I realise a lot of people come to this site for the discussions rather than the hard sell, but tough: I’ve written some books and they’ve been reviewed. So here’s a round-up of coverage from the interwebs. I promise you it will be quick and easy:
Newton knows that there’s a thin line between the awesome and the horrific, an d he plays this well. His prose is very finely turned, which works to his advantage both in the aforementioned characterization and in his ability to create scenes that are more than pointless grue. Newton knows when and how to suggest the surreal and the monstrous in a manner that is both disturbing and entrancing.
The real news here is not just that Newton has a great new novel coming out. It’s that ‘City of Ruin’ confirms not just Newton himself, but the potential power that is possible as fearless writers break down the barriers between genres. Blurring the boundaries of horror and fantasy opens up both to opportunities for redemption and terror. Newton knows that he has to earn his victories, and he’s canny enough to serve up enough uncertainty to keep readers falling forward into the next abyss.
BSC Reviews tackles Nights of Villjamur, and I’m particularly pleased with how the reviewer totally got what I was doing with Brynd:
What I found most astonishing while reading the book is that it’s Newton’s first major novel. The creative risks he takes in the story, as well as the complexity and depth of the world he’s created, are reminicsent of an experienced author with many a novel to his or her credit… I’m referring to Brynd, leader of the Night Guard – the Emperor’s personal bodyguards. He hides his homosexuality behind the mask of his albinism in order to survive in a world that forbids his sexual proclivity. Most tellingly he also struggles with the paradox of being in so manly a calling in a world that would consider him anything but, were they to know. What a creative, fascinating way of exploring so contemporary a theme and in such a compelling character!
If you have paid any bit of attention to the release of this novel, you know that a main character, Byrnd, is gay. You want our opinion? This is how you should handle a character of this persuasion. Newton does it right. Byrnd’s sexuality feels like it is part of his character rather than just thrown in for eye-popping shock value… or because absolutely nothing is happening and you want there to be some façade of character diversity… Mr. Newton, you did awesome. Long-distance high-five.
Is NIGHTS OF VILLJAMUR worth your time? Heck yes! The mystery element could have been disguised better, and Newton needs to really let loose, but VILLAJMUR is still a great novel. Its tone is dark, its characters real, and its ideas fantastic. Again, if Newton will stop being so conservative with the weird, he could very well turn into a top-shelf author.
What’s that? More weird you say? Oh, all right then. And finally, Don D’ammassa’s Critical Mass also says some nice things:
I’m fond of fantasy or science fiction novels which also include a good murder mystery, and that’s the situation here with this first novel, also first in a series. Villjamur is the capital of a fantastic empire people by humans and other peoples, all of whom face the possibility of a new and imminent ice age. With that backdrop, we have a murder mystery that involves many layers of court intrigue, the interactions among the various types of being in the city, and a crisis involving a horde of refugees. This reminded me at times of China Mieville’s Perdido Street Station or Mary Gentle’s Rats and Gargoyles, and it bodes well for the author to be placed in that company. Like most of the best fantasy, the novel is about the characters and how they react in various stressful situations, but there are also some clever plot tricks to keep us from becoming too complacent. Looking forward to volume two.
That’s your lot.