Writer of Horror Fiction

Review of Jonathan Crayford’s “Legacy of the Sky Pendant”

The Legacy of the Sky Pendant is Jonathan Crayford’s first novel.  It tells two stories, with the first being the tale of Marcus, who lives in the village of Soulwind.  The village is under assault by dark strangers who have slowly engulfed the Kingdom of Termelanor and who intend on wiping out his village before marching on the capital.  It will be up to Marcus to do whatever he can to save the village, whether that means fighting to the death or racing against time to convince the King of the dire threat they all face. The second tale takes place nearly a century later, when Cruise, a young man in the same village, is bound and determined to win the annual foot race that takes place there every year. His family is poor, and the prize money will go a long way in helping them fight their way out of poverty. Unfortunately, the odds are stacked against him with an elite band of champions who come from the capital city every year to compete and always win.

What ties these two stories together is the necklace both characters wear.  It is the mysterious sky pendant, with metal that fell to earh and seems to have strange powers that influence and give the wearer great strength in times of need.

It was clear from the first word of this book that this was the authors first attempt at writing a novel. There is great enthusiasm here, but there is a significant disconnect between the story he wants to tell and the story that ends up on the page. The primary issue, especially with the first story, is that it suffers heavily from the author telling vs. showing. The best way to describe this effect is to imagine having someone tell you about a book they read instead of reading it yourself. The author volunteers a great deal of information, whether it is truly pertinent to the tale or not, and in many places, it reads like an information dump.  We are not experiencing the story through the eyes of the main character, or even as though we are there with him, watching breathlessly as he deals with countless life and death situations. We are reading a news report of what is happening to him.  While this issue also hinders the second story, it is clear the author had already made great strides in his writing skills by the time he crafted the tale of the race and there is more of a sense of being present in the moment along with Cruise, rather than feeling like you are reading a book report on what is happening at the race and when he is training.

The book could have benefited greatly from an editor spending some time going over the story with the author.  The dialog is often choppy and awkward, especially in the first story. While it does improve in the second part of the book, it still doesn’t feel quite natural.  The stiffness subsides a bit the further we go, but it hangs with us to the very end. Many of the characters also don’t feel very real-in what they do or how they act. Simple caricatures instead of in depth, drawn out people you would take an interest in…perhaps except for Cruise and the man who chooses to coach him for his race, but even there, more character development would have been necessary for me to really invest or truly care what happens to either of them. The villains are obvious, the King is a simple-minded idiot, and so on.  The plot is overly basic in the first story, and yet again the second story gains in complexity.  The author invested quite a bit more energy in turning Cruise’s experiences with the race into something dramatic and worthwhile, though it still left needed more for me to really believe in it.  Finally, an editor could have saved the author from his zeal for somewhat odd descriptors and an overabundance of adverbs.  You cannot look at someone sarcastically, and yet that description pops up numerous time throughout the story.

I realize how brutal this review may seem, but I was asked by the author for a fair and honest review and to his credit, he knew what to expect since I shared many of my critiques with him before I had even finished the first part of the book. More than likely he will be surprised with my reaction to the second part of the book, which showed a few signs of someone getting closer to crafting a story that would draw you in and make you care for the characters.

The author wants to continue to improve as a writer and wants to continue this saga as a series. Hopefully he will also continue to sharpen his skills as a writer and seek out a professional editor and some brutally honest beta readers to support him on this path, because despite the many issues I may have seen with this work, I can also see potential in the author as a storyteller.

Legacy of The Sky Pendant can be found here:   https://www.amazon.com/Legacy-Sky-Pendant-Jonathan-Crayford-ebook/dp/B07K4DV13M/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1549575938&sr=8-3

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