Genre: Sci-Fi / Cyberpunk
Publisher: Herbs House
Publication Date: 30th April 2016
REVIEWED BY NEV
A copy of Chaos Halo was sent to Confessions of a Reviewer by the author, Mark Cassell, in exchange for an honest review. This is said review. This book is published by Herbs House.
So, let’s get another disclaimer out of the way. This was sent to me a long, long time before I started working with Mark Cassell through Confessions Publicity, so that part does not gain any favouritism from me in a review.
That being said, I really couldn’t wait to slot this one into my to be read pile. It just always seemed to be getting pushed down a bit further by other things. I think that may have had something to do with the fact that it is sci-fi rather than horror. Don’t get me wrong, I love a bit of sci-fi. But I would rather read horror.
Anyway, this is what I thought.
Abigail is on the run from the authorities. She has something they want. Or should she say that she is something they want. Part human, part cyborg she constantly tries to stay one step ahead of the game in her quest to help the downtrodden, in their battle to survive.
When she meets Quiver, he thinks he can help her find the answers she needs. He should know because he…..
That’s another little nugget that needs to be kept secret.
This one centres on Abigail and Quiver as the main two characters for most of the story. Others flit in and out but they are the stars if you like. Abigail is a bit of an enigma. You don’t know how old she is or where she came from other than the fact she was manufactured in some way. She is an extremely strong willed individual and seems to have the fighting skills and knowledge to back that strong will up. She is very focused on what she wants to do. Quiver is also a bit of an enigma. He used to work for the authorities and seems to possess everything there is to know about technology in this dystopian world.
The plot is a bit more complicated. People are getting sick and Abigail and Quiver know the authorities are responsible for it. They aim to stop them but need to figure out how to do this. That’s about the height of it.
So, how does Mr Cassell deal with switching from horror to cyberpunk dystopian sci-fi? Very well I have to say. I have read quite a bit of his stuff now and have come to recognise a distinct style to his writing. None of it was evident in this though. It is totally different from anything I have read of his to date.
He makes the change very seamless though. You would not for one-minute think that he did not write in this genre all the time. His use of narrative when talking about the weapons and technology involved, makes you think that it all really exists, and more to the point, is possible. His use of descriptive passages to describe the world we are running around in is perfect in giving you a picture in your mind of how it might look. His, although limited because of how short the book is, back story of each character, builds them into solid and believable people. All in all, a damn fine job.
But, can I be critical for a moment? This story is broken into six individual stories within the main big story. This made things feel a little bit disjointed and rushed for my liking. You could eventually see where everything came together, but it could have been a bit smoother for me, rather than jumping from one scene to another the way it did. I understand that each chapter is called an episode as if it is a series on TV, but they generally flow better into each other. This is the only reason I would knock a star off.
It leaves you on the mother of all cliff-hangers and I will be honest and say that I am looking forward to the next instalment. I would just hope it is beefed up a little.
To summarise: an enjoyable sci-fi romp that certainly has potential to expand and turn into something great.
☆☆☆☆ that little lack of flow cost a star.
☆☆☆☆ certainly not of this world!
EDIT: I have since discovered that these stories originally appeared as quarterly episodes in a magazine. This would go some way to explaining the slightly disjointed feeling.
If you would like to help support Confessions of a Reviewer, then please consider using the links below to buy Chaos Halo or any other books from Mark. This not only supports us but also lets us know how many people actually like to buy books after reading our reviews.
In a disturbed future, remnants of the human race starve while a new world authority strangles freedom. Abigale – part human, part something else – escapes their control, and combating the militia she begins to uncover her origins, taking her beyond the city walls and into a scorched Earth.
With a blend of cyberpunk and science fiction, this dystopian future unearths secrets that other worlds needed forgotten.
Chaos Halo 1.0: Alpha Beta Gamma Kill is a collection of six stories, including the first episodes of a speculative fiction saga in association with Future Chronicles.
CONFESSIONS REVIEWS MARK CASSELL
Mark Cassell lives in a rural part of the UK where he often dreams of dystopian futures, peculiar creatures, and flitting shadows. Primarily a horror writer, his steampunk, dark fantasy, and SF stories have featured in several anthologies and ezines. His best-selling debut novel THE SHADOW FABRIC is closely followed by the popular short story collection SINISTER STITCHES and are both only a fraction of an expanding mythos of demons, devices, and deceit.
Mark’s 2017 release HELL CAT OF THE HOLT further explores the Shadow Fabric mythos with ghosts and black cat legends.
The dystopian sci-fi short story collection CHAOS HALO 1.0: ALPHA BETA GAMMA KILL is in association with Future Chronicles Photography where he works closely with their models and cosplayers.
And for more about Mark, visit his site or find him on social media: