Whispers from Forbidden Earth: Blood Tithe by Mark Venturini is Urban Fantasy suitable for the middle grades reader in your family and anyone looking for a clean read. It makes use of familiar, well-known creatures of legend without ripping off Tolkien as well as the Seelie/Unseelie fae courts only familiar to me as H. A. Titus uses them in her urban fantasy, too. The pre-release copy I received contained some typographical errors that I’m going to hope have been fixed.
This is a sequel and while it can be read and enjoyed alone, the references to past events from the previous book are more appreciated and the reading experience enriched if you’ve read it. Both books together make it clear Mark has spent some time developing the primary fantasy world in his series and the various ways to make journeys from there to Earth and back again.
A few elements of the good guys’ magic reminded me of paganism uncomfortably; if you are especially sensitive take note, but folks who don’t like stories with Christian influences should be advised it does have faith elements. Melchizedek the High Priest is borrowed from the Bible and turned into a mage from Eversong (the fantasy world). He’s so far only back story. I’m curious if that character will eventually turn up in this series as the Christ-figure his name implies. The magi’s staffs are the most refreshing, unique element—those critters are pieces of wood with eyes and an ability to talk and think and communicate with the characters with a gift for telepathy, like the elf with a dragon friend rightfully annoyed she’s treated like a free taxi. The young heroes are likable, flawed but clearly good, which is nice to see in this day and age.
Note, this is volume one of a serialized novel so it contains only the first seven chapters/episodes. I look forward to the rest.