The Watchers: Reviews

If There Be Giants

Ellison Blackburn has created a story richly woven with archaeological detail and Christian mythology, and peopled it with her strongly-characterised protagonists.Click To Tweet

Set in the near future, but begins in the present; If There Be Giants is a science fiction thriller with a bit of romance. I really enjoyed the story! Dr. Mallory Jacks has grown up a fan of Indiana Jones and becomes an Archeologist. She is called out to a farm and makes a startling discovery while on the English dig. The details were brilliantly written and really draws the reader into the story. It mixes Sci-Fi with Urban and Christian myths. The plot follows Dr. Mallory Jacks as she struggles with moral and scientific dilemma, also involving her personal life, which is linked to the project. She is a strong and well characterized lead. Highly Recommended Read! I can't wait for the next book in The Watchers series!

Maryann January 29, 2017

WOW. This was a very interesting book set in the near future. It had lots of suspense and mystery with mythology and science thrown in. I was intrigued from the beginning and wanted to keep reading to find out what happened next. I can't wait to read the next book in this series. I definitely recommend.

Angala F. January 27, 2017

Science, religion, archeology and anthropology come together in this well woven tale of a discovery that becomes much more significant than anyone could have expected. The book is a scientific thriller, with a nice touch of romance and humor. What you read below are some of the comments I made as I read. May they do this wonderful book justice. When you read the story, you may or may not agree with me. That is also a pleasure of reading.

• “The subject matter is very interesting and well described without causing confusion due to too much information being given at one time. I did not realize that henge are separated into above, partially above and completely covered sections. I have already learned something, which is why I love reading.”

• “I am enjoying the pace. It is not so slow as to drag and not so fast that I feel rushed and like I haven’t absorbed something important that will make a difference later.”

• A character says to his colleague, “And now let me ask you one last profound question: do you follow the dove or the raven?” “My personal answer is: I love birds especially mourning doves and crows/ravens. Mourning doves are so beautiful, but rather stupid and unaware of their surroundings until it’s usually too late. Crows are very intelligent and aware of their environment at all times. They are hard to trick or get close to, not so with doves. If I had to choose based solely on the bird itself, I would choose to be a Raven. Rather beautiful and intelligent than beautiful and clueless.”

• “I know things are not exactly as they seem. There is an underlying tension that you’ve created around this dig, which is keeping me slightly on edge and wondering when the next oversized boot is going to drop.”

• “I find that part especially fascinating. It would be expected if it were mummified, wet or dry, but it’s a skeleton and not a mummy. I can’t wait to see what this significant tidbit reveals. (removed spoiler)”

• “Dang! He should have at least scared the little prat (I love that word!)”

• “That neighbor is something else. I have to smile at his ‘imminent domain my ass’ attitude.”

• “I want to stand up and applaud, whistle and cheer! Perfectly said! Love this – pure Mallory at her very best!”

• “I like Sir Henry! He knows a gem when he sees one. Take that, Paisley, old girl!”

• “UGH! She is killing me (removed spoiler). Gasp! Eck…killing me…ack…need life support…eck…now…gasp…beeeeeeeeeeeep…I cannot believe I am left hanging! (removed spoiler) What, what, what!!??”

• “I am so looking forward to the rest of this series...Ellison, you are truly gifted.”

Jill C. July 11, 2016

So far sooooo good!! I can't wait for the second installment of the series.

I purchased this book two nights ago. Night 1- stayed up late to read (which I haven't done in a long time!) Day 2-I rushed home from work to continue reading. I just finished and I'm already ready to reread it just to be sure I didn't miss any tidbits. The author wrote the storyline beautifully. It had just enough detail to paint a picture without being so wordy that you find yourself skipping over parts. My mind is reeling with questions. What will happen to Mallory? How will the find affect humanity? What's the deal with Keaton? Grey?! I have so many questions that I want answered, I'm really looking forward to future books in the series.

