Five Stars from Emerald Book Review
Updated: Jul 15, 2022
It Gives You Strength
Philip Raymond Brown
This is a word for word copy of the book review posted by Emerald Book Reviews.
“A well written and witty page-turner that’s full of memorable characters.”
Forty-some years ago my uncle gave me a science fiction anthology. It was a thick red hardback that I read from cover to cover. It inspired a lifelong love of the genre. The stories in that book made me think outside the box. They filled me with awe for the imagination it took to write them. That book still remains in my collection today. The title is OMNIBUS OF SCIENCE FICTION, edited by Groff Conklin, a well-known and prolific editor of the genre. It was published in 1952, the Golden Age of Science Fiction. It’s a substantial volume, 562 pages, with 43 stories divided into sections relating to a common theme. Some stories are fun, some are thought-provoking, and some are adventurous. I love them all.
It Gives You Strength by Philip Raymond Brown is a brilliantly written and richly descriptive novel with richly drawn characters and settings. The author weaves a well-crafted Sci-Fi Fantasy that’s packed to the rafters with plenty of mystery, action and adventure. Skillfully constructed, this exciting and energetic novel will have you turning the pages from beginning to end.
Set against the backdrop of New York city during the prohibition era, the story follows an alien anthropologist, Tashan Zho, who is on a rescue mission to Earth of the mid-1920s. What makes the story even more interesting is that the characters interact with actual historic figures, including mobster Jack “Legs” Diamond, heavyweight boxing champion Jack Dempsey, and World War heroine Edith Cavell.
The book description further explains: ‘Zho, is transported into the dying body of bootlegger Ryan Costello. Immediately following his death, Costello’s body is reanimated by the alien. Unfortunately, Zho’s new “host body” is so damaged from a decade of alcohol abuse that the alien’s memory and vital files are corrupted. All that remains of Zho’s mission plan is one phrase: “Find the one called Mike Kelly.”
Complicating matters, the alien soon discovers that Kelly is, himself, the leader of a criminal gang of World War veterans, who are battling mobster Jack “Legs” Diamond for control of the lucrative Canada/New York rum-running market. Upon recognizing Costello’s enhanced abilities and physical strength, Kelly forces the alien into the mob. Since Kelly is his only chance of discovering and completing his mission, the alien agrees. Costello soon recalls his critical task - to free an alien child from the Craig Colony, which they interpret to be a prison camp, before his home world, Dagan, dispatches its “rescue armada.” A force so massive and clumsy that its mere entry into the Earth’s atmosphere would devastate the planet.’
I enjoyed the story, character development, and dialogue. There were plenty of plot twists that I didn’t see coming and that added to the book’s mystique. When I stopped reading to work, I found myself wondering what happened in the book, and replaying parts of the story in my head to see if I could figure more out. It has been a while since I enjoyed a book this much. It’s a well written sci-fi fantasy with perfect pacing.
It Gives You Strength was a fascinating and captivating read that had me immersed from the beginning. The story flowed from scene to scene with ease, and the author shows exceptional ability when it comes to storytelling. There are plenty of attention-grabbing moments in this page turner that will take the reader on a truly spellbinding journey.
The contrast between tone and content is a characteristic talent of only a few authors. Philip Raymond Brown pays as much attention to his sentences as he does to his plots, shifting or consolidating meaning with the use of a single word. His writing is impeccably honed, full of juxtapositions and qualifications that help to create a humorous atmosphere that will leave you laughing out loud.
There is something very magical about reading fantasy fiction. It speaks to the very thread of my imagination, jolting it to life and transporting it on an exhilarating journey. This book did exactly that. Fans of the Sci-Fi Fantasy genre will not be disappointed. I’ll be looking forward to reading more from this author in the future.
As a lifelong fan of science fiction, this for me was a phenomenal read. For sci-fi fans looking for an interesting, three-dimensional and stimulating read, this would be a great find. I’m giving nothing further away here. And this, I hope, will only add to the mystery and enjoyment for the reader.
Highly recommended and a well-deserved five stars from me.”