The Cave Chamber (A Soul’s Warfare #2) – Rosemary Althoff

The Cave Chamber by Rosemary Althoff
on January 17, 2021
Genres: Fiction, Speculative
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Psychological and spiritual warfare meet when brilliant young physicist Lewis Brahmindura from Earth joins the enemy to protect his brother Patrick and sister Gracie. He has become part of a plot by Saoma followers Lord Charon of Lanthra and a weapons manufacturer on Earth, the Shields, to conquer both Earth and Lanthra. When Lewis realizes the horror he is helping to unleash, he endures intense psychological, physical, and spiritual warfare. Can he do anything to stop it?

Lewis, Patrick, Gracie, and the High Magus Daniel face captivity, even death; Fred Jontz who had betrayed his friends is now the servant of the Bard of Bardia and destined for Lord Charon’s capitol city as huge forces clash. Either prisoners or very small players in the war, all of them are nearly helpless. And yet ... and yet a boy in a cave chamber becomes a hero and a little girl finds that she has the power to save the universe.

It’s not often that I review a book that has been out for some time and it has zero Amazon reviews, zero Goodreads reviews, zero reviews anywhere on the internet that I can find. The author’s Blogpost has been deleted and there’s a very small and inactive Facebook page. Very rarely do I step into such a deep unknown and it turns out there’s a reason for it.

Simply put, the book just isn’t ready for publication. Althoff’s technical skill is noticeable—she has an English degree—but her ability to craft a story needs work. Now, the best way to do that is to write…and write…and write. Keep going over the story. Keep developing it. There is possibly a diamond in the rough here, but this still reads like the rough.

First, we’re presented with a cover that looks as if it was designed in Microsoft Word. I understand that independent authors don’t often have resources to create like this, but this is everyone’s introduction to your book. When it looks more like a dated astronomy textbook than a sci-fi thriller, people are going to pass on it.

The Cave Chamber is actually book two in a series, following The Hot Marble, and Althoff rather clunkily exposits most of the need-to-know information in the first couple of pages. We know that the brilliant young physicist Lewis Brahmindura has joined the enemy’s ranks to protect his siblings, Patrick and Gracie. We know that he is on the planet Lanthra and that he is caught up in a plot that could end with the Shields having conquered both Lanthra and Earth.

The story is just not interesting and seems interminable. At 425 pages, it could have been half the size and still told the same story in more reasonable fashion. Characters have stated motivations, but it never comes out clearly in the text. Lanthra has an almost medieval feel to it, except there’s also interplanetary travel. This could have been an interesting anachronism to play up, but Althoff never makes great use of it.

The book’s slow pace prohibits any tense of tension or intensity. Characters plod from one place to another and the book is exposition heavy. I never felt settled or a part of the world or sucked into the story. Althoff has talent, I think, but I also think it needed to develop before it was published.