My Book Rating System

My book rating system is based on 5 stars. The book must be rated at least 3 stars for a review.

3 Stars: Good story, good plot, good writing.

4 Stars: I was wowed, but something about the story fell short of perfection.

5 Stars: I was either drooling, on the edge of my seat, or falling in love.

If you would like me to review your book, please contact me at

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Book Review: Slow Boat to Purgatory, by Vernon Baker

Slow Boat to Purgatory
Vernon Baker

Summary (from Goodreads):
Gaspar De Rouse, an immortal Knight Templar, a man murdered by his brothers for the secret he possessed, resurrected and given a second chance at redemption.

Dominicus Bureau, a renegade priest, torn between his vows and the secret he pursues, a secret protected by an immortal.

Alex Donovan, a modern day warrior thrust into an ages old war, a war between good and evil, heaven and hell.

All three, passengers on a Slow Boat To Purgatory.

"Alex Donovan was a warrior once. Now he spends his days in a sedate and somewhat bitter existence combing Boston's used bookshops, drinking too much fine wine, and cursing a knee crippled by a terrorist's bullet.

But when Alex's grandfather dies, he discovers the old man has left him not only a vast fortune, but a mystical, ancient book which tells the story of an immortal Templar knight; a man named Gaspar de Rouse, a man who, according to his grandfather, still walks the earth.

Bewitched by the manuscript, written and illustrated by a 16th century Venetian artist who is befriended by the enigmatic Gaspar, Alex takes a journey through history that begins in the war-ravaged city of Acre in the year 1291. It is there that Gaspar is betrayed and loses his life, only to be resurrected by an Archangel and a Demon Prince. Given a choice, to spend an eternity in Purgatory or to serve both Heaven and Hell as a hunter of wayward souls, Gaspar chooses the life of an immortal marching across time doing battle with demons, angels and crushing loneliness.

The secrets of the book consume Alex and he comes to believe that Gaspar still lives. Alex's mundane world is transformed into a race to find the knight. It is a race that takes him from a quiet cove on the coast of Maine to Zurich's hidden banks and the dark waterways of Venice. Eventually helped by a warrior priest whose own secrets and quest to find the knight are shadowed in mystery, Alex struggles to distinguish between those who seek his destruction and those who would ensure his salvation."

My Rating: 4+ Stars!
My Thoughts:
Wow, this is an incredibly well-written fantasy. There is a story within a story within a story, which was quite well crafted. I read the back page, about the author, and it's his first book. The fact that this is his first book is just plain wow-some.

The characters are so real, and well-developed, you spend every moment along for the ride, feeling what they feel, experiencing what they experience, total immersion into the 3 or 4 separate worlds (lives) of the characters that we follow. I have to admit, I liked some of the stories more than others. The story of Gaspar himself took up the bulk of the book, and for that I'm glad. The story of how he came to be was fascinating. I also liked where we went with Alex. He seems a stand-up guy who loved his grandfather and finds himself caught up in a world he never knew existed. He has mad fighting skills, and is a strong, believable, likable kind of guy. I'd definitely want him to have my back in a fight.

The book does start off a little slow, but that is more for the sake of set-up for the reader. Once the story hits the action-packed finale, it's, well, action-packed. Other than the little bit of a slow turn in the beginning, the pacing was pretty good.

The only thing that troubled me was the flipping back and forth between stories. Occasionally I found myself confused, but once I realized that I had to read the chapter heading for my place of reference, the book moved much smoother for me. Also, sometimes we spend so long in one person's story, that when we switched to another's, I almost forgot who some of the players were. Again, I'd catch up to my place in the story relatively quickly.

Amazing read, and if you like fantasy, I strongly suggest reading this one.

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