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Interview with Emma Silver- Author of Blackbrooke

BlackbrookeRecently, I had the pleasure of reading Emma Silvers debut horror Blackbrooke. A thrilling tale of monsters and mysteries, Blackbrooke is a refreshing new series proving that not all monster sparkle in the light and fall in love with humans. I encourage Ya Fiction fans and Horror fans of all ages to check out Emma Silver’s Blackbrooke

Stop by Emma Silvers blog. Then get to reading Blackbrooke. The third book of the trilogy is coming out sometime this year!

I asked Emma a few questions about her and her first series. Be sure to come back for reviews of the rest of her series and more interview with Emma!

 

What Books and Authors shaped your reading and writing styles?

Stephen King was the main one for sure. I started reading horror books very young and devoured the Goosebumps and Point Horror series’ very quickly, so I needed someone more. I was about nine when I started reading King and I loved the ideas and the suspense. The Shining and IT were my favorites as a child and I wanted to try and frighten readers just like he did. 

 

Who would you choose as an author to be your mentor?

Haha! It has to be Stephen King, although I’m really into Joe Hill too. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree with that one; although I do think the writing style is very different, but equally as good. I had the pleasure of meeting Joe Hill recently and he’s just the most delightful ball of energy who clearly has fun, not only writing, but meeting his readers. He’s an inspiration. 

 

What do you find most challenging about your writing process?

Author Emma Silver

 Editing. The ideas and the first draft is always great but then the editing…well, let’s just say

it takes its toll. It’s very difficult to take a step back and declare a piece of work as ‘done’. I could happily tinker with my work until the day I die but you have to learn to let it go and be proud of the finished product. 

 

For how long was Blackbrooke just an “idea?”

 Not long. I thought about a town that had to live by a set of rules and started writing it the following day. 

 

What inspired you to write Blackbrooke?

 I really wanted to buck the trend of paranormal romance which seemed to monopolize the YA book market up until a few years ago. I wanted to create monsters that were monsters and not something for the heroine to fall in love with. The humans are humans in Blackbrooke – no special powers lurking underneath. That was important to me. 

 

How long did it take you to write Blackbrooke?

The first draft was done and dusted within about six weeks but I made a fair few changes to it during the editing process. I think all in all it took around four months to have it completed and ready to send to the publisher. 

Are any scenes written from experiences you had?

A few of the school scenes are based on conversations I’ve had or ones I’ve overheard during my time as a pupil. I created the character of Gemma as the girl I always wished I was at the time. I was a bit of state in school so would have loved to be one of the pretty, popular girls. However, it’s only as an adult you realize they weren’t all they’re cracked up to be. I wrote Gemma with the flaws you only notice when you’re an adult. She isn’t the most pleasant to those who aren’t her friends but fiercely loyal to the select few she lets into her circle. Characters such as Denzil and Marie are based on people I know, which were lovely to write. 

 

Is there a character that is most similar to you? 

 When people who knew me read the book they said Liberty reminded them of me. I think they’re just being polite though! I couldn’t cope with the huge amount of crap she’s had to deal with! I’m certainly as goofy as Denzil but that’s as close as it gets. 

 

Could you give us some insight into how you came up with some of your ideas?

 Just from the things that used to scare me when I was a child. I remember waking up in the night when I was very young and swearing I saw red eyes in my room that slowly faded. I was terrified and put the duvet over my head. It was something that has always stayed with me and my imagination would run riot thinking about what the creature with the red eyes looked like. I hate vultures so that’s why the Crits have long necks too. The Crits are basically a Frankenstein’s monster of all of the things that scare me. 

Thats all folks. Check out the original review if you are still not convinced.  Then go read Blackbrooke II: The Guardian

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Blackbrooke: Book I of the Trilogy – Review

Emma Silver, Author of Blackbrooke, will be doing an interview with me soon. The Q&A is soon to come!

Zero2Fiction

Blackbrooke

4.5 Stars

The short:

Blackbrooke had me on the edge of my seat and kept my heart racing.  Emma Silver filled Blackbrooke with vivid emotion and suspense. I found myself surprised at every turn as the plot did not do what I anticipated or expected. Emma Silver writes emotions so well they explode off the page and into your heart.

As a male reader, I half expected something along the lines of Twilight and City of Bones- This was a very wrong assumption. Blackbrooke is a very suspenseful horror.  It has a great blend of thrills, mystery, gruesomeness, love, and excitement.

A read that will appeal most to 13-18 year old girls, but an exciting read for anyone who loves fiction and suspense.  I think some male readers will not connect with the story, especially in the beginning. My advice is to read it; you will not want to put…

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Blackbrooke: Book I of the Trilogy – Review

Blackbrooke

4.5 Stars

The short:

Blackbrooke had me on the edge of my seat and kept my heart racing.  Emma Silver filled Blackbrooke with vivid emotion and suspense. I found myself surprised at every turn as the plot did not do what I anticipated or expected. Emma Silver writes emotions so well they explode off the page and into your heart.

