Angel Stakes is on Amazon

Amanda Taggart spotted it before I did!

That was quick!



About Mark Henwick

I was born in Africa and left out in the sun too often. An early interest in philosophy and psychology was adequately exorcised by tending bars. And while trying to enroll in a class to read Science Fiction full time, I ended up taking an engineering degree which splendidly qualified me to move into marketing. That in turn spawned a late onset career in creative writing. When not working, I get high by the slightly less conventional means of a small light aircraft. My first books are available on Amazon at

30 responses to “Angel Stakes is on Amazon”

  1. HarperA. says :

    I’ve downloaded it a minute ago … and I love the cover ;D

  2. darat2013 says :

    Purchased. That’s this weekend sorted, the garden will have to wait to next weekend.

    One question…… When’s the next one out 😉 ?

    • Mark Henwick says :

      Hahahahaha. You win the prize for the first person to ask *after* the book was published. Sharon is the overall winner, because she asked *before* the book was even published.
      I love you guys

  3. Dee DenBleyker says :

    I just got my copy. Congratulations on the launch.

  4. Dominik says :

    Yay, thanks! Right before the weekend is perfect, I won’t have to take time off work. 🙂

  5. Jon.Gray says :

    I just got mine. We west coasters get up last so we get stuff last. If I had got up at 5am I could have been first, sigh.

  6. Mark Henwick says :

    Lol. Thank you all. Couple of hundred sales just in the first hour. 🙂

  7. Tara says :

    So excited! Buying it now…

  8. Krebs says :

    Just bought it! Not really first thing in the morning but quite close 😉
    Perfectly timed for the weekend and finally something that makes my business trip bearable!
    Congrats for the publication and keep up the amazing work and information flow for us.

    Slightly different question: Bian’s tale next? 🙂

  9. elkwood says :

    Tks picked it up yesterday day and read it. I
    thoughly enjoyed it. U had a few nice twist !!

  10. Mark Henwick says :

    Thank you Tara, Krebs and Elkwood. 🙂

    Twist is my middle name.
    I’m going to be writing a sequel to The Biting Cold, probably called Winter’s Kiss, and Bian’s Tale 1 next. Because it’s shorter, Winter’s Kiss will probably come out first.

  11. Zack says :

    So right after I promised my wife I wasn’t going to stay up until all hours of the night reading, I got the email saying Angel Stakes was out. At least it was a Friday? Best book in the series. I much prefer reading to writing reviews, but 5 star reviews are now up on good reads and amazon.

    One quick suggestion: There are a lot of characters, and trying to keep them all straight is sometimes difficult. Some type of character listing, or Athenate/Were/Adept family tree would be immensely helpful. Maybe this already exists somewhere? If so, a point in the right direction would be much appreciated.

    • Mark Henwick says :

      Thank you Zack, for this post and the reviews. Much appreciated.

      I am going to work on some kind of Amber-Wiki with a snapshot of characters, and revision notes for Adepts, Were and Athanate. The real problem is that it could be full of spoilers!

    • Art Batista says :

      I know what you mean. Had the same problem.

      I ended reading it on two sittings.

      Now in a few days, I have to start from scratch. I find that too much of the details from the previous books are to blurry.

      I am on vacation next week, so no time like then.


  12. Robert says :

    So I just finished book 5 (had to re-read book 4 first) and first off I think it’s probably the best of the novels so far, just in terms of the mechanics of writing. Secondly though, what the hell was up with that ending?I mean, you can’t just do that.

    Or more specifically: the lack of an ending. It’s the 5th book in a series you don’t need to end it on a cliff hanger to try to drum up extra sales. Let the book have a damn ending. It doesn’t need to end the series but you can wrap up the major plot of the book without sprinkling in references to a dozen subplots.

    And I say this mostly because I’m irritated at being yanked out of the story like this but the dozens of similar names are really getting difficult to track and in my opinion needing an outside reference is pretty bad. People like to mock fantasy authors for coming up with character names that are a random collection of vowels and apostrophes but at least a name like “jak’xoz” stands out in the mind even if you have no idea how to pronounce it. The problem is even worse when you start alternating first and last names for characters! At one point in an earlier book I stopped for 5 seconds because I was confused who ‘Amber’ was to since everyone had just said ‘Farrell’ for most of the book.

    Along the same lines you’ve definitely got a knack for characters who capture interest but for the love of god can we stop introducing new ones? You basically promised us Amber was going to get Bian’s story back in like book 1 and nothing since then! Now we’ve got literally a dozen new characters to keep track of!

    Speaking of which, is it just me or are the books getting grimmer? I know this one in specific dealt with some pretty dark subjects and it’s awfully hard to introduce happy people around the subject but book 4 was pretty depressing also and there’s no signs it’s getting better. Can we just have a chapter where Amber doesn’t think about the CONSTANT DOOM ABOUT TO BEFALL HER every other sentence? Please? Like 99% of the times she’s actually described as happy it’s about 5 minutes or two sentences before she passes out and then wakes up to MORE DOOM.

