The Deadliest Game by H. E. Joyce is a thriller about the recently remarried therapist Laura Mitchell and her deadly entanglement with a revengeful person from her past.
Laura has moved to the small seaside town of Brooksville with her eight-year-old son Jody after recovering from the tragic circumstances of her first marriage. She meets the handsome attorney Michael Peterson at a party, and ten months later, they marry. They settle in at Laura’s secluded and lovely property on the cliffs overlooking the sea. Laura resumes her therapy practice and Jody starts school with a teacher he likes. However, Michael has a secret that threatens to ruin everything.
The Deadliest Game teases with an idyllic restart to Laura’s life, but the early hints about something much darker from her past kept Lita reading. Disappointment with the newlywed Michael’s behavior soon changed into an unsettled awe of the despicable person who had entangled him. The connection between Michael’s problem and Laura’s past was one of many twists. The desperate chase and elude scene during a savage rainstorm tied a dandy bow on this thriller package. A tip of the hat goes to H. E. Joyce for constructing a deliciously dangerous plot with likable characters. The bad guy’s actions were deplorable, but he was also multifaceted.
Suspense fans who love woman-in-jeopardy thrillers will enjoy The Deadliest Game. But Gentle Reader might want to wear a raincoat to keep from getting soaked during Laura’s frantic battle at the end.
“What is Clockpunk?” they asked. “Is that…like Steampunk?” Or is it all just Lita’s mad fancy? So Lita set everything straight and explained which part is her very own made-up hokum.
Nosy is good when it comes to interviews, so here are the juicy details about the menu. While answering the Authors’ Cave questions, Lita ate dainty finger sandwiches topped with cucumber slivers, and sipped citrus-fragrant Earl Grey tea.
Lita finished with dark chocolate candies so delicious, that talking was quite impossible while the confectionary melted on her tongue like an essence kiss from an oh-so-handsome Enchanter.
Lita explained to Authors’ Cave which hand she liked better, the left or right, and somehow made sense of it all when talking about dragonettes in Tredan’s Bane.
Then it was back to the Clockpunk Wizard world, and a serious discussion about why the inside of a boggart box is so interesting.
Virtual tea time became spooky when the matter of the murderous masked ghosts came up. Lita first used a napkin to dab chocolate off her lips, and then explained the ghost thing in her next Enchanters of Sye story, Ghost Orchid.
Lita is afraid she made a mess of things here describing what really happened during the interview. Perhaps Gentle Reader should follow the white rabbit and hop on over to Authors’ Cave–their version of the chat is not so discombobulated.
Outview by Brandt Legg is a coming-of-age fantasy about a teenager named Nathan Ryder and his struggles learning modern-day psychic magic.
Nate has suffered for a year from paralyzing nightmares. In these night terrors he runs from enemies, but they always catch and kill him. He struggles to live a teen’s normal life with his best friends Kyle and Linh, but his father died four years ago and Nate feels responsible. The loss estranged him from his mother. Even worse, she sent his brother Dustin to a mental institution two years ago and she refuses to let Nate visit. Now the worsening nightmares have convinced Nate that he is going crazy like Dustin.
Kyle and Linh sneak him in to visit Dustin. They discover a lucid older brother who guides Nate to seek out their Aunt Rose and investigate their father’s death. Nate learns from Rose that his nightmares are the forerunners of exceptional psychic powers. His innocent Internet search about their father alerts a clandestine government agency. This agency, lead by an Agent Fitts, will stop at nothing to acquire Nate and his growing powers.
Outview is a dandy fantasy thriller. Woven throughout was an intricate and well-designed fantasy world of psychic powers and government shenanigans. Lita wished that she could just pick up a book, hold it closed between her palms, and absorb its knowledge the way Nate could.
The story’s ever-growing plot dangers made for an absorbing read. Brandt Legg used a deft hand in creating teens that were a pleasing blend of naïveté and intelligence. The story also had a nice balance of description and dialogue that kept things moving. Lita very much enjoyed the detailed descriptions of psychic magic, but some Gentle Readers might find them too lengthy for their tastes.
Outview is one of those excellent stories where Lita wanted to give it more than five stars. She cannot wait to read the sequel, Outin. Since Lita cannot absorb a book through her palms like Nate, she will read Outin from her Kindle the usual way.
Within the pages of the Necronomicon Enchanter book in Lita’s library, the curious may learn the Enchanters’ magical matters. Beware, for the knowledge might drive the reader mad with bitter desire and luscious regret. Today’s chapter covers the Enchanters’ sacrifice in exchange for being the most powerful magicians in Sye.
The Enchanters had started as a small enclave of experimenters that distilled weak magical essence from plants and rainwater. They evolved into powerful mages that could see the future and cross Sye in five steps. They gained helpers along the way. The Merchant Guild formalized distribution networks for the Enchanters’ essence charms, and this reduced the attacks from the essence mad.
The Magic Guild became the business arm and handled many routine magical and mundane tasks. The Enchanters were then free to focus on essence-producing spells.
Establishing the five schools also brought powerful gains to the Enchanters. Each school specialized in two aspects of the Enchanter Discipline. The schools allowed them to train future Enchanters, plus educate secular magicians in general magic craft. By using the spells connecting the local Magic Guild to the sentient school, the Enchanters no longer gave essence directly to strangers.
