Category Archives: Fantasy

Poison Study

Poison Study

Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Young-Adult

Series: Study #1

Publication: March 1st 2007 by Mira Books

Choose: A quick death…Or slow poison…

About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve. She’ll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace—and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia.

And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. But the chief of security, leaving nothing to chance, deliberately feeds her Butterfly’s Dust—and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonizing death from the poison.
As Yelena tries to escape her new dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia and Yelena develops magical powers she can’t control. Her life is threatened again and choices must be made. But this time the outcomes aren’t so clear…

My Review:

This is what good fantasy should be and this is clearly why I adore the fantasy genre. A quick witted, tenacious and determined heroine and an undeniably exciting, engaging and intricate plot. I think the only thing that could have made this novel better is for it to have been an adult book rather than young-adult. I felt that the market Snyder was aiming this book at slipped from being an adult into being a young-adult only in the relationship of Yelena and Valek. Despite this, I still fell in love with this book.

“He probably held a couple of poisons in reserve just in case he decided to replace the taster. Glancing over my shoulder, I imagined Valek coming into the kitchen to poison my breakfast. I couldn’t even enjoy talking with a chatty cook without being reminded that tasting potentially poisoned food wasn’t the only danger of my new job. “

The novel drew me in from the very first moment and kept me on my toes from start to finish. I found I was always waiting for a new turn, a new development and this really excited me. I like the uniqueness of the idea that Snyder created. The position of food taster is such an old tradition for positions of power and Snyder really moulds it into her own and entwines it with the fantastic world she creates with so many different elements that all build up. The particular strength of the novel being the poison and whilst this isn’t a strong “fantasy” element on it’s own, the world that Snyder creates around and the use of the poisons and then the magic and the power it holds all entwine to connect so many strands of a plot that interweave so perfectly. 

Valek is a character I liked from the first moment I met him. He didn’t have this astounding physical presence of a love interest to fall madly in love with him, but his character was that which drew me in. Snyder did seem to focus more of the personality than the aesthetics which pleased me because sometimes I feel too much time is spent on the descriptions of features and the romance was very subtle. I didn’t feel like there was any insta-love and it really didn’t evolve at the centre of the novel. It was hidden deep and it bloomed slowly until it was just there and unveiled and it really worked. Valek is one of my favourite love interests and I can’t wait to see him in the next novel.

“You look stunning,” I blurted.

Mortified, I blushed as a rush of heat spread through my body. I must have swallowed more brandy than I’d realized.

Yelena was a fantastic character. She was stubborn and hard-working and I valued her all the more for learning to stand up for herself and trying really hard. At first she seemed a little wet and easily pushed over, but actually she matured and grew as a character as she began to settle into the castle more and acquaint herself with the other characters. The fact that she was smart and intuitive only added to my liking of her character as well as the physical ability to defend herself and not be afraid of herself whilst not being emotionless. Snyder crafted a well thought out heroine and made her likeable. Not only was Yelena a strong, likeable character, but she didn’t attempt to struggle through on her own and shun other people. I feel sometimes heroines have to have this dependency that mean other people are not needed, but Yelena sought help to aid her growth when she needed it, but that didn’t mean she was incapable of solving problems all on her own.

“We owe you one. Anytime you need help, just let us know.” Ari said. His words gave me a bold idea. Brazell might be gone, but he was still a threat. I thought fast, searching for reasons why my plan wouldn’t be to my benefit.

“I need help,” I said.”

Ari and Janco really added to my enjoyment. I find that there always has to be two happy go lucky lads there to mess around and be serious enough to be there is a crisis. They kind of reminded me of Fred and George from Harry Potter because they were incredibly loyal, but at the same time willing to have a joke and tease with Yelena. Synder created a dynamic that I hope to see in the next two novels even though Yelena will be moving in a different directio, the loss of their characters would be a real shame for me. It also goes to show that Synder could build up a real background of secondary characters that added to the story enjoyment and I think every character had an individuality and story that came across to me as a reader which drew me into the world of poisons and food tasting.

To balance out all the action and excitement, Synder had some really touching and emotional moments built from the friendship bonds that Yelena made with the other characters and this really rounded the story to touch on elements of sadness, pain and sorrow with the light heartedness really touched me and made me keep turning the pages to see the character development. I also think the pain and anguish in the novel which sometimes led to anger and vengeance made the characters realistically human and relatable.

