Review of The Gift Maker by Mark Mayes Written by Daniel

Why should you read the Gift Maker? What sets it apart from all the other fantasy/fairy-tale stories you have read either as a child or adult. Well that just it. This book isn’t just a fantasy novel it is able to cross a number of genres from romance to mystery to puzzle solving this book has something for everyone.

Making for a very interesting debut. The story is told through the eyes of three main characters Thomas, Liselotte, and Jo. Their journey begins after Thomas and Liselotte receive two mysterious small blue boxes in the dead of night. Catapulting them into a quest where everything is not as it seems, and into a world that brings new meaning to the world of fantasy and folklore. Sometimes a dream, sometimes a nightmare, and at other times you’re not quite sure. Each aspect crafted by the deliciously dark Reynard who I have to say is one of my favourite villains if you can call him that but that would be giving too much away.

The world in which Mark has constructed is so vividly written that you cant help but be absorbed into its pages. A great mix of hunters, mythical creatures, and magic that seems to have no end. It does however have elements that seem familiar snow-covered mountains, a mastermind orchestrating a quest for people to complete. At times it could have been mistaken for a mixture of Stardust and Lord of the Rings but I loved it. Mark has been able to breathe new life into old tales, and create characters that you can’t help but care for.

The only criticism I have is the ending. Yes everything is resolved and keeps you on the edge of your seat right until the end, but I wanted to see more of this world, I wanted to know everything about the characters, I wanted to go deeper into the language, and wanted to see more of the dark undertones which lurk in the background.

This however takes nothing away from how well written this book is. It is a stunning debut and I guess me wanting to find out more about this world only furthers my point. It is quite simply a must read for any reader.

If you have read this book tell me what you enjoyed and what you didn’t?

If you have any feedback? Do please comment I really do take your opinions into account.

And also why don’t you follow Mark on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Mark_J_Mayes

You can also follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/dan_stubbings

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Anne Rice’s Influence on the Vampire genre Where Would we be Without Interview With the Vampire ? Written by Daniel

When Interview with the vampire was first published in May 1976, and later adapted for film in 1994. Were we as an audience really to know what this story would do to the culture of vampires. How it would shape our narratives, and change everything we had come to know about these creatures of myth and legend.

Now some may disagree with this statement, and that is perfectly fine. However my question to you would be? When you next pick up the next so called groundbreaking vampire story. Won’t your first thought be I hope the lead character is as good as Louis or Lestat because I know for a fact it is mine.

Interview with the vampire gave us something fresh. Something we had not seen in the vast catalog that is the house of vampire. I still remember the first time I read it. Those first couple of pages furiously turning as the horror of Louis face was revealed to the lonely reporter whom he decided to tell his life story. Thinking to myself I am not going to bed tonight till I finish this. Interview with the vampire totally changed my perception on what a vampire could and should be.

Up until then I saw vampires as soulless, bloodsucking, remorseless creatures who stalked the night.  What draws you in as a reader and watcher more than anything else is the way in which Anne made you see these two characters Louis and Lestat. You wanted to know who they were, where they came from, how they had become the stuff of nightmares. Each page giving you a new insight into the pairs relationship from how Lestat turned Louis to the present day.

How no matter how hard they fight it they end up been connected to each other. What made them so different from the other vampire novels I had read. Was that they won’t lone wolves giving into the impulses of the beasts within them. They were conflicted between wanting to remain human but knowing that they will forever be different.

Louis encompasses this element throughout trying to cling to his former life, trying to fight the demon within as he struggles to admit who and what he has become. That is what this book makes us think about. Because lets be honest when have we as a human not wondered where we fit in or want to change who we really are but cant.

Anne Rice makes us care for characters that historically have been seen as the villains in stories, and that is what set this book apart from usual vampire books. This book has everything historical venues, darkness and light, conflict and cooperation. Characters and story lines that live long in the memory after you put it back on your shelf or bedside table.

I had never done that with vampires before. I had never found myself fascinated with creatures that primarily are dark within their nature. Wanting to know every aspect that made up this character Lestat. That is the brilliance of Anne’s writing making you question yourself, making you look inside yourself and think why am I drawn to this character. I mean after all he is the prince of darkness but he had me totally gripped.

But returning to the title at the top of this article. Where would we be without Interview with the Vampire. Quite simple really the vampire and fantasy genre just wouldn’t be what it is today without it. You wouldn’t have Blade, Twilight, or the red court in the Dresden files if it won’t for this book. Anne has blazed a trail that has not been extinguished, and the vampire chronicles is testament to that. So I ask you again where would we be without Interview with the Vampire? Nowhere that it. The vampire world would of died with Dracula but instead we have the prince of darkness.

