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Haxan by Kenneth Mark Hoover
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Opening set-up: A+, with one of the best opening sentence hooks I've read. Drew me right in.
Character development: Well, let's put it this way -- I got to know Marshal John T. Marwood so well that I could taste the coffee in his cup and smell the oil in his saddle. That plain enough? :) Deputy Jake and Miss Magra stood out to me as well, a lot. The thing I liked most about the character intros was that they were less about what the folks looked like and MORE about what made them different from the characters I'd already met. Also, John's inner dialogue was never just filler. Every word (and his choice of word) cemented who he was, the era he lived in, and code he lived by.
Plot and Tension: Good!
Point of View: Excellent.
Overall: What stood out the most for me during this read was the descriptive words and phrases. It was like mind candy, words put together into fresh descriptions I'd never read before and that made Marwood and Haxan so real, I could touch them. Very nice. Like I said, I could smell the wood of the hitching posts, y'all.
One thing bugs me, though. Towards the ending, things were revealed concerning the Marshal that changed the whole tone (and even the genre somewhat) of the story for me. There's no way to say more without giving a spoiler. I couldn't help wishing it had been made a bigger deal of earlier on because I loved the implications of it...
The Haxan prequel, Quaternity, came out this past May. I'll be ordering it this weekend, should have already done it!
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Instead of watching from the outside in (the norm when you're writing), I existed inside of a story. You haven't lived unless you've lived in Medieval Times!