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Review: Marked by Sarah Fine – My New Auto Purchase Author!

21805566Stand close around, ye Stygian set,
With Dirce in one boat convey’d,
Or Charon, seeing, may forget
That he is old, and she a shade.
– Walter Savage Landor – Pericles and Aspasia (l. 5–8)

If we do not change our negative habits toward climate change, we can count on worldwide disruptions in food production, resulting in mass migration, refugee crises and increased conflict over scarce natural resources like water and farm land. This is a recipe for major security problems. – Michael Franti

We cannot permit the extreme in the environmental movement to shut down the United States. We cannot shut down the lives of many Americans by going to the extreme on the environment. – George Bush (b. 1924), U.S. Republican politician, president. Speech, May 30, 1992, at campaign rally, California on the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit.

Yeah. How’s that workin’ out for everybody but you? – Me

 

Lachesis measures out the thread, while Clotho weaves upon the loom, but Moros walks amongst us still, personification of impending doom, drives mortals to their lethal fate, while deadly Atropos cuts the thread. . . OK. I wrote that part, but Sarah Fine’s Marked made me feel poetic. I literally got lost in her words, in her story of Cacy Ferry and her family. The Ferry’s have a secret – their father, Patrick, is the physical manifestation of Charon, the ferryman of the dead. And Cacy and her siblings all carry the weight of the souls they guide to the afterlife. One gold coin for a lifetime of lost happiness. The fee paid to the Ferrymen, and women, to carry out their duties.

Ah, but the fee must be shared – shared with the Kere, scions of Moros, bringer of death through violence and disease. Is it that simple, that these gold coins are the cause in the disruption of the warp and weave measured and spun out by the Moirai? For something is badly wrong in the world, and Cacy and her family are right in the center of the widening gyre.

But they stand not alone. For when Cacy meets Eli and Galena Margolis, what she understood as right takes a sudden turn into shocking – and her life, and her jobs, will never be the same. Nor, possibly, will the existence of the very Fates.

Jobs? Well, yes. For while Cacy could hold a white glove position in her family company, Psychopomps Incorporated, she chooses instead to become an EMT in Boston. Which doesn’t sound all that bad – except for the fact that The Great Flood of 2049 has placed Boston mostly underwater now, massive canals and dams the only thing between the populace and total inundation. Being underwater is bad. Really bad, as disease organisms make the water deadly, and canal pirates make life for most a living hell. Poor to no police or fire protection, minimal power, and the aforementioned pirates make Boston a dangerous place to be. But the fact that it is actually one of the safest cities still extant proves just how bad the rest of the world must be. Running water? He’d never actually seen such a thing. Clean water was like gold in Pittsburgh, and carefully rationed. Eli and Galena are from “The West” – better known as Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh – desert lands. Is Pittsburgh truly the farthest reaches of the US? Is it all a barren desert past Pittsburgh? Or is the country past that desert wasteland, a land of cactus and sand, simply gone – subsumed by rising waters?

So. Two tales here, in this wonderful, wonderful book. On the one hand, a tale as old as life, and death, itself – Eli, Galena, Cacy and her family will find their lives woven together, in a race against time and murder – and possibly to save the tapestry upon the loom – the divine machine that churned out the endless fabric of life. The Fates themselves cannot hold the centre – the warp and weave is failing. Are Eli and Galena the answer? Or will Atropos rule over all?

The second story is just as poignant in its own way – and more terrifying. It is simple to see the story, wrapped within the story, as flooding and desertification take over the world, climate change wiping a brutal hand over what humans have built. Voltaire had it right when he said, “Men argue. Nature acts”. We laugh at the dragon, as Tolkien pointed out. While he was talking of real dragons, we laugh at the dragon of the changes we have wrought upon the world, and in our blindness, we determine our own fate.

This MARVELOUS book is the first in the Servants of Fate series. Book two, Claimed, is waiting for me on my reader and I can hardly wait to get started. I received Marked from the publisher in exchange for a realistic review, but no matter what, I cannot speak highly enough of this book. Life, death, betrayal, horror, romance – it’s all here, and all marvelously written. I highly recommend the series. I also intend to pick up Ms. Fine’s previous series, Guards of the Shadowlands. Sarah is already on my auto purchase list.

