Guest Review Post – At One’s Beast by Rachel Barnard reviewed by Sheri J. Kennedy

Sheri J. Kennedy is the author of Secret Order of the Overworld under pen name Kennedy J. Quinn.You may have seen some of her images or read some of her blog posts on her blog SheriJKennedyRiverside. She participates in both local events (such as the Bard & Starlet Radio Hour at Boxley’s in North Bend) and nationwide events (Such as with SnoBoot SkethhCats in the Sketchbook Project and the A to Z Challenge). For more about Sheri, visit her blog at sherijkennedyriverside.wordpress.com

The following is Sheri J. Kennedy’s review of At One’s Beast, available here from Amazon. Thanks Sheri for you thoughtful review of At One’s Beast. 

AT ONE’S BEAST is billed as a fairy tale twist and a low fantasy. I think it elevates both sub-genres by taking the basics of a moral tale and adding rich psychological complexity and atmosphere.

First, let me say, I was ‘in’ immediately and was driven to keep reading to the end – always key to a great read!
It starts with fairly traditional basics of Zos absorbing all the hate and evil of the town, and Alcina moving from fear and wanting to take him down, to seeing that he is something more. But the way the journey unfolds is uniquely modern from my perspective. For one, there’s a tricky twining of three characters that create a love triangle with Aethon. He is supposedly a friend, but has a fierce or even controlling streak that is a definite character flaw. Zos, while supposedly dangerous, shows gentleness and encourages Alcina’s strength. He is fearsome but magnetic in his caring and vulnerability.

Alcina, while having fears and showing her impetuous youthfulness, comes from a general stance of strength and independence that makes the reader believe she will conquer the beast. But as she spends time with Zos and on her own away from her family and community, she shows a vulnerability to love of nature, adventure, and love in general. Instead of making her seem weaker, her genuine emotion and new experiences develop her into her own woman – not Zos’. That’s not trite or typically fairy tale black and white. When she then comes to appreciate Zos, it makes her even stronger in my eyes and she lives and breathes instead of being a one dimensional fairy tale ‘princess-type’ heroine.

The only weakness to the tale I thought was the townsfolk, especially families, seem a little too hostile toward Alcina. This is chalked up to the evil influence, like a spell on them, so I can let it go. It’s just that all the other emotion in the story is so realistically supported that this actual fairy tale simplification of that point seems out of place in comparison. (Kind of a back-handed compliment!)

There is a lovely mix of grey tones throughout this story. There is a well-crafted atmospheric quality to the world – kind of an abstraction that allows complex contemplation while the clear action proceeds without dropping the reader for a single moment.

After reading Barnard’s debut novel, ATAXIA AND THE RAVINE OF LOST DREAMS, I was interested to see where this promising young author would go next. AT ONE’S BEAST exceeded my expectations and is very well developed. It’s a solid work that I would highly recommend.

FreeValley Publishing Authors: Upcoming Live Event at Snoqualmie Days

The Block Party - FPC

 

Remember that countdown timer on my blog? it’s for this event! Come see FreeValley Publishing’s booth and snag all those books you haven’t read yet. Check out new books by Rachel Barnard (At One’s Beast), Victoria Bastedo (Roots Entwine) and Jeffrey Cook (Dawn of Steam Gods of the Sun). For more information on FreeValley Publishing, check out their website here!

Authors will be available to meet you and to sign books. The event is at Center Blvd SE, Snoqualmie, WA from 10-5. Hope to see you there!

 

Aftermath of the North Bend Block Party This Past Saturday

fvp North Bend Block Party

 

I always have fun at these local festivals and enjoy spending time chatting with my local author buddies. We had such great support from the FreeValley Publishing authors, see how many we stuffed back in our space? My favorite booth was ours of course! Second was two booths down with the fresh picked blueberries from Cle Elum.

North Bend Block Party Author Appearances!

2014 North Bend Block Party poster

The FreeValley Publishing authors will host a booth at North Bend Days. Come down, show your support, listen to some music, and play games! For more information on FreeValley Publishing, the authors involved, and the books available for purchase, click here.

Maple Valley Days a Success

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(Photo courtesy of Sheri J. Kennedy)

What a beautiful booth! The new canopy tent worked out really well, easy set up and tear down. We sold a good number of books even though the weather was quite poor over the weekend and the entire festival had record low numbers of attendance. Jeff was wonderful and manned the booth the entire time! Go Jeff! We met a number of aspiring authors. Overall the event was a success and thanks to all for helping out.

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(Photos courtesy of Sheri J. Kennedy)

Maple Valley Days and FreeValley Publishing

It quite difficult to publish a novel but that’s not where the self-published author can throw in the towel and head to the beach on vacation. Not at all, my word-inspired friends. A self-published author is not just the writer of the novel, but also the producer and manager. The author markets and researches. The author creates websites and promotional materials and goes to events to promote their book. And that takes hard work and quite a bit of determination.

Not all authors walk down the same path when they send a book out to be published, many more authors today are self-publishing and acting as their own agent. Some call them author-publishers. Some call them crazy. Come see for yourself what it is like to self-publish and promote your own book at Maple Valley Days. Two of your very own Maple Valley writers, as well as authors from North Bend and Snoqualmie will be at the FreeValley Publishing booth. Many of these writers are experts at self-publishing and are highly aware of the book-publishing industry. Everyone has a book inside, come read ours and see if you are ready to write yours.

 

Maple Valley Days 2014, June 13-15. FreeValley Publishing booth located near the Info booth.

 

MVD poster

Author Tuesdays: Poetry Reading in North Bend

 What a lovely night of Poetry! Thank you everyone for sharing your works as well as poetry from poets you admire/love

I shared two poems by one of my favorites Shel Silverstein: Noise Day and Shel Silverstein’s Cure for Writer’s Block

librarian

Thank you North Bend library for allowing us use of the space and endorsing Poetry and Poetry Month for this event!

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Our lovely books are displayed right alongside some of the classics in poetry

the crowd

The crowd gets ready for the readings

27 poetry years (4)

27 Years a Poet

vicky bastedo (1)

Vicky Bastedo

tommia wright (3)

T. Tommia Wright

stephen matlock (1)

Stephen J. Matlock

sheri kennedy (2)

Sheri J. Kennedy

linda garcia (5)

Linda Garcia

jackie (2)

Jackie Fedyk

david moore (4)

David S. Moore

Author Thursdays: Norwescon!

 

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Maple Valley Writers and FreeValley Publishing authors will be hosting a booth at Norwescon in the lobby.

Rachel Barnard and her work Ataxia and the Ravine of Lost Dreams will be promoted at this event.

You can talk to her in person Saturday during the event.

What is Norwescon?

The Pacific Northwest’s premier Fantasy and Science Fiction convention.

For more information on Norwescon: norwescon.org