I read lots of books, and this blog is about what I hope one day will become my books. But I also feel like my blog needs a bit more content, so I thought I would start posting book reviews here as well. So without further delay, I give you my review of Steve Montano‘s Blood Skies
I Want to Like This Book More…
When I started reading this book I enjoyed it, the author threw me right in a high fantasy world complete with magic, bestial vampires, and all other manner of fun fantastical things. But as I read on and on it became harder and harder for me to really stay interested. What I feel could have been a most excellent story turned into somewhat of a trial to read due to several glaring issues with the book, some of them legitimate problems, others more based in opinion.
The TL;DR :
There is a great fantasy world and an enjoyable story hidden beneath lots of poor / unrevised and unedited writing. If dark fantasy worlds are your thing, and you think you can get past the sea of adjectives, bad editing, and the occasional bit of clumsy writing the book is worth a read. Otherwise, I’d probably just stay away from it.
The Bad (facts):
1. I’d be willing to bet a valuable body part (my right lung for instance, remember that’s the bigger one) that this book was not edited by anyone other than the author. The book is plagued with editorial mistakes. With self published work I generally try to look these things over a bit, but this book went just a bit over the top for me. There were missing commas that resulted in confusing sentences, a few sentences had left over words that I assume were meant to be replaced (the specific example that comes to mind is a sentence talking about magical bullets that “burrowed perforated their way into x creatures flesh”).
2. Mr. Montano uses adjectives like they are the cure for cancer. The adjectives are so plentiful in this book that I actually considered them a hindrance to the reading experience in multiple places. Additionally the author used many words and adjectives incorrectly, or in a very awkward manner. He describes flowing water as stagnant. At one point he even uses the phrase “menstrual sky”. (Yea, I suppose that one works…just….wtf?).
(On a small side note, I have checked out a sample or two of his later writing and it does seem that he has gotten his love of adjectives in check.)
The Bad (Opinions) :
1. The world the author creates is certainly an interesting world, but he just tried WAY too hard to make it a fantasy world to me. It just felt artificial and forced. Every chance he gets he throws in fantasy “buzz words” like arcane, warlock, hex, or one of the many races or nationalities he created. It just got so heavy that it felt fake, and looked ugly, kind of like the acting in porn.
(He also seemed to use the words Mage and Warlock interchangeably, and that seems just wrong to me. Warlocks manipulate darker magic, souls, demons, curses, etc, and mages are more about neutral magic…but really that’s just a personal peeve I suppose).
2. Near the end of the book I had to force myself to read. I had generally lost interest in the story but I was 80%+ done, and only quitters stop at 80%+! Really though, the book just got to a point where my brain said “ok this should be over now.” I suspect that fact is mostly related to my personal saturation point for poor editing and clumsy writing.
The Good :
1. I got it for free. Free is always good, and I think it’s a brilliant move for Indie authors to offer some of their work for free.
2. The world Montano built is a detailed and fantastic world. I feel like he really put a great deal of time in developing the world and setting of the novel. It blends fantasy I’m familiar with, with new and unique twists and the result is a dark and vivid fantasy world.
3. If you can get past the deluge of adjectives and poor editing, there is actually a good story buried beneath all the unneeded fluff and muck that was piled atop it.
4. The ending. I won’t give you any details to avoid any kind of spoilers, but I was pretty pleased with how the book ended.
The Meh :
1. His characters, weren’t that compelling to me, but at the same time they did not really fall flat. I was able to understand some of his character motivations as well as relate to them, but in the end, I was not really moved when any of the characters went through something undesirable. I never really felt myself pulling for a certain character to come through, nor did I ever find myself specifically disliking any of the characters.
***Beware, thar be minor spoilers below***
Earth has been vastly changed following an event known as ‘The Black’, vampires and all other manner of undead are real, magic is real, and the fight for humanities survival is real. We follow Eric Cross, a human warlock and member of the Southern Claw Alliance as he and a his military unit track a fugitive witch named Red through haunted swamps, over desolate plains, and through vampire settlements. Not only does Red plan to give all of the human’s secrets to the vampires, she has also kidnapped Crosses’ witch sister, Snow. Can he save the world and his sister?