THE DRESDEN FILES Reading Challenge

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Hi, all:

I've got a Twitter friend named Sam Gilmour, who has written a wonderful book that's the first in an ongoing series that he's self-publishing, and I wanted to share what I thought about it with y'all. I love to read, and this book is a wonderful romp. I really enjoy finding new authors, and Sam is a real prize. Please take a minute to go over to Smashwords and download a copy. It's well worth the money that you'll spend for it. My review is also posted at Amazon, by the way.


I just got finished reading GOLDEN MANE: BOOK I OF THE ADVENTURES OF SARAH COPPERNICK, and I have to say, for a first effort, this is a real winner.

Brief synopsis: Sarah Coppernick is having a very bad day. She has been in a fight with the school bully which resulted in the bully being very badly bitten, and Sarah being sent first to the principal’s office and then home. You see, Sarah isn’t a native Australian; she’s from Romania. She’s also 11 years old, flat-chested, skinny, has, in her own words “funny coloured eyes” (brown eyes are so light that they appear to be yellow), and also has a literal mane of frizzy hair that is yellow. Not blonde, yellow. She’s growing up in a culture that worships both beauty and conformity to a societal norm that she can’t fit into.

The teen years are horrid periods for almost everybody; this is the time of life when a teen is desperate to fit in and belong. In Sarah’s case, not only does she not fit the societal norm of “pretty teenaged girl”, she’s also got a name – Coppernick – that simply screams to a bully that it’s something to be made into a hurtful, hateful label. Never mind that it’s an Anglization of Copernicus and a famous, historically important name, it’s still something that bullies can make a whip out of. Of course, the teasing and the bullying never stops – until one day, when Sarah bites the biggest bully in the school.

When she gets home, she is talked to (and at, which is an adult aversion technique) about her troubles in school. Her Uncle Benjamin tells her that he’ll fix the problem (which he does, with hilarious results) and arranges for her to be taught out of his offices. He’s a book publisher that publishes educational books, so his offering to teach her and incidentally get her OUT of the nasty situation that she’s currently in is acceptable to the school principal.

After all this is settled, Uncle Robert, Aunt Roberta, Uncle Benjamin and Sarah all walk to a nearby park, where Sarah is acquainted with the true facts of her history: She’s a born werewolf, her werewolf group (the Golden Manes) is the rarest and most powerful of the groups, the two uncles and one aunt can all both transform into werewolves and still manage to talk as if they were in human form, and, basically, everything that she THOUGHT she knew was at complete right angles to the way things really are in her new world.

Her parents aren’t dead, just missing. Mandy Kelly, the bully that Sarah bit, is missing as well, and, since she’s been bitten, is going to turn into a half werewolf/half human monster unless the bunch of them can find her and take her to the werewolf world, Wolfenvald. There’s an evil force in the world that wants to either take her over, or, failing that, kill her so she can’t fulfill her destiny.

Uncle Benjamin’s offices are just as eccentric as he is, and Sarah’s school companion is a witch that’s in training to be a sorcerer. During the course of her schooling, Sarah discovers that every single magical creature that is supposedly mythological in our world actually has a world of its own. Instead of them being time continuums, the habitats for these folks are actually planets with doorways into our world and onto our planet. Sarah is especially a special person because she was not born on the werewolf world, but on our world and thus can move more freely between the two worlds.

There is a lot more, including the ending, which I have no intention of revealing here. Suffice it to say that the ending is predictable within the context of the storyline, makes sense while setting up the storyline for the next book, and is reasonably satisfactory.

Mr. Gilmour’s first effort, as I said, is entirely delightful. There are places where the pacing is a bit slower than I like, but that’s because it takes time to set up his story-telling universe which is always a slow process. There are a few rough edges, and an overdependence on exclamation points to make the plot points. Overuse of any sort of punctuation is annoying (to me at least) because it interrupts the flow of the story; when there are so many exclamation points, or commas, or lines between sentences separating thoughts, I find myself starting to count and write down just how many times it happens. That’s something that I myself struggle with, and I think that every new writer does the same thing. It’s all part of learning your craft.

This is, as I said to begin with, a completely delightful, fun book. The characters are well-written and well-presented, and, while the storyline is an old one (out-of-water misfit on a quest) it’s been given a new and interesting twist. The plot points are cogent, well-realized and logically presented. This is the first of what I anticipate being a wonderfully rewarding series of books as Sarah Coppernick learns how to be herself within the context of both our planet and her other planet. Now, Mr. Gilmour, hurry up and get the next one written. I have GOT to find out what happens next.

Over all, I give this novel 4½ stars out of 5.

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