By: Alison Goodman
Lady Helen Series Bk 1
The year is 1812 and Lady Helen Wrexhall is preparing for her debut, such an important and changing event in the life of young women in Regency London. Helen’s debut is tainted by the demise of her parents, by her mother’s apparent treason and subsequent death. Despite being told to keep as much distance between herself and her past there is something going on that Helen finds she just cannot let go of. Then there is Lord Carlston, who is reentering society after some scandal of his own. He is a man of many secrets, some of them directly related to Helen, her past and possible future. Helen is supposed to be a lady but a lady doesn’t get herself involved in a hidden world of missing servants and demonic conspiracies, surely.
Goodman has woven a tale that transports us into Regency London with all it’s intricacies and foibles. Helen is a young woman on the cusp of rest of her life, how is that a thing when you aren’t sure who you are? That is the crux of Helen’s dilemma, the known and expected verses the unknown but possibilities. Goodman’s attention to detail transports the reader to the drawing rooms, ballrooms, and habits of the wealthy as well as plunging you into the dank, crudeness of the lower classes.
A thoroughly entertaining read that delves into dark fantasy in the midst of structured culture.
Published: 14th December 2015
Key Words: Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, Demons, Regency
I received this book from the publisher
Fyrelit Bk 1
By: Alison & Nicholas Lochel
Neleik, Ervine and Skye Fyrelit are orphans, but they have each other and their farm. Together they will survive. One day Neleik and Ervine are witness to their sister being kidnapped. They leave everything behind in order to find her, they will not stop till they are a family once again. This journey will not be an easy one, it takes them to halls of power and on unexpected quests. Along their way they meet a princess who wants more from her life, a half-giant, a damaged dragon and a strange sword master who knows something of a secret that will change their lives forever. First though they must survive.
A detailed world with some fun little touches provides the backdrop to this story of family. The brothers brave but naive, they are driven to find their sister no matter what obstacle appears in their path. They are ill equipped for much of what they face and their allies balance out their party well. When I first picked this book up I struggled a little, maybe because I was tired because when I went back to it, feeling fresh and really wanting to read and escape, this story swept me along. There are some funny little modern touches, that have been adjusted for the world that gave me cause to laugh and in no way took me out of the world these siblings have created. It was a good read and truthfully, I hope to get around to finishing the series one day.
Published: 30th June 2015
Key Words: Fantasy, Family, Adventure
I received my copy from the publisher
By: Rick Riordan
Book one of the Magnus Chase series
Magnus Chase is homeless, has been for two years, extended family is more than a little dysfunctional. He has friends, of sorts, Blitz and Hearth, they keep an eye out for him. Magnus was managing, that is until he died. That was things got really strange because a girl on a flying horse saves him. Magnus finds himself at the Hotel Valhalla, where he meets others who have been saved by Valkyries. His Valkyrie has issues of her own and Magnus discovers that not everyone wants him there. In fact if he is to survive, if that is what he is doing, then he has to go on a quest. Doing this though means first of all finding a way out of Valhalla. With Sam, the Valkyrie and her secret as well as Blitz and Hearth who turn out to be far more than simple homeless folk, by his side, Magnus sets out to retrieve Frey’s sword and not free the Fenris Wolf. Simple as quests go, really. All they have to do is navigate their way through parts of the nine realms and get the things they need to prevent Ragnarok. Easy.
And that is all I am going to say. Mostly. If you’ve read Riordan you know to expect a fast paced story with plenty of action, characters who balance bizarre with humour to keep things as real as they can. There are a few ties to the world of Percy Jackson, but again, no spoilers. The characters work well together and the mythology is a consistently tight and entertaining background.
Thoroughly readable (as in hard to put down) and highly entertaining.
Published: 6th October 2015
Genre: Mythology, Fantasy
Format: Paperback, 528 pages
I received my copy from the publisher
By: Patrick Ness
Life for a high school student is filled with stresses related to dating and exam scores and that is how it should be, not everyone can be a chosen one. Not everyone is the one who has to face the zombies, kill the vampires or defeat whatever the latest threat to a town might be. Stories are always told of those people but what of those who share the town with them. This is the story of those whose lives go on at the edges or outside all that action. To Mikey though that is as it should be. Mikey just wants to graduate, get the chance to go to prom before the high school gym gets blown up again and maybe kiss the girl. This is life.
This book is a wonderfully engaging story. As a counterpoint to Mikey’s life we do get hints as to what is happening in the extraordinary world, but so what? Mikey’s life is interesting, filled with stresses that we can all identify with. (Well apart from a mother who basks in the spotlight of fame.) Mikey has a close group of friends, is protective of his sisters and protective of his best friends secret, no small ask when that friend might be something pretty spectacular, such as a god. Then of course there is the girl he believes he should be with and the guy she seems to fancy.
