Sunday, June 28, 2015

Tori Review: "The Jack of Souls" by Stephen M. Merlino

The Jack of Souls (The Unseen Moon, #1)

Title: The Jack of Souls

Author: Stephen M. Merlino

Genre: Fantasy

Publication: December 12, 2014

Pages: 354


Harric is an outcast rogue who must break a curse put on his fate, or die on his next birthday. As the day approaches, nightmares from the spirit world stalk him and tear at his sanity; sorcery eats at his soul.

To survive, he’ll need more than his usual tricks. He’ll need help—and a lot of it—but on the kingdom’s lawless frontier, his only allies are other outcasts. One of these outcasts is Caris, a mysterious, horse-whispering runaway, intent upon becoming the Queen’s first female knight. The other is Sir Willard—ex-immortal, ex-champion, now addicted to pain-killing herbs and banished from the court.

With their help, Harric might keep his curse at bay. But for how long?

And both companions bring perils and secrets of their own: Caris bears the scars of a troubled past that still hunts her; Willard is at war with the Old Ones, an order of insane immortal knights who once enslaved the kingdom. The Old Ones have returned to murder Willard and seize the throne from his queen. Willard is both on the run from them, and on one final, desperate quest to save her.

Together, Harric and his companions must overcome fanatical armies, murderous sorcerers, and powerful supernatural foes.

Alone, Harric must face the temptation of a forbidden magic that could break his curse, but cost him the only woman he’s ever loved.

Goodness gracious, that was certainly an adventure. As my first dalliance with the Epic Fantasy genre in quite some time, The Jack of Souls did not disappoint. I have to admit, I am an avid fan of writers such as Terry Brooks and J.R.R. Tolkien so I’ve read my fair share of there-and-back-again voyages. So, I am happy to report that my inner skeptic was quickly silenced once I met Harric…a character who pays homage to one of my favorite myths, the trickster. He must break a curse placed upon him, by his own mother I might add, if he wants to outwit fate and live to see another birthday. Intrigued yet?

The author skillfully crafted individuals that kept my attention throughout the book. But Caris, the horse-touched female knight and companion of Harric, had to be my favorite. I couldn’t help but picture Brienne of Tarth from Game of Thrones every time she is mentioned. Just go take a gander and you will see exactly what I mean.

The other supporting characters are wonderfully eclectic and make well-crafted companions to follow Harric and Caris on a heroic quest to save the Queen. I was very pleasantly surprised to find that Merlino did not skimp on the humor in this book. Don’t get me wrong…I love a beautifully detailed scene as much as the next reader. But I like to have a good a chuckle with my sword fights too. Who doesn’t?

4 quills to The Jack of Souls! If you are in the mood for a fantastic fantasy adventure, then I suggest you move Merlino to the top of your reading list. I have no doubt that the expert world building will only get more enthralling as The Unseen Moon series continues.

Until next time!


  Tori is a  24 year old tiny oddball of a woman who ardently loves rainy days and festive repartee. A college graduate, she holds a degree in communications with an emphasis on writing for media. Tori is currently an Assistant librarian working towards getting her Master's in Library Science. You will not find it surprising that this Auggie-Talk Co-Blogger is a passionate devotee of impulsive bookstore perusing and reading far past the point of exhaustion.

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