Tag Archives: #Death

Nix, Garth: Sabriel (Old Kingdom Chronicles I) (1995)

Sabriel is one of many children born to power. Her type of power is the kind that can lay the dead to rest or raise their spirits from it. Necromancy is a craft fraught with danger for its wielder.

The temptation to abuse what powers we have been given seems to come the way of many powerful. Some people seem to have a natural immunity to such lures. Sabriel is one of those. Perhaps that has something to do with her heritage as one of the Abhorsens’. This family sees it as their duty to maintain the balance between life and death by laying to rest the restless dead.

Yet, when the mantle of the Abhorsen falls upon Sabriel, she is only 18. I’m trying to remember what life was like at 18. Much like now in some ways. People did stuff that made them happy or things that they regretted. Whatever their motivation, some of the other 18-year-olds were clearly harder working and more responsible than I, while others were the opposite. Sabriel falls somewhere in the middle (where most of us fall).

Circumstances drive her across the wall into the Old Kingdom. Life throws her on the run from zombies (not Nix’ word) and it also forces her to choose between impossible choices. Magic helps her on the way, but without the preparations by the long dead and the assistance of Mogget and Touchstone and her mother Sabriel would be long dead.

I believe this is the MOST important lesson life teaches us. We cannot get to our appointment with death without others to help us stay alive on the way. Obviously, we are free to choose to go our route alone. All that does is hasten that last breath. For some people that is a choice they need to make. But Sabriel at 18 looks forward to what she hopes is a long and happy life, although events Garth Nix throws her way seem to do their best to shorten that life.

There is plenty of action. Some of that action kills off people on both sides. Near death experiences seem the norm rather than the exception for Sabriel. Touchstone and Sabriel fall for each other. I think I have to agree with the other reviews I have read. Definitely recommended.


Sabriel available on Amazon US


Ryan, Lea: What the Dead Fear (2011)

Cover art by Lea Ryan
Cover art by Lea Ryan

What the Dead Fear is a lovely novella about acceptance and compassion.

My reasons for choosing a story varies. In the case of What the Dead Fear  it was the title that drew me. I found I had to know what the dead do fear. Well, they fear Gareth. But more than Gareth they fear

for the fates of the living, despite their witness to the hereafter. They fear retribution, but perhaps even more, they fear helplessness and insignificance.

Helplessness is an interesting sensation. Two of the characters (Juniper and Nikki) from the story suffer through acknowledging the need for different strategies. Acceptance is such a difficult choice but usually it is the only way to change. At least it is for me, and Ms. Ryan’s characters all either fight their way through it or remain stuck as they are.

I like the way the story plays out in Limbo and in the land of the living. What the Dead Fear is a ghost story riddled with strange creatures and plenty of action and humor. Definitely recommended.


What the Dead Fear on Barnes and Noble Nook, Smashwords, Kobo, It’s also available in audio HERE.

Fisher, Jude: The Rose of the World (Fool’s Gold III) (2005)

Cover left: Matt Stawicki Cover right: Steve Stone
Cover left: Matt Stawicki
Cover right: Steve Stone

Boo, hoo 😥 my son and I have finished the trilogy. Each time we finish a series, I wonder if our reading adventures will continue or if this was the last time. Time passes and change comes to us all, even to my family.

Finn (Katla’s twin) is a right bastard. He was the kind of child that tortured cats. You know, that kind of guy. Then life catches up with him. Something happens to us as we grow older. Whether we solidify or become like waves seems arbitrary. Finn solidified and in the end that turned out to be unfortunate for him.

As a reader, I appreciate it when I get a look at the propaganda system an author has grown up during without getting the feeling that the writer is trying to push her points of view down my throat. In fact, I love that because this has not been one of my strengths. Jude Fisher manages it.

So, Death! Death is for many an unwanted companion. For those who encounter Tanto Vingo and Tycho Issian the opposite could be said. The evil twins might be one term that applies to them – except their motivation is different. Tycho is trying to eradicate all the “evil” from the world by burning people while Tanto gets his kicks from torture and mayhem. Just hearing their names brings terror to the hearts of the people of Istrian. A worse combination could probably never have been invented.

