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  1. Missing the Dark: Health Effects of Light Pollution
  2. A spoof of the inexplicable bestseller
  3. Blood Skies Series by Steven Montano
  4. Red Sky, Take Warning

It was FREE. The premise seemed promising. I do love dark fantasy and grim and gore and given the weather I was up for a dark and moody trip through some author's nightmarish imagination. But something happened. For such a dark novel, my mood was brightened because it was just that good. Yes, I haven't read many e-books so far. Yes, fellow good-readers.

Blood Skies is a good read. When I first contacted Mr. I won't waste time summing up the plot as most readers have done a far better job than I can ever do. Suffice it to say that if you love your dark fantasy world of vampires, ghouls, and evil spirits mixed with a bit of dark steam punk dark punk? From the very beginning, the first thing any reader will pick up on is Montano's frighteningly-vivid description of his world.

His words are poetically-dark, bringing to mind the works of Edgar Allan Poe. At the very start, Montano describes a haunting world that has been devastated by a cataclysmic event the inhabitants refer to as "The Black". In fact, the title Blood Skies refers to the sickly-reddish color of the skies in this world. Everything from the skies, to the seas, to the land and the animals have been tainted beyond recognition by modern humans.

It is an alien world filled with monsters Forget about the romantic vampires the media has been saturated with. The bloodsuckers in this book are EVIL. Actually, no. They're the predators. We're the prey. The vampires are highly-intelligent beings from another plane of existence. Deadly and sophisticated, their dark cities dot the land, an eternal threat to the struggling strongholds of humanity which are succumbing to the darkness one after the other. Only magic, a force as mysterious as it is powerful, has enabled the human soldiers of the Southern Claw to take a stand against the night.

Now here's an interesting part about the magic in Blood Skies. Each warlock or witch in the Southern Claw is connected to a spirit, an invisible yet omnipresent entity, that enables them to use magic against the vampires and other threats they may encounter.

Missing the Dark: Health Effects of Light Pollution

This was an original idea used by Montano as I believe warlocks and witches forge a more personal relationship with their magic, as both spell-casters and spirit are essentially one being. I know I'd like to have a spirit of my own in case of emergencies. Montano's descriptions of human and vampire cities is well-done, though pretty much what you'd expect of a post-apocalyptic world. Did I mention that, btw?

This story does take place on our world, albeit one in which "The Black" has merged with other, darker dimensions, utterly destroying the old order of man and ushering the world of the vampire. The landscape is a mish-mash of frightening locales such as the Bone Marsh and the Razor Hills.

I couldn't wait to see what new landscape the protagonists of Viper Squad would encounter just to see how Montano would explain it. I almost wished I could have visited. The one real downside I had with the whole thing was the characters. Eric Cross, the main, was a good protagonist who carried the story well. The supporting cast wasn't bad. I did like Graves and Snow, but the one character I really liked One character, a witch, wasn't fully utilized to her narrative potential. She makes a small appearance in the beginning, returns with a fury in the middle, and then I just wish she lasted longer because I wanted to get to know who she was.

It was just a miss, in my opinion. The main antagonist is a powerful witch who meets her end too easily, I'm afraid. All the hype at the beginning leaves her departure feeling less than anti-climatic. As for the other unfortunate members of Viper Squad, they could have utilized better. It's like GR Martin had gotten a hold of Montano and told him to kill off his characters. I can understand, given the brutality of this world, that not everyone's going to make it. But it sucks getting drawn into an interesting character's backstory only to watch them bite the dust before they could shine.

In conclusion, I really enjoyed this first foray into the world "After Black" and will continue to read the series. Jul 10, Icy Sedgwick rated it it was amazing. When I first saw a tweet about Blood Skies, it was something to do with vampires. MORE vampires. Just what the world needed," I thought. Well, I read the synopsis anyway, and my attention was caught by talk of arcane storms, warlocks and a necropolis - all things that there just aren't enough of in the fiction I've read, and I can honestly say I am very glad I gave it a go!

