Spellsmith and Carver: Magician’s Rivalry – My Review!!

Spellsmith and Carver: Magician’s Rivalry – My Review!!

Spellsmith and Carver Cover


Spellsmith and Carver: Magician’s Rivalry by H. L. Burke showed up in my Amazon recommendations recently. After reading the blurb, and discovering the author is a military spouse, I added it to my TBR list. Read on for my thoughts!

Synopsis (from the author): An estranged son. An adopted heir. A magical attack that forces them to work together.

The disappearance of Auric Spellsmith’s mother has strained his relationship with his father to the breaking point. Now, after five years away at the Magicians’ Academy, Auric returns home, determined to prove himself to his father and claim his birthright.

Apprentice Jericho Carver has held Spellsmith Manor together in Auric’s absence. Now his master’s son is back, and if he can’t get rid of Auric, Jericho will forfeit his career and lose all hope of wooing the master’s enchanting daughter.

Neither man intends to back down.

But then Master Spellsmith vanishes into the mysterious Fey Lands. With Fey magic threatening the mortal realm, Auric and Jericho must work together to save the man they both see as father.

What I liked: I enjoyed the interesting was magic was cast in the story. The story also showed a stark contrast between old and new ways of spellcasting (both have their advantages and disadvantages), and the use of Fey energy was cool. There were many underlying storylines in the book, which kept me entertained. Jericho and Rill’s romantic chemistry complemented the story nicely and set the stage for much of the rivalry between Jericho and Auric. Despite their rivalry, the two magicians set all aside to rescue Auric’s dad, giving the story its quest element and action. All in all, Spellsmith and Carver: Magician’s Rivalry was a good read!

What I didn’t like: There were a couple of things I didn’t like about the book. First, the cliché strained relationship between Auric and his father was too predictable. Secondly, the rivalry between Auric and Jericho seemed contrived. Other than that, no complaints from me and both were minor.

Overall impression: I liked the storyline, the underlying conflicts, and unique spellcasting. The journey into the Fey lands had enough twists and surprises to hold my attention and the book was well-written. I would recommend this one to any fantasy fan!

My rating: 4.5 Stars (rounded to 5 stars)

Did you add Spellsmith and Carver: Magician’s Rivalry by H. L. Burke to your TBR? What are you waiting for? And, while you are adding it, stop by her Amazon Author page and website and say hi! When you’ve finished reading it, don’t forget to leave a review!!

What are your thoughts about the review? Leave me a comment and let me know. If you’d rather, drop me a note via email at bill@williamlstuart.com. I appreciate the feedback. Connect with me on the socials, too! I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest. I look forward to meeting you!


Super Secret Submarines and the Jolly Roger Flag!!

I recently read a story about the submarine USS Jimmy Carter (SSN 23) returning to its home port in Bremerton, Washington flying the Jolly Roger. Being a former submarine sailor, I took a measure of pride in seeing the picture, and it made me wonder about a couple of things. First, what did the boat do to fly that flag, and, secondly, what happened to its clandestine predecessor USS Parche (SSN 683). Before I go into that, here’s the picture of the Jimmy Carter flying the flag (courtesy of Lt. Cmdr. Michael Smith via DVIDS):

USS Jimmy Carter Jolly Roger Flag

What did USS Jimmy Carter do to fly the pirate flag? We probably won’t know for years (if ever). We can speculate based on some of the submarine capabilities. For instance, we know the Seawolf class submarine is incredibly quiet (by some estimates 70 times quieter than the Los Angeles class). We know it has an extra hundred foot section in the hull (called the Multi Mission Platform) and can dive deeper than the Los Angeles or Sturgeon class boats. It can allegedly transport Seal teams and their equipment, tap into underwater communication cables, and much more – none of which can be confirmed.

