Stone Fever Reviews
An unlikely group of teammates hunts for a precious metal in a climate-ravaged future era.
As this first entry of Westhoff’s SF series gets underway, readers are introduced to Joaquin Beltran and Luz Hogarth, two young members of a horse-wrangling tribe of nomadic Onwei people contending with the resource-deprived world of 24th-century ice-free Antarctica. The primitive pattern of their existence is interrupted when a scientific party from the outside world (the “Sky-Bornes,” in tribal parlance) crash-lands on nearby Mount Erebus. This expedition, financed by a duplicitous oligarch, has been sent in search of the precious metal iridium. The novel’s main narrative strand follows the adventures of Canadian geologist Keltyn SparrowHawk, one team member, as she comes to know Luz and Joaquin and their people. The tribe has its own uses for iridium, and various internal treacheries and outside forces may be manipulating both groups toward unknown ends. The story that gradually unfolds is predominantly a detailed study of the inner workings of a tribal society that has fallen away from the increasingly insular technological world. Westhoff orchestrates this fairly standard SF quest plot with a great deal of narrative skill. By cannily adapting the usual SF first-contact idea to a Balkanized future in which resource scarcity has advanced societies sharing the planet with Iron Age nomadic tribes, he’s able to forego a good deal of the worldbuilding that can make such narratives tedious. Instead, he’s very adept at keeping his main characters distinct and individually compelling. The differences between the explorers and the tribe members are shown to run much deeper than their respective levels of technology, and both depictions are refreshingly free of condescension. Keltyn’s slow integration into this tribal setting ultimately comes across as convincingly human. Readers finishing this first installment will very likely want to read another.
A gripping and well-constructed tale of first contact in a future Antarctica.
"One of the things which I particularly enjoyed about this novel was how direct the narrative was, making it so easy to fall into the story. With Keltyn you feel as though the story is being told to you by an old friend, and young adult audiences will be sure to respond to the immediacy of being immersed in these excellent settings. Westhoff takes a lot of popular and familiar science fiction concepts into the work but intermingles them with more old- fashioned ideas like tribal living and departmental conspiracy, which ... makes the reader more emotionally invested in the tale. I also felt that the dialogue was always snappy and to the point, delivering both character flavor and exposition without the need for excess prose. Overall, Stone Fever is a high quality read for YA and adult science fiction fans everywhere." K.C. Finn, Readers' Favorite
"Stone Fever: Erebus Tales Book 1 by Norman Westhoff is a captivating adventure story full of inspiring narratives! In the story, we follow Keltyn, a geologist who is exploring a now defrosted Antarctica. Keltyn is trying to find iridium around Mount Erebus, a volcano that the local Onwei tribe has predict will erupt soon! While on her mission, Keltyn makes friends with two teens from the tribe; Luz and Joaquin. While on their adventure, the trio grows, learns, and discovers the ulterior motives of a certain Oscar Bailey! Keltyn must find a way to stop Oscar before it’s too late! Despite the hardships found within this story, Westhoff has managed to create a heartwarming tale that I could not get enough of! He touched on so many relevant topics, including colonization, global warming, and cultural diversity!
The character development was spectacular and a particular focal point of this novel. We watch Luz grow emotionally from a naïve young girl to a fierce young woman by the end of the novel. I must say, I really enjoyed Luz’s relationship with her mother in this book; it strayed away from the typical nuclear family unit.
The world-building was fantastic! Westhoff took a risk using the real-life issue of global warming as a plot device and world-building tool, but he handled it with grace and elegance. His portrayal of the issue left me with a hopeful outlook, despite it being fiction. Westhoff’s storytelling abilities are also praiseworthy! He can keep you hooked from page one all the way to page 299; it is incredible! There was never a dull moment; wait until you get to chapter 13; you will not be able to put the book down!
The writing style also captured my attention. It’s simplicity made the story easy to follow and a joy to read. There was never a moment where I had to go back and reread a passage due to intricate text, which can be a common issue amongst indie authors. The chapters where Keltyn was narrating were my favorite! Stone Fever: Erebus Tales Book 1 is a thrilling adventure story that touches on important topics while always entertaining the reader.
