by Russ Linton
His mother kidnapped, his superhero father absent, powerless Spencer Harrington faces a world of weaponized humans to prove himself and find the truth.
Nineteen-year-old Spencer is the son of the Crimson Mask, the world's most powerful Augment. Since witnessing his mother's abduction by a psychotic super villain two years ago, he's been confined to his father's arctic bunker. When the "Icehole" comes under attack from a rampaging robot, Spencer launches into his father's dangerous world of weaponized human beings known as Augments.
With no superpowers of his own save a multi-tool, a quick wit and a boatload of emotional trauma, Spencer seeks to uncover his mother's fate and confront his absentee superhero father. As he stumbles through a web of conspiracies and top secret facilities, he rallies a team of everyday people and cast-off Augments. But Spencer soon discovers that the Black Beetle isn't his only enemy, nor his worst.
This part always comes so fast.
I hand the phone back to Mom. “You’ll need to send later, I guess. The signal dropped. Should be in your outbox ready to go.”
As she takes the phone, the wall of the room explodes.
Here. Dream becomes nightmare. For a moment, I feel I can make it stand still, but why would I? Events unfold with the emptiness of the bunker gnawing at my insides. I can identify every stray chunk of plaster and splinter of wood in this time-robbed moment.
Fragments of home spray like a swarm of locusts. Mom screams and the world spins under her protective dive. I struggle to see through a haze of dust. Glimpses of the valley filter past a humanoid silhouette. A long, pincered arm lashes out. The arm clamps tightly around Mom’s waist and retracts, drawing us closer.
“Release the boy and he will live,” the Black Beetle speaks with an unnatural vibration. “He can relay a message for your husband.”
Mom squeezes tighter but her screaming stops.
I search her face, knowing what I’ll find, all the while scrambling to find an anchor as we slide across the room. She’s bleeding from a gash on her forehead and the pincer cinches tighter. Her eyes are full of fear, but focused. She’s calculating, deliberating. A hundred times? A thousand? It always hurts.
“No, Mom, please!” I throw my hands around the leg of a toppled chair which drags uselessly behind us. Countless trips through this nightmare, I know I can’t keep us here, but I reach out anyway. And always, she lets go.
I grab her arm, trying to pull her back, cursing my stunted size, my weak limbs, my feeble grip. Sweaty hands slip as the pincer continues to retract. Her trembling lips form a final smile and she watches me with a sad but determined expression.
She mouths the words, “I love you.”
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
In the fourth grade, Russ Linton wrote down the vague goal of becoming a “writer and an artist” when he grew up. After a journey that led him from philosopher to graphic designer to stay at home parent and even a stint as an Investigative Specialist with the FBI, he finally got around to that “writing” part which he now pursues full time.
Russ creates character-driven speculative fiction. His stories drip with blood, magic, and radioactive bugs. He writes for adults who are young at heart and youngsters who are old souls.
Local / Personal Bio
Russ lives in Denton, Texas where he writes beside an unnervingly quiet dog with the support of his history-obsessed son and his extremely patient wife. He regularly pursues community service and is currently scoutmaster for his son’s Boy Scout troop. He is a regular at the North Branch Writers’ Critique Group and has honed his craft through creative writing courses with Stanford University’s continuing studies program as well as writing workshops at local conventions.
Russ holds a black belt in Tae Kwon Do which was marginally more useful in a former life not making his living from behind a desk. He enjoys the outdoors and when he isn’t leading his scouts on virtual campouts in Minecraft, he’s making them haul their gear across state parks in the North Texas area.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Crimson Son by Russ Linton is a 2014 publication. I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I will confess I do not read a lot of Science Fiction. That made reviewing this book a little bit of a challenge for me, but I didn't have a problem getting into the story at all. I was immediately engaged with Spencer and his horrible situation and relationship his father, who just happens to be the Crimson Mask and a super hero. Spenser's father carries many secrets and protecting his son appears to be his number one priority, although Spencer thinks he goes way too far by practically imprisoning Spencer. When the Crimson Mask says “Jump” you say “How high?” and this applies to Spencer most of all because he apparently has not inherited his father's super powers.
