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Heaven's Falling:  Ascension by Garry Charles (2004 Hadesgate Publications)  Read more about the author & book here.

     What have we got here? I recall my first impression as I exhumed this one from its postal delivery package and held it in my hands.  Very ambitious.  Very promising.  Looks like one of those rare morsels I'd come across during my days working in a book store, setting it aside under the counter to purchase for myself come pay day.  Its artwork and illustrations (by Paul Cox's vivid and gritty pencil drawings) are very alluring, and this work, the first book in a series, promises an epical saga with its near four hundred pages alone.

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(All reviews copyright © 2004, 2005, 2006 by Nicholas Grabowsky and Diverse Media, all rights reserved.   All book cover images are owned by their respective owners and used by permission.)

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     Now, as I hold it in my hands after the fact of reading and absorbing it, I must say firstly that author Garry Charles did himself damn good in choosing to go this route with his life.  This is his first novel, and it required an enormous degree of determination and skill to pull it all off, bring it together, and make such a monumental endeavor happen.  It takes many of us writers quite a while to find our voices, and Garry Charles is way past merely flexing his vocal chords this first time around.

     A majority of my proudest personal works are derived from biblical lore, so one can imagine my delight in devouring Garry's premise.  Check this out:  Kain, the central character, is a man who gets shot in the head and awakens from death to find himself in Limbo, a state between heaven and hell that in many ways is just as physical as our own realm, chocked full of personified deities and cities of demons and soul-wraiths and a race of canine humanoids under allegiance to an evil queen who had been the Eve of the biblical Garden of Eden.  What's more is that Kain is himself the very Cain who jealously slaughtered his brother Abel of same lore, and this time out after a succession of increasingly redemptive reincarnations he finds himself the savior of Limbo who has the hots for a female Lucifer he meets in the back room of a grand and hellish nightclub.  Kain begins his journey as a detective sent from a Limbo hospital to search for those responsible for his death in the first place. 

     I applaud this work and its fantastical wit.  It embraces all of the elements us horror fans look forward to and bombards our senses with a rich fantasy world straight out of a mind that's a worthy contender with our greatest horror contemporaries.  Garry Charles' work is worth paying attention to, and a thousand times over.

     Give a read, and you'll understand.

Swinging Bridges by Tim Teeter (2005 Delta Valley Press)  Read more about the author & book here.

     Here's one example of this here horror author, that is I myself, broadening my horizons by accepting books for review which do not on the surface appear to be anywhere up my alley of interest at all.

     But Tim Teeter was at one point an author who made my acquaintance at a local mutual book signing with other authors, and he got my attention there and followed up with me through subsequent email conversations until Swinging

Bridges inevitably fell into my lap.  I placed it into my reading schedule, and when the time came......

     Swinging Bridges, as it turns out, was an effortless read, delightful, insightful, and flawlessly well-written.  Its heart pumps the fluid stream of a storyline and storytelling style as simplistic and cut-and-dry as the setting of its rural Iowa town.  It's the tale of a typically rebellious teenager who, on his eighteenth birthday, is arrested for the attempted murder of his own brother, and the court-appointed lawyer who handles his case. 

     Tim is a retired defense attorney, which leaves suspect the notion that there's a good helping of autobiographical content in the character of Jackson Wright.  Tim Teeter writes vividly yet gets to the point and carries the story with such ease that it's difficult to wonder if he had any trouble writing it at all.  I found myself involved with the characters on an emotional level and felt like an anxious observer at the climactic court trial, and was extremely satisfied.

     I even teared up with the whole "bald eagle" thing, symbolic book ends to a great book.  Read it and you'll catch my drift.  

The Guilty Innocent --The Knights of the Darkness Chronicles Book 2 by D.N. Simmons

(2005 AuthorHouse)  Read more about the author here.

   It has probably been well over a year since I’d read Desires Unleashed and relinquished my thoughts about it to those who’d give a listen (read that review here), and The Guilty Innocent succeeded in bringing it all back:

     The human character of Natasha and her relationship with two elite Chicago vampires Darian and Xavier in a contemporary world where such supernaturals including shapeshifters are a part of everyday society…….

........an elite sector of law enforcement aptly branded the acronym S.U.I.T.s (Supernatural Unit Investigation Team) that exists to keep the supernaturals in line……rampant sexuality……

     This second time around we find Natasha in far better control of her ability to see into the near future.  Her best friend’s body is discovered inside the trunk of vampire Darian’s car, which leads the S.U.I.T.s to put Darian behind bars.  The novel henceforth and to its very end tells the tale of Natasha’s efforts to clear Darian and seek out those responsible for framing him.  She enlists the aid of werewolves, wereleopards (so to speak), familiar vampires and characters from the first book, and John Fallon.  (John --- women everywhere want you, don’t they?  Am I not mistaken that this character is based on you?)  There’s also a mafia twist to the plot which provides a refreshing landscape of situation and intrigue.

     Now, I adore D.N. Simmons’ writing.  She’s an up-and-comer who’s already up and here for us all to enjoy, a good contemporary contributor to the dark rich vastness of vampire lore, and she does it all with astounding ease.  On the strength of a stand-alone novel, however,  I only recommend reading The Guilty Innocent after you’ve read the first.  On the strength of its nature of being the second in a series, it’s a fantastic companion, "the further adventures of," if you will..

     That’s a good thing for D.N., because you have to buy the first to appreciate the next, and the first indeed makes you crave more.  As Stephen King once said to me and in the same context, keep ‘em coming, and I indeed look forward to more of the further exploits of Simmon’s delightful entourage of characters in her ambitious Knights of the Darkness Chronicles series.