Reviews

I have just discovered that my fantasy novel “The Plain Girl’s Earrings’ has been featured as one of “14 Exciting New Authors to Try Over the Summer” on the SFF Chronicles forum. It also appears in the site’s dynamic header.
sffchronicles.com/
Yay! You can buy it on Amazon.

**** The Plain Girl’s Earrings
L. M. de Wit on June 2, 2017
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The author provided me with a copy of his book in exchange of a review. This is my honest take.
Trying to do the right thing, young cadet Starsin Estevan gets on the wrong side of the Virnals. Virnals are an order of lords who control the Empire, abusing power and women at their will. Starsin, unfortunately, lacks power and guts to stand on their way. He gets involved with the beastly Northerners after he falls for Ussha. Ussha is a young Northerner woman delivered as a hostage and abused by the Virnals.
Starsin’s attempt to do things right go wrong, and the cadet vanishes to a faraway land as a prisoner, where things start to get complicated and nasty.

Starsin starts as a weak, push-able character, not sure on what he stands or even who he is, except that he likes painting and hates the army and the abusing Virnals. As he takes notice of the abuse of the lords to the commoners and the Northerner hostage, rage makes his way and Starsin opts to stand up to the Virnals, hoping to find allies that stand by him and against the mighty lords. In between, he finds supporters when he was not expecting them, all due to his obscure parentage that the Virnals try to put against him.

Sorcery, strange magical artifacts, women spies, and more, are combined in this story that interestingly is situated in a land where there is no machinery, and yet, mechanical and magical objects make their way into Starsin’s life, to his surprise.
Starsin, while in prison, reflects on his mistakes that took him there, growing as a person at last.

As a reader, it was a bit hard to connect to Starsin at first. I don’t mind flawed characters, actually I love them, but I was a bit frustrated at times of his non-action. This, however, was done on purpose, since Starsin, lead by his anger at the Virnals abuses, starts to be more confident. He still isn’t the hero I would like to see in a book like this, but I guess he will keep growing in the next book.

The descriptions were well done, I was never confused during the story. The Virnals reminded me a lot of British officers in India (for example) when they overstepped their boundaries and abused their power into some decadent (not shown and barely described) actions.
There were instances where I thought the author repeated what it was clear in his narrative, but that was my only nit in his narrative. Otherwise it was clear and understandable.
I would have liked to see more of Lannarah, a woman spy that pops in and out. As it is, she was mostly absent and I was expecting more of her, because I thought very interesting to see a woman in a spy role like hers.

The world building was very well done: clear and full of surprises, since due to the setting, I wasn’t expecting to read about “futurist” objects in this type of Old Empire-style land where there is no electricity, no cars, no machines, but somewhere in the 15th century, so that was a nice twist.

This book is the first in a series, apparently, since the story does not end here. Please note that there is some violence (killings) and some explicit sexual content (though in general it’s brushed by;‚Äč there are some instances where a sensitive person might be offended).

***** A tense world with realistic characters!
By T. Leonard on May 6, 2017
Format: Kindle Edition
I received a copy of this story in exchange for an honest review. Here goes:

Starsin’s situation goes from bad to worse when he’s entrusted with a magical object and asked to deliver it to a plain girl with earrings.
But magical items are feared and distrusted, and if Starsin is caught with the strange object, he could find himself in bigger trouble with the Virnals who are cleaning up the magic and abusing their growing power over people. However, with watchful eyes all around, Starsin cannot easily discard the object without getting caught.
After watching the Virnals murder his friend and mentor, Starsin finds himself siding more for those opposed to the Virnal Order, but to silence Starsin, they now want him to join. Starsin finds himself backed further and further into a corner.
Perhaps the magical object and the plain girl could help him after all…

This story plants you into a tense world with realistic characters that sometimes walk the line of good and bad, or selfish and selfless. Cowie’s care and attention to detail and history shine through the fabric of this world. This is a great tale to immerse yourself in and watch these characters struggle through their problems while you escape your own!
Worth the read!

***** Full of Intrigue, Mystery, Suspense, Magic and Changing Characters
By Trace on June 23, 2017
Format: Kindle Edition
This book was good read full of intrigue, mystery, suspense, magic, and changing characters. Starsin, the main character wants a simple, slow life that he can enjoy to do whatever selfish things he wants. That is exactly how the story begins; Starsin is a selfish person who wants what’s best for him, but that changes throughout the story as he sees things that he doesn’t agree with and he can’t believe is happening. He is whisked away to a prison for standing up for what is right for once, which he regrets somewhat because that’s not what he believes his old self would have done. He is entrusted with a “magical object” and has to deliver it to the titles namesake, “the girl with the plain earrings.”

The characters in this book will take you on a thrilling adventure full magic, spies, fighting and more. The plot is full of surprises and suspense and the characters are probably the best gems, only second to the world that Cowie builds. Starsin is a fun character to follow along with because he grows, and as he does so, he’s constantly questioning or second guessing himself, even through his actions, whether he is selfish (like his old self) or selfless (like what he may be becoming).

**** An intriguing new fantasy world
By John Gosling on 3 May 2017
Format: Kindle Edition
One of the intriguing things about this novel is the setting. Is it a past earth, a future earth or somewhere else entirely? Whatever or whenever it is, something from a past cataclysm is leaking into this world, as foul gashes open in the ground and spew poisons that bring illness and death. The mystery of what befell a past civilisation is one of the key elements of this debut fantasy novel from Kim Cowie, and the author does a very good job of painting a compelling picture of a world teetering on the edge of ruin, because not only do the huddled masses have to contend with the dangers of encountering the poisons of the past, which may be evil magic or something even stranger, but they are also under the thumb of the Virnal order, a secretive organisation who control the levers of power. Trying to keep his head down and out of trouble is our hero Starsin, an army cadet with a mysterious past of his own. Drawn into the nefarious machinations of the Virnal Order on one side and a resistance group with their own agenda on the other, Starsin finds himself fighting for his life and honour, forced to grow from a callow youth to a man of action and resolve and perhaps something even greater. There’s plenty of action, but also a good deal of political wheeling and dealing, a combination that Cowie weaves together into a thoroughly enjoyable page turner, further helped by descriptive flourishes that being the cities and plains of this world to vivid life. Highly recommended.