Friday, 24 March 2017

Book Review: Darkstorm by M.L. Spencer

Today I am reviewing Darkstorm by M.L. Spencer, a fantasy novel about rapidly shifting allegiances, the end of magic and two mage brothers with turbulent pasts who try to save the world.

Darkstorm High Res Cover.jpgBlurb:
Faced with an imminent cataclysm that will destroy the magical heritage of their people, a conspiracy of darkmages resolves to open the gateway to Hell. The only mages who stand a chance of opposing them are Sephana Clemley and her acolyte, Merris Bryar, along with their protectors, Braden and Quin Reis: two brothers with a turbulent past and a caustic relationship.

Will Braden and Quin be able to protect Sephana and Merris long enough to prevent the unsealing of the Well of Tears? Or will they fall victim to manipulation and become darkmages themselves?


Initially I was confused by the prologue, it almost spoiled the book because I already knew part of what was going to happen. I always think a prologue should be set either a very long time ago or a very long way into the future.  I also struggled initially to get into the stride of Spencer's writing style - for me, it felt a little overwritten but then I am of the one word will do school of writing. Once I got used to the liberal sprinkling of adjectives I was able to get into the story and it is a highly readable book.

I loved the world building in this book although I can't help but compare any horse-based clan to the Rohirrim. The brothers were believable characters with enough shared backstory for the readers to feel compassion for them. When we initially meet Quin he is a bit of a disappointment then he shows his true nature and it starts to get exciting. I also liked the fact that most of the main characters don't get a happy ever after - that felt very satisfying. I can't say too much more - *spoilers*.

I had the most difficulty with Merris - to me she wasn't a believable character. She went from timid child to wanton hussy to power hungry mage. I think if we'd had a bit more backstory we might have been able to follow the personality changes better - she was a scared acolyte when she arrived in Bryn Calazar and within pages she was a brazen sex  monster - it just didn't track. Perhaps it was an indication of mental instability but I felt it needed a little more development.

Luckily that niggle didn't detract from the story arc and I was pleased to see a fresh take on the end of the magical world. The polarity reversal made sense as did the group of mages prepared to do anything to protect their magical power. As always with fantasy novels you need to keep all the different names of places and people in your head but there were times when I was asking - who is that again?

All in all, an enjoyable read and Sephana's actions at the end of the book make you wonder what will happen next in this world. 
3/5 *

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Author Bio:
M.L. SPENCERM.L. Spencer grew up on the works of Steven R. Donaldson, Stephen King and Frank Herbert. She wrote her first novel-length manuscript at thirteen. Her debut novel Darkmage won the 2012 IndieReader Discovery Award for Fantasy. She was also awarded 1st Place Prose in in the San Bernardino County Writing Celebration.

Ms. Spencer lives in Southern California. By day she works as a biology teacher; by night she sweats over a beaten-up keyboard. She is now in the process of expanding the Rhenwars Saga into a trilogy.

Visit her at:

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