“Everyone makes choices in life. Some bad, some good. It’s called living, and if you want to bow out, then go right ahead. But don’t do it halfway. Don’t linger in whiner’s limbo.”

Synder also built up a good world and there were lots of levels to the world. I think a little more description of the surroundings would have helped me visualise the setting a little more, but I think that Synder didn’t overload us with the information. She also had lots of poisons to learn and seem to have spent time and thought into working out the names which made the whole novel more realistic.

Overall, ‘Poison Study’ has to be one of my favourite fantasy novels of this year. It’s a shame I haven’t read it sooner, but I intend to read the next couple of books soon. And I heard there are plans to write three more after the ones, so there is even more to come. Yelena is everything a heroine should be, Synder has a world that is the basic foundations for fantasy and a plot that whilst might have elements of predictability is ultimately something contrived in uniqueness and only leaving me wanting more!

5 books

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Filed under 2007 Publication, 5 Books, Fantasy, Maria V. Snyder, Mira Books, Paperback, Romance, Young Adult

Unnatural Law

Unnatural Law Darwin's Children 2

Unnatural Law by Natasha Larry

Genre: Fantasy, Young-Adult, Romance

Series: Darwin’s Children #2

Published: October 26th 2011 by Penumbra Publishing

Seventeen-year-old Jaycie Lerner’s psycho-kinetic power surge is over, and her astounding powers are under control for the time being – sort of. As she struggles to maintain her humanity in the face of the awesome terror and responsibility of her abilities, she also yearns for the chance at a normal life – and a relationship with Matt Carter, the best friend she had to leave behind. But Matt’s got a few tricks up his sleeve, and he’s not about to give up on his feelings for Jaycie.
As Jaycie and her family grapple with the day-to-day routine of trying to keep their world together, Jaycie’s mother figure, Allison Young, endures a personal crisis of her own. The superhuman blonde possesses the physical equivalent of Jaycie’s awesome psychic power.

So evolved, at ninety-two she still looks twenty. But what good is extended life when everyone else around her is so fragile? With no one to share her unusual life, she’s a uniquely lonely woman yearning for the romantic love she sees all around her. But in a dream she gets her wish – and it quickly turns to a nightmare for everyone else in her life. The memory of a rose is all she can hold onto in the storm of obsession that nearly sweeps her away.
Things quickly turn deadly for the vampires, but the Dey-Vah Guard fairies refuse to acknowledge there’s an imbalance in the nature they protect. As the danger gets ever closer to Jaycie and her family, the race is on to find answers before a secret plot can destroy them all.

My Review:

Unfortunately I didn’t enjoy this novel as much as the first. That wasn’t to say it’s a bad novel because there are lots of good aspects, particularly the plot. I just found the character foundations dissolved and the characters themselves became more childish and verged into the unbelievable whilst they were meant to be maturing. At first I really enjoyed the impact of the opening of the novel and I thought we were really going to get a dark, exciting story.

“If no one got there fast enough, the being created to protect her was going to snap her neck.”

From here things changed direction. The dark direction wasn’t really taken and I guess my disappointment seeped into my enjoyment of the novel.

We followed on largely where the last book left off with a little bit of a time skip and some new revelations. However, it wasn’t hard to fit back into this book. The prologue is a jump ahead of time, but it doesn’t really seem to fit with the rest of the story really. It misguides you in all honesty and whilst it makes for an interesting read, I didn’t quite like the delusion at the start to the different ending. The plot is rather good and there are lots of different paranormal elements with fairies, ghosts and vampires, so for all those paranormal fans out there, it certainly has lots to offer. It did fall into my predictability trap with what I assumed was happening. I don’t know whether I’m just getting good with my guesses or the story was actually predictable, but I felt like there could have been a bit more of a surprise for us by the end.

The plot focuses on Jaycie struggling to deal with her powers and imminent threat of the Dey-Vah Guard who are supposed to protect her family. The balancing act of power between the two and the development of their relationship and power roles by the end certainly lead for an intruiging premise and really helped to pace the novel to draw you in as a reader. I never thought the novel was dull nor was it boring, I just felt a little out of tune with events at time to the realism which was of a greater problem. Jaycie may be the protagonist, but we particularly focus on her mother figure Alison and her loneliness, but I think her character was rather underdeveloped to take such a huge role. I felt in the first novel she was much more fleshed out and that Alison became a little weak in the second novel.

