“Three: A Tale of the Bookseller’s Children”, by Deven Balsam – Review

Three: A Tale of the Bookseller’s Children is the initial installment of The Bookseller’s Children series. Deven Balsam tees up a mostly familiar universe, with a number of interesting twists. For an example, the concept of an “elven pastor” is definitely a first, but compatible with the overall vision. The editing and execution is that of a first-rate journeyman, nothing interferes with a reader’s enjoyment of the story.

My main quibble is the story isn’t a complete one; the characters seem to be limited to reaction against random plot points without overarching logic or theme. It may be that the exposition lacking here is fully explained in subsequent volumes, making sense of the many dangling threads and unexplained hints. I didn’t get the sense there is a contiguous adversary throughout the series, although there was one post-climax hook which was also unattributed. I’m generally a fan of this genre and enjoyed my reading of Balsam’s story. I do hope it evolves into something more in the next episode.

(Disclosure: I received a free copy through Veracious Readers Only)

“Skid – The First Chronicle”, by Keith Fenwick – Review

Keith Fenwick kicks off The Skidian Chronicles series with this introduction to the alien race known as Skid. The basic concept is that of a civilization so advanced its citizens don’t know how to do much of anything other than exist within it. Other authors have mined this idea for many years (examples include Asimov, Herbert, and even L. Ron Hubbard) but it still makes for an interesting read. The action starts with an existential crisis on Skid, their automated food supply systems are about to fail, so they decide to abduct some likely residents of Earth who can make it all better. Unfortunately, Skidians do not have the first clue of what they actually need. Regardless, in quick order, four solitary humans are snatched and the Skidian ship flees Earth once detected. Due to a series of early mishaps, two of the humans are dispatched almost immediately; leaving a female American travel consultant who was hiking in the woods on her way to a yoga class and an Australian, no .. (cough) I mean a New Zealander farmer with his three semi-working dogs as the sole hope of the Skidians.

Fenwick has fun with the stereotypes of both Kiwi and American, as well as the advanced-but-do-nothing Skidians. The book is well-written and easily creates the world of Skid for the reader. The pacing of the story could use some work, as things run on a bit 3/4 of the way through and the ending is definitely abrupt. There are many plot points left hanging, which I assume will be picked up by the balance of the series. Nonetheless I very much enjoyed the book and am definitely interested in seeing what’s next for the clueless Skidians.

(Disclosure: I received a free copy through Veracious Readers Only)