the kingdom.

Standing in the way of that however is the ambitious empire of neighboring Pyrfew.  Pyrfew has quickly built up their navy in the intervening time since Edland elected their new leader.  Rumors abound that Edland's neighbors have been paying close attention to the instability in Edland and may have chosen this fragile time of transition in government to finally make their move.  And although things are getting slowly better in and around Kingshold, they are by no means perfect.  Mareth is still getting his feet wet and learning how to govern, so any attack launched against him at this time could have disastrous consequences.

To attempt to head this off, Mareth sends one of his most trusted advisers Alana to the city of Ioth, a city strategically placed on the shores of the Sapphire Sea.  Alana's mission is to convince Ioth to repel any advances (both militarily and diplomatically) that Pyrfew would make to secure this important port.  For if Pyrfew gains control of this vital launching point for a potential sea invasion, the people of Edland could be exposed and vulnerable to Pyrfew's emperor Lllewdon's sinister plans of conquest.

As Mareth and his agents scramble to keep Pyrfew from invading, they must also contend with the issues at home that come with setting up a new government and ruling a land that is still not entirely free from crime and starvation.  The question soon arises as to whether or not the new Lord Protector can even survive a rule that is still in its infancy.  For there is sure to be trouble ahead and Edland will be tested like it has never been before.  

This book had me up late pretty much every night this week.  If you consider the fact that I have to be up at 5:30 am every day for work, this is truly a testament to how great IOTH, CITY OF LIGHTS really is.  I mentioned earlier that the tone of this book is different than the first book Kingshold, and I just have to reemphasize that point again.  Where book one was a masterwork of political intrigue, double-dealing, and treachery, the action absolutely explodes in IOTH and we are treated to some of the best battles and fighting scenes I have ever had the pleasure of reading.  

There are so many reasons why I love this story.  The first is that the world-building is outstanding.  The kingdom of Edland is so multi-layered with much of the same complexities that any modern day city would have.  There is crime, poverty, political corruption, and all of the challenges that come with those problems.  The only difference is that Woolliscroft has translated all of that into a fantasy setting.  When you are reading a fantasy story that is so relateable to real life, it really helps you connect with it as a reader.

Another thing that I enjoy about this series is that Dave Woolliscroft has a penchant for breaking your heart at least two or three times in every book.  Without giving too much away, let's just say he has a bit of George RR Martin in him.  I find this writing to be the best kind, or at least my favorite.  When you are willing as an author to put your main characters in grave peril, and even kill off one or two in the process, it makes the reading experience a much more tense one and as a result, a more rewarding one as well.  I love not knowing with every turn of the page whether a character that I have grown increasingly attached to is going to end up dead in a gutter in the next chapter.

And that's where I come to the very best part of the Wildfire Cycle for me, the characters.  Woolliscroft's ability to write characters who don't behave predictably and are multi-dimensional in their makeup is the true strength of this book and series as a whole.  You will be hard-pressed to find a better writer of characters and dialogue than Woolliscroft.  And so I am left to wait impatiently for the next book in this series, which on one hand makes me sad, but on the other makes me realize that I have another amazing book to read in the relatively-near future.  So I can't be too upset I guess.

In closing, please do yourself a favor and pick up IOTH, CITY OF LIGHTS immediately.  And if you haven't started this series yet, grab a copy of Kingshold and embark on the wonderful journey that is the Wildfire Cycle.  Not only will you not be disappointed, but you will discover just how unique and original a fantasy story this truly is.  D.P. Woolliscroft has once again penned a fantastic book that has me yearning for more.  Excellent work Mr. Woolliscroft!

Monday, November 4, 2019

#SPFBO5 Book Review: A SEA OF BROKEN GLASS by Sonya M. Black


Title: A Sea of Broken Glass

Author: Sonya M. Black

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: March 19, 2019

Rating: 7.8/10


A SEA OF BROKEN GLASS opens with the main character Ris barely escaping execution for practicing witchcraft at the hands of a corrupt and vile Inquisitor.  Aided by two Paladins of Light named Bran and Michel, she is quickly secreted away by her protectors and transported to a place of safety, or so they believe.  

Many are looking for Ris as she represents the last vessel of the Lady, the ancient savior and creator born from The Bastion of Light.  The Lady needs Ris if she hopes to once again save the world and keep her vessel from being corrupted.  But the Darkness also seeks Ris for its own gains and has deployed various agents in the hopes of capturing Ris and tainting her magic, thus controlling the world and plunging it into an age of despair and anguish.