Tanto’s favorite victim is Saro. Saro was gifted/cursed with an overly active empathic ability toward the end of Fool’s Gold. Since then, he feels and sees all that goes on in a person at the time that he touches them. I wonder what it must be like to have such an ability? Pretty freaking terrible I would imagine. After Tanto figured out what was going on, Saro was mentally tortured. Once Saro was brought back to Jetra, he was physically and mentally tortured in the prison/torture chambers of the Miseria (Jetra’s infamous prison).

Katla’s physical, emotional and attitudinal journey is huge in The Rose of the World. She continues to be my favorite. Her resilience and stubbornness help her survive what seems to break her sisters from Rockfall. Her mother is the same. Both have to overcome prejudices and fears that have not been encountered previously. Mam likes this gritty little chit of a girl who maintains such a strong will to live true to herself.

The one I pitied the most was Aran (Katla’s father/Bera’s ex-husband). Being caught in a geas is a terrible thing. Once you are caught in its spell there is no escaping until you have done whatever this magically imposed command tells you to do. You will sacrifice anything to get to the end of it without realising how much you are giving up. It is as if something has possessed you and you become unable to impose your own will. Aran’s story is a story of both being a victim of his possession and a victim of circumstances. Poor guy.

The conclusion was magical indeed. Not much reality used to get us there. I haven’t really made up my mind as to how I feel about it yet. But it fits with Ms. Fisher’s intro to the novel.

There were happy parts and sad parts to the novel. Gruesome parts and satisfying parts. A whole lot of obsessed people causing mayhem and destruction. All in all a trilogy I recommend.


  • Paperback: 688 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books; New edition (3 July 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743440420
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743440424
  • Product Dimensions: 11.3 x 17.2 cm

My review of:

  1. Sorcery Rising
  2. Wild Magic

Nerburn, Kent: The Cab Ride I’ll Never Forget (Make Me an Instrument of Your Peace: Living in the Spirit of the Prayer of St. Francis) (1999)


Kent Nerburn the author finally let us in on the original story of “The Cab Ride” – a story that has gone the rounds on the net for various reasons. The Huffington Post published Mr. Nerburn’s article 3rd of May 2012. I am glad that a story like this is actually true.

In 1982 Mr. Nerburn was driving his taxi in Minneapolis, Minnesota and this is what happened:

There was a time in my life twenty years ago when I was driving a cab for a living. It was a cowboy’s life, a gambler’s life, a life for someone who wanted no boss, constant movement and the thrill of a dice roll every time a new passenger got into the cab.

What I didn’t count on when I took the job was that it was also a ministry. Because I drove the night shift, my cab became a rolling confessional. Passengers would climb in, sit behind me in total anonymity and tell me of their lives.

We were like strangers on a train, the passengers and I, hurtling through the night, revealing intimacies we would never have dreamed of sharing during the brighter light of day. I encountered people whose lives amazed me, ennobled me, made me laugh and made me weep. And none of those lives touched me more than that of a woman I picked up late on a warm August night.

I was responding to a call from a small brick fourplex in a quiet part of town. I assumed I was being sent to pick up some partiers, or someone who had just had a fight with a lover, or someone going off to an early shift at some factory for the industrial part of town.

When I arrived at the address, the building was dark except for a single light in a ground-floor window. Under these circumstances, many drivers would just honk once or twice, wait a short minute, then drive away. Too many bad possibilities awaited a driver who went up to a darkened building at 2:30 in the morning.

But I had seen too many people trapped in a life of poverty who depended on the cab as their only means of transportation. Unless a situation had a real whiff of danger, I always went to the door to find the passenger. It might, I reasoned, be someone who needs my assistance. Would I not want a driver to do the same if my mother or father had called for a cab?

So I walked to the door and knocked.

“Just a minute,” answered a frail and elderly voice. I could hear the sound of something being dragged across the floor. After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman somewhere in her 80s stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like you might see in a costume shop or a Goodwill store or in a 1940s movie. By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The sound had been her dragging it across the floor.

The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets. There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.