Blood Skies tells the story of Eric Cross, a warlock seemingly out of his depth within a military squad, dedicated When I first saw a tweet about Blood Skies, it was something to do with vampires. Blood Skies tells the story of Eric Cross, a warlock seemingly out of his depth within a military squad, dedicated to protecting what is left of humanity by pursuing a traitor through a series of evil lands, each more treacherous than the last.

Earth, ruined by a mysterious cataclysm known only as "The Black", comes across as a nightmarish blend of Azeroth, Middle Earth and all of those twisted places your mind goes when it's dark outside and you're all alone. The stakes are raised dramatically when Cross' younger sister, a witch named Snow, becomes involved, and the tension ratchets up to an almost unbearable level. What impressed me was both the vast scale of the world building on display, with lush, vivid description bringing the locations to life in all their horrific splendour, and the quality of the prose.

This is a real page-turner that had me clicking like mad through the Kindle edition, genuinely worried for Cross as he stumbles further into the middle of a truly heinous plot. Montano blends his epic description with staccato action scenes that seem almost cinematic in their execution, and there's a dark poetry to the whole thing that made me deeply envious that I hadn't come up with this first.

I'd classify Blood Skies as dark fantasy, and I'll definitely be downloading the rest of the series! May 23, Alan Edwards rated it it was amazing. Blood Skies is a grim and gritty tale set in a bleak and hopeless world. Combining elements of apocalyptic horror, urban fantasy, and military fantasy in the vein of Glen Cook and the like, it tells the story of one of the human soldiers fighting a losing war against the vampires and undead bent on ruling the shattered remnants of our world.

The action is fast and deadly. The vampires of Blood Skies aren't high schoolers who sparkle in the sunlight or who try to blend in among human society. The Blood Skies is a grim and gritty tale set in a bleak and hopeless world. They are ferocious animalistic killers who feel no more empathy to Man than Man does to a Big Mac.

Against them are the elite forces the humans have put together to stem the tide, using the newly discovered magicks that awoke after the world changed. The protagonist is a human warlock who uses the power of the spirit he is bonded with to defend himself and his fellow soldiers against their enemies as they track one of their own, whose betrayal to the enemy threatens the precarious stalemate they've managed.

The treatment of magic in the story is a unique take on the often cliched wizards and witches in other stories. Every warlock is bonded to an otherwordly spirit and can channel their power for various uses, but the toll it takes on their bodies ensures a shortened and painful life.

Steven Montano does an excellent job bringing together all of the disparate elements in a cohesive storyline that moves forward relentlessly, and at times tragically. The writing style is staccato and terse, helping to emphasize the oftentimes brutal events. All in all, it's a train ride through a hellish landscape filled with nasty, unpleasant things. Right up my alley. Sep 11, Albert rated it it was amazing. Overall Feedback: Amazing book.

That about sums up my feelings but I will try to expound on that a little. Steven does well with a genre that has seen more than it's fair share of regurgitation but this one just throws the genre on it's head and says it does not have to all be the same. A great refreshing new addition to the genre and I was greatly pleased. Point of View: You are Eric Cross or at least wish to be as the story unfolds and the ride begins.

Voice: Compelling and helps drive the story Overall Feedback: Amazing book. Voice: Compelling and helps drive the story to its end. Character Development: This is one of the areas that set this apart from the more than bountiful masses of books in this genre. Bravo to Steven for taking the time to develop great characters. Plot: Another spot that helps break a tired genre in two and keep moving the reader to forget that a thousand thousand of these types of books have made their way into being published.

Dialogue: Although consistent with the characters and storyline I felt that some of the dialogue just did not correlate with the character it was meant for. Although I was never pulled out of the story and did not once stop and say to myself hmmm would he say that? Pacing: Unbelievable pacing. You will not have time to look for mistakes and if you do you are just being nit picky and need to stop.

Continuity: Again flawless and I defy you to be so nit picky to find any problems. Let the flow of the material grab you and hold on tight, it's a wonderful ride. Let me preface this with the fact that I am neither a professional reviewer or writer. Just an AVID reader. Picked up this book on Kindle as a recommendation from the Author. I would have to say that I was not disappointed in the reading experience. The characters were fleshed out very well for the first book in a series; we are told enough about them to make them real to us, but there was still some left back, surely to be revealed in the continuing stories.