How does that help us guess at the boat’s mission. Given that the Jimmy Carter is a West Coast submarine, we can speculate that its successful mission involved North Korea.What exactly, we will likely never know as it will be shrouded in secrecy for decades to come. They could have landed SEAL teams for intelligence gathering, retrieved missile fragments from North Korea’s recent launches, or any number of other operations. Whatever they did, in keeping with the submarine force’s legendary silence, we won’t know.

Why the Jolly Roger, though? The practice of flying the pirate flag is a navy tradition signifying a successful mission. According to the Washington Post, the practice began in WWII with the Royal Navy. The article tells us symbols often adorn the flags to reflect what the mission accomplished. Jimmy Carter‘s flag had one or possibly two unidentified symbols on it, which only adds to the mystery. Whatever the mission, Bravo Zulu to the crew for a job well done!

Now for USS Parche (SSN 683), the super secret Sturgeon class submarine whose mantle USS Jimmy Carter inherited. According to Wikipedia, the Parche is, as of 2007, the most decorated ship in the history of the US Navy. Recipient of 9 Presidential Unit Citations (PUC), 10 Navy Unit Commendations (NUC), and 13 Navy Expeditionary Medals, Parche remains a mystery. Decommissioned in 2004, her sail resides in Bremerton Washington. Note the interesting hull appendage. I wonder what purpose it served…

Naval Base Kitsap, Wash. (Sept. 20, 2004) Ð The attack submarine USS Parche (SSN 683) returns to port for the final time at the Marginal pier at Naval Base Kitsap, Wash. Parche, the last active Sturgeon-class attack submarine, is due to be decommissioned on October 19, 2004 after serving the fleet since 1973. Parche was configured for research and development from 1987-1991 and was used primary for intelligence gathering and underwater salvage. U.S. Navy photo by Brian Nokell (RELEASED)

The Parche‘s preserved sail in Bremerton:


Again, according to Wikipedia, Parche recovered Soviet missile fragments and was thought of as a key component of the National Underwater Reconnaissance Office. The book Blind Man’s Bluff claims the submarine tapped into Soviet communications cables during Operation Ivy Bells. Because most of USS Parche‘s missions remain highly classified, these claims remain unsubstantiated. One of my instructors at prototype in Idaho Falls, Idaho, served on Parche. He wore a few of the PUCs and NUCs, but claimed he didn’t know why the boat received the awards.

Based on her decorations alone, Parche deserved to fly the pirate flag, although I don’t know if she did. Regardless, I think it’s only fitting to give USS Parche (SSN 683) a Bravo Zulu as well!

What do you think earned USS Jimmy Carter (SSN 23) the right to fly the Jolly Roger? Leave me a comment and let me know your thoughts. If you’d rather, drop me an email at bill@williamlstuart.com. Connect with me on social media, too! I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest. Say hi and let’s talk submarines (or books, nuclear power, writing, etc.)! I always enjoy meeting new friends!

Beyond the Forest (Gem Powers Series Book 1) – My Review!!

Beyond the Forest – My Review!!

Beyond the Forest Cover

My readers know I love gemstones. I even based my books on gemstones and their magical properties. When I ran across Beyond the Forest (Gem Powers Series Book 1) by Kay L. Ling and discovered the book also focused on gemstones and magic, I had to read it. Glad I did!

Synopsis (from the author): Lana can draw arcane powers from gemstones. When she started reading the folklore, it sounded farfetched. She should have closed the books right then and walked away. Special abilities are nothing but trouble. Someone always wants you to do something impossible. Or dangerous. Usually both. Like going through a portal to save an oppressed race in another world. In this case, gnomes, whose ruler happens to be a gem master with unimaginable powers.

Lana decides an exploratory mission seems harmless. She can visit the other world and come up with a plan. Who knew there would be flying serpents, mutant insects, and goblin-like mutant gnomes? Or that she’d end up in a dungeon while the queen decides whether to kill her or turn her into an enchanted creature? The gem master hopes to rule Lana’s world next and has already put plans in motion. Lana is determined to escape from the dungeon, but then what? She has two potential allies with gem powers, and she’s afraid of both. But with two worlds in danger, and time running out, she may have to trust them.

