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Posted November 4, 2003
I will always give an author their due credit if his/her book has an original, imaginative plot. Furnace, by William Alan Rieser, has originality in spades. I¿ve never read anything like it. At the novel¿s core rests an investigation of HSC, or Human Spontaneous Combustion, arguably one of the world¿s greatest mysteries. Rieser¿s exploration of the phenomenon is certainly unique. Instead of taking the typical route--science--he ties folklore, fantasy, mystery and an aloof psychic together to create an interesting take on some already interesting subject matter. That being said, my first impression of the book was not a good one. The story opens with a historical lecture. The lecture is written very true to life--but that¿s why I struggled with it. Lectures, unless one is already interested in the topic, are not incredibly interesting. Everything said in the first chapter ties in to the plot later in the story, so it¿s not frivolous, but as far as hooks go, this one fell short. Once the central characters were introduced though, I was singing a different tune. Shelby, a reserved and somewhat reluctant psychic investigator, takes center stage for the protagonists. He¿s a great character. His psychic abilities, which work through physical contact, prove to be both a curse and a blessing, and the way he handles himself and his talents make him instantly likable. Marla, his newfound assistant and potential love interest, is great for not being so typical. Heroines in stories always have a tendency to be one extreme or the other--a damsel in distress or a bad-to-the-bone super-girl. Marla is neither. She¿s a person, as was everyone else in the story. Well, except maybe the antagonists. I love a good villain; it adds a lot of spice to a tale. The villains in Furnace were, again, unlike any I¿ve read. If you were to see one of them walking down the street, you¿d probably describe him as a 'midget with down-syndrome.' But if you were to look closer, you¿d probably notice that his teeth were filed down to points, he was covered in tattoos, and he was an incredibly malicious, resourceful little bugger when situations got rough. Creepy? You bet. And wait until you meet their master. But even the villains had a 'human' side to them in Furnace. Their actions, although extreme, had logic behind them. In fact, when the situation is seen from their point of view, you can¿t help but feel a little sorry for them. There were no 2-D characters anywhere within the book, which made it infinitely more interesting. As for the writing, Rieser doesn¿t waste a lot of words. His style is to the point and direct, which keeps the pace of the book nice and brisk. A style I¿m a big fan of. The dialogue throughout the story was spot on, too. All-around good writing here. If I have a complaint other than the slow first chapter, it¿s that the story left me wanting more. Not in the plot--that aspect of the story was as fleshed out as it needed to be--but in Shelby. As my favorite character in the book, I wish I could have seen him outside of the plot some. I would have liked to know more about his childhood, how his abilities must have affected him in high school, what everyday life as a psychic would have been like. A great character still, but I felt like there was a lot of untapped potential. All-in-all, an excellent concept sprinkled with good characters and tight writing made Furnace an enjoyable, thought-provoking read. I had my gripes, but none were major. Recommended.
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Posted December 1, 2013
Posted December 1, 2013
I trotted through the clouds. Just a normal day. But tomorrow... I gulped. My mom had signed me up for a special flight camp. And flying is, let's say, not a strength of mine. This was a special flight camp and I would have no friends! Basically, totally freaky. <br>
Out of my mind, I wished wasting time could prevent the future. That's not logic! (Imagine Sweetie Belle saying this.) So, I decided not to worry. But how? I didn't care. Could I stop time? No. Why not? Because. I'll make friends. Hopefully. <br>
"Hazy Dream. I've been calling you for five minutes." It was my sister, Silver Skies. "Come in. It's time for dinner." I sighed and trudged back up the hill. <p>
That night I dreamed I was falling. Falling, falling, far from where Silver Skies had ever taken me. Falling so far I couldn't see my house above, or even Cloudsdale. And I was swallowed up by the inkiest darkness not even Luna could make. <p>
The next morning I was dragged to flight camp. It looked so big and the obstacle courses were high up and tricky. Could I survive? Suddenly, a figure was trotting towards me.
Posted October 12, 2002
Furnace, by William Alan Rieser, is a shocking and impressively written novel about an investigation into a young woman's unusual death which was ruled by the authorities to be a case of human spontaneous combustion. The investigation reveals a dark, twisted and utterly murderous psychic plot. Terror, ruthlessness and supernatural disregard for human limits and life mark this unpredictable, unique and highly recommended saga.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 4, 2002
?In the introductory scene of Furnace, we learn of research being conducted into the mysteries of human spontaneous combustion (HSC). Through Rieser¿s careful study of mythologies, ancient scrolls and documents, including the bible, we are brought to the realization that such deaths can be attributed to an insidious evil that has plagued humankind throughout the ages. Continuing, we learn that this malevolence and its minions are alive and well, still stalking us in the present while inspiring disbelief. When the fiends murder a millionaire¿s daughter, Laarry Croft forms a task force, Probe, to investigate HSC. Although he assembles a team of specialists, they make little progress until they engage a tactile psychic. Shelby, by touching some of the artifacts collected by Probe, discovers startling evidence of an ancient evil. With Marla, a Probe researcher, Shelby leads the task force, together with other law-enforcement agencies, on a voyage of discovery that is both intriguing and terrifying as they close upon a deadly unforseen reality, an evil with the power to destroy them all. Rieser is a master story teller, drawing the reader into a world filled with suspense and horror. Even as he does that, he manages to drum up sympathy for a vengeful monster, not an easy thing to accomplish. Definitely not for the nervous, this nail-biter of a yarn had me eager to turn pages and read the next paralyzing scene as I became enthralled by the twists and turns of the author¿s ingenious imagination.
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