Saltwater Sorrows by Rhonda Parrish (editor)

Saltwater Sorrows by Rhonda Parrish (editor)
Publisher: Tyche Books
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery/Thriller, LGBTQ, Paranormal, Romance, Historical, Action/Adventure, Contemporary
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

Deep, mysterious, beautiful . . . dangerous . . .

Women and the sea have been tied together in myth and story from the beginning of time. Tales of women being drawn to the sea or being left on the shore, waiting for their men’s return, have been passed down through the ages.

But what mysteries lie beneath the sparkling placid waters? What power drives the wind and waves crashing against the shore? There is transformation and exaltation—magic—in the ocean and women alike. And both know that while the sea gives, the sea also takes.

Sink into the icy depths of the ocean with these stories by: E.E. King; Natalie Cannon; Morgan Melhuish; Paul A. Hamilton; Laura VanArendonk Baugh; Sarah Van Goethem; Adria Laycraft; Dino Parenti; B. Zelkovich; Lisa Carreiro; Lea Storry; Nikoline Kaiser; Elin Olausson; Chandra Fisher; Hayley Stone; V.F. LeSann; Catherine MacLeod; and Jennifer R. Donohue.

Safety isn’t guaranteed, but magic is.

Adelia lost multiple relatives to the sea in “Salt in Our Blood, Salt in Our Tears.” When she grew older, she attempted to figure out a way to keep her loved ones safe while they were on the water. I loved her determination and grit and couldn’t stop reading until I’d learned her fate. She wasn’t a wealthy or powerful woman, so anything she accomplished took every ounce of energy and luck she could scrounge up. This was one of my favorite instalments, and I’d love to read a sequel to it someday if the author ever writes one.

In “The Ghost of Violet Gray,” Arthur was distracted by a mysterious woman while surveying a beach to see how much damage the erosion on it was doing to the historic properties that lined the shore. The descriptions of the beach and the stately old homes that had weathered so many storms were beautiful. I would have happily remained in this tale for much longer, especially once my suspicions about how the plot might turn out began to be confirmed. This was a gorgeous snapshot of how the past can be honored by a community who also must adjust to an ever-changing coastline that can’t safely be used in the same way it was before.

“Glass, Paper, Salt” explored how a small group of strangers reacted to a zombie outbreak. The combination of references to zombies, mermaids, and the sea surprised me, especially once I realized how logically the characters were thinking about their longterm chances of survival now that their world was falling apart. This is one of those stories that works best if new readers walk into it unaware of what is coming. I only mentioned the zombies in this review because of how quickly they appeared in the text, but I will leave the rest of the creative plot twists up for others to discover for themselves. It was yet another excellent addition to this book.

One of the biggest reasons why I gave this anthology a full five-star rating was how beautifully different each tale was from one another. Some of them were heavy, difficult, but deeply meaningful reads, while a few were surprisingly light and airy given the dark theme. I wish I had the time and space to review every single one of them in this review. It was tricky to narrow down my selections to only a few! I’d recommend reading this with an open mind and while making as few assumptions about what might happen next as possible. There were so many gems included here.

Saltwater Sorrows was the perfect snapshot of the ever-changing nature of the sea.

City of Demons by Kevin Harkness

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City of Demons by Kevin Harkness
Publisher: Tyche Books Ltd.
Genre: Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length Full Length (234 pages)
Rating: Best Book
Reviewed by Orchid

Demons haunt the cities of the South. Even the smallest demon can freeze their prey with a choking terror that few can resist. Once paralyzed, a soldier, even a hero, is helpless before the claws and teeth of the beast. For the first time in the history of the peaceful Midlands, demons have appeared.

Hope lies in the Demonbanes of the Five Cities in the south. Composed of men and women who have had to face their own fears and conquer them, the Banes are the only protection for the citizens of the South… and now the Midlands as well.

Garet, a poor Midlands farm-boy, is one of those who can fight back. Now, to become a Demonbane he must journey to the Southern city of Shirath, a walled metropolis filled with opportunity, danger, and conspiracies. But will an outsider be accepted by the tradition-bound Banehall? Garet must find friends and allies quickly, for Shirath is threatened not only by the murderous demons, but by forces within its own walls that are trying to tear it apart.

Garet loses his temper and kills a demon. The demonbanes come to search for the one beat the demon fear and offer him the chance to become one of their own. Garet’s new life starts here.

Demons breed fear in any humans they come near, then feed off that fear to make themselves strong. Now there is a new demon, the type of which has never been seen before, as well as political intrigue within the king’s court. Only the demonbane can protect mankind, but the demonbane have their own in-house fighting to sort out before they can save the city.

Garet has a natural ability when it comes to fighting demons and he picks up knowledge at a phenomenal rate which pleases some of his masters, but angers others.

This book reminded me of David Eddings fantasy series. The author has taken a great deal of trouble to ensure the continuity of the story is correct. The planet is well thought out and I felt as if I could step across the dimensions and be at home there. I saw no editing errors at all and the story locked together superbly. Can you tell I really enjoyed this book?

I love fantasy books but haven’t read one of this quality for some time. There is a little bit of romance in it, but the fighting of demons and Garet’s emergence from a gawky country boy to a young man skilled in the fighting of demons is the mainstay of the book. I could go on and on about how I liked it, but that wouldn’t necessarily encourage a fantasy reader to try it. I will say if you like fantasy, you shouldn’t miss this one. Take the plunge and give it a try. It will knock your socks off!