Today, I’m doing something a little different. I have asked Author Merry Simmons to guest post a review of Shannon Mayer’s debut novel, Sundered. Merry began her career writing for science fiction and fantasy markets and has recently turned to writing Romance novels, so she seems ideally suited to review a novel I’d loosely categorize as paranormal romance.
Before I turn to you over to Merry, I’d better tell you a little something about Sundered. The story begins with the revelation of a new drug called Nevermore, which seems to cure most chronic ailments suffered by humanity. Mara Wilson, a young wife longing to be a mother, joins the throngs swarming the medical clinics in hopes that this miracle drug will cure her infertility. She is shattered when a twist of fate stops her from taking the drug. But what seems like cruel misfortune becomes her salvation as the world discovers that the drug is not what it seems and everyone who has taken it begins to change . . .
With the advent of indie e-publishing, books no longer have to fulfill the specific genre requirements demanded by traditional publishers. Now stories don’t have to fit neatly into a box called Romance or Horror or Fantasy or Mystery. Writers are free to mix genres in order to better tell their tales.
Shannon Mayer has done just this in Sundered (Nevermore Trilogy). So, while this book was recommended to me as a Paranormal Romance, that’s not exactly what it is. The paranormal is there in spades. Ms. Mayer has used a scenario similar to that introduced over fifty years ago in Richard Matheson’s apocalyptic horror novel, I Am Legend, but she’s added her own twists and turns. The romance element is present, but it doesn’t follow the standard pattern of a couple meeting and falling in love. Instead, this first installment of the trilogy is very much a love story between husband and wife. The author has deftly woven all of these strands together into an intriguing and sometimes poignant tale of love, loss, and survival.
The novel was not perfect, however. I felt the author could have made the story even more compelling with some judicious trimming and focusing. Particularly at the beginning, the plot seems to meander when it should immediately grab the reader. Oddly enough, her human to human interactions don’t ring as true as her human to creature ones. (Please note, I’m trying very hard to avoid spoilers – J) And since this story is told in the first person point of view, Ms. Mayer could have delved more deeply into her protagonist’s psyche than she did. None of these things prevented me from enjoying the novel, but I hate to see missed opportunities to make a good book even better.
The only thing that really made my teeth itch was the formatting. Now, there is nothing sloppy about this novel’s formatting (a problem that too often appears in indie books). But the choice of style feels “wrong.” The paragraphs are not indented and are instead set off with an additional blank line between them. This is what I call email or “block” style. It is what I’m using for this review. But then, what I’m writing is an email. A book deserves the dignity of being presented in standard book format. I don’t think this is an evolving trend. I checked the other 30+ books that are currently living on my Kindle. None of them were written in this style.
On the whole, Sundered is an enjoyable read, although the fact this is the first installment of a trilogy should be taken seriously. The tale ends on a cliff hanger.
If you are interested in reading the Nevermore Trilogy, the first two novels are available in electronic format at the Kindle Store and at Smashwords. The third and final installation will be released on October 31st, so you won’t have long to wait for the conclusion.
Merry Simmons has published many short stories, primarily fantasy and science fiction. Her stories have appeared in magazines such as Asimov’s Science Fiction, Realms of Fantasy, and Paradox, as well as in assorted anthologies. She has recently turned to writing romance novels, one of which was runner-up in the RT/Kensington Brava Writing with the Stars Contest. Two other novels are currently in the finals for the Unpublished Maggie, in the historical romance category.