Book Review – Cephrael’s Hand by Melissa McPhail

So you’ve probably noticed I’ve been participating in this week’s whirlwind blog tour, run by Novel Publicity, of Melissa McPhail’s hugely epic fantasy novel, Cephrael’s Hand.  I also had an opportunity to read this book, and now you get to hear my take on it.

Now, I do have to put a slight disclaimer out there that fantasy generally isn’t a genre I read extensively.  Too often, I find myself feeling let down by fantasy novels that seem to have taken every archetype and plot point from, say, Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.

Fortunately for me as a reader, and as a reviewer, I didn’t feel that way when reading Cephrael’s Hand.

The premise drew me in from the get go. The story boasts an impressive (and sometimes staggeringly confusing) cast of characters – it took me a while to get everybody straight in my head.  Throughout much of the first several chapters, we follow a series of seemingly parallel stories with different characters.  At first, you wonder what it is that ties everyone together, and the only thing they all seem to have in common is the awareness of a certain constellation showing up in the night sky – a constellation known as Cephrael’s Hand.  Most of the people  who see it have a similar reaction – its appearance doesn’t bode well for those who perceive it.

But that’s just surface stuff, at least at the beginning.  Throughout the course of these parallel stories, things start to intertwine. There’s political intrigue, a sometimes more than metaphorical war between belief systems and people’s perception of how the universe works.  And there always seems to be one piece of the puzzle, the key to understanding everything, that’s tantalizingly just out of reach – not just for the characters, but for the reader as well.

For me, Cephrael’s Hand was the meaty sort of read I enjoy, regardless of genre.  Melissa McPhail definitely did her homework in creating this world, which in many ways is familiar to the world we know. She pulls aspects of different languages, like Farsi, in creating the languages of her characters, and while there is a variety of fantastical elements, the landscape and characterizations ring true to life.  Her descriptions are full and beautiful, and she delicately weaves a strange but thought-provoking dance between science, mysticism, and magic.  At times, the dialog feels a little archaic, but only in that McPhail uses the sort of phrasing that would have been found in nobler days – there’s a formality in the cadence of every speaking character, and it’s not just in the sparse use of contractions.  Still, the characters are approachable and engaging.

The cast of characters, once I got everyone straight, provided excellent perspectives on the progression of the story, and as I read and the parallel plots wove together, the relationships – be they familial or adversarial – became clearer and clearer for me.  McPhail did a good job putting me into the heads of her different POV characters, making me wonder about them, root for them, shake my head at them, and most importantly, want to know what happens to them next.

Cephrael’s Hand isn’t what I’d call an easy read, not something I’d want to take to the beach on vacation.  But it’s a great read for a cold, windy winter evening, the sort of book you can wrap yourself up in and get lost in.  I never felt like I was reading a mediocre retelling of LOTR, which is high praise from me when it comes to fantasy (since I measure just about all fantasy by Tolkien’s work). Cerphael’s Hand stands on its own, and for people who enjoy high fantasy, it’s well worth it.


Cephrael Tour BadgeAs part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the Cephrael’s Hand eBook edition is just 99 cents this week. What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes.

The prizes include a Kindle Fire, $450 in Amazon gift cards, and 5 autographed copies of the book.

All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment–easy to enter; easy to win!

To win the prizes:

  1. Purchase your copy of Cephrael’s Hand for just 99 cents
  2. Enter the Rafflecopter contest on Novel Publicity
  3. Visit today’s featured social media event

About Cephrael’s Hand:  Two brothers find themselves on opposite sides of a great battle, neither knowing the other is alive… A traitor works in exile while preparing for the disaster only he knows is coming… A race of beings from beyond the fringe of the universe begin unmaking the world from within… And all across the land, magic is dying. Cephrael’s Hand is the first novel in the award-winning series A Pattern of Shadow and Light. Get it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

About the author: Melissa McPhail is a classically trained pianist, violinist and composer, a Vinyasa yoga instructor, and an avid Fantasy reader. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, their twin daughters and two very large cats. Visit Melissa on her websiteTwitterFacebook, or GoodReads.

2 thoughts on “Book Review – Cephrael’s Hand by Melissa McPhail

  1. Melissa McPhail says:

    Lynn, thank you so much for reading and for your thoughtful review of Cephrael’s Hand. Like you, I seek interesting new takes on the genre and compare everything I read to Tolkien, who I perceive as the father of modern fantasy. I am honored by your perceptions of my story and characters.

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