A-OK! Reviews

bookcover thumbnailA collection of generally positive reviews.

4 out of 5 Stars – This book made me want more

“I will definitely keep my eye out for the next book in this series. I like the world presented the book, I enjoyed the characters, and the bauran are an interesting new idea. I am looking forward to learning about the order’s training methods (especially the difference in training between a child and a seasoned killer). This book made me want more.” – Heidi Boardman on Goodreads

4 out of 5 Cookies – Zombies will never be the same

“I gave Antioch 4 cookies. It is a fantasy zombie apocalyptic adventure. The characters are wild and crazy. From the loud obnoxious to the sweet and genteel. You will find them humorous or annoying but will definitely remember them. The book is full of action packed swashbuckling sword wielding scenes.

Some of the plot was slow and the ending came to quick but left you wanting more. Zombies will never be the same.” – Momma H. on MommaSaysRead

3 out of 5 Stars – ?

“Entertaining and eventful BUT if the reader is expecting an ending…don’t! This is not a short story or novelette, having nearly 300 pages, but I can not call it a complete book either. I, personally, don’t get any “warm fuzzies” when I am invested in a story and turn the page to find the rest of the book is missing! All that is left is a link to where you can buy the next book in the series (which, as far as I can tell, there isn’t one yet). To me, this appears as if the author reached a deadline and this was all he had written so he turned it in “as is”, or decided midstream to double his money by making two books out of one. I can understand that – it’s the American way – but you still owe me, the reader, an ending! It wouldn’t have been hard with this book as it had enough “meat” in it to have carried an easily written ending several chapters back. This tells me either the writer is lazy, the publisher needs firing or the reader (me) isn’t worth the time or effort of a one page or less “kiss goodbye”!” – Anonymous on Barnes and Noble

4 out of 5 Stars – Good story despite the flaws

“I agree with Michael Rizzuto’s 1-star review in all his technical, craft-oriented comments, but I gave Antioch 4 stars because despite the numerous, major flaws, it’s still a good story. Yes, it’s a tough read a lot of the time, but when the writing is on, it’s a great story–original and compelling.
I picked this up off the free list, but if Harlan, on the next one in the series, will respect his readers and spend the effort to get a professional edit and a format tweak, I’d buy it.
If not, however, I doubt I would read any more. In the long run, it’s just too much work to read.” – J.E. Ellis on Amazon

5 Stars – Great first attempt

“I have really enjoyed this book. It was recommended by a friend and I was thinking…oh…another zombie novel…
But what i got was a very immersive story the compelled me to keep reading.” – Damon Tackett on Amazon

4 out of 5 Stars – Good read

“I haven’t finished the book yet but very intrigued by the topic and intermingling of new and old age concepts. The book is a page turner with many interesting characters and full of suspense.” – Amazon Customer on Amazon

5 Stars – A great action novel, real characters with depth, secret motivations, human flaws. Read it.

“When you get a free book on Amazon, you never know what to expect, could be great, could be trash. This was a great read. The author created a whole new world, with hints that it is our world after some great catastrophe. I really liked the way he created several distinct cultures, with distinctive accents, and held the characters true to their individual voices. This is an amazing creation for a first novel. The only bad thing, is that it is only a part of a series. The action didn’t really climax by the end of this book, so to find out what happens, you have to buy the next book.” – Tom Bri on Amazon

Responses from the 21st Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards.

Judge 89 said:
Structure and Organization: 2 out of 5
Grammar: 4 out of 5
Production Quality and Cover Design: 2 out of 5
Plot: 3 out of 5
Character Development: 3 out of 5
There’s no doubt that this was an interesting story. When you’re writing about zombies, how could it be boring? I laughed out loud at your back cover description of “Kind of like ‘Star Wars’ with zombies.” Really funny. However, I thought you could have expanded the back cover copy more so that we got a bit more description. It would make it easier for people to get hooked into the book. Regarding the design, I thought it was OK. I think the colors really fit your book, but I didn’t think the illustrations, though nice, looked all that professional. You start your story in a very exciting moment, which is fantastic. It’s very visual and dramatic and you pique our attention right away. However, I think, and this is unusual, as most writers are too far towards the other direction, that you need to slow down a bit and give us more information/back story in the early chapters that follow. I felt like I was missing something. I also would suggest a slight restructuring so we start with your current Michael chapter, move to the Daniel running away chapter, go back to the little zombie girl (a fantastically creepy scene, by the way), get to the part where Oaky visits Daniel’s father, and then pick up with the order as written from there. My other main criticism is that this doesn’t feel very YA. We should really be focusing on teens or children. It feels too adult otherwise. But this is a cool story with nice gritty details. I think a lot of people would really enjoy the read.

