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Saturday, March 22, 2014

{Book Review} OPAL SUMMERFIELD and the BATTLE of FALLMOON GAP by Mark Caldwell Jones

Fast-paced, adventurous, magical - young teens and adults will love this alike! I can't wait for more! 

Opal Summerfield and the Battle of Fallmoon Gap
Opal of the Ozarks, Book One
by Mark Caldwell Jones
Published: October 2013
Publisher: Samurai Seven Books
Length: 416 pages
Editions: print and ebook
Source: Complimentary Copy from the Publisher

On one of the happiest days of her life, Opal Summerfield is ambushed by her secret history and inherits an enchanted necklace magically super-charged by her adolescent emotions. Immediately, the necklace attracts the attention of an evil conjurer named Amina and the masked vigilantes called the Hoods. 

After the Hoods attack her family, Opal flees her Ozark Mountain home and escapes into a parallel world called the Veil. Here she meets deadly wereboars, horses that burst into flame, mechanical steamwork fireflies, and the Wardens who guard the source of all magic—a strange cave formation called the Helixflow—hidden beneath the city of Fallmoon Gap. 

Opal soon joins the Wardens in their many quests: managing the destructive energy of the Veil that flows through the land like a wild river, wrangling dangerous creatures mutated by the Veil’s magic, and hunting criminal magic-users. 

All the while, Opal tries to master the Agama Stone and its dangerous powers, in spite of being distracted by a budding romance and rumors that her father, long assumed dead, may be one of the worst criminals ever, and an ally to Amina who is trying to destroy Fallmoon Gap and everyone that Opal loves. 

With cover art and illustrations from emerging artist, Kitikhun Vongsayan, Opal Summerfield and The Battle of Fallmoon Gap, is the first installment of the Opal of the Ozarks series and a non-stop adventure full of familiar fantasy characters re-imagined in an unique American mythology—the fading legends of the Ozark Mountains.


 My instagram photo cut it out, but my review copy arrived with Opal's favorite Legless Lizard Licorice! Talk about starting off nice and sweet! If you've been reading my reviews on my blog, you know that I can get very long-winded when I love a book. Love, adore, whatever. I'm trying a different approach this time and will try to keep it short(er). 

TL;DR -- I loved this book. Fantasy, magic, mythology, action, adventure, feisty heroine, imaginative world; you name it, it's got it. I am eagerly awaiting the next installment. 

There is so much going on from the very first page of this book. You have a reader warning from Professor Hans Fromm to not go looking for the places mentioned in this book, then you have a prologue talking about gemstones and the powers they hold, and then you have a woman who discovers a baby laying in a nest of ivory colored feathers, woven in the shape of a crown; a baby foretold to her by a psychic. A very vicious and scary chase ending with a death by page 4. WHOA. And the book hasn't even STARTED yet.  

There are sinister things afoot when we fastforward 15 years later. Opal, the baby in the beginning, is about to turn 16. And suddenly things just begin to happen. This book is non-stop in action and mythology and magic and veil-hopping, with wondrous creatures, some familiar albeit with a different name (like the Feratu, lead by Nos), some unfamiliar. And while we're first getting to know Opal, there's even subtle social commentary. Opal, you see, is not white. And where she lives is on the wrong side of the tracks. The whites on the other side of the tracks tend to call those from her neighborhood, rummers, which comes from the neighborhood name of Hookrum. I liked this observation and the correlation one can draw from it. 

Not only is there this wonderfully epic fantasy tale to enjoy and read, but this book also has depth. Not just depth of characters, development of characters, wonderful world building, etc., but it also deals with familial loss, the desire to belong, the courage to stand on your own, racism, etc. You watch as Opal grows from a plucky young girl, mischievous and playful, to a young, grounded young woman guided by many teachers who grows into a confident, likable, and still feisty, young woman. 

Such a great story, such a great adventure, complex yet fluid. I can't wait to read it again and recommend it to others. 

About the Author

Mark Caldwell Jones is a writer living in Los Angeles. He is currently working on the next book in the Opal of the Ozarks fantasy series and blogs about crowd-funded entertainment projects at He grew up in Arkansas and spent his summers fishing for rainbow trout in the Ozark Mountains with his family and friends. Those experiences inspired his latest novel Opal Summerfield and The Battle of Fallmoon Gap. He divides his time between Hollywood, Denver, and Northwest Arkansas.

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