Silent Terrorism: Saudi Arabia, a scary and chilling thriller by Phetra H. Novak

Silent Terrorism: Saudi Arabia, a scary and chilling thriller by Phetra H. Novak

Silent Terrorism – a book that is difficult to read, and a slap in the face of those who believe in the West’s moral superiority

I’ll admit it. I’ve read an early draft of this story, over a year ago. There were discussions about how the story might be perceived in the light of the U.S. elections, Brexit and the alarming increase of Islamophobia around the world. I’ve been allowed to read it again, in its final version. The book is published tomorrow. Silent Terrorism had the same effect on me as it did when I first read it: disgust (at some of the descriptions of violence and torture, and – frankly – some other scenes) but also a feeling of deep respect for the author and the publisher, for writing and putting this story out there. Some will not like it, neither in Saudi Arabia nor in Sweden (representing the western world, as the author states in her afterword), but this is a book that deserves being read.

Current events

The telling cover of Silent Terrorism.

The telling cover of Silent Terrorism.

In a way it’s sad the book was delayed by a year. We now have a crown prince in Saudi Arabia hell-bent on modernizing his country. Women get to unveil, drive cars and leave the house without a male guardian. What’s the country coming to? Civilization? Alas, even crown prince Mohammed doesn’t ever talk about LGBT rights, because, and this is expertly explained in Ms. Novak’s Silent Terrorism, Saudis believe that they don’t have any LGBT people in their midst. It’s supposedly a Western thing (odd given that we all descend from common African ancestors, but alas.) Against the backdrop of current events in Saudi Arabia (which includes both the secret police and the religious police forces), reading the novel showcased the research done by Ms. Novak. Impressive!

A fast-paced political thriller

The story as such is very high pace. There is hardly any downtime, the characters are chiseled out as they run, hide, leap, yell at each other or suffer torture. But they are, all of them, very much real-life human beings, very believable, credible. The only caricatures are the Swedish politicians portrayed in the novel, and I can only assume that to be purposely done, as they are indeed to act as stand-ins for much of the Western world and how we kowtow to black gold.

I haven’t read a thriller in a long time, and it was refreshing to indulge in the pace, the complexity of the plot and never really knowing how things end. Ms. Novak certainly does throw more than one curveball to make sure the reader stays on their toes and at one point I had accepted my fate and figured, “okay, this is it!”, but alas, I was wrong, again. Brilliant.

The finer points

Did I like everything about the story? Yes. However, I’ll grant you that I thought there was too much swearing, cursing and yelling. I don’t think I can remember any conversation (except at the very, very end) that does not involve people upset, screaming at the top of their lungs. I’m not a big fan of that kind of language/discourse, but that is, of course, a question of taste, and to a degree certainly warranted given the situations the characters constantly find themselves in. But yeah, sometimes less is more.

Silent Terrorism is like Ms. Novak’s My Name is Ayla, an important book in today’s world. The LGBT community needs dissonant voices. We are grateful for stories with happy endings, stories with fluff and rosy cheeks. But we also need the world to know that yes, there are still 76 countries where being LGBT is illegal, 13 countries where being LGBT carries the death sentence, and the het majority needs to hear this side of the story, too, not just about out and proud gay athletes and actors marrying their sweethearts. We’re not home free yet. I’ve bought the book (after Ms. Novak provided me with a free ARC to facilitate this review) because Phetra pledges to donate 50% of the proceeds to a sadly much-needed LGBT organization.

Silent Terrorism is releasing tomorrow

Silent Terrorism is released tomorrow, March 17th, from Beaten Track Publishing as paperback and e-book and is available on Amazon (for pre-order) and your other favorite sales channels. If you enjoy a political thriller, like exotic places and would like to learn more about the plight of the LGBT community in a country like Saudi Arabia, give this book a chance. You will not regret it.

