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Review: Jericho by Alex Gordon


Jericho
Author:  Alex Gordon
Publisher:  Harper Voyager, April 5, 2016
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 464 pages
List Price:  $14.99 (print); $10.99 (digital)
ISBN:  9780061687389 (print); 9780062102331 (digital)

Review: Jericho by Alex Gordon
In this follow-up to the masterful debut Gideon, a young witch must risk death and damnation to defeat a powerful ancient evil.

In unearthing her father’s secret past, Lauren Reardon discovered a shocking truth about herself. She is a Child of Endor, a sect of witches who believe they are the guardians of the “thin places”—areas across the globe where evil can seep through the divide between the worlds separating the living and the restless dead. At any time, she can be called upon to close one of these breaches and prevent demons from infiltrating our realm. When Lauren has a disturbing vision of an Oregon forest, she is drawn back to the familiar woods of the misty Pacific Northwest to investigate.

Locals had long whispered about an abandoned logging camp known as Jericho—of the strange disappearances and eerie sounds heard in the woods deep in the night. But these ghost stories only hint at the true evil lurking within the camp’s dilapidated buildings, a primeval malevolence far more terrifying than Lauren’s darkest imaginings. And now, Lauren must face this evil, even if it takes her life . . . even if it costs her soul.



Tracey's/Trinitwo's Point of View

The residents of Gideon, Illinois are witches who follow the teachings of the Lady of Endor. They are entrusted to guard the thin places where supernatural evil seeks to gain entrance into our world. Newcomer Lauren Reardon has been acknowledged as their most powerful practitioner since her victory over the demons that assailed the town six months earlier.

Lauren begins hearing voices beckoning her to a thin place somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. She reluctantly agrees to travel to the secluded woods of Portland Oregon to a gathering of people with similar talents sponsored by business mogul Andrew Carmody.

Upon arrival, Lauren recognizes that her host has ulterior motives for inviting her and the others to his home. Carmody's Peak is said to be cursed and at the nearby abandoned logging town of Jericho, Lauren senses an otherworldly malevolence lurking in its many shadows. As events unfold, Lauren realizes that the abandoned town of Jericho may not be as empty as she was led to believe.

Jericho, Alex Gordon's second book featuring Lauren Reardon, is fraught with tense action and page turning mystery. Due to the setting of Andrew Carmody's high powered world, Jericho has a more modern feel than its predecessor Gideon. This changes the tone of the series slightly which is worth noting because readers looking for the same type of glimpses into the past provided in Gideon may be disappointed. Unlike Gideon, Jericho and its enigmas are as much a puzzle to the protagonist as they are to the reader.

Lauren is a very sympathetic character. Although she's still reeling from the events in Gideon and the secret past her father kept hidden from his family, she continues to persevere. She is appealing because despite her flaws, she's a strong hero that is both compassionate and courageous.

Jericho weaves a web of thrills and chills that is filled with startling plot twists and nail biting action. The woods and their mysterious inhabitants are tangibly ominous, and Jericho's repugnant evil is the stuff of nightmares. However, the plot is somewhat convoluted and I was left feeling both partially disappointed that some of the mysteries remained unanswered, and partially relieved that the graphic details were not disclosed.

I enjoyed Jericho's fast pace, its strong female protagonist and its supernatural elements. Overall, Jericho is engaging and eerie and I would recommend this story to readers who delight in things that go bump in the night. Alex Gordon's series featuring Lauren Reardon is a winner. There's a new witch in town so evil beware!


Jericho can be read as a standalone but I recommend readers start with Gideon, because that's where the story really begins.





Previously

Gideon
Harper Voyager, January 6, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 432 pages

Review: Jericho by Alex Gordon
Preston & Child meets Kim Harrison in this edge-of-your-seat debut thriller—a superb blend of mystery, urban fantasy, horror, romance, and the supernatural.