Ris is saddled with the unenviable task of trying to free the Lady from the bonds of Darkness so that she may hopefully restore balance again to the world.  But to do so she must first battle all likes of demons and evil minions who hunt her from one border of the continent to the next.  Coupled with that is the realization that the taint of the darkness is spreading across the land bringing plague and war in its wake.  It soon becomes a battle against time and powerful enemies for Ris and her fellow protectors of Light, where the fate of the world is anything but certain and the motivations of some of the main players are very much in question.

This book was a joy to read and I devoured it in just about a week even though it's just short of 400 pages in length.  I simply loved the elements of witchcraft and the Victorian-esque setting that almost bordered on Steampunk at times.  Reading it, I couldn't help but make comparisons to Mary Wells' Death of the Necromancer and Paula Volsky's The Grand Ellipse (Two favorites of mine), but this is also a book that has its own unique story to tell, and it's a very good one at that.  

The chapters alternate viewpoints between four characters whose stories and actions move the plot forward in their own particular way.  Although there are four viewpoints, it is obvious that the main character is Ris and she is the one that I felt the most connected to and invested in as a reader.  Without giving away too much, let's just say that she is put through a lot of duress throughout the book and the strength of her character and force of will is really on full display.  Likewise, the other viewpoint characters Bran, Michel, and Aeron were fleshed out very well and gave a depth to the story that I thought worked extremely well and enhanced the experience.

In closing, A SEA OF BROKEN GLASS was such a delight to read and I recommend it to anyone who likes their fantasy with a bit of Victorian flair, witchery, and a timeless light vs dark, good vs evil plot line.  The characters and world-building really sucked me into this wonderful dark fantasy read.  I look forward to the second book in Sonya M. Black's The Lady & The Darkness series with much anticipation.

#SPFBO5 Book Review: HOUND OF THE MOUNTAIN by Stephan Morse


Title: Hound of the Mountain

Author: Stephan Morse

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: May 28, 2019

Rating: 5.5/10


Chase Craig is a teenager who has been given a gigantic task by his father on his deathbed.  He's been told that his mother is trapped at the top of a nearby mountain and he must save her if she still lives.  The problem with this task is that it isn't going to be very easy considering that there are hideous beasts who reside amongst the crags and peaks of said mountain.

Not only that, but to even attempt to undertake this mission alone would be sure and certain suicide.  Chase's only option in his mind is to join THE RANGERS, an elite squad who are trained in hunting and killing the mythical beasts that inhabit the mountain.  Adding to the daunting task of becoming a ranger is the fact that only one person among the many who apply actually get the chance to become a Ranger.

To become part of this special unit, Chase must go through a series of gruelling trials aimed at singling out only the best of the best for selection.  The reward for passing is a magic tattoo that will endow the new Ranger with certain powers.  Powers that Chase hopes will propel him to finding his mother and bringing her down from the mountain safe and unharmed.  But will he be able to pass the test?  Or will he have to journey alone into the perilous mountain facing danger without the backing of the much vaunted Rangers?

HOUND OF THE MOUNTAIN was a book that I felt had a lot of unrealized potential.  The story was very original and I thought the concept of a magic system based on tattoos is a cool idea.  While this was a fun fantasy tale in general with a western-style theme, where it lost me was in both the juvenile tone of the main character and also the long time period that takes place before any real action happens.

Part of this was the fact that the Ranger trials were so detailed and lengthy in description.  What I kept wanting to get to was Chase's journey into the mountain, but it felt like that took forever to happen.  Ultimately this is where I grew a bit impatient and I thought that the book dragged for a significant amount of time.  

Getting back to Chase as a main character, I just couldn't get invested in his story.  There were times when he just seemed like a spoiled brat and I didn't connect with him in any way.  Likewise the story of the Rangers didn't grab me either and all in all although this is a light fantasy read with some good moments, as a whole this book was just okay for me.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

The Violent Fae Blog Tour: THE ORDSHAW VIGNETTES by Phil Williams

Greetings everyone!  Out of This World SFF Reviews is extremely honored and delighted to be hosting Day 7 of Phil Williams' THE VIOLENT FAE BLOG TOUR 2019.  The tour is being held to celebrate the upcoming release on November 5th of the third book in Phil's Ordshaw trilogy, The Violent Fae.  Also as part of the tour, Phil is sharing 12 short stories from the city of Ordshaw.  These "Ordshaw Vignettes" are tiny insights into the UK's worst-behaved city, each with a self-contained mystery!  I will be sharing one of those short-stories with you, The Artist, in just a minute.