Feel free to contribute! As always, if you like my blog, my writing, feel free to subscribe to my monthly newsletter (top right on this page) with competitions and hopefully interesting reading. Interact with me on TwitterFacebookYouTube, and/or Instagram. Have a great weekend. I’ll be back on Monday with a post about racism in the publishing industry and how racism is a red thread through much of my own writing…

Hans

#Review: “When Heaven Strikes”, divine story by F.E. Feeley Jr. #amreading #ASMSG #LGBT

#Review: “When Heaven Strikes”, divine story by F.E. Feeley Jr. #amreading #ASMSG #LGBT

When Heaven Strikes: the cover image is really foreboding of what’s inside…

Disclosures first. While I haven’t met Frederick personally, we are online acquaintances. The “pool” of gay fiction authors is, after all, quite small. For some time, I’ve wanted to read his book When Heaven Strikes, as I had heard a great deal of good things about it, just recently e.g. from my friend Tracy Willoughby. This week I finally got the chance to relax and read this book on my flight back from Madeira. I most certainly didn’t regret buying it.

When Heaven Strikes

The stunning cover of When Heaven Strikes

The setup

When Heaven Strikes starts with a scene that takes place in the past. Family at the beach and a storm approaching. Ominous, dangerous, lives are in danger…

The rest of the book reminds me a little bit of the film “Short Cuts“. We get to know an array of different characters, some more, some less. At some point, all those lives touch each other in one way or another, and the ominous storm depicted both on the cover and title plays a major role in the overall arc. I won’t give away any details, but at some point, I was also reminded of my own novel, Jonathan’s Hope, as the novel also deals with a topic that is addressed there. Frederick takes a very different approach than I did, and I found it very interesting to see how differently the same “conundrum” can be dealt with.

Core themes

When Heaven Strikes tackles a couple of major topics with his book. One is that of gay relationships, of deserving happiness, and the challenges of our generation, the first one to really have access to marital bliss and boredom. Do we really deserve it? What makes someone marriage material, particularly if we’ve been led to believe we’re not. And what is love? Would you recognize it if you met love on the street? We have, after all, been led to believe by a lot of people that being gay isn’t about love, that we’re sexual predators, perverts, and sinners.

This points of course to the other major topic, that of faith. Religion is, particularly in the rural USA, a big deal. Having lived stateside myself and having many American friends, I know just what an enormous role churches play in people’s everyday lives. And recent political developments to the contrary, many congregations are extremely hateful of anything LGBT and have used the most recent election to prop up their failing dogmas. When Heaven Strikes plays out in the mid-west, the heartland of evangelism, of Baptist churches, and how it affects the lives of people. Frederick paints a beautiful picture, as scary as it may be at times, and he deals with faith very delicately. I quite enjoyed reading those aspects.

Frederick Eugene Feeley Jr. author of When Heaven Strikes

Frederick Eugene Feeley Jr., author of When Heaven Strikes

The Writing

When Heaven Strikes is a beautifully written book. Frederick takes great care to describe landscapes and locales, to draw characters that are flesh and blood from page one. Whether it’s Anderson, Ted or even Jeff or Gary (***no spoilers, sorry***), two main and two side characters, all equally human. The way Frederick paints landscapes and sceneries is almost photographic and even though my own experiences of Iowa are limited, I had no trouble picturing both towns, landscapes or individual buildings etc.

What is When Heaven Strikes?

It’s a question us gay authors have to deal with, as our books swim (or drown) in the sea that is gay romance. There is certainly an aspect of romance in the story (which isn’t a bad thing) and a tad too much sex for my personal taste. But it certainly is no romance novel, even though I have a hunch that Frederick was subconsciously influenced by his surroundings when he wrote When Heaven Strikes, just as I was writing Jonathan’s Hope. You just can’t help it. When Heaven Strikes is great contemporary literature, social commentary and – maybe more importantly – a book that is a must read particularly if you are gay and troubled by your faith, or maybe lost faith altogether? When Heaven Strikes is available on e.g. Amazon as an e-book, paperback, and audiobook. I can’t wait to read Frederick’s coming novel, Closer, published by my publisher Beaten Track in March. You can pre-order it now.

Finally…

As always, if you like my blog, my writing, feel free to subscribe to my monthly newsletter (top right on this page) with competitions and hopefully interesting reading. Interact with me on TwitterFacebookYouTube, and/or Instagram. Hope your start to 2018 was as good as mine… Have a good weekend.

