My judging team in the third annual Self-Published Science Fiction Competition (SPSFC3) has made our way through our full 24-book allocation and selected seven quarterfinalists. Since then, we’ve spent a couple months reading these seven quarterfinalists in full in an effort to narrow our allocation down to the two books we’ll be sending forward to the semifinals. While our scores at this stage will determine whether or not a book will advance to the next round, we’ve also included short snippets of each judge’s review in an effort to help our quarterfinalists find their audience. After all, every book we’ve read in this stage comes with a hearty recommendation from at least one of our seven judges. None of them are unanimous favorites, but all of them are books that we can attest will be hits for the right readers.
Today, we’re looking at a thriller in a bleak, post-apocalyptic Tasmania: Tasmanian Gothic by Mikhaeyla Kopievsky.
Azrah’s Review and Rating
Kopievsky’s writing is gripping and the consistency of the pacing really keeps you hooked in with all the tension. Even when things eventually slowed down a little towards the middle and there wasn’t as much action I still felt engaged.
I also found that things were resolved very quickly towards the end, especially this one major fallout which I was expecting to happen that came quite late in the book. Nevertheless, as a whole this was a really enjoyable read and the ending worked well regardless of the abruptness.
Azrah has rated Tasmanian Gothic 7.5/10. For more, check out her full review.
Bowen’s Review and Rating
I wouldn’t normally choose this book. The violence inflicted on and by the MC is too graphically described for me. However, to paraphrase the immortal J. Evans Pritchard, the subject of the book is serious, and the objective has been artfully rendered. For readers who do like grimdark, this book is for you.
Bowen has rated Tasmanian Gothic 6.5/10. For more, check out his full review.
Dave’s Review and Rating
A nice character arc for Solari as she takes matters into her own hands to escape her horrible life. I liked the romantic sub-plot, the world was immersive, and the writing excellent. The middle part dragged a bit and I found the brutality and sexual violence didn’t move the plot along.
Dave has rated Tasmanian Gothic 6.7/10. For more, check out his full review.
Jay’s Review and Rating
Overall, the visceral prose and heart-pounding flight through dystopian Tasmania offer plenty to love for fans of action-heavy thrillers. But the character motivations are so lightly sketched as to flatten the story, with mustache-twirling antagonists and a plot that seems to serve the action scenes rather than the other way around. It’s book with plenty of strengths, but it’s ultimately a bit unbalanced.
Jay has rated Tasmanian Gothic 6.5/10. For more, check out his full review.
Mark’s Review and Rating
I mostly enjoyed this book. Mostly. There was plenty of tension and action — both well done. And the world building was decent. The place where it fell down for me was the main character’s motivation/decision making. Very often, the MC just let events drag her where they led, but if Solari made a decision to do one thing, my reaction was frequently, “Why couldn’t she just do another, much simpler thing?” That usually means the characters are being made to fit the plot, not the other way around.
Mark has rated Tasmanian Gothic 6/10.
Paromita’s Review and Rating
This was a really good book. Writing, storytelling, worldbuilding all extremely well done but the real highlight is the character work and the way the narrative progresses. One thing I particularly appreciated was the theming, in particular the topic of human trafficking, which was depicted in a very visceral and thought-provoking way.
Paromita has rated Tasmanian Gothic 8/10.
Rari’s Review and Rating
To me, a character just surviving is boring plot. Because she lives in a brutal, harsh, world of ganglords and mutants, there is plenty of action, but the overall lack of agency on Solari’s part and the lack of a plot as such made it a dull read.
For all its flaws this is a fast paced and well written book. If you like dark and/or dystopian and/or post apocalyptic and/or biopunk sci fi, you might enjoy this. It just wasn’t for me.
Rari has rated Tasmanian Gothic 6/10. For more, check out her full review.