Review: Mercury’s Son by Luke E T Hindmarsh

My last indie read of 2017 was Luke E T Hindmarsh’s Mercury’s Son, and while it’s unfair to pick a favourite from such a diverse and fascinating array of books, this one, I have to say, rings all the right notes for me.

Valko is a Moderator, a cold passionless investigator who was technology which lets him enter others’ minds to draw out information, including the recently deceased. He and his team are called in to investigate a double murder, an investigation which will take Valko to all levels of his society, planet, and beyond.

In this book, Hindmarsh builds a hugely detailed dystopia, and uses the Moderator’s investigation to show off its tech, history, politics, religion and metaphysics. It’s an impressive feat, and Valko is a fascinating protagonist, his journey leaves him very much changed as he comes to terms with a world that is not at all what he believed.

Mercury’s Son is a great read, but I do offer one caveat. The writing is dense, there are a whole lot of words on display, and on occasion this can lead to a few wobbles in pacing.

That aside, this is a cracking read, and I’m happy to give it five stars.

Get Mercury’s Son on Amazon now!


Reviews: Christmas Movies on Netflix

At about this time every year, Mrs Storycast and I sit down to binge as many daft Christmas movies as Netflix can offer us. This year, I thought I’d give reviewing them a go. These aren’t going to be serious movie reviews, because, frankly, I’m judging these movies on a whole other scale. Quality here is not must-see-at-cinema quality. Still, there is fun to be had in their own way.

A Christmas Prince

Amber is an editor at a magazine looking for her first writing credit, who poses as a tutor to gain access to the castle and get the scoop on the wayward Prince Richard.

Blond ambition: Perky young journalist with heart of gold has hair to match.
Power of the press: Undercover journalism puts romance on the rocks.
It’s a kind of magic: No magic, but a drawer, and an acorn conceal a secret. So that’s a bit like magic?
Time Limits: The Prince must be crowned on Christmas Eve, of course
The Christmas Factor: Snow, gifts, parties, a Christmas message

Rating: ****

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Review: Elvira Wonders by Sanna Hines

Let’s talk about Elvira Wonders by Sanna Hines.

The town of Elvira is opening for tourism and it has a lot to offer its visitors. Fairies, Giants, Werewolves, Vampires (two flavours), Thunderbirds, Naiads, Ghosts, psychics and… Egyptians. But as opening day approaches, artefacts are stolen from the Egyptian temple, the feud between the vampire factions escalates and Josh Seldom discovers a murdered fairy.

I was pleased to discover this was not about a vampy mistress of the dark speculating about things. That’s a good thing. In fact, when Josh stumbles across the body of the murdered fairy friend, my interest was well and truly piqued. Hines writes well, I find her style readable, and she does a great job at pulling these various factions into the story, and giving each of them a role in the resolution of the story.

So: a promising start, and a deft conclusion. My problem, I’m afraid, was with the bits in between.

For me, there are a few structural problems with the plot. The elements set up at the start, the murder and the pressure to be ready for the start of tourist season, is all-but dropped in favour of soap opera. We focus on crushes, bickering, mystical curses played for comedy, and for reasons I couldn’t fathom, the ongoing damage to a Hummer is probably the most consistent through-line. While the resolution of the murder does kick off that conclusion I enjoyed, it arrives in an unsatisfactory, almost accidental manner.

There is some interesting world building mixed in here, and I think there is a lot of potential in the Elvira setting for either a much darker story, or a lighter romp without the murders. As it is, it falls betwixt and between, and I can’t give it more than 3 stars.