The main protagonist, Cross, was a sol Let me preface this with the fact that I am neither a professional reviewer or writer. The main protagonist, Cross, was a solid point of narration. His point of view and outlook changes throughout the book as the situations change. I like this in a book, in the sense that the character does not remain the same one dimensional character throughout, he flows along with the changes as they occur.

I also liked the shifting focus of the "Bad Guys" around the central theme. The target shift as they get closer to the conclusion and the enemies they meet along the way are at the level that you are always unsure if this will be the last fight. This book kept me clicking through page after page Wanting to get to the culmination and once I got there I was saddened that it was done, well at least this part of the story.

I look forward to reading the remaining books in the series! View 1 comment. Aug 15, Clare Davidson rated it it was amazing. Let me start by saying that I don't normally read dark, post-apocolyptic fantasy and like plenty of other people I'm tired of the recent glut of vampire novels that make vampires overly romantic. However, I read the blurb and my curiosity was piqued, so I downloaded the free sample pages. By the end of them, I was hooked.

Montano has a very rich style. His descriptions of people, settings and situations makes them vividly real and made me really care about them. I wanted Cross and his Southern Let me start by saying that I don't normally read dark, post-apocolyptic fantasy and like plenty of other people I'm tired of the recent glut of vampire novels that make vampires overly romantic. I wanted Cross and his Southern Claw unit to succeed in their mission all the way through. The idea is original, too and I was fascinated by the even known as The Black and by the magic system that he created, which was both unique and grounded in the familiar at the same time.

And the vampires? They are how vampires should be: sufficiently dark, grim and soulless. I would definitely recommend this book. It's a nail biting read that leaves you guessing until the last few pages. Aug 05, D. Nevins rated it really liked it. Wow — I was bowled over by Mr. His writing is intricately descriptive, painting a post-apocalyptic world that is so evil and dark, it would, by comparison, make a zombie apocalypse seem like Disneyland. I wasn't expecting much, with this being a story involving a lot of vampires, but it surprised me.

I enjoyed this. Sep 05, Brian Wilkerson rated it really liked it. The ground is black, the water is brown, and the sky is well, the color of blood. That should tell you all you need to know about the setting: its not a nice a place to live. On Tvtropes, we call this a "Crapsack World" because life sucks for everybody.

Despite that, there are still soldiers like Eric Cross who fight to keep vampires out of human territory. The plot follows his mission to stop "Red" from selling vital human secrets to the vampric Old One. Setting: The story takes place after "The Black" a musterious event that transformed Earth into a poisoned and broken world rife with hostile supernatural creatues like vampires, ghouls, and assorted monsters. What's left of humanity has been at war with, well, the entire world really, but especially the vampires. Their weapons range from guns of varying size, to hexed salts, and mages.

A spoof of the inexplicable bestseller

How magic works is crucial to the plot and revealed slowly so I won't spoil anything here. I will say, however, that it was fascinating and movingly written. Far more interesting than the mechanics of the setting is the mood created by the setting. It really is a shitty place to live and Mr. Montano has a gift for illustrating just HOW shitty. The state of the cities is dark and gloomy and grimmy. Day-to-day life is a struggle to pull half-way decent food from border-line hostile soil.

Vampire attacks are a constant threat and there are only just enough soldiers to avert a tragedy but the cost is regularly high. Most of the humans 'play hard' i. The Plot I like. Bare boned it's a fairly simple Macguffin hunt but there's a lot of meat here.

It ischarged by the atmosphere and the character's drive to fulfill another, unrelated goal. The history of the world and the nature of the mission is revealed little by little. There's no As You Know here and while it's a little bewildering at first it only adds to the Full Picture. Everybody knows this stuff. They're not gonna recite it for the audience's benefit because there is no audience, hence a sense of realism. Like strands in a coil of rope; there's a lot of them and they're coiled tightly. This book is the first in a series and there are more problems to come but this book's conflict is fully resolved.

