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Story Time Mickey Huyck Review by
Michael T. Huyck Jr.
HEART OF ICE, BLOOD OF FIRE
Thomas Staab
Crazy Wolf Publishing
$12.99
ISBN 0-9674172-1-x

Mixing quantum mechanics with fiction is common alchemy, and why not? Through the convolutions of nebulous science, one can do whatever one pleases with the past, the present, and the future. Heady stuff. Evidence of alternate universe stories abound, from classic books (ALICE'S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND and THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ) to television ("Doctor Who" and "Sliders") to games (name an RPG that isn't an alternate universe.) Yep, it's everywhere, so you can't blame Thomas Staab for wanting to test the concept himself. In HEART OF ICE, BLOOD OF FIRE he does.

The story opens with Patrick Sweeny, a rich and powerful dude, suffering his love for the beautiful Angela. The lady doesn't return his amour, and that's contrary to everything Patrick understands about life. He always gets what he wants. So he up and kills her, as frustrated lovers are wont to do. He kills her over and over again. See, Patrick understands the concept of alternate universes and he knows how to manipulate them. So he travels from universe to universe looking for the Angela who'll love him back. If the one he finds doesn't do the trick, he offs her and tries again. To complicate things, Patrick often has to contend with his own alternate universe self.

It's a fresh approach, and that alone makes me want to like HEART OF ICE, BLOOD OF FIRE. But in the end it didn't work. Not really.

Staab's weakest link here is the build of his characters. First and most important - we have no reason to give a damn about any of them. The good guys, Angela and Chris, are simply pathetic. Shoot them, please, they've suffered enough. His bad guy is 100% bad; completely self-serving and sans any redeeming traits. And T.C., Patrick's right-hand man/butler/lackey, is so spineless he makes Shaggy and Scooby look like mythological champions. The POV shifts were mostly transitions from whimpering to megalomania and back again, and that grew tiresome.

Even more tiresome than the "voices" that muttered in every character's head.

Even more tiresome than the nonstop internal dialogues.

Even more tiresome than… ah, you get the point.

I found HEART OF ICE, BLOOD OF FIRE to be tiresome.

The cover art is adequate, but blurry. The overall package feels cheap. At this point I suppose I should rant about POD quality, but these days a lot of fine work is coming out of POD publishers. They're not all bad, but this one's presentation has room for improvement.

Since I've not heard of Crazy Wolf Publishing, I checked it out on the net. They're homepage touts two books, HEART OF ICE, BLOOD OF FIRE and VAMPIRE'S WALTZ, both by Thomas Staab. I clicked the "Crazy Wolf's Founder" button and discovered that it was…Thomas Staab. Even with my personal bias against self-publishing set aside, I think this book speaks volumes about the value of the traditional process of hooking and reeling in an editor. Staab has a strong premise here, and with a bit of independence and a willingness to ask the hard questions, this could have been much, much more.

As it is, though, it earns only two BookWyrms.

BookWyrmBookWyrm

This review copyright 2001 E.C.McMullen Jr.

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