The Cave by Michela Montgomery
(The Wind Cave #1)
Published by: Post Hill Press
Publication date: April 7th 2015
Genres: New Adult, Post-Apocalyptic
When a nuclear war devastates the U.S., a four-day excursion quickly turns into a fight for survival in The Cave. Six Stanford students journey into one of the deepest and longest caves in North America. A day into their journey, a nuclear war begins from within the U.S. Unable to return to the surface, and unsure what they will find when they do, the Cave will test the strength and survival of each person differently – transforming six individuals into a team, and ultimately…a family.
The Cave is a stellar representative of a fairly new genre.
A peculiar phenomenon happens every once in a while in the publishing world. An innovative idea becomes a trend, which becomes something agents and editors actively hunt down, which is given a (usually cute) nickname by critics and reviewers, and finally becomes a titled and recognizable subgenre (or genre) with a healthy and growing list of works nestled safe beneath its umbrella.
The Cave is part of the New Adult genre, and the name should be self-explanatory. The characters tend to be four or five years older than characters in Young Adult series, and they have adult situations: characters have sex in pitch-black caves, get injured, swear, and face situations that aren’t necessarily as glossy as those that occur in YA. But the characters are still young. They are allowed to make mistakes, are allowed to be sexually inexperienced, to make awkward comments, to accidentally lead their friends astray. There’s a reality to the dialogue and awkwardness that reminded me of who I was in my early twenties.
The Cave is genuinely frightening.
The author does not waste words. The book is immediately claustrophobic. As the main characters travel through the titular cave, they (and we) continue to make assumptions about what is going on in the outside world. Very brief scenes that were not written from the POV of the college-age spelunkers offer little flickers of what is going on, and it is not pretty. I can’t wait to see where it goes in the following installments.
Welcome to the first giveaway on the Butcher Block!
We’re giving away five copies of Dead Beat to five different people. Dead Beat is, in many ways, the book that blew the series up in a major way: it’s the first to deal with necromancers, it’s the first to show Harry’s dad on screen, it’s the first that was published in hardcover. In many ways, this book can be used as an entry point to the series (although we are completionists, and do advise reading the first six). Our copies of Dead Beat are battered and loved and held together with duct tape — we figure we’re not the only ones who have read the book to death.
We’ve included several different ways you can win a copy. Of course, the more points you score, the greater your chance of winning. Good luck!
Secrets beget secrets. The curse that befell the Hollows clan has left them incapable of producing male offspring. To extend their bloodline, they have formed a covenant with the serpentine Ophidians, who give them children. In return, the Hollows must keep these monstrous creatures well fed, though the details of the procurement are so abominable that the truth is never revealed to the other clans. In their homeland of Matikki, they live like outcasts.
Through a series of chance discoveries, the secrets of the ancient curse unfold before a warrior named Writhren Hollow. Is her purely female clan the result of a lapse of divine providence, or are the Hollows themselves victims of an enslavement scheme?
If Writhren frees her clan from the covenant, she risks the wrath of the Ophidians and the future of her bloodline. If she keeps the truth of the curse to herself, she is a traitor to her own kind. Either way, she will suffer for what she must do.
This is not a story of redemption, but regret. This is Writhren’s story.
There is an intriguing, unique concept moving through this book. I enjoyed the remarkably alien world, the largely female cast of characters, the god-like, reptilian Ophidians who bring such terror with them, the story of mothers and daughters and terrible choices that must be made for survival. The poetic mnemonics are well written and provide some ideas about the background of the Ophidians.
The sorrowful start of the tale, with the exchange between Mother and the Ophidians, is interesting.
I found Writhren to be a different sort of heroine. She’s strong, but she is also living a lie. Her story is serious, difficult, moving.
The tale is short, which is both a strength and a weakness. As a strength, we are given a lot of concepts in a short number of pages. However, the level of detail is lacking from what I expect in a novel, but there is enough for a novella or short story. This book’s length leaves it in a sort of limbo. We jump forward at times very quickly. In some ways, this creates a less typical narrative. I find myself having a difficult time talking about the work when there is so much that should be kept for the reader. This is, essentially, a prequel for the eventual series. For me, overall, this was an imperfect, but worthy lead-in to what will be the full series.
I am curious about what happens in the full series, and in some ways, wish I had read that series first. It sounds like I’ll probably have to wait for the author to write them first, though.
About the Author
Annie K. Wong was born in Hong Kong and lives in Canada, in the west coast city of Vancouver, BC.