Hans

#Review: “The Calling”, debut paranormal novel by author M.D. Neu #amreading #ASMSG

#Review: “The Calling”, debut paranormal novel by author M.D. Neu #amreading #ASMSG

The Calling is a new – and refreshing – take on the age-old vampire theme

The Reunion

The cover of The Reunion

Disclosures first. I met the author of The Calling, M.D. (or Marvin) through a writers’ group on Facebook. We try to support each other mentally and sometimes through reviews, beta reading or just by discussing various topics that affect our lives and our writing. As gay writers, tiny droplets of sweet water in the ocean that is “m/m”, the group provides a much-needed breathing hole. Marvin had offered me his recent short story The Reunion to read, and I was deeply impressed. This isn’t a review of that work, but if you like a paranormal novella with a twist, read it. I can’t say much about it without giving away much, but it’s going to have your mind go for a few loops! Amazing writing. So I was curious about his debut novel, but his third book, The Calling, a new take on vampirism.

Captivating…

I finished The Calling yesterday, after spending nearly every free minute of my vacation reading it. It IS that captivating. More disclosures: I don’t like paranormal. I like realistic fiction, contemporary, set in the real world. Vampires, werewolves, fairies, dragons, and whatnot are about as fun to read about as religious dogma. It’s fantasy, and I prefer to stay in the real world.

However, every now and then, it’s fun to just let it all go, and escape, and see just how far human imagination can go. I have recently reviewed another paranormal story which goes in an entirely different direction. I liked that, and I certainly enjoyed reading Marvin’s The Calling. It amazes me how people can come up with all those intricacies about vampires, that renew a stuffy and moldy concept. I’m old enough to have grown up with the quintessential Count Dracula, the one, and only Bela Lugosi. I wonder how many millennials have seen his movies on TV… Anyway, back then, vampires were vile creatures who killed mindlessly to drink blood and stay alive. You kept them at bay with garlic and killed them with a wooden stick through their heart, or – if possible – daylight.

Vampirism…

With the Twilight books and films, vampires changed (please accept my apologies for my ignorant take on this. I really don’t read this stuff and I’m sure it’s a lot more complex), at least for me. Suddenly, vampires could be both good and honorable, and rather than becoming dust, they glowed like diamonds in the sun. How very romantic… They still drink blood though, and if I’m not mistaken, beheading also kills them. But basically immortal they are. Whether inspired by Twilight or not, Marvin spins on the good and evil theme, as his dark and light vampires are introduced in The Calling, and the story (I have a hunch, given the ending, that this will become a series) focuses on our main character, Duncan, and his becoming a vampire.

The story…

I really don’t want to talk about the plot, so here’s the “official” blurb for the book:

The_Calling_Cover

The amazing cover by Natasha Snow, who also does my covers… 😉 She’s immensely talented.

“Being a nobody isn’t Duncan Alexander’s life goal, but it’s worked for him. He has a nondescript job, a few good friends, and overall he’s content. That’s until one fateful trip to San Jose, California, where he is “Called” to meet the mysterious Juliet de Exter. Juliet is a beautiful, wealthy, powerful Immortal who is undertaking The Calling—a search for a human to join her world of Immortals. Inexplicably, Duncan’s calling is more dangerous than any of the Immortals, even Juliet, ever thought it would be.

There is more to this nobody, this only child of long-deceased parents, than anyone thought. When Duncan experiences uncontrollable dreams of people he doesn’t know and places he hasn’t been, Juliet and the other Immortals worry. Soon, his visions point to a coven of long-dead witches. The dreams also lead Duncan to his one true love. How will Duncan navigate a forbidden romance with an outcast Immortal? How will he and the others keep the balance between the Light and Dark, survive vicious attacks, and keep the humans from learning who they truly are? More importantly, who is this implacable foe Duncan keeps seeing in his dreams?”

