Thursday, January 12, 2012

Book Review – Twelve by Jasper Kent

Jasper Kent
Series: Danilov Quintet (Book 1)
Pyr Publishing
September 2010
Trade Paperback
447 pages
ISBN 9781616142413
Cover Design by Anne Kragelund
Cover Artwork by Paul Young


Twelve by Jasper Kent is a brilliant example of historical novel combined with elements of horror, fantasy, and suspense. In this case, it is the year 1812 and the Russian army is being forced back towards Moscow by Napoleon’s massive hoard of infantry. Something drastic, desperate, and historic must happen swiftly or all of Russia will soon be overrun by the French army. A small band of Russian freedom fighters, in a desperate attempt to turn the fate of their beloved country, enlist the aid of a small band of vicious mercenaries known as the Oprichniki. Unbeknownst to almost everyone the Oprichniki are, in reality, thirsty nightwalkers. And no one is aware of their true motivation.

One of the many things I found interesting about Twelve is that we do not find out that the mercenaries in the story are actually vampires until about a third of the way into the book. Not that we couldn’t see it coming, there was a nagging sensation of the supernatural about them to begin with, but I, as a reader, was captivated by the suspense created while we waited for the vampires and their predictable conduct to be revealed.

Twelve is an excellent fantasy tale filled with all the ingredients that make great fantasy stories good and right. There is murder, and love, and revenge, and hate, and vampires, and gruesome scenes of warfare and devastation. But inside all of that is a well-written, wonderfully spoken, and clear narrative that was fun to read and which will, in this reviewer’s opinion, stand the test of time. Jasper Kent’s voice is captivating and the story flows with emotion and action and adventure and intrigue and surprises and, well, I think you get the point.

Recommended for fantasy fans, horror buffs, historical fiction enthusiasts, war geeks, and anyone that enjoys a well-written, clearly phrased narrative that entertains and enchants.

5 out of 5 stars

The Alternative
Southeast Wisconsin

Books in the series:

The Danilov Quintet

1. Twelve (2008)


2. Thirteen Years Later (2010)


3. The Third Section (2011)


I absolutely love these covers and had to post them here for your enjoyment. The mystery, a melancholy war motif, and death and destruction ooze off the covers and they drew me to these books like a vampire to a blood bank or to a stumbling drunk woman in a red dress who has lost her way in a dark, wet alley and is just asking to be bit.

Additional Reading:

Jasper Kent Wiki Page

Jasper Kent Official Author Page Twelve Review

Twelve Excerpt (Prologue)

Interview with Jasper Kent

Twelve Splash Video

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Book Review - Domestic Violets by Matthew Norman

Mathew Norman
Domestic Violets
Format: e-book Edition (Kindle)
File Size: 652 KB
Print Length: 352 pages
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Publication Date: August 9, 2011


Tom Violet’s life train is headed for a disastrous and inevitable derailment and he isn’t even aware of it yet. His job is in jeopardy, his wife is unhappy and worse, and he’s a consummate crack-up who can’t hold his tongue. Add an entire suitcase full of daddy issues and you have an entirely engaging and entertaining work of fiction. But Tom is one of those fortunate people who find that sometimes when life calls for changes you roll with the punches and change. Certain reviews of Domestic Violets have categorized this book as chick-lit but it is far from that. As a matter of fact it isn’t for or about love at all. Pure and simple it is satire of the highest degree. Life, relationships, boring jobs, publishing, sex, drugs, etc. nothing is safe from the critical eye of Matthew Norman.

However, the real reason this story works so well is the amount of clever and witty humor that first appeared on page one and never ended. At times, Norman had me in stitches. At others he had me in tears. And do you know why? Because he understands the human condition and while giving the readers a sense of the absurd he also hit the nail on the head more often than not. He told us in simple terms what people think, and feel, and say when their relationships are in trouble and in an odd way he also told us what they say and think and feel when they need to repair a failing relationship. This is a story to savor. It is well- crafted, funny, down-to-earth, flows quickly, and has that “it” quality I look for in every book; that page turning what-the-heck happens-next-oh-crap-this-is-totally-entertaining-and-wow-am-I-enjoying-myself-quality that you don’t often find in fiction these days.

Anyone reading my reviews for very long would see that this is obviously not my normal bill-of-faire but on the advice of a friend (thanks Lisa) I gave it a try and found myself enjoying every page of this finely crafted novel. Do yourself a favor. Pick up Domestic Violets today. Give it a read and see if you don’t agree.

4 ½ stars out of 5

The Alternative
Southeast Wisconsin

Additional Reading:

Harper Collins Domestic Violets Page

Matthew Norman’s Music Playlist for Domestic Violets

IndieBound Review of Domestic Violets

Mathew Norman Blog