What I liked: Beyond the Forest drew me in immediately. Lana’s interest in gemstones and the folklore surrounding them was a familiar theme for me. The way she meets the gnomes and enters their world was entertaining, and the mystery surrounding the hound was a nice twist. The creatures she meets and befriends provide a bit of comic relief, and there’s even a little romance. Add to all of that, the danger presented by the queen to both worlds and there’s something for everyone!

What I didn’t like: Despite enjoying the story, it did bog down at times. In addition, fleshing out the supporting characters would help the story.

Overall impression: Beyond the Forest (Gem Powers Series Book 1) was a fun and clean read. I identified with Lana and her love of gemstones, the quest was good, and the action entertaining.In addition, I enjoyed getting to know the rats and their antics provided comic relief. I would recommend this one to anyone who likes clean fun fantasy!

My rating: 4.5 Stars (rounded to 5 Stars)

Have you added Beyond the Forest (Gem Powers Series Book 1) to your TBR list? If not, what are you waiting for? Please take a few minutes and visit Kay L. Ling’s Amazon Author page and her website to find more of her books. Once you read the book(s), please consider leaving a review. I know Kay Ling will appreciate it!

Any thoughts on the review? If so, leave me a comment or send me an email at bill@williamlstuart.com. Don’t be shy. And connect with me on the socials. I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest. Lastly, don’t miss a post: subscribe to the blog!


The Merkaba Mystery by Iva Kenaz – My Review!!

The Merkaba Mystery – My Review!!

Merkaba Mystery Cover


Sometimes I randomly select books to read and review. That was the case with The Merkaba Mystery by Iva Kenaz. A different kind of fantasy, but an entertaining read!

Synopsis (from the author): In the year 1896, a young woman finds herself standing in the river, not remembering where she came from or who she is. The only link to her past is a bag containing a few symbolic objects, including the Tarot cards.
Followed by a cloaked figure, she ends up in Prague’s Jewish Town, which she recognises as an alternate version of her home. With the help of her newly found friends and occasional flashbacks, she begins to unravel her past connection to esotery, magic and places that initially seem unreal.
One day, she meets a young man whom she recognises as her best friend. Through their mutual memories, she discovers that her origins are stranger than she thought, and that one of the first words she recalled, Merkaba, is the true key to her past and future.

Set in an ancient European city with a distinct esoteric history, Prague, and inspired by the author’s curious dreams and visions. It explores the secrets of interdimensional travel, the Tarot, and the Merkaba. Each chapter is symbolically and archetypically aligned with one of the Major Arcana trumps.

What I liked: The Merkaba Mystery was an interesting blend of mysticism and fantasy. I don’t know much about Tarot, but the cards became the thread connecting the story. I enjoyed Seraphina’s journey as she struggled to regain her memories, and Vilma, Dora, and Hieronymus were great supporting characters. The mysterious cloaked character added intrigue and Seraphina’s relationship with Turi provided the romantic element. All in all, good stuff!

What I didn’t like: Although I enjoyed The Merkaba Mystery, I had a little trouble following what location the story was in at any given moment. I also felt the story came to a standstill on occasion.

Overall impression: The Merkaba Mystery by Iva Kenaz was an interesting blend of fantasy and mysticism. With compelling characters, a bit of romance, and Seraphina’s search for her memories, the story moved along nicely most of the time. If the Tarot intrigues you, and the descriptions of Prague fascinate you, then read this one!

My rating: 4 Stars

Are you adding The Merkaba Mystery by Iva Kenaz to your TBR list? When you finish, please consider leaving a review! While leaving your review, check out Iva Kenaz’s Amazon Author page and her website.

What do you think of the review of The Merkaba Mystery? Leave me a comment and let me know. Subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss a post, and connect with me on social media! Find me on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest. I love to meet new friends! If all else fails, email me at bill@williamlstuart.com.