Judge 90 said:
Structure and Organization: 4 out of 5
Grammar: 4 out of 5
Production Quality and Cover Design: 3 out of 5
Plot: 3 out of 5
Character Development: 3 out of 5
It would be unfair to underestimate this story of zombies and errant knights. There is much more here than limb-lopping and shuffling dead people. True, that stereotypical image is here in abundance, but the writer has also built multiple layers of characters and relationships, eventually focusing on the trials and tribulations of a town forced to face an apocalyptic plague that turns living people into the living dead. There are familiar sci-fi elements here, to be sure; the good guys wield swords and rifles with eagle enthusiasm. Deliberate anachronisms abound.  There is a rural flavor to life in this time period, and the dialogue is sprinkled with rural, regional slang and 21st century jargon. One of the best lines? “It’s not rocket surgery.” The writing is rich in similes in places, with alliteration and other devices also giving depth to the narrative. These figures of speech offset the occasional cliche or easy phrase or unnecessary bit of dialogue. The resolution is patiently revealed; the action scenes are vivid, with strong verbs and graphic violence. There’s something for everybody here, although the cover suggests more mayhem and murder than the well-developed plot actually offers.

5 out of 5 stars – Great new book

“Great read for me it started off kind of slow (zombie apocalypse ) but once I got by the zombie bias and mega large words I fell in love with the world and its characters hands down best book gift I ever got cant wait for book 2” – Lima Wilson on Amazon.com

4.0 out of 5 stars – An emergent triumph for a new author

“Antioch contains within its (digital) pages a clever story with a varied and fleshed out cast set in a familiar but fresh world.This is the bare minimum the crowded fantasy genre requires from any new entry, and so I’m not here to talk about that.

What captured me specifically about the novel is the writer’s style. The author, William Harlan, shows remarkable control over the flow of the book.

Harlan flows the point of view between characters line by line without a hitch, never confusing or overwhelming the reader. This flow captures the reader as a good educator might, showing the reader many sides of every event and finding a way to pack the details of said event without ever seeming to be too much. More interestingly is a similar “flow” between chapters, with some light (reader perspective) time travel to explain events or characters referenced in other chapters.

The result of this is a story easily grasped that grows gradually in complexity without ever feeling as though you are being force-fed an encyclopedia. This is no small feat for a new author introducing a new world, and is why I would easily recommend this novel to anyone with even remote interest in fantasy.” – Joe on Amazon.com

5.0 out of 5 stars – Very innovative twist on the post-apocalyptic novel

“I am a cold war kid who has had a long time fascination with post-apocalyptic novels. I must have read hundreds of such books at this point. A friend recommended this book to me, and as I started reading it, I thought “oh no, it’s fantasy, and I don’t like fantasy.”There’s a scene involving a farm and a family just a few pages in, and after reading that I forgot all about the fantasy part. The story telling was just too rich and vivid, at moments horrifying, heart breaking, and then uplifting. I was hooked.

I guess you could call this either a fantasy novel with a post-apocalyptic twist, or a post-apocalyptic novel with a fantasy twist. I think fans of either genre will enjoy it quite a bit.

I heard this was the author’s first novel, and I was prepared for the usual signs of bad editing in a first novel in a straight-to-kindle release. I was really quite shocked by the quality of the editing. I noticed one or two mistakes, but really not much more than that. Certainly nothing that distracted from the great storyline. After recently reading quite a few interesting post-apoc novels but with really bad editing, this book was a breath of fresh air.

My only complaint is that we have to wait until 2014 for the sequel. I mean, really. I think it’s time for someone to put the XBox controller down and get to work. You have fans now, and that’s a responsibility :)” – J.M. Vaughn on Amazon.com

5.0 out of 5 stars – Fantastic!

“It seems as though when zombies are mentioned it leads to an automatic eye roll. That should not be the case with this book. This is now one of my favorite books! I wanted to be skeptical but I was completely won over by what I read. I enjoyed the depth the author took the time to give the characters and locations. The descriptions were incredible! The humor was a refreshing touch as well. I appreciate the thoughtfulness of the author to make this book so much more that just another mere zombie book. This book was great from beginning to end and I can’t wait for the next one. In the mean time, I am going to reread Antioch: The Circle while I wait.” – lah on Amazon.com


5.0 out of 5 stars – Unique story, unique setting.

