SPFBO 5: Another 4 Eliminations – And Last Semi-Finalist Announcement!
The fifth Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off (SPFBO) is almost reaching the end of round one! Check out our introduction here, read all about the contest’s origins here, and keep track of phase one here. Continue reading for the Fantasy Hive’s sixth batch of eliminations – and to find out who our last semi-finalist is! (Here are our first, second, third, fourth and fifth lot of eliminations, in case you missed them.)
Deston J. Munden
Xelnath of the Gnarled Root—a tavern owner, information broker, healer, and guildmaster of the Blackwind Company—has found a place, far better than the forest from which he came in the magical metropolis and city-state of Lladad in the Magiian Empire.
When a simple act of kindness draws the ire of a troubled assassin, his love-stricken Archmage father and an army of magically constructed golems, Xel must scheme with vipers of the high court, mingle with royalty at the castle, blackmail drug dealers in the slums, and fight assassins and mercenaries in the streets.
He needs to lean on the support of his motley crew of a dark elf assassin, a dragon pirate, a high elf royal, and a talking dog artificer to keep him from his own inner demons and doubts.
I had mixed feelings about Tavern. The opening chapters are very exposition-heavy, but there’s a certain charm and character to the narrative that just made me like it. The protagonist is cool, as is the premise, and the use of classic fantasy/D&D elements reminded me somewhat of Dorian Hart’s excellent The Ventifact Colossus. However, prose-wise, Tavern’s flow is frequently interrupted by instances of slightly clunky writing and dodgy grammar that make it somewhat difficult to read. It was those rough edges that eventually made me set this one aside.
There is an initial tendency towards description and exposition at the expense of the action, but we do get some nice lines in there (e.g. “Roads wove together like the silk threads of a spider never happy with the size of its web.”). The tension does notch up a bit as Xel – the protagonist of enigmatic origins – finds himself in a bit of a Spaghetti Western situation (think Clint Eastwood in A Fistful of Dollars asking for an apology to his mule). My eye snagged on some formatting issues – uneven paragraph indents and the like – but as the Tavern cast assembles, the book shapes up intriguingly. The story progresses still with that tendency to descriptive scene-setting and exposition, but also some more nice lines. (“Oryk pouted, not expecting to have to ask again. A child’s courage was a fickle thing.”)
The plot appears complex, bordering on the bewildering, as does the cast – it’s as though Raymond Chandler had written an Avengers movie. So I found it a little tricky to get a handle on the range of people who – at different points – had got Xel’s back, as well as the range of adversaries he might meet. There is a reliance on descriptions of food and architecture to convey atmosphere, though it generally works well. However, while I smiled at the concept of “aggressively fragrant tea,” I did find the repeated references to tea bags somewhat anachronistic in a fantasy setting.
Tavern has my favourite fantasy trope – a kickass female assassin – and I’ve seen some gritty action. I could put my slight sense of plot/character bewilderment down to reading 30 different story openings in quick succession, and Tavern might well work better for someone with a single undistracted run at it. Unfortunately, it narrowly missed out on a semi-finalist spot to books that grabbed my (or my fellow judges’) attention more securely.
I felt Tavern had potential, but was ultimately let down on its execution; which is an issue I find I keep coming back to, but is so important if a reader is to really invest in a story. We get quite a lot of exposition early on – I didn’t feel I needed to know so much about the city and its layout so early on, I’d have rather focussed on Xel. Moving on from this, on the whole there was little nuance or subtlety to the writing. For example, lines like “Robes tended to make someone look bigger or smaller than they were” and “His large hand tightened against his staff as he leaned against it” feel like quite obvious statements and therefore don’t read very well.
Conversely, there was the occasional line that I loved, such as, “He never liked his own voice. Too deep, too grumbly, and words just got caught between his teeth and his tongue.”
I felt this inconsistency strayed into the character portrayal also. At one point, the protagonist appears quite self-assured and overpowered (in terms of magic capability); but it isn’t long before he gets into a fight and comes out the worst as his magic is too slow.