My take…

I absolutely loved The Calling, the way the vampire theme is used, expanded upon and the intricacies of the plot. Shyalaman has found his equal! So yeah, no spoilers. Here’s the biggest compliment I can afford: I really don’t like paranormal books, normally. But here, I can’t wait for the sequel. If it’s as exciting as the first book, I’ll be stuck in a corner, reading it in one go, again.

The Calling is a gay novel, published by Nine Star Press. However, the gay theme is really toned down and not in your face. Quite the contrary. I’ve asked Marvin about it, and if you come back on Monday, you’ll be able to read what he has to say in his “defense” (not that he needs to). It’s quite refreshing to read gay fiction where being gay is as boring/normal/ every day as being straight. You’ll see what I mean.

No go forth and purchase this book, it’s an incredibly well-written (and edited) debut novel. It’s available from your usual outlets, including behemoth Amazon, and from the publisher itself. The Calling was published this Monday, New Year’s Day, and is available as e-book or paperback. Buy it!

Finally…

As always, if you like my blog, my writing, feel free to subscribe to my monthly newsletter (top right on this page) with competitions and hopefully interesting reading. Interact with me on TwitterFacebookYouTube, and/or Instagram. Hope your start to 2018 was as good as mine… Have a good weekend, and don’t forget to check back in on Monday for the interview with Marvin.

Hans

PS: A word to blow my own horn. I finally received a Kirkus review for one of my books, Disease, and they’re quite gracious, calling it “a must-read for anyone in the throes of an ordeal involving Alzheimer’s disease” (Kirkus Reviews, 1/3/18)

 

#Review: Roe Horvat’s third is a foray into the depths of the human psyche #LGBT #amreading

#Review: Roe Horvat’s third is a foray into the depths of the human psyche #LGBT #amreading

Release Day Review: A Love Song for the Sad Man in the White Coat by Roe Horvat

A Love Song for the Sad Man in the White Coat

This is what Horvat’s writing reminds me of, and that is not a bad thing.

I will never know why I came to think of architecture when I first read Roe Horvat’s debut, Layover. Her second novel reinforced the imagery, although I still hadn’t quite found the words to describe it. A Love Song for the Sad Man in the White Coat evokes these same odd images in my head, of abandoned industrial buildings, turned into gentrification hotspots, lofts where the modern bourgeoisie would dwell. Beautiful, yes, bare, absolutely, rough around the edges, most certainly, and that is no critique, even though the words are often used in that manner. I finished Horvat’s third novel with the insanely long title A Love Song for the Sad Man in the White Coat, and once again, I am reminded of these industrial buildings.

But even more so, I’ve been forced to look at my own writing through the same lens, which is, of course, precarious, as one is never unbiased toward one’s own work. Either you think your God’s gift to the pen – or, much more likely – you suffer from imposter syndrome.

A Love Song for the Sad Man in the White Coat

The interior of such an industrial building à la Horvat… Bare, yet polished, crude, yet beautiful.

Not the ideal judge, eh? I know but bear with me for Roe’s sake…

Love Song for the Sad Man in the White Coat

What Phetra H Novak’s writing reminds me of…

Still, this seems like a rather harmless exercise, as my subconscious has done the same with other authors dear to me, Phetra H Novak, and Debbie McGowan. All authors I’ve reviewed frequently, and whose work continue to inspire my own writing.

When I think of Phetra’s writing (may she forgive me), I picture an Old Norse great hall, where the Vikings would sit and partake of great feasts, drink mead and tell each other of their stories of conquests. Phetra’s storytelling is rich, meaty, painted in bold strokes, grandiose. She evokes images that are absolutely stunning.

Love Song for the Sad Man in the White Coat

What Debbie McGowan’s writing reminds me of…

With Debbie, I picture a typical countryside English pub, a good homecooked meal, fish & chips, that sort of thing, a cold (I can’t stomach the warmish stuff) beer, and quiz night. Debbie’s writing is intelligent, well-informed, and educative. Kind of like quiz night and no other author I know evokes vivid images of the English countryside, nobody does descriptions quite like Debbie McGowan. Debbie is the quintessential contemporary English storyteller.

