SPFBO6 Winner – Justin Lee Anderson

Anne C. Miles > SPFBO Spotlights > SPFBO6 Winner – Justin Lee Anderson

Congratulations to Justin Lee Anderson on his win of SPFBO6! The win is well deserved. The Lost War is a really good book, well-written and engaging. The ending is superb and he rightly deserves all the accolades coming his way. I read the book during my spotlights and you can see what I said about it and read my interview with him here.

But now the contest is over, and Justin won, I can say a couple other things.

First off let me say his work absolutely should have been declared the winner. If you read it, you’ll understand why. I think it’s very appropriate that this book (of all books) is the 2020 winner. The book is on audio so even if you aren’t a reader, you should read it. Listen to it. Whatever. My husband and I are listening to it now. The narrator has a very thick Scottish brogue making the story hard to understand at times, but overall I love it. You get used to the brogue quickly.

If you didn’t know, my book was knocked out in round one by his. Barely. Our reviewer was DM Murray, a fine author in his own right. Here is what he said about my book.

“As a Marine Biologist I was totally up for a book about a sad fish. Whilst I was not treated to a journey through the POV of big mopey fish, I was treated to something altogether more enjoyable. FYI, the Sorrowfish referred to in the title is in fact the name given to Sara (the main character’s) signet.

 I think it is fair to say, that whilst this was not my pick of my allotted books to go forward, Miles has created a unique and rich tapestry. Sorrowfish would not be the typical style of fantasy I would seek out, however this book does deserve respect for the interesting and creative world that we as readers get to play in for a while.

 The start of the book was slow, as many are, and whilst this did mean it took a while for me to ‘get in to it’, the story offered rich reward in the end, picking up pace and finishing with a crescendo. Quite fitting, really, seeing as the book is ultimately about a life-giving song…

 On the whole, I feel that Canard is a really creatively developed dream world, with some really enjoyable mythological elements woven through the fabric of the story. We are treated to fae, gnomes, gargoyles, chimera, and a magical life-giving tree, which reminded me somewhat of the Tree of Souls from Avatar.

 As a whole, I enjoyed Sorrowfish, and feel that the book offers a lot to readers who are looking for a more creative fantasy that doesn’t employ an axe to the face. The somewhat boggy start to the book was a challenge, and ultimately the reason why Sorrowfish was not my pick, however it is still an excellent piece of work, and one that Miles should rightly be proud of. “


I was despondent after being knocked out (insert hysterical weeping here lol) but I looked at it as a rite-of-passage.

But now I see it totally as a win.

Here’s the thing. My Long-Suffering Editrix® was right. She said, “He won because it was the type of fantasy [the judge] wanted to read. So you did good. You got a guy who normally wouldn’t read [your book] to love it. So I think this is 100% a win.”

And he did love it. Murray went on to post a personal review on Amazon and Goodreads both. (thank you!)

So she’s right. I know my book wasn’t even a finalist but I feel as if it was. Because in a one-to-one head on review, I did more than okay. Our books are apples and oranges. They’re very different. His book begins with an expletive, famously. He drops an F-bomb. My language is fairly clean. My book begins with the inner struggles of a girl, an art student, at the turn of the 21st century. Of course that will not particularly interest most men. If you skip the prologue (which I added to let people know this was a fantasy book) you wouldn’t know Sorrowfish IS a fantasy book. Not right away. So. Of course Murray thought my beginning was slow. LOL. It is slow. It had to be slow in the beginning.The Lost War is classic fantasy. Sorrowfish is portal fantasy. They both have big twists at the end, which might be the only similarity between them.

Anyhow. I definitely feel better about my loss. Congrats Justin. I’m doing my “toldja so dance” I couldn’t be happier for you.

Purchase The Lost War here. Same book as the one I reviewed before, new cover!

You can learn more about Sorrowfish at sorrowfish.com.

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