Book Review: The Hunt, by The Aeon Writers

Book Review: The Hunt, by The Aeon Writers

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Book Review: The Hunt, by The Aeon Writers

Book Info

About the Author
DOUG C SOUZA
Doug C. Souza grew up in a home with a playful love for the arts. His early memories include recording skits on cassette tapes with his brother and sister. That evolved into motion videos using He-man toys. All the while, his parents sat down and enjoyed every creative endeavor as if it were a night at the movies.
For years, Doug only shared his stories with family. About seven years ago he ventured out to a local writing group seeking a way to improve the craft (or grasp some understanding of it). He was so nervous about sharing his work that he almost used an alias so he could hightail it outta there if need be.
Sharing his work with others was a huge step in Doug’s writing adventure. There was still plenty to be fixed within his writing, but the fire was sufficiently stoked. He’s still amazed at the unyielding support fellow writers have for one another. The best advice Doug ever received was to “Read, read, read, and write, write, write.” Well, that and the link to William Shunn’s formatting website.
His story “The Armor Embrace” won first place in the Writers of the Future Contest and is featured in volume 33 of their anthology. His novelette “Mountain Screamers” was published by Asimov's. He has a story in the 2017 Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide titled, “The Biting Sands.” And his short story “The Callisto Stakes” will be in Asimov’s later this year. You can listen to Doug C. Souza’s stories on the podcasts StarShipSofa and Far-fetched Fables.
Doug C. Souza hopes you enjoy his story, but if you’re a writer, he hopes you read a couple more and then get back on the crazy train. He lives in Modesto, California with his lovely wife Nicole and their mini-tornado of a daughter. (She’s a mini-tornado in a good way.)

L.L. NUTT
L.L. Nutt lives in multiple realities, parallel dimensions, and occasionally visits our world, where she calls the great state of Texas home. She loves dark knights, tormented adventurers, harrowing romances, any speculative fiction that sheds light on human nature, and satisfied readers. She believes fiction has the capacity to transport and transform us and longs for the old days when tales were still spun before hearth fires. Lacking that tradition continuing, she devotes herself to writing science fiction and fantasy between keeping house for a wonderful husband and chasing after a small herd of children and dogs.
If you enjoyed her stories or any of the other tales in this anthology, she asks you to share it with whoever you know. Readers are the power behind the success of any book, and she thanks you for taking the time to read the tales spun by Aeon Writers. Happy reading!

S.A. STOVALL
S.A. Stovall studied law and history after high school (earning her JD and Bachelors respectively) and is proud to say she is the first in her family to achieve degrees in higher education. She believes hard work and dedication will overcome even the most difficult of challenges (even if that sounds cheesy as hell). She enjoys reading, playing video games, entertaining others with stories, and writing about herself in the third person.
Stovall is a new author to the scene, but already she has several published works, including short stories (Nightmare Magazine), choose your own adventures (Zoozil Learning Entertainment), multiple novellas, and her debut novel, VICE CITY, by DSP Publications. She’s been recognized in the 2017 Rainbow Awards and hopes her next few novels will be just as entertaining as the first.
When she isn’t acting like child trapped an adult’s body, Stovall teaches criminal law and history at local universities. She values knowledge and education and encourages everyone she meets to pursue their interests to the fullest. Plus, she loves making new friends—don’t hesitate to get in contact with her.

TIFFANY O’HARO
Tiffany O'Haro resides in Escalon California with her boyfriend and her dog, Nyx. When she’s not working, doing yoga or reading, you can find her filling every notebook she can get her hands on with story ideas. 
Tiffany loves any genre of story but fantasy and science fiction have always captured her imagination. She’s making her short story debut in the Aeon Writers: The Hunt anthology.

MARY E. MERRELL
Mary E. Merrell lives in the Central Valley of California with her son, husband, two dogs and more cats than she’s willing to admit. When she’s not out in the garden, working on her business or playing with her grandson, Jack, you can find her in front of her computer working on a story.
Mary loves a good story, but she has a special place in her heart for fantasy and science fiction. Helping to form the group, The Aeon Writers, she has taken her love of storytelling to the short format. Find her stories in the first Anthology by the Aeon Writers: The Hunt and escape to her darkly sweet worlds.

