Recently I splurged over at Bookbub (an email list that provides you with discounted or free offers on approved ebooks). I prefer to log into their website and browse the freebies in Fantasy and Sci-Fi. I find the recommended offers sent to my email address isn’t good at finding me the books I would read (not sure how that works out as it does).
I downloaded Krista Walsh’s Evensong for free in my Bookbub splurge through Kobo. It caught my interest because it was about a fantasy author who had woken up in his own fantasy world. I like quirky, and this seemed quirky fun to me.
Here’s the blurb:
Author Jeff Powell wakes up to find the impossible has happened. He is within his own novel—summoned into the fictional world of Feldall’s Keep by a spell he didn’t write.
One the House enchantress hasn’t figured out how to reverse.
When the villain he’s been struggling to write reveals himself, unleashing waves of terror and chaos, Jeff must use more than his imagination to save the characters he created—and the woman he loves.
Trapped within a world of his own creation, he must step outside the bounds of his narrative to help his characters defeat an evil no one anticipated, even if he must sacrifice his greatest gift. In the end, he has to ask: are novels really fiction, or windows into other worlds?
The Meratis Trilogy centres around author Jeff Powell, who wakes up in his sword-and-sorcery fantasy world. Initially an arrogant and close-minded character, Jeff has his eyes opened to a world of dragons, magic, and assassins. Faced with an evil he could never have imagined, Jeff is pushed to his limits and forced to rise to the most unusual challenges
It opens with a dragon scene. This particular scene’s flow was distracting. Three characters were being introduced right whilst they were trying to take down a dragon burning up a forest behind them (at least I think it was behind them). There were several typos – missing words, the wrong words in some instances, and one constant spelling error for a breed of horse. The three characters were all on horseback, and each horse was also named. A few paragraphs I had to re-read twice.
Doesn’t sound good, right? But I kept reading (a kudo goes to the author here for keeping me entertained among the distracting typos – if the story wasn’t compelling me to read, I would have stopped). That dragon scene was short and sweet in size. We then met Jeff, the character that is the author of Evensong within the book’s story itself. This bit was also riddled in a few typos, but a few chapters in (they’re fairly short), they started to disappear and I could fully enjoy the story.
The characters, which had during the dragon scene seemed a bit flat, started to become layered as Jeff met his own characters and had to face what he had done to their realm (a draught, dangerous mutant animals and a dragon). They were aware of his control over them, but informed him that he only controlled them for a few hours a day. I really liked how the characters were reacting to Jeff’s control and his presence, as well as interacting with one another. Character interaction is definitely one of Krista’s strengths. There were a few instances that were particularly sweet – Jeff was discovering more about his own characters, such as the sorceress Maggie’s spell nervousness and that she had more children than he had planned.
The conflict in the story is not only what Jeff has done to their realm, but also what someone else is doing to their realm: people are going missing. When he mentioned his still-to-be-fully-planned antagonist, Raul, he was surprised to discover that the sorcerer hadn’t been seen for five years and was assumed dead. Turns out he isn’t. Whoops!
The story continues as Raul becomes more prominent. He’s a pretty interesting antagonist, and I look forward to seeing what happens in the second of this trilogy.
Strengths of Evensong by Krista Walsh
- Character interaction is great. Loved how realistic it read.
- The little habits of characters were nicely displayed – Brady’s fingernail picking being a good example.
- The unspoken interaction between the Lord and Lady of Feldell (brother and sister – another nice touch).
- Jasmine, the Lady of Feldell came across at first like a typical angry lady. Thankfully once Jeff’s in Feldell, that changes and we get to see her layers.
- The introduction of new sub-plots were well executed and kept me reading.
- The world feels fresh. Though medieval inspired (from what I gathered as I read it), it didn’t feel typical. Maybe I just haven’t read enough fantasy-with-dragons?
- Once settled in as a reader past those first few chapters, it’s easy to keep reading – nothing gets in the way but your own time commitments.
- Several lines throughout the book made me laugh.
- Krista’s not afraid to hurt and kill main characters! Whoot!
Weaknesses of Evensong by Krista Walsh
- The introduction of the dragon / the book’s first scene. The excess information bogged down the action and made it hard to relate to the characters. I understand wanting to describe the characters (that bit was fine), but the horses’ names could have waited until Jeff was with them.
- The characters felt a tad weak until Jeff was in Feldell, but in the way where the author is still learning about them themselves.
- The typos in the first few chapters of the book were really distracting. I think if the story hadn’t kept me gripped I would have stopped.
And the Ending?
For fiction reviews, I like to briefly explain if I like the ending or not, and the reasons behind it. I’m not a fan of the rating systems reviewers use because they don’t always stay consistent in “grading”.
So, how did Evensong’s ending manage? Um… It was the one weak point, but I’m wondering if this was done on purpose. When I picked up this book, I knew it was part of a trilogy, so I knew to expect something that might make me want to read book two (Eventide). As I was reading the ending, it felt almost like we would be skipping it entirely, but the reason for this was because we follow Jeff – the author, not the characters he has accidentally been terrorising for a few hours a day. The way the book ends makes sense when you remember Jeff is the main character.
Curious? Grab a copy at any of the below links (free in several locations right now). You can also check out Krista Walsh’s new website.
My Additional Note for the Author, Krista Walsh:
Hey, Krista! You’re now one of my favourite fantasy authors of this year! This book was such a whirlwind of fun, and was the second of only two books that have made me remember why it is I love reading fantasy. It was fresh, uplifting, exciting and so entertaining!