Wednesday, July 8, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: Blood in the Water / Tash McAdam

TITLE: Blood in the Water (Warp Weavers)
AUTHOR: Tash McAdam
PUBLISHER: Glass House Press
AVAILABILITY: Barnes & Noble

Young Adult - Science Fantasy

Rips between our dimension and others have always threatened Earth. Called warps, they allow demons and monsters from other worlds to enter ours. The Protectorate guards the world against them, sending warriors out to fight the creatures and weavers out to seal the breaches before more can come through. Then, others with special abilities wipe the memories of the populace, so at the end of the day, the people are safe and none the wiser.

Blood in the Water follows teenaged weaver Hallie on a mission more dangerous than anything she could have imagined. When dangerous Sea Serpents appear through multiple warps in the Thames, Hallie must team up with a new partner to seal the breaches to prevent catastrophe.

Narrated in Hallie's clever and irreverent voice, Blood in the Water  is a fast-paced, action-packed superhero-style science fantasy adventure full of imagination and thrills. There's not a still moment in this entire novella - every page is filled with exciting new information about this richly developed world or breathtaking action sequences and battle scenes. I finished reading this story in next to no time at all, since each scene pulls you into the next until you find yourself flipping through half the novella when you meant to read just one chapter.

Genre-wise, Blood in the Water, like most superhero stories, walks the line between science fiction and fantasy. So, science fantasy. The warps and the powers and the monsters all feel very fantasy-ish, but the characters also talk about dimensional physics and use sci-fi style tech. So there you go: science fantasy.

Hallie is an easily likable character, with her bright energy and relatable flaws. Her sarcastic quips are fun to read, yet at the same time, she can be vulnerable too. When the emergency alarms go off, she's in way over her head, and her uncertainty adds suspense to the story. Oh, and she gets bonus points for being a diverse protagonist who both shares a kiss with her best friend/possible girlfriend Cam and admires the dudely six pack on her dreadlocked partner's abs.

The thing about diverse fiction is that they're stories first, and whichever underrepresented minority they cast a much-needed spotlight on, it's beside the point when you're reading. The best thing about Blood in the Water's diverse cast is it doesn't feel like it's pushing any kind of agenda. They're characters in a fantasy universe out to save the world, and, oh, by the way, they're not necessarily straight or white.

In case it's not clear by now, I love, love, loved this novella. In fact, I've loved everything I've ever read by Tash McAdam (disclosure: Tash and I share a publisher, and I loved the work so much I published one of Tash's stories in the anthology I edited). Tash has a way of packing stories with explosive action and high stakes, with characters that are both sympathetic and relatable. They remind me of the graphic novels and superhero comics I used to devour, except even better because prose allows your imagination to fill in the pictures. Blood in the Water is no different, and I can't wait to read more about the Warp Wavers universe.

Tash McAdam’s first writing experience (a collaborative effort) came at the age of eight, and included passing floppy discs back and forth with a best friend at swimming lessons. Since then, Tash has spent time falling in streams, out of trees, learning to juggle, dreaming about zombies, dancing, painting, learning Karate, becoming a punk rock pianist, and of course, writing.

Tash is a teacher in real life, but dreams of being a full-time writer, and living a life of never-ending travel. Though born in the hilly sheepland of Wales, Tash has lived in South Korea and Chile and now calls Vancouver, Canada home.

SLAM, a novella in The Psionics, is Tash’s first published work. Maelstrom, the full length novel will be out in June. Visit the website or facebook for news, gossip, and random tidbits about Tash’s adventures.

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