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"...while finding true love was one of the most splendid things that could happen to you in life, finding a friend was equally splendid." -- Felix J Palma, The Map of the Sky

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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Evan Burl and the Falling by Justin Blaney

Evan Burl and the Falling (Vol. 1-4) by Justin Blaney

“Not all who dream are asleep.”

Evan Burl lives at Daemanhur Castle under the supervision of his evil Uncle Mazol. Evan finds a magical book belonging to Mazol and steals it; he believes Mazol has been using this book to communicate with the man he believes to be his father…His father sends a letter through the book insisting that Evan will grow to be the most powerful and evil Sapient (wizard) that the world has ever seen; that Evan should be destroyed before he can suffer a Falling and change the world for the worse. Determined to prove the letter wrong, Evan dedicates himself to two things: 1. refusing to use Sapience and 2. protecting the Roslings. The Roslings are 12 little girls who are sent to Daemanhur through the sky inside of caskets -- who aren’t allowed to eat, who can’t get sick, and who can’t die -- and are forced into slavery. When the seemingly impervious Roslings start to fall ill and die, Evan is forced to confront his destiny ahead of schedule.

I read and reviewed the ARC of Evan Burl and the Falling-Vol 1-2 last year. The story was an Indie novel picked up by a publishing house. Like many Indie’s the story was not without its flaws; but the bones of the story were fantastic even if the writing needed a little polishing. I gave it 4 stars. In return for my review of Vol 1-2, I was sent this copy of the polished version with its second half intact. I am incorporating parts of my first review into this, my second, making changes where necessary.

The Prologue starts off with the dramatic imagery of a literal fall through space; doing exactly what a good prologue should: making the reader wonder how our character got there in the first place. First time around, the chapters were hard to get through -- JB deciding to throw us right into a plotline with very little explanation for why things are happening or what certain things mean... Brilliance was overshadowed by confusion. Second time around, the paragraphs are more organized, sentence structure smoother, and punctuation and pronouns are being used more correctly. Most improved of all, JB remembers to take the time to introduce us to our main character, which makes the beginning easier and more enjoyable.

The story doesn’t waste anytime, opening with confrontation, magic and mystery. The atmosphere of the story is what really sucks you in; sure in the world of YA Novel, you’ve read one Boy-Wizard maybe you feel you’ve seen them all. But there’s something frightening about Evan Burl’s world: a creeping paranoia neither he nor the reader can escape. This isn’t an orphan wanting to be the hero; it’s an orphan terrified of being the villain and not knowing who, in his dark world, can be trusted. Just as before, I couldn’t put the story down. Just as before I had the questions: Who is Evan Burl? Who can he trust? What are the Roslings? And what the hell is going on?

Instead of trying to answer these questions in any sort of hurry, Justin Blaney fearlessly continues to expand his magical world into a paranoia fueled crazy train of magical happenings, murder, treachery, and insanity. Imagination is the key to Sapience and the more it is used, the harder it is to separate fiction from reality.

Except this time, I had something I didn’t have before. The promise that I was heading toward a concrete ending. If you thought Evan's life was hard in the early chapters...Wait until Anastasia, Claire, and Terisma get involved. No, they’re not Roslings, they’re Evan’s sisters and they’ve been left specific instructions on how to deal with Evan Burl… Fortunately for Evan they can’t agree on anything.

Last time I said I adored this book and I gave it a four star rating. This time the book was better and I loved it all the more, but it is still falling short of five stars. And now I’m going to justify that rating. Blaney’s got talent and the story is fantastic; I’m not saying either of those statements is untrue. But getting signed by a publishing house means the price tag on this book just went up; I have a certain expectation for books that come out of legitimate publishing houses, even new ones. Indie authors are less expensive, less edited--you get what you pay for: raw talent bogged down with mistakes.

If you pay for a finished book it ought to be finished. (The fact that mine was gifted free is entirely beside the point) And the sad reality is, even the revised edition still had its fair share of mistakes. The author still confuses like-sounding words such as reigns/reins and woman/women. Pronouns are still incorrectly used in a couple of places. And this time around he added something in that was just plain lazy: The Black Leopardi. All the work put into this beautiful novel, and then JB lost his mind and cut corners with something simple as a jungle cat. If you’re going to invent a cat, invent a cat. Otherwise Black Leopard will do just fine.

If you want to read a new take on Boy-Wizard or if dark fantasy-magical mystery sounds like it might be fun (I certainly thought it was!), and a few mistake don’t necessarily send you into troll-review mode then give this book a go. Even with its handful of problems, the story is worth the time.

Rating: 4/5

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