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Review: Windwalker By Natasha Mostert

Through me you pass into the city of woe:
Through me you pass into eternal pain:
Through me among the people lost for aye.
Justice the founder of my fabric moved:
To rear me was the task of power divine,
Supremest wisdom, and primeval love.
Before me things create were none, save things
Eternal, and eternal I shall endure.
All hope abandon, ye who enter here.
-Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy

This life’s dim windows of the soul
Distorts the heavens from pole to pole
And leads you to believe a lie
When you see with, not through, the eye.
William Blake – The Everlasting Gospel

 

 windwalkerHaunting and elegant. I have head Ms. Mostert’s works described this way before, by other reviewers. This, and so very much more, is the work of Natasha Mostert. For she has a voice that is deeply evocative, an exceptional, mystical writing style. Natasha’s turn of prose is both otherworldly and sensual, a voice that sends chills down my spine and reaches into my soul, making a home for itself in the sweet, dark recesses of my existence. Her writing comes to mind over and over, in the dark of night or the bright light of day, a paean to her brilliant style, as her ability to paint rich, intriguing portraits with words which steal into my awareness in the most common of moments. Words which bring me to my knees, to weep and sigh, to long deeply and without respite.

Kepler’s Bay. A remote and forbidding town in a remote and forbidding land, bitter and forlorn. Perched on the razor edge between the Namib and the sea, Kepler’s Bay clings to the edge of the world with barely restrained ferocity, much as do the creatures of the great desert upon which it backs. Kepler’s Bay. The melancholy call of the soo-oop-wa, the never-ending wind, maddens, takes piecemeal grains of the soul, eventually leaving behind naught but a dry, desiccated husk – a body walking with no spark within.

The Namib, oldest desert in the world, ‘The land God made in anger,’ say the San people. But he had always thought that only a god in pain could have imagined a place like this. And from this land of soaring dunes and brutal winds one day appears a wild man, filled with pain, with fever and madness. Madness and passion. Violence and death. Samuel Becket said: “All men are born mad. Some remain so.” And is madness not pain, turned in upon oneself?

Across the desert, in the lush green of the English countryside, a woman arrives. Lost and maddened in her own right, she arrive upon the doorstep of a sad and haunted estate. As she sinks into the stories of this place of madness, fratricide and pain, broken shadows and haunted rooms, one soon cannot truly discern where the house leaves off and the woman begins. Quiet desperation. Ghosts and haunting images through a camera’s lens.

They are so close, and yet so far apart. So very, very far apart. Has it been this way, lives upon lives, sinking into the past? And what of unintended consequences, the vagaries of fate and karma?

Yet ah! why should they know their fate?
Since sorrow never comes too late,
And happiness too swiftly flies.
Thought would destroy their paradise.
No more; where ignorance is bliss,
‘Tis folly to be wise.
Thomas Gray – Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College

Through our lives, do our souls search? Do they seek desperately, yearning for that which was, which could have been, or which shall never be? And is evil merely the absence of good, demons playing bones with our lives?

Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars. – Khalil Gibran

Photo courtesy of Michael Van Balen All rights reserved.

How many paths must we walk, how many lives to be lived? How long must we suffer before paths may cross, before we might know peace? Do our souls wander alone, searching beyond ourselves for knowledge, deep in the rending silence of the night? A photography of insanity may be a shard of light. Questions and blood and dreams of deaths long past, pain and ancient desire. All are spread before us between these pages. Allow her words to reel you in, to touch and tease, sooth and savage by turns. To think. To dream. To sorrow.

To hope.

This book was provided to me by the author in return for a realistic review. It touched me more deeply than any of her works yet have – and those have been absolutely brilliant. I hate reviews that begin with “If you like the works of” to be honest, but if the interspersed quotes touch your soul, I strongly, very strongly, encourage you to read Windwalker. And then her other works as well. I don’t believe, once you have read this one, that you will be able to resist.

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