NOTE: Back in 2011, Terry Brook’s webmaster, Shawn Speakman, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. He fought the disease and survived. The problem now is that Speakman had no Health Insurance. So instead of declaring medical bankruptcy, Shawn decided to self-publish his fantasy novel The Dark Thorn and use the proceeds from the book to pay off his debts. (To learn more, follow this link.) I didn’t buy this book out of pity. I bought it because frankly the blurb grabbed my attention.
Currently the Fantasy genre has seen a huge influx of tales set in a modern-day setting. There are many subpar knockoffs of these books released every year. The Dark Thorn however is able to be on the same level of books by authors such as Butcher and Hamilton. And I think in some respects the book outshines a lot of newly released fantasies. Traditionally Published and Self Published.
The plot of Speakman’s novel is a unique blend of Arthurian mythology, ancient Church conspiracies, modern history, and the classic Quest tale. These unlikely themes are combined to create a very human tale.
The characters are very superb also. The POV shifts from character to character and at each switch, Speakman takes you on a ride in the character’s mind. Every character had clear motives, and the way they proceed to act makes sense.
At times the writing style reminded me a lot of Terry Brooks. (Speakman is good friends with Brooks, who also taught him at the Maui Writers Workshop.) Speakman is no knockoff though. He may be similar but his style is all his own, and is rather refreshing. The only problem I had was that there were a lot of “ly” adverbs after Speakman wrote said. There were a few “Swifties” here and there but it never stopped me from finishing the novel or liking the story.
Overall, I give the book 4 stars out of 5! A great debut from a new writer! Recommended for fans of Jim Butcher, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Terry Brooks, and Dan Brown. For the price of $6.99 it’s worth every penny.
Available on B&N, Amazon.com, and in Print.