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Book Review of " Citadel of the Fallen", by JR Konkol


Readers of thriller fantasies will be engrossed by Citadel of the Fallen, by JR Konkol. A group of quirky teenagers living in an isolated citadel hidden deep within a magical rainforest is confronted with multiple challenges. Each of the main characters is endowed with distinct personalities, talents, and mystical faculties. The youth are in quest of adulthood and are also being trained in a variety of mystical traits. 

While on a training mission, the group is attacked by a gigantic, magical boar with a broken tusk. The ensuing battle introduces each of the characters. Liam, the elder, and Conner are brothers with opposing but complementary talents. They vie for their father’s attention while trying to maintain a brotherly relationship. They and the others study the arcane sciences of alchemy and runecraft. Medieval armor and arms enhanced with magic enlighten battle scenes as the group faces off against terrors.

Malcolm learns that his mind is now the home of a spirit or a second soul.  Is he a necromancer?  How can he deal with a shared mind? He learns that when a soul gives up life, it becomes a spirit. Weak souls become shadows, while “stronger ones become wraiths, apparitions, haunts, … or ghosts”.  Can he use his inner soul’s voice to help his friends?

Dreading a yearly invasion of giant ants, called the Black Tide, the citizens of the citadel began to prepare. Humans recognize that they are also fighting demons and evil spirits. A major foe is the Demon Queen and her Guardians, who are assisting the ant swarm to overthrow the citadel. Myrmecophobia, the fear of ants, is the terror that is aroused as millions of six-foot-long exoskeleton encased killer ants try to breach the citadel. Each of the ants’ six jointed, incredibly strong legs with bone-crushing pincher claws act independently. Powerful locking jaws and a poisonous stinger add to the terror. Ants are self-organized and work independently of others in the swarm. “The sight of it was maddening.” Ants swarm over dead carcasses to climb walls.

If the dreadfulness of swarming, biting, stinging ants isn’t repulsive enough, the teens must battle multiple demons: ghouls, goblins, wights, and wraths. Evil spirits appear as massive dogs with flaming fur and humanoid figures with almost human faces and enormous horns protruding from their temples. Mental visuals emote as horror films and may even cause nightmares.

In spite of the grizzly, gore, and violence, this fiction is a coming-of-age tale for young adults. Friendship and family are essential underlying themes. The surreal conclusion leads the reader to anticipate a sequel.  


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