“Would you carry my bag out to the car?” she said. “I’d like a few moments alone. Then, if you could come back and help me? I’m not very strong.”

I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman. She took my arm, and we walked slowly toward the curb. She kept thanking me for my kindness.

“It’s nothing,” I told her. “I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother treated.”

“Oh, you’re such a good boy,” she said. Her praise and appreciation were almost embarrassing. When we got in the cab, she gave me an address, then asked, “Could you drive through downtown?”

“It’s not the shortest way,” I answered.

“Oh, I don’t mind,” she said. “I’m in no hurry. I’m on my way to a hospice.”

I looked in the rearview mirror. Her eyes were glistening. “I don’t have any family left,” she continued. “The doctor says I should go there. He says I don’t have very long.”

I quietly reached over and shut off the meter. “What route would you like me to go?” I asked. For the next two hours we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator. We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they had first been married. She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl. Sometimes she would have me slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.

As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, “I’m tired. Let’s go now.” We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico. Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. Without waiting for me, they opened the door and began assisting the woman. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her; perhaps she had phoned them right before we left.

I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase up to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.

“How much do I owe you?” she asked, reaching into her purse.

“Nothing,” I said.

“You have to make a living,” she answered.

“There are other passengers,” I responded.

Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held on to me tightly. “You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,” she said. “Thank you.”

There was nothing more to say. I squeezed her hand once, then walked out into the dim morning light. Behind me, I could hear the door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life.

I did not pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly, lost in thought. For the remainder of that day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away? What if I had been in a foul mood and had refused to engage the woman in conversation? How many other moments like that had I missed or failed to grasp?

We are so conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us unawares. When that woman hugged me and said that I had brought her a moment of joy, it was possible to believe that I had been placed on earth for the sole purpose of providing her with that last ride.

I do not think that I have ever done anything in my life that was any more important.

From Make Me an Instrument of Your Peace: Living in the Spirit of the Prayer of St. Francis by Kent Nerburn. Published by HarperOne.

York, Steven J.: One Foot in the Grave (2010)

One Fott in The Grave
Cover art by Steven J. York

One Foot in the Grave is a wonderful little (5 pages) tale about loss.

Stories that have the sense of the macabre about them hold a special place in my heart. Death and coming to terms with unresolved issues adds to the flavour of the story. Steven J. York spins all of this into a delightful tale about a man, his foot and once-upon-a-time beloved Betty.

Ever since his loss Christmas has become a special experience for our narrator and we get to follow that experience 50 years down the road. I believe I have become a fan of Mr. York.



  • File Size: 125 KB
  • Print Length: 5 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Tsunami Ridge Publishing (March 20, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004T4WTSE

Melvin, Jim: Torg’s First Death (Death Wizard Chronicles) (2012)

Torgs First Death
Cover design: Don T.
Interior design: Hank Smith
Photo credits: Moon: Kenny Goh / Satin: Zudifeng / Desert: Bowie15 / Man: Dimitriy Cherevko

Jim Melvin’s introduction of Torg’s First Death is worded thus:

The Death Wizard Chronicles is a six-book epic fantasy that debuted August 2012 (Bell Bridge Books). The main character, Torg, is a Death-Knower wizard who has died and then returned to life more than a thousand times. The story below describes Torg’s first death.

I include the below quote to illustrate the mood of the story:

As he walked across the still-warm sand, Torg felt the pull of a seductive will far stronger than his own. He had no power to resist it – and would not have, even if able. He wanted to make this journey into death. And, if he was worthy, return.

Death is something I find incredibly fascinating, something I do not fear much. Much of my fascination comes from that part of me that fears my disintegration and disappearance into stardust.

What if I could actually return from death, not as a vampire or anything else weird, but as a regular/irregular person? Would I want to? What if I was a Tugar who consider it the ultimate privilege? Would I strive for a return?

Torg’s First Death is a short-story that raised many questions inside my head. Melvin drew me slowly into Torg’s self-control. I found myself envying Torg his ability to still his mind. When it is time for me to die I wish I could control it as well as Torg does. I wish we all could. Melvin’s description is beautiful and peaceful. His cover fits the mood of Torg’s story well.


