Sapphire Smyth & The Shadow Five (Part 1)
by R.J. Furness
Published by Union Publishing on March 16, 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Buy on Amazon//Barnes & Noble
Have you ever seen something you can’t explain? Did it vanish as fast as it appeared?
Perhaps that thing you saw was lurking in the shadows, and you caught a glimpse of it before it went back into hiding.
There’s a good chance, of course, that the thing you saw simply emerged from your imagination.
Or maybe, just maybe, it didn’t…
Sapphire Smyth is no stranger to rejection. When she was only a baby, her father abandoned her after her mother died. Since then, Sapphire has never felt like she belonged anywhere, or with anyone. To make things worse, Sapphire's foster carers have now turned their back on her - on her eighteenth birthday. After living with them throughout her childhood, Sapphire has to find a new home. Is it any wonder she finds it hard to trust people?
Abandoned by the people she called family, Sapphire is alone and searching for some meaning in her life. Except that meaning has already come looking for her. When Sapphire discovers mysterious creatures lurking in the shadows, she soon realises that her fate is unlike anything she had ever imagined.
"Sapphire Smyth & The Shadow Five" is a six-part, serialised young adult fantasy story!
Sapphire Smyth and the Shadow Five is part one in the Shadow series by author R.J. Furness. This young adult fantasy follows Sapphire who, on her eighteenth birthday, is asked to leave her foster home after being given a bracelet- something that had been previously owned by her birth mother. A series of mishaps on her birthday reveal curious mysteries lying just beyond the human eye, as well as a world only dreamt of in fantastical stories.
This was my first-time diving into a serialized series, and I have to say that I quite enjoyed it. The experience reminded me of watching an episode of my favorite, engaging shows on Hulu- except the episode played out in my imaginary internal screen. I already can’t wait to “tune in” to the next installment. As for the story itself-
Despite the short length (once again, this is a serialized series), the plot was incredibly engaging. I have always been a fan of whimsical, creative, and imaginative tales, and this story had it all! The beginning was dark and ominous- setting the stage perfectly for a mystery that immediately pulls you in. The somber tone of the story shifts and turns and reveals a much larger plot and, maybe, just a smidgen of a brighter, if not more involved, future. While I am still learning about Sapphire’s character, what I did find is that she has a lot of healing to do in regard to her upbringing. Growing up in a foster home and living with the knowledge that a parent of yours did not want you must have left scars, followed by being ejected from her childhood home…well, we’ll see Sapphire’s internal journey towards acceptance and peace (hopefully! I’m an eternal optimist). I can understand her trust issues with those closest to her- such as her best friend, Ben.
Ben was also an intriguing character in the short amount of time we got to know him- I can’t wait to learn more about him! He’s a dark and fascinating yo-yo carrying mystery! As for his sister Grace- I’ll have to reserve judgment until further novels. Finally, the mystical beings introduced in the story were fascinating and unique! I have to say, after finishing this story I immediately began looking around at the shadows, wondering if they really could move. Was I really seeing the shadows moving at the corner of my eye? Or was it just my imagination? (I love it when authors make you wonder!).
The story ended perfectly! I can’t wait to see where Sapphire’s journey takes her.
If you enjoy short, engaging, imaginative, action-filled, young adult fantasy stories, then you MUST check out this series by R.J. Furness! Just wait- I can see this one getting its own movie- if not its own T.V. series!!
Five Stars! dissent: RENEGADES
by R.J. Furness
Published by Createspace on October 16th 2017
Genres: Science Fiction, Fantasy
Buy on Amazon//Barnes & Noble
Ideal for fans of The Hunger Games and Divergent!!
"Settle in for daring leads, vicious enemies, and an immersive world. Intriguing twists unfold a well-paced tale of survival and the age-old question, who can you trust?" Emily R. King - Author of The Hundredth Queen Series
R.J. Furness brings you his debut novel, and the first in the DISSENT series. RENEGADES is here!
The Great Freeze changed everything…
“Ellie loved riding the orgo. She had often dreamt about it since being a small child. Now that her father wasn’t around to voice his opinions, she finally could. Twenty years had been a long time to wait.”
