Phantom Harvest by C. R. Richards

PHANTOM
Phantom Harvest by C. R. Richards
Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (369 pages)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed Cyclamen

Gideon, a half-breed mutant with a surly temper and rotten luck, struggles to scrape a living as a tracker in the desolate territory near the gateway to the human world. Business seems to be picking up when Gideon is approached by a powerful dark elf with deep pockets and a serious problem. Human miners at the dark elf’s plant are being taken by an elusive predator. Gideon is pressured to find the killer before word of the disappearances reaches the human world, endangering the tense relationship between their two races. But, nothing is simple this close to the conduit between worlds. Archangel, a ruthless mercenary operating in the secret sectors of mutant society, has set his own deadly game in motion.

Surrounded by savage wilderness and cut off from contact with civilization, Gideon must find a way to protect his friends and survive to collect his bounty.

A dimensional rift, called “The Calamity,” shattered the veil between the human and mutant worlds. The mining city of Hawthorne is located close to the Hawthorne Conduit, the connecting passage between Hawthorne in the mutant world and Kansas in the human world. Gideon, the best tracker in the Mutant Guild, finds himself in Hawthorne on a hazardous assignment which has him eventually working for not one but three powerful and dangerous employers.

C. R. Richards has written a captivating story with a cast of characters from many different species. Richards’ writing is forceful and descriptive. Her opening paragraph draws the reader in with no chance of escape. “Sometimes the bad guy wins. No one understood that better than Gideon. When you were the unwanted product of a sadistic sexual encounter between two predators, you lost a few. More than a few, if fate dunked you in the family gene pool and you were the only one to crawl out again with a conscience. In fact, you were damn lucky to scrape a living from clients desperate enough to hire a slightly unpredictable half-breed freak.” With these few sentences, Richards has given her readers an in-depth portrait of Gideon, her main protagonist, as well as setting the stage for a fast-paced suspense-filled story.

As the quote from the opening paragraph demonstrates, Richards has created a complex character in Gideon. She continues with the other main protagonists, Hiroshi, Gideon’s self-proclaimed father who is also a werecat, and Maialen, a powerful bio-interator capable of destroying human minds with a touch. These three characters are both appealing and engaging as they race through the novel from one hair-raising adventure to the next while trying to solve the mystery and also stay alive.

It took me a little while to sort out all the names and species at the start of the novel, but that didn’t stop me from turning the pages as quickly as I could. Soon the characters fell into place even as the mysteries surrounding them deepened. Richards explores the relationships between the various species while at the same time keeping the plot careening forward. I didn’t discover the truth behind all the happenings until the end. Richards plays fair with the reader, but she doesn’t reveal anything until she has to.

I found Phantom Harvest to be a most riveting and exciting novel, and I am sure that those who enjoy fantasy will not be disappointed. I hope Richards writes more about this world she has crafted with such skill.

Comments

  1. Astilbe says:

    When I’m reading a novel that has a lot of characters I’ll often write down names and one sentence descriptions of them.

    It helps me to keep everyone straight for the first few chapters! 🙂

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