My own writing? I’m reminded of my dad’s work (he was an architect) and his “philosophy” with regards to architecture if you will. Nothing fancy, but rather sturdy, homey, a place where you’re comfortable, traditional even. Straight to the point, practical, nothing out of the ordinary. Seems my dad’s career has had a greater impact on me than I ever could’ve imagined…

A Love Song for the Sad Man in the White Coat

What my own writing reminds me of…

See, as I compare those writing styles, I’m drawn back to Roe, and the writing of A Love Song for the Sad Man in the White Coat which shall henceforth be called by his Christian name, Simon. What a bloody long name (brilliant? nuts?). Anyway, there are so many descriptions in that book, of streets in Praha, Heidelberg, meals, psychological disorders etc. Horvat is Czech, so the intimate knowledge about all things Czechia (and Slovakia ) is never in doubt. What really surprises me is the astonishing grasp of the English language, obviously not Horvat’s first, far from given in a country of the former ‘east block’ (as Horvat does mention in the novel at some point.)

I think I’ve said it before, in my review of Dirty Mind:

The mood of Horvat’s writing reflects that. It’s raw, it’s in your face, it’s open, honest to a fault, brutal even at times, but never crossing that line that would make it offensive or off-putting. It’s simply realism at its best.

Love Song for the Sad Man in the White Coat

Great cover. And the style is typical Horvat. I can tell that this character means a lot to the author. There’s so much love and affection in this design.

It is that realism that has me draw parallels to that industrial loft and I won’t exhaust the metaphor because it has limits. So what is this book all about? The title of Simon (yeah, not writing that a third time, fuck off SEO engines!) gives us clues. He’s the sad man, and while I’m not going to give away details or clues, let’s just say this is a psychological novel, an excellent one at that. Horvat is married to a psychiatrist, so I needn’t even double-check the assertions made. Besides, given my limited exposure to psychology, what’s happening seems plausible enough, credible, and – yes – perfectly in tune with the above quote.

I most likely read the book differently than most others. I had a hunch (I’ve been in the industry long enough) where the end would lead, and yes, you could even label this a romance (though, God forbid, not one off the Harlequin branch of the family), but rather a love story, although you’d miss the actual topic of the book (re D). I wish I could’ve seen more of Matéj and Simon, as a couple, not just the coupling, in the end, the obligatory happy ending, because I know, Roe and I have spoken about this on several occasions, her writing doesn’t require a happy ending. However, and I have no reason to doubt it given what I know about Simon, that he needs it. More importantly, he deserves it (don’t we all?). Given the story of how this novel came to be (for Roe to tell you), that is all I need.

If you haven’t read a book by Roe Horvat, now’s your chance. I order you to! Pick one up, any of them. Read them, cherish them. This is an author destined for greatness. These first three stories we’ve seen this year are astounding works of art, fine literature, and I personally feel privileged to have been able to follow the development of this amazing talent from up close. Now go forth and buy A Love Song for the Sad Man in the White Coat, releasing today from Beaten Track Publishing.

If you like my reviews, my writing, feel free to subscribe to my monthly newsletter (top right on this page) with competitions and hopefully interesting reading. The next issue is due next week. Interact with me on TwitterFacebookYouTube, and/or Instagram. Have a great weekend and enjoy the third Advent weekend.

Hans

PS: Are you still following the Rainbow Advent Calendar? If not, the stories are still up there for you to read… My story is published on Christmas Eve… 😉

#Review: Werecat: The Sim Ru Prophecy by Andrew J. Peters #paranormal #AmReading #LGBT

#Review: Werecat: The Sim Ru Prophecy by Andrew J. Peters #paranormal #AmReading #LGBT

The Sim Ru Prophecy is a fulminant climax of Peters’ Werecat series

Where to start? I think I need to go back to how I met Andy, online, on Twitter to be exact, not sure why, but there aren’t that many LGBT authors out there. We began to talk about each other’s works and before long, he offered me to read his latest one, about werecats. I’m not a big fan of paranormal and while were-animals and vampires had long served as metaphors to depict the suffering of the LGBT minority in society, I wasn’t sure if I really needed another one, particularly since these cats were all gay. But I read it, and against my ‘usual’ instinct to stay clear of a series (say it with me: I hate series!), I kept reading book two and three. I’ve reviewed one book here and interviewed Andy after the first book had come out in 2013.