She has a BA in Business Administration and Creative Writing from Houghton College as well as a Diploma in Film Studies from the University of British Columbia. Although she explored careers in advertising, television and office administration, the desire to write overtook her at the turn of the new millennium. In 2003 she earned a Post-Graduate Certificate in Creative Writing from Humber College and has been crafting stories ever since.
Her current project is a fantasy series, the prequel of which is Children of Lightning.
Julie Czerneda has graciously allowed Galleywampus to host a stop on her blog tour for This Gulf of Time and Stars. We also have a giveaway listed way down below.
About the Author
Since 1997, Canadian author/editor Julie E. Czerneda has shared her love and curiosity about living things through her science fiction, writing about shapechanging semi-immortals, terraformed worlds, salmon researchers, and the perils of power. Her fourteenth novel from DAW Books was her debut fantasy, A Turn of Light, winner of the 2014 Aurora Award for Best English Novel, and now Book One of her Night`s Edge series. Her most recent publications: a special omnibus edition of her acclaimed near-future SF Species Imperative, as well as Book Two of Night`s Edge, A Play of Shadow, a finalist for this year’s Aurora.
Julie’s presently back in science fiction, writing the finale to her Clan Chronicles series. Book #1 of Reunification, This Gulf of Time and Stars, will be released by DAW November 2015. For more about her work, visit www.czerneda.com or visit her on Facebook, Twitter, or Goodreads.
About the Books
The Clan Chronicles is set in a far future with interstellar travel where the Trade Pact encourages peaceful commerce among a multitude of alien and Human worlds. The alien Clan, humanoid in appearance, have been living in secrecy and wealth on Human worlds, relying on their innate ability to move through the M’hir and bypass normal space. The Clan bred to increase that power, only to learn its terrible price: females who can’t help but kill prospective mates. Sira di Sarc is the first female of her kind facing that reality. With the help of a Human starship captain, Jason Morgan, Sira must find a morally acceptable solution before it’s too late. But with the Clan exposed, her time is running out. The Stratification trilogy follows Sira’s ancestor, Aryl Sarc, and shows how their power first came to be as well as how the Clan came to live in the Trade Pact. The Trade Pact trilogy is the story of Sira and Morgan, and the trouble facing the Clan. Reunification will conclude the series and answer, at last, #whoaretheclan.
Galleywampus: You first started writing about Sira almost twenty years ago. Now that it has been over a decade since the Trade Pact Universe series concluded, what was the most challenging part of writing about Sira again? Did you know what she was up to all these years? Are you finding that Sira had changed for you in that time?
Julie: More like thirty, to be honest. It took me ten years to sell my first book, after all. Time does fly! There were a few challenges, that’s for sure. Mostly because I’d written so much else, and differently, in the interim. I talk about trying to regain my early “voice” in my post in “Writing Like I Used To”, but that was only one aspect. The details within the previous six books was another; fortunately, I had betareaders to help me (who joined me to talk about that at Publishing Crawl ). The plot, that was the thing. Glad you asked.
The story—Sira and Morgan—didn’t go away and come back. I find everything I’m working on, or thinking of working on, is in my head some place. Ideas pop out at the least convenient time. I dash from the tub. Write in the dark. Most often, the best of these occur to me when I’m supposed to be focused on what I’m writing right now, the stuff with a deadline. I’ve learned to give in, write the note, and put it some place safe. For Reunification? I’d years of jots and hints, most in a journal but an appalling number stuffed in file folders. I needed to organize. Somewhere BIG.
Like my office wall, the one without bookshelves. The one we’d freshly painted, having filled in the myriad tack holes that somehow had accumulated. (Innocent humming.)
My husband, being vastly clever, spotted the signs. You see, an author about to nest a new book acts much like a pregnant bird or dog. A certain glassy stare. A tendency to pick up random bits of paper and stick them in unpredictable places. Turning in place. Before I could pick up my first thumbtack, he’d obtained nice flat metal thingies meant for curtains and screwed them along the wall, handing me a box of magnets. (He took the tacks.)
I was off. First up were large sheets of paper; next came Post-its. Each had a separate plot point garnered from my journal and folders and I worked until they were all there, roughly organized by where in the three book arc of Reunification they’d matter most.
I’ll tell you a secret. The act of writing down plot points, then choosing—finding–where they belonged on the wall, is what locks them in my head. The whole mass is still up on the wall, but I haven’t so much as glanced at it since I stuck the last note in place. I like having it there; I don’t have to have it there. Please don’t tell Roger.
