Don’t Touch (Null City #2)

  • Don'tTouchAuthor: Barb Taub
  • Published: December 2013 by Hartwood Publishing Group
  • Category: Urban Fantasy, Steampunk
  • five-stars

Hope flares each morning in the tiny flash of a second before Lette touches that first thing. And destroys it. 

Her online journal spans a decade, beginning with the day a thirteen-year-old inherits an extreme form of the family “gift.” Every day whatever she touches converts into something new: bunnies, bubbles, bombs, and everything in between.

Lette’s search for a cure leads her to Stefan, whose fairy-tale looks hide a monstrous legacy, and to Rag, an arrogant, crabby ex-angel with boundary issues. The three face an army led by a monster who feeds on children’s fear. But it’s their own inner demons they must defeat first.

The morning after Lette Simoneau turns thirteen she awakens to find she can feel colours. Weird? Lette thinks so. Not quite the superpowers she might have dreamed of.  It was so bizarre to be able to tell what colour an object is just by touching it. Lette couldn’t see the point of such a lame power, but she didn’t realise this was just the beginning.

As the summer weeks and months pass, the touch as Lette calls it, manifests in different ways and on an ever-increasing number of occasions. Each day’s manifestation is different, Lette could be turning objects into gold one day, or cupcakes or sandwiches another day, and sometimes into much more dangerous things. 

I love the interaction between Lette and George, her mother’s evil cat. Eventually the inevitable happens and Lette inadvertently touches George with hilarious consequences. 

The book is written in journal entries and through this we get to know, like and sympathise with Lette and, as one disaster follows another, she decides living alone is her only option. Despite this less than satisfactory way of life Lette copes with her situation very well. She’s a strong protagonist with a great character. 

Some days I can’t believe I’m almost twenty-three, or that I’ve spent the past five years living in my parents’ little mountain cabin. Luckily, it’s close enough that my parents visit most weekends. And money is never a problem because Mom’s friend Eric, who runs a pawn shop off Pioneer Square in Seattle, is always able to take the melted down gold or other valuables I’ve touched and change them to cash with no questions asked.

Sure, there were bad days, but lots of good ones too. I discovered I love working in my garden. But even with heavy gloves over my surgical gloves, gardening is hell on latex. Still, most of the craters from that landline-touch day are now filled with dirt, and it looks like a really good year for my tomatoes. That is, if I can just get them to stay tomatoes and not turn them into small pink bunnies or straw hats or whatever that day’s touch is.

Lette isn’t destined for this kind of life much longer though, as she learns of a place where she could live normally. There’s much more to life than living as a virtual prisoner and when the opportunity to travel to Null City arises Lette doesn’t think twice. What follows is an amazingly imaginative and innovative adventure with Stefan and Rag, two great central characters. Lette has to make some hard decisions and, at the same time, learns some valuable lessons, on her journey, not least of which is making the best of a sometimes challenging situation.

I love that the villain of the piece is a horrific beast-like creature of folklore, said to be the son of Hel, and is part of a tradition which is centuries old. You just know when you read something written by Barb Taub it’s going to be vividly imaginative and full of humour, fun and excellent writing. This intriguing and engaging story is no exception. 

The Whirlwind in the Thorn Tree ~ book one of ‘The Outlaw King’


  • 17410252Author: S A Hunt
  • Published: February 2013 by Madmen Press
  • Category: Steampunk/Fantasy Western
  • four-stars

I was given a copy of the book in return for an honest review

Ross Brigham returns from active duty in the army to the news that his father Ed, an award-winning fantasy author, has died. Not only that, his wife has left him and his life is in a mess. Ross is persuaded by his father’s fans to finish writing the last novel in the gunslinger series.

Going through his father’s things after the funeral Ross comes across a key he can’t find the lock for and an unusual mirror. Both these objects lead Ross and two of his father’s greatest fans, Sawyer and Noreen, into the fantasy world of Destin. There they meet the gunslingers, amongst other much less pleasant people, and are drawn into conspiracies and schemes they don’t, at first, understand. What the three of them learn on their journey through this strange lands makes them re evaluate their lives and everything they thought was real.


Told from the point of view of Ross this is an imaginative story of an extraordinary parallel universe peopled by the characters of Ed’s novels. 

The book is very well written and descriptive with vivid imagery. The detailed narrative of the fantasy world makes it very easy to imagine.

I liked that the main characters were believably human with their underlying complex characteristics, emotions and foibles. There’s a good mixture of tension and suspense and the extracts from Ed’s novels at the beginning of the chapters was a great addition. Considering this is not my usual reading I enjoyed it a lot. 

The Whirlwind in the Thorn Tree may be purchased from Amazon UK and Amazon US