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Mysteries of the Esse, Book One: Shala's Hope
by Susan Manker-Seale
Createspace, $16 trade paperback, $10 Kindle, 401pp
Publication Date:. November 5, 2013
For a first novel, this is one story teller! The setting is a future Earth so devastated by long-ago war that the technological past is forgotten by most, and those who can tap into psychic powers are known as sorcerers. The use of psi-powers reminds me of James H. Schmitz or even Doc Smith, but those are hard-core scifi whereas this is more rustic. Psi power here is usually channeling the energy from nature itself: the ground, plants, ecology. The author calls her work “mysti-fi” to emphasize the mystical aspect over the fantasy or sci-fi qualities. Don’t let that fool you: it’s a well-written tale of a young girl who is the best hope to stop an evil wizard from conquering the land. Evil, like in: he and his undead minions kill people or worse. There is also love and romance, but no graphic sex, which arguably puts this among the Andre Norton variety of the genre. More proof: the “Esse” of the title are shapeshifting cat-people, or rather people who usually are big cats, and with greater psi powers than the rest. If this continues as a series, she may have many more years of storytelling to go, but it has a sufficient resolution that it could conclude with this volume. I wonder what else she will ever get around to writing once this inspiration is satisfied. ~~ Mike Griffin
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