Did I know what Sira was up to? Interesting question. I knew Gulf would pick up her story mere weeks in character-time after To Trade the Stars, so as far as I was concerned, she and Morgan were still in the afterglow of Happy Ending. What I had to know was the momentum to conflict was building in the background, and powerful forces were about to collide.
Galleywampus: Love plays an important part in your books involving Sira. Why does this subject resonate with you?
Julie: Oh, it plays an important part in all of my books. Not only romantic love, although I’m a fan where it’s right, but the love of family, love between friends. To me it’s the thread that works through our lives and society as a whole, holding us together, giving life meaning.
In Sira’s case, I needed her to evolve into a sympathetic character and to represent what any Clan was capable of, given the opportunity. The powerful self-serving alien bent on human seduction has not only been done to death, it doesn’t interest me. Yes, the Clan have subverted their own reproduction into something cold and pragmatic, but they are a passionate race and this wasn’t always their way. The Clan are also xenophobic. Sira may have reasoned what her Human, Morgan, might be able to help her accomplish—to the good of her kind—but to any Clan, intimacy with something so alien as a Human is unimaginably repugnant. Without spoiling the story, if Sira hadn’t been capable of love and compassion, of growth into those feelings not only for Morgan, but others, I wouldn’t have a believable plot.
Morgan himself is her model. He’s deeply compassionate, with a strong moral centre developed from experience as well as personal inclination. He represents, in that sense, the best of us.
One of my favourite scenes is where Morgan confronts Sira, who’s developed a full-on adolescent crush on him (much to her confusion). He tells her she doesn’t know what love is and manages a decent job of muddling through sexual attraction versus true caring for another. Later, once she’s come to understand the difference, she does her utmost to shield him, from her Clan instincts and her kind.
Among my joys in their relationship is the interplay when they work together, which doesn’t always go smoothly. While Sira has immense abilities and power, Morgan has practically rebuilt his starship and treasures it. To work alongside as crew, she’s trying to learn and almost too enthused, especially when he knows a mistake in space happens only once.
Galleywampus: How does your background in biology fit into your science fiction writing?
Julie: I’ve mentioned in an earlier interview (it’s a tour, after all) on Fantasy Book Café that I create my aliens and their worlds using that background, along with my fascination with the odder aspects of living things. Spider sex, for one. Birds seeing in ultraviolet. Parasites. Nature offers a buffet of wonderful details I couldn’t make it up!
That’s world-building. My biology background is the source of my story ideas too. The Clan Chronicles came about from my wondering what would happen if an intelligent species bred for a costly trait. How far would they go? Species Imperative is my take on how an innate biological drive, in this case migration, could impact on a peaceful, well-tuned galactic civilization. Beholder’s Eye? Oh, there I’m playing with all things biological, but at the core is my speculation on what an almost immortal species would be like—and how might one come about. In the Company of Others features space exploration and settlement, but it started with my own dismay at species that seem harmless being released where they become horrendous pests to the local wildlife.
It’s fair to say there’s nothing about my biology background that isn’t in my science fiction. (And sneaks quietly into my fantasy as well.)
Galleywampus: You are a DIY fan. What has been your favorite recent DIY project?
Julie: When I’d finished Stratification, the prequel trilogy within the Clan Chronicles, I’d planned a break to try my hand at my first fantasy novel. (I talk about my reasons at Fantasy Book Critic I was determined not to sound like a science fiction author trying their first fantasy novel. I started by changing everything possible about my writing process, from my office décor to where I’d start. I wanted to have an intimate setting, Marrowdell, where everything took place within a single valley and village. I wouldn’t write a word, I vowed, until I could “see” the place for myself. Being a thorough sort, I researched pioneer settlements, including pacing one out, and came up with the rough size of my valley. From then, it was a process of determining scale, and I was off.
Once finished, I put it where I could refer to it while I wrote. It gave me everything from line-of-sight to how long it’d take someone to walk from point A to B, shadows and light by time of day, and, most importantly, where “magic” had clawed the ridges to either side.
Thanks for such great questions!
Galleywampus: Thank you, Julie! And enjoy the rest of your tour!
David Monette has written our guest post this week. More about him and his latest work at the bottom of this post. Also, a giveaway of his books. YES!
Which seven stock characters would you keep around you in order to survive a zombie apocalypse?
Now that is an interesting question. As the author of the zombie trilogy, In the Time of the Dead, I’ve had to answer a ton of zombie-related questions, and I can truly say that I’ve never had such a query put to me.
