Catalyst (The Passage of Hellsfire, Book 1) Book Review
Author: Marc Johnson
Publisher: Longshot Publishing (March 19, 2011)
Currently only sold digitally
Synopsis (As quoted by author Marc Johnson from his novel “Catalyst”):
Far from home, Alexandria’s princess is abducted. When a young villager named Hellsfire stumbles upon her and her captors, he rushes in to rescue her, alone and unarmed. His fear and fury unleash an uncontrollable magical force that grants him the power to save the princess-and change the world.
Now Hellsfire must leave all he’s ever known, and make a dangerous journey to learn to master this wild, ferocious power-power he knows he is not ready to wield. More difficult still, he needs to master his emotions. If he can’t, the power will consume him, Alexandria will fall, and darkness will eclipse the land, destroying everyone he loves.
I guess it should be known that my wife usually hands some of the books over to me to read, “The Husband.” I don’t get many of them. And the ones that I do are usually the fantasy, or zombie books, or things of that nature. She read the synopsis of Catalyst and thought that I would love this book. After giving it a good read through, I can’t say that I would argue with her. I wasn’t aware that this was the first in a series though. I don’t like reading series because if I get addicted, then I have to wait for the next release.
Let me start this little piece by saying that Catalyst is only sold digitally at this time. Don’t go looking for a paper edition, because it’s not there. This doesn’t bother me as my Kindle has grown on me and before that my iPhone. And there are many other reasons, but that is a story for another time.
I would like to take a brief second to mention the author too, Marc Johnson. He is an indie author. The age of the e-book has allowed many authors like him the ability to publish their stories and get their works of art into the wild. I would encourage everyone to support indie authors.
Now we head to the book. The story starts a little slow. I had to encourage myself to keep reading through the first 30 pages or so. This isn’t a fault of the author; I just have a very short attention span. But I did stick with it, and I enjoyed the story thoroughly. As the plot progresses, it does get much better and more griping. It’s a slow and steady grip though. By the end of the book you will find yourself wanting to just finish it because climax sucks you in.
The vocabulary and wording isn’t very advanced. Catalyst seems like it was meant for 11-15 year olds. But that didn’t slow me down or dissuade me from reading the title anymore. Instead I found it to be very refreshing. The read was quick and easy. And the story was interesting and very linear to follow. The titles for the some of the characters seemed a little off to me though. The main character’s name, Hellsfire, just didn’t seem to flow very well with me. And conversation between primary characters was very formal and political in a very basic way. Such as a character would always address a wizard by “Wizard Hellsfire”, or “Wizard Stradus” or Krystal was always princess or “your highness.” Again, this ties in to the vocabulary. It’s not a bad thing, and even somewhat presents the formality of the situation and time period rather perfectly, but it grew to be a bit bland.
The plotline felt as if it was ripped straight from a Final Fantasy video game with a dash of World of Warcraft thrown in for good mix. It’s been done before. Even the nuances of the characters felt very video gameish. But yet, I found myself still sucked into the story. I felt as if the author went past the video game and offered more detail. I guess I should state that I am a big Final Fantasy fan, as much as the stories may be played out. But with the video game, the player will see the progression of events as the story unfolds and only dialog between characters. The video game is more of an interactive play as to where Catalyst dove head first into the main characters mind to share his emotions, thoughts, feelings, and everything personal. The reader can establish a good connection with the main character and have a better understanding of the internal struggle as the years progress through the book. Catalyst went a step past the video game, which is probably why it was so much more addicting.
At the end of the day I would recommend Catalyst, especially to the younger audience. As much as the story may seem clich, I found it addicting rather then boring. By the last few chapters I found myself ignoring other responsibilities to finish the book and to find out what happened next. I wish I would have known going into this book that it was the first in a series. But the title leaves the ending off well, and not with a huge cliff hanger. I will be happy to read the next title and will wait patiently, but at the same time I am not annoyed with the author that the final pages ended in the middle of a climax leaving me with a year or more to find out what happens. This portion of the story is drawn to a nice conclusion while leaving a sense of wonder of what might come next.
Support your indie authors. Go ahead and purchase this title.