When Lauren’s father dies, she makes a shocking discovery. The man she knew as John Reardon was once a completely different person, with a different name. Now, she’s determined to find out who he really was, even though her only clues are an old photograph, some letters, and the name of a town—Gideon.

But someone—or something—doesn’t want her to discover the truth. A strange man is stalking her, appearing everywhere she turns, and those who try to help her end up dead. Neither a shadowy enemy nor her own fear are going to prevent her from solving the mystery of her father—and unlocking the secrets of her own life.

Making her way to Gideon, Lauren finds herself more confused than ever. Nothing in this small Midwestern town is what it seems, including time itself. Residents start going missing, and Lauren is threatened by almost every townsperson she encounters. Two hundred years ago, a witch was burned at the stake, but in Gideon, the past feels all too chillingly present . . .


See Tracey's Review here.

Review: Gideon by Alex Gordon


Gideon
Author:  Alex Gordon
Publisher:  Harper Voyager, January 6, 2015
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 432 pages
List Price:  $14.99 (print); $7.99 (eBook)
ISBN:  9780061687372 (print); 9780062091765 (eBook)

Review: Gideon by Alex Gordon
Preston & Child meets Kim Harrison in this edge-of-your-seat debut thriller—a superb blend of mystery, urban fantasy, horror, romance, and the supernatural.

When Lauren’s father dies, she makes a shocking discovery. The man she knew as John Reardon was once a completely different person, with a different name. Now, she’s determined to find out who he really was, even though her only clues are an old photograph, some letters, and the name of a town—Gideon.

But someone—or something—doesn’t want her to discover the truth. A strange man is stalking her, appearing everywhere she turns, and those who try to help her end up dead. Neither a shadowy enemy nor her own fear are going to prevent her from solving the mystery of her father—and unlocking the secrets of her own life.

Making her way to Gideon, Lauren finds herself more confused than ever. Nothing in this small Midwestern town is what it seems, including time itself. Residents start going missing, and Lauren is threatened by almost every townsperson she encounters. Two hundred years ago, a witch was burned at the stake, but in Gideon, the past feels all too chillingly present . . .



Trinitytwo's Point of View

December 20, 1836 began abnormally warm. It was the day murderer Nicholas Blaine was to be judged at the stake. The Council had decided against hanging, saying he should suffer like the innocent girl he so callously killed. Blaine was more than a cold-blooded killer, he was also a wielder of potent magic. Gideon's residents had power of their own; they are children of Endor, adhering to the word of the Lady. Their duty lies in guarding the "thin places" from the demons who seek to cross the borders of the "wilderness" where they are damned to wander for eternity.

A lethal and unnatural freeze follows hard on the heels of Blaine's death and the ice storm kills the men of Gideon right where they stand. The women and children, who wait in security two miles away, are grief-stricken by their losses. All the while, Blaine's soul awaits the spell from his accomplice that will bring him back more powerful than he was before. Eliza, despite the mistrust of the community, is able to thwart the plot, binding Blaine with a spell of her own to the underground chamber where he has been laid to rest. As the years pass, Blaine's malevolent spirit hungrily waits and the people of Gideon conveniently forget the evil lingering in their vaults.

In the here and now, Lauren Reardon mourns the death of her beloved father, John. While going through her father's personal effects, she finds a small leather bound book called The Book of Endor. Printed inside is the name Matthew James Mullin and a location, Gideon Illinois. Curious, she scans the book's pages and finds a newspaper clipping wedged inside with a photo of teenaged Matthew Mullin. Lauren is shocked to discover her father and Mullin are one and the same.

Desperate to uncover the secrets of her father's hidden past, Lauren goes to Gideon for answers. But Gideon is falling into disrepair and the grudges of its people have not been forgotten. Being an outsider and a Mullin puts Lauren in danger. She senses the palpable enmity of its occupants and the malignant spirit who has become impatient to be freed.

