Saturday, April 26, 2014
Author: S W Best
First Published: 2013
The Blurb: "MURDERED on her wedding night."
"BETRAYED by her sister."
"FORCED to make a deal with the Devil to become a vampire."
"LOST in darkness . . ."
By the hand of her jealous sister Lucinda, Jennifer Sal Vinci is thrown into a dark dangerous world she did not choose.
The vampire houses of New York are at war. They police the cities, looking for stray vampires to wipe them out permanently.
Jennifer must battle her own demons if she is to win her sanity when all else crumbles before her like the shifting sands of time. Her true maker holds the key to her survival, but will she have the courage to follow her heart?
In Pennsylvania, Green Hill Lakes, three people go missing, feared dead. There is something sinister about this quiet mountain town. Why have routine disappearances been accepted for so long? As the mysteries surrounding this sleepy town unravel, you are dragged into a world far darker and ancient than you could have ever anticipated.
But when a new Sheriff James Hall arrives, his family get caught up in the web of lies ranging back over hundreds of years. He must fight back against the town and demands answers to the terrible questions that everyone is too afraid to ask. But will his sense of duty be at the cost of his family? Intertwining conflicts bring two worlds crashing together with deadly consequence . . .
The review: I find no sense in not being honest in a review, it does you the reader and the author, to be candid, no favours. But whilst I do have a couple of criticisms regarding this novel by S W Best I also, positively, found it an engaging story – as I’ll get to.
However the first criticism is a strange one – and one that has not impacted the final score. That is within what amounts to a very odd formatting choice (or, potentially, error). I bought the book on Amazon Kindle and have a basic model kindle (grey screen). For some reason an effect was added to the page that made it much darker than standard. This wasn’t a file error as I deleted the book and redownloaded it and the effect was still there.
The impact was that (as well as allowing ghosts from previous eink pages to show in certain lights) the book was dark text on dark background and – candidly – a bitch to read. I could find no way of changing the contrast on the basic kindle. I struggled to read, fighting through chapters (and the fact I wanted to tells you something about the story) and then switched to my phone. Now I hate reading backlit ebooks (and the screen of the phone is smaller), but the kindle android app allowed the page colour to be set and thus I used the phone as my reading device.
As I say, I do not know if this was a choice or an error and if you own a kindle fire I assume that (as on Android) you’ll be fine. However the format undermined accessibility for those who use the basic kindle’s accessibility functions. I don’t know what the effect would be on paperwhite. I repeat that this issue has not been reflected in the score.
The story is one of vampire clans and revenge and the core character Jennifer Sal Vinci comes across as a likeable and interesting character. There is some degree of vampire angst reflected but it is tempered and doesn’t get in the way of a good smackdown. We hear something of vampire society and I am sure the author will expand this further in future volumes, though I’d have a liked a little more in this.
Indeed the author created a working world around us that he can further hone as he goes along and the story rattled along at a good old pace. The vampires are not too powerful (at least the younger ones aren’t, older vampires with purer blood do have access to powers) and there is a Satanic element (though I didn’t notice holy items being used as apotropaic). The sun is deadly – though there is one exception.
Prose wise however there is room for improvement. Don’t get me wrong, the prose was strong in places and shows that when Best hones his skills he will have much to offer. Good story also counts for much and my mind goes to Laurell K Hamilton who had some pretty shoddy prose at the start of her Anita Blake series but it just got better and better (though her stories started to vanish more and more). Best does use some turns of phrase that seem clunky, at times, and I was going to suggest that what the book needed was a professional edit through.
However the author’s note at the end suggested he had paid for a professional edit. I would have said that I would hope it was actually just a proofread (though there were some typos clearly missed as well). However a professional (good) edit should have knocked away the clunkier corners.
That sounds harsh, I know, but I say it for a reason. There is a talent here and it needs to be developed, but ignoring problems is not the way to do that. The author will develop. His story will grow. Perhaps he will return to this volume himself and hone those edges (and sort out the formatting too). I can certainly recommend the book both as a story and as the start of something I hope will develop into a respectable career. 6 out of 10.