“Blackthorne” by Clayton Snyder – An SPSFC Review

The Self-Published Science Fiction Contest continues with year two, and as a judge, I’m reading all of my group’s quarterfinalists and giving them full reviews!

Blackthorne by Clayton Snyder

Mattias Temple witnesses a horrific crime, then gets framed for another. He’s got the powers of necromancy, but is locked up for some reasons unknown–they seem to want him to stay where he’s at. Then, a military group captures a governor and Temple’s talents are needed again.

Snyder sets up an action-packed premise and mostly keeps the gas pedal firmly depressed to the floor. The action doesn’t let up, whether it’s a heist gone wrong or Mattias’s multiple escape attempts from incarceration. Plenty of the early scenes are revealed as stage-setting for the big conflict to come. When the governor is captured, witchcraft and other dark forces abound and the only way to stop them is to… well, you’ve got to read it to find out! Snyder doesn’t let readers get very far from the edge of their seat as they read this story, and that was definitely the high point.

The book is also deeper than it appears on the surface (my thanks to another group member for pointing this out). There appears to be no small critique of warfare set alongside the sorrowful consequences of the same as a theme running throughout the book. This is especially evident with one character and Mattias’s constant hope to be reunited with them.

I did wish, however, that Mattias’s powers were revealed in a broader way. We learn more about the powers of witches and some related magic users, but while necromancy is constantly lauded as this super powerful skill, we don’t see much of it beyond glimpses. One person in our group of judges pointed out that early on, the necromancy just reads like glorified lock picking. I’d have liked to have seen it unshackled more so that we could know more the workings and powers being discussed.

Blackthorne is an action packed, gory entry that meshes science fiction and fantasy in some intriguing ways. It would be great to see a sequel exploring the magic powers more deeply. Recommended for fans of grimdark and science fantasy.

All links to Amazon are Affiliates


The Self-Published Science Fiction Contest (SPSFC) Hub– Check out all of my posts related to the SPSFC here!

Science Fiction Hub– I have scores of reviews of Hugo nominees, Vintage Sci-Fi, modern sci-fi, TV series, and more! Check out my science fiction related writings here.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!