Cover of Andy Peters’ The Sim Ru Prophesy

Andy’s writing is really captivating. It’s been a while since I had read book three (as many years) and I’d forgotten about how that had ended. But after a few pages, I was back in the story and The Sim Ru Prophecy doesn’t disappoint. The action is riveting, the story captivating and engaging, the characters grow and even Farzan, Jacks’ love interest becomes a full-fledged and believable human being. Yeah, one of the few non-werecats of the series.

I no longer wonder about the werecats or even question their existence. They’ve become a normal part of my imagination (contrary to my spell-checker which constantly questions my spelling of werecats, the very word.) I’ve pretty much read the entire book in two settings. That’s how engrossed I was, and how curious I was to find out how it would end. I had my reservations at the beginning of the first book, where Andy includes a sex scene while the two men are cats. Not something easily erased from my retinas. But there’s been nothing of the sort in the other installments, as he’s found his voice. The sex is no longer needed, at least not in the graphic details of book one.

Andy has a knack for historical details, for prophecies and legends (as his other series about Atlantis littered with Greek mythology proves), and this book is no different. Loads of mysticism, ancient legends of feline and human deities. Combined with a bit of bad U.S. government interference and a pinch of terrorism, Andy paints a picture that is impossible to resist and one that draws you in as a reader. A political yet also historical thriller of sorts, where the paranormal is but a superficial coat of paint (which isn’t a criticism, mind you.)

I enjoyed this series immensely, and now that you can read the entire series in one go, I highly recommend that you do. The first book is available for FREE on Amazon (right now), and the series as a whole is highly discounted. A great read for little money. I will miss my cats and Jacks and his friends. Then again, I can always go back and read it again… Got get that book today, because The Sim Ru Prophecy is a fulminant climax of a captivating story.

If you like my writing, feel free to subscribe to my monthly newsletter (top right on this page) with competitions and hopefully interesting reading. Interact with me on TwitterFacebookYouTube, and/or Instagram. Have a great weekend.

Hans

#Review: Meghan Maslow’s “By Fairy Means or Foul” #fantasy #lgbt #amreading

#Review: Meghan Maslow’s “By Fairy Means or Foul” #fantasy #lgbt #amreading

“By Fairy Means or Foul: A Starfig Investigations Novel” or why I’m still not into fantasy

My first fantasy novel, ever. Yeah, I admit, I haven’t even read LOTR, the language had me asleep before I got to chapter two in The Hobbit. So why on earth would I want to read a novel about fairies which the title not so subtly alludes to? One reason really: the author. Meghan Maslow is a friend, albeit a rairly recent one, but a good friend nonetheless, and I always read what my friends write, no matter how bad or “out there” their writing seems to be. Meghan sort of attached herself to me and a friend at the San Diego version of GRL, the annual reader-writer convention of people who love gay romance literature, and where I, for some odd reason, have found a home, even though I don’t belong there, since, yeah, I don’t write romance. Meghan is witty, she’s smart, and she’s one hell of a writer, or so I discovered after having read her first foray into what some people refer to as “m/m” (you know how much I despise that word).

The cover of "By Fairy Means Or Foul" by Meghan Maslow

The cover of By Fairy Means Or Foul by Meghan Maslow

Ergo me reading By Fairy Means or Foul, a novel with more innuendo than anything I’ve read for a long time. Let me get this out of the way right now, before Meghan, who I’m sure will be reading this, gets her dreads in a twist. And just to say this again, just because I’m friends with Meghan, this is an honest to the bone review, as you’ll see shortly. Here it goes: Meghan is an insanely talented writer, and you can tell by all the subtleties that she’s also well educated and knows her genre, probably a gazillion times better than I do (since, yeah, my first, remember?)

