Saturday, July 12, 2014

My review of GHOST HEART, by Weston Ochse and Yvonne Navarro. An excellent entry in the YA genre, I really enjoyed this modern fantasy tale.

Striking cover art by Vincent Chong
There's a number of really good authors working in the YA (Young Adult) genre, and some great stories being told. Of course, YA is a rather sweeping tag, that encompasses a great number of different types of story; thriller, mystery, adventure, sci-fi, and others. The best stories share an ability to transcend the YA label, and have a universal appeal, easily enjoyed by both adults and younger readers. In my mind, Ghost Heart, by the husband and wife team of Weston Ochse and Yvonne Navarro, is one of those stories. Available from Dark Regions Press, this 167 page modern fantasy release was enjoyable from beginning to end, and I had a great deal of fun reading it. The story is extremely engaging, and once started, I had a hard time putting it down. This is my first encounter with both Weston and Yvonne's writing, but after reading such a high quality story, I'll be seeking out more entries from both authors. Here's a synopsis of this modern day fairy tale, and then I'll give you my thoughts on what I enjoyed about the release....

Matt Cady seems like a perfectly normal young man, at first glance. He lives in Rapid City, at the foot of the Black Hills mountain range, where things have always seemed exceedingly simple. He likes playing Cowboys and Indians with his dog Kubla (short for Kubla Khan, natch). He has two imaginary friends named Jacket and Raisin, and he loves his best friend Regina Running Deer, who's a bit older than him. And he, of definitely loves his Mother and Father most of all. Look a little closer, however, and you'll get a bit of a surprise. Jacket and Raisin (short for Raisin Cain, which had me smiling when I read the name) aren't imaginary at all, they're Guardian Spirits, invisible to all but their wards, and to other supernatural creatures. Jacket is still hale and hearty, but Raisin is getting a bit fuzzy around the edges. You see, Guardian Spirits only last as long as their ward believes in them, and Regina is Raisin's ward. Now that she is getting older, she has cast aside what she views as childish beliefs, and unfortunately for Raisin, he's one of those beliefs. Which is why he is slowly fading into away... Matt's belief in the old biker called Jacket is still strong, and thus Jacket is still strongly tied to the world, and Matt. He's quite unhappy to see his old friend Raisin fading, and knows that, inevitably, he will share the same fate in the near future. One of the main things that has led Regina to cast off her childhood memories is her parents recent divorce. Her father is moving away and she feels that he has forgotten about her, and moved on with his new life. Matt's parents have recently separated, and he is deathly afraid that the same thing will happen with his family. So when Regina decides to run away on her old army bike, Matt hatches a desperate plan. If he disappears with her, surely his mom and dad will join together in searching for him, and everything will go back to normal. Forcing his way into the adventure over Regina and Jacket's protests (by threatening to tell on Regina), they set off towards Sturgis, where Regina means to join up with her cousin, and travel the States, with her rock star cousin. After reaching their destination, the true adventure really begins. There are beings out in the world of the Black Hills that Matt has no inkling of, that he will soon encounter... such as trolls, witches, spirits, and something that is darker and more murderous than them all. Will Matt's plan succeed? Which of the group will make it to the end of the line? You'll have to read the story, as I'm keeping mum on the subject...

I have a great love of good fiction, regardless of genre, whether it's marketed towards younger readers or adults. Ghost Heart falls squarely into this category, and I'm giving you notice that this is a story that transcends into the realm of myth. It's the type of tale that people like you and me have been sharing since the beginning of time, through our artwork, through the oral tradition, and through the written word. This is a classic take on both the coming of age tale, and the hero's journey. Anyone that feels a little leery about picking this up, since you're an adult, and this has a YA label on it, stop. Really, please stop... There are a great many outstanding works waiting for you in this genre, if you can get past the label, and this is definitely one of them. Weston and Yvonne have really created something that will draw you in, and totally satisfy, if you just take that step, and start READING! They take a classic type of story, add their own personality and unique viewpoint to it, and you're left with a story that you'll come away from with a huge grin on your face... and possibly a tear or two. The story effortlessly carries you along the trail, and before you know it, you're done, and wondering where the time has gone... And wanting MORE. The writing flows along like a river, the characters are engaging, and the adventure itself is absolutely mighty... What more do you want? This comes with my highest recommendations, and anyone who loves a well told tale should seek this out, and get to reading. Enjoy the journey!

Here's the Dark Regions site. Here's the Amazon page for Ghost Heart. Here's Weston's site. Here's Yvonne's blog. Get out there, start exploring, and read something new! If you like a story, let the authors know, leave a review, and promote reading in general. With that, I'll sign off... Happy reading, all!

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