Books

Review: Fantasy novel has just the right amount of creepiness, mystery

Terry Maggert has become quite a prolific author in the self-publishing world. A native of Florida, with connections in northeast Iowa, Maggert consistently puts out solid books and his latest release, “A Touch of Frost,” is an excellent addition to his growing list of books.

“A Touch of Frost” is a bit of urban fantasy, a bit of mystery and a bit of a suspense novel rolled into one. Set in a small town full secrets, most of which seem to be connected to Ravenwood, a rundown orphanage on its outskirts, “A Touch of Frost” has just the right level of creepiness to make your hair stand on end and perhaps question whether reading this book late at night in a quiet house is wise.

The one thing that Maggert does exceptionally well in “A Touch of Frost” is describing and setting the atmosphere of each scene. Derelict Ravenwood rises from the woods outside of town and as the characters move about inside the orphanage, the surrounding woods and neighboring quarry, readers feel the chill in the air and get the sense that something ... or someone ... is watching them.

The two storylines follow our hero, Gideon, and the Society and our villain, Marina, and the Witches, who will certainly catch readers’ attentions. Gideon’s storyline, on its own, is pleasant and heartwarming. It’s a pleasing diversion to Marina and her political and personal machinations.

Taken as a short story or novella, Gideon’s storyline is passable. But when it’s is taken as part of “A Touch of Frost,” it is confusing as so little is shared about what Gideon is, how his powers work and why he’s important. The novel could stand alone without Gideon and the Society. If he is meant to play a larger role in the story as a whole, more time should have been spent developing his character and his connection to Marina and the Witches.

On the flip side, Marina and her coven felt fleshed out. They are the type of villains you love to hate. Their bad morals and greasiness ooze off the page. Maria’s family’s roots and secrets run as deep as the quarry near the orphanage. The tension between Marina and her mother is palpable. There is no love lost between these two and the lengths they go to achieve, gain and hold their power is unimaginable. Their need to hold onto power is the driving force behind moving the plot forward at a nice clip.

“A Touch of Frost” is a quality piece of storytelling and enjoyable quick read. From the beautifully designed cover to the last page, readers will delight in the fantastically detailed world of Ravenwood with heroes worthy of praise and villains worthy of condemnation.

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