Friday, March 24, 2017

Review: Darkstorm by M. L. Spencer

Darkstorm High Res Cover.jpgTitle: Darkstorm (The Rhenwars Saga #1)
Author: M. L. Spencer
Publisher: Stoneguard Publications
Publication Date: January 19, 2017
Genre: Fantasy, Dark Fantasy

I received an eARC of this novel from the author in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

Description from GoodReads
Our Choices Define Our Destiny.

When Merris Bryar stumbles across a secret meeting in the forgotten passages deep beneath Aerysius, she has no idea the harrowing sequence of events her discovery will set into motion. Merris discovers that deep below the city of the mages, forces of chaos are hard at work boring the Well of Tears, a gateway to the Netherworld.

Faced with an imminent cataclysm that will destroy the magical heritage of their people, a conspiracy of darkmages have resorted to harnessing the powers of Hell to save their legacy. The only mages who can oppose them are Merris and her mentor, Sephana Clemley, along with their protectors, Braden and Quin Reis: two brothers with a turbulent past and a caustic relationship. But both Braden and Quin are compromised, harboring terrible and tragic secrets.

Will Braden and Quin be able to protect Sephana and Merris long enough to stop the unsealing of the Well of Tears? Or will they fall victim to the darkmages’ sinister manipulations and join their conspiracy?

My Thoughts
I have truly enjoyed this novel.  It has been a wonderful adventure that I am grateful to have been a part of.  

HOLY COW!  Spencer does an amazing job with characterization.  It was so much like watching a movie that I didn't even realize that details had been slowly added.  Right from the start, I felt like I already knew intuitively what each of the characters was going to look like and how they would behave.  Spencer must have spent a long time developing her characters because there was never a moment that did not seem natural for the character involved.  

Another way that Spencer amazed me was by her use of scene/scenery description.  Not only did I feel like I could see the characters, but I could understand the physics of the world around them.  This helped to make the story much more realistic.

Unfortunately, Spencer didn't use this same ability quite as much when it came to the rules of the society that these individuals live in.  There were so many silver stars in so many different places that I thought my head was going to explode as I tried to figure it all out.  Realistically, there are many other shapes and many other colors that could have been used for these important details to set a more drastic and more symbolic difference between the people involved.  Especially with two lands threatening war, I strongly believe that Spencer could have used this opportunity to use inverted shapes or colors to further emphasize the difference between the two nations.  Along this same vein, what was the issue with all of the cloaks in the first place?  What do the individuals have to go through for certain cloaks?  What is the significance of the chain on Merris' wrist?  I think that all of these items would have an amazing place in the story had they been better developed.

M.L. SPENCERAbout the Author
M.L. Spencer grew up on the works of Steven R. Donaldson, Stephen King and Frank Herbert. She wrote her first novel-length manuscript at thirteen. Her debut novel Darkmage won the 2012 IndieReader Discovery Award for Fantasy. She was also awarded 1st Place Prose in in the San Bernardino County Writing Celebration.

Ms. Spencer lives in Southern California. By day she works as a biology teacher; by night she sweats over a beaten-up keyboard. She is now in the process of expanding the Rhenwars Saga into a trilogy.

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