If you enjoyed this please share on social media I really appreciate it, and please comment on anything I could of improved, and why don’t you tell me what your favourite Anne Rice book is I would love to know. Thank you

The Rise Of Fantasy in the Modern Age Written By Daniel

Why Fantasy? What has made us as readers and watchers gravitate towards this vast field of literature and screen. From the streets of Chicago filled with gangsters, werewolves, vampires, fallen angels, and a wizard that is to stupid for his own good in the Harry Dresden Series, to the Harry Potter phenomenon, we as an audience are reading and watching this material in our millions.

Yes you could argue that fantasy has always been there in some form or another. In the shape of Lord of the Rings, Dune,  Alice in Wonderland and even further back Greek mythology, and stories told around camp fires to scare children giving rise to folklore, myths, and legends, but what has caused this surge in people wanting to explore the world of fantasy.

Don’t believe me?Just check the New York Times or Sunday Times bestseller lists, and I will guarantee you there will be at least two fantasy books in the top ten. Whether it be Neil Gaiman, Brandon Sanderson, Cassandra Clare, and Jim Butcher just to name a few, the range of choice never seems to stop flowing, with new voices and ideas coming to the forefront all the time, challenging what we think we know about the world of so called fantasy. I mean you cant even stroll down a couple of channels on which ever platform your using, without seeing some kind of fantasy based drama.

Just to put in perspective the sheer scale of the popularity, Westworld a HBO series which premiered in October 2016, has recently being ranked as the most-watched first season of an HBO original series ever. Grossing an audience on average of twelve million across all of it’s platforms, with a second season already commissioned. This is just one program in a mountain of shows, movies, and books that are planned for release this year. From Game of Thrones, to Stephen Aryan’s new trilogy set in the same world as the Age of Darkness, to the new Logan movie you couldn’t ask for a better time to be a fantasy geek.

But what is causing this shift? Is  it that we wish to be taken back to our childhoods where we become  knights and fight in a deadly duel against the fire-breathing dragon. Because lets be honest, that is how most people that don’t read and watch fantasy view it. It is usually the first thing that comes out of their mouth, when you breach the topic. ” Or I am not reading or watching that, all it will be is a load of dragons burning the place down”. Yes and to be fair in some cases they may have a point, because to be frank there are way to many dragons, but you got to love them. However I am please to say the arena of fantasy is constantly changing. We have vampires falling in love with mortals, Greek demigods roaming the streets of New York City, and the devil running a night club in downtown Los Angeles. I mean what more could you possibly want.

It is no longer good enough just to have good vs evil in fantasy. Readers and watchers want something more. As a reader and watcher of both urban and epic fantasy. I know that I stay more engaged with characters and plot lines, that show a range of different emotions, and not characters that are purely one dimensional. Lets be honest which human or creature in the worlds or environments, that we have been exposed to in both literature and on screen in recent years, would of only shown one personality trait it is simply impossible.

Think of your favourite characters from both literature and on screen, would you really of loved them as much as you do if all they did was saved the girl or kill the heroes family. Of course you wouldn’t you love them because you contact with them on both an emotional and human level.  Take for example Severus Snape in Harry Potter. J.K Rowling had fans in furious debates on forums, blogs,workplaces, and classrooms over whether Snape was bad or good and in the end in my opinion he is neither. For me he is in a word human we all have flaws and demons that we must face, and it the choices that we make that define us.

Some of the most hatred villains in history have shown that they have internal struggles. Torn between wanting to do good, but to entangled within the evil to change. A perfect example being Darth Vader, as shown throughout Star Wars as he fights against his former self but evil is slowly consuming him. This is what draws me back to fantasy and SCI-FI more than any other genre. The complexity of the characters, because in one moment you go from hating someone to feeling sorry for them. This is what has bought on the rise changing our perceptions giving vampires humanity, making the devil care, but also making what we usually perceive as good, a darker side from angels to gods we are seeing them shown in a different light, keeping us as viewers and readers guessing who to trust.

Now don’t get me wrong I love a good crime thriller, romance, and murder mystery as much as the next person. But the reason why I think fantasy, has seen such a resurgence in recent years is because it allows us to escape from the mundane routines of our normal lives. It allows us to become a powerful wizard, fall in love with a mysterious stranger that glows in the sunlight, and feast like kings in castles with the undead.  It helps us look at places where we live in a different way, making us wonder is a vampire around the next corner, or is our next door neighbor a werewolf, but also lets us dream of far away galaxies and worlds that mirror our own. Its is a genre that continues to grow and shows no signs of slowing.

That for me is why we have seen a rise of fantasy in the modern age. What do you guys think?