Welcome to the February 4th stop on the blog tour for Ten Years of Darkness by Kristen Chambers & Viktor H. Strangewayes, organized by Storytellers on Tour. Be sure to follow the rest of the tour for more reviews, guest posts and interviews with the author, and a giveaway! (More on that at the end of this post.)
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About the Book
Ten Years of Darkness
(Vaal’bara Historical Society #0)
by Kristen Chambers & Viktor H. Strangewayes
Published 27 October 2020
by Vaal’bara Historical Society
Genre: Dark Science Fantasy, Magical Realism
Page Count: 420
Add it to your Goodreads TBR!
Kristen Chambers was just an average girl.
Kristen tossed her pencil down. “Great, now they’ll think this is another angsty teenage vampire novel.” She rose and left the room, returning shortly thereafter with a blackened, crooked quill pen. Silently she cradled it in her hands for a moment before sitting down. In truth, she hated to use it. Its nib was distorted, and it left splotches of oily black on whatever it touched. But her hesitation went beyond the physical, bringing forth a sense of regret and guilt. Yet she knew the quill remained a part of her, even after its power had long been expended.
Pressing the instrument to the page, she started again.
Laurence, by his own admission, was a failure. An aspiring magician by trade, he had spent his days attempting to recreate something he knew in his heart must exist, but for some reason did not. His life was miserable, and he knew he would never amount to anything. In that regard, Kristen and Laurence had something in common, even though they had never met – or so they thought. Together, they both stood on the face of a coin, forever tumbling through time, unable to gain their bearings, always ignorant of what existed on the other side.
However, after the appearance of a dangerous stranger, their lives began to change, and many things that once seemed impossible, quite suddenly became all too real. Before long, powerful artifacts were being hunted down, demons had clashed with plague-bearing bats, and the remnants of races long since buried had crawled up to the surface. Their lives had taken a turn in a direction neither could have predicted, and one they were certainly not prepared for. With potential horrors looming on the horizon, and access to Magical resources having been intentionally obstructed, many questions still remain: Have they chosen to support the right factions? Are their goals worth more than those they are fighting against? And worst of all, have they gone through this entire process before?
From the group who founded the Vaal’bara Historical Society, Ten Years of Darkness takes place in an unsettling time before many events transpired, yet is simultaneously affected by their outcome. It follows characters both new and familiar, bringing as yet untold details to light while also exploring others from a unique perspective. Those seeking to learn the true mission of the Society may very well choose to start here, while other heroes who have already traveled the timeways at their side will find many clues to further their journey as they look toward the future.
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My Rating: 4 Stars
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I was granted complimentary review access to this book through two avenues, so I owe a few thanks before we get going. I’ll be featuring this book and my review on my blog on February 4th as part of the blog tour with Storytellers on Tour and was sent a copy through them, but I was also approved for this title on NetGalley by Xpresso Book Tours, who I also frequently work with on blog tours. Thank you to all involved in granting me access to this book! This has not swayed my opinion; my thoughts are my own and my review is honest.
First of all, I was not aware when I signed up for this book that there are already five other books in the series, and although this is written to precede the other five, I do get the feeling I would have enjoyed it more if I had at least tried out book 1 first if not the whole previously published selection. Alas, by the time I realized this I no longer had room in my reading schedule to backtrack and do that other reading, so muscle through I did.
This book has so much awesome packed into 420 pages! At that length, it’s certainly not short, but I didn’t mind because I was entertained from the first page to the last. Actually, it had me from the synopsis to the last page. Time-travelling bats? I’m sold!
My favourite character was Aurie, probably because of my STEM background that really made me connect with her constant desire to tinker and fix things. She also loves cheeseburgers. Like, a lot! I can relate.
The concept here, a plague delivered by time-travelling bats, is quite interesting. I was worried that perhaps the present world climate wouldn’t exactly permit me to enjoy a plague story at this time, but I did. It’s done well with a lot of humour, and I loved it. It’s full of action, absolutely not a dull moment, and pretty much every character is capable of world-class witty banter.
On that note, however, I feel compelled to comment that on many occasions so much attention was paid to the fantastic dialogue that everything else fell away. The dialogue wasn’t boring at all, but it did drift into the realm of talking heads often. Conversation picks up and we stop getting enough description of everything else.
I also want to gently address the cover. Normally I don’t comment on a book cover unless I’m absolutely smitten with it, because I know covers tend to change as new editions come out, and in the traditional publishing realm at least the author doesn’t necessarily have any input on the cover design. The Vaal’bara Historical Society crest is so crisp and beautiful on the author/publisher website, and I imagine the covers look great printed in high resolution on physical copies of these books, but I have yet to see any of these books listed anywhere online where the covers look good. The designs don’t scale, and if I’m being absolutely honest, I would not have been enticed to click through to this title (or the others in the series) on any sort of online list based on the scaled-down digital cover image. When this one becomes any less than 300 pixels tall it starts to become difficult to read the title, the crest becomes a grey blob, and the design behind it all becomes an MS Paint sketch of an amoeba. The unreadable tiny version of this cover gives me MG graphic novel science fiction vibes. Given how important digital marketing is these days, I would want something that is easily read and gives the right impression on product listing thumbnails, not just full-size print book covers.
Overall this is a great book, it definitely makes me want to put the other five on my TBR, and I would recommend it to pretty much any SFF reader out there. Fantastic concept, fun character, great introduction to this world and series. Just watch out for those time-travelling bats!
About the Author
Kristen Chambers was born in Omaha, NE in 1990, and lived a fairly ordinary life as far as she was concerned. An avid reader from a young age, she dreamed of diving into the pages of her favorite books and escaping into a world of adventure far more exciting than her own boring existence. Little did she know, such a fate had already been decided for her…
Her life guided by an unusual series of events, she eventually found herself thrust into the adventure she had always wished for, though she quickly realized it was nothing like she had imagined as a child. The veil was lifted, and she soon discovered a world of Magic, demons and dark forces beyond her comprehension. She was led to Chicago in 2011, where she would eventually meet, among others, Viktor Strangewayes. Though she didn’t know it at the time, he would become her greatest ally in the years to come.
In the year 2020, with Viktor at her side, she helped to found the Vaal’bara Historical Society, an organization dedicated to unearthing the long-forgotten truth of humanity’s Magical past. By telling her own story, and experiencing countless others through the use of the Temploscope, she hopes to guide humanity toward a better future, and prevent the terrible fate that awaits them.
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