Best Contemporary Fantasy Fiction Reviews From BookViral

"A wicked slice of literary entertainment..."

Contemporary Fantasy Fiction
Golden Quill
BookViral Golden Quill Reads

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  • Publisher: ‎ Pegasus Publishers (7 Dec. 2023)
  • Language: ‎ English
  • Print length: ‎ 399 pages
  • Genre: Contemporary Fantasy Fiction


The BookViral Review:

The second volume in O’Dell’s “The Shade of Highfall” series, you know from the very first page that Return to Reality is something rather special. A wicked slice of literary entertainment, and a heck of an antidote to the wave of mediocrity that currently courses through the genre.

Few fantasy writers demonstrate O’Dell’s range and in a taut 400 pages he packs in impressive world-building and superb characterization as he combines the best-loved tropes of Fantasy and Science Fiction to stirring effect. It’s a little short of brilliant and reminds us why both genres remain unerringly popular.

Flawlessly plotted with the eponymous Shrew at the centre of events, O’Dell’s narrative is tightly woven, with twists, turns and intrigue a plenty. Imagined technology is rendered with graphic realism to create a wholly immersive reading experience and whilst Return to Reality might not pack the dark menace of The Shade of Highfall it is none the less its equal as O’Dell morphs his series into something more grandiose, more elaborate and fully impregnated for sequels.

Clearly, character development is O’Dell’s forte and the relationship between Shrew and her fellow shipmates aboard the Phoenix Project’s Pathfinder starship is deeply explored and intelligently conveyed. At first glance, you might be forgiven for thinking Shrew’s story is a classically clichéd good versus evil telling but the notion itself is subversive and the real story here is one of fortitude on an epic scale.

The time travel element of Return to Reality flows gorgeously and, unlike in many other novels where time travel is a theme, O’Dell’s is served up without an ounce of fat. It provides all the tension and action Fantasy and Science Fiction fans could want, along with a good deal more.

Another compelling measure of fantastical escapism from O’Dell, with a thrilling denouement and the promise of more high-octane sequels to come, Return to Reality is an unreservedly recommended Golden Quill read.

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