Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Release Day Review: The Great North (A Legendary Love Book 1) by J. Scott Coatsworth

the great northTitle ~ The Great North 

Author ~ J. Scott Coatsworth

Publisher ~ Mischief Corner Books 

Published ~ 14th June 2017

Genre ~ Fantasy M/M Romance





Dwyn is a young man in the small, isolated town of Manicouga, son of the Minstor, who is betrothed to marry Kessa in a few weeks’ time.

Mael is shepherding the remains of his own village from the north, chased out by a terrible storm that destroyed Land’s End.

Both are trying to find their way in a post-apocalyptic world. When the two meet, their love and attraction may change the course of history.


The Great North was inspired by St. Dwynwen's Day, also known as Welsh Valentines Day:


Cheryl’s Review

The book started gently and I thought I had its measure. It was possibly set in the future, with some hints through things like slightly twisted memories (for example the idiom “thick as Thebes” with no idea what Thebes might be). The society was agrarian and, apart from weird weather conditions, there was every sign it was going to be a straightforward – strangers come to town where it’s not okay to be gay, from a town where it is okay to be gay, and someone gets caught in the middle – kind of book.

There wasn’t much scene-setting and there didn’t need to be because everything unfolded gently, explaining itself as it went along. I particularly liked that the names were easy to read and pronounce and it was very easy to keep the characters straight. Of course, that might be because I’m Welsh and the names were Welsh-ish but I’m pretty sure Americans won’t have too much trouble with Dwyn. (If anyone’s interested it’s pronounced Doo-een, a similar sound to the name Dwayne with emphasis on the w (oo) sound than the a). It doesn’t rhyme with win.

The strangeness crept in slowly. First, we discover a snow spirit helped Mael escape the snow, then Mael and Dwyn find what turns out to be a bomb shelter and Dwyn dreams of the two men and children who sheltered there after the end of the world. Images of the past come to both of them in dreams, then it starts to snow.

The events of the last third of the book unravel very fast after the leisurely pace that brought us to that point, and it added to the sense of urgency but also inevitability that overtook everyone. Shocking events were coming one after another in the way they do during a disaster, and at the end  I was left a little breathless and confused, but not necessarily in a bad way.

As far as criticism is concerned, I have little. There were a few Americanisms that truly grated on me but, as they’re not actually errors I can’t really complain. (Gods I hate the word gotten, and a couple other things like…oh, where did the “of” go?) As most people who read this book will undoubtedly be American you won’t even notice, I’m sure, as you’re native American speakers.

The only complaint I have that I consider legitimate is with regard to the story of St. Dwynwen. This was actually the reason I was keen to read the book in the first place as I don’t get to read about Welsh legends very often. St. Dwynwen is the Welsh version of St. Valentine and we celebrate Dwynwen’s Day instead of (well okay as well as) Valentine Day, and in a similar way. I am therefore familiar with the legend, but most people who read will not be and, to be honest, I don’t think it was particularly well handled.

The book very loosely follows the story of St. Dwynwen, with a very significant and welcome change at the end, but the original story is never really told. For a very familiar myth that’s fine, but as most people won’t be familiar with this one I would have liked to see either someone sit down and tell the tale (read it from a book, be told by the Gods…whatever) or have it written out at the beginning or end of the book.

That being said, I love what the author did with the legend, keeping the main elements true but playing with it just enough to make a satisfying story. I just adore the ending and it would almost be worth going through the end of the world just to get where they are.

All in all, this was a lovely book. I thoroughly enjoyed every part of it. The characters were engaging, the story fresh (well a fresh version anyway) and it was wonderful to see elements of my home country that are as rare as hen’s teeth. A very satisfying read all round and one I can heartily recommend.

Purchase Links

mischief corner books


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Meet J. Scott Coatworth

j-scott-coatsworthScott spends his time between the here and now and the what could be. Enticed into fantasy and sci fi by his mom at the tender age of nine, he devoured her Science Fiction Book Club library. But as he grew up, he wondered where all the people like him were in the books he was reading.

He decided that it was time to create the kinds of stories he couldn’t find at his local bookstore. If there weren’t gay characters in his favorite genres, he would remake them to his own ends.

His friends say Scott’s mind works a little differently – he sees relationships between things that others miss, and gets more done in a day than most folks manage in a week. He loves to transform traditional sci fi, fantasy, and contemporary worlds into something unexpected.

He runs both Queer Sci Fi and QueeRomance Ink with his husband Mark, sites that bring queer people together to promote and celebrate fiction that reflects their own lives.



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