Since joining the Twitter writing community a couple of years ago, I’ve learned several things. For instance, that writers are, by and large, kind, welcoming, generous with their time, and insanely talented. I’ve made what I hope will be lasting friendships. And, as I’ve ventured out from the usual writers who make up my towering TBR pile to read some of their work, I’ve been reminded over and over that self-published and indie-published books are every bit as well-written as their traditionally published counterparts.
Case in point: Perception Check by Astrid Knight. I met Astrid, as I’ve met many writers, when we both wrote stories for the same anthology. I liked her short story work right away, and Perception Check (The Mages of Valmyra Saga Book One), an epic fantasy, is a rollicking good time.
When Violet Spence was 13, her and her best friend May were attacked by monsters, and May was abducted. No one quite believed her story, of course, and now, ten years later, she’s still haunted by that night. Her only solace is a Dungeons and Dragons-like tabletop roleplaying game called Mages of Valmyra that she doesn’t actually play, but studies obsessively. Then one day she finds a character in the guidebook that looks and sounds exactly like May.
Through a combination of sleuthing and luck, Violet and some friends find themselves in a real life Valmyra, a land of goblins and magic tormented by powerful mages. Their quest to find May and bring her home is an exciting, sometimes harrowing, and altogether epic adventure. Knight writes with spirit and imagination, with plenty of humor to leaven the tension. Her characters feel real and well-rounded, each of them flawed but with moments of heroism. I found myself cheering for them to succeed.
Knight mentions in the afterword that Dungeons and Dragons played an important part at a crucial time in her life, and that’s clear in every paragraph of Perception Check. If you’re a fan of tabletop games, you’ll find plenty of knowing asides. Knight plays with fantasy and gaming tropes like a pro. The magic system that infuses the novel is well thought out, inventive and internally consistent.
Perception Check releases May 24th, and is available for pre-order now. Whether you’re a tabletop gamer, a lover of fantasy, or just someone who appreciates an epically fun read, give this one a try!