Book Review, THE EVERNEATH by Brodi Ashton

THE EVERNEATH grabbed me.  It is fantasy written well, a task harder than it sounds.

the everneath 2At a past WIFYR Conference, well-known author Holly Black gave rules for creating a magical system. Rule one: for the created world to be believable, it must be logical. Whether fantasy sci-fi, or even contemporary, world building is an important skill for all writers.

In THE EVERNEATH, Brodi Ashton expertly weaves logic-based magic into her Park City, Utah setting. Here’s an example. Mid-way through the book, the main character, Nikki, returns to the convenience store she’s discovered is a portal to the Everneath. Confused as to how humans can transport through an ordinary tile floor, Nikki then witnesses a woman being transported. The clear, reasonable-seeming details of this event made so much sense that suspending disbelief was easy. Yes, I know that can’t happen in real life. But if people could melt through a tile floor, it would be in just the way Brodi described.
Throughout the book, I marveled at Brodi Ashton’s skill. Her magical system is clear and well thought-out. The exact rules are unveiled in pace with the plot, and the precision of each explanation shows her effort and expertise at building an intriguing world.
When they asked Brodi Ashton to teach the Wednesday World Building mini workshop, the WIFYR staff knew what they were doing. Brodi will do a wonderful job. It’s a day not to miss.

 

Book Review: THE FALSE PRINCE by Jennifer Nielsen

After hearing Jennifer Nielsen speak at WIFYR last June, I had to get this book. Jennifer’s presentation on How to Keep Readers Turning Pages was outstanding, and THE FALSE PRINCE shows how well the author applies her own ideas.

Jennifer Nielsen’s plot surprised me in a delightful way. Little details, like having Sage scale the walls outside the villa where he’s imprisoned, served both to describe his character and give hints leading up to the plot reveal.

At WIFYR, Jennifer taught that when a reader knows the author is willing to kill off his good characters, it destroys the assumption that the main characters will always be safe. This creates a very suspenseful plot.

In addition, Sage is an unforgettable character. In an Audible interview with the author, Jennifer said the book really came together after listening to a song that led her to create Sage’s uniquely rebellious yet likable nature. One example is the opening scene, where Sage steals a roast from the butcher. Not an admirable act, but the readers sympathize with his choice to pilfer one large enough to feed the whole orphanage.

By combining great characterization with well-paced plot twists, Jennifer Nielsen has created one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. The sequel, THE RUNAWAY KING, is equally strong, and I’m looking forward to reading the last book in the trilogy–almost as much as I’m looking forward to her Thursday morning mini workshop, PLOTTING: The Tangled Webs We Weave.

 

 

This Is What I Did, by Ann Dee Ellis

Two things make books particularly memorable to me.

1. A great story, and

2. A great way of telling it.

When a book contains both a fabulous story and breakout style, I can’t help but love it. Ann Dee Ellis’ THIS IS WHAT I DID contains these elements and more.

The book’s first scene made me cry. The authors book deals with a serious topic, and handles it perfectly, mixing humor with the perfect touch of tension. Even as readers cry over the main character, Logan, they can’t help sense he’ll be okay in the end.

And he is. But not without a lot of struggle, the kind readers love to experience with him.

Ann Dee Ellis adds a great touch with the lighthearted Laurel, a new friend who sends him palindrome notes. The palindromes are amazing, and I love how each note they write to each other becomes a page illustration.

The other extraordinary feature of this book is how Ann Dee Ellis handles page structure and dialogue. As an example, she uses no quotations when people speak. She manages to use this in a way that’s not only poignant and at times amusing. She also succeeds in making her writing exquisitely clear.

As an example, this is part of the scene where Logan talks about meeting Zyler, his best friend:

Mrs. Frasier assigned us together for the diorama…then Zyler came up to me and said: So what should we do it on?

Me:

Zyler:

Me:

Zyler:

Me:

Zyler:

Me: I don’t know.

Zyler: What about on the Japanese Samurai?

We’ve been best friends ever since.

THIS IS WHAT I DID, p. 39, by Ann Dee Ellis, Little Brown and Company.

Ann Dee also uses this device to demonstrate Logan’s long silences since the Thing that Happened (read the book to find out what ocurred.) His response to a question frequently looks something like this:

Me:

This effect is powerful, as is the entire book. I loved reading it.

I get to be in Ann Dee Ellis’  Boot Camp workshop at WIFYR this year, and I’m so excited! I know I will learn so much from her. I’m hoping Ann Dee’s concise, on-the-mark style will help me overcome my extreme wordiness. [If that’s a word.]