‘Wonder Rush’ by Dan McKeon – Review

An immersive and suspenseful teen spy thriller with some darker edges, a positive message, originality and depth…

Dan McKeon delivers an immersive and suspenseful tale of one teen assassin who has always followed orders and never questioned those giving them. When things don’t go to plan ‘Wendy’ finds herself facing a rabbit hole of questions as she deciphers what’s good and bad while coming to her own conclusion. It’s part- coming-of-age part-morality check as the ‘agency’ giving the orders begin to reveal themselves as not so reputable.

Through the multiple missions and names she takes ‘Wendy’ begins to realise even if you eliminate bad people, there will always be someone else innocent effected by it. That is without mentioning if the target even is bad in the first place.

“Even those who do bad things have people who care about them, and their loss effects them…”

There’s a certain depth to that morality where choice and accountability of one’s actions make you as a reader question everything. It’s immersive and dark sometimes – death always is but our main character keeps things light hearted and you find yourself rooting for her because she is a force for good. You can give a person all the assassin training in the world and try to engineer out all human elements but they are still human and perhaps that message is at the centre of a great story that I took my time reading.

While there are plenty of concepts that are original and they merge with others that we’ve seen before in spy thrillers; it’s always the abandoned warehouse for a meeting point but the bubble gum idea is genius and of course fun. Although there is some violence there isn’t anything too graphic so I’d recommend this book to older teens and above and to anyone who enjoys a spy thriller with a difference. Highly enjoyable.

5 Stars – This Review First Premiered via Reedsy Discovery

‘Civil Blood: The Vampire Rights Case That Changed a Nation’ by Chris Hepler – Review

An alternative but realistic take on vampires with sharp political and biological edges…

Those who know the vampire genre will also know the usual tropes that come with it. This book doesn’t have any of that. Chris Hepler has brought the concept of vampirism into a brand new light and territory that see’s it as a type of pathogen in a believable reactive world. This is of course something very relevant today and the depth of this story is found in it’s characters along with the exploration of biological and political impacts vampirism comes to have.

“…human beings are now at risk from a plague. It is crueler than cancer, crueler than AIDS, a disease that makes its victims into villains.”

There are very few books where every scene feels meticulously constructed like this one and while it is a longer read it’s clear the author has thought of everything in a story with a gritty spy thriller/espionage feel. We get to see a future that’s realistic and there are some cool gadgets that help a group of agent/spy types try to trace and put a stop to this spreading vampiric infection. All it’s going to take is for the right or wrong person with connections to ‘catch’ it and well there’s the story – but it’s way more than that.

Giving any more away would be pulling the rug under from readers who will find it original, gripping and overall engrossing, for anyone who’s interested in a political thriller with a vampire edge – something rarely seen before in literature I recommend this one highly.

4 Stars – Reviews left via Goodreads and Amazon

‘Deceit of the Soul: Saving the World from COVID-19: Before the Pandemic’ By Henry Cox – Review

A thrilling and interesting page turner that looks to seek out the truth…

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Henry Cox has used the concept of the global coronavirus pandemic to explore it’s potential origins while also telling a thrilling story. Upon the surface it would appear exploitative but from quite early on in the book its obvious to see that isn’t the case, in fact the pandemic seems to lurk on the fringes and in the background while we meet those who appear to have involvement in it’s origins.

The story focuses on two characters and their links to the interior workings of China’s secretive operations. It’s both detailed and informed. We see how the potential beginnings of the virus play out along with the effects it has on these individuals and where it could lead. This moves toward the deeper exploration that highlights how the people’s republic deals with the outbreak paired with the public relations cover up and who it intends to put the blame on – all of this is seen through the eyes of these two character’s who’s journey’s are separate, polarizing and similar all at once. Above all the execution of this story is where you’ll find the real strength with mystery, thrills and deception throughout the journey.

Even though this is a work of fiction, it’s delivered in a way that will provoke thought towards everything that is suggested, in particular the sinister surveillance culture where everyone is either watching or feeding information to a higher power or the theoretical mapping of the implications this virus will have. Has this pandemic been manufactured intentionally to assert world economic dominance? Is ‘bat soup’ really where this outbreak came from.

“…modern war is fought with our surrogate allies, artificial intelligence, social media modification, tariffs and sanctions…”

With an ultra modern subject matter and the feel of a spy/espionage thriller that carries a highly political venom, readers will find this story to be about a lot more that just the beginnings of an outbreak with a real moral conflict at the very center of it all.

4 Stars – A surprising read that hooked me from the very start. Thank you to the author for providing a copy in exchange for a review left on both Amazon and Goodreads. All thoughts and opinions are my own.