Like I stated the characters were not at all how they’d been in the first novel. The only character I really liked was Jaycie’s friend Hayley. Jaycie didn’t grow on me again and as the female protagonist this lack of connection and dislike for the main character really hindered my enjoyment off the story. I think my particular problem is that Jaycie never really gets just her story, in the first book she is overshadowed by Hayley and in the second Alison takes the central role and Jaycie is just the background protagonist almost, there is never a particular storyline that focuses on her, it’s others that have to be endangered for her to be used almost as the figure to revolve around rather than an independent protagonist. Her overuse of the phrase…

“Christ on a cracker!”

…really grated on my nerves. She must have used it a dozen times in one chapter. Personally, I just hate overused phrases.

Her character seemed to dissolve a little bit more after that and she became really childish and just ploughed ahead and did all these stupid things. Some of it is laid down to elements of her power, but it didn’t seem plausible enough to me and maybe I held onto rational mind with this one, but I think you really have to transcend reality if you want to understand Jaycie and maybe be a little younger. Not only that, she just didn’t feel and act like a 17 year old girl to me and this distanced me from liking her. Particularly her reactions and actions around her boyfriend.

“Hmmm. Coming over to hang out with you?”

Jayice smiled hugely. “Yay!”

Matt’s deep laugh vibrated in her ear. “Okay, babe. I’ll be right over.”

Having said that I didn’t particularly like their relationship they did have some cute moments and romance fans will appreciate their relationship. Matt was particularly overprotective, but he did work to save her in an intellectual way rather than run around trying to be Mr. Muscle and I like Larry’s take on the alternative method of a hero who doesn’t have to be all brawn. He was an intellectual character who seemed more central and down to earth, rather like Hayley. I think those two characters had greater substance to anybody else who surrounded Jaycie or Jaycie herself who all seemed less thought out and more ungrounded.

Matt sighed and opened his eyes.

“Alright, get out before I tie you up in my closet!”

I particularly liked the ghost element of this story and the character who connected with the ghosts. He forms a friendship with Jaycie which was the only reason I found to like her in the fact that she connected and learned to understand him. The ghosts don’t have an huge role in the novel, but their presence is important and I enjoy the little details Larry goes to.

The secondary characters of the story are lacking a little and I think after reading several books that have strong secondary characters, it makes for a less exciting read. Matt and Hayley are without a doubt the strongest characters in the book for me, but I don’t really feel like enough about them is known. There still seems to be something missing and whilst Larry has such a good plot and premise, her characters seemed to be the real issue I have with her novels.

Overall I didn’t enjoy ‘Unnatural Law’ as much as ‘Darwin’s Children’, and my review for that can be found here but I can equally say Larry has continued with a strong novel that sets a nice addition to the paranormal and fantasy world.

3 books

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Filed under 2011 Publication, 3 Books, E-book, Fantasy, Natasha Larry, Penumbra Publishing, Romance, Young Adult

Stormdancer

Stormdancer

Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff

Genre: Steampunk, Young-Adult, Fantasy, DNF

Series: The Lotus War #1

Publication: September 18th 2012 by Thomas Dunne Books

Griffins are supposed to be extinct. So when Yukiko and her warrior father Masaru are sent to capture one for the Shogun, they fear that their lives are over. Everyone knows what happens to those who fail him, no matter how hopeless the task.

But the mission proves far less impossible, and far more deadly, than anyone expects – and soon Yukiko finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in her country’s last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled griffin for company. But trapped together in the forest, Yukiko and Buruu soon discover a friendship that neither of them expected.

Meanwhile, the country around them verges on the brink of collapse. A toxic fuel is slowly choking the land; the omnipotent, machine-powered Lotus Guild is publicly burning those they deem Impure; and the Shogun cares about nothing but his own dominion. Yukiko has always been uneasy in the shadow of power, when she learns the awful truth of what the Shogun has done, both to her country and to her own family she’s determined to do something about it.

Returning to the city, Yukiko and Buruu plan to make the Shogun pay for his crimes – but what can one girl and a flightless griffin do against the might of an empire?

My Review:

Before I really begin my review, I know that I’m going to come back to this book one day. I honestly saw tonnes of potential and at times I absolutely fell in love with it, but something just stopped me from finishing it. I delayed writing my review, I deferred reading because I thought I’ll finish it, I’ll read it, but I never have. This lead me to call this book a “did-not-finish” an “abandoned” which I truly abhor to do on every level, but I really couldn’t connect enough. I think the problem I had were the long, lengthy flowery prose and descriptions that made up every section of Stormdancer. Everything was described in detail and laid down for me, leaving me to feel like my imagination was being cut off from being allowed to expand.

