D. L. Morrese

Disturbing Clockwork

Disturbing Clockwork
Categories: ,
Publisher:
Published: April 20, 2013
Not so long ago, on a planet not too far away, a quirky inventor washes up on a desert island and discovers devices that defy belief. They appear to be clockwork automatons, but he has never seen their like, and, brilliant as he is, he cannot imagine how they can do the things they do—which is pretty much anything asked of them. Such amazing technology! Where did they come from? How do they work? Benkin, a lifelong student of natural philosophy, sees them as a key to unlock scientific secrets and the wonders of the universe. Snyde, a dangerous fugitive from the king’s justice, sees them as a means to power.

Reviewed by Awesome Indies

August 15, 2013

David Morese knows how to write a good story. His plots and pacing are always excellent, carrying you smoothly from beginning to end without you ever being quite sure where he’s going to take you next. This novel, though very enjoyable, didn’t involve me emotionally. It’s an entertaining light fantasy with charming characters, told from the viewpoint of an omniscient narrator, and it has no sex and little violence, making it suitable for the whole family.

Although the novel stands alone, the world is the same one used in the Warden Threat and the Warden War. Trixie and Kwestor are the main characters this time, with Prince Donald making an appearance near the end. Mo, the android dog also has an important role. Trixie is a gutsy young lady and an endearing character, and Kwestor is … unique. I really like his dry observations on the nature of humankind.

The antagonist in the story is a sly creepy character who aims to find riches and a place for himself by manipulating the head of one of the Groves – a kind of borough within a Kingdom – and encouraging him in his bid to challenge the King’s power. He kidnaps a  scientist who found some very unusual and baffling machines that look like mechanical crabs and are capable of great destruction when directed by the wrong sort of person. Trixie, escorted by Kwestor, is carrying a message from Prince Donald to the scientist. She finds him gone and his friends don’t know where he is or what has happened. So begins their quest to unravel the mystery. At the same time, mechanical giant bugs are wrecking havoc in the town, and though there seems no logical reason for it, Kwestor wonders if the events are related.

The previous books in this series are sometimes listed as science fiction, but I consider them more fantasy, because the science fiction aspect of the world is hidden from most of the characters, and it rarely impinges on the story. The world we are presented with is definitely a medieval society. Although this book has some similarities with steampunk in so far as it has a spunky girl heroine and some wonderful machines, it  isn’t truly steampunk, because books of that genre are set in our world in an alternate Victorian era where steam power and clockwork have become highly refined.  Like much independently published fiction, this book crosses genre boundaries and, I think, is more interesting because of it.

Well worth a read if you want a light fantasy.

Amy’s Pendant

Amy’s Pendant
Publisher:
Published: March 9, 2013
Amy, the only child of a poor family living in the bustling city of Dolphin Point, is given an amazing and potentially dangerous pendant as a present for her fourteenth birthday. She does not know how amazing or how potentially dangerous it is. If she did, she would cherish it even more. She is that kind of girl. Through her investigations of the mysterious pendant, she uncovers an ancient mystery—the remnants of a vast alien commercial enterprise buried beneath surface of the planet. Unfortunately, the central computer for the complex is aware of her intrusion and it cannot let her escape with knowledge of its existence.

The Warden War

The Warden War
Published: January 7, 2014
Prince Donald’s father, King Leonard of Westgrove, has been told that the neighboring kingdom of Gotrox has discovered a magical means to animate a mysterious and gigantic ancient stone warrior, the Warden of Mystic Defiance, which it plans to use it to spearhead an invasion of his country. Donald is convinced this is a hoax carefully crafted by his father’s chief adviser to bring about a war to gain control of Gotroxian resources. Donald is determined to thwart him. It will not be easy. Chief Adviser Horace Barter has resources, connections, influence, and the almost unquestioned trust of the king. Donald, sadly, has none of these. What the young prince does have is a nominal position with the diplomatic team being sent to Gotrox and the companionship of a few rather unique friends including a pair of 15,000-year-old androids, one of which is a dog–or a reasonable facsimile thereof.

The Warden War is the second book in a series about Prince Donald of Wesgrove, a naive young man with a desire to be a hero who steadily grows up as the two books progress. The first book, The Warden Threat, was a good story, but this is even better. The writing is stronger, the story tighter and its light-hearted approach does not detract from the drama. This is quite simply an excellent story that, although it doesn’t take itself too seriously, makes important observations on the nature of humanity and the dangers of trusting someone with the power to manipulate the information received by those in power.

 

 The addition of the androids—their true nature unknown to Donald and his friends—creates an unusual mix of ancient fantasy and science fiction, and provides ample opportunity for amusing banter when, unnoticed by the others, the androids speak ‘mentally’ to each other.

