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Dark Earth Paperback – March 22, 2010
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
"With a mix of Celtic myth, werewolves/changelings, witches, and secret organizations that protect the world as warders, you will get a wonderful mix of fantasy and fairy tale." - Cana
From the Author
I started Dark Earth on a whim for a potential submission to Amazon's Break Through Novel contest. I ended up not entering it and went with another book instead - which did not make it past the pitch stage. Apparently I'm not very good at writing a compelling pitch. I find my ability to write a fully engrossing short story similarly impaired.
In writing Dark Earth I dug deep to try and understood what I would feel like as a father. It wasn't a huge leap for me, save for Jessica was more than a decade older than my own daughter at the time. Plus there was the stalker and supernatural forces out to get her angle that are difficult to fully understand. And all the while I kept in mind trying to target it for a slightly younger audience, not in the least because of thoughts of my own daughter while writing it. I don't think it's a stretch of the imagination to think that I - or most fathers / parents in general - would do the types of things Eric Baxter does to try and keep their child safe.
It wasn't until I'd finished it and was talking to an editor friend of mine that I began to fully comprehend the universe I had created with Dark Earth. Since then it has become one of my favorite settings and one that I've written several books in - with more coming soon!
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Firstly - I get the impression that Jessica crossed the bridge on her voalition - nobody had captured her or whatnot, so why was it just immediately assumed she had been captured by the Evil King (cliche)? The squalid, dark and nasty lives of the peasants seemed exaggerated and unnecessary, with the only ray of light being the Smith. Now, there's a tale I would like to hear more of. Instead, it appears as though the author no longer wanted to make much effort - plot points were rushed; emotions were told, not shown and there was repetition of phrases and other such grammatic errors that choke the plot and show that the editor lost interest about partway through (and with good reason, as so did I).
Dark Earth was nowhere near as interesting as Mundania (and can you say "rip-off", I could not help but think of Xanth and Florida). It was a generic fantasy kingdom ruled by greed. Yawn. And as for the concept of the Dark Earthians taking over our world - well, that's ridiculous, given their fickle loyalties, their selfish behaviour and their primitive weaponry, I would say it was all one big farce.
And why was Jessica - by far the most interesting character - relegated to little more than a trophy to be rescued and owned. She served no purpose and showed little initiative throughout the latter part of the plot. I would suggest that the author were to step back from the first person narrative - something like this would be much stronger were we able to see what Jessica was going through - to discover who had captured her as she went through the gate and to feel her distress at watching her father tormented.
On Earth, a young witch is born, Jessica, who shows remarkable gifts in anything she tries. Her father Eric is her sole parent, her mother having died in a car accident moments before her birth. At the age of thirteen, Jessica is suddenly attacked. Opposing forces are in motion to either kill her or to have her moved to Dark Earth in order to create a bridge between the two worlds.
Both Eric and Jessica are really nice characters and the plot is well-paced. Unfortunately, once in Dark Earth, Jessica mainly disappears from the story-line. It is nice to follow what happens to Eric but some balance between the two heroes would have been better.
My biggest problem is that the book ends when things start to really be interesting and, from what I can gather from the two other books in the series, there is no direct follow-up to the adventures of Eric and Jessica. So, I'm left with an incomplete first part and nothing to look-forward too. Disappointing.
There are several grammar and punctuation errors contained in the text. Some bits were ill fitting - warder (warden) sending killer once - then again - but tries to help when he shows up himself? He tells of magic power of portal - then gets so close to portal it can do its magic on him? Why was it never explained why no attempts on Jessica for all these years? If Eric's brother required special magic to become what he was - how could he pass it to Eric without same difficulties needed that Vos said were required for the other. The convenience of Eric surmising it was him, rather than Karen was odd timing wise. Just several things that were pretty contrived - even given genre.
Some may enjoy this. For me, I prefer a story tied together in a more cogent manner. Still, the author is creative. I think mundling is a bit reminiscent and (perhaps) too closely related to another sci -ti offering.
I wish the author every success, I simply honestly found the book unreadable and had to stop after reading 9% (according to kindle).
For all I know, the story is amazing. Too bad I couldn't get far enough to find out. I personally own and have read something like 1000 sci-fi and fantasy books, so I'm not just some random non-reader whose opinion isn't well-informed.