First though, here's a little more information about the books that comprise the Ordshaw series including this latest release:

The Ordshaw series are urban fantasy thrillers set in a modern UK city with more than a few terrible secrets.  The Violent Fae completes a story that began with Under Ordshaw and its sequel Blue Angel - following poker player Pax Kuranes' journey into the Ordshaw underworld.  Over the space of one week, Pax unravels mysteries that warp reality and threaten the entire city. 

And if you are looking for another reason to begin this brilliantly inventive series, the first book Under Ordshaw is currently on sale in the Amazon Kindle Store for $0.99US/£0.99UK until November 1st!



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Now without further delay, here is the vignette that Phil has prepared for us today on this stop of the tour, I happily bring you.......

The Artist

     Mr. Arnstrum strolled through Hanton stiff and straight in fine-cut trousers and a cardigan frayed in a deliberate way.  By day, he dominated children, looming with threats of detention, bad grades and severe looks.  His bitter questions never warranted answers: what were they thinking, painting like that, that's not how it's done.  In his free time, he drove fear into shop clerks, waitresses and quiet park attendants.  He could always spot room for improvement.

     Perfect art technique had earned him a one-bed flat with sash windows that stuck.  No one would ever pick out an Arnstrum from a gallery of watercolours, but he was molding the hopeless artists of the future to be realistic.  He held his head high.

     That's why he never saw it coming, the day Arnstrum fell.

Two blocks from his flat, between a house stoop and a thick tree, Arnstrum tripped.  His arms windmilled and for the briefest moment his narrow eyes were plates of panic, mouth open in a yelp.  It came so unexpectedly, snapping against his shin, that he swung forward like a plank, barely getting his hands up.

     Arnstrum's nose struck the pavement first.

     He bounced and rolled onto his rear.  Kicking away from whatever had tripped him, he scrambled to jump upright.  He quickly checked no one had seen, before scanning the tree and the pavement and the malicious element that had cut him down.  Hearing his own worried breath, he clamped his mouth shut and forced his wide eyes narrow.  He straightened out his cardigan and cleared his throat, pretending to cover a cough.  He checked again.  No one watching.  He'd got away with it.

     Got away with what?

     There was no obstacle to have tripped on.  The roots of the tree were off to one side.  The paving slabs were flat - he knew this because he had insisted the council replace them five months ago.  And besides, something hit his shin.

     Arnstrum touched his nose and flinched at the sharp pain.  His hands were grazed and - no! - the knee of his corduroys torn.  He squeezed his lips together and strode back, raising a finger, ready to admonish, ready to scold.

     But there was no one.  Nothing.

     His breath trembled.  he had tripped on something, hadn't he?  Not over his own feet, for sure.  He would never.  A sudden panic overtook him and he hurried away.  Best get home and figure it out behind closed curtains, unwatched - why did he feel like someone was watching?

     At his building entrance, he fumbled for his keys.

     That was when he realised his wallet was missing.  Dropped when he tripped.  He would race back to search around the tree, in the gutter, up the street.  He would argue with the police that he had been tripped, distracted, and his wallet had been taken - not merely misplaced.  He would dismiss the children's sniggers with snaps that they pay more attention to their work than his damaged nose.  And, in time, he would develop doubts.

But in that moment, when his hand felt the pocket empty, he knew a truth that would forever niggle.  He had not been alone.  He was the victim of a crime he could not explain - someone used fishing wire, perhaps? - but a crime, nonetheless.  And he kept his eyes down, then.  He walked slowly and minded what he said.  Never quite sure who was watching.  Who was listening.  Who stole his wallet.



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And there you have it, the wonderful vignette The Artist by Phill Williams!   If you are interested in reading the complete collection of 12 short-stories, please visit all of the amazing blogs listed in the tour at the beginning of this post.
  
In addition, if you enjoyed what you just read and are eager to begin the Ordshaw series, you can find out more and/or purchase all of the books in this series by clicking on the following links:








Thank you so much for stopping by Out of This World SFF Reviews for Day 7 of the tour and to discover more about mysterious and magical Ordshaw.  Before I leave I'd just like to share a quick bio of author Phil Williams.