The King’s Ransom by Cheryl Carpinello – My Review!!

The King’s Ransom (Young Knights of the Round Table) – My Review!!

King's Ransom Cover


King Arthur and the legends surrounding him and the Knights of the Round Table are fascinating. Cheryl Carpinello combined the legendary figure with the coming of age story of three friends in her book The King’s Ransom (Young Knights of the Round Table), and I had to add it to my reading list. Here are my thoughts!

Synopsis (from the author): Three Friends. Three Quests. Three Mysterious Predictions

In medieval Wales, eleven-year-old Prince Gavin, thirteen-year-old orphan Philip, and fifteen-year-old blacksmith’s apprentice Bryan are brought together in friendship by one they call the Wild Man. When an advisor to the king is killed and a jewelled medallion is stolen from the king’s treasury, the Wild Man is accused of the theft and murder. Filled with disbelief at the arrest of the Wild Man, the three friends embark upon a knight’s quest to save their friend’s life. To succeed, the three must confront their fears and insecurities, and one of them will have to disclose the biggest secret of all.

What I liked: Adding a coming of age twist to the King Arthur era was a neat storyline to me. Gavin, Philip, and Bryan all have different fears to confront, and each handled their quest bravely. The idealism each displayed was inspiring, and there was enough action and intrigue to keep my attention. In addition, a few interesting secrets sets the stage for a good story. Lastly, although written for ages 9-12, I enjoyed the read!

What I didn’t like: The King’s Ransom (Young Knights of the Roundtable) had a few predictable parts, especially during the three quests. Additionally, although I liked the characters, they were a bit clichéd.

Overall impression: The King’s Ransom (Young Knights of the Round Table) by Cheryl Carpinello captured the essence of the King Arthur legends and the idealism embodied in the stories. Good characters, nice plot twists, and a few surprises make the book is an excellent read for ages 9-12 (or anyone who simply enjoys a good book!

My rating: 5 Stars

Have your or your children read The King’s Ransom (Young Knights of the Round Table)? If not, consider adding it to your list! If so, please consider leaving a review. It only takes a few minutes and means a lot to the authors! While you’re surfing around, stop by Cheryl Carpinello’s Amazon Author page or her website and check out all her books!

Speaking of surfing around, why not head over to the socials and connect with me? I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest. Of course, you can email me at bill@williamlstuart.com, too. And, don’t forget to subscribe to the blog so you won’t miss a post!

Dragon Lightning (Dragon Dreamer Book 2) by J.S. Burke – My Review!!

Dragon Lightning – My Review!!

Dragon Lightning Cover

I read J. S. Burke’s first book about dragons and octopuses (Dragon Dreamer) a while back. When she released Dragon Lightning (Dragon Dreamer Book 2), it hit my TBR list immediately. As a bonus, J. S. Burke is a Georgia author, so I got to read another of my fellow authors. Here is my review!

Synopsis (from the author): Dragon Lightning is a stand-alone book and the second in The Dragon Dreamer series. It’s a fast-paced adventure with flying dragons, an undersea world, and unlikely friendships. This science fantasy is layered for readers age 9 to adult.

Drakor seems like a normal young ice dragon with a talent for making lightning swords. But he alone feels the changing heart of his island Volcano. It destroyed his beloved sire. Now he foresees their doom, but none will listen. As he seeks proof, the Volcano shakes him off into the frozen sea . . .

Arak was mocked as a worthless dreamer until he and Scree, a fearless undersea misfit, saved the dragons. Now dragons and octopi sail north in search of mythical ice dragons. They find Drakor and a terrifying reality. When Scree enters the abyss to check his volcano, she discovers everyone is in peril. Can this crew of unlikely friends save three realms?

