HE WHO LEADS, an e-book by M.A.N.

Fifteen year old Amare, as the oldest son of the Akachi Clan, becomes the leader when his father insists he leave off fighting and go save the clan while he continues to battle fearsome demons who eventually kill him. He takes over his leadership role and almost immediately makes costly, leadership/political mistakes. He constantly faces tremendous odds in battling other clans with mysterious magical talents of his own and those exhibited by members of other clans and more demons who ‘cannot die’. But gradually he manages to bumble through with the help of a very intelligent warrior wife, her even more intelligent younger brother, his warrior mother, and most assuredly from his childhood friend, Ime.

Reviewing this book provides something of a challenge. The style of writing is quite unique but often confusing, especially when determining who is telling the story and the shifts that occur from the present to an earlier event, often by adding further detail. But the challenge arises largely from a section “About the author” because as just described, this book, along with others he has published all appear to offer stories in the “action-adventure fantasy” genre. I have not read any of the others but the section explains that “M.A.N. is an aspiring entrepreneur that uses his creative writing and original ideas as an outlet to express his imaginative vision. M.A.N. uses his discipline and experiences to provide a world of fun, and at times deep thought for the reader.” The provision of “fun” is evident in this offering. Additionally, the stress placed upon the importance of preparation and inclusion of mental activity in war, as well as other activities, is an obvious plus for young minds. Regrettably, I was not able to discern any ‘deeper meaning’ from the stated “(he) uses his creative writing and original ideas as an outlet to express his imaginative vision” and “ … his discipline and experiences to provide … at times deep thought for the reader.” My disappointment in not finding a deeper level may result from my misinterpretation and greater expectations or possiblely simply an inability to do so.

Conclusion: Primarily the author presents an excellent fantasy adventure with a plot that is relatively cohesive and moves at a fine pace with wildly fanciful action figures indulging in just as well-described and lengthy battle scenes. As such, it is exactly the type of story that should appeal greatly to young teens. Beyond this, the reader’s expectations raised by the author’s note may be rather disappointing.

4* Fantasy adventure for young teens; questionable for other readers as described.

The Origin of Dracula

The Origin of Dracula ISBN: 9780984026579, Laurel Canyon Press, an e-book written and copyright by Irving Belateche.

The tale is about John Gaines who is challenged by a supernatural power calling himself Dantės to play an intellectual game of discovery with the life of his son as the prize. It is delivered in a note: “If you can find me, tell me my true identity, I will spare your son.” He is given until the child’s birthday, the following Sunday. He figures that the signature had been chosen knowing that Edmond Dantes was the main character in one of the most well-known tales of revenge, The Count of Monte Cristo. He assumes the challenge exists as a result of an incident in his childhood when he had convinced his parents to allow him to camp out overnight with two buddies at a local park. One of the boys seemingly was attacked by some strange individual and somehow was able to push him off a cliff, the body washing away in the river. John already had been traumatized at an early age by the early death of his loving father and this now was followed by the recent murder of his beloved wife. He is a librarian by vocation after having found solace in absorption in books, and with his extensive literary knowledge, decides that this person is the same as the missing person from the childhood encounter and further, that he may well be an immortal such as Dracula. Later developments provide substantiation to his assumption with similarities of names to those of the boys and other factors. Further complications arise when all of these features are interwoven with a long standing vendetta similar the infamous Hatfield’s and McCoy’s, Indian legends dating back to the arrival of the Pilgrims and the Jamestown Colony and activity by members of these colonies. Several additional interesting characters are introduced and play important parts in the rather involved proceedings.

The author appears quite knowledgeable of the ‘classic’ novels, has acquired fascinating details of old legends and has interwoven them rather well. His dissembling of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which here incidentally does not include vampire activity, is particularly engaging. Additionally, this is perhaps one of the elements that knowingly or probably unknowingly offers an essential feature of interest by readers for the entire book. He points out that Dracula actually is based on the story of Vlad Tepes, the mid-15th century heir to House of Draculesti and Prince of Wallachia a region of Romania. He became a folk hero of the Romanians in their struggles against the encroaching Ottoman Empire and the story of Vlad the Impaler was of his extreme cruelty that similarly was legendary. The reason for my belief in its position of importance to readers of this work no doubt is unknown to many. A sizeable number of years back the explosion and easy availability of electronic games made their appearance. They were fun and with their gradual development, interest progressed and lasted well beyond a mere ‘fad’. Unfortunately, a simultaneous decline in reading, especially among children and young readers appeared and was so noticeable that educators became seriously worried. They actually initiated well-designed studies to determine ways in which the desire to read could be restored. Numerous leads were followed with some even at marginally disgusting levels. However, one of the most promising was stories following plots involving horror and activity such as indulged in by Vlad Tepes. In fact, the story of Vlad the Impaler was one of the most prominently believed to be most influential by the educators attempting to restore reading – long accepted as the font of all learning.

So to conclude: This novel is verbose, often repetitious and lacking in features appealing to some readers. As such, perhaps it may be of greater interest to younger readers but it also may intrigue many readers unaware of the influence hidden away in their psyche as a result of acquisition through strange channels.

3* But 4* for many because of strange reason described.