“The silken sokutai robe he wore was abominably heavy, layer upon layer of gold and scarlet, and he cursed again at having to wear the confounded thing in this heat.”

I know tonnes of people have rated this book four and five stars and it rocketed to being one of the most anticipated novels of the year, but for me I just couldn’t connect and I’m left feeling a little bit of an outsider to all the joy people found.

The one true element that I absolutely adored from the first moment and would undoubtedly just read about all day was Buruu. Admittedly, he was probably the sole reason I continued to read. If his presence hadn’t been so entertaining, enlightening and simply adorable I would have abandoned this book much sooner. He brought an edge of humour and cynicism to the novel that had me laughing and giggling in delight. I genuinely adore the idea of Griffins as magical creatures and I think this only served to enamour me more and more with Burruu as I imagined him in my head. However, one character alone is not enough to sustain the novel for me.

“She would be a pet, it decided. She could atone for the insults of her pack with servitude. And if not, she could serve at the last by lining its belly.”

And he only manages to get better…

“YOU ARE TALKING TOO MUCH TO HIM. TALK TO ME. Buruu nudged her with his beak, almost knocking her over.”

And even better…

“MUST HAVE BEEN DIFFICULT. LITTLE THING LIKE YOU ENDING FIVE PIT DEMONS ALL ALONE.”

The detailed descriptions may have pushed me away from this novel, but the Japanese terminology was probably a deal breaker. I don’t speak Japanese. My knowledge of the Japanese culture is very limited. I don’t want to pose such blatant ignorance, but it just flummoxed me to be reading about all these things I couldn’t visualise, understand. There is a glossary, but it’s at the back of the book and I was reading an e-book. Obviously my laziness is a factor in the fact I didn’t want to turn every time there was a word, but when there are four or five words on a page, it soon becomes frustrating, so I just attempted to muddle through the best I could.

The scene setting and world building was really good. There was a lot of past history to the world and it seemed to extend in all directions to create a sustained world that is sometimes lacking in other novels. I think Kristoff has to be applauded for the creation and uniqueness of his ideas. I thought his development of the world was incredibly original and it offered so much.

Another issue I had with this novel was my lack of connection with the main character, I just couldn’t find something relatable. I could appreciate her and I like her, but I lacked this connection to what she was doing and everything about her. I think this flummoxed me with the direction of the novel and prevented me from really devouring this novel.

I wanted to like this novel so much and I think there is so much for people to genuinely fall in love with, but honestly, I couldn’t get into it or appreciate it. Hopefully one day I’ll be able to appreciate the magic Kristoff is weaving, but somehow, I don’t think this novel is one for me. Don’t abandon it though, really you should give it a try and whilst I probably haven’t convinced you if you check out Keertana’s review here(Ivy Book Bindings) then I’m sure she’ll be able to convince you to try it in abundance, in a much more coherent way than me!

2 books

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* Quotes are taken from and uncorrected proof copy and may change in the final draft.

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this in exchange for my honest review.

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Filed under 2 Books, 2012 Publication, DNF, E-book, Fantasy, Jay Kristoff, Steampunk, Young Adult

Guardian of the Moon Pendant

Guardian of the Moon Pendant

Guardian of the Moon Pendant by Laura J. Williams

Series: Highland Secrets #1

Genre: Fairies, Fantasy, Romance, Young-Adult

Published: July 25th 2012 by Laura J. Williams

The MacAlpin women are of a fierce clan, born from a rare bloodline that harbors a dark and powerful secret – a mystical heirloom called the Moon Pendant. It is the key to controlling the MääGord standing stones, a magical Portal into the Otherworld, the realm of the Fae.
Anabel and Izzy MacAlpin are two sisters, polar opposites, living separate lives.

Anabel’s life is going precisely according to her plan, a ring on her finger from her steady beau, Edgar, and medical school in the fall.
Izzy’s life is filled with scars and wounds from her past. Dubbed the “spare child” by her family and treated poorly, she rebelled, and now lives life by her own rules.

These two sisters’ worlds are about to explode when one of them must go to Scotland and fulfill her duty as the Guardian of the Moon Pendant, by recharging this magical heirloom with four elementals, air, earth, water, and fire, and then finally close the Portal.

