Nell Ingram doesn’t think she’s special; actually she’s afraid that the strange “gifts” she has, if discovered by the God’s Cloud of Glory cult she escaped from as a child, would see her burned at the stake. So she lives alone, almost completely isolated save for her mystic connection to the forest that she barely understands. Being alone protects her; being alone is comfortable, but her quiet isolation is not meant to last. Forces meant to help and harm are both coming her way, and Nell will be forced to use her strange connection to the Earth to save lives.
This first book in a new series by author Faith Hunter revisits a world where “paranormals” live and work side by side with ordinary humans, and both groups are touched by good and evil. When Homeland Security’s special division for dealing with paranormal crimes, PsyLED, saves her life, Nell Ingram is forced out of her self-imposed isolation to assist in a case involving the kidnapping of multiple young girls, and work with a group of individuals whose gifts are just as unique as her own.
Nell’s insider knowledge of the God’s Cloud of Glory church, which is suspected to be involved in the kidnappings, makes her a valuable asset. In order to save the lives of the innocent girls, one of whom is her own sister, Nell will have to face her past, and push her strange powers in ways she’s never before imagined.
I picked up this book as a choice from my local book club, and I really wanted to like it simply because of the location; the setting is mainly in East Tennessee, in and around Knoxville, an area that is near and dear to my heart. While the descriptions of the region and are spot on, I had more difficultly with the plot.
The story seemingly meandered along for the first half of the book, before the pacing finally picked up somewhere along the last third of the text. Granted, some of this was necessary world-building, but it seemed to me to be a bit excessive in mass. Still, by the end I was fully invested in the action, and cheered Nell and her team on as they reached a very satisfying ending, and epilogue.
I offer this story three and a half stars, and would recommend that readers interested in paranormal and urban fantasy stories check out this series as well as other works by Faith Hunter.
Are you looking for a quick paranormal read that won’t leave you too afraid to turn the lights off at night? Check out author Autumn Chills’ anthology featuring an assortment of spirits that are as friendly as Casper, as benevolent as angels, and as heart-warming as a hug.
This short story collection includes tales of otherworldly beings such as a mischievous prankster at a movie theater, a beloved grandmother who gives romantic advice from beyond, and an unseen housekeeper who loves to take care of her home’s new inhabitants. Unlike many other books in this genre, these stories are all family-friendly and I would recommend this 5- star collection to paranormal fans of all ages, or simply to anyone seeking a condensed, uplifting read.
In his Amazon Prime series, Aaron Mahnke offers an overview of the “lore” from numerous cultures created by our ancestors in an attempt to explain the unknown workings of the world around them. For example; how did a deadly disease contribute to a belief in the existence of vampires? What geological features as said to be the home of fairies?
Now the writer, producer, and narrator of the series Lore has released an anthology titled The World of Lore: Monstrous Creatures, which includes some of the most interesting encounters from the popular show as well as a wealth of additional stories and background information about the evolution of the myths, folklore, and campfire tales of “things that go bump in the night.”
The author uses historical accounts and descriptions of known “sites” of supernatural and unexplained phenomena to describe how a lack of scientific knowledge and fear of the unknown culminated in a belief in numerous supernatural creatures and phenomena. Then he shares examples of the tales of happenings in a “story-telling” manner consistent with the scripts of the television series.
I found the scholarly portion of the book to be very informative but a little dry, despite attempts by Mahnke to inject humor and current events into his explanations of the supernatural. By comparison, his accounts of the “events” read like very engaging short stories of horror and the paranormal.
After reading a large portion of the book, I decided I needed to watch some of the episodes of the show for comparison purposes. I found that the podcast featured some of the same stories in the book, heavily dramatized and enacted, but seemed to focus more on one particular example instead of the multiples given in the manuscript. While both were interesting, the dramatization of the show drew me in much more quickly than the volume, if only because the length of the episode was longer than each encounter narrated in the book.
Still, I found the book interesting enough to give it four stars and would recommend it to anyone who wants not only to get a chill out of a story of the paranormal, but also an understanding of why the story could make the reader feel fear in the first place.
To certain individuals my penchant for reading stories about wizards, hobbits, and ghostly apparitions may seem to be an odd hobby for a woman in her mid-forties. What would perhaps surprise those same individuals more is that I also have penned a number of fantasy stories where the characters include werewolves, banshees, and virtual reality monsters. My literary tastes aside, I have found that fantasy stories as a genre offer a number of benefits for those with even the most casual interest in reading for pleasure.
Fantasy Stories Offer the Reader an Escape
Sometimes the easiest way to escape from the stresses of daily life is to take a mental vacation. For me that may take the form of visiting an entirely new world, one populated by creatures from childhood dreams. I find it’s rather difficult to worry about everyday things while reading tales of an epic quest to rescue a princess and slay a dragon.
Immersion in a completely alien landscape for a time can allow us to relax and recharge our minds, alleviating tension and allowing us to return to “real” life with a fresh perspective. Numerous studies have been done which suggest reading for enjoyment, of any type, can even help alleviate or alleviate symptoms of ailments such as high blood pressure and depression. To find out more about the benefits reading can offer see the article here.
Fantasy Stories May Boost the Mind and Creativity
As the saying goes, if you can imagine it, you can do it. Sometimes changing focus for a time, such as through reading a good book, can help to find a solution to a problem that seems insurmountable. Indulging in leisure reading can help improve cognitive functions, increase vocabulary, and improve analytical skills. I encourage all readers out there to allow your favorite book, or a new find, to inspire you to think, write, and problem-solve in ways you may not have considered before.
Fantasy Stories Can Help Forge Connections with Others
I’ve discovered one way to maintain connections with my adult children as well as my circle of friends is through a shared interest in literature. Books make good discussion topics, sometimes even more so when we don’t all agree on a particular work or author! Tip for family bonding: Don’t just read stories separately, if your children are young, take turns reading aloud with them. If they are older, give everyone a chance to read a particular book and then talk to each other about it.
Fantasy Stories Can Contain Hidden Wisdom
While my favorite works of fiction may involve characters that are not always human, the writers who produce these works still frequently manage to insert nuggets of wisdom that can be applied universally. Searching for these “truths” in the deeper meanings of a fantasy story can provide hours of entertainment, and thought-provoking discussions.
For instance, consider this philosophical truth from The Fellowship of the Ring, by J.R.R. Tolkien: “Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.” This quote from a novel published in 1954 contains just as much potential for controversy today as it did when the story was first written, despite the fact that it was part of a conversation between a wizard and a hobbit. Have you ever considered Tolkien, best known for The Hobbit as well as The Lord of the Rings trilogy, as a philosopher?
No matter your favorite genre, here’s hoping you take the time to read a good book today!