Saturday 28 January 2012

Traditional Fantasy: A Review of Return to Mercya

My Book Review of Return to Mercya by Mark Ruckledge:

Return to Mercya by Mark Ruckledge is a stylish, entertaining story for fans of the traditional fantasy genre. The multi-layered world fashioned by the author has an absorbing quality and I found this short ebook a mostly satisfying read.

When the land of Mercya was invaded by the Shadowlands, its people, the Tremenaya, scattered. Years later, Brendel Domia returns to his war-ravaged homeland and finds himself in conflict with this evil he thought departed.

The author does a superb job in envisioning his world for the reader, and creating a compelling lead character whose narration carries the story. There is an emotional undercurrent that provides the story some depth, and I liked the world-weary feel the first person point-of-view gives to the book. Also, the plot is reasonably well written with some appealing scenes and moments of tense action.

However, the story did leave me somewhat confused at times regarding the events, places and characters, and feeling a bit like I had started reading in the middle of the story. I did decipher the in and outs eventually, but a clearer picture of the politics and happenings previous to the story would have helped with the plot structure and the flow of the narrative. I sense it may have benefitted from more back story and length, although it is the first part in a series so there is more to come.

Overall though, Return to Mercya is an enjoyable and intriguing fantasy book and I certainly recommend it.

Monday 16 January 2012

The Within Blog Tour and a Review of the Book

I’m pleased to have this blog play host to Clare Marshall on her virtual journey as she does the blog tour circuit for her book, Within. Ms. Marshall is a talented author and fellow Nova Scotian. She has written a wonderful YA novel and here is my review...

Book Review of Within:

I enjoyed reading the novel Within by Clare Marshall very much. Now that is saying a lot because books in the YA genre are not generally something I read. But I found Within an engaging book, solidly resting in an authentic world of teenage life, laced with the flavour of a paranormal thriller.

The novel centers on three teen friends, Trinity, Zack and Ellie, whose world turns upside down when a car accident leaves Trinity with brain damage. The aftermath of that misfortune and Trinity’s condition steer them toward the paranormal and an unrepentant murderer.

Ms. Marshall has an excellent way with her characters, getting the teenage rendering right in my opinion, making her trio of protagonists realistic people, instead of whining or annoying. She makes the shift from dealing with teen issues like prom and jealousy to heart-breaking tragedy and unexpected treachery flow believably.

I enjoyed the portrayal of Ellie in particular; I found her character strong with the right mixture of teenage insecurity and angst. When dealing with emotional issues she comes across as genuine, a blend of hesitant and love struck, but not maudlin or foolish. Her growth from tentative youth to a more confident (and kick-ass) person grounds the book and allows the reader to identify with the character.

The plot was nicely written as well, although I did find some of the villainous motivation a bit vague and undefined for my taste, especially where it concerned the various henchmen. Still the novel contains thrills and great tension, with a wonderfully heinous main villain and an adroit cat and mouse undertone.

I would say that fans of YA (as well as the less than YA devoted like me) will favour this book and I recommend it.

(On a personal side note, I got a kick out of the city of Halifax as the setting. It’s not often I get to read about places I’ve actually been.)


Trinity Hartell’s life changed after the accident. Left with irreversible brain damage, she becomes a burden to her mother, a cause for heartbreak for her boyfriend Zack, and a flattened obstacle for her jealous best friend, Ellie.
But then she starts writing. Perhaps it’s a coincidence that the psychotic, murderous protagonist of her novel bears a striking similarity to the charming Wiley Dalton, a mayoral candidate in the upcoming election.

Or, perhaps not…

Within is available at:

Fairy Ink Press:
Amazon (print version):

You can find a complete list of Clare’s Blog Tour stops here:

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