Thomas Anderson, Literary Titan
4* Silver Award
"It’s the 24th century and a team of scientists venture to Antarctica to locate the precious mineral, Iridium. The mission is sponsored by a rich and powerful man named Sir Oscar Bailey, who may have ulterior motives for locating this rare element. The team is forced to crash-land their plane and the adventure begins as they are discovered by members of the Nomidar Tribe, who have their own reasons for uncovering a greater source of Iridium. Technology meets ancient customs in an exciting story full of science, culture, exploration, greed, betrayal, newfound alliances, and self-discovery to name a few.
I really enjoyed “Stone Fever” because it is very different from anything I’ve read lately. I like how the author mixed a modern technology-driven culture with an ancient tribal culture and how the two were able to learn how to communicate in spite of their many differences. I found the aspects of the Nomidar tribe to be fascinating and in many ways thought their access to knowledge through their ancient rituals to be greater than that of the 24th century elite scientific team with all their fancy gadgets. I loved the contrast between the two groups.
Stone Fever is a clever blend of two civilizations in a sci-fi action adventure for young adults but I don’t think the audience is limited to that age group. It’s an action-packed journey that will be enjoyed by all age groups and I look forward to the next book in this new series."
Reviewed by Amy (age 16) for Reader Views Kids (1/2021)
"An adventurous story of mystery, science, conspiracy and magic, I found this book hard to put down and enjoyed it thoroughly. Compelling characters, beautiful descriptions, and actual real world science... I'm looking forward to the next installment!" John Beasley, M.D.
"The author touts this tale as a YA SciFi adventure. I disagree. I’m in my seventies and thoroughly enjoyed it...I highly recommend this first novel from a very talented writer." Robert G. Williscroft
"A magnificent tale of the imaginable, yet unimaginable. Westhoff has hit on a story that potentially has a long life with characters and science-fiction imaginings...held my interest throughout...I'm looking forward to reading how the story evolves. I highly recommend this book." Amazon customer
"The superb book Stone Fever is unique and written beautifully. Westhoff was able to make me love and hate characters so much, I was punching the air with each victory and defeat." Grace McHale
"Stone Fever offers an engrossing romp through a world which has been radically reorganized due to global warming. It centers on an encounter between a group of technologically advanced explorers and a nomadic tribe which lives in a post-glacial Antartica. The clash between these two entities yields a treasure trove of adventures which runs the gamut from witchcraft to space travel." Robert Fraga
"I suggest that you give this book one fair chance. You will be amazed at the quality. I could not put it down." Edwin Folse
reviews The Color of Greed
5* An exciting sequel that exceeded my expectations
The Color of Greed is an exciting mix of science fiction, action, and adventure, full of ancient customs, modern technology, climate change, geology and coming of age, with a bit of romance and espionage thrown into the mix for a well-rounded story sure to be enjoyed by all young adults and up. It's an amazing continuation of the Erebus Tales series and I enjoyed it even more than the first book. The character who appealed to me most is Joaquin. Now 16 years old, he's really coming into his own, making his mark on the world with a robust entrepreneurial attitude, discovering that despite his physical limitations he really is a shining star.
I look forward to the author's next installment of the series. I highly recommend The Color of Greed to young and older adults alike. Anyone interested in sci-fi and geology, tribal customs and adventurous coming of age stories will enjoy the entire Erebus Tales series.
Amy C. (age 17) for Reader Views Kids
Five Stars (Gold Award)
Norman Westhoff has done it again in the second installment of Erebus Tales!
There was never a dull moment; it was very easy to read, despite the drama and complexity of some of the issues. The Erebus Tales series can teach anyone who reads it a valuable lesson on modern society. The Color of Greed is a riveting Western action adventure novel filled with alluring characters, a vivid setting, and a story line that takes Keltyn on yet another perilous journey. Something about this story reminds me of The Revenant, with stirring characters on a compelling journey. Or even Michael Crichton's DragonTeeth with its effortless yet enthralling storytelling. Readers who enjoy a wild western style adventure will surely enjoy this novel.