It amounted to quite a frustrating read, in which I was getting bogged down in unnecessary and minor details, repetitions, and inconsistencies, leaving me unable to just immerse myself in the story. Which was such a shame. There were elements here that could have been promising: the magic system was interesting, there’s a wide range of fantasy-type races, and I quite liked that idea of a pub being run by some kind of assassins’ guild. But the execution was far too descriptive of nonessential information, and there was very little actual storytelling present.
I didn’t get far with this one, as I simply couldn’t settle into the story. The prose didn’t click with me personally, and I kept stumbling through the first chapter instead of getting sucked in. As the prose didn’t feel fluent to me, it wouldn’t step into the background and let me dive in and live the story. Instead I stayed on my couch with e-reader in hand.
I had seen TAVERN a few months ago on Twitter, and had liked the sound of it back then, so I was really excited to see if it lived up to my expectations.
The answer is, yes.
The blurb sounds like DnD players comparing their first ever character to their later ones. If you don’t know what I mean, here’s a handy meme thanks to Reddit user joebob431.
TAVERN, despite its ‘brown’ cover (sorry, I have a thing about brown covers) is wonderfully colourful, and characterful. Yes, line by line it can get a little clunky, but the charm won me over. I had a few issues with tension, and things seem to work out quite well for everyone involved a little too easily, but then again the same can be said of Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames, which is one of my favourite books. There’s plenty of similarities between the two, the more I think about it, but Tavern needs to look a little deeper, to find its heart, and embrace that.
This was a strong contender for me, and even though it didn’t make it as a Hive semifinalist, I can see plenty of people liking it. If you’re looking for D&D-but-different, then give this a shot!
Miriam R. Dumitra
Five outcasts. A forgotten secret. The looming threat of war.
When her magic sparks out of control, Jenna is cast out of the Ideian university she calls home. Armed with a mysterious book that seems to promise answers, the legacy of her disgraced House, and her crutches, she embarks on a quest to learn to control her powers. She is determined to return to researching Ideon and Saint Brazen’s war-torn history but soon realizes the countries’ shaky peace may not last the summer. Little does she know there are four others whose paths are destined to cross with hers:
The innocent arsonist, willing to sacrifice lives for the thrill of the flame.
The reformed thief, torn between atonement and revenge.
The unwilling killer, weighing a chance at love against the need for control.
The idealistic soldier, forced to examine his simplistic beliefs.
Each of them carries a piece of the secret that may unlock the true mystery behind the past wars—and the war still to come.
I quite liked what I read of Brightshade. The characters are as flawed as they are intriguing, and Jenna in particular is very easy to sympathise with. However, the story jumps about all over the place, which is a bit confusing (and was probably exacerbated by the book’s poor formatting). In the end I just wasn’t engaged enough to keep reading, though I suspect others may love it. (And what a cover!)
We dart through a range of opening scenes – each of which, individually, has some appeal in its writing and character. We begin with an impish firestarter working for a service that sounds like a kind of government protection racket (businesses who offend it have unfortunate and presumably uninsured accidents). Then we meet a man called Rise – on the run across a rainy lake – arriving in a tavern, where he finds himself commenting, “What heaven have I landed in that a tavern keeper gives me a meal and an unknown farmer hands me a pack of supplies?” A heaven somewhat short on dramatic tension, I’d say.
To have three different prologue flashbacks might be considered misfortune, but to then begin part 1 with a fourth starts to look like carelessness. Opening with backstory threads headed 16 months ago, 6 months ago, 2 months ago, and then part 1 with a heading ‘8 years ago’ smacks of an authorial indecision about where to begin the story. It also left me uncertain as to what the story was.
When at last we met the present day and a pair of new characters, there was a chance to settle into a complex world and history that is not without interest. A world with illegal magic makes fertile ground for a fantasy story, as conflict is built into the world setting. But there were too many initial threads that still needed pulling together – a tangle more than a weave. A big cast of characters had too much effort spent giving us their backstories in confusing flashback. So this didn’t make it to semifinalist status and a full read for me, though I would hope that reading on would reveal more tension and action to be found in the characters’ present than in flashback.