Phil Williams was born in the commuter-belt of Hertfordshire, where he learnt to escape a comfortable life through sinister fantasy fiction.  His erratic career has variously involved the study of language and relationships - and took him to such locations as Prague, Moscow, and Abu Dhabi.  He finally settled on the quiet Sussex seaside, where he lives in Worthing with his wife and his fluffy dog, Herbert.  He divides his time between writing educational books that help people better understand English and fantasy books that help people better escape reality.  So he tells himself.  His novels include the interconnected Ordshaw urban fantasy thrillers, the post-apocalyptic Estalia saga and the action-packed Faergrowe series.

Thanks again and HAPPY READING! 
~Nick

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Book Review: LEGACY OF GHOSTS by Alicia Wanstall-Burke


Title: Legacy of Ghosts

Author: Alicia Wanstall-Burke

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: November 30, 2019

Rating: 10/10


Four years have passed since the events that culminated Alicia Wanstall-Burke's first book in the Coraidic Sagas, Blood of Heirs.  Much has changed in those intervening years, both with the two main characters Lidan and Ran, and also within the kingdom itself regarding the threat that it faces from its hated enemy the Woaden Empire.  But there are other things much worse than enemy armies lurking along the fringes of the Southlands and Ortha.  Things in the form of unspeakably hideous animated corpses who raid villages and kill with impunity.  Some call them Dradur, others Ngaru, but whatever the name, they pose an existential threat to the people who inhabit the region and must be dealt with.

Lidan is now officially a ranger in her father the king's expeditionary force.  Her job is to patrol the border looking for signs of Ngaru and to root them out when found.  Her dream of being the true heir of the clan continues to be cast in doubt as her father finally has the son he has long-desired from another wife.  Her only hope is to convince her father that she is worthy of being his successor by her heroic exploits as a dedicated ranger protecting the clan against potential attack.  Keeping her mother at bay might be Lidan's biggest problem however, as she is none too happy that Lidan may be passed over and there's no telling what lengths she will stoop to rectify that situation.

As far as Ran goes, he also has issues with his father.  Ran has fled to an isolated keep where he could hide out from the king's men after he was caught using forbidden magic.  The use of magic is punishable by death in Orthia, and even though it was the king's own son who broke the highly sacred law, even he is not immune to the consequences and repercussions of violating it.  Ran now finds himself living in exile among the small population within the keep, a fugitive from the king's justice, but the walls may be closing in on him quicker than he realizes.

Both Lidan and Ran have matured beyond their years over the past four years, but will that be enough to help them defeat what is to come?  Can they find the strength within themselves to bury the demons of the past and forge a new future for themselves and their people?  And are their fates somehow unavoidably intertwined?  Many questions will be answered and even more will be posed once the final page of LEGACY OF GHOSTS is turned.  The kingdom may just be on the tipping point of destruction, and Ran and Lidan will have their own part to play in all that will transpire going forward.

There are certain books that feel like home to me.  I know this may sound silly to some, but upon reading Alicia Wanstall-Burke's debut novel Blood of Heirs, I immediately knew that this series was made for my particular tastes.  Now that I have read the stunning follow-up LEGACY OF GHOSTS, I'm even more of a believer.  There is such a rhythm and beauty to this series that I simply don't see in a lot of fantasy these days.  This book was a giant leap a leap in intensity and impending danger, so much so that even though it is roughly 250 pages longer than book one in page count, I devoured it just as rapidly.

One thing that I believe sets this series apart is the undeniable impact of having two main characters who are from such disparate backgrounds and social status, yet have to overcome incredible adversity and odds that are stacked against them, thus revealing that they are actually more alike than not in most ways.  It really is a brilliant way to construct a story and Wanstall-Burke deftly alternates viewpoints every few chapters so that we can see how the events on one side of the continent are affecting the other.  I never thought I would enjoy a book that has two main characters, but it doesn't even faze me anymore it is so natural in its presentation.

You might think by my praising of how character-driven this story is that it's light on action and tense moments.  Well think again because where the first book set things up wonderfully, this book hammers the action home with a thundering concussion and delivers beautifully on the promise of book one.  No second-book letup here I'm happy to say, and the action scenes that occur are so real and breathtaking that they leave you emotionally drained.  All of this is set against the backdrop of a land on the cusp of chaos and potential ruin.  I couldn't turn the pages fast enough and I wanted to find out what was eventually going to happen.

