Just popping in for a quick update! About a month ago I profiled author Daley Downing in my Indie Author Spotlight. If you’ll remember, she mentioned that her fantasy/speculative fiction series was only available in paperback. Well, she has released a Kindle version of Order of the Twelve Tribes, Volume 1: Masters and Beginners for only $0.99! I picked up my copy today (thanks, Mom and Dad, for the Mother’s Day gift card for Amazon…I’ve bought a bunch of books, surprise surprise!). What are you waiting for???
So this is WAY outside my comfort zone, so I’m not going to participate but I thought some of you might be interested! Enjoy 🙂
… And we’re back at it again!
With over forty responses on our first Poem Collaboration at the Little Writing Workshop of Horrors, it seems clear that there should be even more opportunities and events to share our literary work with each other, and to discover a certain connectivity that we often seek in writing. The purpose may vary, but we write either for ourselves or for others, the connectivity being this social experience to collaborate, and to put on our mud boots and get ourselves in the mud of writing.
Maybe that wasn’t the best analogy…
But, let’s get right down into it, shall we? Due to the overwhelming responses on the poem collaborative project, collaborative projects on the Little Writing Workshop of Horrors will now strive to be a feature in this horror house, using different ideas or suggestions from all of you.
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You all know I’m a fan of Thomas Fenske‘s books, and have been ever since he contacted me to review his first book, The Fever, in 2015. I’ve consistently given them four-star ratings and positive reviews – excellent writing, superior storytelling, consistency in delivery. I know I won’t go wrong in picking up one of his books. I was SO excited to get an advanced reader copy of his newest, The Hag Rider, which is set to come out June 1 (I’ll let you know when it’s available for pre-order!). Friends, I REALLY REALLY REALLY like this one, and you should all read it!
So, I hear Thomas Fenske and think Texas, paranormal activity, a little bit of danger…and they’re all present, against the little-known (at least to me, raised on the East Coast) backdrop of the Civil War in Texas. The Hag Rider is the fictional memoir of a 15 year old Confederate cavalryman in Texas, who joins the fight to serve Texas, despite his youth and discomfort with slavery. He is protected through his ordeal by an old slave woman and witch, Vanita, whose presence follows him thousands of miles through the Confederacy and the Union.
As usual, Fenske manages to touch on important and heavy issues, things that get to the truths of human existence, without getting preachy. Being the Civil War, there’s a lot in The Hag Rider about racism and slavery and Fenske just makes it seem obvious that they’re wrong, just by presenting authentic human interactions. Jack’s relationship with the slave Moze, a father figure to him who cemented much of Jack’s sense of morality, is fundamental to the story and Jack reflects on and uses Moze’s wisdom to guide his actions throughout the book; these are some of my favorite parts.
Another thing I love about this book is the history. A historian by training, Fenske sticks to facts and brings them to life. I had the opportunity to learn about the Civil War in Texas, which I’ve never known much about. But beyond that, the history is brought to life; the writing is realistic and engaging, and I never found myself wondering whether details were historically accurate. Mostly, though, I love that he could bring the sentiments of the times to life, and how he offers plausible motivations. His characters are real people with nuanced views, and I root for Jack the whole time even though he’s a Confederate… I find it very interesting the way Jack justifies fighting for injustice:
“Vanita told me I was going to be fighting to free the slaves. She said she’d seen it because the South wasn’t ever going to win this war, but it was necessary because slavery was never going to end without a fight.” (179)
I can’t forget the witch aspect here. The books is a blend of history and the paranormal. I don’t believe in witches, but I do believe in God, his angels, and the Saints, so the idea of a supernatural being protecting Jack so he can fulfill his part in a fight for justice, as roundabout as it seems, is something I just get. It makes sense to me.
This book is the whole package: entertainment, history, existential truths. With a witch!