Essayist, Reviewer, Novelist
Reviews of My Writing
......Wind Follower is so unique in my own experience that I find it hard not to gush all over this novel. ... McDonnell has not feared to display wonderful acts of love and gruesome acts of violence in a disturbing and pointed way. She did not shy away from depicting any of the horrors of the evil spirits, or the sinful acts of man. ...A Christian will enjoy the Scriptural elements of the novel, and dislike the explicit sex and violence, whereas the non-Christian may find those things powerful, while being offended by the Christian aspects of the story. Wind Follower is not a book that can be pigeon-holed and every person will find something he or she loves, and something he or she dislikes. And that is Mcdonnell’s greatest triumph. No matter your reaction to the novel, you will be called to an emotional response of some kind to the characters. ...I highly recommend this book. Wind Follower struggles with the religious nature of man, the effects of racial hatred on belief, the intimacy of a marriage ruled by custom, and ability of forgiveness to transcend all transgressions. If you leave this novel on the bookstore shelf, you will be the poorer for it.
Review from Grasping for the Wind
Carole McDonnell's Windfollower was an instant addition to my top ten list due to its beauty, power, and fearlessness.
That said, pardon me if I swoon at any time during this review.
To elaborate all of the excellence of this novel would make for a review as long as a college term paper. McDonnell has a solid grasp of her craft but what truly sets the novel apart is her breathtaking narrative vision and her deeply engrossing characters. ...Compelling, sympathetic characters are only the beginning. ... She never hits you over the head with her religion but the greatest theme of the story is a very spiritual one-- the preservation of truth amidst falsehood-- and is woven through every other part....McDonnell is not afraid to explore and express womanhood in all of its complexity, nor is she afraid to show her character's physicality. ...Windfollower unfolds in a astonishingly vivid, sometimes disturbing, world that mirrors our own current struggles of race, class, and culture. This is the type of novel that is meant to be read several times and will offer the reader something new with each journey. I am amazed at the talent of this author and certainly will be looking for more Carole McDonnell novels in the future.
Review from Disturbing Reviews
Wind Follower is a page-turner right from the beginning. It is a story of love, despair, compassion, revenge, spiritual battle, healing, enlightenment and reunion.... I totally enjoyed Wind Follower and I am sure you will appreciate it too.
Reviewer: Alice Teh, from The Long and Short of It
McDonnell’s elegant, meticulous world-building shimmers with the ambience of an old-world folktale.
Review from Publishers' Weekly
In Wind Follower Carole McDonnell created a world that may have been a parallel of ancient earth that follows the lives of dark skinned Satha and her immature light skinned husband Loic and how love, however it is defined brings these individuals to life in truly human ways. A husband defending his wife's honor, the growth of youth and the rich history of very believable ancients who must have been real at one time in someone's life. To call this novel a fantasy and not a history lesson does it a disservice. Ms. McDonnell developed people, families, communities so rich that the reader feels the heat of the desert, breaths the fragrance of the flowers, tastes the food and feels the blade when metal slices flesh. This is a challenging world that I didn't want to leave.
Reviewer: Patricia E. Canterbury, Author of Carlotta's Secret, a children's fantasy mystery for primary grades, option for movie.
Homecoming in the Borderlands Café
In "Homecoming in the Borderlands Café" by Carole McDonnell, religion is outlawed in most of the liberal states, forcing many to lead rather elusive lives. Mike and his family are relaxing in the Borderlands Café in Wommack when he notices a man and woman arguing outside across the street. It's clear that they're the type not welcome around these parts. Shoulders tense and faces sneer when the couple enters the café. McDonnell is able to balance both stances on the religion aspect, not ever actually giving into one of them. That's the reader's job, and even though I'm still contemplating the actions of Mike, it's a good sign that I'm still thinking about the story.
