Friday Review: In the Snows of Haz (The Heart of the World #1) by Maxine Janerka

In the Snows of Haz (Heart of the World, #1)In the Snows of Haz by Maxine Janerka

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This murder mystery takes place in the small, outlying town of Haz Gate, a mountain village in an undetermined country. Like most small towns, it has its secrets and its own dynamic. A stranger comes to town from the capital, and is murdered near the home of a wealthy citizen. One of the town’s children, Esmine, an intellectually gifted boy with his own odd quirks, is accused of the killing. Teacher Linna Nyx is sure he is innocent and with the sometimes unwilling help of the town’s Peacekeeper, she sets out prove just that.

This was an interesting story in many ways. It is never outwardly stated exactly where Haz Gate is located, leaving the feeling of an alternate world. The time period is not specified, either, although the descriptions and mannerisms give the impression of a sort of Victorian-ish , almost steampunk setting. Other than the lack of broader scope, the worldbuilding is good. The town is easily visualized, and even without a defined time period, everything fits neatly into the world here. Where the story sometimes lacks, for me, is in character. There is very little background or explanation revealed for most of the characters. That works for Linna, the schoolteacher, who is just that- a schoolteacher who is very protective of her students, especially Esmine and his friend, Bel. Both of the boys are a bit enigmatic- they are different in ways that are hinted at, but never really defined. Esmine, in particular, is almost feared by the townspeople, adults included, and there are hints that he skulks about town at night doing- well, we don’t know. Sometimes, there is an almost supernatural feeling around him, but there is no hint at that sort of thing in anyone else or the town’s history. It kind of left me hanging.

The plot is a pretty standard murder mystery, with a nice twist at the end. It does resolve in a sort of wrap up explanation rather than played out in action, but the overall feel of the style is more Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot, where that type of resolution is common.

It was an enjoyable, quick read, with some interesting characters and a decent mystery plot. Despite some areas that I felt could have been explored more, I recommend it if you enjoy murder mysteries with a bit of quirkiness.

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Two's Company small thumbnailOn presale now and coming in December 2018: Two’s Company, a sci-fi novel in the space opera tradition.

Medusa “Deuce” Grainger is smart, confident, and as good a pilot as she is a poker player. A freelance shuttle jockey working for an independent terraforming company, she’s left her former life, and her father, behind. Mostly.

Now, her AI has downloaded another Personality off a wrecked ship, and he’s acting oddly ever since. Someone wants to sabotage her friend’s company out of business, evidence of tampering is being corrupted, and people have died.  With an investigation looming that could shut down the company and cut off her main source of income, it’s up to Deuce to figure out what’s going on, and how all the pieces fit the puzzle. Along the way, she reconnects with an old friend and discovers someone is stalking her. Deuce will need to connect all the dots fast, because more lives are at stake than anyone suspects.

Learn more here, where you will find links to the presale.

Two’s Company is listed on Goodreads. If you like what you see above, I’d appreciate you adding it to your Want To Read list. Thanks!

Available now :

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After five years away, Kaili is coming home for the ceremony to install her sister as head of the family business. When an old rivalry threatens the family, Kaili and her partner need to use all their skills to save the sisters’ lives. Learn more here



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A collection of six short fantasy stories set in varied worlds of magic and mayhem. Learn more here.




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A short novelette set in a dystopian Earth after the final environmental collapse. Sam is a genetically engineered chameleon who may hold the key to mankind’s survival. Learn more here.





In a world reeling under the effects of severe climate change, food shortages are common, and arable farmland is scarce. Unscupulous distributors like Beni Oligowma take advantage of the shortages for their own gain. When a promising new technology for growing food even under the harsh conditions is unveiled, grocery store owner Frank is determined to see that everyone is able to benefit from the results, not just the Benis of the world.
Feed My People is a short story, set in a dystopian science fiction world, and is free. Learn more here

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Demon hunters Johnny and Cerise travel to the small town of Carroll Fork where they find a demon-possessed thrift store, a sweet old lady who is more than she seems, and an army of underworld inhabitants. Can Johnny and his trusty yo-yo save the town from a devil of a problem?

Five and Daemon, the Yo-Yo Files #1, is a short novelette in an urban fantasy setting, with elements of the supernatural and humor. Learn more here


Things have been quiet. No demonic possessions, no otherworldly intrusions, nothing. And then Lucifer shows up in Johnny’s living room, claiming that two archangels are missing, and something is definitely not right in the heavenly- and other- realms. Saying he has nothing to do with it- this time- he asks Johnny and Cerise to help him find out what’s happening, and who is behind the disappearances. While they are trying to do just that, Lucifer is devilnapped by a larger-than-life serpent. He manages to get a clue to Johnny before he disappears. Johnny and Cerise are left to puzzle out the disappearances and try to find the missing angels. Oh, and stop what could mean the ultimate destruction of pretty much everything.

Snake’s Alive, the Yo-Yo Files #2 is an urban fantasy novelette with elements of the supernatural and humor. Learn more here.