Sunday, June 3, 2012

Book Spotlight: The Sixth Seed by Lee Allen Howard

Hi, Beardies!

I am excited to be a Guest Scribe for The Bearded Scribe and look forward to getting to know all of you.  I hope you enjoy my first ever post and review to be featured on the blog.

The prologue opens with 10-year-old Melanie Holstrum (whom is later introduced to the readers as Melanie Furst) being abducted by aliens for some kind of research. It immediately sets a suspenseful tone and introduces one of the main characters. In the final sentence of the prologue, Howard writes that the aliens marked the occasion as the “dawn of a new era in evolution.” This sentence expertly foreshadows the events to come and establishes a sense of mystery, both of which keep the reader turning the pages.

Overall, it was a quick and easy read. The novel wasn’t long and the suspenseful pacing created a nice effect. Once I started reading Chapter One, I couldn’t put the book down. I found it easy to form an emotional bond with another main character, Tom Furst.  {On a side note, I loved author's decision to use the name “Furst” since it resembles “First,” undoubtedly referencing the alien spawn to be the first of its kind.}

Howard continually builds suspense with his descriptions and with the concluding sentence of each chapter. Howard writes a description of surgical instruments at the end of the first chapter, for example, which builds up the suspense and plays on the readers’ fears of surgical procedures in scenes to follow.

The descriptions were short and unique. They were enough for me to form a visual picture of the events without slowing down the pacing. Some of my favorites included when Tom uses a “bag of Bird Eye” to ice his groin, the song “Lovesick Alien” playing in the background of one scene, and Tom commenting on coffins being spacious.

When it came to plot, the stakes were high from the first page and increased as the novel progressed. Howard included several plot twists and it ended in a big way.

The novel begins when Tom Furst undergoes what is supposed to be a vasectomy, but what is actually the implantation of a “paraseed.” Dr. Prindar Krakhil explains this in Chapter Four and introduces the subplot. It reveals Krakhil’s motivations and plans to become Melanie’s OB/GYN, another example of how Howard amps up the suspense.

If I had to pick a weakness, it would be characterization. None of the characters were especially memorable and most of the minor characters were stereotypical, flat and predictable. For example, the novel features a greedy CEO who ruins the company and a beautiful and flirty secretary named Cherrye Consales who is heavy on the gossip. Cherrye flirts with Tom in her clichĂ© high heels and keeps him informed as the company goes down the drain; her flirtations lead to Tom's consideration of starting an affair. For me, the worst character by far was an elderly neighbor called Mamma. Despite the weak characterization, I applaud Howard’s ability to include every single character in the finale, each one significantly affecting the novel's resolution.

Howard surprised me with his choice to use a Christian thematic element; I wasn’t expecting it, but it was an excellent decision and worked well with the characters and plot.

I really enjoyed Howard’s horror novel, The Sixth Seed, and think it is a great choice when searching for a novel that horrifies you. Despite the element of horror, however, Howard still manages to suck his readers in until they've turned the final page. It was the first novel I read that featured aliens and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed reading it.

Howard's suspenseful timing reminded me of my personal hero, Clive Barker, although his short, simple sentences and plot more closely resemble those of Dean Koontz. Even though Lee Allen Howard is not either of these authors, he is a great author in his own right and I would definitely read another of his books.

Howard, Lee Allen.  "The Sixth Seed." 3 First Names, 2012.. Kindle eBook file.

You can learn more about Lee Allen Howard and view more of his titles by visiting his website.  To purchase The Sixth Seed, simply click on the cover image above.


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