Alexander, Cassie: Shapeshifted (Edie Spence III) (2013)

Cover photo illustration by Aleta Rafton
Cover design by Kerri Resni

The Catholic church is a fascinating church. Within its realm we find people praying to both official and not quite so official saints to get these saints to function as mediators between themselves and God. Santa Muerte (the Skeleton Saint) is one such unofficial saint (a folk saint) – one that people pray to in spite of the priest’s condemnation of her.

For some strange reason the followers of The Godmother are persecuted in both Mexico and parts of the US. Human nature being what it is this has only led to an increase in the Saint Death‘s popularity – in some places eclipsed only by Virgin Mary worshipping. Santa Muerte is The Personification of Death itself and is considered very powerful. People pray to her on issues of health, money, love and so on.

PaleHorse Santa Muerte
Pale Horse Santa Muerte

In Shapeshifted the Lady of the Shadows seems to have disappeared. When Edie seeks help for her mother, the condition for getting help from the Shadows (from the sub-basement of County Hospital) is that she find Santa Muerte for them and inform them of the Skinny Lady‘s location.

Edie has no clue as to who/what the Holy Girl is. So she does what most of us do – goes on the internet. While looking for the Pretty Girl Edie finds a job in a poorer and criminally challenged part of town. The reason she applied for the job is because of a picture on the net of a huge mural of the Black Lady on the wall of the clinic. Unfortunately for Edie her lack of Spanish is a huge minus but due to how she deals with a crisis she gets hired.

Without knowing it, Edie is firmly back in the midst of the supernatural world and is once again going to have to fight for the lives of her friends and herself. Even though Edie felt she was getting a grip on what the supernatural world entailed, she finds her beliefs and values challenged. Not only must she find Santa Muerte, but Edie must also discover how much she believes in freedom of choice.



My review of: Nightshifted and Moonshifted

Hanel, Jerry: Death Has a Name (Brodie Wade) (2011)

Death Has a Name
Cover artist Jerry Hanel.
Photos bought from stock photo shop. Put together with Photoshop.

As you can see below, there are quite a few reviews out there on Death Has a Name. I have included the ones that I feel make sense and add to my understanding of the story.

I’ve seen some readers consider the story YA while others lean toward an older age group. As usual I do not have a clue other than there being enough explicit gore for me to want to keep the book away from a very young audience.

Perhaps my Kindle copy of Death Has a Name has been revised. Several of the reviews below have commented on editing problems. It seems their advice has been followed.

The prologue starts off with a woman chasing after Death’s Apprentice trying to prevent the release of Death’s bindings. But the culprit gets away. All she is left with is a tabby cat purring at her feet.

Drumroll: This is when we meet Brodie Wade looking for his tabby cat, Sophie. Brodie Wade and his friend, and sometimes work-partner, Detective Phil Dawson look like Laurel and Hardy. Brodie tall and thin and Phil short and very round. Phil is the one Brodie phones when the stress becomes too much for him to bear. While Phil is with Brodie Sophie returns, dried blood on her left thigh. Brodie’s world is complete, blood or no blood.

In many ways Brodie’s encounters with the Truth are like trying to reason with an extremely unpredictable psychotic person. Brodie knows that whatever apparition Truth chooses that day has a message. But understanding that message is like trying to interpret what a person in a psychotic episode is conveying to you. You have to keep them calm at all costs or they could go for you. But Brodie has to do that without other people realising that he is talking to someone/something that seems not there. No wonder he is so scarred.

I like Detective Phil Dawson. He acts the way good friends ought to in my opinion. Even if they think you are completely nuts they still try to be there for you. Even if what you claim scares them half to death they still stick with you. And when your nicotine craving is so strong they make you hand over the cigarettes you have hiding in your waistband they are still there. While mainly a mystery I do think that Death Has a Name is about friendship.


You can meet Jerry Hanel photo at:

Jerry Hanel logo,

twitter-icon1, Facebook-Logo and google_Logo 2.