What I liked: Dragon Lightning was an excellent book! The familiar heroes from Dragon Dreamer return with new adventures starting with the search for the ice dragons of legend. Arak and Scree grow as characters and Drakor adds an interesting twist. The undersea science woven throughout provides cool information, and the trials faced by the unlikely friends entertained me. All in all, a good read!

What I didn’t like: I had a couple of minor issues with Dragon Lightning. First, Drakor stuttered at times, and didn’t at others. It seemed inconsistent. Secondly, the battle between Drakor and his leader was too predictable. Other than that, no complaints from me!

Overall impression: Dragon Lightning (Dragon Dreamer Book 2) by J.S. Burke was a great read. Written for ages 9 and above, I enjoyed the characters’ growth, the science behind the story, and the story itself. If you like dragons, octopuses, and the occasional squid, this is a book for you! I recommend it to any and all science fantasy readers!

My rating: 5 Stars

Have you added Dragon Lightning (Dragon Dreamer Book 2) to your TBR list? I hope so! Once you’ve read it, please consider leaving a review. Reviews let authors know what the reader’s think and how their work impacts readers. While you are leaving the review, check out J. S. Burke’s Amazon Author page and her website and say hi!

As always, if you want to leave me a comment on my review, please do! And, if you want to connect on the socials, find me on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest. You can also email me at bill@williamlstuart.com. Remember to subscribe to the blog so you won’t miss a post!

Mystical Aria: Seeking the Gallion Queen – My Review!!

Mystical Aria: Seeking the Gallion Queen – My Review!!

Mystical Aria Cover

I had a spot open on my TBR and picked another Georgia author to read and review. This time, it’s Mystical Aria: Seeking the Gallion Queen by Jean Neff Guthrie. The book is a fantasy/sci-fi novel aimed more at tweens and early YA, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

Synopsis (from the author): Alien RSVP: Yes!

Psychic tween Aria Vanir, of Virginia Beach, trusts only her mother with the knowledge of her visions until she connects with technically and spiritually advanced aliens, the Gallions. Then Aria confides in her best friend, Tommy Manger. His surprise doubts and anger threaten to end their friendship. When the Gallions beam Aria, Tommy, and Aria’s tomboyish older sister, Jackie, aboard their superspaceship, Aria’s mother makes a bold move to save her daughters. None of them realize that the Navy has sent Aria’s SEAL father, William, on a mission to capture the Gallions or destroy their superspaceship. Worse, William has no idea that he’s putting his daughters in harm’s way.

Nashata, Queen Supreme of the Gallions, leads a diplomatic mission to make peaceful contact with Aria, the only human she trusts with the secrets of her people. Can Aria succeed in her quest to meet the queen in person, despite the fears and disbeliefs of those closest to her?

What I liked: I enjoyed the way Aria used her hidden gift to communicate with the aliens. I also appreciated her willingness to accept the Gallions as friends, rather than with suspicion as the adults did. The supporting characters added quite a bit to the story, especially Aria’s sister Jackie and Tommy. The Gallions added a bit of comedy relief to the story, and their technology was cool! All in all, a nice read!

What I didn’t like: Despite what Tommy and Jackie brought to the story, the characters were not fleshed out as well as they could have been, and Aria’s father’s reaction was too predictable.

Overall impression: Mystical Aria: Seeking the Gallion Queen is an excellent book for the tweens and young adults. It dealt with conflict, opportunity, trust, and family all while entertaining me. Though written for younger ages, I thoroughly enjoyed the book.

My rating: 4.5 Stars (rounded to 5 stars)

Does Mystical Aria: Seeking the Gallion Queen by Jean Neff Guthrie sound like your kind of book? Give it a try! While you’re at it, consider leaving a review. It only takes a few minutes and means a lot to authors! And, since you are already surfing around the web, visit Jean Guthrie’s Amazon Author page and her website.

Speaking of reviews, if you liked (or didn’t) my review, leave me a comment and let me know. Subscribe to the blog so you won’t miss any post. Lastly, find me on the socials and let’s connect. I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest. You can also email me at bill@williamlstuart.com.

