M. K. Theodoratus, Fantasy Writer, blogs about the books she reads--mostly fantasy and mystery authors whose books catch her eye and keep her interest. Nothing so formal as a book review, just chats about what she liked. Theodoratus also mutters about her own writing progress or ... lack of it.

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Monday, November 9, 2015

How A Strong Villain Raises Sympathy for Main Characters

The to-read pile rewarded me again. This time with Nora Roberts' Divine Evil. Don't know why I don't read her books more often. Her mystery and paranormal ones keep me reading, and I know there is one trilogy on my keeper/reread shelves, though I can't remember which one it is other than it's the haunting of a small town by a spirit of pure evil trying to break through into our dimension.

Yeah, there are three romances connected to the battle, but they carry the substance of real relationships.

I think I just surprised myself. Makes me wonder, even more, why I don't read more of Roberts' books. I usually pick them up as a last resort in used bookstores when I want to buy something to help the owners' cash flow.

Divine Evil gives readers another example that returning to your home town can be dangerous to your health...even though a gorgeous hunk is waiting to fall in love with you again. I can be snide here because the book is not a romance, whatever Roberts reputation might lead a readier to think. This is a horror cross-over. It's dark, violent, and gory. I say this because the ritual killings happen on scene, though Roberts doesn't concentrate on the gore, just people's reactions to the aftermath. Some might think the violence excessive. I'd say it primes the fear pump and make the reader care more for the protagonist because her possible fate is known, not suggested.

Clare Kimbal has achieved fame as an upcoming sculptor, but she returns to her home town to confront the nightmares that have haunted her since her childhood -- after witnessing a mysterious ritual in a forest and discovering her father's body after his suicide. As Clare settles in, she becomes the target of the leader of the local evil worshiping cult. The tension between the two sides makes the book, but more important, the fast, twisting plot line is a lot more complicated with the secondary characters adding their own twists.

Oh. How fast does the plot move? Fast enough that the 500 pages felt more like the usual 300-50.

Characters? Nicely done ... Roberts' skills really shine when she contrasts the leader of the cult's public persona versus his cult one. The depiction of Clare carries the book well, but Roberts integrates the relationships and motivations of  the secondary characters to add depth to the story line.

The setting is a nice little small town, but Roberts makes the case that it's better for your health to stay out of them. All to often dangerous evil lurks under the their calm veneers. Recommended because the book has more substance to it that it first seems because the villain isn't the villain the reader thinks it is. Gotta love a book that takes care of the threat but leaves an open ending for mayhem in the future.

Read excerpts and more reviews on Amazon and B&N Nook.

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An Interesting Link
Have you noticed all the new interest in the Harry Potter series lately. I was surprised when it rose to the top of the New York Times series listings again. People must be getting excited about the upcoming play. Anyway, T P Keane wrote a fun blog on creating a Hogwarts ambiance at home. You might want to take a look if you're the artsy/crafty type or have a birthday party coming up for a fantasy reader. --  Seems like she's been doing a series on creating signature items that might even make some nice presents.

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My Writing Rut

Surprise. Surprise!

I completed two chapters of On the Run last week, finishing the Academy part of the book. Pillar is turning out to be more than I thought. In fact, my next chapter is returning to Grylerrque's viewpoint. I know someone's going to complain about the difficulty of my demon names, but I think the name is close enough to Albuquerque to fly.

I'm still in the drafting stage. But it's nice to see the ending in sight ... like maybe before Christmas. Yeah, I've already started to collect huts for the Christmas baking.

Really like exploring the lives of my characters rather than posting stuff all over the web. Will keep up on Facebook -- if only because I don't want to miss any of the the new Bloom County strips by Berk Breathed. Yeah, the gang is taking on the foibles of our modern times, including two spaces after a punctuation. Check out the new strip here.


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