Amber Argyle's book, Witch Song, is due for release on September 1, 2011 from Rhemalda Publishing. You can find her blog here. The first chapter is up on her website for people to read and review. In one sentence, I love it.
My Review of Chapter One:
Amber's writing is descriptive and her voice is original in what I view as a sea of generic fantasy dominated with male heroes. She introduces us immediately to witches and I understand by the end of the sample chapter that these are powerful women. One of them, Brusenna's mother, has obviously adapted to living in isolation and amongst people that don't like her as a means to hide from a powerful, evil, nasty witch named Espen. I get the impression that Espen is going to be the villain of the story and for good reason...she destroys witches less capable than her.
Amber accomplishes many things in this first chapter. She establishes her characters, the plot, and gives us some fantastic world-building. Her names, Brusenna, Bommer, Tomack, Coyel, and Sacra roll off the tongue as if these should be familiar and I'm comfortable with them by the end of the chapter. However, it's worth mentioning that I've never seen these names before in any other fantasy and I like that about the book. She uses a currency called upice which because of the inclusion of the word "up" makes me associate money with the upper class. Through Brusenna's voice (her main character) I learn how oppressed her family is and that they struggle to provide for themselves in the face of powerful prejudice from the locals. I also love the urgency of Coyel's visit to Sacra to basically lay it all out for Brusenna's mother. It's confrontational and builds conflict. It also turns Brusenna's world upside down at the end. The last sentences are great.
"Circle of Sisters, Keepers, the Dark Witch? Surely her mother had no understanding of such things. Surely she’d lived here for generations.It's like Sacra's daughter knew nothing of her mother at all and because you're in her head, it makes you want to turn the page to chapter two. And that, afterall, is the point of great writing.