    Also I’m sure it says something about my brain but I’m getting kinda frustrated at the lack of clear power levels of any of the characters. I don’t need precise measurements but are the Athanate human strong? Twice as strong? Is Amber? Are they faster? How strong are werewolves? Does shapeshifting affect it? How much stronger do they get as they get older? Is it physical or mental? How long do weres live?

    How about where the hell spirit guides come from? Is there a form you fill out and one shows up in the mail like a package from amazon? Can everyone have them? Are they all sentient? Can they all do that thing with Diana? Is there age the same as their host? Do they have access to knowledge outside of what their host experiences?

    Anyways Two Thumbs Up A+++ Would Read Again!!!

    • Mark Henwick says :

      Thank you Robert, very interesting perspective.

      I wish I could say that I don’t need to drum up extra sales, but if you’ve looked at any of my previous posts regarding the decline in sales, book on book, you’d see that I do consider there to be a need to hook readers more. Having said that, I would only classify Cool Hand as ending on a cliff hanger, and that was because Cool Hand and Angel Stakes was originally sketched out to be one book. Unfortunately, in today’s market, only mega-stars can get away with making readers wait a couple of years for the next 300k word book. (I had to do the same with Sleight of Hand and Hidden Trump btw).

      I don’t classify the ending of Angel Stakes as a cliff hanger. No one’s life, health or sanity is in imminent danger. It does provide a hook and a twist on an existing thread.

      As I have responded to others, I intend to create an encyclopedia of characters and lore. The real problem with this is that it will inevitably be full of spoilers, so I’ll create some kind of subset for each novel. I know there’s a lot of characters, but the group in any one book shouldn’t be extreme – certainly not in the class of Song of Ice and Fire.

      The books are getting grimmer. Think of the series as a super-long book that (like all thriller style books) has a really dark point at the 75% mark before the lift and resolution at the end. We’re somewhere about the half way mark in the series. SLIGHT SPOILERS AHEAD: On the other hand, because I layer threads, we’re past the worst of Amber’s internal darkness by the end of Angel Stakes, so the grimness will come more from external sources. Show me a thriller style book that leaves a character fufilled and happy from the 25% point and I’ll show you a book that fails.

      Power levels: paranormals gain power with time and effort, but with varying ability and progress. Amber was already extremely quick, fit and strong as a human.She’s more so now. Double? No. The physics wouldn’t allow it, and she hasn’t the control of magic that would overcome the physics. That’s already spoiler territory, so if you need more, we’d need to correspond by email.

      Weres live varying amounts. Felix is about 250 years old (he was an established alpha in the 1850s when he met and infused Candace (Wild Card)). He’s got years ahead of him, sustained by the pack. Martha was the same age, but wasn’t benefiting from any boost by the pack and felt she was nearing the end (Cool Hand). A Were outside of a pack wouldn’t get to that age.

      All that stuff about spirit guides is too far into spoiler territory, but no, you can’t order them from Amazon. Not last I looked anyway.

  13. xsikal says :

    Bought it on day one, read it that night, and really enjoyed it, Mark. I thought it was stronger than last book, and liked the way the larger plot pushed forward quite a bit. I did see some of the twists coming (keeping this vague to avoid spoilers), but there were still enough twists and turns to keep me guessing and intrigued.

    I also didn’t see the ending as a cliffhanger at all. Putting a hook at the end that the next book can build off of is a pretty universally accepted tactic. As long as each story as told is complete (and this one is), having threads that feed back into the larger tale is, in my opinion, not just viable but necessary.

    Anyway, just wanted to post my thoughts and my congratulations.

  14. Robert says :

    Well, calling it a cliff-hanger ending was a bit over the top but I was genuinely kind of annoyed at the end of Angel Stakes. I was pretty happy up until the last 5% where it went from “Ok we solve this problem” to “Look at this giant list of other problems and plots we haven’t solved… that you aren’t going to get to read about because the book is ending right here!”.

    I didn’t even remember Cool Hand ending on a cliff hanger until you mentioned it in your comment even though I had literally re-read it the day before Angel Stakes came out. Something about that book’s (and really a lot of other books) ending just kind of fades out of my mind… all the characters finally end up in one spot, yelling, explosions, bright lights (SPOILERS) the good guys mostly don’t die, etc. The ending certainly wasn’t a motivating factor in me checking on your site every week for many months waiting for book 5 to be released.

    Speaking of which, please don’t turn into one of those authors that waits multiple years between books, if for no other reason than those authors are usually terrible (hi Rothfuss!). One of the things I’ve really appreciated about indie/e-publishing is that some authors seem to write much more prolifically or at least publish more frequently. I probably would have been just as happy or even happier if you had just split cool hand/angel stakes into like.. 6 books and published one every 3 months or something. “Cliff Hangers” however you define them are considerably less annoying when you know the next book is coming out “soon” rather than “in the distant future”.