I will say the formatting of the .mobi document we received for this story was dreadful, so much so that I downloaded the free Kindle sample instead.
I couldn’t actually tell you what this story was about. What I read was very much character-driven. We’re presented with a number of different point-of-view characters, and I found them all engaging and intriguing – I wanted to continue reading to find out what their stories would be. Unfortunately, the jumping around between times was somewhat confusing. As Theo detailed, it seemed like we were getting to the point of the “present” from which we were reading sixteen months ago, then six, then two – but instead we travel back further to eight years ago. It left me feeling somewhat detached from the point at which we should be taking the “ago” from – where was the now from which to base this context?
Ultimately this intangible narrative left the story slipping from my mind.
I just want to take a moment to say: LOOK AT THAT COVER. Even as a thumbnail it’s stunning. Up close, all the details are fantastic, and yes, those are crutches amidst the tendrils of magic…
I had high, high hopes for this one.
But getting there was a bit of a slog. Like the others have already said, the head hopping here spoiled the chance to jump in at the deep end and enjoy the depth the story promises. Because of this head hopping, at times it’s hard to figure out who is the main character, and who to root for. Not just head hopping, but timeline hopping too… I felt like I needed a map, not of the world, but of the timeline and events.
Imp is an interesting character, but Rise’s story starts too conveniently, and is a little bit unbelievable. Adrianne is interesting, but by the time her story kicked in I was so confused I had started to lose interest. At that point, the book suddenly states ‘Part 1’ and I’m even more confused. That being said, it’s quite well written.
Fundamentally this could do with a really good structural edit to streamline it and pull out the story from behind the background noise. So much promise here – just needs some more work.
The formatting of the book we received to judge was absolutely horrible and actually more or less unreadable. Having to read the sampler on my phone instead of the whole book on my e-reader was already a bit of a bother to start with.
From then on I just got more and more impatient, and I’ll explain why.
I liked the first prologue well enough, though I was a bit confused when going from prologue to “sixteen months ago,” which then started with:
Step four: secure the fuse around the oldest timbers. Make sure it does not drag or pinch. Beware of stupid instructions.
But on I went and found it still interesting enough! At the end of that chapter I was finally starting to settle in a bit, just to get to the next one: “Six months ago”. So once more I was starting from scratch.
Then “two months ago” followed by maps that looked really amateurish. While I love maps, I think in this case no map would have been better. Or just say “sketches of a map available on my website” so people expect something like a quick sketch and not a professional map.
Anyway, I still read on, and thought I’d finally made it to the actual story… only to be greeted by “Eight years ago,” completely throwing me out once more.
I’m sorry to say that if this was a book I’d picked up anywhere else I’d not even have gotten to this point. The beginning is where you need to really catch your reader.
So, I think this has a lot of promise. With better formatting, better quality (or just no) maps, and less confusion and chaos in the front I think I might have enjoyed it. I clicked with the characters, I just didn’t get to stay with any scene long enough to actually be drawn in. Because every time I started to sink in, I was catapulted right back out.
K. Vale Nagle
A bloody massacre. A looming civil war. Can two opposed gryphons work together to save their kind?
Zeph thrills at the wind in his wings and the hunt for wild parrot. As a simple forest gryphon, he never thought much about his sophisticated city-dwelling cousins living in the lofty eyrie at the edge of the woods. But his carefree life turns upside down when he comes across a young city gryphon stunned by her discovery of a field littered with slaughtered animals.
Kia always has her beak in a book. But when her best friend goes missing, she flies down to the woodland and gets tangled up with a wild country gryphon and a shocking conspiracy. With food in short supply and war on the horizon, Kia must choose between forsaking her own or allowing Zeph’s people to be wiped off the map.