Morrese’s writing style is simple and effective, giving us clear descriptions without anything extraneous.  The plot interesting, well paced and sometimes surprising. Although we don’t go as deeply into some of the supporting characters in this book, their characters have been well established previously. The focus in this book is more on the android Nash and Prince Donald himself. Perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of the book is how well Donald’s character is developed. He doesn’t just grow up; he earns his father’s respect step by step and by the end shows all the qualities of a selfless hero without a hint of artifice.

On the surface, this is just a light, entertaining read, but underneath is the solid ground of an insightful comment on the machinations of politics and human nature. I think it’s a particularly excellent read for teenage boys.

The Warden Threat

The Warden Threat
Published: March 1, 2012
A lighthearted parody.

Reviewed by Awesome Indies

September 28, 2012

‘The Warden Threat’ is a light-hearted parody of epic fantasy. Though the genre is noted as science fiction, the science fiction was suggested rather than explicit. It’s a fun read with a darker underlying theme of political and religious manipulation.

Our hero is Prince Donald, third son of the king of Westgrove and quintessential archetypal fool. He’s sweet, naive and idealistic, and longs to be the hero in a story. He’s left the palace to wander the country in search of adventure and to get to know the ordinary people. Luckily his guide is a worldly wise character who is able to moderate the Prince’s impulses.  When it comes to his notice that an ancient and massive magical stone warrior known as the Warden of Mystic Defiance in the neighbouring kingdom is going to be woken and used in a war against Westgrove, Donald sees it as his chance to prove his mettle and be the one to save the kingdom.

Nothing turns out as he planned. Everything is much more complex and difficult than he imagined, and it soon becomes apparent that in real life, the hero is not always predestined to save the day.

However, true to the fool archetype, his amusing bungles make it clear to him that he knows nothing, and that knowledge makes him open to the truth. Because he wanders with ordinary people, he sees things that the King in his throne room cannot. Donald discovers that something is brewing and it’s not what the King thinks it is. Will he listen to Donald though?

Donald is a delightful character who grows as the book progresses, and his two companions are equally as endearing in their own way. I love the way his guide nurture’s Donald’s development, knowing when to step in and when to back off. He is the archetypal father to Donald’s fool. The generous, always hungry and not very smart sidekick is reminiscent of the zanni characters from the Commedia del arte.

This is a well written book with a point beneath the humour. Greed is a great motivator, religion can become a method of indoctrination, rumour and mistrust can create wars, and fear and ignorance are a lethal combination.

This book looks deceptively simple, but there is a lot more to it than first meets the eye. It’s a skilfully executed work by a talented author with a unique voice. I recommend it to all who enjoy parody of either the fantasy or political kind. Perfect for cynics.

 

Awesome Allshorts: Last Days, Lost Ways

Awesome Allshorts: Last Days, Lost Ways
This superbly written short story anthology showcases talented Awesome Indie authors from around the globe. Though from a variety of genres, the stories are all entertaining, contemporary and thought-provoking.   Indulge your taste for good fiction with this short story anthology by authors with bold new voices. Though from diverse genres, the stories share a contemporary and contemplative feel that will linger long after the reader has read the last one. Awesome Allshorts showcases talented authors from around the globe, many whose novels have received multiple honors, including Awesome Indies approved status. Stories selected by Tahlia Newland, Dixiane Hallaj and Richard Bunning.

Reviewed by Bill Kirton

First, a disclaimer. This volume contains a flash fiction story of mine but the review relates to the other 26 contributions. It’s entirely objective. If it weren’t, I’d be undermining my credibility as a reviewer.

The enigmatic subtitle of the collection, Last Days, Lost Ways, hints at disjunction, reflection, scenes in which a variety of voices recount departures, frustrations, lost or decaying loves. In fact, as you read from story to story, the variation in styles and subjects, the movement from striking characters to bleak or funny situations, the range of emotions provoked – all combine to make this a rich experience.

The authors all know how to grab the reader and draw him/her very quickly into the specifics of their settings and the mysteries of the characters and their obsessions. The mood swings from anxious to loving, sinister to funny, despairing to whimsical, futuristic to domestic, romantic to dystopian. Some stories are firmly set in an apparently mundane everyday world, but one unpicked by a character’s reactions to its pressures and interpretations of its moments. Others move straight into the paranormal or historical. But all touch on aspects of life, fears, relationships which will have echoes in readers’ own experience.

The anthology exemplifies the flexibility and continuing relevance of a form which is nowadays enjoying an overdue revival.