Nefarious (The Blackwell Files Book 1) – My Review!!

Nefarious (The Blackwell Files Book 1) – My Review!!



As my blog readers know, I’m reading at least one book per month from a Georgia author. This time, it’s Nefarious (The Blackwell Files Book 1) by Steven F. Freeman. This one’s a thriller, so read on for my thoughts!

Synopsis (from the author): When Army Communications Captain Alton Blackwell takes a hit to the leg while on active duty in Afghanistan, his self-confidence and his leg are equally shattered in the explosion. Assigned to a desk job while recovering, Blackwell manages to prove his resourcefulness as he matches wits with Al-Qaeda operatives in the dangerous regions of Kabul. Unable to fully heal, he resigns himself to the abrupt end of his military career as well as any hope to win the affections of the beautiful and intelligent Lieutenant Mallory Wilson.

Upon returning state-side, the quiet civilian life is quickly left far behind when Blackwell’s colleague Zach Lambert calls him from a weekend camping trip in the throes of a devastating illness with forbidding implications. In a story out of today’s headlines, Blackwell and now-FBI Agent Wilson explore the possible diversion of a biotech’s project to develop an improved vaccine, scouring leads at the CDC and biotec company, putting their Army and professional skills to the test, and narrowly escaping agents with a murderous agenda at every turn. The closer they come to the truth, the quicker the bodies pile up, along with the suspects. To get to the bottom of the sinister scheme, can Blackwell still use wits when his body has failed him? And will he survive long enough to tell his colleague of the feelings for her he has long kept secret?

What I liked: Nefarious is a good story! The trials Alton Blackwell goes through set the stage for his later career, his interactions with the locals in Afghanistan, and his guilt over the death of a high school friend all helped me identify with the character. As a real-life supply chain professional, I liked Mallory’s Army occupation, and her character added the love interest. The bond one finds among service members rang true, and the plot, as it evolved over the course of the story, made for a good read.

What I didn’t like: Captain Blackwell’s antagonist in the Intelligence group and their “rivalry” was too clichéd for me. Similarly, some of the intelligence gathering seemed contrived to me.

Overall impression: Nefarious (The Blackwell Files Book 1) by Steven F. Freeman was a solid and entertaining read. Good characters, a believable plot, a conspiracy, and a good writing kept me engaged throughout. If you need a new thriller series to read, try this one!

My rating: 4 stars

When do you plan to read Nefarious? Soon, I hope! When you do, please consider leaving a review. It only takes a few minutes and lets authors know they’ve reached their audience. While you are reviewing, why not stop by Steven F. Freeman’s Amazon Author page or his website, say hello, and check out Nefarious (The Blackwell Files Book 1) and his other books!

Since you’re already surfing around the web, why not visit me on the socials and connect? I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest. You can email me at bill@williamlstuart.com, and subscribe to the blog so you never miss a post!

The Emperor’s Edge by Lindsay Buroker – My Review!!

The Emperor’s Edge – My Review!!

Emperor's Edge Cover


Steampunk is a genre I’m beginning to like more as I read it more often. I enjoyed the mix of fantasy and steampunk elements in Lindsay Buroker’s The Emperor’s Edge quite a lot. Here are my thoughts.

Synopsis (from the author): Imperial law enforcer Amaranthe Lokdon is good at her job: she can deter thieves and pacify thugs, if not with a blade, then by toppling an eight-foot pile of coffee canisters onto their heads. But when ravaged bodies show up on the waterfront, an arson covers up human sacrifices, and a powerful business coalition plots to kill the emperor, she feels a tad overwhelmed.

Worse, Sicarius, the empire’s most notorious assassin, is in town. He’s tied in with the chaos somehow, but Amaranthe would be a fool to cross his path. Unfortunately, her superiors order her to hunt him down. Either they have an unprecedented belief in her skills… or someone wants her dead.

