Fall Leaves and the Black Dragon, a novel by Erik Gustafson, is available through Smashwords for 99 cents.
It is a novel that contains an exciting story in an imperfect format. There are numerous proofreading errors throughout the book, so many that at one point (after a couple chapters) I was ready to abandon the book.
The book is told from the first person point of view, but the first fifty pages contain too much summary of the main character's life with too little immediate description and action. Once the main character's life scrolls out to high school graduation, though, the narrative becomes more immediately focused on the moment rather than panoramic overviews.
That is to say--the story gets interesting.
The plot revolves around a young boy who experiences a fire tragedy and is "haunted" by the experience for years after--literally, as it turns out. Willy (or Liam, since he changes his name), aided by his stalwart friend Kenny, set out to solve a mystery, and their paranormal adventures finish the last two thirds of the novel.
A fire that burns through the years… Somehow six-year-old Willy survived a huge fire. The memory of the flames engulfed his childhood and haunted him for years. Terrible secrets that should have burned away have come back. Now an adult, he must return to Iowa, with his best friend by his side, and confront the evil that haunts him. The dark secrets that await them threaten their very lives.As the story unfolded, I finally said, "Never mind that Gustafson doesn't know how and when to use the past perfect verb tense. Never mind the run-on sentences, the misused words, the lack of capitalization and poor punctuation. I'm enjoying the story!
Fall Leaves and the Black Dragon is a great story desperately in need of an editor. All that creativity and effort was left just short of being a tight, suspenseful thriller.
Here is a note to Erik Gustafson, the author: The joy of ebooks is that they can be edited and easily uploaded again. Smashwords allows this for free. I don't begrudge the cost of the book at a penny less than a buck--and I did enjoy the story--but there is a great difference between what could have been and what is.
I've never gone the "star route" in evaluating books, but I give this novel two stars out of five. Oh, but how I would have loved to have given it more!
Copyright 2011 by Thomas L. Kepler, all rights reserved
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