Forced to overcome their prejudice and misconceptions, the unlikely pair races against time to prevent an apocalypse.
Can Zeph and Kia unite their species before a fiery conflict destroys them all?
Eyrie is the first book in the high-flying Gryphon Insurrection epic fantasy series. If you like mythical creatures, graphic battles, and moral dilemmas, then you’ll love K. Vale Nagle’s darkly compassionate tale.
Let me start by saying that Eyrie has some of the highest production values in this year’s contest. Eye-catching cover, clean formatting – on the surface, it’s professional in every sense.
The story itself was a point of contention between us. Now, the idea of gryphons as protagonists may seem cheesy to some, but the author writes them really convincingly (albeit with an almost kid-lit level of anthropomorphism), and supports them with strong worldbuilding and a rich social and environmental setting.
The first 20% was a really easy read, and Eyrie came close to being one of my picks for semi-finalist. However, the pace seemed to slow considerably after that, and I ended up setting it aside with some regret.
Fair play to the author for going entirely non-human in his rival feathered beings (and including some lovingly rendered pictures of examples of each species in the book’s front matter). We have the city-dwelling opinici and the forest-dwelling gryphons. With a gryphon – Zeph – as protagonist we get a sort of Jonathan Livingston Seagull opening. The author has given some thought to the evolution of gryphons, though he has to then dart into a kind of omniscient narrator perspective to share that with us. The effect is that some of the descriptive elements read as if they were meant to be voice overs by David Attenborough, particularly lines like “They maintained genetic diversity by interbreeding with other prides.”
I felt that the author’s work and love for the world/species he has created led him to an early oversharing of the richly imagined details of that world, to the neglect of developing his protagonists and the personal conflict and threat they experience. We open with a mystery of a slaughtered herd of animals, a blood-stained notebook and two characters of different species who may yet develop a romantic attachment (just guessing here); but, notwithstanding the uniqueness of the world and its people, I feel this needed more front-loaded action to secure a semifinalist spot.
This really isn’t my kind of fantasy.
I have to admit, when I saw the cover, and then read the blurb, my first thoughts were: My Little Pony. I mean, griffin. Er, gryphon. That’s not me poking fun at the book at all, it’s just that I have a daughter who loves My Little Pony, and is constantly bickering with her brother and his love of Pokemon.
Lots of love and attention has gone into this book, doubly so with the attention to detail of the non-humanoid cast. Despite this, I couldn’t get my head into their heads a la voice of the story, and found myself switching between ‘I’m a gryphon, caw/rawr!’ and David Attenborough narration.
As much as I didn’t think I’d enjoy this, part of me actually did. Which is pretty good going on the author’s part. The book might not have won a spot as a semi-finalist, but it won me over enough to read it. Fair play.
There’s definitely an audience out there for Eyrie – I won’t be first in line, but I might turn up one day.
I am so disappointed that certain other fellow judges did not feel as positive about Eyrie as I did. Straight off, I loved that we weren’t dealing with human protagonists here, putting me in mind of certain characters of Adrian Tchaikovsky’s. However, the first chapter was much lighter than Children of Time; I tore through it enjoying the simplicity of the storytelling.
Therefore, I was very surprised by the themes that began to become apparent in chapter two: racism, class struggles, sustainability. I loved the world building, the innovations the various creatures had come up with within their societies. I wanted to learn more about the struggles between the gryphons and the opinici, and how their growing worlds could co-exist.
Obviously it requires a great deal of suspension of belief – but then you should come into fantasy already prepared to do that. I think there could have been a lot more to this one!
I like non-human main characters a lot! But then I don’t want them “humanised”… and this did feel a bit like differently shaped humans and not like a wholly different species. It also felt a bit too easy both in plot and prose, and I wished for more depth in the characters.
I read about 15% of it and while I liked the start, it quickly lost steam on me. I do love the sketches at the beginning though!
I think this might not have been my personal cup of tea, but could be someone else’s favourite book for the exact things that didn’t work for me.
