Conquering the Divide: The Legend of Barsicon Is an Outstanding Fantasy Fiction Debut by Angela Stever

Book Review

Title: Conquering the Divide: The Legend of Barsicon
Author:  Angela Stever
Imprint: Tellwell Talent
Released: October 30, 2021
Pages: 284
ISBN-13: 978-0228863120
Stars:  4.00

Conquering the Divide: The Legend of Barsicon is new, young adult, LGBTQ-friendly fantasy/dystopian science-fiction for the 21st-century by well-known Kingston, Ontario radio host, Angela Stever. The book’s hero, Seneca Ellis-Brant, is a girl just turning 16 years old, and she’s the youngest Light Seeker in Barsicon history. Seneca has been training her whole life to be a Light Seeker with the help of her two moms, Ma Marie and Mama C (Catherine), and her combat instructor, JD, a diminutive warrior with a neon-coloured mohawk.

In July 2022, two days before the Light Ceremony she believes it is her destiny to conquer, Seneca meets Alex, JD’s cousin, who is referred to using the pronouns they/them. Alex is the first stranger Seneca has ever met, a popular singer in Light City, and sexual-spiritual fireworks ensue.

Seneca has trained diligently for the Light Ceremony, believing that she will complete it and be able to move her family from The Darkness, the land to the east of Light City, inhabited by the 1% elite of Barsicon on the shores of West Ocean. To gain the privilege of living in Light City, Light Seekers must successfully complete Seven Steps into the Light, Steps that amount to a battle to the death. But has Seneca been brainwashed? Is the story she has been told about her miraculous birth true? Is she simply a pawn in a very toxic game?

Light City is ruled by President Barbara Crow, an angry woman with daddy issues whose father, General Walter Crow (a comic book buffoon of a bullying leader, with no real backbone), demanded the construction of a wall between Light City and The Darkness following the Battle of Barsicon in 1972. Northern Warriors erected the barrier which runs parallel to the coastline, two miles inland from the West Ocean. Only the wealthy live along the West Ocean, its residents made up of people who sleep until noon and feast until midnight, playing games and dancing all day. The wall offers them protection from the ‘unworthy.’

While reading this book—which could arguably be a parable—during the middle of the umpteenth lockdown of the COVID-19 pandemic, one cannot help but recognize the parallels in the world in which we live and the authors’ world of Barsicon, a simply constructed, dystopian fantasy world. Many of us are seeking a higher spiritual path in light of the darkness we have found ourselves in for the past two years. The 1% elite who govern us and decide upon how we will conduct ourselves and live our lives, have divided us with vaccine mandates, passports, and other draconian restrictions. In today’s world, there is a divide between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated, people who are described by the media and even our own Prime Minister, as unworthy to live in regular society. It may only be a matter of time before we are physically segregated from each other, even though many of us can see that our leaders’ plan to deal with the pandemic is not working. Right now, most of our lives are about survival and not thriving, just like the citizens of Barsicon who live in The Darkness.

There are psychopaths and unexpected twists and turns in Conquering the Divide, and a little bit of magic, lots of mystery, and plenty of heart-centered heroes to cheer for. If you loved The Hunger Games or The Mortal Instruments, you’ll want to join Seneca as she discovers her new normal and realizes her true destiny, moving out of The Darkness and into the light. This fast-paced, exciting adventure is filled with nuggets of spiritual wisdom and a satisfying ending that will leave you wanting more.

Angela Stever has peppered her story with “Easter egg” references to local singer-songwriters who music fans in this region, know and love, and named the main protagonist and another heroic character after her two sons. I suspect she may have used Prince Edward County and Sandbanks Provincial Park as inspiration for Barsicon. Conquering the Divide (available on Amazon now) is her first novel, and it is an outstanding debut. This reader cannot wait for more stories by Stever.

May the God of Light’s Final Judgement find you worthy before you are forced to die for the greater good. “The power should be in the hands of the people, not in the hands of one man.” As in all fantasy stories, there is a battle between good and evil, and the protagonists have to overcome seemingly impossible challenges to defeat their adversaries.  Sometimes the men in power are simply weak, bullying idiots being controlled by psychopathic puppet masters. And sometimes, it takes standing up to our oppressors and being willing to start a revolution before the light can shine through The Darkness.

ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN CONFLICT BROUGHT TO LIFE FOR MIDDLE GRADERS: Striking Terror by Denis Lipman

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN CONFLICT BROUGHT TO LIFE FOR MIDDLE GRADERS
Striking Terror by Denis Lipman to be released Oct. 2016

Striking Terror by Denis Lipman

Piscataqua Press has announced the upcoming release of Striking Terror, a thriller by Denis Lipman that will, for the first time, bring the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to life for middle grade readers in an accessible, entertaining way. “We’re very excited about Striking Terror,” says Piscataqua Press publisher Tom Holbrook. “We haven’t seen anything like this for middle graders and teens—a fun, real-life thriller using a real-world conflict as a backdrop.”

Author Denis Lipman says this is what drove him to write Striking Terror. “When I was a kid, I loved reading about spies, detectives and mercenaries. When I looked for a contemporary thriller to share with my daughter, I couldn’t find any. So I wrote one that hooks into one of today’s important issues—it just took longer than I’d expected, as I wanted to research everything thoroughly.” Creating a hero who uses his magic skills to get out of trouble was an added bonus, the former magician says with a smile. “Think Harry Houdini, not Harry Potter,” he hastens to add. “I’ve been thinking for years about a boy who will use tricks to get out of scrapes.”

Striking Terror is the fictional story of Micah, a Jewish teen sent by his parents to stay with relatives in Israel. While settling down to a new life in Jerusalem, the amateur magician befriends a troupe of performers—and a Palestinian girl, Shireen, who is training to blow up the bus he rides to school. When Shireen chooses to abort the attack, her handlers turn on her and the two teens must run for their lives. Using every trick he knows to stay alive, Micah helps Shireen escape the alleyways of old Jerusalem into the Negev Desert. Here in a remote farmhouse, Micah and his friends have only illusion, luck and courage to fight a well-armed and murderous enemy. Then, beyond the desert, Micah and Shireen are pulled into a plot that will rip the peace process apart.

Before emigrating to the U.S. from his native England, author Denis Lipman was a professional magician for several years. His first book, A Yank Back to England (GemmaMedia 2010), is a travel memoir now in its third printing. Before moving to New England, Lipman and his wife Frances
Erlebacher ran a small advertising company in the Washington, DC area for more than 20 years, where he was also active in theater.

Piscataqua Press is a small, independent publisher that focuses on New England authors.

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PRESS CONTACT: Tom Holbrook
Piscataqua Press
info@piscataquapress.com
(603) 431-2100

AUTHOR INFO: Denis Lipman
dklipman@verizon.net
(603) 319-8852
denislipman.com