Author: Cully Mack
Review by Eric Sparks
Quick Q&A and Summary:
“Star Rating” – I (Eric) don’t do that. It’s not fair to readers or writers. I could give both Homer’s The Odyssey and Adam’s The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy 5 stars – but that doesn’t mean they are equal, and it’s very possible to enjoy one and hate the other (you will find a star-rating on Amazon from me because Amazon forces me to give it one).
Summary of Book Type:
A Voice That Thunders is a pure High/Epic Fantasy. By that, I mean that the focus is on the characters’ story and their effect on the world as opposed to other hybrids that may mix things like Sword and Sorcery which leap from action scene to action scene. Even more specifically, while there is plenty of world-building, the characters are front and center. We learn more about the world as certain characters do (the main character serves as an excellent viewpoint for us, as she herself is only just discovering much of the world outside of her hometown). It’s strongest when focusing on character relationships and personal growth.
Q: Did I enjoy the book?
Q: Would I recommend the book to others?
A: A hearty “Yes!” I have already done so to a close friend.
Q: Will I finish the series?
A: As soon as possible.
Q: How about the technical quality?
A: The first half of the books is incredibly well-edited, with me only spotting two “major” typos. The second half of the book is still solid and much better than most indies, but could probably use another round of edits. Sometimes intentional deviations from standard grammar are also made for effect that I don’t always agree with.
In-Depth Reader Review:
A Voice That Thunders surprised me in the best way possible – with its characters. Fantasy as a genre tends to struggle with either characters that, while likable, feel remote and foreign or, on the flip side, may be incredibly relatable, but feel out of place in the story. Mirah and Nate feel like they both belong in an epic tale while still unique and close to the human heart. I have known many people that have traits like Mirah and Nate, but nobody with those exact combinations. Because of this, even though the characters experience some things commonplace in the Fantasy genre (destruction of hometown for instance), the characters themselves still feel genuine and real instead of the standard tropes or archetypes so common in Fantasy novels. I won’t go into details in order to avoid spoilers, just trust me when I say that Cully Mack is my favorite living author as far as character creation.
The world itself borrows from an under-utilized source – Sumerian mythology. As a lover of ancient myths and languages, I personally relished diving into a book that created a new mythos built on the foundations of this undervalued, storied culture. The names will be the first connection, but as you learn more about the peoples and creatures, you will see plenty of things that find pay homage to this ancient people while keeping it as an inspirational source instead of making a copy of it.
I also enjoyed the pacing of the book, though not everyone will agree with me on this. This is book 1 of a series, and you can tell that Cully understands that the characters are going to be what anchor and keep her audience, so she takes time to develop them and have them interact on a personal level. While the book both opens and ends with a battle, most of the conflict centers around individuals or inner turmoil. The pacing is not slow, but it is not breakneck speed either. Rather, it’s much more like long-distance running. The story is always moving at a good pace, just like a distance runner never stops running, but sprinting is saved for when the most benefit from the extra exertion can be gained.
In conclusion, there are two types of book recommendations I give – one is where I recognize there is an audience for this book, and the book was written well enough that people who enjoy books like it will enjoy this one as well. The second is the kind that I bring it up to my inner circle of friends and go, “you guys really need to read this.” I can happily say that A Voice That Thunders falls into the latter. I have already recommended the book to a close friend. Also, the book is one of five by indie authors I picked out to review before the end of the year, and now I wished I had saved this one for last so I could immediately continue on to the next one. But even though I can’t continue on immediately, rest assured I will be getting back to it as soon as I am able. Bravo!