Cloak of the Two Winds
Pirates, sorcerers, and witches battle for an ancient magical treasure.
To the Iruk people of the South Polar Sea, the crew of a hunting boat is sacred–a band of men and women warriors bound by oath and a group soul. But when Lonn leads his crew away from the hunt to pursue his dream of a treasure ship, they find more than an easy bit of piracy.
The ship belongs to the witch Amlina, and after the Iruks carry off her possessions, they are robbed in turn. Worse, one of their band is taken–Glyssa, the woman Lonn loves.
To rescue her, the Iruks must join forces with Amlina on a perilous voyage far from the seas they know. To Lonn and his mates, nothing matters but saving Glyssa. But Amlina knows much more is at stake. Among her possessions is an object of ancient power. In the wrong hands, the Cloak of the Two Winds can unravel the age-old magic that keeps the world from chaos.
I read to 20%, and though I liked it, I didn’t love it. However, I suspect many others will; Cloak of the Two Winds boasts some really innovative and immersive worldbuilding, including day-to-day details and hardships of the Inuit-like lifestyles (traversing the ice on skates, returning to their home and struggling to make it warm again, preparing food, etc). However, my main gripe with this one was the pacing. I simply found it too slow, and despite my admiration of the immersive narration, the book just didn’t ‘click’ with me for some reason.
I liked this one a lot for its originality and wit, and not just in making me smile at the book’s front matter: “Any similarity to actual sorcerers, pirates or witches is purely coincidental.” After a slightly slow start, where a lot of complex character and world information got pushed out in the first couple of pages, we fell into a gripping sea/ice chase. The sea and ship information felt convincing and authentic even with its strange “sail on ice and on water” quirk that the world and the story demands.
The tension built nicely and I found the notion of sentient plant “windbringers” to be a very novel concept. I imagined them as sort of talking cyclops cacti in plant pots. We did get some helpful exposition/world history lessons from the talking cactus. I felt the author chose wisely in delivering information after the initial burst of action and through a talking cactus, rather than having it paraded up front in a pointless prologue masquerading as the lost writings of some long-dead wise man (pet hate alert).
I got myself a new word courtesy of the story and kindle dictionary: “rime,” frost formed on cold objects by the rapid freezing of water vapour in cloud or fog. Which is by way of saying there is a nice turn of descriptive phrase here.
I liked the world building, a different kind of community, with domed tent-style houses made from the bones and hide of some kind of ocean leviathan, along with a few customs and rituals that help bring the world alive. I like the fact that I am engaged with the character of a talking cactus – something like a cross between Orac from Blake’s Seven and P.G. Wodehouse’s Jeeves, if you could imagine such a thing. We did have one of the iruks lecturing the talking cactus in a reciprocal infodump – trading the cultural SP for legendary history. Getting a decent infodump is difficult – I think the question you have to ask is whether it’s even necessary. I much preferred the showing of the rituals. I want to learn a new land like a backpacker travelling the world, not like a tourist subject to a tour-guide’s pontifications. At the same time, the world the Iruk depicts is creditably diverse and continues to be a fresh alternative to the medievo-european stereotype.
At the 20% mark this was one of my semi-finalist contenders and I would have happily seen it in the semi-final six. Just because it missed out doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a go.
My initial reaction to Cloak of the Two Winds was that I loved it: I loved how different the setting was, I loved the cultural set-up, I loved the character interactions (which felt natural and distinct and not at all forced). It even introduced a female character using the personal pronoun only! (And not, for example, “the female sailor” *shudders*)
However, it cooled off quite quickly for me. It felt like, by chapter two, the quality of the writing was beginning to slip and didn’t feel quite as polished as that first chapter. The world-building was still fascinating, but I felt the lesson on magic delivered via dialogue to be quite tedious. I appreciate it’s often difficult to convey important information to the reader, and there were moments that were amusing (like Eben’s increasing frustration); but generally I’m of the “I don’t want my magic explained” school. I’m happy to know she has various trinkets, I don’t necessarily need to know how they work.
