Friday, 4 March 2016

Two Reviewers, One Book: The Winged Turban


Once in a while, I invite a reviewer, a blogger, an author, or a random character to sit with me in this very comfortable couch and share our views (opposing or otherwise) on a chosen book that caught our fancy.

My review partner for today is Leisl KaberryShe’s the author of the Titanian Chronicles Series.

The book that intrigued us is 'The Winged Turbanby Joshua Grasso.

Beatrice is the victim of an arranged match to the Duke of Saffredento, who hastily abandons her to an estate full of forgotten traditions and curses. When the portrait of a strange woman begins turning up in the house, she summons the great sorcerer, Hildigrim Blackbeard, to investigate. The portrait, it seems, has traveled through time to find her—and bring her back by any means necessary. For she can no longer be Beatrice of Saffredento, but a young woman who died two-hundred years ago and must be reborn through the magic of an Enchanted Circle. But no one in recorded history has ever conjured such a Circle, though quite a few have gone mad in the attempt...

Hi Leisl! I’m honored to be reviewing this book with you. Thank you for agreeing to do this.  I’d offer you cookies but this show has no budget :p

What? No cookies??  And I was looking forward to chomping chewy biscuits while discussing this book. 

Next time there'll be food! I promise! Such a trip, this book is, isn’t it? You know, across dimensions in true high fantasy fashion… 

Oh yes, for sure… I’ll admit the whole portrait story line brought back images from the previous book ‘The Astrologer's Portrait’ but it went in a completely different direction… and yes across dimensions… who would have thought? Grasso could almost make a series out of it… The Portrait Series… I wonder where the next portrait will take us.

The Astrologer's Portrait

Makes you think Joshua has some kind of portrait fetish going on. Oh sorry was I thinking out loud? The story starts with a paranormal phenomenon of some sort. A portrait of a woman with a winged turban haunts Beatrice. It was a perfect start and from then on, it was hard to disengage. I was completely drawn to it. Was it just me?

No certainly not just you. In fine Grasso form, he had me hooked from the get-go. The Winged Turban portrait was creepy and fascinating and kept me guessing as to what was going on. I was on Beatrice’s side (it seemed none of the household were). I was sure she wasn’t crazy… so I was pleased she called in Hildigrim and I wanted to fire the Majordomo, he was a major dodo… sorry bad pun! But seriously, didn’t you just wanna slap him?

Haha! I’d ninja roundhouse kick him out of this dimension! There are memorable characters in this book. Hildigrim Blackbeard is a favorite. But I have to say that Sergei the stone reader has the right amount of “crazy” in him. But every character is compelling. There’s something driving him or her. So, despite being a fantasy, there’s something “real” in the story. The mix of fantasy and human drama just works seamlessly. And I appreciate this because sometimes in fantasy or sci-fi, the human elements are just forced into the story, consequently taking a backseat in favour of flashy setups and epic battles.

True, true *nods with contemplative fingers on chin*. I like how Grasso develops his characters, they are three-dimensional. They have their flaws and their sensitivities as well as their strengths and passions and even idiosyncrasies.
Just when you think you know a character, they surprise you with something new. I think Hildigrim was a fave for me too but I also liked Lady Dorothea, she was a strong, determined woman… real determined.
Grasso has a great talent for telling a story, sure its fantasy and this is a wonderful element but its far more than that, it’s a tale built around life and people and the world in which they live, influenced by the times they live in. I found that I rarely had any idea where it was going… how did you find it? Unpredictable or unsurprising?

I seriously had no clue how the story would unravel. The secrecy and the unpredictability added to the reading enjoyment. But I have to admit that I had high expectations because of that incredible build up. I kept saying “You better not mess this one up, Dr. Grasso!”  So, what elements did you think work? 