Thomas Anderson, Literary Titan
Utterly complex and affectingly human. A thorough page-turner.
Westhoff masterfully combines vivid characterization and evocative world-building in this stellar SF series. The second installment offers an action-packed return to the richly imagined ice-free Antarctic setting. Keltyn has survived her almost-fatal bullet wound and has been trying to make herself a new life, but finds she must take drastic measures to protect her nomadic tribe, even if it means losing her own freedom. Westhoff does an excellent job of propelling the adventure along while simultaneously pulling back the layers of his protagonists' intriguing backstory: he includes just enough to create a solid story line and flesh out the characters, keeping readers thoroughly invested.
He vividly imagines the culture of the Onwei tribe and peoples them with multifaceted characters struggling with their inner demons. The coming-of-age journeys of the free-spirited Luz and the endearing Joaquin are fascinating to watch. Keltyn shines as the main lead. Westhoff's language is lush and accessible. He explores the intricacies of love, family, and friendship, trust, betrayal, greed,ancient beliefs and superstitions, climate change and environmental concerns. Fans of sophisticated, descriptive SF tales built around futuristic intrigue won't want to miss this one. Westhoff is an author to watch.
BooksCoffee's review for Goodreads, from The Prairies BookReview
Twisty plot and excellent, atmospheric prose
There is so much at stake in this novel. What will attract readers and thrill them is Westhoff's twisty plot and excellent, atmospheric prose.The author writes environmental themes with a unique flair and builds a conflict around human greed with ingenuity. Keltyn is a great character and I loved the portrait of her evolving within the tribe. The author writes about the Onwei in a way that is fascinating, allowing readers to understand their traditional lifestyle and vision. The Color of Greed tells the story of many tribes who are forced to go through untold suffering because of the greed of mindless industrialists. Westhoff explores this conflict with expertise. The dialogues are masterfully written, and a reflection of the tribal tone of the Onwei shines through with clarity. This book will mesmerize fans of Robert Ludlum's Cry of the Halidon, but Norman Westhoff's prose takes the entertainment a notch higher.
Jose Cornelio, Readers Favorite
Climate fiction fans will relish this near-future thriller that pits corporations against an Antarctic tribe.
The second entry in Westhoff’s eco-minded near-future Erebus Tales series, after Stone Fever, takes readers back to a clash between an indigenous culture and dystopian Earth societies wracked by dwindling resources, political intrigue, and corporate greed. Raising questions about collective responsibility and altruism when the social grid is beginning to fail, the geologist Keltyn SparrowHawk returns, finding herself protecting the Antarctic tribe that has nursed her from the brink of death after the events of the first book—and now facing with them the invasive forces of a desperate first world society that will do anything for its survival.
Westhoff’s ability to craft compelling point-of-views from opposing characters is his strong left hook, the skill that makes his work stand out. The cast of characters in The Color of Greed include sociopathic henchmen, an eager shaman-in-training, clever scholars and average Joes alike, plus that ethical geologist, who, notably, is the only one written from the first-person perspective. That immersive, engaging characterization—plus the urgent hook of a world reeling from climate change—makes this volume inviting even to readers who missed the first book. Westhoff’s depiction of Canadians moving to Antarctica via airship because of land issues is both darkly comic and subtly distressing, and he’s skilled at depicting individuals attempting to negotiate factions, right down to the gossip and infighting among the Nomidar tribe.
The book’s most compelling element, though, is Westhoff’s approach to environmentalism and a long-term view of a world ravaged by climate change: the Earth’s hemispheres have been divided by a “hurricane belt,” ocean levels threaten farmland, and companies and governments who see extractive iridium mining as a solution. Westhoff pits that thinking against the Nomidar’s perspective without resorting to cliché or didacticism, staking a fine middle ground in a climate-fiction genre that too often indulges both.
