Book Review: Marked by R. M. Krogman

Hi everyone! 

What a couple of weeks it’s been!

Most recently I’ve been busy preparing to speak at a women’s event which took place last Saturday. I discussed the important of being able to identify fake news and went over some key questions we can ask to help us verify what we find online.

I also attended my first book launch! We headed down to Brisbane recently to celebrate the release of Origin Curse by Sarah Kate Ishii – a fabulous coming-of-age fantasy deeply inspired by Japanese culture and heritage. If you’d like to check it out, click herefor Sarah’s website. 

Some exciting developments have also been happening with Seregn, but I’ll save that for another day.

For now, I’ve got another review for you! This time, I’m reviewing an excellent novella, Marked, by R.M. Krogman

Marked is the first-released story from Krogman’s world of Midgate, though there are plenty more shory stories (and an epic trilogy) in the works. I’ve been fortunate enough to beta read Liberation – the first in the trilogy, and I’m very excited for this upcoming fantasy world! But, back to Marked.

The world of Marked is incredibly well realised. From beautiful descriptions of luscious hills and meadows, to visceral fights, to a town that appears both as a warm tightly knit community and as a cold huddle of superstition and cruelty, I found myself swiftly infused in this rich world. There are hints of so much more happening beneath the surface of this story – both in the little community and in the wider world of Midgate – that left me fascinated with the world and eager for more. 

Our main character, Davy, is an honest, sweet, hard-working young lad with a strong sweet tooth! Right from the beginning we fall for his kindness, goodness, and desire to help his family. Both likeable and well realised, Davy is the anchor of the story that keeps us reading. As he falls into intense struggle (what story doesn’t have intense struggle?), I was compelled to keep going, rooting for this gentle soul, hoping he would make it out of the pain he found himself in. We become so attached to Davy it’s easy to feel his pain, be indignant or angry on his behalf, and long for a lighter world than where he finds himself. 

Other characters of note are Davy’s parents, Ms ol’Lannery, Toarval, and the ol’Campens (especially Tara and Mrs. Ol’Campen). To prevent spoilers, all I will say is that each character performs an important and well-defined role in the story. They worked into the tapestry of both the community within the tale, and the overarcing theme of the story. Overall, the characters inhabiting this world were rich, believable, and important. 

The conflict in this story is complex. Davy struggles against multiple factors – against tragedy he can’t control, against physical danger and discomfort, against emotional pain and trauma, against superstition, and against scared, cruel, and/or selfish people. Overall, the conflict here feels like a fight not only for Davy’s survival, but also for his soul. And that makes the story so, so compelling.

The themes in this short story really pack a punch. From the power of superstition to what it means to really love someone, Marked touches on some tough topics, but it does so seamlessly and as part of the wider story. Nothing feels forced or shoehorned in, and we see multiple perspectives from different characters living out their lives in different ways – and where that leads them. 

Like I mentioned earlier, Marked, is an origin story for a character who appears in Krogman’s larger ‘The Keepers of Midgate’ trilogy. I mention this because not every storyline will be wrapped up, nor every answer provided by the end of this story.

Overall Marked is a well written and compelling tale set in a rich environment with real and meaningful stakes. The extra awesome news is that Marked will be free for Krogman’s email subscribers. So, if you’d like to give it a try, you can sign up to her email list at her website

TW: The story does have one quite violent attack, and suicide is also a part of the story. These are both handled well, and have a purpose in the story. Nonetheless readers sensitive to violence or discussions of suicide may not feel reading this tale is appropriate for them.

That’s all I’ve got for you this week, stay tuned for some exciting Seregn news coming up!

For now, happy reading!

Book Review: The Throne of Cerecia by Amber Gabriel

All right!

I’m back and yes, I have another book review.

I have been working on little bits and pieces of my own work, but at the moment I’m loving bringing these reviews to you.

So let’s dive in.

The Throne of Cerecia is book four of The Edge of the Sword series by Amber Gabriel. And this one is the most complex yet! The storyline effectively splits in four, following Stelan, Talia, Bashalis, and Eemya.

As usual, I won’t go too much into the plot (there be spoilers), but let me share some more general comments on the story before I get into arguably the best parts – the characters.

The Throne of Cerecia is Gabriel’s most complicated book in terms of viewpoint and plotlines thus far. However, the story seems to switch between plot lines and perspectives seamlessly – crossing back and forth across Lyliana, Berush, and Cerecia to keep each element of the story moving forward. I was never bored by a storyline, and the pacing felt smooth and steady the whole way through – while slowly but surely building up the anticipation and drama!

Having Cerecia built up across the past few books, it truly was fascinating to get a closer look at Bashalis and Chysh. I know their story continues in the next book, but being able to glimpse their relationship at this crucial moment is so interesting.

As is what I consider standard for Gabriel, her worldbuilding is solid and real, her writing style seamless and compelling, and the plot both well-constructed and page turning!

But now, I’m keen to share my thoughts on the characters!


Bashalis is a character I swiftly grew to love in this book. I already admired her from what we learned from In Search of Magic Fire, but this story truly kicked it up a notch. Bashalis comes from a life of forcing herself to pretend, to not react at the most dramatic of stunts – all just to survive. Dealing with a *slightly* insane brother who seems to attempt to threaten and bully her at every opportunity (to say the least), Bashalis has learned exactly how to counter, how to ease, how to provoke him. I love her understated intelligence and wisdom. Meanwhile, her love of music is incredibly humanising, and an important part of her character.

As Bashalis begins to take a stand against her brother, I couldn’t help but just swell is pride as this awesome young woman took matters into her own hands. The people she meets along the way (without spoilers) are a true highlight of the book.

Talia and Stelan

I remember reading the ‘deleted scene’ at the end of In Search of Magic Fire, when Gabriel considered killing off Talia. In that scene, she ‘told’ Stelan he would be better off without Talia, and heartache would come of it, but Stelan didn’t care.

Here is where I think we see Gabriel get her say on the matter, as a romance forged in drama and near-death experiences is forced to deal with the day-to-day – and becomes strained as a result. I really love this for the couple, and it shows an important glimpse into continuing to learn and grow with your spouse even after marriage – regardless of how good or bad the match might be considered. As Talia sets off for Berush at Stelan’s urging, Stelan himself is ‘called out’ by a Cerecian spy. The situation provides some truly excellent suspense – we know Chysh means business, and we see his influence extending far beyond his own borders. It makes for an extra sense of fear and foreboding, not knowing if one of our beloved characters will be the next one to fall. Meanwhile, for Talia, she faces not only the same predicament as her husband, but more complications than she anticipated erupt in her homeland.

Eemya, Cyrus, Sashia, and Halem

While a smaller role, it’s wonderful to get a look in on Eemya as she deals with the threat in Lyliana, and what it means for her family. It made me so, so happy to get to see a glimpse of Cyrus and Sashia again, it put a smile on my face for sure.

I also wanted to mention Halem. We’ve seen him before in A Crack in the Rock, and while he only has a small role in this book, we get a few instances of his perspective. I know the latest book in the series delves deep into Halem, and what we see here is an excellent set up for what is to follow!

Overall The Throne of Cerecia is another excellent dive into the world of The Edge of the Sword. Themes of relational strain – both marital and familial, are woven through the narrative, along with the struggle of dealing with PTSD after incredible trauma. One thing I love about Gabriel’s writing is that there’s always layers of theme and story which create a far more complex and deep tale than what one might just see at the surface.

Have you read The Throne of Cerecia? How about other books in The Edge of the Sword series?

Let me know!