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Book review: 'Caller Unknown'

As a general rule, I don’t have time to review books. Then again, I don’t often get sneak peeks at exciting upcoming releases. This time, I luckily had both.

I was fortunate to work with the wonderful and talented Jennifer Brozek on the Grants Pass collection, and she has been absolutely prolific since. Caller Unknown is a collection of short stories written by Jennifer that features the character, Karen Wilson, and her trials and tribulations in a town called Kendrick.
The town of Kendrick is special. It’s a place where ley lines and magical powers seem to congregate, much like Sunnydale, from the Buffy TV series. Unlike in Buffy though, the town isn’t overrun by vampires. Rather, it’s host to a variety of supernatural beings and humans with special powers. There’s a club known as the Bacchanalia, the police has a special task force designed to help with supernatural problems, there’s a gargoyle called Sebastian and a rather troublesome cult known as the Order.

And then there’s Karen Wilson. She’s an operator for 911, until one day (on her private phone), she receives a call from UNKNOWN. They’re asking for help: someone’s going to be murdered and Karen has to stop it. Thus begins Karen’s role as a protector of the city.

This collection isn’t really a collection. It’s a novel told through a series of short stories; very much like a mosaic work. In general, it’s a very effective way to tell Karen’s story. Each chapter is punchy, fast-paced and action packed. Sometimes, though, I wanted to know more about what was happening – the stories that occurred between each chapter. Fortunately, the collection had a bonus story at the end, which helped sastify some of the questions I had developed.

Karen herself is likeable. She’s headstrong with a spine of steel and she's sometimes a bit rash. But she’s human, and she makes mistakes. And that’s what is great about this collection. There’s no super-powered Buffy to save the day or a character who can weave a spell to get out of trouble; rather, it’s argumentative and creative Karen who steps in to help.

The only real criticism I had was that one or two of the villains felt a little shallow at times. I think this contrast struck me because Karen is so well-developed, as are her friends and the wonderful Sebastian, who is frankly cute-as and awesome. But as far as issues go, this was pretty minor.

Caller Unknown definitely kept me intrigued and I wanted to keep reading to discover who UNKNOWN was and how Karen managed to deal with all the supernatural troubles that kept landing in her lap.

If you're interested in grabbing a copy, you can purchase it from Amazon.



( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
26th Oct, 2012 23:20 (UTC)
Bubble and Squeek for 26 October 2012
User jennifer_brozek referenced to your post from Bubble and Squeek for 26 October 2012 saying: [...] all of the electronic versions of the book will be available. Amanda Pillar reviewed it at her blog [...]
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Latest Month

December 2014

Book News


Graced, Amanda Pillar's first novel, will be out in 2015! More details to come.


Bloodlines will be out in 2015! Blood will tell... blood holds memory... blood is sacrifice... blood is thicker than water... blood is life.


Bloodstones, edited by Amanda Pillar, features 17 tales of urban fantasy set in the contemporary world. It is the first volume of an annual dark fantasy series.



Damnation and Dames, edited by Liz Grzyb and Amanda Pillar, will feature 16 tales of paranormal noir.

Ready for an adventure? Then put your coat on and step into the world of noir...



Ishtar. Powerful, sexy, and very, very deadly. And due out in November 2011! This outstanding novella collection contains gems from Deborah Biancotti, Kaaron Warren and Cat Sparks!



Each story in this collection has been inspired by a track from the album, Scenes from the Second Storey. Quirky, dark, insightful and sometimes downright disturbing, these tales reflect the emotions and images our authors experienced when they heard ‘their’ song from The God Machine's record.

Scenes from the Second Storey was published in September 2010. It features stories from Kaaron Warren, Robert Hood, Cat Sparks and Paul Haines among many other talented Australian authors.



Are you looking for a dark chocolate anthology full of tales about the Morrigan goddess?

The Phantom Queen Awakes is available now. It features stories from Elaine Cunningham, CE Murphy, Anya Bast and Katharine Kerr.



The award-winning Grants Pass is a post apocalyptic anthology, edited by Amanda Pillar and Jennifer Brozek, features stories by Cherie Priest, Ed Greenwood and Jay Lake among many other authors.


"Grants Pass is a remarkable, disturbing, and worthwhile read, and one that is likely to stay with the reader for some time to come."

- HorrorScope


Voices is available for sale now. You can purchase a copy online or at Fantastic Planet, Perth, and Pulp Fiction Books, Brisbane.

"Every story in Voices is of high quality, and the editors should be commended for their high standards. This is one of the best anthologies of dark fiction to have been released recently, and is highly recommended."

- HorrorScope

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