Gideon is appealing on many levels. The author took actual tragic historical events such as Chicago's "Sudden Freeze" of 1836 and the subsequent "Great Fire" in 1871 and intertwined them to provide a gripping and realistic background. The eerie tone of the town's growing despair and impending doom paired with the author's descriptions of the "in between" places was frightful.

Lauren is a terrific heroine. She's smart and strong and when things start to go bad, she's bold enough to face the supernatural challenges head on. The supporting cast of characters were also well-written and some of them definitely had me fooled. In Gideon, I was never sure which members of the Society of Endor were working for good and which had sided with evil. This uncertainty ratcheted up the tension levels and made for some exciting and unexpected twists and turns to the story.

I thoroughly enjoyed the sojourn into Gideon's past and rooted for both Eliza and Lauren as they fought their monsters; both human and demonic. Gordon artfully spreads Nicholas Blaine's malignant presence slowly, like a disease whose evil taints the town and the souls that live there. Alex Gordon's Gideon is a delightfully dark tale that kept me under its spell from start to finish.




Upcoming

Jericho
Harper Voyager, April 5, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, 464 pages

Review: Gideon by Alex Gordon
In this follow-up to the masterful debut Gideon, a young witch must risk death and damnation to defeat a powerful ancient evil.

In unearthing her father’s secret past, Lauren Reardon discovered a shocking truth about herself. She is a Child of Endor, a sect of witches who believe they are the guardians of the “thin places”—areas across the globe where evil can seep through the divide between the worlds separating the living and the restless dead. At any time, she can be called upon to close one of these breaches and prevent demons from infiltrating our realm. When Lauren has a disturbing vision of an Oregon forest, she is drawn back to the familiar woods of the misty Pacific Northwest to investigate.

Locals had long whispered about an abandoned logging camp known as Jericho—of the strange disappearances and eerie sounds heard in the woods deep in the night. But these ghost stories only hint at the true evil lurking within the camp’s dilapidated buildings, a primeval malevolence far more terrifying than Lauren’s darkest imaginings. And now, Lauren must face this evil, even if it takes her life . . . even if it costs her soul.


Interview with Alex Gordon, author of Gideon - Janaury 15, 2015


Please welcome Alex Gordon to The Qwillery as part of the 2015 Debut Author Challenge Interviews! Gideon was published by Harper Voyager on January 6, 2015.



Interview with Alex Gordon, author of Gideon - Janaury 15, 2015




TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?

Alex:  Thank you for having me!

English was my best subject in grade school and high school, and teachers always complimented my essays and reports. I wrote a few stories, but they were class assignments. Unlike so many other writers, I didn’t write outside school--I wrote a few pages of an SF novel while in college, but that fizzled. Fast forward to the early 90’s, when I was in my early 30’s. I don’t recall any particular flash of inspiration. I simply decided to take a creative writing course of some sort. All my friends were returning to school for their MBAs. A writing class was going to be my MBA. From there, I went on attend writers conferences and science fiction-fantasy conventions, and kept plugging away.



TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Alex:  I would say 75% pantser/25% plotter. I can follow a vague outline that I set out beforehand in a short synopsis or on an index card, and I know the ending. But the twists and turns of the plot and the actions of my characters don’t sort themselves out until I actually write the scenes. Too many times, something that makes complete sense in the planning fails to work out on the page. It’s frustrating. There are times when I envy plotters. I have yet to make a lasting peace with my process.



TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Alex:  Focusing. I am so distractable. Wow—look at that smudge on the window. I really need to clean it NOW. And heaven forbid I look at a bookshelf. I have to page through at least one book I haven’t touched in years.



TQ:  Who are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

Alex:  John Le Carré. Two of his books in particular, the classics TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY and SMILEY'S PEOPLE. He described spycraft and the people who practiced it better than anyone else I've read. Then the world changed, the Cold War ended, and he retooled, stayed fresh, found new adversaries--arms dealers, pharmaceutical companies.