Great for fans of: Christopher Brown’s Tropic of Kansas, Kim Stanley Robinson.
An exciting, high-stakes futuristic tale.
Keltyn SparrowHawk, wounded and stranded while on a mission to Antarctica’s forbidding Mount Erebus, has been taken in by the nomadic Onwei tribe. Keltyn has spent time healing and growing close with several members of her new people. Unfortunately, the evil, greedy outside world, here epitomized by scheming industrialist Oscar Bailey, still has designs on the precious iridium buried in Mount Erebus. While dealing with domestic challenges posed in part by a splinter group aiming to hamstring his enterprise, Bailey outfits a new expedition to Antarctica, this one spearheaded by a scene-stealing character named Helmut Gans and Keltyn’s former mentor, Russell McCoy. This mission places Keltyn and her tribe directly on the perilous path of confronting the world’s most powerful man. The story that unfolds takes in a far wider range of adventures than the first book. The audience will enjoy plenty of thrills in this rousing story as the pages turn.
"Gifts of a Dark God" reviews
Westhoff’s writing is an intricate weaving of real-world issues into a fictional work. The author hits the ground running with Keltyn’s interview, which offers us a remarkable introspective on journalism’s corruption and artificial molding. As readers watch the interviewer try to shape the narrative around Keltyn’s story, you can see the infamous real-life interviews where the same thing has happened. And this is only one of the many instances of art imitating life so precisely in Gifts of a Dark God. The interview scene further proves Westhoff’s ability to provoke critical thought. He simply lays out the facts of a modern and past life with simplistic but gripping writing.
Throughout every book in the series, there is a strong sense of realness to the characters. The passion behind each action of the characters allows readers to sense their rage, sadness, and triumph in full force.
This suspenseful novel is a work of gripping perfection. Westhoff did not skip a beat when it came to all the critical points of building a story. He gives readers a compelling plot, fully-fledged main and side characters, concise writing.
Gifts of a Dark God is a riveting addition to the Erebus Tales series. This action-packed, suspenseful novel will appeal to lovers of fiction, adventure, and even science fiction.
Karen Almeida, Literary Titan
The epic ending in the third installment will make the reader come away craving more volumes set in this fascinating world. Along the way, Westhoff explores the intricacies of love, family, and friendship, trust, betrayal, greed, ancient beliefs and superstitions, climate change and environmental concerns.
Fans of sophisticated, descriptive SF tales built around futuristic intrigue won’t want to miss this one.
BooksCoffee's review for Goodreads, from The Prairies BookReview
Belongs with the most elite YA series
As both an avid reader and writer, I can say with absolute honesty that penning or finding a series to read, where Book III is just as exciting as Book I, is one of the most difficult things to do and succeed at. It becomes even more difficult when you’re talking about the YA genre, simply because keeping a teen’s attention (when you’re not a video game or a cellphone) takes massive skill, imagination, and characters written so well that they draw a heap of fans on a daily basis who want to either love them for being evil, or cheer for them because they are the ultimate superhero, depending on which character they choose.
We all know this. Come on…how many “Harry Potter’s” are really out there? But when I came across this series, back in 2016, it took no time at all for me to be drawn into the world of Cree Indian geologist, Keltyn SparrowHawk, in the 24th century. For those who are unaware, that first thrilling adventure was titled, Stone Fever, and the incredible plot took all of our imaginations to Antarctica, where a team of brilliant scientists were attempting to locate a precious mineral called Iridium. Now, this mission was sponsored by one, Sir Oscar Bailey, whose wallet was filled with cash and his life was all about power. As Keltyn’s mentor, he also had…let’s say, his own dark plans for this rare element. Readers were riveted as the plane the team was on had to crash land, and then the group was discovered by members of the Nomidar Tribe: another troupe who had their own plans for uncovering a great source of Iridium. Scenes played out that ran the spectrum from greed to secrets to technology versus culture, and a whole lot more.