Thanks, Galleywampus scribes, for your originality!
So… my first thought when I read both the question and then the list of examples I was shown was: how can I pick from this massive assortment of characters? I mean, there was everything from the Reluctant Hero (a person who doesn’t seek adventure or the opportunity to do good, and often doubts his or her abilities to rise to heroism. However, circumstances result in the character’s becoming a true hero) to the Girl Next Door (an average girl with wholesome conduct). Then I thought, “Wait a minute. Go through this slowly, look at it seriously. Who out of that list would you want around you if something like a zombie apocalypse were to occur?”
With that in mind, I looked through the list again. And here is what I found…
1.- The first one I would choose would be the Absent-Minded Professor character (a scientific genius). The reason I would choose such an individual would be because I think it’s smart to have really smart people around me, even absent-minded ones, and even in the middle of a zombie apocalypse, and especially when no one else can think of a way to make that flamethrower you really, really need.
2.- Keeping that in mind, I then thought, “Yeah, I’m going to need another smart guy around to keep a lid on the absent-mindedness of that first guy.” So that is why my next choice was a regular Professor, a “non-scientific genius” person, a doctor who is pretty smart and can remember that the flame thrower doesn’t need to be strapped to the user with a complicated array of belts and harnesses that serve no purpose other than look impressive, and who can also do something useful like slap a splint on my broken arm.
3.- Now, having a couple of pretty smart guys around me is great, but I’m really going to need someone, maybe a lot of someones, who can really kick butt. That leads me to my next four selections, starting with the Action Hero (a film hero protagonist with unrealistic resistance and fighting capabilities). Because who can’t use a guy like that to carry the flamethrower into battle with the zombies?
4.- That selection would be followed closely by a Conanesque character (a character inspired by Conan the Barbarian) and…
5.- the Super Soldier! (a soldier who operates beyond human limits or abilities) both of whom would, you know, charge into the fight at the side or in front of the Action Hero, doing action hero-ey type things… wait… aren’t those the same thing? Doesn’t matter. I choose all of them.
6.- And next, just to keep them in line, I would choose the Elderly Martial Arts Master who would look upon my broken arm with pity and hang back to protect me while the two fighter types charge in with the flamethrower and assorted blades and/or guns.
7.- Finally, I would chose the Hardboiled Detective (a gruff, tough and streetwise detective) because he would know the best place to hole-up and rest after we burnt through that nasty mess of zombies so that my poor arm could heal.
What an awesome crew, huh? The only thing to figure out would be why the heck such an impressive array of characters would want a bloke like me around, what with my broken arm and all. Oh, yeah! They’d need someone around to witness their antics and tell the story!
The battle for Washington DC is behind them, and the last remnants of the human race have fled from their undead enemies to a remote Caribbean island where they try to salvage what is left of humanity. But even here, the zombies have come. Led by the architect of the holocaust, an invading army wreaks havoc trying to acquire the one thing that can stop them, and the one thing a small contingent of soldiers knows they must never get.
Join with Sasha, Terrance, Virgil, and the little girl, Max, in an all or nothing gamble as they fight down the road to either salvation or horrible defeat in the thrilling conclusion of this series.
About the Author
David Monette was born and raised in the cold rural hinterlands of upstate New York. As a typical kid in a typical community, life for him was pretty… typical. He liked to draw creatures and contraptions but as the second born of four sons, such ability was merely a convenient way of standing out from the crowd. As he inexpertly stumbled through high school, his talent for capturing the images in his head onto paper was noticed and encouraged by both teachers and family members.
Without any other idea of what to do with himself after graduation, besides a vague idea of doing something art oriented, he decided to attend Mohawk Valley Community College where he received his associate’s degree in Advertising Design and Production. Acting on excellent advice from his teachers at this institution, he went on to Syracuse University where he learned a great deal about art and eventually wound up with a bachelor’s degree in Illustration.
With a disturbingly large amount of student debt and a decent portfolio, he learned what it was to be a starving artist. Namely, he found that artists don’t starve; they simply pick up an endless series of part time work to pay the rent while continuing to plug away at their true passion. This was essentially what he did until he received his first illustration job and from that point on, he didn’t look back. As an illustrator, his highly detailed fantasy and science fiction work has appeared in many books, magazines, board games, and collectible card games for such varied publishers as Dell Publishing, Wizards of the Coast, and Atlas Games. Initially, he had completed these diverse projects utilizing oil and acrylic paints as well as pen and inks.
