Not All a Dream
“Damn, this is so scary realistic and so bloody good! . . .The characters totally make the book work, and dang... that ending! Wowsers.”
“This book proves that it’s possible to improve on near-perfection. The first few chapters are a perfectly distilled story of love and loss, the inevitable end that comes to us all and what so many of those left behind go through.
“What happens next is as heartwarming as the first bit is tragic . . . It’s about the kind of quiet, unshakable love that’s developed over decades of a healthy relationship. It’s about finding new friends in the face of tragic loss and harsh survival, offering help and hope as you can.”
“Sophia Kell Hagin started her career as writer with a flash bang — giving us Gwynmorgan and the harsh realities of soldiers, imprisoning, torture and survival.
“Her newest epic drama about bleak and harsh survival and the hopeful budding of a new community in nuclear winter on the Cape lives up to the high expectations set by her former award-winning books.
“Again, she doesn‘t spare the reader and their sensibilities. The new reality is stark (and very cold) and Kell Hagin chronicles it with her superb story-weaving and eye for details be it of people, the needed skills or the upheaval of society. She walks effortlessly the fine line between too harsh and too optimistic thus giving the story a palpable realism.
“I especially loved that the story is told from the point of view of Hester who is 74 and just lost her wife, and how the community slowly comes together around her. Kell Hagin captures the grief, the slow realization of the new Normal, the incremental coming together to form a new community, the slide of societal norms. The characters, especially Duka and her backstory, are memorable. And I loved how the infusion of energy by including the kids. The end is a joyful reunion when the grounds for a new future are secured.
“Very notable is how masterfully Kell Hagin wields the English language. She forges and tempers it for a riveting reading experience.
“PS: My inner and outer gardener rejoiced that biochar was given its rightful place for the rejuvenation of soil.”
“Sophia Kell Hagin, you demolished me by the end of chapter two. No matter how many times I read the first two chapters again and again, you break me into pieces by your haunting depiction of love and love’s loss.
“. . . This post pandemic, post nuclear war story is frightening on how close it comes to the it-could-happen-tomorrow scenario. This is the most compelling part of the novel which draws me back to reading it over and over. A survivalist guide to what will be eventually in my lifetime.
“The cast of characters Kell Hagin creates slowly come into focus as Hester learns that survival is made easier when shared. They are an eclectic group from vastly different economic and social backgrounds now all facing the same struggles.
“I cannot get Hester’s voice out of my head. She is a character who will stay with me for a long time and who I will visit often.”
“Beautiful, haunting and scary realistic. The writing is was excellent and captivating . . . The way Hester adapts to survive is what makes this book so good.”
“This book is just so different from anything I’ve read . . . The dystopian setting, wow. . . I feel like this could happen and I have the urge to make my own greenhouse and grow more fruit and vegs.
“And the ending...you see it coming but still...and still I’m wondering, was it real or...? For all the dystopian movies they’ve made, this would be a great addition to that collection. I’d watch it (and would end up saying, nah the book was better).”
“An exquisitely written novel, set in a dystopian future, with a 74 year old heroine, Hester . . . I was drawn to a book with an older lead character and was rewarded with a richly drawn portrayal of survival through community and working with nature.”
the Jamie Gwynmorgan stories
“Whatever Gods May Be by Sophia Kell Hagin is brilliant!
…I have never read a book that so entranced me.
“This is one of the books that leaves you just wanting to say ‘WOW!’ The unusual writing style really adds to the chemistry of the story…. Hagin writes about war with a freshness that keeps the heat, the fear and the violence in the front of your mind as you are turning the pages, glued to the action. There is nowhere to hide in this book, it is full on.
“…The world of Jamie Gwynmorgan is stark, dangerous and violent. It is beautifully described and not glamourised.
“…I kept turning the pages, knowing that the faster I went, the quicker I would get to the end. Oh, I so didn’t want it to end! Luckily there are two further books in the series!”