As a result, Spencer has a limited amount of social skills but longs for a normal life, to go to college, and meet girls. But, he also misses his mother and is determined to find out what happened to her despite his father's efforts to lock Spencer away.
Black Beetle is a his family's mortal enemy and the one responsible for taking Spencer's mother. So, with limited power and resources Spencer is having a hard time meeting his goal.
This was an interesting spin on the superhero story and while Spencer is a little old for a “coming of age” story, his actual age does not match his emotional age due his being so sheltered. However, the story has that element to it.
There are a few sucker punches in this one as well leading me to question a few things concerning the age range this one was categorized in. This sent me in search of some answers about what I should tell the reader concerning these issues. So, looking it up on Amazon and Goodreads I see the book is listed as YA, which covers a lot of ground age wise. Spencer uses really bad language sometimes and as I mentioned before there are some difficult and emotional areas, so if this were a movie I would rate it PG13 at least and I would also think the book might do better with a “New Adult” label. OK, lecture over on that subject.
While Spencer set out on his own without a parent to answer to he learns about himself and others, uncovers conspiracies and secrets. I think people who read graphic novels, ( my son would really like this one, I'm sure) will like this one a lot. For a person like me, I grabbed the emotional aspects of the book, relating to Spencer's feeling different, his need to show his dad he is capable despite his lack of super human abilities and his love for his mother, his need for contact with other people and the way his determination brings him full circle and ultimately frees him.
The book gives each side a perspective and so the reader can see the story unfold from many angles. This is often difficult to manage for some storytellers, but it was very well done here. For me this was a refreshing change of pace. I thought the book was well written and characters well drawn, especially Spencer and his quirky sense of humor, that perhaps kept his darker emotions at bay. I highly recommend this one to science fiction fans, comic and graphic novel lovers and even those who usually stick with mainstream will find this unusual story interesting. I'm going with 4 stars on this one.
Local / Personal Bio
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Thank you for the thoughtful review! You hit the nail on the head - Crimson Son isn't a YA book (I need to hunt down any of those links which are categorizing it as such and get that fixed!)ReplyDelete
I was nervous about the level of bad language in the book. It was how I figured 19 year old, not quite mature Spencer would talk. I felt justified though after going to a week long Boy Scout camp and hearing how nearly all those kids talked when they thought adults weren't in ear shot, heh. So, I have a question for your readers: are cuss words allowed on your bookshelf?
Hi Russ and greetings from a fellow North Texan!! I allow curse words but I don't read YA very often, so your book turned into a hot topic this past weekend. I am an older person with grown married kids. So, I usually read adult novels. I had been laboring under the impression YA was strictly PG stuff. I have since learned that is not the case. Yes, a nineteen year old would speak like Spencer did, no doubt. I have raised two kids and I know exactly how they spoke in their teens. But, my kids read Goosebumps and the Babysitters club while growing up, so I had to ask around to see if this type of language was acceptable in YA books. Since YA does target 13 year olds to 20 somethings mostly, I know many who will complain about the content. I thought I should mention the book was a little edgier and perhaps not suitable for younger teens. You could end up with a ticky tacky parent out there making complaints and therefore giving your book a lower rating than it deserves. So, all is good with me, I was really just trying to have your back and it was not in anyway off putting for me. My fear was that other readers might take offense. I read many reviews and language is the number one complaint, even over SC. This should be an interesting discussion! The book was really good and I think it would appeal to mainstream readers too.Delete
I understood where you were coming from and thanks for having my back. I really appreciate thoughtful reviews such as yours which consider audiences and reader reactions because they help readers find the stories they truly want to read.Delete
North Texas, eh? You'll have to stop by our crit group someday if you are anywhere around Denton - North Branch Writer's Critique Group, Tuesdays at 7 at North Branch Library!
Thanks for letting us know about the sale price going on nowReplyDelete
Fascinating excerpt. I really enjoyed it.ReplyDelete
A helpful review.ReplyDelete