Wednesday, April 30, 2014

4-Star Review from Foreword Clarion

The Last Ancient

Clarion Review: 4 Stars

This wickedly fun horror novel thrusts readers into a Nantucket setting with a mixture of local hunters, wealthy do-gooders, and a sordid family past.

Eliot Baker’s debut novel, The Last Ancient, is a peculiar text that blends horror with detective fiction, all focused on an investigative journalist who begins a journey beyond belief. Blending social observations, the surreal, and strong writing, the reader is immersed in a world in which a god of old is alive and well, dwelling just in the periphery of gentle society but preying upon its members. Pulitzer Prize–nominated writer Simon Stephenson aims to stop it, if he can understand just what’s going on—and prevent himself from being implicated in the crimes.
It’s clear from the opening pages that this is not a novel for the squeamish: Stephenson is at a peculiar crime scene, investigating the corpse of a mutilated deer. Rendered in graphic detail, the scene provides enough information to understand why Simon thinks that something fierce and beyond belief is responsible for the death.
This horror novel’s Nantucket setting is ideal—a mixture of local hunters and wealthy do-gooders move against a backdrop of untouched, haunting wilderness and mansions. The juxtaposition of these two different Americas draws forth the belief that the country is an untamable land, one that Stephenson is desperately trying to understand. A child of privilege, Stephenson grew up on the island, only to have his world come crashing down when his father was revealed to be an illegal arms dealer. Now a writer, he can still mingle in the world of the wealthy, but only as an outsider.
With a host of impressive writing credentials under his belt and a beautiful (if sometimes problematic) fiancée, Stephenson should be happy, but the rest of his life is complicating matters severely. There’s the beautiful, vivacious reporter with whom Stephenson starts spending time, as well as his fiancée’s parents, who aren’t too fond of him. Add to this a trove of mysterious rare coins turning up around the island—unsettling, considering Stephenson’s father had a penchant for collecting them. When a murder then occurs at Stephenson’s house, it appears he is involved in the crimes. The notion of his involvement seems entirely ridiculous, but the furtive monster, once revealed, is a beautiful and alluring creature reminiscent of a Lovecraftian nightmare.
If it sounds a bit convoluted, that’s because it is. The novel borders on confusing, though in the best possible way: it provides an entertaining enigma poised to unravel. Fans of mystery and horror will embrace the style, which is familiar but well paced and properly executed. It’s a page-turner that will not tax the reader. However, some might find the author’s reliance on metaphor and, occasionally, stock dialogue to be too conventional. But once the plot gets under way, the peculiar society of Nantucket and the protagonist’s sordid family past make this quirky novel a pleasure to read.
As the mysterious occurrences on Nantucket become national news, the novel’s enticing first-person narrative turns to the Gothic and bizarre. This is a wickedly fun novel that delights in bringing about revulsion and confusion in the reader, in plain, easily understood prose that conveys a truly unique tale.
Alex Franks

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Kirkus Review Featured Indie Review

I just got the message from Kirkus Reviews that The Last Ancient was chosen as a featured review in their April, 15 issue. This is a great honor and, hopefully, it will help connect The Last Ancient with new readers. Here's what they said:

"I just wanted to pass along some exciting news that your review for "The Last Ancient" was selected by our Indie Editors to be featured in Kirkus Reviews 4/15 Issue. Congratulations! The review appears as one of the 20 reviews in the Indie section of the magazine which is sent out to over 5,000 industry professionals (librarians, publishers, agents, etc.) Less than 10% of our Indie reviews are chosen for this, so it's a great honor."

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Champagne Book Group's Novel of the Year!


Champagne Book Group is proud to announce this years' award winning books and authors.
Author Of The Year  2013 - Celia Breslin
Novel Of The Year  2013 - The Last Ancient by Eliot Baker
Best Selling Novel Of The Year 2013 - Highland Solution by Ceci Giltenan
Publisher's Award Of Excellence 2013 - Allison Knight

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Really Nice Review from Midwest Book Review

By Diane Donovan, eBook reviewer, Midwest Book Review

The Last Ancient blends mythology, mystery and action and opens with an investigation of deer mutilations: something aNantucket reporter initially believes to be related to poaching. And who better to investigate than Simon, who makes his living as an environmental reporter?

It all seems predictable; but that's where the familiar ends as Simon uncovers a conspiracy centered on alchemy, finds mysterious gold coins pepper his every move, and begins to accept the existence of mythical creatures against all logic.