As a male reader, I half expected something along the lines of Twilight and City of Bones- This was a very wrong assumption. Blackbrooke is a very suspenseful horror.  It has a great blend of thrills, mystery, gruesomeness, love, and excitement.

A read that will appeal most to 13-18 year old girls, but an exciting read for anyone who loves fiction and suspense.  I think some male readers will not connect with the story, especially in the beginning. My advice is to read it; you will not want to put it down as the mystery heightens in Blackbrooke.

The Long:

I thought I knew what to expect at certain points along the storyline (I was Wrong!)I consistently found myself surprised when the plot went in a different direction than I anticipated. It created a lot of excitement to read the unexpected events and character decisions that unfolded throughout the story, especially in the middle chapters.

The suspense, oh my god, the suspense was amazing.  My jaw dropped a couple of times as I was reading. There was some gruesomeness, but not overdone. The book did not scare me while I read it; it did thrill me beyond belief! The horror aspect of Blackbrooke would transfer well to a theatrical horror film.

The story came to its first climax about three quarters of the way through when Lib put all the pieces of the puzzle together. Blackbrooke was a rush of excitement and anticipation up until this point. Afterwards, I felt like the books excitement settled down a bit (until the very end where the plot turned unexpectedly yet again and threw me for another loop.) Emma wrote a couple of chapters to develop the character relationships while they prepared for the end. These chapters did a good job with the character development, but they were a little too off pace to the rest of the story. I think Emma’s intended audience (mid-teen girls) will find these chapters more enjoyable than I did.

Emma wrote a fantastic, cliffhanging end to Blackbrooke.  I again found myself not knowing what to expect as I read the final 2 chapters.  The end blew my mind and left me dying to read part II.

Pros:

Emma Silver writes emotions you can really feel as you read.

Super thrilling and shocking plot twists

Foreshadowing that made Blackbrooke super suspenseful and not-at-all expected.

Does not use typical supernatural beings. Original supernatural beings called Crits

Cons:

The book did not hook me from in the very beginning, (just kept me curious to keep going until the story exploded.)

Uneven pace at times.

A couple sections where I felt a little more editing would have cleared some of my  confusion.

The Story:

Blackbrooke, the town where everyone know monsters exist, but they only exist here. Avoiding them is just part of life for the residents of Blackbrooke. The monsters, called crits, only roam at night. Blackbrooke has a pact with the monsters that lets humans live by day, and crits by night; anyone who breaks these rules is fair game.

Liberty Connor is planning to leave Blackbrooke when she turns 18. Everyone gets one chance to leave and never return at that age. You just have to survive until then, and not “walk out.”  Lib is suspicious when her friends begin to “walk out” in the middle of the night to be eaten by crits.  She goes on a hunt to find the truth behind Blackbrooke, the Crits, and the secrets that the local hide from the kids.

The Writing: 

Blackbrooke is set in the first person view of Liberty Connor. This is the first YA fiction novel that I have read in first person that I can recall. Emma does an excellent job writing in this point of view. It took me 2-3 chapters to adjust to this POV, and then I found myself racing through the pages to see what happens next.

Emma expresses her characters’ emotions so they jump out of the pages. I felt very engaged, as if I was experiencing the joy, anxiety, anger, curiosity, etc. of Libby as she narrated her story. I think one of the marks of a strong and talented writer is the ability to turn characters’ emotions into something real. Emma did an amazing job.

The structure of the writing was good overall. There were a few places where I did not understand what a sentence or paragraph was portraying. I believe part of this might be the differences in colloquialisms between The UK and America.

The Characters:

Liberty “Libby” Connor- Libby is a rule abiding good student. She is safe, boring, and blends in in the beginning of the book. She has jock and popular friends, but does not fit that stereotype herself.  Through the course of the story she develops rebelliousness in her spurred by the loss of her friends.  She is very clever, but sometimes headstrong.

Cassius- Lib’s childhood friend. He is a tall and skinny albino.  Lib was very protective of him when they were children. The roles get reversed now that they are in their teens.  Lib abandoned their friendship for several years when she started hanging out with Gemma, Noah, and Gabriel.  Cassius is a very well written character and stands out from others in Emma’s writing.

Gemma Jones-  An attractive and flirtatious rule breaker. She is the best friend of Libby and girlfriend of Noah. Gemma and Lib are practically sisters.  She is the daughter of the school’s head master.

Gabriel- Libby’s boyfriend. He is a very athletic football player. He and Lib plan to leave Blackbrooke to travel the world.

Noah- Gabriel’s best friend and Gemma’s boyfriend. He is also an athletic football player. He dislikes Cassius, who is one of Lib’s childhood friends.

Conclusion:

Blackbrooke is a powerful start to an original trilogy. This is a book you will want to read no matter what genre you prefer.  I am excited to read the second installment of the Blackbrooke series.

