Monday, September 18, 2017

Book Review: A Tale of Mist and Shadow by M. R. Laver

Hello, fellow readers! Here I am with my second book review. Today, it is M. R. Laver's A Tale of Mist and Shadow, the first book in his series by the same name. It is classified under Science Fiction and Fantasy, but I would definitely call it pure Fantasy. The book itself is 450 pages long and can be purchased both in e-book format and as a paperback through Amazon.

I started reading this book shortly after I "met" Laver online through a mutual friend of ours. When I found out he was a fellow author, I knew I wanted to read his first book and throw some support his way. We independently published authors need to stick together, after all. Knowing he was a Fantasy author and a fellow Christian, I figured that chances were pretty high that his work would be right up my alley. So I downloaded the book and got to reading. In truth, it took me far longer to get through this book than it should have, and that was my own fault. I had to stop reading for awhile to get a different book in, and that may have made some details revealed earlier in the book a little fuzzy.

The story starts off by throwing the reader into a bit of a battle and some conflict between those in charge (and those who think they're in charge) of a small town, and it really doesn't slow down much from there. Laver's strength is definitely writing battle scenes. Actions are precise and easily pictured, explaining what is happening and with what kinds of instruments and types of people involved without talking down to the reader. These scenes were easily my favorite. I will say that there were one or two battle scenes that felt drawn out for longer than they should have been, but even then, these were the scenes where the storytelling really shone.

As a whole, the book is not without its flaws. There are multiple grammatical issues, inconsistencies, and some characters that you just don't like. Even the worst villains have some sort of quality that makes you want to read more about them. Unfortunately, that is not the case with the demi-villain in this book. She has no redeeming qualities about her and I honestly sighed every time she was involved in a scene because I knew there would be some sort of subtle (often far from subtle) allusion to sex.

The plot doesn't feel fleshed out enough, which says something for a book that is 450 pages long. There is so much thrown into the novel that not enough time is spent on a single element to get the reader truly invested in it. I was always taught that a good novel in a series takes two or three big ideas and focuses on them while weaving the smaller elements around them, saving other big ideas for later books in the series. It felt like Laver took all his big ideas and stuffed them into this first novel, which left me feel a bit chaotic. There were so many things to learn, characters to keep track of, myths to separate, that sometimes I felt overwhelmed, which made me not want not read as much. Not a good thing.

Dialogue between characters was 50/50. Sometimes it felt extremely organic and believable, others had them pausing in the middle of very serious situations to have a slapstick comedy moment full of laughter. Sometimes reactions were so out of the ordinary that it took me out of the story to wonder about it. There were also moments of swearing which took me completely off guard and just didn't sit well with me. It felt thrown in there to try to make the scene more intense or important, but it just made it awkward.

I did love some of the characters. Grace was definitely my favorite bar far. She felt the most real to me, and her story had a distinguishable arc to it that I thought was beautifully handled. There was even a side character or two that I wished we could have seen more of or learned more about, but again, this was an area where there was just so much that there was not enough time spend on any one character.

My overall rating for this title:

If you would like to check out this title for yourself, check out the Amazon page. 
If reading isn't you thing, you can also find it on Audible
M. R. Laver can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

If you are an author and have a book you would like me to review, leave a comment down below and I'll get back to you as soon as I can. The wait list is rather long at the moment, but I am still taking new titles.


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