    Also the character doesn’t need to be “Happy and Fulfilled 25% of the way through the book” but there’s a big difference between ‘fulfilled’ and ‘happy’. It feels like she spends every page of every book constantly worrying about *something*. I mean, people are constantly trying to kill her, multiple high level political deals, supernatural complications and she’s angsting over not talking to her mother for 3 weeks? Perhaps we’re just remarkably different people but this doesn’t seem like the same level of problem.

    While I’m on the subject of problems I was thinking through most of the book it would have been a much more interesting plotline if the main bad guy in this book wasn’t quite so obviously evil. If he was remorseful or smaller time or more average in someway you get a much more interesting moral dilemma about resolving the conflict but by the end of the book he’s basically the worst guy since Hitler. Real people doing evil is much more interesting than Bad Guys doing evil, but that’s an entirely different and complicated subject.

    One of the things I noticed in cool hand/angel stakes is that at some point you started referring to one character as something like “ben the cub”, which, while slightly awkward, was a considerable help in remembering who the hell he was, especially when you consider another character is frequently called ‘jen’!

    Anyways please don’t take my griping as a serious complaint, I just get focused on taking things apart and trying to rearrange the pieces, as I mentioned before I re-read the entire series in about 3 days total so it’s not like I was suffering through it!

    P.S. you can totally email me at the address for this comment, I’m super curious about were strength vs vampire strength and were shifting size and how teleurgy works on humans.

  15. Jon.Gray says :

    I like all the loose threads you weave throughout the story, especially the really skinny ones. Once they have braided themselves into heavy twine like the ones at the end of Angle Stakes and I get to go AH HA, I knew it, that’s fun. Reading your books is like going on a treasure hunt and finding little bits here and little bits there, sometimes in different books that are several back, then the AH HA moment that makes it all come together? Wow. If keeping us thinking and guessing, and reading is your goal? Well done Mark, well done!

    • Mark Henwick says :

      I never imagined the extent to which people enjoy re-reading Bite Back. A lot of those ‘cookies’ I put in there thinking no one would ever see them. It’s knowing that people *do* find them, along with reviews (thank you) and feedback (also thank you) that sustains me through the long dark edits! 🙂

  16. Shannon says :

    Congratlations, less than a week and the book is in the top 100 in 3 of Amazon’s catagories, and one of those is in the to 10.

    Well done.

    #8 in Books > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Horror > Dark Fantasy
    #12 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Horror > Dark Fantasy
    #100 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Paranormal & Urban

    • Mark Henwick says :

      Thanks Shannon!

      Amazon produced a new algorithm for the ranking, based on how long it’s been making sales, and how old the reviews are (as well as how good). I was worried for a couple of days as Angel Stakes tumbled but it’s climbing strongly now.

      I *love* all my reviews.

  17. Dominik says :

    It’s the best book yet in the series! The amount of action feels like it’s at the limit of my personal preferences, but you make it work well. I really appreciate the excellent balance between Amber as a protagonist, her abilities/powers and her challenges. Thanks for putting in what feels like a good amount of effort and time to “tune” that.

    One note, and this may be against my self interest in the short term, is that the book seems too cheap compared to similar books when you consider the quality of the editing, the thought-out story and the number of pages. For the current book I would have paid about 30% more, even before having read it. The prices I’m referring to are 3.50€ on – up to 5.00€ I would still consider a bargain compared to what I usually read.
    I know that this view is very personal and depends on the budget, but maybe you can think of something. Did you ever consider a donate button on your website? Too bad amazon’s payment model isn’t as flexible as the humble bundle.

    • Mark Henwick says :

      Thanks Dominik!

      The juggling of action and politics is one of the constant difficulties of the series that delays books.

      Within both of those, there is a second level of juggling:
      On the political side, the story of Emergence must progress, and Amber’s role, though increasingly key, is never to be able to dictate what must happen, and must include setbacks of course. Sometimes she precipitates a political situation, and then has to observe without being able to control.
      On the action side, Amber is not all-powerful and will not be, and all of her powerful friends have restrictions on what they can do because of the political situation. etc etc.

      I love that complexity and I love that readers get it. (Or some of them – my reviews include readers with comments about too much action and others with too much politics!)

      I have thought long and hard about pricing. Amazon has a new faciity for authors that suggests the ‘sweet spot’ is now $4.99 (Bite Back starts at $2.99 for SoH and then $3.99 for the rest) – but that doesn’t distinguish between trad published and indie.

      I have another reservation with a price rise at the moment as well. Although I’m right at the top of the list for reader ratings (for instance Angel Stakes in USA has 33 ratings: 30 of them are 5 star, 2 are 4 star and 1 is 2 star), I’m not selling as well as authors with far lower rating averages.

      It’s a puzzle that keeps me occupied when I’m not writing. 🙂

      Thanks for raising the issue and I would be interested if others want to make suggestions…

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