Here’s the blurb, to save me summarizing it:

“The last thing half-dragon, half-fairy private investigator Twig Starfig wants to do is retrieve a stolen enchanted horn from a treacherous fae, but there’s no denying the dazzlingly gorgeous unicorn who asks Twig to do just that. Literally, no denying, because compelling the reluctant detective is all part of a unicorn’s seductive magic.

To add to his woes, Twig is saddled with the unicorn’s cheeky indentured servant, Quinn Broomsparkle. Dragons are supposed to want to eat humans, but Twig’s half-dragon side only wants to gobble up Quinn in a more . . . personal way. Making matters worse, it’s obvious the smokin’ hot but untrustworthy sidekick is hiding something. Something big. And not what’s in his trousers. In the PI business, that means trouble with a capital Q.

Throw in gads of zombies, a creepy ghost pirate ship, a malfunctioning magic carpet, and Twig’s overbearing fairy father’s demands to live up to the illustrious Starfig name. Naturally, an old but abiding enemy chooses this time to resurface, too. Those inconveniences Twig can handle. The realization he’s falling for a human who isn’t free to return his affections and whose life may hang on the success of his latest case?

Not so much.”

I’d hate to give things away, right? Reading a book about fairies and dragons and men in slavery just never really made it to my remotest level of interest, but oddly, I found this an amusing read. I chuckled a lot, shook my head in disbelief even more often, whether it was about the powers of dragons or witches or unicorns, and how they “really” are in terms fo strength of character (or lack thereof) is quite amusing. And the story flows freely and is well paced. No boring spots here. I absolutely enjoyed the plays on the genre “rules” that I think Meghan bends, and warps, but without turning hard-core fans off (I hope). Sadly, I can’t be sure, since I don’t read the genre, but yeah, I get the impression that she gets away with her plays… Don’t believe me? Read the reviews online…

Meghan Maslow's pirate escorted Her Majesty to the party in San Diego. I guess that costume explains a thing or two about the expanse, right?

Meghan Maslow’s pirate escorted Her Majesty to the party in San Diego. I guess that costume explains a thing or two about the expanse, right?

Now, to the parts that didn’t please me quite that much, and they’re part of the genre “gay fantasy” or – shudders – “m/m fantasy”, the way the human always has to be succumbing to the beast (whether a werewolf, a werecat or a dragon). Meghan has an interesting twist on that (no spoilers), but I’m deeply troubled by the whole notion of “active – passive”, “top – bottom” and their portrayal in gay romance, and how it’s really just a prolongation of “saving the damsel in distress”. I’ll grant you, I skipped the sex scenes because it’s even worse to read it than seeing it on screen, so I can’t say if the dragon ever bottomed, but it would somehow defy the genre expectations, wouldn’t it? This is a series, and – Meghan, if you read this – there’s hope… I certainly know Meghan’s heart and mind are in the right place in what we call “IRL”.

What I did like was the “of course” attitude of the fantasy society to gay love or relationships/mating. It was refreshing to read that, but it also reminds us just how “fantasy” fantasy really is, or is it vice versa? I can never get that right. The other aspect I didn’t enjoy was some of the predictability associated with the romance genre, like the misunderstandings in all the right places, the sex scenes, again, and again, and again, like the pistons in an engine, but even here, Meghan manages to surprise us one more time with a [no spoiler].

Conclusions? This is a brilliantly written novel (phew, that makes seeing Meghan again in two days so much simpler), playing the genre like a virtuoso (I think), with really well fleshed-out characters, a fun and action-packed story and the promise of more of the same as the series continues. If you love your boys hot, your stories “out there” in the paranormal fantasy realm, then you absolutely MUST read this book. By Fairy Means or Foul is available on Amazon right now. I give it four stars there, the fifth star withheld not because it isn’t a brilliant book but because I just don’t enjoy this sort of stuff. It’s amazing that Meghan wrote a story I read to the end without suffering too badly.

If you like my writing, feel free to subscribe to my monthly newsletter (top right on this page) with competitions and interesting reading. Interact with me on TwitterFacebookYouTube, and/or Instagram. Have a great week. This Friday, I’ll be posting from Denver, and this year’s GRL.

Hans