I can honestly say the climax is my favorite part of the book. It brings together plot threads, it is suspensful, it is true to the tone and the setting. However, there are two things I don't like about the plot. If "Blood Skies" were a tabletop game then Mr. Montano would be a sadistic dungeon master. If something can go wrong it will go wrong. The tainted world, though great for atmosphere, is not relevant storywise and so its greatest impact is to make the characters more miserable than they would be otherwise. Any time something good happens something horrible is nearby.

All I'll say is that Cross' group does something stupid, they acknowledge it as stupid, and the results are tragic. Making it even worse is that it had nothing to do with the plot. The danger comes out of nowhere and has no further relevance than the said tragedy. Now for characters. On one hand, its hard to judge the characters because so many of them die shortly after their introduction but on the other this itself charactizes all of them. Humans are fragil. There's little in the way of Plot Armor. Cross, the protagonist himself, wouldn't have lived through his introduction without his spirit.

All the characters live in a precarious state of life and death which is great for suspense. Cross himself is a great protagonist. He is set up and developed and ready for the story. No time is wasted making him 'identifiable' to the audience. I always apperciate that but my favorite part about him is his relationship to his sister, Snow. Its the most beautiful thing in this story. Few characters get Cross' level of development. This is because a lot of them die quickly so I'm willing to give Mr.

Montao a pass on them but there is no excuse for the vampires. Despite having their own society with cities and rules and and social stratification they are Always Chaotic Evil monsters who started a war for apparently no reason. On the whole, this story has a good plot, setting and characters; mared only by a single Idiot Ball. Blood Skies is the first in author Steven Montano's series of the same name.

The novel takes place in a dystopian Earth after it was ravaged by something called The Black.

Blood Skies Series by Steven Montano

The world is composed of various factions and races, the primary being the human Southern Claw Alliance and the Ebon Cities, the vampire strongholds. After The Black, the vampiric legions of the Ebon Cities stormed the Earth, and the two powers have been in a constant state of war for the twenty-odd years since The Black occurred. These aren't your bighearted run-of-the-mill vampires who just want to find love that are so common in recent fantasy, they're soulless, cold-hearted and brutal bastards out for blood. Eric Cross, the protagonist, is a warlock - a magic user.

He has a spirit attached to him with which he is able to use the different types of magical abilities that Montano presents us - from spears of ice to shields against other magic, warlocks are the wizards of Blood Skies. Using magic eats away at the soul of the warlock, so warlocks need to use apparatus to accommodate their spirits, such as a gauntlet wired to a battery.

If magic is used without one, the soul is essentially devoured from the inside and the effects on the body are dire. Cross is the only character that we really see develop in Blood Skies because he's the sole protagonist, and the attachment to his spirit really adds to his development as an unwilling hero. Cross's sister, Snow, is a witch. Witches are the female variants of warlocks, but they don't need to use gauntlets or batteries to accommodate their spirits. Cross is selected for a mission to track down the traitor witch Red, who purportedly plans to sell stolen knowledge to the vampire hordes, which would guarantee the extinction of the human race.

Cross's sister Snow is among the elite who are chosen to undertake the mission. Cross is naturally very overprotective of his younger sister and is opposed to her joining the squad, but she is the only witch available. Montano does a great job showing just how bad things are in this world. The sun never shines its vibrant yellow - blood-red light emanates from it, creating a very looming effect.

The world is inhabited by these vampires and ghosts and other demonic beings and it is very apparent how hostile, gritty, and dark the story is. People die often and when they do their deaths are brutal. To go along with the creatures that make this world so savage, new types of weapons are introduced while modern day weapons such as the M16 assault rifle are present. Frost and hex grenades, arcane salts, guns and melee weapons of all shapes and sizes, you name it, they're here. Blood Skies is a dark, fast-paced, action-packed novel full of gore and grit, but there are some minor issues I had while reading.

