On his "The Hysterical Hamster" site, Ian Mond, a.k.a. "Mondyboy," has written a very detailed review of Ragnarok and Roll: Tales of Cassie Zukav, Weirdness Magnet, my new urban fantasy short story collection. It's not completely favorable, but that's okay, because the negative comments are things that Ian has clearly thought seriously about. (You can order the book from Amazon (trade | Kindle), Barnes & Noble (trade | Nook), or Indie Bound.)
The first thing that strikes me about Ragnarok and Roll is that Keith is a born story-teller. While he’s no great stylist (and to be fair I don’t think that’s his intention) through dialogue, character interaction and a keen sense of timing, DeCandido immediately engages the reader. You’ll have no problems tearing through these eight stories on a lazy Saturday afternoon.
And that ability to tell an entertaining story, to understand pacing and humour and suspense isn’t something we should downplay. In fact – and I don’t mean to sound patronising – newbie writers could do a lot worse than see how DeCandido structures and paces a story. How he doesn’t rely on exposition and explanation. How at the forefront is his focus on character interaction and sense of place. The reason I gave a shit about any of these stories was because DeCandido knew exactly when to pull the strings.
The second thing that struck me about Ragnarok and Roll was how this was an urban fantasy where the main character didn’t (a) angst and moan and (b) wasn’t in the middle of a love triangle. Cassie Zukav’s adventures were refreshing in that they were just that, adventures where strange shit happened and she and her friends put things right. Yes, Cassie might be a fate goddess but that doesn’t mean she can’t have a job, have friends and enjoy her life. And it’s the idea that life goes on between the crazy, wacky adventures that grounds Cassie as a real person.
And then there’s Key West which DeCandido brings alive through an obvious love for the place. DeCandido’s Key West isn’t a one to one match for the actual island – he’s played around a little with some of the bars and eateries – but if anyone in Florida was looking for a copywriter to sell the place (not that it needs much selling coz I believe it’s a pretty popular tourist attraction) then Keith would be your man.