Monday, July 31, 2017

Nolander - Becca Mills

   2013; 363 pages.  Full Title : “Nolander – A Novel of the Emanations”.  Book 1 (out of 2, so far) of the “Emanations” trilogy.  New Author? : Yes.  Genre : Dark Fantasy (so sez I); Urban Fantasy (so sez the author).  Overall Rating : 7½*/10.

    Someone is photobombing Beth Ryder.  In order to cope with her panic attacks, Beth has taken up photography.  Which in Dorf, Wisconsin, means small-town pictures, such as the local J.T.’s, or a headstone in the local cemetery.

    But Beth’s picture of J.T.’s has a black guy streaking past it.  And the gravestone image has what can only be described as a “monster foot” plopping down right beside her camera.  The trouble is, Beth didn’t notice either anomaly when she was taking the photographs, and those things are pretty difficult not to see.

    So maybe, someone photoshopped the pictures.  Except that Beth developed them herself.  Hmm.  Maybe Beth should show the pictures around Dorf, see if anyone else saw these oddities.

   Maybe.  But if they don’t recognize them they’re gonna think you’re crazy, Beth.  And if they do recognize them, you might find yourself getting drawn into something that’s going to royally freak you out.

What’s To Like...
    Nolander is the tale of 23-year-old Beth Ryder, as she gradually discovers the reasons behind her panic attacks.  The genre is best described as Dark Fantasy, since the otherworldly beings – demons, body-snatchers, and “not-dogs” - are by-and-large not the sorts of creatures you want to meet in a dark alley.  The tree-‘puses are better, but they’re still a tad bit creepy.

   The story is told mostly in the first-person POV (Beth’s), although beginning at Chapter 19, some third-person POV chapters appear.  The settings are pretty "ordinary America" for a while (which I think is deliberate) – a swath of states from Wisconsin to New York, but things pick up when Beth finally reaches Lord Cordus’s estate, and get even better when she gets transported away via a kewl device called a Carven Strait.

   The book is written in English, as opposed to American, which is a bit odd, since the Amazon blurb on Becca Mills indicates she teaches at a university in California.  There’s a bunch of cussing, which I didn’t find offensive, but I do question whether it added to or detracted from the storyline.  There were also a couple typos along the way.  “Schumaker” became “Shumaker”, and at one point the phrase “since last Friday – so nine days” was used, which is mathematically impossible.  But overall, the editing was quite good.

    I enjoyed the fact that Beth develops her own film.  I used to help my dad do that, and it brought back some great memories.  The secondary characters are fun to meet, and I liked Ghosteater, even if Beth thought less highly of him.

    Nolander is not exactly a standalone novel.  There are a slew of loose ends left wafting in the wind: the mouse, Justine, the Eye of the Heavens, and Lord Limu’s stolen weapon.  Presumably these are resolved in the next two books of the trilogy.  Also, the story ends at a logical place, which is far better than a cliffhanger ending.  So I didn’t feel like this was a freebie “bait book” – something only intended to lure you into paying for the whole series.

    “Is there a way to test for the more unusual gifts?”
    “Not specifically.  There are literally thousands of them, and some of them are pretty hard to pin down.  It’s possible that many of us have one or more that we never find out about.  For instance, one guy I knew could put anything up his left nostril, so long as he could pick the item up and push it in that direction.  But he didn’t know about it for the longest time.  I mean, who really tries to put a chair up their nose, right?”
    “Yeah.  Wow.”
    I hoped that if I had any quirky gifts, they didn’t involve bodily orifices.  (loc. 2084)

   “Is she someone important?”
    “She controls the Caribbean and the Gulf – Florida, eastern Mexico, Central America, northern South America.”
    Wow.  I wondered if she was more powerful than Cordus.  I felt chilled.
    “She just offered to trade Florida for me.”
    Williams turned and looked at me.  Perhaps I’d actually surprised him.  Or maybe not.  After a few seconds, he shrugged and said, “Florida’s gonna be underwater in fifty yeas, anyway.”  (loc. 3915)

Kindle Details...
    Nolander is a free download at Amazon, and you can’t beat that.  It’s sequel, Solatium, sells for $3.99.  Becca Mills also offers a short story set in this series, Theriac, for free.  The third and final book, has not been published yet.  ANAICT, these are the only books Amazon offers by the author.

 Dead is dead, even if you’re killed by a crazy person for a crazy reason.  (loc. 678)
    The target audience for Nolander looks to be college-aged girls, and I am far-removed from that category.  So I appreciated there being no Romance in this book.  The explaining of the parallel world (The “second Emanation”) got a bit tedious at times, but the upside was that I (and Beth) had a good understanding of what it was and how it worked.

    All-in-all, I didn’t have high expectations when I started this book.  I think I was anticipating yet another Twilight wannabee, and so it was a pleasant surprise when it turned out to have an original plotline, where no one “sparkles”.  It kept my interest from the first page to the last, and that’s all I ask of a book.

    7½ Stars.  Add 1 Star if you are in the target audience.  Nolander will be a real treat for you.

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