Terry Pratchett, the author of the Discworld books, can define a character with a single thought or action. He manages to sneak the sadness and poignancy into humorous stories, and to say so many things without lapsing into lecture mode. He is also the creator or co-creator of two of my literary crushes, The Patrician from the Discworld series and Crowley, from GOOD OMENS.

Gillian Flynn—I envy her ability to make unlikeable, troubled, troubling characters compelling. I enjoyed GONE GIRL, but SHARP OBJECTS is, I think, an even more profound example. Camille Preaker—I wanted to take her by the shoulders and shake her, protect her, and run and hide from her all at the same time.



TQ:  Describe Gideon in 140 characters or less.

Alex:  I’ll use a line from the book: "just because you don’t know your past doesn’t mean you don’t pay the price for it.”



TQ:  Tell us something about Gideon that is not in the book description.

Alex:  The story describes the very first stages of the entrance of the otherworldly into this world, and vice versa. In a way, it’s a First Contact story. Even though we have told tales of ghosts and demons and other non-human entities for thousands of years, and many people believe in their existence, these are individual, personal experiences, not the event that leads to the first faltering steps toward formal rapprochement.



TQ:  What inspired you to write Gideon? Your publisher describes the novel as "...a superb blend of mystery, urban fantasy, horror, romance, and the supernatural." What appealed to you about writing a genre bending novel?

Alex:  I initially intended GIDEON as straight urban fantasy, with a heroine on the run from demons and the humans who thought they could control them. But I opened with the chapters that took place in 1836, and my editor at the time didn’t feel that the heroine on the run part worked as well as those chapters did. After a lot of trial and error, I finally, finally realized that the main story was very personal—a woman finding out about her father, learning that he wasn’t what she thought he was. Combine that with the history of witches, and the genre mix—the elements of mystery, horror, romance, etc--evolved as the story developed. I didn’t have to purposely add anything. All the elements made organic sense. They were necessary aspects of the story.



TQ:  What sort of research did you do for Gideon ?

Alex:  Lots of historical research—details about the Sudden Freeze of 1836, the Chicago Fire, the Civil War. Many thanks to all the local historical societies and groups that post historical documents online—I don’t know how I would have found some of the personal accounts of the Freeze and the Fire without them. I also researched clothing of the 1830s and 1870s. I drove around the area of north central Illinois in which I set Gideon, and imagined the layout of the town, the description of the surrounding area.

I took several REI classes—kayaking, camping, outdoor survival, first aid. Lauren Reardon is a woman comfortable with the outdoors—there are things she would know and do as a matter of course. She is the type of person who carries a go-pack with first aid equipment, flints and blankets and other emergency gear in her car. She prefers to wear technical clothing. She adapts quickly. It’s funny, admitting that my fictional character knows so much more about a subject than I do, that I had to take classes in order to keep up.

I read about the Pseudepigrapha, ancient writings that are attributed to authors who really didn't write them. I was particularly interested in the Testament of Solomon, which was supposedly written by him and contained information that allowed him to control demons. I used that information to develop the Book of Endor, the guiding text of the witches of Gideon.

Some research I did went into scenes that wound up getting cut or rewritten. CPR. Google street routes through Seattle. Woodworking tools.



TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Alex:  Eliza Blaylock Mullin was surprisingly simple. She had Blaine figured out from the start, and she had a single goal—keep him from coming back from the dead. She was a very focused character.

The hardest character was my protagonist, Lauren Reardon. As I discussed above, I had a devil of a time figuring out who exactly she was and what her story was. Then I had to figure out how much she knew, how much she discovered along the way. How much did she know about her own magical abilities? Working out all the reasons for her to move forward, her transition from businesswoman to practitioner and guardian without letting it appear forced, too convenient—it was a struggle at times, a challenge always.



TQ:  Which question about your novel do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Alex:  Is “The Laird o’ Windywa's,” the bawdy ballad that turns up throughout the book, a real song? Yes! It’s been recorded by a Scottish folksinger named Jeannie Robertson. If I ever give a reading of the first chapter, I’m going to have to sing it. Fear this moment.