My Review:

This book wasn’t quite what I expected. I find it hard to summarise my feelings in their entirety since I liked the idea of the plot, but in places it was rushed and others it was dragged out unnecessarily. The two main characters Anabel and Izzy were both self-centred creatures absorbed in their own whiny and self-pity.  I found there was little redemption or progression in their characters. On the plus side, this was a short read and it was easily readable. It did hold quite a lot of promise for me to begin with, but then it seemed to drizzle of the further I got into it.

I’m going to start with the two protagonists Anabel and Izzy. We had an alternating perspective from both Anabel and Izzy’s view point, but I didn’t really enjoy either narration because they both had similar whiny character traits where they complained about the other. Not only that, but the narration often followed the same events from the different view to create a repetitive and dragging sensation in the middle part of this novel where several switches left to the events being repeated. I felt like Williams had put this in to flesh out the novel rather than to add to the enjoyment and flow, for me it brought me out of the novel and stilted the reading experience.

Anabel was a girl looking to get into medical school and was already engaged. She didn’t seem to have a very strong relationship with her fiancé Edgar and yet they were engaged, to me it seemed ridiculous. Then she meets Blane… And he’s oh so wonderful, Scottish and sexy. I did not get this at all! I kid you not, I thought he was a 40 year old man when we first met him. Williams’ visual descriptions left a lot to be desired because at no point did I visualise any of the potential love interest for Anabel or Izzy as young and I don’t think this was the desire effect! So the very fickle love Anabel has for Blane develops and Edgar is pretty much forgotten. To be truthful, I see there being very little point to his character other than to add a tad of emotional distress to Anabel’s tale which she doesn’t really need when adding the conflict of her sister, her forbidden love for Blane and the struggles with the moon pendant.

My hopes and dreams of becoming a wife, mother and doctor flashed before my eyes. How could I possibly finish any of these tasks – four deadly tasks – in four days?

Izzy is very much the whiny, “poor me” girl of the novel. She may have had problems, a crazy boyfriend and a dislike for her sister, but I did not feel the need for her to bring it up every five seconds. It really grated on my nerves and on occasions I found myself skimming this part of the narration. She pretended to be “bad-ass”, but I didn’t really feel the vibe, other than smoking and I can hardly call that “bad-ass”. At times she seemed to overshadow Anabel’s narration and push herself into being the main protagonist of the story, when for me, the story seemed to be wanting to focus on Anabel as the guardian. There was very much a struggle that Williams didn’t really dissolve with the two characters for who could be deemed the protagonist.

Then what, Braveheart?” snipped Izzy. Her body leaned forward, pressing against her coiled restraints, digging deep into her bare skin. “You’re gonna throw us down into the dungeon and eat our flesh?”

The plot had a good idea, and I liked the fairy aspect and the tasks that had to be completed as part of the Guardian of the Moon Pendant in order to close the portal and prevent the fairies and demons entering this world, but I think the execution of it was messy and stilted. I was confused at times as to what was happening and found that some parts lacked detail and description to really create visual images in my head. And whilst I like a little allowance for creativity, Williams really lacked for me on the descriptive front. Then there were moments of cluttered action where points become elongated and boring. This novel really had one extreme or another.

Overall the ideas this story is based on sound good and they seem to be heading in an interesting direction, but it just wasn’t for me. I don’t think I’ll be checking out the sequel to this novel, however don’t ignore this book because if you like a fun read that lacks a bit of detail, you might find yourself enjoying it!

2 books

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Filed under 2 Books, 2012 Publication, E-book, Fairies, Fantasy, Laura J. Williams, Romance, Young Adult

The Tale of Despereaux

The Tale of Despereaux

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

Genre: Fantasy, Young-Adult

Publication: September 9th 2008 by Candlewick Press

Welcome to the story of Despereaux Tilling, a mouse who is in love with music, stories, and a princess named Pea. It is also the story of a rat called Roscuro, who lives in the darkness and covets a world filled with light. And it is the story of Miggery Sow, a slow-witted serving girl who harbors a simple, impossible wish. These three characters are about to embark on a journey that will lead them down into a horrible dungeon, up into a glittering castle, and, ultimately, into each other’s lives. What happens then? As Kate DiCamillo would say: Reader, it is your destiny to find out.

Review:

This book is cute, shorty and snappy. It’s really not my usual type of book and I’m definitely not the age group this book is directed at! Still, it was enjoyable nevertheless. And how can you not love this cute little mouse…?

