“Something stirs deep within the old salt mines, but isn’t content with staying there. It spills out to the town of Wayton, and right to Leah’s front door. Leah’s biggest concern in her life, up to this point, was making friends, but when she gets pulled into the conflict she will be in a fight for her life.
Many forces conspire against her; bullies, monsters, and something far more evil.
She’ll need to use everything at her disposal just to survive:
Her gift of glamouring, the magic of control.
Sir Ursa, a living teddy bear and her best friend.
The Jackhammer, an ancient meckanical unearthed from the rocks it was designed to destroy.
Will Leah have the resolve to survive? Steel yourself for the adventures of Leah and the Jackhammer.”
Leah and the Jackhammer is the first book from self-published author, Adam Ortyl, and the first book in a new series of reviews that I will be doing for first time authors and self-published books.
If you’re a fan of fantasy, with a stuffed bear and hospitable mud creatures mixed in, then this is a book that you can’t ignore.
Our story begins with a typical scene, children running through the countryside, namely one nine year old girl by the name of Leah. Leah isn’t like the other children, possessing powers beyond their, and her, understanding. The children are fearful of Leah and the abilities she controls, Ortyl does a beautiful job of bringing this distrust out in a way akin to Lord of the Flies, and right from the start we feel a connection to the main character.
The attachment we feel is helped by the impressive way that the author goes about describing Leah, rather than a wooden approach, or ‘character sees themselves in a mirror,’ the author uses a very clever tie-in that gives us a fantastic picture of Leah, and explains more about her abilities at the same time. The clever introductions don’t end, throughout the book the author shows an almost unique skill when it comes to the descriptions of his creatures, and each new one draws a vivid mental picture for the reader.
Every great protagonist needs a sidekick, someone to provide comic relief and moral support when it’s needed most, for Leah this is her stuffed teddybear who goes by the name Sir Ursa, a mainstay component to the story who’s appearance and demeanour could be enough to warrant a story all of his own. A child can feel safe behind a teddybear, and Ortyl takes this to the extreme.
The ability that Leah possesses, Glamouring, is a key component to the story, and although it is indeed powerful, is has it’s limitations and is written so that it doesn’t turn into a deus ex machina. Glamouring, along with the other worldly setting and the introduction of meckanicals, instantly draw the reader into the world and allow them the sense of escapism that’s so important for a new author to achieve.
Meckanicals play a large part in the story, machines both large and small that appear to have been left over from a time before the book is set, the people that control and work with them now have little knowledge of the machines, and know about enough to get them to function. After finishing the book I was itching to know more about these mysterious devices, and their lightly described power sources.
The book and author give a fantastic sense of scale, gradually building a map of the world for the reader as they progress through the story, showing the true size of the dimension that they’ve decided to delve into, it has the feeling of Alice in Wonderland for a modern audience, with some boogymen mixed in.
With a whole host of characters ranging from the cuddly knight Sir Ursa, to a slightly barmy professor, and a misunderstood bully, Ortyl crafts his characters to perfection, with each having a distinct personality and bringing their own unique something to the story.
The book is the first release in ‘The Demon Ginktak’s Folly’ series. As with any initial book in a series, it is important for setting the tone, along with instilling the feeling of adventure and wonder, both of which Leah and the Jackhammer pull off beautifully, I can’t wait to read more about the adventures and people of this land.
Though it must be said that a single use of ‘make due’ was perfectly placed to halt the progression of the story for a moment, the make due vs. make do argument is not one I’m going to delve into here.
The book is available for purchase on the Amazon Store: Leah and the Jackhammer
The author can be found on Twitter: @Adam_Ortyl
The author’s page can be found here: AdamOrtyl.com
This article was first posted on January 27, 2013