Thursday 7 April 2016

REVIEW: Brian Barr - Carolina Daemonic: Confederate Shadows

Genre: Sci-Fi / Steampunk
Publisher: J. Ellington Ashton Press
Publication Date: 14th Aug 2015
Pages: 333


A copy of Carolina Daemonic: Confederate Shadows was sent to Confessions of a Reviewer by the author Brian Barr, in exchange for an honest review. This is said review. This book is published by J. Ellington Ashton Press.

This was one that was sent to me by Mr Barr the last time I put out a call for anyone looking for help or wanting reviews. Generally, with a blog that is just trying to get a name for itself like Confessions, this gets new books in from authors I have not read before and are trying to push their debuts out into the big bad world. This is one such occasion. This is scary. Probably for the author as well as me. I find it scary because you have no clue what you’re about to read and if you really don’t like it you could be about to deal a very dangerous blow to the author. It can be like walking across a lake of very thin ice.

The year is 2020. The South won the Civil War and things are not very smooth in this new Confederate land. Slavery has just been outlawed but racism is still most people’s middle name. And evil hides in the shadows.

OrbTech is the biggest robotics company in the world, striving forward and not scared to flatten anyone in their way. Titus can’t work for OrbTech even though he is a genius. He is black. They don’t accept blacks.

In a story with many paths that ultimately lead everyone to the same end, Titus will end up in a battle with OrbTech and its enigmatic spokesperson Tobias who he knows from his own sordid past.

Alongside this battle is the battle for the skies and the underground. The battle of the unknown. The battle of dark forces no one even knows exist. The time for the revolution has come.

We have quite a few main characters in this one so I will keep them brief. OrbTech spokesperson Tobias is a racist in the extreme, but with a lot of secrets from his past that could turn that completely on its head. He is also part machine. Titus is black and knows Tobias from his younger days. He is a well-respected engineer but got himself there by prostituting himself out to pay for it. Raymond runs OrbTech. Something weird about him too. He is also mechanically driven in his life. Manti is the leader of the Yoruban Nation. A group of black men fighting for survival and fighting against the oppression they have suffered for years.

There is a mixture of other characters that fit in to various plots and subplots and to be honest I can’t really talk about them without talking about spoilers and you know I don’t like to do that.

The plot? That is a difficult question to answer, again for fear of giving things away but also because I’m not one hundred percent sure how to categorise it. I’m also not one hundred percent sure how to categorise the story either. Sort of a thriller with horror and supernatural elements then parts of it are just pure occultist then parts of it are just about corporate takeovers and corruption and power hungry people trying to take over the world.

Sounds easy doesn’t it? No? It wasn’t for me either at times and that’s what has left me with a confusing feeling about this book rather than being able to say a definite yay or a definite nay.

This was an interesting book. I nearly gave up on it very early on because I didn’t understand the politics in it. I think for a non-American who doesn’t understand the American Civil War, the ins and outs of it, the result and the political makeup of the times, the first third of this book may just go right over the top of their heads. It mostly did with mine. I know it’s a period of time that is extremely important to most Americans but, outside of that, I don’t think people would know about it unless they studied it in school. It’s certainly not a subject that I can admit to knowing much about.

Once that bit is out of the way it does get a bit easier to follow although the war never strays far away from the main theme of the story. The other side of the story interested me a great deal. The occult. The dark stuff. Deadly demons swooping down from the skies and taking people to their deaths or to unknown places to do unknown things with them.

There are about four or five different groups all with their own agendas in this book. Some of them politically driven, some of them corporately driven, some of them driven by evil, dark and nasty things. This is obviously the start of a series, because just as the dark side starts to come to the fore, the story stops. It has been set up very nicely for a second book and to be honest, I think it would be better than the first because hopefully the political side of things has been all talked out and the dark stuff can come out in abundance.

There is no doubt that Brian Barr has a talent for writing. This story is extremely well put together. I am smart enough to know that it is a story about the complete opposite of what many know the world to be now and this in itself will probably pull a lot of people in. His characters are very well written. Even though some of them are fantastical you do end up believing in them and following their every move as if they were your neighbours. They feel natural after a while.

He also has an undeniable talent for writing passages that are full of tension and fear and ones that will ultimately lead you to horror. I just wish there was a lot more of it in this story because those were without doubt my favourite bits and I can’t wait to read more of it in book two.

In terms of trying to score this book, this is difficult for me. I am going to go somewhere in the middle because although there were political parts that quite frankly bored me to tears, there are flashes of the dark side that hint at a much deeper, darker story to come and one that I will enjoy much more.

My tip to you would be keep going if you start to read this. It may not be your cup of tea to begin with but it looks like it is going down the right road.

To summarise: an alternative future world full of political and corporate corruption with an evil and dark backdrop that is slowly coming to the fore and is about to completely change the world…..again. Don’t give up on it. I think this could be destined for big things.

General rating:

★★★ a bit confusing for me.

Steampunk / horror rating:

★★★ creepy but could be creepier.

If you would like to help support Confessions of a Reviewer, then please consider using the links below to buy Carolina Daemonic or any other books from Brian. This not only supports me but also lets me know how many people actually like to buy books after reading my reviews.


Book Synopsis:

It's 2020. The South won the Civil War and achieved manifest destiny in the United States. Great Britain, known as Victoria, and China, have maintained their empires. American slavery was abolished in the late 20th century instead of the late 19th century. Steam powered machinery and electricity make up the bulk of modern technology.

In the shadows of the Confederacy, there is magic. Esoteric sciences arcane and archaic survive from forgotten times, and strange demonic creatures wander through the slums of Charleston...

Enter Carolina Daemonic. In an alternative timeline, see a dark world not too far removed from our own- religio-political cults, racism, sexism, homophobia, corporate takeovers and corruption are abound. Witness the strange and mysterious beyond the familiarity of our ordinary world as well- godly avatars, lustful demons, necromancers, and the undead.

My name is Brian Barr. I am a published fiction author. Along with novels and short stories, I've also written comic books, including the Empress series with Chuck Amadori. I am NOT the author of God's Plan for Us, written by some other Brian Barr.

My debut novel, Carolina Daemonic Book I: Confederate Shadows, is out now. My second novel will be Psychological Revenge: The First Super Inc. Novel.

Carolina Daemonic is a dystopian alternative timeline urban fantasy-horror with LGBT, steampunk, and occult elements.

Psychological Revenge is a fun, campy superhero novel with zany villains and lots of action.

Be on the lookout for my stories and thank you for visiting my page.

I am also a proud member of the South Carolina Writer's Workshop.

And for more about Brian, visit his site or find him on social media:

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