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A review of “Careless Talk” by John M. Dow

A one-word review of this book? Terrific.

You want more than one word? Okay, I’m glad to oblige. This book, the first of the Ciriath Cycle by John M. Dow, is a masterful blend of paranormal, epic historical, supernatural, romance, spiced with a dash of horror. It’s so good I read it in small doses, wanting to prolong the pleasure of the book as long as possible. Mr. Dow is a skillful wielder of metaphor and his imagery is always precise, never ham-handed or overdone. The characters in this book are full-fleshed and well-drawn, three-dimensional and alive on the page (or the e-reader as the case may be).

I don’t like to give much in the way of synopsis because I get annoyed when I read reviews that give away the store.  But I will say a little. In this book, there are two forces at work, the Protectorate and the Opposition, with an uneasy Truce between the two. James, one of the First—an Immortal being who can create and destroy worlds—and his companion of three millennia, who now goes by the name of Emily, must confront James’ unaccountable attraction to a young woman, Dawn. How they finally deal with the seemingly unsolvable problem leads to a stunning conclusion and a stirring lead-in for the second book.

Frankly, I squealed, “No!” out loud at the moment when one character makes a supreme sacrifice for the sake of another. It was perfectly logical and in character. And it broke my heart. I loved it.

American readers, be aware that Mr. Dow is a Scot. If you think a word is misspelled (say, for example, “foetal” as in “foetal position”) think again. That’s not a misspelling, no matter what my own spell-check thinks. It’s perfectly correct for British, Scottish, Canadian, etc. usage. An awful lot of British books are now being “Americanized” for American consumption, and we are not accustomed to seeing British spellings. It’s a pet peeve of mine, as a matter of fact, and a reason we are sometimes so provincial. We also sometimes fuss at British authors for “misspelling” words when they’re just not using American English. C’mon, people, it was their language first.  Share.

And speaking of Americanisms, I have (of course) one little gripe. Mr. Dow places one memorable section of “Careless Talk” in East Texas. He has a waitress, Rose McIvor, say, “Hey, Billy, that’s me done.” These words do not trip lightly from an American tongue. An American would be more likely to say, “I’m outta here,” or the very ungrammatical but equally common, “I’m gone.”

I don’t really have a star system for this blog at this time, but I would highly, highly recommend this book.

It’s available at Amazon (Kindle) and Smashwords and Amazon (paperback)

I should also add that my copy was a gift from John Dow and that it was not given to me with any strings attached. I didn’t even promise to review it at all, much less give it a good review. And in case I have not made myself quite clear, I loved this book and am eagerly awaiting the second book.

2 Responses to “A review of “Careless Talk” by John M. Dow”

  1. Rachel Foreman says:

    How did you meet the author? Crit group?

    Okay, now I hve something else to add to my THINGS I NEED TO READ pile.

    As for Americanization…*sigh* I HATE that the Harry Potter books went through an American editor. Why? Is it so difficult for American readers to deal with Brit speak? Like “the” is so important when describing “hospital” – examples:
    American: He is in the hospital.
    Brit: He is in hospital.

    Is any of the meaning missing? No!

    Okay, sorry. Your excellent point set me off on a rant.

    But I do want to know a little bit more about the plot.

    • MAPC says:

      I “met” the author when I reviewed his book, “From Within,” for the currently suspended web site The View From My Kindle.

      There’s an ongoing conversation amongst some writers I know, some British, some not, about American readers who fuss at British writers about spelling. I truly do blame the publishers who’ve purged centre, theatre, practise, organisation, and so on from books. We’re not used to seeing words spelt (or spelled) that way so we think they’re misspelled. And they’re not.

      I don’t want to say much publicly about the plot of the book. John Dow has combined elements of the Old Testament, Troy, the murderous Jack the Ripper, Armageddon, immortality, love in various forms, and thrown in the occasional blast of sheer horror. And a duffle coat acquired under questionable circumstances from an immortal being named Gabriel.

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