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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