There are occasional parentheticals after sentences that are supposed to add humor, and while it works sometimes, other times they were unnecessary. Similarly there are times where full pages are dedicated to italicized almost dream-like sequences that didn't always make complete sense and I didn't feel that some of them added anything to the story. I would have loved a map and some more explanation of the other races and certainly about The Black, but perhaps Montano was purposefully vague and maybe they are explained in the sequels. These are only small problems though and took minimal enjoyment out of the novel.

Steven Montano's Blood Skies was an enjoyable read that, due to its somewhat short length and very fast pacing, I could not put down. I look forward to the sequels in the Blood Skies arc. Jul 28, Masquerade Crew rated it liked it Shelves: fantasy , dystopia , vampires. The author did a lot of things very well, but there are enough negatives that I decided to give this book a rating of 3. First of all, there's good use of imagery and description. There were scenes I marveled at, the words painting a vivid picture. However, there is another side of this coin. Some scenes took the imagery too far, causing more harm than good for me as a reader.

I would skip a few paragraphs and get back to the action. Also, some of these detailed passages were done as detailed dreams or visions. Some of these were necessary for one reason or another—characterization, plot development, and so forth—but despite this, sometimes I felt I had been briefly taken out of the story. The book starts with one of these, so my mind wandered right out of the gate.

The author's vocabulary and use of diction is another positive overall. There were words used that I had not seen before or not enough to know their definition off the top of my head , but they weren't presented in a way that I felt the author was speaking over my head or down to me. The book is a decent vocabulary builder for the right reader. However, there was one word that got on my nerves.

The word "arcane" means "understood by only a few. After a short while it no longer was a cool word. Instead, I would say, "Not again! Not enough commas were used, especially after long introductory clauses. If I didn't catch it, mentally putting in a comma, I would have to re-read the sentence to catch the true flow of the sentence. This would only be a problem for you if you are a grammar or punctuation nut like me or at least I try to be.

I don't think the author did everything he could to capture the reader's attention, most notably in the first half of the book when the characters do a lot of traveling, something a lot of fantasy stories have in common. This time was spent developing characterization, but in many spots the plot seemed to slow or even pause.

The story takes place 20 years after an event which changed the landscape of the very world. Before that, the world was the reality we live in. But these two worlds are starkly different, so different that despite minor references to our world, the world before The Black, I had a hard time believing that one world could transform so completely into the second in such a short period of time.

In a way this distraction kept me reading because I wanted to know the details behind the scene. Instead of answering my questions nearly all at once, a few more foreshadowing breadcrumbs during the character-building first half could have easily elevated this story to the next level. At this point I didn't want to put my Kindle down. Dec 19, Shannon Hutcheson rated it it was amazing Shelves: utopia-dystopia , paranormal. It was really good! The imagery and depth of world creation is absolutely amazing, and chilling.

It is by far the most dark and horrific dystopian book I have red to-date. The way Montano describes the scenery is just chilling, I can't even think of another descriptive word for it lol. The way the skies are red and dark "like a bloody steak" or similar make a very vivid picture in one's mind.

That's for sure! The main character, Cross, is an unlikely and unwilling hero who keeps beating unbelieva It was really good! The main character, Cross, is an unlikely and unwilling hero who keeps beating unbelievable odds against nightmarish creatures. He keeps managing to live through incredibly gory, traumatic situations that would leave nearly anyone cowering in a corner waiting to die.

He keeps going on relentlessly until he finally reaches his goal. A search for a woman who has every detail about the human settlement that is the last bastion of defense against the hoards released by The Black. She's going to hand over everything to a vampire who plans to wipe out the humans.

The journey is long and brutal and Cross literally loses every single person close to him along the way, even family. The reason for The Black the cause of the way the world is now in the book is very vague, perhaps there's a reason for it that we will discover in later series. Not even the book's characters know how or why The Black happened. They only know that it did, and that there was a time before The Black. It is briefly discussed that The Black somehow seemed to mesh two dimensions together.

