Thursday, January 15, 2015

REVIEW: Onyx Webb: Episode One: The Story Begins by Andrea Waltz and Richard Fenton

My Rating: 6 out of 10 stars
- It’s June, 1980 and piano prodigy, Juniper Cole is on the way to her senior prom.

- It’s January 2010, and Koda Mulvaney has blown through his 20 million dollar trust fund and is told by his father to return home and get to work.

- It’s August, 1904 and little Onyx Webb is on her way to the famous World’s Fair in St. Louis with her father, Catfish.

Two of the three will see a ghost, one will become a ghost and everyone will learn that life is hard to let go of even when you’re dead. And that's just Episode One. A paranormal suspense, supernatural romance, with a dash of historical fiction, Onyx Webb is what author Richard Fenton and Andrea Waltz have called creep-spiration. The stories may haunt you, the darkness may disturb you, but ultimately you’ll be reminded to treasure every moment of your life because… If you think life is precious now? Just wait until you’re dead.

So what do three separate stories with three very different protagonists, all taking place in completely different time periods, have to do with one another? I don't know yet, but I suspect that question will be answered in an upcoming episode.

Onyx Webb: Episode One: The Story Begins is the first episode in a new series, described as "paranormal suspense, supernatural romance, with a dash of historical fiction". Onyx Webb, now a ghost 75 years after her death, is narrating part of the story, and that's most of what we've got so far in the way of paranormal. If you're expecting vampires and werewolves, you won't find them here, and like me, some may find that a welcome change. At the end, you also catch a glimpse of another ghost that may enter into one of the story lines, but we'll have to wait for episode two to find out more about that.

As a whole, this semi-short 130 page story ended with multiple cliffhangers and left me wanting. Only one of the current plots was resolved, the rest left in wait of episode two. I think I would've preferred to read several episodes at once, rather than be left hanging with what felt like an unfinished book. Since this is currently being sold only as an e-book, and only through Amazon at the moment, I think the author's would've been better served publishing it as a "Kindle Serial", so that future episodes would be automatically delivered to the reader after their initial purchase.

The aesthetics of the book are gorgeous, with old photographs, diary excerpts, and inspirational quotes interspersed between the chapters. I liked how the three stories, seemingly unrelated right now, will somehow tie together at some future point in the series. There's a deeper meaning beneath the stories as well: one that says to live in the present, and live each moment to the fullest, for you never know when it will be taken away from you. After I finished the book and had a chance to ponder it a bit, I went back to look at the pictures and reread certain key passages. When I did, I discovered small clues sprinkled throughout that hinted as to how some of these character's lives might interconnect, some even in explicable ways from beyond the grave.

Despite all its good points, the telling of the story didn't endear itself to me quite as much as the stories themselves. Most of the characters felt flat and one-dimensional, and I didn't get a strong sense of place from any of the scenes. The only exception was with the ghost of Onyx Webb. It was only through her narratives that I was able to fully connect and feel what she felt. (heh it's funny that the only character I connected to was the supernatural one.) As to the other stories, I believe it had to do with the author's way of telling us what was going on instead of allowing the reader to experience these things through the protagonist's eyes. And so I never really connected with any of the other characters, and couldn't immerse myself in the story the same way I did with other recent books I've read, those by Anita Diamant and Ann Aguirre for example.

Overall, I did find the stories interesting enough to want to find out what happens in future episodes. Though I do hope the authors are able to bridge that gap and let the stories captivate me and draw me into their world like I wish they would.

I would like to thank the authors, Andrea Waltz and Richard Fenton, for providing me with a copy of their book in exchange for an honest review.