“The author shows a tremendous vocabulary, including the use of words of the period. If you read the book emphatically, you’ll gain insight into the author.” – John Hopkins “liveoakranch” on Amazon.com


5.0 out of 5 stars – Awesome book

“I’m not much of a reader but this book really pulls me in and I couldn’t stop reading till I finish it. Can’t wait for the sequel.” – Rocky on Amazon.com


5.0 out of 5 stars – So awesome that Ive bought copies for the entire family

“Epic zombie apocalypse meets star wars complete with recipes? Yes please. Liked the idea so much I got copies for the entire family, all of whom cant put it down. This is a page turner that captures a piece of Joss Whedon brilliance. How so? Well despite the fact that it all happens in a sci fi setting… the author doesnt get so hung up on zombies that he forgets to develop characters you care about. When you finish it… you’ll say the best thing about it is that there’s going to be another one. A great read.” – AD on Amazon.com


5.0 out of 5 stars – Really cool!

“This book is really really good. The author does a great job at keeping the reader interested. I couldn’t put it down. I especially liked when it was revealed how the zombies came to be, probably my favorite chapter. I can’t wait for the next one!” – Calisa on Amazon.com


5.0 out of 5 stars – New Genre

“Even though I,m relatively new to this genre, I loved this novel. The characters are complex and the plot is fast-paced, compelling me to read more. I especially enjoyed the metaphors and descriptive phrases. The humor is not to be missed!” Cathy Ann on Amazon.com


5.0 out of 5 stars – Best Book I’ve Read in a Long Time!

“For two days now, it’s been all I could do to put this book down; I even stayed up until 8 AM reading it the first night. I’m an avid, voracious reader but there are very, very few authors I’ve read for whom I want to read all of their material and Mr. Harlan is now one of those select few. I’m not a person who is easily impressed, but I gladly give praise where it’s deserved. I only had one complaint about this book…it ended! This truly, truly is an EXCELLENT book and I’m so glad there’s going to be a series. I highly recommend this book for everyone!” Releih on Amazon.com

3 out of 5 Stars – It’s a good start for, I believe, a first time writer.

“First of all, I’m no good with reviews. I will do my best to review and not bring in spoilers. I will say that I enjoyed this book. It’s a good start for, I believe, a first time writer. Or least the first novel he has published. He brings a totally different take on the Zombie genre mixing elements of fantasy in. It begins fast and then slows down. And then speeds up again. All along the way I kept asking myself why this or why that. Nicely, the whys are not answered but more is given to the reader to satisfy the questions.

I have to say that I had issue with some of the dialogue. The book is what I would say dialogue heavy and reading this on my Kindle the type was a bit strange. It was double-spaced, or felt, and some of the indenting become wildly crazy. They made have been a reason of why I became lost with which character was speaking and when. Some of the sailor characters sounded a like, or when reading there wasn’t a lot of differentiation in the narrative.

One thing that I really enjoyed was the circle in time that is the narrative takes. It’s a bit like Tarrantino’s Pulp Fiction movie but not necessarily to that extreme. The reader will find themselves progressing further, and by the time the book is over the reader is left with, not a closing of the circle, but a wanting of more.

I can’t wait till book two. I want to find out more of what happened to the world to end up at the beginning of this story. In the middle of the story new characters are brought in and I’m wondering what that could mean for the world in this story. I think the author should be congratulated for starting a new way to the Zombie genre.” Jason Bellew on Goodreads.com


4.0 out of 5 Ravens- …It doesn’t read like a first novel.

“‘Antioch’ is William Harlan’s first novel, but you will be more than pleasantly surprised, because it doesn’t read like a first novel. It’s a post-apocalyptic novel with a fantastical twist. Michael is a paladin who has been trained to harness a power inside him and inside everyone else. He uses this and his fighting skills to kill zombies. As the zombie plague comes closer and closer to each town, Michael and the other paladins have to make a deadly choice. Will the paladins hold to the secrets of their order or follow the directive from one of their own thought dead for many centuries. Meanwhile, the plague is spreading and no one is truly safe…

‘Antioch’ is a very well-developed book, from the deep characters to the richly detailed plot. Mr. Harlan brought the reader through the story with precision and unveiling the mysterious plagues’ origin in teensy intriguing bits. I was drawn into the novel quickly as the characters tugged at your heartstrings. This is only the first book in “The Circle” series, and if ‘Antioch’ is any indication…this series will blow you away!” Star at The Bibliophilic Book Blog

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