My Favorite Books

The Walking Drum
Ender's Game
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
The Curse of Chalion
The Name of the Wind
Chronicles of the Black Company
The Faded Sun Trilogy
The Tar-Aiym Krang

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Review: Devil's Cauldron

Devil's Cauldron Devil's Cauldron by Michael Jack Webb
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Christian Fantasy, so expect a fair bit of mary sues, deus ex machina and evangelical preaching (Caveat Emptor). This is a sequel to Infernal Gates and I recommend reading that prior to this book, or you will miss a fair amount of background (all of the limited character building for the protagonists is there).

Ethan and Sam are back and once again taking on the Adversary. The MCs are easy enough to like (if a bit shallow), so this is not a bad read, given the genre within which it is found. To be fair, it is pretty hard to develop any interesting drama or plot conflict when you put the Almighty in your corner. Maybe that is why they tend to rely so heavily on conspiracy theories. These can be entertaining if done well; this book is decidedly average on this count. The primary appeal here is actually how the author weaves in several threads of ancient myth into the dark forces working against our heroes (so ancient history buffs might find it interesting as well).

What prevents this from being a better story are the typical mistakes I see in newer authors ... such as info dumps (which can be a slog) and/or over explaining what is happening (which removes the mystery too early ... and can be a slog when I don't really care about the details of what they are eating). Plot disciple is also problematic when you have an Ace in the Hole that can always put you back on track (I personally prefer less obvious interventions). Add to this a "Young Earth/Creationist" cosmology that just makes it hard to take anything else in the book very seriously (Continental Drift is not that fast buddy). All of that considered, if you are familiar with the genre, it is actually better than average.

This book is currently available through Amazon's Kindle Unlimited.

I was given this free advance review copy (ARC) ebook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

#DevilsCauldron #BookSirens

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My Ratings Explained ...

  • [ ***** ] Amazing Read - Perfect story, exciting, engrossing, well developed complex characters, solid plot with few to no holes, descriptive environments and place settings, great mystery elements, realistic dialogue, believable reactions and behaviors; a favorite that I can re-read many times.
  • [ **** ] Great Read - Highly entertaining and enjoyable, exciting storyline, well developed characters and settings, a few discrepancies but nothing that can’t be overlooked. Some aspect of the story was new/refreshing to me and/or intriguing. Recommended for everyone.
  • [ *** ] Good Read - Solid story with a 'good' ending, or has some other redeeming feature. Limited character development and/or over reliance on tropes. Noticeable discrepancies in world building and/or dialog/behavior that were distracting. I connected enough with the characters/world to read the entire series. Most of the books I read for fun are here. Recommended for fans of the genre.
  • [ ** ] Okay Read - Suitable for a brief, afternoon escape … flat or shallow characters with little to no development. Over the top character dialog and/or behavior. Poor world building with significant issues and/or mistakes indicating poor research. Excessive use of trivial detail, info dumps and/or pontification. Any issues with the story/characters are offset by some other aspect that I enjoyed. Not very memorable. May only appeal to a niche group of readers. Recommended for some (YMMV).
  • [ * ] Bad Read - Awkward and/or confusing writing style. Poor world building and/or unbelievable (or unlikeable) characters. Victimization, gaslighting, blatant abuse, unnecessary violence, child endangerment, or any other highly objectionable behaviors by Main characters. I didn't connect with the story at all; significant aspects of this story irritated me enough that I struggled to finished it. Series was abandoned. Not recommended.