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Review: Steph Post’s latest, Miraculum

eBook and Print Book Cover

These days there are many books that bend genres, making them next to impossible to classify. It’s to the point that lately, I’m not sure that any book deserves its pigeon hole. But people like making comparisons to whatever they know, and so, that’s why genres are assigned. I’m not sure they are as relevant as they once were, though. When a reader has fallen in love with a given author’s work the importance of artificial categorizations diminishes. You read a book expecting the author to deliver and you follow no matter where his or her imagination takes you.

Steph Post writes Southern Noir, what a lot of people refer to as Grit Lit. Her novels are about rural Southerners who often get sucked into get rich quick schemes that are often illegal. But people who live on the fringe of society face hardship daily and often must make desperate choices that run afoul of authority.

Post’s previous works are A Tree Born Crooked, Lightwood, and Walk in the Fire, and if you have already read those you respect Steph Post’s writing chops. You know her characters are lifelike down to the grit under their fingernails and the grease that doesn’t wash off their calloused hands. Her gut-wrenching scenarios are authentic dilemmas. Her settings are based on her experiences growing up in a Florida far removed from the resorts and amusement parks. In Post’s books the American South feels genuine down to cypress knees jutting up from the oozing mud. There are snakes hiding in the tall grasses and gators lurking in fowl smelling, murky waters. If you’ve read her stories you have probably been waiting eagerly for the release of Miraculum, which entered our edge of the universe on 1/22/2019.

From the first page of Miraculum, Post grabs hold of your faculties and doesn’t let go for the duration of the strange ride that often dips into the darkness that underlies the superficial world that others, those who are invested in the systems and institutions of decent society believe is real. Ostensibly, the story is about a carnival/circus experiencing an identity crisis as it struggles to accommodate the changes of the early 1920’s, as America emerges as a major industrial power that survived intact while Europe was devastated by The Great War. To compete with other forms of entertainment for the nickels and dimes of the audience it draws, the circus must exhibit what people can’t find anywhere else, or at least convince them that its assortment of geeks, freaks and exotic enhancements is unique.

In the circus, Ruby is the snake charmer. Most of her body is decorated with multiple tattoos – not particularly well-done tats at that. She’s a survivor, and as the story unfolds, we are privy to some of her secrets, her origins, her past relationships, and her few aspirations. We understand how much the world around her limits her life.

Daniel, a stranger, who is a study in contradiction joins the circus as a geek and yet he always wears an immaculate and obviously expensive suit that never seems to soil. And never does he appear to sweat, despite the blistering muggy heat of summer. He seems urbane, well educated and well traveled, leading most everyone to wonder whatever he is doing in there. Of course, Daniel is attracted to Ruby but not for any obvious reason. Where he can control others, she is exempt. He finds it both frustrating and fascinating.

As always, Post breathes life into her characters with a careful eye for detail and well-tuned ear for dialogue. Her research into the period and the nuances of backstory are evident as the past collides with what cannot possibly be. Just as in the real world, the haves shun the have nots. Shady people pop out of dark corners, trying to make a fast buck, even if it’s not completely legal. Rejected people, those who are discarded through no fault of their own congregate in the only place that will allow them to make a living. as freaks in the circus side shows.

All the elements that have made Post’s past novels visceral and gripping anchor what becomes a bizarrely compelling novel that dabbles in beliefs apart from the mainstream. Miraculum deals a weird, creepy, supernatural vibe beginning on page one. Along the way that same feeling simmers just beneath the surface while the story gains its legs. And then, it bubbles up violently toward a tumultuous and inevitable climax.


Miraculum by Steph Post
Available in eBook, Hardcover from Polis Books

Audiobook from Blackstone Publishing  

Audiobook Cover

Amazon, Blog, Books, Fantasy, novel, Publishing, Science Fiction, Technology, Urban Fantasy

Review of Audible Service & The Three J’Amigos Trilogy (JADE, JANE and JILL) by Rose Montague

Recently, I upgraded my Kindle Paperwhite. The latest one has twice the memory and is waterproof (within reason, anyway). It also supports Audible audiobooks, which is rapidly becoming huge in the publishing industry, with many Indies and small publishers joining the major publishers with titles in release. So,  I decided to give this new thing a test drive.

Audible Trademark

Audible is an Amazon company, but you don’t need a Kindle device to enjoy the audiobooks. If you have a smartphone (who doesn’t these days?) you can download the Audible App for Apple or Android and play the book through your Bluetooth speakers, headphones, earbuds or vehicle (if so equipped). There are some special trial deals going on for little or nothing. Once you see how much it frees you up, while still satisfying your lit needs you’ll want to sign up for it. You get one free download per month and discounts on other purchases throughout the period. What I have discovered is that I can listen to an average length book in a day or so, while doing menial things like laundry, cleaning the house, riding my bike, taking a walk, just about anything.

Author Rose Montague has been an early adopter of the audiobook format for her action-packed YA/NA books. Previously, I’ve read two of The Three J’Amigos Trilogy, as well as both of her other, spin-off books, which take place in the same universe but feature some other characters that have supporting roles in the trilogy. It was just with all the requests for reviews from others I hadn’t gotten around to reading JILL, which was published within the past year or so. But it was coming up on my “to-be- read” list.

All three audiobooks are narrated by Caryn Kuhlman, who does a fine job. It is essential for continuity between books of the same series to have the same narrator, I believe. Kuhlman varies her voice to make each character distinct, which helps a lot from a listener’s standpoint. For example, Jane in the series is “London Jane” and, yes, she has a British accent.

Cover of Jade Audiobook, 1st in the trilogy.

The one thing I will say that is a difference between listening to an audiobook and reading the eBook or print formats is that if you have read the print or eBook previously, it takes a bit to adjust to the narrator’s voice as opposed to your internal, reading voice. The characters are not going to sound the same as you have previously imagined. But you get used to that in relatively short order.

As for the story – I recommend taking the time to binge read or listen to this series. If you enjoy YA books featuring Supernatural beings (Supes), like Vampires, Shape-Shifters, Witches and Faeries, this is a series you’ll love. It offers a mind-expanding journey into the imagination of the author who is a great, natural storyteller. Her books’ pacing is quick.

Cover of Jane Audiobook, 2nd in the trilogy

Her characters are diverse. Jade is a Supernatural mutt, having the attributes of just about every supernatural being. Jane is a Vampire (Vamp) and a member of her community’s royalty. Jill is the Faeire Winter Queen who interacts with the human world on occasion. The female lead characters are strong, independent, sometimes snarky, sword-wielding, dagger-jabbing, (or steel-bat-swinging) badasses who you’ll be rooting for straight out of the gate. Oh, yes, there is a dragon in the mix as well. As J.R.R. Tolkien informed us, every good fantasy needs a dragon. There is plenty of action, excitement, and globe-trotting along the way, with twists and turns that will keep you on the edge of your seat guessing what will happen next. Rose’s books are a thrill ride waiting for you to jump in and claw at anything available while you hang on for dear life.

Cover of Jill Audiobook, 3rd in the series, 

Following this first exposure to Audible, I’ve decided I much prefer listening to the three books in sequence. While waiting for JANE to be written (after having read JADE) I had forgotten some of the story and had to go back into the first book of the series and catch up a bit. I am certain I would have needed to do the same with Jane before reading Jill. However, listening to the books proved to be the best way to revisit the story in preparation for JILL. The trilogy comes to a satisfying, fitting conclusion that also directs the reader to the author’s other series which features Jewel, a budding teenage badass in her own right. Having read both available books of that series I can say that I can’t wait for the audiobooks and also look forward to the next book in that series.