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Welcome to my blog! My name is Kim and I write young adult paranormal, mysteries, and thrillers. This blog enables me to share the two things I love: Books and the craft of writing.

Ask the Girl is my debut novel. Murdered in 1925, Kate must seek the help of Lila and her sister to save her from her demon prison.

Book "Ask the Girl" by Kim Bartosch

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Fire and Fortune on the High Seas: A Review of Justin Newland's 'The Mark of the Salamander'

Embark on a thrilling voyage through Justin Newland’s latest novel, "The Mark of the Salamander," where history and mysticism collide in an adventure on the high seas. Published by The Book Guild Ltd. and featuring a book tour sponsored by Rockstar Book Tours, this intriguing narrative invites readers to traverse the tumultuous waters of the Elizabethan era alongside a young fugitive endowed with mystical powers. Plus, don't miss the exciting book giveaway, adding even more allure to this literary journey!



My Review


Following my enchanting journey through Justin Newland's previous work, "The Old Dragon’s Head," where I reveled in a unique blend of dynamic characters and rich historical tapestry, I approached "The Mark of the Salamander" with high expectations. Newland's ability to weave historical intricacies with an interesting narrative once again takes center stage in this novel, although with a slightly more labyrinthine plot that occasionally demands re-reading to fully grasp the unfolding events.

Set in 1575, the story introduces us to Nelan Michaels, a young Flemish refugee escaping the throes of religious persecution in the Spanish Netherlands. His quest for safety leads him to Mortlake, just outside London, where he becomes a student of Queen Elizabeth’s court astrologer. This premise alone promises an engaging mix of history and mysticism, positioning Nelan in the crossfires of intellectual growth and the grim realities of Tudor England.

However, Nelan's aspirations are abruptly derailed when he is falsely accused of murder. From a promising student of the stars, he is thrust into the chaotic life of a fugitive and eventually finds himself aboard the Golden Hind under the command of the legendary Francis Drake. This transition from a scholarly life to the tumultuous existence of a ship’s crew member propels Nelan into a voyage that is both literal and metaphorical. The sea becomes a canvas for adventure, fraught with mutiny, encounters with ancient tribes, and the lure of untold treasures.

Newland excels in depicting the visceral experiences of maritime life during the Elizabethan era, and "The Mark of the Salamander" shines in its vibrant portrayal of Nelan's transformation. The mystical element—the Mark of the Salamander—imbues the narrative with an ethereal quality, as Nelan discovers and hones his arcane powers, symbolizing the fiery spirit that guides him.

While the characters are indeed dynamic, echoing the strengths found in Newland's previous works, there were moments where the plot's pace and complexity felt overwhelming. The action sequences and rapid shifts in setting muddied the waters, making it necessary to revisit previous sections to clarify the sequence of events. This slight hiccup, however, does not detract significantly from the overall enjoyment but slows the immersion into Nelan's world.

Despite these occasional navigational challenges, the novel maintains a robust blend of tension and intrigue. The stakes are high, and Newland’s flair for blending factual historical elements with fictional liberty creates a rich backdrop against which the drama unfolds. The interplay between real historical figures and fictional characters is deftly handled, enriching the narrative without overwhelming it.

"The Mark of the Salamander" is not just a tale of survival and adventure but also a contemplation of destiny and power. It sets a promising stage for "The Island of Angels" series, promising more exploration of England’s tumultuous coming of age. Readers who appreciate a story that marries the mystique of the past with the personal growth of its protagonists will find much to admire here.

Overall, Justin Newland's latest offering is a commendable continuation of his exploration into the hidden corridors of history through the lens of fantasy. For those who have followed his work, this novel is a complex yet rewarding journey. For newcomers, it’s an intricate, sometimes challenging, but ultimately enriching entry into the realms of historical fantasy.



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