There were moments I loved in this story: Lonn’s reflection of whether or not he is a good enough leader; the quirks of their friendships; the mystery of what the witch might do to them. But again, it came down to the execution of the writing style in the end.
From the opening, this had me in the mind of The Wolf in the Whale and The Bone Ships. That being said, it was unlike anything I had read before. It’s not groundbreaking, but it does carve out a new course on frigid seas.
But despite the many, many good ideas, and the different direction it was taking them in, the hand on the tiller slipped as the story went on, and the quality of the storytelling and pacing became a bit of a bumpy ride. If this were treated to another draft – not just structurally, as some areas need a line-by-line rewrite to clean them up – this would certainly have been a contender for me.
I really enjoyed this one, and will probably finish it after the contest. I love the concept and the world that doesn’t feel like I’ve read it 100 times before! The characters were interesting and not like cardboard cutouts.
But overall it was a bit too slow and in some places the prose wasn’t hooking me as much as other books in our batch managed. So even though this is a good one, and I encourage people to take a close look and see if it might be for them, it isn’t a winner in this contest for me.
Commiserations to the eliminated authors. On a more positive note…
Our sixth and last semi-finalist is:
The First of Shadows
How do you kill a shadow?
As a raging storm descends on the Blasted Coast, the crippled young rigger, Caleb Rusk, meets a stranger on the road. Little does he know that the encounter will pull him into a conflict that threatens everything he holds dear—and change the course of his life forever.
Meanwhile, in the Capital of Taralius, a string of inexplicable deaths have captured the attention of the Ember Throne. Second Corporal Avendor Tarcoth is tasked with uncovering the truth behind a danger that could threaten the very fabric of the Realm.
The First of Shadows impressed me from the outset. The dark, atmospheric, dramatic opening chapter is followed by a more mundane segment featuring a very sympathetic character, and it does a phenomenal job of introducing a whole bunch of stuff without infodumping or excessive exposition. I’m very happy to have the opportunity to read this one in full.
I liked the cover, and the story pitches you pretty much straight in. A drifter on a laboured climb is under some kind of threat; stuff happens, but the author avoids the perils of info-dumping. A demon appears – suitably demonically – with a distinctive voice leading into a tense battle scene. We jump away from the drifter as he is weighing up a variety of pretty poor options, and pick up a rigger working on skyships!
There is some appealing diversity in the cast, and the backstory is bleeding in subtly, giving the book’s opening a well-balanced feel. The first two threads joined up in quite a satisfying way and there is an appeal in that simplicity. However, we did then jump across to a fresh story thread and a different location with a lot of named characters – of indeterminate significance – being flung at me.
As we closed in on the last semi-finalist/full readthrough spot, things were getting tight. In a strong field, First of Shadows had appeal enough to get through, and I am looking forward to reading on. Skyships ahoy!
I’m really quite excited for this one, I tore through that first 19%. It was an exciting opening, introducing us straight away to a mysterious figure in peril and – massive tick-box for me – a magic system that’s so ancient they’ve forgotten how it works. Not original, I know, but I fall for it every time. Not to mention the Welsh influence. Although I did wonder over their choice of translation: “Caer Un” would be Fort One, and I wondered if perhaps they meant First Fort, which would be “Caer Cyntaf”…
Anyway, following this, we’re introduced to a new point-of-view character who is immediately likeable and a great draw into the continuation of the story.
I had one or two issues with the prose; “it stood taller than a crag hound,” for example. The reader doesn’t know what a crag hound is, therefore this isn’t a particularly effective description. Furthermore, its mane of fur began as a bramble at the start of the sentence, but was likened to overgrown bog grass by the end of it; this shifting description left me unclear as to what I was supposed to be picturing. I’m hoping there won’t be any similar occurrences throughout the rest of the book.
I really enjoyed the start of this one! Interesting world building with some mysteries hooked me right from the start. I absolutely want to learn more about all the things hinted at – and that worked so well without any info-dumps. Kudos for that!