So what begins as a relatively simple investigation turns into a complex blend of mystery and supernatural exploration as Simon becomes involved in the impossible task of killing a mythological creature wrecking havoc on Nantucket.

The mysterious coins even implicate his own family heritage in events that unfold and engage him not only in their mystery but in the challenge of handling a fiancée who has gone over the edge.

To call this a 'murder mystery' is simplification at its worst: The Last Ancient is actually an action-packed thriller, more accurately, and belongs on the shelves of readers looking for spicy, darker, sexier Indiana Jones-style sagas that reel off subplot after subplot.

It's hard to believe The Last Ancient is a debut novel: the author's approach and writing skills seem those of an experienced thriller writer, not a newcomer, what with its attention to detail that submerges readers in a 'you are there' feel throughout the story, evident from the very first line: "The deer’s blood catches the golden hour light. It radiates throughout the animal’s carcass in fall hues that reflect the island’s rustling red leaves and honey-colored needles littering the sand. Such eerie, blasphemous beauty. I fire shots from my Nikon."

One must also note that Eliot Baker's use of the first person has a lot to do with his device of immersing readers in not just the plot, but Simon's life and experiences. Readers follow Simon's logic in piecing the puzzle together and will relish his encounters with his tense fiancée as well: “You don’t return my calls for a day and a half, Simon? A day and a half? Really? The whole world sees you on TV talking about murders and mad deer but your fiancée, who lives down the street from you, can’t even get a text to say you’re alive? Are you serious?

The island setting is perfect for containing not only characters that can't easily flee events, but for the murderers and mythical creatures Simon has come to believe in against all logic: "We are thirty miles out at sea with a murderer.” “Then the poor bastard’s got nowhere to hide,” I say. Judy doesn’t laughI can’t tell Judy about the Gryphon. That it could have killed me, or let me die, but instead saved me. Loved me. I’m safe. I’ve always been safe on Nantucket. Perhaps even under Her protection. And I’m not convinced She was Dennis’s killer. His wound was different, according to Dr. Mulcahey."

What Simon uncovers will change not only his world, but his own personality, goals, and life perspectives. It will also end some relationships and forge new paths: "Judy tries to bubble about things that escape my interest as we type. I don’t want to speculate on who bailed out my paper, or whether the gold standard will be approved by the President and Congress, or if the newest art house movie about biker gangs in Sweden is Oscar-worthy. I don’t care about interest rates falling, that it’s a buyer’s market in Manhattan and LA, that Hal wants to give us a million-dollar interest-free loan, and I’m positively disinterested in what we should bring to a wine and cheese party tomorrow with her Yale friends. My heart is no longer in this world, her world, and every syllable of pretending otherwise feels like a slithering lie to her and a filthy betrayal of my true love, my true self, my true god."

And perhaps that's The Last Ancient's greatest strength: its ability to pinpoint and follow the transitions of its protagonist, who finds that everything he's believed about himself and his world is different. In the process of these revelations Simon's real identity emerges. And then comes the special challenge of either fitting that new knowledge into the rest of his life or forging an entirely new direction in the world.

In truth, Simon's course has been set long before his knowledge of these other worlds and choices. In such a world Simon's powers as the ultimate healer and killer will emerge, and against this backdrop even evil gets another chance.

Without spoiling any of the intrigue, suffice it to say that readers will be captivated from the first chapter and will be immersed in a supernatural mystery that gets more complex with every turn, leading to a bloody battle with more at stake than a few dead deer or one man's revelations.

Monday, April 7, 2014


The Last Ancient print book

To all thee who hath no time for ebooks, your time draws nigh: Click on the above link and, for $14.95, order a copy of The Last Ancient from BURST Books, my publisher. The Last Ancient will be available from Amazon in a week, but for various reasons it's better for me if you order from BURST. But of course do whatever will make your reading experience best!

Thanks to all of you for your support and interest and readership. You've gotten me here. I'll look forward to signing your copy, wherever you are. I will be coming to a bookstore near you!

Thursday, April 3, 2014


I just received an official notice of print from my publisher. That means The Last Ancient hit its 100 download threshold and will soon be available as a book that you can hold in your hand and show your friends--a signed copy, no less! I will let you know about ordering information and availability once details emerge.

Thanks so much to all you who've downloaded, read, and reviewed (or are about to download, read, and review) my debut novel. There will be many more. This is the beginning of an excellent literary adventure together. Read on.