Ness has taken the concept of a story about the spectacular or supernatural and turned it on its head. In the process he has given us a wonderful tale rooted in the mundane, it is a highly relatable tale dealing with depression, mental health issues and eating disorders. There are some serious topics packaged here and as always Ness deals with them in a manner that makes them seem less taboo. Once again Patrick Ness has proven what a masterful story teller he is.
Publisher: Walker Books
Published: 27th August 2015
Format: hard cover 352 pages
Genre: fantasy, high school, growing up, friendship
By: Tamora Pierce
Briar, Rosethorn and Evvy and visiting the mountain kingdom of Gyongxe, a mystical country filled with temples of many religions, the very earth is filled with power. Before there time is up though they are summonsed to visit the Emperor of Yanjing under the pretense of seeing his glorious gardens.
Things are not as peaceful and pleasant as the emperor attempts to make things seem on the surface. The mages sense and see things they do not like, amongst them the treatment of certain individuals, the emperor’s dark cruelty, a huge army and throng magic that underlies it all, keeping it all together. Unwilling to stay they leave and discover the Emperor as about to launch an attack on Gyongxe and he will do anything to stop the visiting mages from joining the other side. This is omething Rosethorn cannot allow as she has vowed to defend the First Temple of the Living Circle and where Rosethorn is bound to go Briar will not be far away, even if they do get separated for a while.
Another wonderful addition to the world first bought to us in the Circle Of Magic series. This is perhaps though, the darkest and bloodiest of the books, dealing as it does with genocide and war. Pierce uses this context to push her characters through emotional arcs that will forever change them. I won’t go too much into what they go through, the individual things they experience, because that would detract too much from the read itself, and it would be too easy to unintentionally leave spoilers. Rosethorn’s steadfastness, Briar’s stubborn loyalty and Evvy’s wonder and enthusiasm are still there shining through the whole time.
A bigger book than the other circle books but just as un-put downable.
Published: 1st Oct 2013
Format: Paperback, 464 pages
I received my copy from the publisher.
By: Garth Nix and Sean Williams
Spirit Animals bk 3
Meilin has had enough of waiting and working with the others, she wants to help her father, her people. She has no idea what state her land is in but that isn’t going to stop her, she knows what she wants and she knows how capable she is, so she chooses to leave the group and go home, where she feels she might at least be able to do some good. The welcome she receives though is not quiet what she expected. Whilst she is trying to get home, the enemy are still pushing forward and her friends face a deadly foe.
This is Meilin’s story, it is a very interesting arc for her, because as capable as she is she is ruled by emotions and to find she isn’t always right and can make mistakes is a big thing for her to try and come to terms with. The others still have their part to play and ultimately it turns out that they really work best when they work together. This is a story of adversity and coming together as a team to deal with the challenges thrown up in front of them.
Publisher: Scholastic Australia
Published: 01 April 2014
Format: Paperback 208 pages
Categories: Science Fiction Fantasy
ISBN 13: 9781743620007
Purchase: here or use Booktopia link on side of page
I received my copy from the publisher
By: Sally Green
Nathan Byrne is a witch, but he is a witch no-one really wants anything to do with. His mother was a white witch, a healer, his father a black witch, a killer and a very notorious one at that. The time is coming for Nathan to come into his powers but those who are in control, the council of white witches are not about to let that happen. Nathan is persecuted his whole life, he can’t even date the girl he wants because she is a white witch and therefore off limits. Then he is taken from everything he knows and cares about. He is tortured, trained and doesn’t know why.
It appears as though the rules are being changed just for him as the council pull out all stops to try and use Nathan presumably to catch his father. Nathan is desperate to meet his father and get his powers and he will make whatever deals are necessary for this to happen.
The premise of this story is fairly solid. What happens when you don’t fit in because you’re not one thing or another? The story itself though is very slow moving. I enjoyed the last perhaps third but it took a bit of perseverance for me to get there. I’m also not sure how I feel about Nathan himself. I can see how he is pushed into making some choices, but on the whole I don’t think strongly about him in one way or another. He is troubled and has potential but he feels, in some ways, quite bland.
I may give the second book a read purely because the premise has so much potential, where do you go when people are pushing you to be something you’re not sure you want to be. If it remains so bland I may not finish it. Having said that though, if you like your books to meander through the story telling and you want something interesting with witches at the core, give this a go, it was a popular book by all accounts in its country of origin and we can’t all like the same thing.
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Published: 27 March 2014
Format: Paperback 400 pages
ISBN 13: 9780141350868
Purchase: here or use Booktopia link on the side of the page.