Well, I’ll say it… I don’t read romance novels, it’s just too much of the mush and stuff for me but what I do enjoy is a bit of romance within a story. Grasso has the right amount, there are a few budding romances throughout the story which is refreshing. I also liked that it was not only Hildigrim (the sorcerer) who had mystical abilities and talents. There was a fair bit of magic and paranormal activity going on throughout the story that crossed dimensions. Magic, mystery and a dash of romance… makes for an enticing recipe.  What did you think?

I agree with you. I like that he didn’t go overboard with the romance and he did have enough control not to go too crazy on the fantasy and mystical elements. Because, obviously, we can only suspend our disbelief so much. And I have to mention the funny bits. They are hilarious in a deadpan kind of way.

You know I’ll ask this… what elements you think didn’t quite work?

Uh, that’s a toughy. I’ll be honest… the notion of reincarnation threw me at first, I didn’t like it and I can’t explain why, maybe because the world feels like it is our own but in a different time. And then I got over it… reminded myself the first rule of fantasy – Anything is possible. (disclaimer: I don’t really know if that is the first rule of fantasy or whether it is in fact a rule… but it sounded good) So with the anything is possible mentality I began to enjoy the concept and possibilities. Where you thrown too or were you completely on board?

I didn’t think of it from a philosophical or religious standpoint because he approached it on a fantasy level and did not present it in a controversial way. Though to me, I thought he somehow explored the concept of being in the wrong world (or time) and if it could be rectified, which is fascinating to me.
Did you expect anything less from Joshua Grasso?

Okay, speaking as a big fan of Joshua Grasso…no, absolutely not… I expected a compelling story that would lure me in with writing that feels natural and every word that flows. Every time I picked up the book (ipad) I was very quickly lulled back into the world and I didn’t want to leave. My one disappointment? I’d love to have a paperback version but it’s only available on Kindle. Of course you probably wouldn’t find fault in this KN after all, you are the ‘Kindle’ Ninja. 

Haha! No issue at all. I do prefer ebooks for practical reasons. So, the big question is: How would you rate “The Winged Turban”?

It's a big 5 stars from me!

I give it 5 big fat ninja stars for the incredible and fantastic reading experience.

Check out books by Joshua Grasso

Check out books by Leisl Kaberry


  1. Love this joint review, guys! Brilliant :) ... Um, yeah, no cookies?!?!? LOL

    1. Yeah, cost-cutting LOL. Thanks for stopping by Harmony.

    2. Next time i'll bring my own damn cookies! :P

  2. Wow, that's the most enjoyable review I've ever read--I almost forgot it was about my book! It's ingenious and like reading a good book in itself. So much to think about--I had to remember what I had even written about several times. I will say that, to make Leisl feel better, there really is no reincarnation: Hildigrim thought she was 'reincarnated' but he was dead wrong (as he often is). The sorceress is only able to move people from one time into the 'space' left by someone else who died. As I saw it, they don't become that person, but merely look like that person to everyone in that world. However, by occupying the same psychic 'space,' they inhabit some of that person's memories and feelings, though they are never that person in essence. That's why Beatrice was so confused and even wanted to be Isabella, but ultimately couldn't be. Does that help a little? That's how I envisioned it, but I didn't want to be too explicit in the book (I want to be mysterious, after all, even if it does border on confusion!). :) Thanks so much for such a wonderful, thoughtful, and humorous review. I'm really honored.

    1. Thank you Joshua! We had so much fun with this review. I think Leisl and I had slightly different interpretation with regard to the "reincarnation". Although it's not reincarnation in its strict sense, some readers may tend to interpret it that way. But that's the beauty of it, it will trigger discussions and generate different interpretations. It's just an incredible and intelligent story. We need more of this!

    2. Well, now you tell me! After I had gotten all used to the idea that she was the same person in different times! haha! I love that about you Joshua... full of surprises and deep dark mystery. :) I'm so glad you enjoyed our review, It was so much fun being able to discuss it with KN... after all he kicks butt when it comes to reading and writing reviews.

  3. Reading reviews is usually sort of dry but the way you do these two-ups is really fun stuff. Enjoyed it! :)