Thursday, April 7, 2016

Dandelion Iron, by Aaron Michael Ritchey - Review

Title: Dandelion Iron
Series: The Juniper Wars
Author: Aaron Michael Ritchey
Publisher: WordFire Press
Release Date: April 11, 2016 
Reviewing: eARC for Kindle 
Reason for reading: Author love

The Short Answer
Saddle up folks, we're going on a post-apocalyptic cattle drive where Little House on the Prairie meets the Terminator and Jules Verne meets Louis L'Amour. Mob-style protection wars rage from synthetic-helium-lofted dirigibles, machine guns are a girl's best friend, and every sperm is sacred. The word "rollicking" was invented for this series. It's out next Tuesday and YOU WANT IT.

The Blurb
It is the year 2058. The Sino-American War has decimated several generations of men, and the Sterility Epidemic has made 90% of the surviving males sterile.

Electricity does not function in five western states. Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, and Montana are territories once again. Collectively, they are known as the Juniper.

It is the most dangerous place on Earth.

On a desperate post-apocalyptic cattle drive to save their family ranch, Cavatica Weller and her two gunslinging sisters stumble across a rare boy. Sharlotte wants to send him away, Wren wants to sell him…and Cavatica falls in love with him.

Little do they know that an inhuman army is searching for the boy and will stop at nothing to find him.

Welcome to the world of The Juniper Wars.
Author Love
I have always chosen books based on authors. In the old days, I had a short list of auto-buy authors, and if I tried a new author, it was because my list was dry for new releases, and maybe I got a recommendation from a trusted human in person. These days, I find authors through buzz on social media, recs from other bookish people, and more recently, conferences.  Ritchey started out with a warm fuzzy feeling when he opted in to not one, but both of the flash fiction stories that ran on Alpha Heroes in the run-up to RUDCon, and then he was just super fun and nice at the conference with a wicked awesome sense of humor, which is both wicked and awesome. So that's why I'm reading this particular title.

About the Book
In-person humor doesn't always translate to an author's work, and the voice in Dandelion Iron is so unexpected that I would not say they align exactly.  Cavatica does not have the dry, sly humor that the author does, but the book is filled with it, in the references and the linguistic choices- Exhibit A would be the three dogs named Bella, Edward and Jacob. While this story is not a comedy, and touches on some darker themes of alcoholism and abuse, the tongue-in-cheek world-building never takes itself too seriously.

Cavatica's first person narration does a outstanding job of calling to mind the fears and aspirations of youth: the desire to be heroic, the fear of failure, the insecurities and yearning and melodrama. There's a cadence, a musicality and rhythm to her speech that calls to mind the oral tradition of storytelling, of an audience rapt around a flickering campfire or hearth. It's a delight to read, and Cavvy, a delightful character that surprises herself and everyone around her.

It must be said that this story is being published as a 6-book serial. We get through a battle in this book, but are only getting hints of the real conflict behind the war to come. The end is a bit of a cliffhanger, but there's good resolution to the first skirmish in The Juniper Wars, and the following books are expected to release in quick succession.

Favorite quote:
It was raw shakti, but right then it didn't feel like a creative, female energy.

To borrow from the Hindu myths, it was Kali's fury in her eyes.

And what did Kali's fury do?

It destroyed the world.

Well, let the world die. I was going to save the ranch even if at the end of things, it was the only dirt left in the universe.

It was our land, where our parents and baby sisters were buried. It would be ours, forever and ever, amen.

You don't let go of sacred ground. You fight to the death for it.

On a promotional note, I've never heard of humblebundle before, but it's definitely worth checking out. Dandelion Iron is being offered as a part of the third tier of this bundle, with a sliding price scale. Very interesting pricing model, and some great authors in this bundle.

Around the Blogosphere --what others are saying

Dave Butler- a similar assessment
Chessy The Cat - 5 Stars
Awnna Marie Evans - a rave indeed
Lee French - little less enthused, put off by the teen-ish slang & parts of the worldbuilding

Bonus: Me and This Guy!

At super-fun Reading Until Dawn Con last October.

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