If I don't stop finding new books to read, or find more time to read the ones I have, or build a time machine (this seems unlikely), then I may never dig out from beneath the mountainous stack that I've amassed for myself. I received some exceptionally good news at work on Thursday afternoon, and so I decided to treat myself by heading over to Half Priced Books and spending the rest of the gift card that Kelley gave me for Christmas. I've a whole list of books that I want to read that I haven't bought, but having no adequate way to call upon that list at the time, I was forced to improvise.
After perusing the aisles and stacks in search of the books that I could call up from the list by memory, and having no luck at all in that regard, I abandoned the list altogether to simply browse. I love to browse bookstores. One could argue that I spend more time enjoying the browsing of bookstores than I do actually reading the books themselves. Maybe it's the collector in me showing its ugly little head. Nevertheless, I enjoy me a good walk through a bookstore. I'll stroll the aisles, selecting volumes randomly from the shelves, inspecting the contents until something else strikes my fancy. I'm constantly enchanted by the volumes of knowledge contained within a bookstore, and further astounded at the thought that a store only contains a mere fraction of that published knowledge.
On this particular rainy Thursday afternoon my eye was drawn to a trio of books in the fantasy/sci-fi section. I first selected one volume from the shelf and was so taken with the cover that I quickly pulled the remaining two off, found the nearest stool to plant my butt on, and began to read.
Before I knew it I was heading to the register with The Crooked Letter, The Blood Debt, and The Hanging Mountains by Sean Williams, an Australian writer that I'd never heard of, all cradled neatly under my arm. I have to admit that I rarely buy a book based on what I read on the back cover. I usually write down the title and author, add it to my list, and do a bit of research into the story and author before I buy. I'm like this with almost anything of significant value, and even though books are inexpensive relatively speaking, they require a good deal of time investment. I've been burned by so many rotten books (even by well established authors) that I just would rather do a little detective work before I buy. It's not that I care so much about what others think about a particular book; I'm trying to find out some things about the author, the way he thinks, and what the story line is like. If it seems to be my kind of thing, I'll throw in my lot and give it a go.
For some reason, though, this time I traded caution for rashness, quickly paid for the books and left with a smile. The circumstances and news received earlier in the day most likely played a large part in my willy-nilly purchase of these three books, but that's okay. I'll give them a try. Eventually. And I'll tell you all about them. Good or bad.
The Crooked Letter
When mirror twins Seth and Hadrian Castillo travel to Europe on holidays, they don't expect the end of the world to follow them. Seth's murder, however, puts exactly that into motion. From opposite sides of death, the Castillo twins grapple with a reality neither of them suspected, although it has been encoded in myths and legends for millennia. The Earth we know is just one of many "realms", three of which are inhabited by humans during various stages of their lives. And their afterlives... In the tradition of Philip Pullman and Ursula K. Le Guin and inspired by numerous arcane sources, the Books of the Cataclysm begin in the present world but soon propel the reader to a landscape that is simultaneously familiar and fantastic.
The Blood Debt
In a remote city on the edge of two worlds, where blood has power and water is more precious than freedom, three far-flung friends unite on a quest to save their families. Sal Hrvati's estranged father has brought more into the world than the woman he loved. Instead of saving her from the Void Beneath, he has summoned an unknown creature-a creature with a mission of its own and a past that stretches back to the beginning of the world. The quest to find both of them entangles Sal and his companions in a hunt for magical treasure on the floor of the Divide, a mighty crack in the earth inhabited by creatures that are not remotely human. Desert landscapes and dirigibles feature in a fast-paced fantasy that combines romance, adventure, and humor with an original take on magic.
The Books of the Cataclysm take inspiration from many arcane and mythological sources. In positing that this world is just one of many "realms," three of which are inhabited by humans during various stages of their lives, it begins in the present world but soon propels the reader to a landscape that is simultaneously familiar and fantastic.
The Hanging Mountains
"Ancient enemies stalk ghostly fog forests as legends come to life."
The Divide is flooded. Habryn Kail and the Homunculus are missing, presumed dead. Sal and his companions seek the source of the flood in the legendary Hanging Mountains, hoping to head off a crisis that was put in motion a thousand years ago. As conflict erupts between two long-forgotten civilizations, the outsiders find that allies are hard to come by. Taken captive and separated, they uncover uncomfortable truths about the world and how it relates to the one that came before-our world.
Something dark and deadly is stirring in the heart of the mountains. And the closer it comes to waking, the more certain it seems the Homunculus may not have been the enemy at all.
So that's them in a nut shell, and mostly from publisher Pyr's mouth. But I think they sound pretty interesting. And that cover art? The guy's name is Greg Bridges.