Once & Future

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By Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy

“This time, Excalibur chooses her.”

I finally watched Merlin last year. Yes, the BBC version that ended forever ago. Ever since I’ve been hooked on all things Arthurian. When given details about Once & Future, I audiably gasped. This was the book I had always wanted, yet didn’t know I needed.

What I loved most of all was the fact that this was not just a straight retelling; in more ways than one. Yes, its gender bent but with the added element of reincarnation. It was something that reminded me about a play I’d seen in the Globe in which the King in charge of the Crusades was given a second chance and the oportunity not to make the same mistake twice.

Characters

Having Arthur as a woman seems a quick and easy way to put a new book out there. However, it adds so much more to the richness of the tale than that. Ari is not just a gender bent icon. She’s her own person first, with a back story to make anyone weep. She’ll steal your heart and mend your soul while giving you grief.

It’s Merlin’s arrival that brings me the most joy. He is a beautiful character and, for me, the scene stealer from his first arrival. His predicament, his old soul and waining hope is everything you need to wish you were at his side.

Gwen and the knights are stunningly original and powerfully rich in prophesy and lolyalty. You couldn’t have a story without them. Each character is given development, humour and heart.

Story

The story is hot, sexy and unapologicetcally cool. Representation is accounted for, not in some PC checkbox excercise but something so very organic and meaningful. No one is given a label without purpose. Correction, no one is given a label. Gender and sexuality is so freely represented and commented upon that it will keep me, and any reader, happy for many months to come.

The only thing that makes me more intregied is the books final act reveal that will very much change how this organic social structure is considered in the sequel. Something I am very excited to get to.

Writing

The writing is flawlessly engaging. Drama, emotion and action are all presented in smooth and clear ways that will have the reader begging for the follow up the second they finish this first installment.

OtherEarth by @jasonsegel and @banksirregular

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What do you do when your first novel in the Otherworld trilogy is near perfect? Well, you up the stakes of course. And with Jason and Kirstin at the helm, boy do they amp up the pressure!
A year ago, I went on an adventure that surpassed all my expectations. This year, I feel as if my imagination has been hijacked, given an upgrade and thrown onto a high speed rollercoaster. I was a bit worried that we’d be spending too much time out of the simulated world, but it’s actually where the drama and tension can really be found.
Simon has a plan, and he can’t do alone. In what can only be described as a Bond on the run, Simon and his friends locate allies, makes deals with enemies and try to not get the rug pulled from under them too many times.
The plot is such a wonderful treat, its best kept a secret until you read it for yourself, but I will say that there is a gritty realism within the narrative that is a refreshing change from the nostalgia trips other books like this provide. Kristin and Jason are able to provide a commentary on some deep and serious topics, including addiction.
The final act brings a mental health sub plot to a head. It’s something that is so subtle and unobtrusive to the plot that don’t be hard on yourself for it blind siding you.
The only fault I can find it that there wasn’t more of the book to read. It ends in such a way that you’ll be screaming and shouting about it for weeks after. Then, just to escape the fact that there’s a year until OtherLife reaches us, you’ll head back to Otherworld for another trip with Simon.