SDP625 July 10, 2016

If There Be Giants is a fascinating addition to the speculative fiction genre. Set in the very near future--it actually begins in the present, and then carries on to about 2020--it follows an archeologist who has made a startling discovery on a dig in Britain. Buried next to a henge stone is giant humanoid skeleton that is either a few thousand or several million years old. Has Mallory discovered the missing link between humans and apes--or the mythological race of the Nephilim?

Perhaps the best thing about this book is that it combines aspects of "hard" scifi and myth-based urban fantasy. The main characters are all trained academics who approach the question of what they have discovered scientifically, and yet there are also suggestions that what they are dealing with has a religious rather than a scientific explanation, something that some of them, at least, are willing to consider. Although this is not that unusual for stories like this (Indiana Jones is explicitly referenced on multiple occasions), it is well-done here, giving realistic details of the excavation process and situating the story in the realistic here-and-now, even as it gives tantalizing hints of something more.

The main focus, though, is not so much on the science and mythology but on the interior life of the main character, the lead archeologist on the dig. A complex and compelling character, Mallory wrestles with the scientific and moral dilemma placed before her, as well as her personal tragedies, which, it turns out, are also linked to the project. A strong female lead who doesn't play into the stereotypes of strong female leads, Mallory is a welcome addition to the specfic genre. I definitely recommend this book for readers looking for smart, female-oriented speculative fiction.

E.P. Clark July 6, 2016

Mallory Jacks and her best friend, Paisley Bourne, had an unusual hobby as children; with Indiana Jones as their role model, they explored the hills around their Cornish homes, collecting every scrap of history they could find. Years later, Drs. Jacks and Bourne, once again working together, are summoned to a farm where the farmer has uncovered a possible henge site. At first glance, on a rainy English day, neither doctor suspects that there’s anything more unusual about the find other than the fact that it’s unusual to find a henge buried. However, as they begin to unearth the stones, they make a discovery that has the potential to set both the scientific and the religious communities back on their heels.

If There Be Giants is a story of archaeology and myths, giants and visions, set in Cornwall, the seat of all British legend. Ellison Blackburn has created a story richly woven with archaeological detail and Christian mythology, and peopled it with her strongly-characterised protagonists. The wealth of technical detail provides a brilliant contrast to the supernatural elements, while the characters deal with very human concerns; a flaky grad student, trying to conduct a dig in the rain, an unreliable car; all of which underscore the unbelievable facts that the dig uncovers. This is one of the author’s strongest books to date, a fascinating debut to the new Watchers series.

J.C. Steel July 5, 2016

A strong female lead who doesn't play into the stereotypes of strong female leads, Mallory is a welcome addition to the specfic genre.Click To Tweet

I want to stand up and applaud, whistle and cheer! Pure Mallory at her very best!Click To Tweet

Second Son

Second Son will definitely enthrall readers who enjoy exploring the boundaries between science, philosophy, and religious belief.Click To Tweet

Second Son is the second in the Watchers series, picking up simultaneously to the ending of If There Be Giants. This installment follows Grey’s point of view more closely as he learns the truth of his infamous heritage – and how to reconcile his existence and that of his family with their beliefs. However, Grey is faced with more and harder choices than he might have believed possible, and both he and his soul mate, Mallory Jacks, will be tested.

Author Ellison Blackburn’s trademark ability to weave thought-provoking concepts into stories that are gripping, well-developed reads is back on display in this series, as she explores love, fidelity, and faith through the lens of Grey and Mallory’s lives. The handling of the Christian mythology displays the depth of research that went into the story and provides a strong framework that underlies the choices the protagonists must make in this book. This second novel in the series focuses strongly on the interpersonal relationships of the characters, leaving the first book’s tale of the landmark discovery at Gwellen and its scientific exploitation more as a side note to Grey’s personal journey and the questions it raises. This book will definitely enthrall readers who enjoy exploring the boundaries between science, philosophy, and religious belief.

J.C. Steel September 26, 2017