Monthly Gem: “The Stroke of Eleven” by Kyle Robert Shultz

 

Title:  The Stroke of Eleven

Series:  Beaumont & Beasley #3

Genre:  Fantasy Adventure

Release Date:   November 29 , 2017

Descriptive Blurb:   The adventures of Beaumont and Beasley are at an end.

The Council of Scions has finally caught up with Nick Beasley and his friends–and the sinister enchantress Madame Levesque has plans for them. Nick and Cordelia must solve an ancient mystery for her. Otherwise, Crispin and Molly will be lost forever.

The investigation leads Nick and Cordelia to the Castle of Basile, a bizarre place detached from space and time. Old friends are trapped there, and Nick and Cordelia are soon imprisoned along with them. Their jailer is the Fairy Godmother from the tale of Cinderella…who turns out to be far less benevolent than the storybook version.

A masked man offers to help–but can the White Rabbit really be trusted? What is Cinderella’s dark secret? And what will happen when the clock strikes twelve?

Review

“A Time-Bending Fantasy Angst-fest…”

1st Impressions:  Wow!  A lot to digest…Scary prophesies, alter-egos, a weird white rabbit, and a clockwork dystopia.  This one is a little more angst-heavy than the previous books, but not to worry, there’s plenty of humor too.

New Characters on the Block:  We get to meet Malcolm’s main squeeze, Melody…apparently their romance predates her imprisonment in the painting.  Ella and Prince Matteo… of Cinderella fame…They provide some nice comic relief.  Beatrice, a perfectionist control-freak obsessed with happily-ever afters.  She runs amok in Grimmany.  Alice, from wonderland, makes a interesting cameo before she falls down a rabbit hole.  And…Nadia, a fork-tongued naga (half-snake, half-woman beastie) who drives a hard bargain with Cordelia at an underground magical black-market.

‘White’ Hot Mess:  Nick and Cordelia land in a whole lotta trouble when their past magical violations finally catch up with them and their gang of magical outlaws.  (Crispin & Molly round out the foursome).   Meanwhile, a mysterious disappearing castle has unexpectedly reappeared and begun kidnapping random people.  Malcolm and the Mythfits are MIA and presumed to be trapped somewhere within, under the thrall of a wicked Fairy Godmother.  Now at the mercy of the Council of Scions, Nick and Cordelia make a misguided deal with the she-devil, Madame Levesque, in order to spare Crispin and Molly any harm/punishment.  The Bargain:  They agree to help defeat the Godmother and rescue Malcolm and the Mythfits from the vanishing castle and in exchange, their past magical missteps will be forgiven.  Romance...and disaster… are in the air as everyone and everything in the Afterlands gets drawn into the fray.

Minor Beefs:  A few too many characters on the scene.  However much I may love them, I think the canvas was a little crowded….both in terms of characters and plot-lines.  Personally, I adore a complicated storyline, but even I felt this one was on the verge of dizzying.  While it didn’t diminish my utter enjoyment of the book (or this series), it did sometimes make the vast multitude of details…names, places, time-points, curses, prophesies, powers, creatures, etc a wee bit tough to follow.  There were several instances where I literally could not tell which character was speaking in a conversation…And a few characters that I struggled to recall, not because they weren’t memorable exactly.  Its just that… in almost every iteration of this series, there is some kind of reality-altering event (dreams sequences, back-from-the-dead, mirror realms, possessed persons, duel personalities, time-looping, erased memories).  Until, I have a tough time recalling the particulars.  Some characters have changed species since the last time we saw them!!

Cool Points:  “The Last Days of Lady Cordelia” a gripping between-book short story based in the same universe (the Afterlands).  It also served a duel-purpose.  Its works as an extended prologue to put some elements into place…and introduce some not so obvious conceptual backstory.  The Neverwolves, the fragile nature of reality, and the Council of Scions’ key to keeping magic a secret from the general public.

Edge of the Cliff:   Some story-lines were capped off, while others were brought to a natural close, but with the door left open for further story-arcs to come.  While there is no true cliff-edge, this series has sort of morphed into a highly complex (very spin-off-able) universe.  Its kinda to the point where there is way too much going on to be contained within one book.  I honestly think it could benefit from some spin-offs…and I notice that the author has already begun turning in that direction.  Kudos.

The Final Word:  Another great read.

You can find ‘The Stroke of Eleven’ on Goodreads.

 

Purchase Links

 Amazon

 

 

About the Author:

Kyle Robert Shultz began writing in his early teens after being bitten by a radioactive book. As a Christian, he strives to write fiction that is entertaining and wholesome, but devoid of overt “messages” or agendas. He lives in the wilds of southern Idaho, removed far enough from civilization to keep humanity safe should any of his rough drafts break through the electric fence. Aside from writing, his other passions are worship music, digital art, horseback riding, and raising miniature sheep.

 

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