Friday, May 28, 2010


Title: Powers
Series: Sequel to Shade

Author: John B. Olson

Genre: Paranormal Suspense

Excerpt from Chapter One of Powers:

Smooth moonlight, soft and timid as a sleeping babe’s breath, seeped through the forest canopy, painting Old Man Oak’s mossy beard with twisting ribbons of silver and shadow. The swamp folks were full awake now. All stoked up with joy, singing hallelujah for the tolerable coolness of another summer night. Bachelor bullfrogs barked out their steady bass against a piercing cicada threnody. Crickets and peepers and creepers hollered their praises full on top of the other, singing out to the Lord for the blessings He hath made.

It was a glorious song, filled with deep magic and considerations of awesome wonder. It made a body thankful to be alive. Squish-squashing through soft cool mud. Hop-scotching dead wood and fresh fallen branches. Pausing to look out across dark star-dusted waters where the proud Cypress sisters, skirts hitched high above dark bony knees, waded through reflections of ringing light. Swaying and sighing to the night music. The sounds of blessed freedom and sweet never-ending joy.

Mariutza let loose with a wistful sigh and felt her way through the dark forest. Purodad would be getting home soon. He was going to be mad as a dirt dauber when he she’d run off again.
A swamp gypsy girl teams with a city jazz musician to escape corrupt government officials.

The Craft: The previous book, Shade, was good. Enjoyable. A solid story in its own right. But Powers takes everything up one notch.

I found the characters easier to connect with and more identifiable. The plot picked up pace, especially since the boundaries of the story world and the rules of the game have been established. The descriptions, embedded deeply in the character’s POV (as it should be), track easier for the same reason.

In short, Powers is a great book, better than the last, and my only problem is that the next book isn’t out yet to tie up all those loose ends…

The Content: The spiritual threads are subdued in Powers at first. But slowly, surely, they bubble up through with story with snippets about prayer, protections, and the overarching power of God. And it’s probably good that they come in bubbles, because when some of those bubbles pop, the implications are quite breath-taking.

As for elements of concern, there are moderate amounts of violence—not unusual for suspense—and most of it occurs I a fairly “gore-less” way where results are seen at a distance, such as the fireball of an exploding helicopter. There is also quite a bit of supernatural power wielded by humans both good and bad. Most fall within the biblical bounds (e.g. the uncontrollable nature of God’s power), a couple powers, like Mari’s tracking, boarder on debatable, requiring the application of some discernment.

Summary: Beyond a couple debatable supernatural elements, Powers is a thrilling ride through the paranormal, with some good spiritual threads. While not for everyone, I still recommend it for both teens and adults who like something a bit weird.

Rating: Craft—4, Content—4, Overall—4.3 out of 5 stars

Don't forget to also check out book one, Shade.

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