Continue reading Hanel, Jerry: Death Has a Name (Brodie Wade) (2011)

Cheney, Kathleen J.: A Hand For Each (2011)

a hand for each
Cover photograph by Robert Glen Fogarty
Cover design by Kathleen J. Cheney

Three short stories are presented in A Hand for Each. The stories are: A Hand for Each, Masks of War and Fleurs du Mal.

A Hand for Each was published in 2007 in Shimmer’s Pirate Issue. From it we learn that if your ship is conquered by natives of some island and all of its crew left dead except yourself, you had better get off that ship as soon as possible. Otherwise you are going to be in serious trouble.

I guess you could say that A Hand for Each is reminiscent of The Flying Dutchman. That would make this a semi-horror story, although with the ending it might be more appropriate to call it a horror story. I like stories like these. I just know how it is has to end but I keep on hoping that I am wrong. (It probably doesn’t help that I often read the ending before I get there).

Masks of War was published in 2008 in Fantasy Magazine. It is obviously a story about masks of some kind, in this case a literal one. Sergeant Grey is given the job of tagging along with a German soldier who has had his face disfigured. Once the soldier puts on a mask to hide his disfigurement something strange happens and off the both of them go.

Masks of War is a story about hope and change. Sometimes it is possible to right a wrong, to change your path in life by acknowledging what has gone forever. I found it fascinating to follow along with the two ex-soldiers as they watched the amazing unfold.

Fleurs du Mal was published in 2010 in Beneath Ceaseless Skies. I think you could probably call Fleurs du Mal a horror story. We have here a story about possession, a really strange type of possession. Good thing I have the opposite of a green thumb. Any plant that comes near me had better run for its life.

Fleurs du Mal was fun. It’s story has all of the ingredients that a mild horror should have. I am unable to read anything harder than that. The oh, oh feeling came back again and again and I kept a running commentary on the characters of the story. (I do this with movies as well.)

So, all in all A Hand for Each was fun to read and I definitely kept reading through all three stories. Good job Kathleen J. Cheney.

Carlon, Lee: The Godslayers’ Legacy (The Bastard Cadre II) (2013)

Cover design by Lee Carlon

First of all I want to say thank you to Lee Carlon for sending me a reviewer’s copy of The Godslayers’ Legacy.

I liked book no. 1 of the series: A God-Blasted Land and had hopes for the rest of the series. I wonder what it must be like to be an author writing a series/serial??? I imagine the pressure you put on yourself to perform well the second time around must add to the stress whenever you feel lost in your own work. The excellent writer is like any excellent performer out there. We as a public aren’t supposed to guess how much work goes into their art. They get the tears. We get the pleasure.

Lee Carlon is turning out to be such a writer. To me he writes in minor key and plays those black tangents on his keyboard like an expert.

When Avril Ethanson decided he would fight Lord Obdurin’s bond, he did not know it would be so difficult. His reins are not as tight as those of the other cadres living up on Frake’s Peak, but they are nevertheless reins. Ronara enjoys being able to live there but she does not have to fight the bond that Lord Obdurin has tied between himself and Avril.

Not only Ronara and Obdurin add to Avril’s conflicted feelings. He is first sworn of his cadre and feels the need to seek out his other cadre members. For some reason Lord Obdurin wanted a semi-independent cadre to play his games with, and Avril’s is it.

We get to meet four of the other cadre members in this novel. Telling all of their names would only be a spoiler, but one of them is safe to share. Dune d’Turintar is on a mission to kill Lord Obdurin. Doing so is bound to bring her within reach of Avril.

Newterra is a bleak place. The world has been left in ruins by the Gods and the Gods pretty much rule the world. Who and what the gods are will probably be revealed later on, but I’m guessing Gods aren’t it.

Bertauski, Tony: Drayton (The Taker) (2010)

Cover art by Tony Bertauski

Tony Bertauski writes a poignant tale of loss and love with his novella Drayton. Drayton is The Taker of the last breath/spirit/soul that leaves a person when they die. Of some people that is. He has to get to them first.

