The Burnt Fox

The Burnt Fox
ISBN: 9781780363035, Peach Publishing, an e-book by Neil Grimmett.

Plot/Characters: Eliot and Donna with young son Bradley are living in a row house in the now somewhat deteriorated council estates. He is a former bass player in a local band and now a frustrated writer. She is a studying nursing, part time employed in the profession and a stanch believer in ‘women’s lib’. Their marriage is ‘shaky’ and when he finds an ad for employment on the estate of Philip and Clarissa Compton, they decide to go for an interview. They are accepted, provided with a house, salary and assigned their duties. He is a general handyman and servant doing menial jobs as well as caring for the horses and functioning as gamekeeper for the owner’s hunts. The mansion’s grounds here at Cloothill are extensive including a large farm overseen by Tobias, a rather crude person who can be charming to women and Donna finds most attractive. The Compton’s au pair, Rebecca, a young woman from Prague, is attracted to Eliot, as well as others, and he is to her. A number of lesser characters contribute to the action in varying degrees as the story progresses through the mundane activities as well as somewhat interesting and unusual activities such as dehorning, weighing and inoculating cattle, a fox hunt and pheasant gunning occasion. The finale is what could be expected but may be unfulfilling to some.

Discussion: A synopsis states this is: “Unflinching and sexually charged, The Burnt Fox is a startling depiction of the unsavory side of life in rural England.” This no doubt is true. However, underlying this fact is the author’s attempt to provide a tale wherein an overlying dark cloud is generated by an intangible feeling of the presence of an all-encompassing malignancy arising from past evil, and affecting all interpersonal activity within its realm. The attempt has been interesting and in part successful, but in this reviewer’s opinion, would benefit from a more thorough development of the characters, or perhaps even change some of them to an extent. As provided, they are ‘making excuses’ in assignment of blame for their actions and ultimate decisions. I suggest that individuals read this book, examine it from this aspect, and decide for themselves – are the protagonists ‘making excuses’ or are they really being affected by an ‘evil presence’?

Conclusion: A thought-provoking tale by an accomplished author that really ‘invites’ readers’ analysis. It may have lesser appeal for other than a British audience because of a need for the reader’s understanding/acceptance of the class system that to some extent still exists within this country.

3*     4* Tale ‘asking for’ reader analysis; 3* caveat – probably of greater interest to British readers

The Perfect Tear

The Perfect Tear
ISBN: 9780996216029, Rockit Press, an e-book by Connie Lansberg.

Plot/Characters: A unique civilization of superior beings control all thing in the universe. The Crystal Hall is where all DNA is stored and from there can be added bit by bit. Tsera is one of the Ancients, the author of the template upon which the present pattern of DNA is distributed, a Master of Manipulation, and the person in control of the Library where every unique sequence of DNA is stored. Every year a Creation Contest is held in which new templates are submitted, the winner of the contest being awarded an opportunity to ‘dethrone’ Tsera. Lerion is one of this year’s novices who has submitted a design which he is confident will win. Lalycri, an attractive young novice, also has submitted a template and is approached by Lerion against the rules. The contest begins and he worries that she will report his action, thus disqualifying him. She does not because of an ulterior motive, which later is discerned by Tsera. Lerion is the winner and decides to challenge Tsera, something no other winner ever has done because, if lost, the results could be fatal. Tsera has established on Earth a group of ‘singers’ whose pure songs can cause food to grow and help the normal seasonal patterns to continue normally. Specifically: “Tsera had won the original contest with a remarkable achievement in matter manipulation – an inspired creation of a world situated in the third density, a thing thought impossible at the time. She had created living creatures by manipulating vibration and sound into form. Tsera had designed these beings to evolve to full activation. However, the most audacious thing she had done was to imbue these basic life forms with the gift of music. She had embedded many clues to lead them to the true function of music but they remained blind to its power.”

“Secretly, Lerion didn’t believe even Tsera was capable of creating a life form in the lower densities with the ability to reach full activation, and violently disagreed with sharing music, the creation language, with such an inferior form of life.” He believed her premise was flawed and was desirous of correcting it by removing the ability from these beings. The tale evolves as the reader follows the manner in which he attempts to proceed and involves a number of these ‘inferior beings’; Eleanor, her mother and father Maria and Charles, her goat Bella, best friend Audrey, Prince Edward, his companion John, and numerous other characters with lesser, but important roles. Lerion’s ultimate goal is to seize the all-important ‘third vibration’ which is responsible for the creation of life and is contained within “The Perfect Tear” and basically eliminate it and them.

Discussion/Conclusion: The author has presented a true fantasy most appropriate for younger readers. Fanciful creatures intermingle with earthly beings and there is an abundance of heartbreak, suspense, fear, redemption, cruelty, deceit, deception, and greed and above all, the author’s desire to project that love is a most basic component of life. Thus, even the ‘young at heart’ may enjoy this tale but must be able to disengage themselves from the somewhat strange admixture of science with mystical maneuvering and the story’s somewhat meandering activity, against which maturity more often rebels. If this can be accomplished, they also may arrive at the author’s desire to project love as an all-important component of life.

5* fantasy gem for youth; suggestions also for mature ‘young at heart’ enjoyment.