I’ve been on panels with James and chatted with him at various conventions in the past year. I’m excited now to review his book The Actuator.
The Actuator, at its heart, is about what would happen if we could literally fashion the whole world after human fantasies. A machine called “The Actuator” is used by specially trained Machine Monks to imbue controlled areas with anything they can imagine, including magic, monsters, and advanced technology, with the ultimate goal of making the world into a kind of utopia. The only problem is everyone has their own interpretation of what would make things “ideal.” When the machine is sabotaged in such a way that the whole world is transformed into a patchwork of fantasy genre realms, from horror, to steampunk, to space opera and more, it is up to a small crew of Machine Monks and base workers to find the missing keys they need to shut down the machine and restore world order. Along the way, the characters learn that it isn’t the fantasies themselves that are destructive to mankind, but the selfish tendencies of human nature manifest in the way those fantasies are indulged.
This book has a fascinating premise. It’s fast-paced, action-packed, and offers a bit of a terrifying glipmse at the implications of human fantasies made literal.
It’s a Leafty review slue today!
I received a number of Danyelle’s ebooks to review a while ago, and I’m excited today to shout out these wonderful reads for youngsters. I really think Danyelle has done a fabulous job, and that these stories are worthwhile for readers of all ages. You can find links to each of the books on Amazon included in the reviews.
The Trouble With Toads
The Trouble with Toads is a great twist on the “ugly” (as opposed to “evil”) stepsister archetype. It’s easy to fall in love with the characters, and to sympathize with Bettony’s plight as her quest for magical solutions to her “ugliness” problem lead to a slue of disasters affecting everyone around her. This story has a lot of heart and keeps tension quite nicely. This is an excellent children’s/middle grade read.
Drink the Kindle potion here on Amazon.
Of Wind and Winter
This is a great children’s read for the winter season, full of magical, frosty imagery and highly creative, dynamic characters. I loved Aneira, the brave and humble heroine kidnapped by the dread Baba Yaga to do her magical bidding. The young girl is swept away on an adventure full of wonder and peril, but wants nothing more than to return home to her family. The ending is bittersweet.
Conjure the Kindle edition here on Amazon.
Slippers of Pearl
Slippers of Pearl is a fun middle grade fantasy that follows the misadventures of Faryn, a teenage boy of humble means who is sent away from home to apprentice in wizardry and take his uncle’s place in court after the old man’s (seemingly) final passing. Faryn, however, wants nothing to do with magic and would rather learn the cobbler’s trade. As the story unfolds, Faryn’s desire to make shoes and his reluctant affinity for magic that runs in his blood become wonderfully (if not always desirably) entwined. This shapes his emerging powers as well as his identity, and it was my favorite aspect of the story. The characters are wonderfully likeable, the magic is creative, and just when you think nothing else could go wrong, Faryn and his friends find themselves in even more trouble thanks to magic. Great story!
I really enjoyed all of these!
Try the Kindle edition of Slippers on for size here on Amazon.