Drayton is lost. He is older than he remembers and has no idea of what he is. All alone he wanders upon the Earth trying to mingle with people so he can feed. Bertauski writes Drayton’s loneliness so well. The long life he has lived has brought him around from a monster without control to someone who helps out when he can. I got a sense of quietness even in the scenes that were violent.

I loved the contrast between Young and Hal at the end of the novella. How perfectly it illustrates the complexity of Drayton’s character.

Bellet, Annie: Winter’s Bite (2011)

Cover designed by Greg Jensen (with images from Jabney Hastings and Albion Europe ApS)

Annie Bellet describes Winter’s Bite:

Many years ago, Ysabon made her living by the sword as a skilled mercenary.  Now she lives in Westedge with her brother’s children, tending to the animals and afraid of dying old and useless.  Then a horrible winter storm drives monsters down from the mountains and Ysabon can save her family and her village only if she finds the strength to take up the sword for a final battle.

Winter’s Bite is a lovely story 25 pages long. I am often amazed at how much an author manages to pack into a short story. Annie Bellet is no exception. I love Ysabon. She is the kind of fierce that I would like to be. Female warriors have always been a favorite of mine especially when they have the courage and love that Ysabon shows.

Flagg, Fannie: Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe (1987)

My first meeting with Fannie Flagg (or Patricia Neal) was on the film-creen. I am trying to remember just how far back she and I go, and I believe I might have a tentative meeting period set at Grease the movie (with Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta).

When I encountered her literary work I had become an adult. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe became a movie. I got to meet the two friends Idgie and Ruth whose experiences made me laugh and cry.

Cover photo: Arthur Rothstein

Another few years down the road, I picked up the novel and fell in love again. Fannie Flagg became one of my favorite authors just a few pages into the book. And now, just a few weeks ago my dad fell in love as well, and not just with Fried Green Tomatoes. Having read one of her novels, he just had to borrow the rest of the Fannie Flagg novels I have in my library.

Part of his love for her work lay in the time period described. These were tough times in the US and the rest of the world. They weren’t called the depression years for nothing. Alabama struggled with recognizing women and non-christians/whites as equals.

I would have wanted Idgie for a friend. Her love, fierceness and loyalty toward Ruth is priceless. Ruth needs someone like Idgie to be able to see beyond the prison that life made for her.

I love the humour in the novel. When the search for Frank Bennett is on and Sheriff Kilgore eats at the cafe is priceless. Another moment occurs right after when the Sheriff steps into the beauty parlor with his men and gets thrown out all embarrassed at having overstepped the gender boundaries.

The story of the storyteller, Cleo Threadgoode, and her listener, Evelyn Couch, is heart-warming and uplifting. I still carry the images of the changes in Evelyn from the movie in my head. Her change in the novel are just as immense.

Flagg managed the job of jumping between the storyteller and her memories. Her writing flows, boy does it flow. If you want to read a novel about life, then Fannie Flagg is the author to read.

The film Fried Green Tomatoes came out in 1991 and is based on the novel.


  • Oscars: Nominated for Best Actress in a Supporting Role and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published
  • American Comedy Award: Nominated for Funniest Actress in a Motion Picture (Leading Role) and Funniest Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
  • Golden Globe: Nominated for Best Motion Picture – Comedy/Musical and Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy/Musical and Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
  • USC Scripter Award: Nominated
  • WGA Award (Screen): Nominated for Best Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium
  • GLAAD Media Award: Won Outstanding Film
  • Wise Owl Award: Won Television and Theatrical Film Fiction
  • USC Scripter Award: Won


  • BAFTA: Nominated for Best Actress and Best Actress in a Supporting Role
  • BMI Film Music Award: Won
  • Young Artist Award: Won Best Young Actress Under Ten in a Motion Picture

Ballantine, Philippa: Chasing The Bard (2005)

Cover Art by Alex White of the Gearheart

Wow, what a touching novel Chasing The Bard turned out to be. Philippa Ballantine of New Zealand has done an excellent job in portraying that sense of superiority that sometimes comes with privilege in her portrayal of the fey and humans.

William Shakespeare and the Goddess of Battle Sive are both changed in this meeting between fey and human. Shakespeare is born with the Art of the Bard, and the fey need his help in saving them. But enlisting the help of one stubborn male might not be as simple as Sive had thought. For not all in the universe believe that the fey world is the world one should prefer.

