Review of “The Whirlwind in the Thorn Tree” by S.A. Hunt

SAFew times have I reached the 15% mark in an eBook and thought, “Yep, I’m getting this in paperback at some point.” This was one of those times. This book is smart, funny, emotionally layered, and entertaining.

Openly acknowledging that a book is inspired by The Dark Tower is risky and builds up a lot of expectations (judgments too), but the author pulls it off. This isn’t just regurgitant fan fiction. There are very obvious tributes and “ah-ha, I know where he got THAT idea” moments throughout this book, but it’s also a wonderfully unique story.
Gunslingers, yes.
A trek across a desert/prairie wasteland being chased by a shadowing figure, yes.
Doors that jump between worlds, yes.
Pop culture references galore, yes.
But Destin is a very different world, composed of original races/creatures. Destin has a definite “old west” feel, but it’s also very fantastical, like Narnia meets King Arthur. And of course the fate of the world(s) is at stake, but the muses which set this all in motion are a fresh element that add a brilliant, unique twist. (As an author myself, I’m always delighted when a story plays with the relationship between the writer and the work. A crumbling fourth wall is not in and of itself a new idea here, but HOW it’s done was a surprise to me.)

The author does an excellent job describing Destin so that you share the pictures in his head. At times, the description may be a little bit too much for some readers, and it certainly would be too much if it were only about Earth. But Destin is new, and I found myself loving every detail of these people, their homes, the animals/monsters, weapons, clothes, armor, and food – there’s a lot of eating.

As for the characters, you really do care about Ross as soon as you meet him. I suspect the author put a LOT of himself into Ross, and the personal touches feel very real and believable. Sawyer and Noreen are not flat characters either, which can so often be done with sidekicks. The way these three work together and care about each other makes the reader care about them, and there’s a very nice twist towards the end (no spoilers) which makes their histories even more interesting.

I’ve said how descriptive the writing is, and overall the book is very well-written. The Dark Tower flavor – western, fantastical, snarky, clever – is certainly there, so if you like that series, you’ll like this. I’ve read some reviews that say the story is a bit slow (which always makes me roll my eyes), but I really enjoyed getting to know these characters as they entered this adventure and took it all in. There are also great chunks of action which highlight the real danger the characters face. Some of these fantastical jumps might confuse some readers, but everything is purposeful and you just have to trust that the author knows what he’s doing. As the first book in a series, it ends on a cliffhanger, but it also ends WELL at a point where things are clearly going to shift afterwards, so it works and leaves you with a fulfilled sense of resolution to this first part in the story.

And I really want to try applotatoes.

5 Stars See it on Amazon!

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