1st in a serial

The first short story in the historical (fantasy) Avon Calling serial.

Publication year: 2017
Format: ebook
Publisher: SpearPoint Press
Page count: 33 (at Amazon)

Avon Calling serial is set in the 1940s New York. At a first glance, Betty Jones has everything a middle-class woman could want: she’s a stay-at-home mom for two kids and has an adoring husband. Sometimes she sells Avon’s cosmetics products. Yet, she has a side that her family doesn’t know about. Betty can hear other people’s thoughts and has formidable combat skills. She also has a troubled past and has changed her name.

This was a great starting story: it introduced Betty and her world and yet left a lot of questions unanswered. We find out that Betty’s mother also had the same ability and that she was cruelly used.

In this story, Betty goes to sell the cosmetics to a woman she knows but finds another woman, who has been battered by her boyfriend. Betty smiles and pretends not to notice, but when the evening comes, she pays a visit to the boyfriend and his small band of drug dealers.

I found the combination of cosmetics and Betty’s secrets surprising but also appropriate. Cosmetics can be used as a mask, to change a woman to appear more appealing to men and also to other women. It can be an armor, to shield a woman from the outside world or a way to fit in. Seeling cosmetics is also a great way for her to meet women who need help. Betty definitely has two sides and she works hard to fit in as mom and wife while going out at night to kick the backsides of cruel men.

Season 1 collection has ten episodes.

I received the whole serial eARC free from the publisher! I’m going to review it one episode a week. I haven’t read a serial before so it’s a new experience for me. The Triangle has 10 episodes, all available from The Triangle’s page at Serial Box starting April 24th.

Publisher: Serial Box 2019
Writers: Dan Koboldt, Mindy McGinnis, and Sylvia Spruck Wrigley.
Format: eARC

“Since two massive hurricanes hit the Bermuda Triangle region, ships and planes have disappeared, leaving behind a trail of haunting radio transmissions. A covert task force investigates, but finds themselves caught in a third hurricane and shipwrecked on an uncharted island. They discover something shocking there—and not just that they aren’t alone on the island. Can they survive long enough to escape the Triangle and tell the world?“

The first episode, of course, introduces us to the setting and the characters. The Triangle setting seems to be our modern world. However, there are hints that something supernatural or maybe alien is going on.

Tessa Dumont investigates plane crashes at the NTSB. She’s very good at her job, noticing small details that others miss. She’s also not comfortable around people or enclosed spaces. When retired Navy Vice Admiral David Segarra wants her to join his team of experts, she’s doesn’t want to go. But when he tells her that the target is the famous Bermuda Triangle and that even more ships and planes than usual have disappeared, and plays back the strange last transmission of one of the planes, she can’t resist joining the team.

Michael Hammond is a data recovery specialist. But after his fiancee died in a plane crash, he’s been unable to concentrate on anything. He distrusts anyone from NTSB because they ruled the crash an accident but he’s convinced that it couldn’t have been an accident. But when Segarra tells him about the mystery of the disappearances he joins the team.

But when the small team arrives on the secret underground base in the Caribbeans, they get another member over Segarra’s objections. Flamboyant Alastair McBride is an expert of Bermuda Triangle but he’s also a conspiracy theorist who loves to dig dirt about US government. Hammond loves his book while Segarra hates him and Dumont thinks his book is garbage. However, Segarra’s superiors order him to include McBride.

When it’s time to work, they each have theirs specialties and are able to put their differences behind them. They listen transmissions from the missing ships and planes, and find out that many of the pilots mentioned seeing a golden or orange light just before their transmissions end.

Among the missing is a whole battleship with more than 1000 people. Another is a private plane with two passengers, a father and his five-year old daughter. In the final transmission the child, Olivia, talk about someone she calls Mr. Babbit. It vanished five years ago.

The first episode does a good job of establishing the characters and their conflicts between each other and how they are still able to work together. I’m sure we also get to know much more about the characters as the story advances. They’re all professionals in their own areas, which is something I really like.

It also gives us a very good understanding of the mystery. I’ve heard of Bermuda Triangle, of course, and seen the X-Files episode about it, but I don’t know much beside it. We hear some of the last transmissions the planes and ships sent and the characters wonder about possible natural explanations but must dismiss that.

This is a very promising start. The first episode did its job and enticed me to read more.