Jigsaw Nation, Edited by Edward J. McFadden III and E. Sedia
Reviewed by Paul Abbamondi
Other memorable stories include "Trade Winds," in which an interpreter must communicate and trade for the first time with an entirely space-faring race of aliens; "Lingua Franca," a tale of disruptive cultural change brought about by contact with off-worlders; and "Deep End," a story of convicts shipped off to colonize a new planet -- wearing cloned bodies, in which they will breed the genes of the upper classes who banished them. All these stories are notable for their intelligent and complex portrayal of culture, race and class.
So Long Been Dreaming: Postcolonial Science Fiction & Fantasy
edited by Nalo Hopkinson and Uppinder Mehan
Arsenal Pulp Press, 270 pages
A review by Donna McMahon
Black is the Color of My True Love’s Hair
The anthology "Fantastical Visions III" contains an introduction by Elizabeth Swanstrom and fourteen short stories by Cindy Ellen Hill ("Singing Dragon"), Jeremy Yoder ("Always Greener on the Other Side"), Eliza Chan ("Blood of the Blade"), Michail Velichansky ("Paper Shadows"), Michael Penncavage ("Affliction"), Christine Ricketts ("Thick as Thieves"), Jane Guill ("No One Marks My Passage"), Carole McDonnell ("Black is the Color of My True Love’s Hair"), Dennis C. Wilson ("Red Silk, Silver Dagger"), Traci Normandeau ("The Mordred Hour"), Sarah Totton ("The Pear Thief", James Cain ("Happy Birthday, Pinko"), Kimberly Eldredge ("Cuts and Folds"), and Tom Steckert ("Calico"). All illustrations are by Stephanie Pui-Man Law.
With its eclectic, well written stories and beautiful cover illustrations, "Fantastical Visions III" easily rivals better known anthologies put out by major publishing houses. In fact, these stories and characters are arguably more memorable and—a rarity, it seems—there was not a single bad story in the book.
Stand-outs include the clever "Affliction," in which a surgeon risks stony death to try to cure a patient suffering from her family’s curse in a combination of mythology and science fiction. A recurring typo (it’s "TriBeCa" or Tribeca," not "Tribecca") was distracting, but the tale was entertaining enough to survive it.
"Black is the Color of My True Love’s Hair," the story of a battered knight’s return from the Crusades, has a wonderful fairy tale rhythm. In contrast, the strength of "Happy Birthday, Pinko" is its cast of struggling mental patients.
Readers will let their imagination travel to the era of witches and knights, to the realm of spirits that either haunt one’s life or can act as guidance to their life. For example, the spirit in ‘Black is the Color of my True Love’s Hair’ is an angel guide, while in the dark tale, ‘ Paper Shadows’, there is a demon a boy brings to life , that spreads complete disaster. Some of the tales are thought provoking, while others are acting as stimulants to imagination.
Reviewed by Liana Metal
Fantastical Visions III
Fantasist Enterprises, PO Box 9381, Wilmington, DE 19809
ISBN: 0-9713608-3-9, 2005, Trade Paperback, pp.215, $13 US/$20 Can.
FANTASTICAL VISIONS 3 is an anthology that contains fourteen illustrated tales of fantasy and wonder. W.H. Horner, the editor of this book, is an MA student at Seton Hill University who is now writing his first novel. This anthology is his fourth book.
The introduction of this anthology was written by Elizabeh Swanstrom who has contributed to Fantastical Visions volume 2. She urges the readers, as they read these stories, to ‘allow yourself to understand, without knowing why, exactly what each story is saying, in your own language of dreams.’ The book includes tales with knights, dragons, dark tales and stories that are almost real, all complex enough to absorb the reader’s interest and create the fantasy illusion, the one that exists only in our dreams.
Readers will let their imagination travel to the era of witches and knights, to the realm of spirits that either haunt one’s life or can act as guidance to their life. For example, the spirit in ‘Black is the Color of my True Love’s Hair’ is an angel guide, www.compulsivereader.com/html/index.php?name=News&file=article&sid=1071