Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Reviews 16 - The Thorn of Dentonhill by Marshall Ryan Maresca

Reviews 16
The Thorn of Dentonhill
Marshall Ryan Maresca

Last week we discussed an odd science fiction future-world by Sarah A. Hoyt, A Few Good Men.


Sarah has a multidimensional world mapped out based on not-so-straight-line extrapolations of the leading edge of science today.

In other words, she has done some insightful futurology, and she generally does that in most of her novels.

Today, we'll look at a fantasy novel set in a world that is just as well visualized, but contrasts with Sarah's work in an informative way.

This one is by a new writer, Marshall Ryan Maresca, who has (from the Acknowledgements page he wrote) come up through a training group of many accomplished writers, beta-readers, fellow struggling writers, and voracious readers who know what they are looking for.  He thanks his wife, his mother-in-law, and many more, including a person named Julie Kenner.

I saw that name and connected with Marshall Ryan Maresca on Facebook, and asked him if this is our Julie Kenner. Yes! This is THE Julie Kenner who writes such delightful fantasy romance novels. 

Here's her page:
Julie Kenner - the excellent writer

If you haven't read hers, do go get some! 

Here's one free on Kindle that I really loved -- Adventures of a Demon Hunting Soccer Mom:

Julie Kenner is thanked for reading the manuscript and offering advice that made it stronger.  So, don't miss The Thorn of Dentonhill.  It is definitely "strong." 

There's another Maradaine novel, A Murder of Mages, slated for July 2015. 

THORN OF DENTONHILL turns on a Relationship that is sizzling into a real Romance, but does not quite get there in this volume. 

So don't get behind following this writer.  These novels are from DAW books, a prime market for the Fantasy or Science Fiction Romance.  Be sure you can hold your own at any party where a DAW editor might be overhearing a discussion you are in.

The Thorn of Dentonhill is about two cousins, descendants of a Gang-Boss-Family in a large University town.  Dentonhill is a neighborhood.  The surrounding neighborhoods also have names.  There are detailed maps in the front of the book. 

One cousin is a student at the University -- a student of Magic because he has a serious talent for handling magical force.  It's just that he has a different life-agenda from that of most of the students. 

His agenda is to "get" the guy responsible for the death of his father.  In the process, he earns the appellation Thorn.

The guy the Thorn is out to get is now the Big Boss of an adjacent neighborhood with aspirations to take over more neighborhoods.  He deals in a potent and deadly drug, and has used that drug to put The Thorn's mother into a coma.

The other cousin is in the middle-level staff of the neighborhood adjacent to the University.  He's trying to live down the reputation of being the nephew of the old Boss.

The Thorn mounts a campaign of disrupting the Big Boss's drug trafficking. In the process, he  steals some merchandise as it is being delivered to the Big Boss.

The merchandise is two objects of magical Power.  The Big Boss has a contract to deliver those objects to a group of Mages by a certain time.  The Big Boss is no longer annoyed, he is pissed.

The Thorn sneaks off campus nightly to use these magical objects to further disrupt the drug traffic.  He often gets into fights, and drags back to campus wounded, needing help from his accomplice.

Here's where the Romance starts to wriggle into the plot -- and you should take careful note as you read exactly how this is done.  It is a great example of what I have called in this blog, Information Feed.

The accomplice is a woman.  She works on campus on the gardener's staff and is very strong, fit, self-possessed and likewise dedicated to stopping the drug traffic.  She's also good at stitching wounds, but doesn't have magical talent. 

The two make a good team -- but there is obviously more to their budding Relationship, and I do hope we get to learn more.

The next novel set in Maradaine is about a woman who is a detective only because she needs money to support her infirm husband and her children.  From the book description, I don't think we'll meet The Thorn again in this novel, but it is clear the world, it's politics, the magic, and social problems are all worked out in detail.

This second novel, A Murder of Mages, is sub-titled A Novel of the Maradaine Constabulary.  It sounds so Sherlock Holmes in foggy London chasing Jack The Ripper. 

I think you can learn a great deal about formulating the interface between Science Fiction and/or Fantasy and the pure Romance by doing a full contrast/compare between Sarah A. Hoyt's GOOD MEN and the THORN OF DENTONHILL. 

Besides learning, though -- great, good fun reading! 

Jacqueline Lichtenberg


  1. Sounds a bit like THE GODFATHER! Younger man who doesn't want to get drawn into the criminal underworld is pulled in by the murder of his father. (Nice example of what different kinds of stories can develop from the "same" plot premise.)

  2. I enjoyed Julie Kenner's Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom series very much. Buffy grows up to be a suburban mother! A stand-alone paranormal romance of hers that I love is CAT'S FANCY. (It has character connections with some of her other work, but awareness of them doesn't affect understanding of the story.) A cat falls in love with her master and begs to become human. In authentic fairy-tale style there are, of course, conditions, taboos, and a deadline.