“He was ridiculously small. His ears were obscenely large. He had been born with his eyes open. And he was sickly. He coughed and sneezed so often that he carried a handkerchief in one paw at all times. He ran temperatures. He fainted at loud noises. Most alarming of all, he showed no interest in the things a mouse should show interest in.”

despereaux

I haven’t actually watched the film, but reading the book makes me want to definitely pick up the film.

The book is hard to sum up in words. There are lots of cure pictures dotted through the book to keep your interested engaged, and I’d say it would be nice to sit down with young children and read to them or have them read so their interest can be maintained by the pictures. I have to say, it’s been a very long time since I read a book that had pictures in and it was a pleasant experience.

The book is broken down into four parts, for the last part and the first part, this book probably borders more of the five star rating, whilst the middle two parts were more of a three to two stars. I just didn’t enjoy them as much.

Book The First

A Mouse is Born

The first part and the last part follow Despereaux more and I find him so inexplicably cute that I couldn’t help but smile. And I felt like part four had a much more action packed scene with the drawing to the close of this tale which engaged my attention enough.

Book the Fourth

Recalled to the Light

Part Three I abhorred the most.

Book The Third

Gor!

The Tale of Miggery Sow

I was incredibly sick of hearing about Miggery and her personality and character really just annoyed me. She was stupid and I really couldn’t feel hardly any sympathy for her even though she’d had a bad life, I just didn’t find her to be a likeable character. That would probably be my only part of the tale that I didn’t enjoy and couldn’t stomach it.

Overall, I found the novel to be enjoyable and cute. It’s a quick read at around 200 pages with pictures and I think if you like animals and children’s fantasy then you’ll probably like this book!

4 books

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Filed under 2008 Publication, 4 Books, Candlewick Press, Fantasy, Kate DiCamillo, Paperback, Young Adult

Crashing Eden

Crashing Eden

Crashing Eden by Michael Sussman

Genre: Young-Adult, Fantasy

Publication: May 1st 2012 by Solstice Publishing

For one boy and his friends, the path to Paradise comes at a cost—one they may not be prepared to pay.

When a biking accident leaves 17-year-old Joss Kazdan with the ability to hear things others can’t, reality as he knows it begins to unravel.

A world of legends exists beyond the ordinary life he’s always known, and he is transported to the same Paradise he’s studying in World Mythology. But the strange gets even stranger when his new friends build a device that delivers people through the gates of the Garden of Eden.

Now Samael, the Creator God, is furious. As Samael rains down his apocalyptic devastation on the ecstasy-seeking teens, Joss and his companions must find a way to appease Samael—or the world will be destroyed forever.

My Review:

For Michael Sussman’s debut into young adult, I’d call this a solid start. I felt that we had some really strong moments where his writing was taking off, with strong elements of fantasy, but then ultimately there were some big flops. Still his work was readable and enjoyable and I found it easy to read. One of the biggest problems was I felt like we had a few too many plot loops, like at one moment Joss was doing something and the next it was completely different. Also, I felt like the fantasy element as a more modern fantasy wasn’t as strong as it could be.

From the first moment I started reading, I knew that this book was going to be different because we followed a male protagonist, Joss. I feel like the young-adult genre is lacking in stories from a male perspective, so this was a nice addition! Joss was a little impulsive and seemed to change the foundations of his character quickly, which was annoying. He certainly had a wild history that made for an interesting reading and enabled you to really see a change in his character that was nice. I tend to find the male protagonist stories follow a disturbed youth who is falling of the rails and has issues. Joss is struggling with his younger brother’s suicide, his distant mother and general trouble to be good, so I enjoyed this aspect of his character. I found that he could make me chuckle.

And anyhow, who the hell was that dickwad Heckle to sentence me to a lifetime of misery? He could kiss my deluded ass.”

He would have been a stronger character if he’d become more structured in his change from the rebel to a new “person”, and he needed more to the dynamics of his relationships with some of the other characters like his friends, but other than that I found him entertaining and easy to connect with.

He has two “love interests” almost of the story, but one can’t be anything but a young boy’s crush. Shakti is the crush and to be truthful, she was a little boring and I didn’t think she had much substance to her character. She came along looking to be some mystical woman and then she seemed to defer lots to her boyfriend and whilst Joss professed her as beautiful, I didn’t really feel like there was a lot about her character.

Either way, I’d betrayed Alessa. But what was I supposed to do when I had such strong feelings for both girls?”