Thus releasing nightmarish creatures that killed off most of humanity. The world is broken, permanently dark and diseased. Somehow, magic has come to be an innate ability for certain humans. The world, the way magic and the kind of vampires that Montano created is very different than anything I've read so far and I read A LOT! The vampires are evil and soulless, the way you kind of expect them to "really" be. Magic depends on your very soul. In fact, it "eats" away at your soul when used. Magic users actually have a 2nd soul, like a ghost, that helps manage the magic and protect the user.

You really have to read about it to understand how that works. It's incredibly creative and interesting though! I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of paranormal and horror. Montano's writing style is VERY good and quite unique. The characters quickly become important to you and are very easy to empathize with. Blood Sky's world is incredibly bleak, horrific and extremely dangerous and very graphic.

There is a great deal of blood involved, if you have a weak stomach this is not for you. This is a book I'd read again. I certainly plan on buying more in the series. Jan 16, Jeff Dawson rated it really liked it.

Welcome to Hell! First and foremost, not what I was expecting. I thought this was a book about vampires as the main characters and not minor ones. This is a story of a dystopian society gone mad. Even the soil is wrecked Welcome to Hell! Even the soil is wrecked with rote and despair. The hero, Mr. The pros of the story are the dripping descriptions of each and every scene.

You can taste, smell, and feel this horrid landscape which reeks of death and broken bodies. The story provides an excellent timeline, which flows extremely well.

This is very refreshing, since many authors today want to add multiple and distracting flashbacks. None here. The creatures Cross and his entourage encounter are some of the most gruesome believable monsters I have come across in awhile. You will shudder as your mind pieces together and formulates a picture of the grotesque beings attacking the group. Very realistic. The fight scenes are, too say the least, full of non-stop action.

The one that really sticks out was in Chapter nine. Very intense! The cons As stated earlier, dripping descriptions. This is way overdone. I found myself, like Cross and his fellow combatants walking knee deep in muck and mire, slugging thigh deep through the eerie landscape of a host of overburdening adjectives. It was almost unbearable at times. In fact, as you start getting to the end, I believe the author lost his thesaurus, because the depth and amount of adjectives dramatically tales off, and the story starts flowing like a greyhound. Fight scenes. I detected a bit of George Mann in the scenarios.

There is no way a human could endure such horrific injuries and continue on, especially without rudimentary medical care. The ending. Without going into detail, knowing there is a second book in the series, left me flat. Very discouraging. Who will like this? Those looking for a travel into the bowels of the unknown not knowing when or what will be lurking in the dark waiting to bring about your demise. There, in that haven of renegade undead, Cross will discover the dark origins of magic, and the true meaning of sacrifice Experience a dark and deadly new world in the debut novel of the "Blood Skies" series from author Steven Montano.

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Red Sky, Take Warning

About Steven Montano. Learn more about Steven Montano. Also in Series: Blood Skies. Also by This Author. Steph Coleman reviewed on on Sep. With a captivating plot and fantastic writing, author Steven Montano is sure to please the hearts and minds of fantasy lovers everywhere with his dark novel. The world is in a perpetual state of chaos, and filled with almost every supernatural creature you can imagine.

Warning, this is not a light, fluffy read, and it will take you to the deepest pits of the human psyche. But the tension is real and the characters struggles pull you along to the last page. There were a few questions that I still had at the end, but since it is the beginning of the series I imagine they will be answered soon. Off to read the next one!! Darla Ortiz reviewed on on Sep. I struggled with trying to decide whether or not to give this novel 4 or 5 stars.

But it was the scenery and the way that Steven Montano created the world-building as the setting that has really stuck in my head. The imagery was so descriptive and real-feeling…I got the goosebumps more than once and had to keep reminding myself it was just a book! It was almost literary, but still easy to read. Cale Owens reviewed on on Sep. Jhonni Parker reviewed on on Aug. This book was epic!

THIS is dark fantasy done right! The writing was evocative and disturbing and beautifully descriptive, down to the creepiest detail. I read this book cover to cover in the course of 2 nights and am anxious to start the next asap! Infinity Dreamt reviewed on on July 15, If you ever wanted to hunt down some vampires, here is the squad to take along to do it. Bring your guns, bows, grenades and machetes, but don't leave your warlock behind.