Those of you who have read my blog before know that I am a self-professed poor reader. No, I don’t mean I have trouble with the big words (though there were a number in Michael Chabon‘s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay that put me over the deep end), I mean I find it hard to fit reading into my schedule, so it generally takes me a while to read a book. When you only read for ten minutes right before going to sleep, your mind gets trained that after ten minutes of reading…well, you get the picture.
Knowing this, I imagine there are not many of my blog readers who were that excited when I announced in my last post that I had decided to start reviewing books.
“Oh great,” my faithful readers said, “a new review once a year.”
Don’t be so harsh. I think I can manage one every three months.
To kick things off, I recently finished reading Blood Skies by Steven Montano, the first book in his Blood Skies series (currently four books, but I know there are more just around the corner). Here’s what you’ll find on Amazon:
In the time after The Black, human survivors of the Southern Claw Alliance clash with vampire legions of the Ebon Cities in a constant war for survival. Earth as we know it has been forever damaged by an arcane storm that fused our world with distant realms of madness and terror. Things that once existed only in our nightmares stalk the earth.
Now, humanity is threatened by one of its own.
Eric Cross, an enlisted warlock in the Southern Claw military, is part of an elite team of soldiers and mages in pursuit of a woman known as Red — a witch whose stolen knowledge threatens the future of the human race. The members of Viper Squad will traverse haunted forests and blighted tundra in their search for the traitor, a journey that ultimately leads them to the necropolis of Koth.
There, in that haven of renegade undead, Cross will discover the dark origins of magic, and the true meaning of sacrifice…
Experience a dark and deadly new world in the debut novel of the “Blood Skies” series from author Steven Montano.
Sounds good, doesn’t it? It is. And what ‘s even more impressive is that this is a blurb that makes you want to read the book. I’ve got to tell you, as a writer, one of the most difficult things we have to do is distill tens of thousands of words and months (or years) of work down to a few sentences on which we pin our hopes that people will be intrigued, buy the book, and make us fabulously wealthy. Or at least stinking rich. Steven has done a great job with the blurb, giving us enough to want more, but not enough to give away the really good bits. And he’s got a great cover, too, so that’s 2 out of the 3 covered.
The third, of course, is the story itself, and Steven doesn’t disappoint here, either.
There were two major things that jumped out at me about Blood Skies.
1. Steven’s ability to fulfil upon the age-old writers’ adage of making new things familiar and familiar things new. There are vampires in this book, but they are not like vampires you’ve seen before. And there is magic, but it has some quirks to it that make it different from what you’ve seen before. The story takes place on an Earth you wouldn’t recognize with characters with whom you will easily identify.
2. Steven’s writing and his incredible imagery brought to mind two other rather accomplished fantasy authors: Steven Erikson and China Mieville. While I love both of these gentlemen (in fact, I recently met Steven Erikson at my local bookstore…yes, they still have some of those), the one thing that tends to throw me off with any writer is going too far with the description. Mr. Mieville’s detailed descriptions of New Crobuzon are poetic and breathtaking, they can also go on for pages. Mr. Montano, on the other hand, employs more restraint and an economy of words that I think most readers will appreciate, getting detailed and high impact descriptions across more succinctly than some of his contemporaries.
The story is strong, the writing is excellent, and you can’t help but feel for the main character, Cross, who manages to get his ass kicked at every turn and keep on going. And do you know what else is great about this book? It’s only 99 cents.
Would I recommend Steven Montano’s Blood Skies. Hell yeah! I can’t wait to read more.
Steven Montano fell out of the sky one day and landed behind an accountant’s desk. Rather than write novels about his experiences in an alternate post-apocalyptic world besieged by vampires, he decided to reconcile accounts and calculate journal entries. He still writes in his spare time.
It’s difficult to find songs about vampires, but here’s one. Enjoy.