On the other hand, we had Alessa, Joss’s main love interest and she seems to flesh out as the story goes along. Although there were still a lot of unanswered questions in their relationship. At first she seems a little bitchy, but then she becomes a little more understanding and a relationship quickly forms with Joss. It would have been nice to watch a more steady development, but I guess it represents how young people jump into love.

One character I despised was Joss’s mother. She was an utter cow! She was horrible to him and literally hated him. The fact that she even told him she didn’t like him, didn’t sit well with me. No wonder the boy had problems when his mother behaved so despicably. Her enlightenment by the end of the novel wasn’t enough to redeem her and I felt like her actions couldn’t be excused throughout the novel.

Whilst I felt like the characters were a little lacking, Sussman seems to have really got a lot of research about heaven, hell and the cultural beliefs of different religions and I really found them interesting to read. I found at times all the talk of God and religion got a little too much for me, but that’s just my own opinion. Still, I felt like the novel was thoroughly researched and shows Sussman to have some real potential for more in future.

“I believe long ago, all humans could hear the sound. In mythological terms, that was the Golden Age. Paradise ended with the Fall, and that’s when adult humans lost touch with this cosmic vibrations.”

The plot was strong for the first part and then we reached about 40% and it tailed off until about 75% since in between Joss was handing out PVDs to hear the OM that is part of the connection to Eden and this is discussed within the first 40% which makes up for a strong set up to the story. During the middle of this novel, I truthfully got a little bored. However the last 25% I devoured eagerly. If the whole of this novel had been as exciting as the last 25% I would have easily given this story 4 stars.

Overall I felt like Sussman has made a strong entrance to the YA genre and that he’s showing a lot of potential for future novels! I wouldn’t dismiss this one as rubbish because it really has some great moments. Check it out if you have the time!

My Rating:

2.5 books

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Thanks to Miss Gonzalez for inviting me to join Michael’s tour.

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Filed under 2.5 Books, 2012 Publication, E-book, Fantasy, Michael Sussman, Solstice Publishing, Young Adult

Carnival of Souls

Carnival of Souls

Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr

Genre: Young-Adult, Fantasy, Daimons

Expected Publication: September 4th 2012 by HarperCollins

In a city of daimons, rigid class lines separate the powerful from the power-hungry. And at the heart of The City is the Carnival of Souls, where both murder and pleasure are offered up for sale. Once in a generation, the carnival hosts a deadly competition that allows every daimon a chance to join the ruling elite. Without the competition, Aya and Kaleb would both face bleak futures–if for different reasons. For each of them, fighting to the death is the only way to try to live.

All Mallory knows of The City is that her father–and every other witch there–fled it for a life in exile in the human world. Instead of a typical teenage life full of friends and maybe even a little romance, Mallory scans quiet streets for threats, hides herself away, and trains to be lethal. She knows it’s only a matter of time until a daimon finds her and her father, so she readies herself for the inevitable. While Mallory possesses little knowledge of The City, every inhabitant of The City knows of her. There are plans for Mallory, and soon she, too, will be drawn into the decadence and danger that is the Carnival of Souls.

My Review:

This book was dark, devious and absolutely delicious! I may have really enjoyed this book, but I still have a few reservations. Nevertheless, I am beyond thrilled to have got my hands on an early copy of this! It was the kind of dark novel that I’ve been waiting for from the young-adult genre! And the cover just looks divine. Once again, it’s a book with a pretty cover and a phenomenal story line to boot!

From the very first moment this novel kicks off, we know we’re in for something special and dark. The prologue enlightens a world like no other and draws us into the realm of witches, daimons and other creatures alike.

“When he’d chosen her that unlucky day in the Carnival of Souls, she’d prayed that it was only pleasure, not breeding. Briefly, she glanced at her still-sleeping daughter. Now that she’d given birth, Selah could only pray that her child would live.”

Then we zoom forward 17 years to see Mallory as a grown up. Although her relationship with her father would never suggest her age to me as a 17 year old. He coddles her and she calls him “daddy” so once again we witness a parent/child dynamic where the child seems to behave much younger than they actually are. Nevertheless, it’s clear to witness there is a very caring nature to her father and Mallory’s best interests are always at the forefront of his actions, so I actually found it hard to dislike him. Even if he was controlling and his use of magic could be deemed unfair, I actually liked Adam, her father, as a character. And my opinion from first meeting him in the prologue to that by the end of the novel certainly adapted and changed.