“…A riveting novel with a twist of romance, Whatever Gods May Be is a fun and exciting read, hard to put down.”
“…each twist and each turn…will keep the reader turning pages as fast as she can.
“This is a book about war—war with a known enemy, war with an unseen enemy, war with one’s self, war at its worst, war at its best. …More importantly, it is about a young woman’s indomitable will to survive whatever horrors she is forced to endure….”
“…This physically and psychologically intense war novel has balls.
“…Simmering sexual tension is secondary to Hagin’s incendiary story about women proving themselves as adept at killing as men…. The blood of battle courses through this novel’s pages with an astonishing relentlessness; the harrowing experience of prolonged interrogation becomes horrifically riveting….”
“While the story does have dark moments, it is doing it a disservice to imply it is a dark story. Oh! It is so much more! There is a romance. Jamie finds the safety she has been searching for, in a woman’s arms, and finally, love. There is also a thriller element as Jamie believes the safety of both her lover and adopted family are at risk. She puts herself on the line, as usual, to solve the problem….
“Hagin has taken command of the words on the page and shown such a richness of language. I have always been told that personal narrative, for a writer is something that is difficult to maintain through a whole story. Hagin demonstrates that she is the master of this approach, by giving us the thoughts and events only as Jamie thinks of them, or they affect her. She is able to lead you by the hand into Jamie’s world and her almost stream-of-consciousness thoughts. She draws you into Jamie’s nightmares, her hopes and her dreams with such deft moves that you find yourself turning pages swept up in whatever is happening. Should your wife/significant other speak to you while you read this, it will take some effort to work out which is Jamie’s world, and which is the real world.”
“We start the story with Jamie in captivity, once again. She is totally alone, she cannot remember when she last saw a human face or spoke to anyone. She knows she was abducted from the street but has no idea of how long she has been held…. She is having to deal with her previous imprisonments, her understanding of her PTSD and knowing that her grasp on reality is retreating by the day....
“Hagin is so very good at dealing with the slightly insane personal recollections, the rambling and jumble. She does it in such a way that as a reader you are barely aware of her deft touch.
“The thriller element is very well done, and while the breadcrumb trail through the story does give some clues, it does not detract from the mystery....
“The personal narrative with Hagin’s rich use of language has been my great love of all three books in the series. Jamie Gwymorgan...carries you through the work and she is one of those characters that you find yourself thinking about long after you have finished the book. Captivity repeats itself for her, and she wonders why. So do you.”
“Every year since 2013, I’ve reread the last ten chapters of Whatever Gods May Be…. This entire novel rests in my memory, but I seek out the book’s ending annually to re-live Jamie and Lynn meeting and persevering.
“Then I re-read Shadows of Something Real cover-to-cover…. I am flummoxed by how many women I love in this novel. Shadows of Something Real… seems more true-to-life every year that I reread the book. What once seemed like paranoid future fantasy now seems like today’s almost reality, as if ‘near future’ might be next week.
“This novel is a thriller, but also a romance, so much the sweeter for Jamie after all she’s survived…. Highly recommended, even to folks who don’t tend toward massive woman crushes like me.
“Which brings us to Omnipotence Enough, which has a killer of a set-up: 15 years after the events of Shadows of Something Real, Jamie wakes up in an unknown prison, subject to solitary confinement and at the mercy of armed custodian robots who use pharma and force to control her. Jamie’s been abducted off the street, and she has no idea how long she’s been imprisoned and if Adele and her family are close to rescuing her.
"The point of view also switches in this last book to first person…. This ramps up the uncertainty and claustrophobia.
“…The themes of political evils-doers and powerful corporations continue from the previous books. What has changed is Jamie, a more mature and self-possessed woman navigating physical and mental recovery that’s all the more courageous for her shakiness.
"Jamie survived so much over her life, and I so want her to find stable happiness. I think any lover of thrillers will enjoy Omnipotence Enough, but readers of the earlier books will feel a special investment in this last journey.”