R. GARRETT WILSON
R. Garrett Wilson lives in California’s Central Valley with his family. He enjoys reading, writing, photography, movies, and traveling. During most travels, he will stop at a zoo, having visited more than thirty from Hawaii to Florida.
Wilson studied Programming and Software Engineering, and holds an M.S.E. from Pennsylvania State University. He has developed software for many industries, including income tax preparation, real estate, law enforcement, and government administration. He currently supervises a programming group focused on public safety and communications.
Wilson served as president of his high school’s Literary Club, and later penned an Easter play performed at his church. His published work includes stories in Analog Science Fiction and Fact magazine and the anthology, “I Dreamed a Crooked Dream.”
Publication Date
October 14, 2017
Available Formats
Amazon Kindle
Pages
367
ASIN
B076G9LWV6
Aeon Writers brings you The Hunt, a collection of twelve stories starring the most primal struggle of all, the battle between hunter and hunted. From prowling shadows to travelers among the stars, from realms unknown to the supernatural of the everyday world, a primal battle rages through eternity. Fangs, wits, spells, and circuitry are its weapons. The warriors range from gun-blazing bounty hunters to mundanes with fierce spirits and heroic hearts. Join the hunt if you dare...

Editor reviews

1 reviews

Great Anthology!
Overall 
 
5.0

  Cover – Ideal!
 Would I read it again – Yes
 Genre – Science Fiction, Steampunk, Hunter/Hunted, Anthology


 ** I WAS GIVEN THIS BOOK FOR MY READING PLEASURE **

 The stories in this anthology follow the age-old concepts of Hunter and Hunted. But, not always in the way you think. Full of surprises, lessons and some stunning world building, this anthology challenges those concepts of what makes a Hunter and what makes someone the Hunted, just as much as it offers the classic interpretations.
 Each story is a gem and I'll definitely be reading more from these authors in the future.

 ~

 PART 1: Stories of the Hunter

Weight of the Matter, by Doug C. Souza
★★★★★
POV: 3rd person, one character
Length: 3-10%
Theme: Science Fiction, Nanos, Bounty Hunter, Brothers

 This was a great story of brotherly love, set in a futuristic world of bounty hunters with plasma weapons, government devices and nanites. It started off with great intrigue, where I thought Nick was an assassin, because he was targeting a mother and child with a sniper scope. Then it was revealed that he was a bounty hunter and his “victims” were actually put into stasis body bags and delivered to a colony on another planet.
 It was all really well done, from the reveal of the information we needed, from the detailed world building and the characterisation. Nothing was overdone, nothing was exaggerated or impossible to imagine. It was a great story, reminding me a lot of the movie Serenity. I loved the brothers relationship, they way they worked together. Art had a nice skillset that complimented Nick's. Overall, very well done sci-fi story .

Favourite Quote
 ““You want to pile up the hunters that come for you?”
 “Wouldn't that be something?”
 “Well, it's a start,” Shuler shrugged and followed his brother into one of the factories.”

 ~

The Silence That Screams, by L.L. Nutt
★★★★★
POV: 1st person, one character
Length: 11-20%
Theme: Steampunk, Victorian-esque, Immortality, Monsters, Pirates

 This was a really intriguing story. I loved that there was a perpetual mystery to the main character, Monsieur Kaismann, who is a supernatural hunter. It started with pirates, dipped into the Steampunk style with the Victorian-esque language and story setting, while exploring a nice little marooning scenario that offered so many interesting revelations.
 As the story progressed, we discovered a little more about Kaismann and his nature, learning his characterisation as and when it was necessary. The world building was crafted around his character, so cleverly, finally drifting into the paranormal aspect of his work – hunting supernatural creatures, like ghosts. In the second half of the story, a new monster appears and the hunt begins, only for Kaismann to make some very interesting discoveries, about himself and about the world. I really enjoyed it.

Favourite Quote
 “I gazed over the cliff. Of all the things I had hunted, of all the monsters, there was one fact I had never been able to escape: sometimes the beasts were far less heinous than the men around them.”

 ~

Weakness, by S.A. Stovall
★★★★★
POV: 1st person, character, present tense
Length: 20-29%
Theme: Wolves, Shifter, Death, Disability, Strength/Weakness

 From the outside, this is a cute little story about a pair of animals who can talk and who are different. But it's so much more than that, when you look deeper. This is a story of positivity, disability, and survival. It's about how “weakness” is viewed – as a society – and strength reigns supreme, but also how strong the so-called “weak” can be when they band together.
 As someone who has a disability and is often considered weak, I love the strong, bold, and beautiful message this story offers. Quite honestly, it would make a really beautiful children's story. I can see it illustrated and selling like hot cakes to kids who have disabilities like the characters – hearing and sight problems, even those like me in wheelchairs – who need that positive message that comes from discovering that a disability does not make someone weak, useless or deserve to die.
 I honestly loved everything about it, from the world building to the characterisation, to the vibe of strength and positivity that was in every word. Brilliant.

Favourite Quote
 ““You think the sun will lead us?” I ask.
 “I think we're whole together.”
 Her statement rings true in my broken ears. With her, I can hunt. With me, she is safe. Together we are complete. Together we have no weakness.”

