- Written by Seregil of Rhiminee
Jonathan Edward Durham's Winterset Hollow was published by Credo House Publishers in September 2021.
About the author:
Jonathan Edward Durham was born near Philadelphia in one of many satellite rust-belt communities where he read voraciously throughout his youth and beyond. After attending the College of William and Mary, where he recieved a degree in neuroscience while also studying literature, Jonathan waded into the professional world before deciding he was better suited for more artistic pursuits and turned the page on his career.
He now lives in California with his partner where he writes to bring a voice to the space between the timeless wonder of his favorite childhood stories and the pop sensibilities of his adolescent literary indulgences. Winterset Hollow, his debut novel, is available everywhere September 2021.
About Winterset Hollow:
Everyone has wanted their favorite book to be real, if only for a moment. Everyone has wished to meet their favorite characters, if only for a day. But be careful in that wish, for even a history laid in ink can be repaid in flesh and blood, and reality is far deadlier than fiction... especially on Addington Isle.
Winterset Hollow follows a group of friends to the place that inspired their favorite book — a timeless tale about a tribe of animals preparing for their yearly end-of-summer festival. But after a series of shocking discoveries, they find that much of what the world believes to be fiction is actually fact, and that the truth behind their beloved story is darker and more dangerous than they ever imagined. It’s Barley Day... and you’re invited to the hunt.
Winterset Hollow is as thrilling as it is terrifying and as smart as it is surprising. A uniquely original story filled with properly unexpected twists and turns, Winterset Hollow delivers complex, indelible characters and pulse-pounding action as it storms toward an unforgettable climax that will leave you reeling. How do you celebrate Barley Day? You run, friend. You run.
"Winterset Hollow is one of the most interesting books I've read in years! Astonishingly powerful and multilayered! It's like you're sitting on a log by a pleasant pond, dabbling your toes, and then you see a dark shape in the water... then another... and while you're holding your breath, suddenly you realize that the log you're sitting on... is... moving!" - DIANA GABALDON, NY Times bestselling author of the Outlander series
REVIEW: WINTERSET HOLLOW BY JONATHAN EDWARD DURHAM
I'm happy to start this review by saying that Jonathan Edward Durham's Winterset Hollow is one of the most compelling novels I've read in ages. It's simultaneously original, captivating and different, not to mention intriguingly chilling, dark and weird. I declare this novel the best debut novel of the year, because it differs from the norm and stands head and shoulders above other debut fantasy novels.
Winterset Hollow is not your normal kind of fantasy, but something special and unique, because it blends fantasy with dark fiction in an unforgettable way (it's possible to classify it as dark fantasy due to its dark contents). It has faint echoes of Alexander Zelenyj, Lev Grossman and the British folk horror film The Wicker Man, but it is also occasionally reminiscent of elements found in C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia, Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Richard Adams' Watership Down, Peter S. Beagle's The Last Unicorn and Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows. It's a welcome breath of fresh air to the contemporary fantasy genre.
Winterset Hollow tells of Eamon, Caroline and Mark who are on a sort of a pilgrimage to pay homage to the author, E. B. Addington, who has given them so much. They're going to gaze upon the grounds of the estate on Addington Isle that inspired the author to write his famous book "Winterset Hollow", which tells about a tribe of animals preparing for their yearly end-of-summer festival called the Barley Day. After a series of incidents, they find out that what the world believes to be merely fiction is actually true and the truth is much darker and more dangerous than anybody could ever imagine...
The unfolding story is exceptionally compelling and has twists and turns that make it a captivating and rewarding reading experience. The events unfold at a steady pace and the story gathers momentum towards the surprising climax in which the protagonists find themselves faced with something totally unexpected and a desperate fight for survival begins. I find the story arc achingly effective, because there's a reason why things are the way they are on the island and cruel events are the source of anger and discontent. The elements of debt, vengeance, cruelty and loneliness will linger on your mind for a long time after you've finished reading the final page, because the moving and terrifying events won't be easily forgotten.
