Review: “Earthshaker,” Robert Jeschonek

Pros: Fantastic story and characters
Cons: Minor details
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

After reading Day 9, I wasn’t sure I wanted to read Robert Jeschonek’s Earthshaker: Gaia Charmer, World Warrior Book 1. I’m so glad that I did! Gaia Charmer is a travel agent and PI who has some sort of affinity with and power over the earth. She lives in a world of nymphs and gods/goddesses–a world of which humanity is largely unaware. She has a partner/helper named Duke who also has some sort of mysterious affinity with the earth, and a friendly police officer, Sheriff Briar, who appreciates her help catching serial killers and the like. Gaia’s best friend, Aggie, gets killed, and Laurel, the avatar of the Alleghany Mountains, asks for help finding the people who are poisoning her; Gaia has reason to believe the two cases are connected. She sets out with her friends in tow to find out what’s going on and get justice for her friend.

This is a really neat cross between a superhero book and an urban fantasy. In the opening battle that shows us what Gaia’s capable of, her powers are presented in a very cinematic and superhero-ish manner. All of the major battles have that superhero vibe to them, and when combined with the urban fantasy milieu rather than a world in which supers are a “thing” it creates a nifty feel. I’m utterly tickled by it.

There was one paragraph of mixed metaphors that made my eyes cross (from seawater to blood in a centrifuge to a prospector’s sluice in one quick go). There’s way too much use of italics to emphasize words–it would be like emailing with someone who kept throwing in all-caps words every sentence or three. On the other hand, I suppose it does evoke comic book style to a certain extent. Gaia is a bit frustratingly thick on a couple of occasions. And the ‘secret’ of her past (she doesn’t remember anything before about five years ago) is about as obvious as a whack on the head. But the rest of the book is so good that these are really just bumps in the road.

The characters are a lot of fun. I love it when Laurel–a mountain range made flesh, remember–gets rip-roaring drunk. Duke, Gaia’s friend and helper, is a nuanced character with plenty going on. Sheriff Briar is also engaging, and I enjoyed watching the relationship between him and Gaia evolve. Gaia herself is complex and multi-faceted, particularly once we learn more about her history.

The pacing is great, and the challenges and battles truly are cinematic and vibrant. There’s plenty of tension, and the final battle and the revelations that come with it are fantastic. It reveals an extremely creative backstory that’s well worth uncovering.

I definitely enjoyed this book, and I hope Jeschonek puts out more books in the series!

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