TQ:  Give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from Gideon.

Alex:

“Disappointment made her sound kind.” Because I think I managed to nail this person’s character in five words.


"Gideon stood wrapped in silence, a doll’s town swaddled in cotton and packed away.” The description of Gideon after the Freeze and subsequent snowstorm.



TQ:  What's next?

Alex:  I am working on JERICHO, which is the follow-up to GIDEON. Lauren Reardon is still the protagonist and primary POV.

In JERICHO, the stakes are much greater. In GIDEON, I drop hints that magical influence stretches well beyond one small town in Illinois, that there are other ’thin places’ that may not be as well-guarded as they need to be. In JERICHO, Lauren is going to learn just how pervasive that magical influence is, as well as who else is interested in that power. The world as it exists is very, very different from the one she’s familiar with. Her hero’s journey continues.



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Alex:  Thank you.





Gideon
Harper Voyager, January 6, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 432 pages

Interview with Alex Gordon, author of Gideon - Janaury 15, 2015
Preston & Child meets Kim Harrison in this edge-of-your-seat debut thriller—a superb blend of mystery, urban fantasy, horror, romance, and the supernatural.

When Lauren’s father dies, she makes a shocking discovery. The man she knew as John Reardon was once a completely different person, with a different name. Now, she’s determined to find out who he really was, even though her only clues are an old photograph, some letters, and the name of a town—Gideon.

But someone—or something—doesn’t want her to discover the truth. A strange man is stalking her, appearing everywhere she turns, and those who try to help her end up dead. Neither a shadowy enemy nor her own fear are going to prevent her from solving the mystery of her father—and unlocking the secrets of her own life.

Making her way to Gideon, Lauren finds herself more confused than ever. Nothing in this small Midwestern town is what it seems, including time itself. Residents start going missing, and Lauren is threatened by almost every townsperson she encounters. Two hundred years ago, a witch was burned at the stake, but in Gideon, the past feels all too chillingly present . . .





About Alex

Interview with Alex Gordon, author of Gideon - Janaury 15, 2015
Photo by Libby Bulloff
Alex Gordon resides in Illinois. She is currently developing her next thriller and is having too much fun doing research. When she isn't working, she enjoys watching sports and old movies, running, and playing with her dog. She dreams of someday adding the Pacific Northwest to the list of regions where she has lived.






Website  ~   Twitter @alexgordon36


2015 Debut Author Challenge Update: Gideon by Alex Gordon



2015 Debut Author Challenge Update: Gideon by Alex Gordon



The Qwillery is pleased to announce the newest featured author for the 2015 Debut Author Challenge.



Alex Gordon

Gideon
Harper Voyager, January 6, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 432 pages

2015 Debut Author Challenge Update: Gideon by Alex Gordon
Preston & Child meets Kim Harrison in this edge-of-your-seat debut thriller—a superb blend of mystery, urban fantasy, horror, romance, and the supernatural.

When Lauren’s father dies, she makes a shocking discovery. The man she knew as John Reardon was once a completely different person, with a different name. Now, she’s determined to find out who he really was, even though her only clues are an old photograph, some letters, and the name of a town—Gideon.

But someone—or something—doesn’t want her to discover the truth. A strange man is stalking her, appearing everywhere she turns, and those who try to help her end up dead. Neither a shadowy enemy nor her own fear are going to prevent her from solving the mystery of her father—and unlocking the secrets of her own life.

Making her way to Gideon, Lauren finds herself more confused than ever. Nothing in this small Midwestern town is what it seems, including time itself. Residents start going missing, and Lauren is threatened by almost every townsperson she encounters. Two hundred years ago, a witch was burned at the stake, but in Gideon, the past feels all too chillingly present . . .


Review: Jericho by Alex GordonReview: Gideon by Alex GordonInterview with Alex Gordon, author of Gideon - Janaury 15, 20152015 Debut Author Challenge Update: Gideon by Alex Gordon

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