Not only was that a memorable book, but author Norman Westhoff followed it up this past May with The Color of Greed. To say I was happy to see Keltyn back would be an understatement, because I was also thrilled that the sequel turned out to be as good (if not better, at times) than its predecessor. Taking me back to the frozen tundra of Antarctica a year and a half later, I could barely breathe when I experienced all of my favorite genres coming together. The plotline became more in-depth than ever before, and when the ending came…I begged the silent “library” gods that another would be released as soon as possible.
As if the gods had heard me, and had this on tap to make my New Year the best ever, Book III was set in my hands and I was positively giddy. In fact, when I read the very first page and the author “reminded” me that Erebus is the primordial God of Darkness in the annals of Greek mythology, my skin began to tingle. I just knew I was about to dive headfirst into yet another Westhoff masterpiece.
My favorite geologist is back! Her quest to return to Antarctica is still prevalent in her mind. However, being that she’s sitting in a Canadian jail cell, with murder charges hanging over her head, Keltyn must find a way to strike up a deal for her freedom. What that deal involves, I’d love to tell you, but I can’t give it away. I will say that this female has a strategy, and her life goes from jail cell to China to a reunion of sorts at the familiar Erebus volcano with friends, Joaquin and Luz—two from Keltyn’s past who have transformed their futures in a way that will leave readers quite surprised.
Add in an activist who makes it her life’s work to battle Bailey’s scheme of taking over world commerce, that will pit her against one of Bailey’s henchmen, and will perhaps have her joining a group of people she truly loathes in order to win, and you have a thrilling book! This author can definitely brag that Book III in his series did the improbable: it came out even bigger and better than the first two. Erebus, that dark mountain god, would agree with me on that one, and so will all of this author’s fans who think this series is one heck of a great ride!
If you wish to be awestruck, I say begin with Book I so you don’t miss out on a single solitary second of this series. But, if you have no time (which I completely understand), I can recommend that you pick up this, Book III, and be completely entertained. Erebus is, most definitely, a series that belongs with the most elite YA series’ that’ve been created.
Reviewed by Amy Lignor for Reader Views (01/2022)
Has the power to stir emotions and take you to exciting places
The last time you saw geologist Keltyn SparrowHawk, she had taken action against her estranged mentor working under the orders of mega-industrialist Oscar Bailey. This final installment opens with Keltyn landing up in jail, with no money for a lawyer in her upcoming trial. She is facing multiple charges of espionage, treason, and the murder of her former mentor. The only person who might be able to help her is a long shot--Savant Wan Xiang in China. As the race in iridium exploration continues, Keltyn’s new undertaking will take her back to the Erebus region in Antarctica, which she is more than willing to venture into for the prestige and for the reunion with Efrain, Luz, and Joaquin. Most of all, it will give her the chance to stick it to Bailey and that toady Ganz.
Gifts of a Dark God: Erebus Tales Book 3 by Norman Westhoff consistently sustains a series that has the power to stir emotions and take you to exciting places. Norman Westhoff sets the mood of his story early, putting Keltyn behind bars as preparation in setting the stage for what is to become another thrilling adventure. As the plot centers on the conditions of a protagonist who is unwilling to give up going against a powerful and influential adversary, it’s fascinating. As readers, we tend to have that bias in favor of the underdog—we love them and we want them to succeed. Westhoff effectively capitalizes on this, and he knows how to put his protagonist in insurmountable predicaments. It gives you a great degree of empathy. What would you do to redeem your good name? What measures are you willing to undertake to achieve it? Gifts of a Dark God has the power to answer these questions that will stay in the back of your head long after you’re done reading.
Reviewed By Vincent Dublado for Readers’ Favorite
A heartfelt conclusion to an intriguing climate-change trilogy.
Westhoff makes skillful use of an initial scene in which SparrowHawk is interviewed about her story, which will effectively bring new readers up to speed on the events of past novels. The brisk pace seldom slackens.
The author’s talent for shaping his characters was evident in the first two volumes, and it remains strong here; the stories of Luz and Fay are particularly involving. The tension builds on its way to a gripping climax.