“The Witch Who Came in From the Cold, Episode 13: Company Time” by Max Gladstone and Lindsay Smith (Serialbox, 2015)


CIA agent Dominic Alvarez just so happens to be an acolyte for the Flame, a detail that wasn’t revealed until the very end of the last episode, and he just happens to have kidnapped Maksin Sokolov, a Russian informant and powerful magical host, after the CIA managed to smuggle him away from the Russians and get him to a safe house. He’s scheduled to be on a specific plane and headed to the States, except that the pilot is still waiting around for his cargo who is late and doesn’t appear to be showing. Meanwhile, Alvarez and Sokolov are on a very different cargo plane flying to another destination, playing a game of chess.

KGB agent Tanya Morozova and CIA operative Gabe Pritchard meet to discuss their options for getting Sokolov back somehow. Once before they put their powers together, and with Gabe’s magical construct flaring inside him, and Tanya being a sorceress of the Ice, together they pack one heck of a magical wallop. It will require a big ritual, with lots of magical setup, and then their putting their powers together. But it’s their only hope.

While the season finale does have a hefty dose of magical action going on, the ending feels a little anticlimactic, and definitely leaves the reader and listener wanting more, but it certainly sets up hopes and interests for a possible future season in the continuing adventures of The Witch Who Came in From the Cold.

Originally written on April 23, 2016 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Company Time from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“The Witch Who Came in From the Cold, Episode 10: Anchises” by Lindsay Smith (Serialbox, 2016)


This is the tenth episode in the series; reviews for all other episodes can be found here.

Operation ANCHISES, after all the hype and setup, is finally put in motion with a classic scene of spying and espionage and all things clandestine, as Joshua Toms skillfully passes along a secret message to the informant, Maksim Sokolov.

With a follow-up meeting at the West German Embassy, the final showdown is begun. Sokolov is here with his host of Russian minders, keeping a close eye on his every move. Sokolov plays the part well, domineering, threatening to Joshua and Gabe. Gabe Pritchard has a trick up his sleeve, as he gets a hold of a special charm secreted on his person, mutters the correct incantation, and then serves the minders shots. A short while later, a regular old bar brawl begins just as planned and Gabe is starting to think this spy craft via magic ain’t too bad.

A while later arrests are made; Tanya Morozova, as a member of the KGB, instead of following Gabe, decides to make a trip to the hospital and check on those Russian minders. Meanwhile, the man known as Maksim Sokolov is just gone and appears to have drowned.

In this action- and magic-packed episode, things heat up to a new level, but its not until the next episode, that the full realization of Operation ANCHISES is fully understood.

Originally written on March 24, 2016 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of A Dream of Ice from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“The Witch Who Came in From the Cold, Episode 4: Stasis” by Lindsay Smith (Serial Box, 2016)


This is the fourth episode in the series; other episodes can be found here.

Tanya Morozova has successfully brought Andula Zlata into the protective fold of the Ice; as a “host” she has special powers sought by the Flame. Meanwhile Gabe Pritchard continues to have his occasional debilitating headaches. With the help of MI6 operative and Ice sorcerer Alestair Winthrop, they have determined he has a “magical hitchhiker” within him and that if he performs certain magic, it can appease his headaches and the mystic being within him.

Now with his life and well being a little more under control, Gabe is able to try to get into the good graces of his superiors once more, following up on Drahomir Milovic, who was a CIA recruitment operation that Gabe blundered. But he will have to decide whether to do things by the book and make his boss happy, or go his own way and get faster results.

Meanwhile, a close friend to Gabe, Jordan Rhemes, is the owner of a bar called the Vodnář, a sort of neutral ground between the Ice and Flame. Readers and listeners also learn she deals in illicit goods there. She has had two recent visitors – Karel Hasek, a professor or medieval history, and his partner Vladimir, who are both clearly Flame operatives and are very interested in some of the items Jordan possesses. There is also the reveal of how Jordan and Gabe know each other and are close due to their history in Cairo, which has something to do with the origin of Gabe’s hitchhiker, all of which is revealed further in the next episode.

And for those needing a little helpful aid, the Serial Box site has a little “previously” for each episode, much like a TV series, cluing the reader in to what has happened so far, as well as a character list and who’s who.

Originally written on February 24, 2016 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of The Witch Who Came in From the Cold, Episode 4: Stasis from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“The Witch Who Came in From the Cold, Episode 1: A Long, Cold Winter” by Lindsay Smith & Max Gladstone (Serial Box, 2016)


In the 1800s when you wanted to read Dickens, you didn’t simply get a copy of his completed book, but read his latest work in serialized form. Families would gather round and read aloud the latest “installment” of Dickens. In 1984, Tom Wolfe serialized Bonfire for the Vanities in Rolling Stone magazine. Stephen King serialized The Green Mile into six short books in 1996. Michael Chabon serialized Gentlemen of the Road in The New York Times Magazine in 2007.

And then there’s Serial Box, a new publishing concept looking to bring the dramatic tension and excitement of a weekly TV show to the written word. Readers can buy individual “episodes” or subscribe to the entire book and receive the next episode as it is released in their inbox or on their ereader. The serialized books are available in ebook or also on audio in approximate 90-minute episodes.

The year is 1970 and the Cold War is in full force as the USA and the USSR face off against once another and the world stands on the brink of all out war and possible annihilation. Our story begins in the bleak city of Prague, Czechoslovakia, on the edge of the iron curtain. A young student named Andula is being stalked by something not of this world, a magical construct, and she barely has any idea. An operative of the Consortium of Ice, Tanya Morozova, knows how important and powerful the girl is, as a host, and must do whatever she can to help her. The Consortium of Ice is in a long-standing battle against the Acolytes of Fire to harness elemental magic. Meanwhile, CIA agent Gabe Pritchard screws up a case in gaining a potential asset that has been six-months in the making, due to something that changed him in a previous mission in Cairo; now he needs to make good or face the consequences which will be more than losing his job.

The authors do a great job of setting the scene of this gloomy city in the heart of the cold war making it feel like a James Bond story of espionage, and then the magic comes into play in a subtle way, giving the story a whole new feel and dynamic. The readers do their part in giving the characters life and depth, using accents where necessary, and providing added tension to the dramatic story.

The first episode, “A Long, Cold Winter” does what it should: hooking the reader, answering a few questions, but also providing many more, wanting the reader (or listener) to continue with the next episode. This first episode is also free to read through the Serial Box site.

Originally written on February 10, 2016 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of The Witch Who Came in From the Cold, Episode 1: A Long, Cold Winter from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.