First Chosen by M. Todd Gallowglas
An indie author, M. Todd Gallowglas has written a compelling tale in ‘'First Chosen (Tears of Rage)’. The world in which he sets the tale is a vivid, complex world; one in which theology and politics are so intertwined that it is hard to tell where one leaves off and the other begins. The intense theology insures that there is an element of horror in this very dark tale.
Unbeknownst to the main protagonist, Julianna, she has been chosen from birth to free Grandfather Shadow. He is one of the Eldar Gods who were on the losing side in war of the Gods and are reputed to be the Gods of Evil. The God known as All-Father Sun is now the supreme power in the pantheon, with all of his challengers long-ago imprisoned and unable to interact with the world directly. The All-Father’s adherent’s are in political power, thus those who follow the old gods must do so in secret. From the outset, Gallowglas makes it clear that nothing is that black and white. Both sides in this war of the Gods commit atrocities in the name of their faith. Both sides have strong, compelling characters and each side is comprised of fervent believers who will do anything to advance their cause.
Julianna’s willful desire to celebrate her 21st birthday her own way has serious and unintended consequences. The party becomes the scene of a violent battle, and she is kidnapped along with her friends. Many terrible things occur during the ensuing battles, and at the end of it, Julianna frees the God, and by his hand she is made his High Priest, the Lord Morigahn. This ordeal is only the beginning of her epic struggle. By becoming the high priest of Grandfather Shadow, she has been given knowledge and abilities to help her win the war on his behalf. She is also given a guard, Faelin who is the direct manifestation of the God, but knows it not. Faelin must both guard and instruct her in her tasks as the divine representative of Grandfather Shadow.
Gallowglas' characters are fully drawn and fleshed out; even to the minor characters. I found myself feeling shock and disbelief when several minor characters are killed early on. The battles are believable, and the consequences of each decision made by all the protagonists are well plotted. The reader becomes swept up in the emotions of each moment. There are numerous characters, and while it is sometimes difficult to keep them straight, all the characters are fully drawn; even to the minor characters. Readers who stick with it will be rewarded.
This is definitely an adult tale, for readers who enjoy a dark complex tale with a good back-story.
‘Whatever Became of the Squishies’ By Claire Chilton
UK indie author Claire Chilton has a hilarious take on racism and high school in her book, ‘Whatever Became of the Squishies’. Carla Mainston is the only purple girl in the colony of Derobmi, where the main skin color is lime-green everything is sparkling clean.
Originally the world of Dumfolab was settled by a mysterious, mythical people whom the modern cultures refer to as ‘The Squishies’. These soft-skinned people had lived in a world that was an environmental disaster and had worn special protective suits, each one colored to indicate their main area of work. As time went on their soft, pliable (and most likely squishy) bodies had changed, and the hard, colored suits had become an integral part of them. Now the denizens of Dumfolab are born with hard skin which is the color of their ancestors’ suits.
Unfortunately, the main source of employment and, indeed all occupations in the colony of Derobmi are centered around Cleaning. Cleaning, soap products, the making of and the using of said products, all of Derobmi society revolves around these things. Every aspect of cleaning is taken seriously, and careers are made or broken by the perceived cleanliness of the average Derobmi home. Carla is a rebellious girl, and is suffering from the double curse of being both a teenager and a purple teenager at that! She has been labeled a trouble maker all her life, and is living up to the label in spades.
If it wasn’t for bad luck, Carla would have no luck at all. If any simple endeavor can go badly and get her in trouble, it definitely will. Carla has even been to reform school, which was where she managed to bring the school to its knees. He mother loves her, but harbors a secret which will soon come out, and Carla will become the focus of a power struggle between warring colonies. She is suspected of having super-abilities because of her heritage, and the wonderfully evil Lord Foamy wants them. Unfortunately the only talent she has for sure is that of chaos, and she has an abundance of that.
Chilton manages to take racism and teenage-angst and lay it out with all its unfairness and ugliness and create a story that keeps you laughing. The villains are evil, the good guys are not so completely good that they aren’t fun, and the plot moves along quite quickly. There many unexpected plot twists in this tale.
All in all, I found this to be a well plotted, humorous young adult novel, suitable for any reader.