Centuries from now, during a new ice age, only three human colonies are known to exist. Scorr Tanta, the first city, is vast and resourceful, whereas Eklips is more desolate. Ellie, on the other hand, works in Port Harmony; a harbour town. As an apprentice orgo-keeper, the only highlight is getting to ride the animals that she cares for. Then, a chance skirmish at the market draws her closer to Haylee and her friends, and everything begins to change. Desperate to join them, Ellie has heard many tales about Haylee and her group of renowned warriors. What she doesn’t know, is how much danger follows them. Ellie is soon tugged into a much different world than she had first assumed. A world built on dissent, and filled with secrets.
‘The story has me gripped and wanting more. I can’t believe I have to wait for the next installments!’
'Thrilling, enthralling and immersive. Dive into a world you won't want to wake up from.'
Dissent Renegades is a novel by author R. J. Furness. The story takes place on Earth- though many years into the future after most of the planet froze over- and follows Ellie- an undercover warden from Scorr Tanta who poses as a caretaker for Orgos (a large creature that can be ridden like a horse, though reminds me of a smaller version of a long-neck dinosaur). During Ellie’s time as an apprentice for an older gentleman named Cedric, Ellie bonds with one of the orgos named Sage. It is also during this mission in Port Harmony that Ellie meets a young man named Evan, a market trader. And while Evan is easy on the eyes, fair mannered, and steady- his sister Haylee hold all the qualities of a fearless leader- strong, dependable, passionate, and loyal. Her followers- Tik, Ditto, and Morrigan are the perfect reflection of her attributes as a leader with their unwavering faith in her, and steadfast loyalty.
This futuristic, post ice-age world is broken into different colonies- Port Harmony, Scorr Tanta, Eklips, and the caves. Dissent Renegades takes you through most of this terrain- which I absolutely loved, as I enjoy a good story that provides an imaginative setting. These different locations also provided an opportunity to bring different characters into the story. The mix of characters was refreshing- for example, this wasn’t a story that focuses strictly on good vs. evil- one set of “good” guys fighting one set of “bad” guys. We were able to see the good, the bad, and the murkiness in between. Rada- the cold, domineering ruler of Scorr Tanta constantly tries to exercise her power and control over her people. She operates behind this veil of strength and competency- though these machinations are really a bid for complete dominion (which Ellie begins to see beyond, thank goodness). Then there’s Kayden, another ruler with a sick appetite for controlling people by making them slaves- and punishing them severely when he sees fit to do so. Finally, Ermine is a warden operating with fierce indignation, anger, and cruelty.
My favorite part of this story? The fact that there really aren’t too many “damsels in distress” who need the guy to come swooping in to save them. On the contrary, the females in this story hold their own and often do all the saving. Ellie is naturally curious, fearless, and begins to see beyond all the lies she was raised believing. She proves her loyalty to Haylee on more than one occasion by saving her life. Though, I suspect Haylee would have managed to make it through some of those situations had she had more time to think of a plan of escape. Haylee knows how to hold her own in a fight and remains strong and confident even in the face of insurmountable odds. Her desire to care for and protect the Elrupe (a different species of beings) also made her a favorite of mine. Ditto also saves the life of a slave girl named Pandra and pays a price that still makes my heart ache to think of it. Also- Pandra with a mace…eh, not something you’re going to want to be on the receiving end of. And Morrigan is fiery and loyal as well. All things considered, the females of this story really carried the true strength and power needed to succeed (sorry Evan and Tik!). And Widget? This little guy cracked me up (seriously though, I need a widget in my life).
The dash of something brewing sweet and beautiful between Ellie and Evan was the perfect little cherry on top of a story that was brimming with adventure and intrigue! Dissent Renegades was an exciting adventure filled with imaginative creatures, breathtaking settings, nail-biting action, and unforgettable experiences! I can’t wait to see where the next adventure takes these characters! And thank goodness for a good story that involves STRONG female protagonists!
FIVE STARS for Dissent Renegades!