There is a dark undertone to this novel that is lightened by Puck, the trickster. One would expect the god of pranks to hold such a role. But as the novel moves along, Puck takes on another dimension, one brought about by disappointment and grief.

Sive’s feelings of superiority remain, yet deteriorate as her own circumstances become more and more dire, while William’s excuses in life will be faced before he can fulfill his “Destiny”.

Well worth the read. I believe Ballantine has gotten another fan.

  • 2006: Sir Julius Vogel Awards: Nominated for the best novel
  • 2009: Sir Julius Vogel Awards: Fan production

McLeod, Suzanne: The Sweet Scent of Blood (2008)

The Sweet Scent of Blood - Suzanne McLeod

Sometimes I wonder if power is THE most basic of our needs. The power to control our own lives, the power to control our environment and the power to control others.

Take the power to control our own lives. Genvieve Taylor never had power over her life. Her creation was a genetic experiment between two incompatible races. Once that succeeded she was promised to someone extremely powerful and extremely deranged. And finally, at the age of 14 she was injected with a poison (V3) that made her vulnerable to vampires.

Our main character never seriously thinks about giving up the fight for the right to decide what to do with herself and her own life. The Sweet Scent of Blood is for the most part about that battle. And battle it is.

At the beginning of The Sweet Scent of Blood Genny imagines she has achieved a modicum of control over her life, in fact about as much power as most of us can expect to have. She has a job, protection against the vampires, a place to live and friends. Yet power over our own lives is often an illusion. Illusions are easily snatched away by someone more powerful or someone willing to engage the help of the powerful.

Being one of the sidhe fae, a bean sidhe, would normally make Genvieve one of the more powerful people of the world of Suzanne McLeod. But her mixed heritage is unhelpful and Genny’s inability to accept who and what she is acts as a barrier in reaching her potential. In McLeod’s London she also happens to be the only sidhe fae. Sadly, this only makes her more attractive to both those who wish to use her and those who wish to destroy her.

In my mind the only person in The Sweet Scent of Blood who is wholly on Genvieve’s side is Hugh Monroe. Hugh has an intense need to protect those who are in need of help. Genny came into his life when she was infected with V3 and has remained there ever since. His protectiveness made it natural for him to wish to enter the police force. He works as a DI at The New Scotland Yard and happens to be one of the straight cops at that facility. We soon discover that not all who work for the police do so for the same need to protect and serve the public.

The Sweet Scent of Blood starts out as a mystery and ends up as a battle amongst the mighty of Genny’s London. Genvieve seeks the answer to who killed Melissa. Was is Roberto, her boyfriend, or was it another character? Through the story we see that sometimes Genny is aided in her search for answers but for the most part barriers are thrown up, one after the other.

The Sweet Scent of Blood - Suzanne McLeod

In their scrabble to stay on top, the powers that be have decided that the faery are to remain without civil rights. Civil rights is something a great many of us take for granted. I find it comforting to imagine that if something terrible happened to me then I would be safe because Justice would have its day. Sure, it’s just an illusion but one that is legislated for the likes of me. One hundred years ago women did not have the right to vote nor did they have many of the other rights that men did. Disabled could still be sterilized in Norway a long time after that. Many people have sacrificed a great deal to make it possible for me to have the power over my life that I do.

Faery do not. Vampires do, but faery do not. Witches have civil rights, but faery do not. Regular humans have civil rights, but faery do not. Do I have to look far to find people without written legislation to protect them even today? Sadly, no. In The Sweet Scent of Blood the reason for this lack of power lies for the main part in looks. Some of the faery can be frightening looking and some of them are extremely dangerous. Their ethics are unfamiliar to humans. All of these factors have been utilized by the masters of power games in making the faery less powerful.

The Sweet Scent of Blood is one of my re-readables. I know it is supposed to be Suzanne McLeod’s first published novel, but it holds none of the earmarks of a first novel. Indeed she manages to stay on-key throughout the whole story. Definitely recommended.