Reviewed by Amy Spahn

Full disclosure: One of my short stories appears in this anthology. This review is about the others.

I did not expect these stories to move me as deeply as they did. Short works often struggle to pack a significant punch in their diminished wordcount, but the pieces contained in this collection rise to the occasion. Some had me on the edge of my seat in suspense. Some brought tears to my eyes with their emotional depth. And some utilized unique writing styles so artfully that they should be studied in literature classes.

Like with any anthology, not everything in this book will appeal to every reader. But the breadth and depth of the writing styles, storylines, and people explored make it deserving of a spot on any avid reader’s shelf.

Reviewed by

Ignite

 

This is a collection of stories subtitled Last Days and Lost Ways. I received an Advanced Review Copy. It is not the final version. I don’t know if the stories will appear in this order but I found I didn’t really get on with most of those in the first half. The second half of the book picked up for me, but if I hadn’t been reading to review, I might easily have lost interest and abandoned it.

The writing was good. It was the definition of ‘story’ which didn’t click with me in some cases. To me, and I suspect, to many readers, a short story is a complete tale. Some of these read as, or maybe even were, excerpts from some longer work and I didn’t like that. I wanted closure.

The stories I liked best were Pearls, Home late, The Creator, Recipe for a Dinner Party, Standin’ at the Crossroads, Waitin; for the Devil to Show and A Matter of Trust. I enjoyed these stories and the feeling of having savoured a complete experience with them.

Reviewed by

Justin Spahn

As the husband of one of the authors in this anthology, I was given the opportunity to read an advance copy in exchange for an honest review. So, here it is!

I’ve read a few short story anthologies, and this one is definitely the most interesting. The collection is richly diverse in terms of subject matter, national origin and setting, narrative tone, length, and literary style. As I read, I found myself jumping from fantasy to vignette to full plots inspired by true events, and the transition somehow is fluid and seamless rather than jarring or distracting. Awesome Indies has managed to build an enjoyable whole out of various and disparate components!

Among my favorites in the lineup were ‘Clearing the Shed’, ‘Quarantine’, ‘I, Zombie’, ‘Chasing Dreams in the Time Left Over’, ‘Traffic’, ‘Standin’ at the Crossroads, Waitin’ for the Devil to Show’, ‘Home Late’, ‘A Matter of Trust’, ‘Pearls’, and what is likely the stylistic jewel of this collection, ‘Recipe for a Dinner Party’.

This anthology asked me interesting questions, presented me with some of my greatest fears in life, introduced me to new ideas not common in conventionally published shorts, and fed an interest in diverse snippets of literature that I didn’t even know I had.

To sum it up best, I’ll paraphrase one of the author’s descriptions regarding the virtues of the short stories collected in this anthology: The short form gives authors the opportunity to write in ways that couldn’t be sustained for an entire novel.

I recommend reading these shorts–open yourself up to unique experiences from authors all around the world who love writing so much that they publish themselves.

Reviewed by

Sandra Padgett

This collection of wonderful stories covers a variety of themes. From satire to thriller to contemporary life and much more. Each story gets your attention and keeps it from start to finish. They are thought provoking, with characters, dialogue and themes that are believable, but sometimes out in the twilight zone, which is what I like. I will be looking for more works by the various authors and follow them in the future. I received this free from Simon Townley for an honest review. Outstanding! Recommend to any and all.

Reviewed by

Annie Evett

Both emerging and established writers from Europe, the USA, Australia and New Zealand present a peek into the spectacular moments everyday life holds, but with a twist.

The collection opens with a bang with a story by Tahlia Newland. Intriguing to the last paragraph, I was surprised to find it was an excerpt from her newest project. It sits perfectly as a short story and a wonderful teaser into what looks to be an exciting premise.

Each story has an incredible depth and texture to them, that, although is specific to its own style, melds beautifully as a collection. The human condition is explored where the reader is challenged to reassess their perspectives on stereotypes and events. Post apocalyptic tales sit comfortably with personalised stories like fragmented memories; separate, but with a golden thread holding them together. Heart-wrenching, whimsical, tear-jerking and lighthearted there is a story to suit all moods and readers tastes.

It is difficult to chose a favourite story, with a wrestling loving gran meeting her idol, to emotional trials of marriages breaking apart or forming, futuristic zombies and maids from a gentler time.

Authors are recognised in their own right with multiple honours and prizes and although the anthology is an eclectic mixture of genre, reading one after the other only highlights the complexity and intrigue each story brings.

A great book to stash into someones Christmas stocking for some fireside holiday reading, Awesome Allshorts is set to be a winner in your readers life.