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The Door Within (The Door Within Trilogy: book 1) Review

 4/5 stars

A Christian-fantasy novel by Wayne Thomas Batson that is entertaining for Christians and non-Christians alike. (Coming from a reader who does not typically read Christian novels.) The Door Within is action packed from start to finish and is filled with good morals and lessons.

The hybrid of Chronicles of Narnia and Lord of the Rings. The Door within is a magical fantasy read that is enjoyable for all ages. It is an easy read for children and tweens who might find The Lord of The Rings a confusing book to read at their age level.

The Door Within might feel too simple if you only enjoy reading at the level of Tolkien and George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones.

Pros:

Easy reading page turner

Classically entertaining medieval fantasy

Likeable characters

Very well written allegory

Cons:

Some character clichés

Simpler story if you prefer adult fiction fantasy. (Not a problem for me, but for some it is)

The Long:

Wayne Thomas Batson’s first novel has characters and plots similar to The Chronicles of Narnia, while being set in a real that show similarities to Middle-Earth. The story is just plain enjoyable, especially for a middle school boy. The realm that Batson creates is one than any imaginative boy dreams of going to himself; a place where you can go from an ordinary kid to a heroic knight.

Batson fills his story with a cast of likable and straight forward heroes.  The villain characters are also very straightforward. Good is good and bad is bad; there is not as much in-between in this novel.

While the realm in The Door Within holds similarities to other reals, Batson creates unique concepts in this storyline. Particularly the main beings or the realm, glimpses, and their ability to change eye color based on allegiance.

This is a novel I did not want to end. I was excited and eagerly anticipated the second novel, which did not disappoint. (Review for that one to come!)

The Story:

Aidan is the quintessential, average grade school kid.  He has a relationship with his parents you have seen in novels before. His family uproots him from his new school to move to Colorado to aid his sick grandfather. He finds 3 scrolls that, after reading, bring him to a parallel realm called Alleble. He is chosen as the 12th knight in a quest to unite a neighboring land with Alleble to help fight the tide of the villainous Paragor.

Batson’s realm might feel a little lighter than Middle-earth, but contains very unique and original ideas as well. The inhabitants are called Glimpses, which are a humans’ other-realm counterpart. A human and his glimpse may not be in the same real at the same time. If one dies, so does the other. Some religions and past cultures have similar beliefs. Glimpses are a similar concept to Grimes from Moroccan folklore.

Glimpses have a good, neutral, or bad relationship with King Eliam (the god-like character.) A glimpses eyes change color depending on allegiance. Blue for good; green for neutral, and red for bad. I love this was to portray character affiliation. The concept felt original compared to other fantasies I have read.

The Writing: 

Batson uses plenty of allegory in his writing. Most of the allegory flows very well, and some of it is unnoticeable to a reader who does not commonly read Christian works.  Other Christian novels I have read fell to preachy to me. The Door within did not feel like this at any point.  There is no doubt that Batson found a perfect writing style to satisfy Christian and non-Christian readers alike.

The writing is very appropriate for the 9-15 age level. Not too complex, but enough so that it can challenge a young reads vocabulary.  There are lessons and morals woven throughout that teach valuable lessons while providing a likable story.

The Characters:

Batson’s character are mostly straight forward. With the exception of one or two, they are either clearly good or clearly evil. Batson’s characters are believable personas and feel natural despite the lack of internal struggle between good vs. evil.

Many of the hero characters will share resemblances to characters you have read before. Whether or not I believed some of the character were clichés, I found that I really liked who they were and how they acted throughout the story. Perfect examples would be Knock and Bolt, who share commonalities to elven archers such as Legolas. These 2 were my favorite characters of the 12 chosen knights of Alleble. I found myself wanting to visit the Yewland and meet this pair of archers.

Aidan Thomas- may come off as too unhappy a kid. He feels like an average 13 year old despite his unhappiness. Teen boys will be able to relate to his averageness. The move to Colorado feels like an occurrence that is believable in an everyday setting. He evolves into a heroic character throughout the novel.

Robby- Aidan’s friend from back home in Maryland. A popular boy who was one of the only good things in Aiden’s life until the move to Colorado.

Paragor- The villain character. He is a classical all-evil destroy everything for power type of guy.

King Eliam- the God/Jesus like character. Ruler of Alleble, the real of good. Believers of the one true king have eyes that glint green.

Captain Valithor- Captain of the 12 chosen knights, the Elder guard. A great character for Aidan to look up to as he develops into a hero. Valithor is a strong and dependable leader for the team.

Gwenne- The love interest of Aiden. She is a reliable Glimpse warrior on the Elder Guard team of 12.

Conclusion:

This hardcover is one of my favorites. The pages of the novel are printed to look old and scroll-like. The extra effort for presentation makes this a great novel to have in hardcover displayed on a prominent shelf.

Knights, dragons, huge battles, a budding love interest, and a struggle between good vs. evil. All the makings of a great fantasy series. An easy page turner that has me excited for the next installment. I have suggested this book to most of my family, and everyone has loved it!

 This was one of my first and favorite YA fiction reads!

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