I can't praise LEGACY OF GHOSTS enough.  For all of the reasons I have just mentioned, plus an unbelievable ending that you won't see coming in your wildest imagination, this is a book and series that would be a crime to be missed.  Alicia Wanstall-Burke you have done it again!   Only, I'm more than a little upset that I have to wait for the third book now.  But that's just a testament to how this story gets its hooks into you and just doesn't relent for a single second.  If you enjoy your fantasy with a heaping of political intrigue, a healthy dose of magic, characters who touch you in the deepest and most emotional of ways, and a story that is so engrossing that you can't force yourself to put it down to eat, sleep, go to the bathroom, etc....  then you absolutely need to read the Coraidic Sagas by Alicia Wanstall-Burke.  LEGACY OF GHOSTS is due to be released on November 30th, 2019, but you can preorder it now and start reading the first book in this series Blood of Heirs while you wait!

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Book Review: DUST OF THE DARKNESS by Deck Matthews


Title: Dust of the Darkness

Author: Deck Matthews

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: July 15, 2019

Rating: 9/10


Deck Matthews has delivered another winner of a fantasy book with his second installment in The Riven Realm series, DUST OF THE DARKNESS.   This book picks up immediately following the events that concluded book one, The First of Shadows.  Caleb Rusk is aboard the vessel Zephyr's Song fleeing from the evil menace that is hunting him while at the same time searching for answers that could help him defeat the monstrous evil that has been unleashed.

Caleb has some help this time around as he is accompanied by his friends Palawen Ty and Captain of the Song, Shevik Den.  Caleb and his companions escape to his sister Anya's home in the quiet and unassuming village of Timberford both to regroup and to inform his sister of the many troubling events that have recently occurred.   But when Anya and her husband Carvesh reveal to Caleb that Timberford has experienced some brutal attacks of its own perpetrated by dark creatures the likes of which have never been seen in those parts before, Caleb realizes that he has just traded one deadly threat for another.  And this threat may be even more daunting than the one he fled from.

Meanwhile, the blind sage Tiberius Alaran continues to pursue clues to revealing the old magic that might assist him in finding who is responsible for the murders that have occurred in and around the city of Taralius.  The mystery of these deaths still ways heavily on the old man and the deeper he gets enmeshed in finding the secrets he wants more than anything to uncover, the more he finds his life is in grave danger.  For there are those who would kill to protect what is hidden.  There will be much to account for and many will not emerge unscathed when all is said and done in this action-packed fantasy story.

I was extremely impressed by DUST OF THE DARKNESS and it really solidified my feeling that The Riven Realm is one of my favorite new fantasy series in quite some time.  I liked book one a great deal but this one took the series to another level entirely.  I enjoyed seeing Caleb grow as a character and we really get a sense that he is feeling more comfortable in his own skin so to speak.  He is way more assertive in this book and in one particular instance in the story where he is describing his disability to his nephew, you could absolutely feel through the tone of his words to the young boy that he refuses to let his physical challenges limit him in any way or define him.  It was such an inspirational moment and one of my favorite parts of the book to be honest.

There is also a new character introduced in this book named Shade, who I thought was quite intriguing and added a significant amount of mystery to the story.  We get little hints as to whose side she is on but she remains somewhat a mysterious figure for a while.  I enjoyed her character immensely and was happy to see the cast expanding and even more depth and layers being added to the story.  This series really keeps you guessing and I like that a lot, so finding out her motives as this book progressed kept me turning the pages and wanting to know even more about her both now and in future books.

All in all, DUST OF THE DARKNESS was a very entertaining read filled with amazing action, a few heartbreaking moments along the way, an increasingly realized world where magic exists, and a looming mystery at its heart that powers the story and keeps the reader fixated on every word of dialogue and every action of the characters.  If you are looking for a new fantasy read that will delight you and doesn't sugarcoat anything in the process, you need to read this series right away.  Deck Matthews has succeeded in penning a series that has all the hallmarks of a potential blockbuster.  Hopefully more people will get exposed to the The Riven Realm series as it gradually gains more notoriety.  It definitely deserves every bit and then some.  For now, I'll be jumping immediately into book three, A Shattering of Glass, which was just released on October 15th.