The “Indie Highlight” is a series of posts in which I shine the lights on Indie/Self-Published books that I believe are worthy of your attention. I’ll be writing reviews and recommending them, along with providing links on where to get the books.
The Carnelian Fox by Kay MacLeod
I love Pokémon. I love monster collecting games in general, and have tracked down a bunch on Steam and other platforms. I’ve always craved books that capture (hah!) that same feel of excitement, exploration, and bonding with creatures of games like Pokémon. Kay MacLeod’s The Carnelian Fox is a fantastic book that does exactly that.
In the world of Maiyamon, some corporation made real life monsters that could be caught out of everyday creatures. Of course, this included giving them stats, bonuses, and other things that go along with monster catching games. The company faded and interested in the ‘mons faded along with it, but the ‘mons remained, and became a problem for the real world to deal with.
Jump forward in time, and we get to follow Sam, a Maiyamon trainer who wants to better herself and her team as she sets out to become a great trainer. She gets paired with Lucy, a wealthy young woman who wants to use her Maiyamon(s) for show (think of dog shows), in order to protect her and earn some money. From there, readers follow a series of adventures, competitions, and more as we get exposed to the world of Maiyamon.
MacLeod has created a beautiful experience with this book. The battles feel just like what I had hoped for–real time, epic battles between ‘mons that still have a kind of pseudo rock-paper-scissors aspect to them. The battles are one of the major highlights of the book. I also quite enjoyed the bonding between the Maiyamon and trainers that happened. Sam cares for her critters, and their interactions are sometimes touching. I didn’t expect to feel emotional in this book, but I did. MacLeod’s characterization is great, and genuine (often witty) dialogue is the name of the game.
There are a few typos here and there, and a few sentences that end with a question mark that doesn’t seem to fit. These are more jarring than I expected (I tend to be pretty good at ignoring such things) because of how few and far between they were.
The Carnelian Fox is a great indie read that absolutely, at last, scratches that Pokémon itch. If you like monster training games and have longed for a novel that can give you that same feeling with a great story, you should run and grab this book. I recommend it.
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