SciFi / Fantasy / Horror
by Jerry Jay Carroll
Plot: The Horror Writer offers a highly original plot that keeps the reader intrigued and invested. The author reveals details little by little, building up to a tense and riveting conclusion.
Prose: Carroll is a superb writer, with a clear gift for not only prose but for plotting, pacing, and characterization.
Originality: The author offers up an inventive, unique story that, like the best plots in the horror genre, makes the impossible seem plausible and allows the reader to suspend disbelief.
Character Development: Carroll's characters are masterfully created, warts and all. As a result, his protagonist, Thom Hearn, is a living, breathing being with qualities and personality traits that readers will immediately associate with someone they know.
Blurb: With a gripping narrative that will hook the reader from the very first page, this haunting story is the stuff nightmares are made of.
by Lee Baldwin
Plot: The plot of Baldwin’s novel zips along until Anna Lewis descends into the archeological dig pit in Colombia -- to this point the reader has inferred much about Anna and her world without spoon-fed explanations from the author. The pot slows considerably once Anna rides the wormhole to the realm of Thiele, where info-dumps await. Still, the book retains enough momentum to propel the reader to the end.
Prose: Baldwin’s prose is punchy and laced with wit, especially in the edgy banter between feisty Anna and antagonists Gonzalo Sandoval and Carl Mumford. Even when characters are discussing scientific and technological information at length, their language is streamlined enough to provide details without overwhelming the reader with jargon.
Originality: The idea of an ancient extraterrestrial race that over millions of years has seeded the stars with colonies that believe they are alone in the universe is not new in science fiction. But, Baldwin deploys interesting variations on the theme through Anna’s encounters with the Cuz of Thiele, and the aliens' ambition to improve Anna and the millions of others they have abducted so that they can return to Earth and rehabilitate it.
Character Development: The main characters in Baldwin’s novel are well developed and hit all of the right notes: Anna is appealingly feisty in her interactions with her male colleagues and appropriately wary of the professed beneficence of the Cuz of Thiele; Carl Mumford, Anna’s main antagonist, reveals schemes and motives for his behavior toward her; and Gonzalo Sandoval, who at first seems as sinister as Mumford, shows a refreshing capacity for change when he learns the true story about what behind the archeological dig.