 ~

I Am Invincible, by R. Garrett Wilson
★★★★★
POV: 1st person, one character, present tense
Length: 29-40%
Theme: Spy, Secret Government Experiments, Neural Links, Robots, Gaming

 Wow! That was one explosive story. I wasn't sure where it was going to lead, at first, because there was a lot of intricacy to the plot, a lot of twists and little surprises that I hadn't been expecting. But, once it ended, everything fell in to place and I could see just how clever it really was.
 I loved the use of familiar items – like Virtual Reality Gaming – being used as military style training and weapons. It was great the way the author went into detail about how, why and what could be accomplished. It was a slow burn story, with a lot of detail, a lot of world building and care put into the plotting, but it didn't feel like it was ever too much. I felt like I was watching a Bourne movie, with some added tech from the likes of Mission Impossible.
 And that ending...wow!

Favourite Quote
 “Because of how realistic the neural tethering is, they had taught us to chant one line to deal with the anxiety: “I am invincible.” I had thought it silly, but now I say it over and over in my mind. I am invincible. I am invincible. It seems to have meaning today.”

 ~

Mother Said, by Mary E. Merrell
★★★★★
POV: 3rd person, one character
Length: 40-44%
Theme: College, Predators, Lone Female, Hunger

 This was a really interesting story, because it chose not to label the hunter. It was left open to interpretation, but with a supernatural twist that really worked for me.
 The story started like a potential horror story, with a lone female walking alone in the dark, with some guy who couldn't take no for an answer bugging her every step. I loved how the author managed to convey the thoughts that all women experience in this oh-so-common situation; the frustration of not being left alone, the fear of 'how far will be too far' and 'how many no's will it take for him to lose his temper', before flipping the story entirely into something new.
 The world building and characterisation were brilliant. I loved the twist at the end.

Favourite Quote
 “Mother said, “A face like yours is going to bring out the best or worst in men. Some men are going to want to protect you, others will see you as easy prey. Used wisely, you'll never go hungry.””

 ~

Blackwood, by Tiffany O'Haro
★★★★★
POV: 3rd person, one character
Length: 45-52%
Theme: Magic, Fantasy, Betrayal, Scrying

 This is the first story to have a romance base, not within the plot, but as a background story. I loved how it wove through the plot but didn't take precedence, yet offered insight into the characters and their motivations. There was some really great world building and characterisation here, again, surrounding a world that was very magical, with teleportation and such. It had a Doctor Strange vibe to it that really appealed to me.

Favourite Quote
 ““Why are you doing this?” she asked, finally giving into the deep sorrow that had engulfed her.
 “Because I want you to suffer. Like I suffered when I had everything taken away from me.”
 “If you think killing me is somehow going to sate your need for revenge, then fine. Do it!” Anger bubbled up in her chest and a recklessness gripped her.
 “I'm not going to kill you. I'm going to do something much worse than that. I'm going to break you.””

 ~

 PART 2: Stories of the Hunted

Space Soap Opera, by S.A. Stovall
★★★★★
POV: 1st person, one character, present tense
Length: 52-60%
Theme: Space, Mental Health, Sci-Fi

 This was a fun one. It had a little bit of everything and still managed to be a surprise, at the end. I feel like I'm repeating myself, but there was great world building and characterisation. I felt every thrill of fear, every heart-pounding moment, every shock of 'this can't be happening'. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. And that's all I can say without giving it away. It was very well done.

Favourite Quote
 “I might just do it all over again.”

 ~

The Mouse, by Mary E. Merrell
★★★★☆
POV: 3rd person, dual character
Length: 60-69%
Theme: Vampire, Paranormal, Romance

 This was an odd one, for me. While, in some ways, I liked the surprises and twists that it took as a story, I also felt that it was far too much the “paranormal romance” trope. It had important differences, like a mixed race couple, and no HEA, but it was a little too much of the vampire-human PNR trope.
 So, definite points for a decent plot and great execution, but I took a star off for the overly-familiar plot/tropiness of it all. And for the fact that the story was, effectively, left incomplete. I wanted to follow the almost Louis/Lestat storyline of the vampires, and I wanted to know more about the death of Miranda, and whether or not Cody and Weston could escape them.

Favourite Quote
 “Weston gave you a night, but I'll give you the memory.”