Because of the overwhelming allure caused by essence kisses, the Enchanters became selective in the magicians they picked for their personal companions. Some secular magicians specialized in receiving essence kisses directly from Enchanters, and began the practice of Enchanters’ Consent. Enchanters called their favorite consents Essence Partners. The complete enthrallment of Enchanter kisses made exclusivity impossible. The conservative non-enthralled people of Sye considered the consents’ magical specialty wanton behavior, and the Enchanters lewd opportunists.
High magical essence levels not only improved the Enchanters’ ability to work spells, but also gave them robust health and attractive faces. Essence saturation was especially noticeable in the physical effect called Enchanter-Beautiful Eyes.
Not everything was a win. The Enchanters had to compromise. Once the Enchanters trained their bodies to produce magical essence, they had to shed the essence or suffer physical complications. How the early Enchanters concentrated magical essence changed the world of Sye forever. They now had exclusive control producing human-usable essence.
Many non-magicians chaffed at the personal nature of the essence kiss and the Enchanter Consent magical specialty. The recipient’s subjection to the Enchanter was an intolerable moral pitfall. This strife nearly toppled the Enchanters’ hard-won gains with purifying magical essence. The sentient Old Forest trees goaded the Enchanters into creating an equally strong magical counterpart to the Enchanter magical discipline, and that was the Church Magicians.
Although the Enchanters remained the sole source for magical essence, the Church became the moral compass for Sye’s people. The Church Priests’ spells lay the foundation for a network of churches, hospitals, and burial yards in the Enchanter School cities.
About a year after they established the Church Magician discipline, the Enchanters learned a terrible truth. The privilege of producing magical essence in their bodies, and being the most powerful magicians in Sye, had a dear result for both the male and female Enchanters. They were no longer able to conceive. Even intimacies with fertile non-Enchanter partners failed to create children. On the other hand, magic workers following the Church Magician discipline could produce families.
Some Enchanters abandoned the discipline. They returned their Uslar Rings and stopped eating Old Forest tree essence. Of these, only half were able to procreate a year later. Subsequent essence-free years improved their ability to have children. But some retired Enchanters never regained the ability to produce families.
Sye magicians called this Enchanter infertility the Greatest Sorrow.
Many promising candidates did not become Enchanters because of this reason. For the ones that did choose the Enchanter discipline, the schools and other Enchanters became their home and family.
Next time: Sye’s Magic Today
Find out more about the books in the Enchanters of Sye world:
What lovely things Chameleon had to say! Lita blushed when she read all the kind words. Here is how the Authors’ Cave review began:
This was a fun and entertaining read. It was my first book in the Genre of Clockpunk Fantasy, and I was really pleasantly surprised. There is strong character and world building here, and the subtle humor of some of the situations had me smiling often.
Within the pages of the Necronomicon Enchanter book in Lita’s library, the curious may learn the Enchanters’ magical matters. Beware, for the knowledge might drive the reader mad with bitter desire and luscious regret. Today’s chapter describes how Sye balanced its magical power.
The Enchanters’ efforts to collect Sye’s weak and scattered magic into the concentrated essence form caused a fundamental imbalance. After the Enchanters formed the essence reservoirs in the schools, there was no turning back. The humans and certain magical creatures now needed daily doses of essence to work, and the essence mad showed the consequences of magical deprivation.
The Enchanters had now sequestered themselves in the protective spells of the five schools and used the Merchant and Magic Worker Guilds as buffers. A moralistic outcry against the essence kiss and its recipient’s subjection to the Enchanters gave many non-magicians a common purpose. They formed small groups that met in secret where they plotted overthrow the too-powerful Enchanters.
The schools’ protective spells sheltered the fragile magic of the Enchanters, but disrupted the Magic Guild’s ability to draw off magic into the essence charms. For a time, the Enchanters’ magical essence became scarce. Some non-magicians died fighting the essence mad for their stockpiles of essence charms.
The Old Forest trees that produced the concentrated tree magic summoned Grandmasters Surat and Cha to the site of the original enclave. The settlement had been mostly disbanded and now retained a single building where the Enchanters processed the trees’ bark and sap. The Old Forest trees gave them a dire warning and instructions. Surat and Cha spread the word to the other schools.
The trees instructed the Enchanters to send for the six sanest opponents of the Enchanters’ magic to a meeting in the seaside town of Isor, where the school that sheltered Enchanted Dance and Walking the Pattern awaited. Magic Guild representatives arbitrated the meeting, and after five grueling days of negotiation, the Church Magicians’ magical discipline appeared.
Priests and His Divine
Five of the opponents became Priests, and the sixth took the title of His Divine. A priest returned to each Enchanter School town, and with funding from the local Magic Guild, established a counterpart to the Enchanter School.
The five original Priests wove spells for essence usage that did not have the wanton nature of the Enchanters’ magic. The Church established marriage, hospitals, and ritual magic to honor the dead. Within one hundred days, the widespread strife stopped. The moralistic alternative to Enchanter magic appealed to the masses that craved the guidance. The Enchanters returned to their essence-producing craft and deepened their spells.
A year later, the Church flourished. Sye thrived. But the Enchanters learned the true personal cost of being the most powerful magicians in Sye. And it was oh, so very dear.
Next time: Greatest Sorrow
Find out more about the books in the Enchanters of Sye world:
Lita is delighted to tell Gentle Reader that the 2014 Readers’ Favorite International Book Award Contest named Wrath, Prequel to Tredan’s Bane as the Honorable Mention Winner in its Fiction-Short Story category.
Readers’ Favorite gives readers a resource for quality book reviews. Their annual book award contest offers authors the opportunity to gain recognition and exposure of their books.