I liked the characters I got to meet, and even though I’ve only read about 20% so far I found them nicely fleshed out and with a good individual feeling. In a lot of the books I read for SPFBO (that was 60 titles for me!) the characters often felt a bit underdeveloped and bland or stereotyped. These I clicked with early on!
Definitely one I will finish and a worthy semifinalist. So you’ll hear more about this one from me.
This book packs a hell of a punch, with plenty of weight behind it, especially considering how short it was. It’s full of action, and fast paced, though in hindsight I do wonder if the length helps to speed things up.
I’ve highlighted length as a concern with two other semi-finalists, and it would be unfair of me if I didn’t do the same here (size matters…sometimes? All the time? Don’t get me started). This rocks out at 143 pages on Kindle, 170 in paperback. That’s novella territory. And at risk of repeating myself, a story should only be as long as it needs to be, but seeing as this is part of a wider series (Varkas Chronicles) it felt a little bit like a taster rather than a proper bite.
That’s not to say it doesn’t have teeth – because it really does! A full cast, a magic system, and action aplenty. I do wonder if this has one too many POVs for its size, but that didn’t detract from the story. All in all, I’m sure this book has a place on many readers’ shelves out there, and I for one look forward to adding the rest of the series to my own Goodreads’ shelves in the future.
*** Congratulations to Deck Matthews and THE FIRST OF SHADOWS! ***
To recap, here are the Hive’s six SPFBO 5 semi-finalists:
- The Kishi by Antoine Bandele
- Snowspelled by Stephanie Burgis
- Uncanny Collateral by Brian McClellan
- The Steel Discord by Ryan Howse
- A Tale of Stars and Shadow by Lisa Cassidy
- The First of Shadows by Deck Matthews
We’ll spend the next couple of weeks reading these semi-finalists in full, and will post our full reviews – and finalist announcement! – in the final week of November. In the meantime, check out the graphic and list below for our full roster of entries, as well as links to more SPFBO 5 goodness! And definitely take a second look at any of the books we’ve reviewed that appeal to you. Just because we didn’t love them doesn’t mean you won’t!
A.B. Endacott, Queendom of the Seven Lakes A.M. MacDonald, Remember the Dawn
- Antoine Bandele, The Kishi* (*semi-finalist)
Becka Sutton, Haventon Born Brad Carsten, The Wretched
- Brian McClellan, Uncanny Collateral* (*semi-finalist)
C.Z. Edwards, Kingdom: Rien’s Rebellion
- Deck Matthews, The First of Shadows* (*semi-finalist)
Deston J. Munden, Tavern E.L. Drayton, Daxton Eli Celata, The One That Lives Frank G. Albelo, The Hall Gaia J. Kos and Boris Kos, Evenfall Harry Young, These Forgotten Gods Jack Massa, Cloak of the Two Winds Jacob Rasmussen, The Fall Jeffrey L. Kohanek, The Buried Symbol Justin DePaoli, Dragonsoul K. Vale Nagle, Eyrie Kade Cook, Grey
- Lisa Cassidy, A Tale of Stars and Shadow* (*semi-finalist)
Madeleine D’Este, Women of Wasps and War Matthew Satterlee, Forlorn Dimension Miriam R. Dumitra, Brightshade
- Ryan Howse, The Steel Discord* (*semi-finalist)
Sean Monaghan, The Map Maker of Morgenfeld Sergio C. Pereira, The Not-So-Grim Reaper
- Stephanie Burgis, Snowspelled* (*semi-finalist)
Tracy Cooper-Posey, The Branded Rose Prophecy Zamil Akhtar, Song of a Dead Star
If you’re following SPFBO 5, let us know about any entries that have caught your fancy! Join the discussion on social media (there’s a Facebook group here) and weigh in on Twitter using the hashtag #SPFBO.
Stay tuned over the next couple of weeks as we review our semi-finalists and eventually pick our finalist (exciting!!), and check out our introduction to round 1!