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Monday, April 7, 2014

Set Aflame By Tinderspark!

For my first review on this blog, I spent a great deal of time trying to pick out just the right one from the nook shop, since the Nook is my preferred ereader.

After a while, a single cover image jumped out from my nook screen and thwacked me over the head. Hard.

A dark historical fantasy jumped out and hit me over the head. Hard

It was the cover for Tinderspark, by Jonathan Rowe

image via http://booksgosocial.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/the-burning-times-cover.jpg
Cover art was done by Laura LaRoche

I think we can all agree that this qualifies as a very enticing cover. It drew me in, so I read the blurb, which pulled me in even further. My mind made up, I hit the 'download' button and waited to begin my journey back in time to the Thirty Years War, into which Rowe added an extra helping of magic.

So what's it about?

"There is no reward for goodness in this world, nothing but cold steel teeth and scourging fire for all of us - and it's coming for you now!" 

In a single evening, the life of Quality Durrand changes forever. She's kidnapped from her loving family and taken to live deep in the forest with the geists. A series of events unfolds that places her at the center of action, pitting her against fanatic priests and cruel leaders. The daughter of a blacksmith, Quality has a unique talent for working with the black powder used within firearms and explosives. Armed with pistols, she and her geist friends set out to find five men - the five men whose deaths may bring about an end to the persecution of hexen everywhere, and the birth of a new, better world.

The world is gritty, dark, and terrible. Naturally, I loved it. 

Partially, that's because I'm a sucker for good history research, and Rowe really went the extra mile with it. He painted a very accurate picture of the trials and suffering that were rampant during the Thirty Years War, using the locations, dress, transportation, and even technology of the first half of the 17th century. 

His close attention to historical detail paved the way for the magic he breathed into Tinderspark, weaving fact and fiction together, bringing hexen and geists to life. Witches and magical beings become believable, and make their plight our own.

The world that Rowe created is vivid and intense. I saw the trees, I heard the calls of the wildlife. I tasted that disgusting soup. The world I entered was dark, and the intense emotions that washed over me added another dimension to it.

This was very nearly a Treasured Tome

What held me back from giving Tinderspark that distinction? Well, it took me a while to become attached to the characters. I did become attached, of course, but it wasn't love at first sight. In the first couple of chapters, I was more drawn to the world  than I was to the characters that lived in it. I think this would have easily become a Treasured Tome if more effort was placed into character development from the very start.

But like I said, I did become attached. It just took a little longer than I would have liked. This is a relatively minor flaw, and I wouldn't be surprised if Rowe's second book in The Burning Times series, Hexenfire, has the ability to draw me in from the very beginning. 

Yep. I implied exactly what you think I did: I've already downloaded the second one.

You can find Tinderspark on Nook, Kindle, and Smashwords. Read it. 

You won't be sorry. 

     *As an aside for those of you that are gamers, be sure to visit the Tinderspark RPG tab of Jonathan Rowe's author page - he's developing an RPG (pencil and paper, not digital) based on The Burning Times, and as someone who has been an RPG geek since high school, I'd love to sit with a group and try out his system.


  1. Thank you, Rebecca, for your generous & insightful review. You are entirely right about Tinderspark shying away from confident characterization early on and you've made me reflect on it. I've promoted your excellent blog on my own web page at http://tinderspark.weebly.com/ and maybe one day that Tinderspark RPG will happen!

  2. You're very welcome, and thanks for promoting Undiscovered Tomes! Please post about the Tinderspark RPG on your webpage once you've designed it. I'm an RPGer through and through, and I'd love to hear about it.


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