 ~

Show of A Lifetime, by R. Garrett Wilson
★★★★☆
POV: 1st person, one character
Length: 70-81%
Theme: Space, Sci-Fi, Organised Crime

 I'll admit, I'm a little disappointed with this one, only because I Am Invincible was so fantastic that I expected something similar. However, I felt a bit displaced with this story. It wasn't that it wasn't good, it was just that it didn't work for me. I think science fiction buffs would love it, but I didn't connect with the main character – Dee – at all. There was a strange relationship system – as they'd be on the ship for two years, and there was an odd ratio of males to females – she immediately began “dating” on of the crew and her father met a woman who immediately became her stepmother. I think that was where things didn't work for me, at first, then came the fact that I didn't connect with Dee. She was very selfish, skittish and not at all my kind of female character. The entire chaos/crime aspect that later followed and became the “hunted” part of the story was really well plotted and executed, but the story had already lost me by then. I was more interested in Cole than Dee.
 Again, as with the previous story, I also feel like the ending wasn't there. It didn't tell me enough for me to feel like the story was done. There were multiple possibilities, but none of them told me Dee's fate, Cole's fate, or that of her father or those on the ship. These are all questions I was eager to discover the answers to, but probably never will.

Favourite Quote
 “I knew we had traveled out three times farther than Pluto – the magnetic and gravitational interference produced by the warp drive required such precautions – but seeing the sun as a tiny speck of light amongst the enormity of the Milky Way caught me off guard.”

 ~

Easy Pickings, by Doug C. Souza
★★★★★
POV: 1st person, one character, present tense
Length: 81-84%
Theme: Science Fiction, Homeless?, Bounty Hunter, Family

 Wow, so this is exactly what I was hoping for – continuity between the Hunter and Hunted stories. That's exactly what this story is. It's set in the same/similar world as the Hunter story “Weight of the Matter”, writing in the same style, with the same world building and depth of characterisation. The difference is that it's super short – I'm not complaining, because it's a perfect length, though I wouldn't turn down a novel sized story in this world, at all. The length is that way for a reason. For a reason I can't tell you, because it's revealed in the last two paragraphs and is an amazing, epic ending, a HUGE twist to the plot and is such an awesome thing that I can't ruin it for anyone who wants to be surprised.

Favourite Quote
 “I don't think I can do the next thing. But I don't share my hesitation with Moeri. He would be so disappointed in me.
 “I couldn't do it either,” Moeri tells me. His voice is embarrassed. “That's why I'm gone.””

 ~

Death Herald, by L.L. Nutt
★★★★★
POV: 3rd person, one character
Length: 84-92%
Theme: Ellis Island, immigrants, Post-WWI, Monsters

 This is another one that sort-of continues the story begun in the Hunter section. This one continues the story of Karl Kaismann, the hunter of monsters, from “The Silence That Screams”. However, this one is told from a new POV. I loved the twist to the previous plot, as this is many, many years later, but also how it was one of those slow-burn mysteries, where there was a sense of something not being right only for it to be revealed at the last minute. Again, great world building and characterisation. I'd LOVE to read a novel about Karl Kaismann.

Favourite Quote
 “Her lips were numb, the words jumbled in her mind. Something reached out from the wind and opened his cheek, but his gaze never left her. Again, the wind ripped at him, opening his shoulder, and blood darkened his coat, erasing the numbers pinned to his lapel.
 “Herr Kaismann!””

 ~

Stones, by Tiffany O'Haro
★★★★☆
POV: 1st person, one character
Length: 92-98%
Theme: Priestess, Historical, Fantasy, Secret Order

 This was an interesting story, similar enough to the previous story by this author “Blackwood” that they could have taken place in the same world. That didn't diminish the well crafted world building or characterisation, though. For me, it felt a little too short, and I have some unanswered questions, like why was Lilith there to see the meeting of the Child of the One True God, how had she found them, and did that snooty Jayda get her comeuppance? However, it was a good story and I liked how it morphed between hunted to hunter and back again, with a little uncertainty held throughout on what it would end on.

Favourite Quote
 “As I crept ever closer to the door, an overwhelming sense of dread gripped my heart. I poised my hand to push on the metal ring of the door. I hesitated. The truth lay behind the door and I feared it.”

 ~

 OVERALL

 This was a great collection of stories by some very talented authors. I got really excited about some stories, sitting on the edge of my seat to see how they'd pan out, while others had me quietly wondering what was going to happen next.
 In the end, I enjoyed the Hunter stories more than the Hunted, though I can't really quantify why. I think it might be a simple matter of connecting with those stories and the characters more. Regardless, it was a great anthology that will keep you on your toes and offer some exciting stories that I hope will become the inspiration for novels, in the future.

 Favourites? I know I'm not supposed to choose any, but I can't help myself. I LOVED:
I Am Invincible, by R. Garrett Wilson
Weight of the Matter, and Easy Pickings, by Doug C. Souza
The Silence That Screams, and Death Herald, by L.L. Nutt
and, finally, Weakness, by S.A. Stovall

EW
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