As digital technology continued to improve, however, he decided it was time to tackle the arduous task of mastering the computer and eventually figured out a way to adapt his style to a digital format. With this knowledge and experience, he went back to school and received his master’s degree in Illustration from the University of Hartford. While there, his instructors reviewed his written work and had strongly suggested that he combine his writing ability with his talent as an illustrator to chart his own path.
Starman stood at the shore of the great Dejewla Sea and stared at the enormity of the swaying body of liquid. The water shone like sapphires, beckoning him to crawl into its watery graves and swim and dive as if he were a child of aqua. Waves rippled across the surface but any animals that used to dwell near the Sea had long since disappeared. He could smell the richness of the soil as the plants close to the water stretched their roots deep, bloating themselves on saltless seawater.
Alaireia, on the other hand, had already dropped her pack of supplies and was loosening the black belt that carried her long sword. “It’s good we’re camping here for a time,” she was saying, sitting on a fallen log to unstrap her black boots as Starman continued to be captivated by the Sea. “I, for one, would like one last swim before we enter the desert. Swift claims it is a dry, barren place.”
“It smells like dead fish,” Starman said, wrinkling his nose.
“Starman?”Alaireia asked, standing barefoot on the shore. “Are you coming for a swim?”
“Oh.” Starman’s face turned red. “I…I…uh…”
Alaireia laughed as she waded into the water to see how it felt. “The water is fine!”
“Uh…” Starman turned to go, almost tripping over his feet. “I’ll go downstream with the others,” he stammered.
“Wait, Starman,”Alaireia called. He turned around, still blushing, but she stood knee high in the water, staring into it. “What did you say it smelt like?”
Starman opened his mouth to reply when something leaped out of the water, snatchingAlaireia and dragging her under. “Fish! Crinte!” Starman shouted all at once. “Help! The fish have Alaireia!” He drew his sword and ran to the waterside, but all was still again. Eyes like saucers, he ran back to the trees. “Crinte! Marklus! Swift! Hurry!” he yelled.
He ran back to the Sea only to shout and leap back in surprise as a monster surged out of the water, its long, brown-spotted tentacles waving in every direction. Along the length of eachtentacle suction holes moved in and out as if the creature were breathing in air and water at the same time. Its round head had barely emergedbut it was the center of the tentacles with two, horrifyingly large, ink black eyes. Starman could see a mirror black image of himself drowning in the sticky elixir of those eyes and immediately leaned over to vomit in a bush. As he wiped his mouth on the back on his hand he saw Alaireia, wrapped in one of the sucking tentacles. It was one of the most beautiful and terrifying sights he had ever seen as she rose with the creature, streaming with now muddied water. Her black hair hung long and her shoulders were bare as she gripped the tentacle in both arms, her face a mass of concentrated fury as she struggled for release.
“Alaireia!” Starman yelled, dashing into the water with his sword raised. A tentacle reached out for him and he slashed at it, ripping it open and causing black blood to leak out. Starman almost gagged as the stench of decaying fish overwhelmed him in the water. Despite it he moved closer to the great creature. It towered above him, lifting Alaireia higher into the air. Starman slashed at the next tentacle that tried to capture him, but ultimately failed as one wrapped its slimy length around him and hugged his body uncomfortably close. Still waving his sword, he proceeded to chop at the thick length that held him, but the creature was unforgiving. It reared its head even further out of the water, displaying a wide gaping mouth. It opened it and roared.
About the Author
Angela J. Ford is an imaginative and entertaining writer who creates stories of fanciful worlds that enable young adults to confidently believe in possibilities and overcome differences to be stronger together.
Born in Ann Arbor, MI, and raised in Alabaster, AL, she moved to Nashville, TN, where she currently resides, to pursue a degree in Music Business at Belmont University.
Although her career has not been largely focused on creative writing, it has been an integral part of her lifestyle. Brought up as a bookworm and musician, she began writing The Four Worlds, a fantasy action, adventure series at the age of 12. The storyline of those books was largely based off of creative games she played with her sisters.
Originally finished when she was 16, after college, Angela began to re-write the Four Worlds Series, bringing it from a child’s daydream to an adventure young and old alike can enjoy. Inspired by fairy tales, high magic and epic fantasy, you’ll enjoy your adventures within the Four Worlds.
If you happen to be in Nashville, you’ll mostly likely find her at a local coffee shop, enjoying a white chocolate mocha and furiously working on her next book. Make sure you say hello!