This novel has the fascination of the fantasy stories you've read as a child, but a dark streak runs throughout it and manifests itself as anger, rage and madness when the Barley Day celebration begins. It's kind of like a blend of the timeless aesthetics of The Wind in the Willows and the terrifying power of The Wicker Man coupled with the sparkling imagination of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and the melancholy of The Last Unicorn. There's beauty, cruelty and tragedy at the heart of the story and the author uses them to create a stunning story.
The characterisation is excellent, because the protagonists are sufficiently complex and have emotional baggage. The secondary characters are less fleshed out, but that didn't bother me much, because the story focuses mostly on the protagonists and what happens to them.
I enjoyed reading about Eamon who is described as a solitary person. He has found comfort and solace by reading E. B. Addington's book and the book has affected him in a profound way. I was also captivated by how well the author writes about the animal characters and their characteristics and feelings. One of the animal characters, Phineas Fox, is an especially well created character, because at first he seems to be a normal character, but gradually begins to manifest signs of anger towards the author of "Winterset Hollow" and his deeds. Olivia the Owl is also an intriguing supporting character, because she has a part to play in the story.
The scene in which the protagonists meet Runnymead Rabbit, Phineas Fox and Flagwell Frog is one of the highlights of the story. They're amazed at finding out that the story they all know so well actually tells of real animals who can talk and act like humans do. There's a tantalising sense of wonder and amazement in this scene that I haven't experienced in a while in any other new fantasy novels.
I won't reveal what happens in the story, but I'll mention that the moment when the story turns from fantasy into horror is memorable, because it sets things in motion and nothing is the same anymore for the protagonists as they find themselves shocked at what is happening to them. I'll also mention that the ending of the story is spot-on perfect and fully satisfying. There's quite a lot of psychological depth in the story that lends credibility to the events and action scenes.
As you may have already guessed, I was very impressed by Winterset Hollow and its twisted story. There's something compellingly touching and elegant yet macabre and solemn about this novel that I find difficult to resist, because it appeals to my taste in dark fantasy and dark fiction. I look forward to reading what the author writes next, because he exhibits signs of being a gifted storyteller who has plenty of imagination and is not afraid to write something different.
If you want your fantasy with a touch of darkness and compelling weirdness, you should definitely read Jonathan Edward Durham's Winterset Hollow, because it's a unique novel. Novels like this one don't come along often, so make sure that you'll put it on your reading list as soon as possible.
Highly recommended!Discuss this article in the forums (0 replies).
- Written by Seregil of Rhiminee
Jason and Rose Bishop's The Call was published in May 2020.
About Jason and Rose Bishop:
"We are a husband and wife writing team, with a deep affinity for high fantasy settings, epic storylines, and page-turning plots. We created the world of Cyrradon from a desire to tell a story in a fantasy world that feels familiar, but with some things you have never seen before. We write the stories we would want to read, with densely woven story arcs, memorable characters and compelling dialogue, politics, intrigue, and prophecy, all set against a well-developed world full of diverse cultures and colorful history. Writing these stories is our dream and our passion. Sharing them with your world is our privilege.
We live in Southern California with our six children and one very spoiled cat. When we're not busy with our full-time careers with the State of California, you can find us making great food, brewing beer or making mead, playing music, relaxing on the patio, or gathered around the table as a family and laughing our tails off."
Click here to visit their official website.
About The Call:
The heroes of old are disappearing, victims of kidnapping, murder, even falling to their own despair. But their work is not done. The gods call forth the next generation... and a storm is rising.
In a city once hailed as a natural wonder, now corrupted and sullied, the Spring Market has just begun. Elves are bought and sold wholesale, destined for an unholy ceremony: a decrepit king seeks immortality. Among the elves is one of royal blood, carrying an artifact of untold power. When it falls into the hands of a young rogue, the brooch seems his ticket to a new life, but instead draws him into an insidious web of danger. Pursued by a huntress seeking vengeance for her sister’s kidnapping, and a pair of half-bloods seeking a father gone missing, he soon finds their paths are hopelessly entangled.
Drawn together by amulets handed down through generations, they soon uncover a legacy of betrayal and loss. Along with a cursed mage who walks with the wicked, they must unite the amulets, rescue the elves, and stop the dark priesthood. If they fail, the High King will rise again, and Urgrithka the Hollow will enter the world of the living. Cyrradon will know an eternity of undeath.