What I liked: In addition to the fantasy and steampunk I mentioned above, I simply liked the story. Amaranthe is a nice character, with tons of self-confidence (and a bit of self-doubt), Sicarius is a believable villain/hero with a mysterious side, and the rest of the supporting cast plays their roles well. Filled with enough action and intrigue to keep me turning pages, The Emperor’s Edge was a most enjoyable book!

What I didn’t like: The Emperor came across as an idealistic simpleton, and the regent was a bit stereotypical. Likewise, the gang Amaranthe negotiated with was too easy for a tough street cabal.

Overall impression: The Emperor’s Edge by Lindsay Buroker was a fun steampunk read. I liked the characters, the action, and the way the villains ended. All in all, a good book for those who enjoy fantasy and steampunk!

My rating: 4.5 Stars (rounded to 5 Stars)

Have you read The Emperor’s Edge by Lindsay Buroker? What about any of her other books (and there are a bunch)? If you have, or plan to, please consider leaving a review. It only takes a few minutes and authors love them!! Another thing authors like is to connect with their readers and fans. You can find Lindsay Buroker on her Amazon Author page or her website.

Speaking of connecting, you can connect with me on the socials! Don’t be shy, just stop by and say hi. I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest. If you don’t want to miss a post, subscribe. Lastly, if you want to email me, drop me a line at bill@williamlstuart.com!


The Eighth Circle of Hell by Gary Dolman – My Review!!

The Eighth Circle of Hell – My Review!!

Eighth Circle of Hell Cover

I really stepped outside my normal reading boundaries with The Eighth Circle of Hell (Atticus and Lucie Fox) by Gary Dolman. It was dark, disturbing, and not for the faint of heart. Read on for my thoughts.

Synopsis (from the author): In the 19th century, when the British Empire was approaching its zenith, the Victorians began to believe that, with their power and their fabulous wealth, they could do anything. Certain gentlemen became convinced that they could indeed do anything…and get away with it.

A noted Harrogate philanthropist is found murdered, the victim of a brutal and frenzied attack. His apparent killer, a frail and elderly workhouse ‘imbecile’, had fled his house as a child.

The Eighth Circle of Hell follows strands of lust, love and revenge as they twist together and stretch across that most notorious of times: the Victorian Defloration Mania.

What I liked: Despite the obvious horrible and disgusting subject of the book, the story was very well-written and didn’t sensationalize the material. Gary Dolman treated the villains as monsters and they deserved the loathing I felt for them. The victims drew my sympathy. Atticus and Lucy, our erstwhile detectives, were a civilized counterpoint to those they pursued. While I can’t truthfully say I enjoyed to story (the topic was much too disturbing for that), it does offer insight into the times and psychology of those who feel they are above the law.

What I didn’t like: I would have liked to have seen Atticus and Lucie more disturbed by their investigation than they seemed. Perhaps it was the stiff upper lip of the British, but they didn’t come across as appalled by the actions of the “gentlemen.” Outrage would have added some authenticity to the story.

Overall impression: The Eighth Circle of Hell (Atticus and Lucie Fox) is a story of brutal lust, predatory men, and revenge. It handled a horrible subject as delicately as possible, and had a few twists that kept me guessing the outcome. Well-written, the book was filled with characters I won’t soon forget. I would recommend it to anyone who wants a fictional insight into the darker side of Victorian society. Beware, though, as I mentioned before, it is deeply disturbing and not for those under 18.

My rating: 4 Stars

What did you think of The Eighth Circle of Hell by Gary Dolman? You can tell me by leaving a comment. Consider letting the author know by leaving a review. You can also connect with Gary Dolman on his Amazon Author page or his website. Visit and find out more about him and his books! I’m sure he’d appreciate it.

If you enjoyed your visit to my site and/or this review, subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss any posts. If you’re on the socials, connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest. Lastly, you can email me at bill@williamlstuart.com. I love to meet new friends!