The Call is the first book of the Storm’s Rising’s series, beginning the epic tale of a world created in the image of beauty and balance, and rent asunder by wars among gods and mortals.
REVIEW: THE CALL BY JASON AND ROSE BISHOPDiscuss this article in the forums (0 replies).
- Written by Seregil of Rhiminee
Risingshadow has had an opportunity to interview Ennis Rook Bashe.
AN INTERVIEW WITH ENNIS ROOK BASHE
- Could you tell us something about yourself in your own words? What inspired you to become an author? Have any authors, books or stories been a source of inspiration to you?
I’m a gay nerd who spends a lot of time on the Internet. Writing has always been a hobby of mine- I released my first novella Bluebell Hall, when I was in high school- but I started getting serious about it when I became disabled in college and couldn’t participate in other hobbies. I love books that make me cry, make me want to write fanfiction, or make me want to kiss a stranger, or especially all of the above at once.
I follow a lot of authors on social media who are doing amazing work in the genre, such as Jeannette Ng, Merc Fenn Wolfmoor, Kai Cheng Thom, Ada Hoffman, Rivers Solomon, and Seanan McGuire. They make me rethink not only how I write, but also how I discuss and analyze writing. And I adore Tamsyn Muir, whose protagonists lowkey invented being a mean goth lesbian.
Right now, I’m obsessed with Reese Morrison and Eli Wray, two authors who are writing the sweetest contemporary LGBT+ romance. I don’t usually read contemporary, but the tenderness and intimacy in their work really draws me in.Discuss this article in the forums (0 replies).
- Written by Seregil of Rhiminee
Brett Salter's The Search for Synergy was published in May 2017.
About Brett Salter:
In his own words:
"My background in writing stems mostly from the inspiration I found as a kid when I read Fantasy and Sci-Fi books. These include The Chronicles of Narnia, The Xanth Novels, The Time Quintet, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, and everything from Shakespeare to Dr. Seuss. In my formative years, I joined several punk rock bands and wrote songs, poetry, and short stories aplenty. As an adult (?) I took on a dare and wrote the first book in my Talisman Series. I loved the feeling it gave me and the idea of inspiring others so much that I kept writing until I had an entire series."
Click here to visit the author's official website on AuthorsDen.
About The Search for Synergy:
"The Search For Synergy" is the story of two young men who are brought together by design to help save the world from the evil that lurks in the void. Rome and Julian will have to join their fledgling powers and become a fighting duo as knight and dragon working to fulfill a primordial destiny. This will be especially hard for Rome, who up until now, thought he was merely human.
REVIEW: THE SEARCH FOR SYNERGY BY BRETT SALTERDiscuss this article in the forums (0 replies).
- Written by Seregil of Rhiminee
Risingshadow has an opportunity to feature a guest post by Aiden L. Turner, who is the author of the dark epic fantasy adventure The Banner of the Broken Orc.
Guest post by Aiden L. Turner
Hello, I’m Aiden L Turner and welcome to this post about my debut novel, The Banner of the Broken Orc. The book has a strong foundation in the traditional epic fantasy genre. At its core, it’s a struggle between the forces of good and evil and the heroes and villains that fight that never-ending war. So, what sets it apart from those classic themes? Primarily I’d have to say the action, both in the ceaselessness of it, the level of violence and gore, and the detail. I’ve tried to focus on the large-scale battles and the individual fights scenes, far more than what people are eating or the elaborate attire. Though I have been thorough with the world building, I haven’t allowed myself to get carried away with vast pages of detail concerning the grandeur in which I find a lot of epic fantasies lean towards. This has been done to create a fast-paced novel that keeps the reader thoroughly engaged from start to finish. Also, the book has an aura of darkness about it that would resonate with fans of grimdark, one of the key aspects of the story is that evil is almost like a disease, it seeps into the souls of all and corrupts and distorts the being from within. I have had someone remark that the level of cruelty and violence was very high but this is intentional and not just my overall writing style. The book is about evil and I have read far too many books that brush over the characteristics of evil actions in an effort to reach a larger audience. I really wanted to avoid this and so wrote in a way for the reader to view themselves, in detail, who was evil and why.Discuss this article in the forums (0 replies).