“Yes, Daddy.” Mallory felt herself struggling not to say the words that pulled to her lips. There were questions she wanted to ask, but she couldn’t. Her hands tightened on the pitcher. “Daddy.”

Her father paused.

“This isn’t fair,” she forced out. “What you’re doing. It’s not fair.”

Mallory isn’t our only protagonist of the story though, since we witness follow through the footsteps of Kaleb and Aya too. I really enjoyed the three tales because they all interwove and the characters all crossed paths and because of the unique way Marr had their stories connecting, it really worked!

I feel like we’ve only brushed the surface with Mallory and that there will be much more strength and development to come from her. Whilst in Carnival of Souls she holds her own against Kaleb and attempts to with her father, she still seems a little overwhelmed and swamped by all these new things, which whilst being entirely understandable, I think it will be entertaining to watch her come into her own soon.

Kaleb was a character I struggled to understand. I really liked him when he wasn’t with Mallory and when he was caring for his pack-mate. His friendship with Zevie was unique and very endearing, but when he came across Mallory, his personality changed. I struggled to understand his actions and motives towards her at first, whilst his relationship with Zevie was very much clear cut and easy to understand, it was more complex with Mallory. The love on Kaleb’s side felt rather like insta-love, Mallory was much more reluctant to act and this prevented it from becoming something I wouldn’t like. Still, I felt like Kaleb was a little impulsive and desperate at times around Mallory.

“I don’t have a cell phone, but I can get one if you want me to.” He took her back into his arms. “I’m yours to command, Mallory.”

However, he did progress over the novel to be more normal, so it wasn’t too bad. And I appreciated Mallory not falling into his arms and going starry eyed.

For the third character, Aya that made up the three main characters of her story, she was very elusive and mysterious to begin, but I loved the unravelling of her tale and the twists and turns along the way. I found myself piecing together the plot and I felt Marr had lots of different plot vines to draw together. Aya seemed to be the person to bring everybody together and connect everyone. This is my first Marr novel, so I’m unsure whether this is her style or not, but I hope it continues because it was certainly effective!

I really liked the world we got off the human world and then the Carnival of Souls and the place where the daimons presided. I only wished, we’d learnt more about that and the portals that could connect the two worlds because it seems such a fabulous idea and Marr’s novel isn’t that long, so I think she definitely could have benefitted from extending the story a little more to build on the world. We got a little background history as we went along, but I feel like Marr needs to deliver a little more substance with a second novel to keep us equally as hooked as the first.

Marchosias had decreed, long before Kaleb was born, that the carnival would serve as the mercantile and service center of The City. It was the epicentre of The City itself. Spiralling out around the carnival were a tangle of narrow streets and old buildings that made up clearly stratified living sections. At the edges, the Untamed Lands encroached;”

Overall I felt like Marr set up what looks to be a brilliant series with Carnival of Souls and for me, I believe it can only get better from here, since Marr left a real stunner of an ending that means we can only demand more. I devoured this book in a day, so it’s certainly worth your time. I don’t know anything about her other novels, but certainly flock to buy this when it hits the shelves in September because I doubt you’ll be disappointed. Whilst I will be looking to read her other series!

My Rating:

4 books

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* Quotes are taken from and uncorrected proof copy and may change in the final draft.

And thanks again to The Readers Den for giving me the opportunity to win a copy of this!

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Filed under 2012 Publication, 4 Books, Daimons, Fantasy, HarperCollins, Melissa Marr, Paperback, Young Adult

The Assassin’s Curse

The Assassin's Curse

The Assassin’s Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke

Genre: Fantasy, Young-Adult

Series: The Assassin’s Curse #1

Expected Publication: October 2nd 2012 by Strange Chemistry

Ananna of the Tanarau abandons ship when her parents try to marry her off to an allying pirate clan: she wants to captain her own boat, not serve as second-in-command to her handsome yet clueless fiance. But her escape has dire consequences when she learns the scorned clan has sent an assassin after her.

And when the assassin, Naji, finally catches up with her, things get even worse. Ananna inadvertently triggers a nasty curse — with a life-altering result. Now Ananna and Naji are forced to become uneasy allies as they work together to break the curse and return their lives back to normal. Or at least as normal as the lives of a pirate and an assassin can be.

Review:

It took me a while to come to my conclusion on this story, but then I realised that I really adored the novel. This book really left my thoughts in a muddle because it was entirely unexpected. We start out seemingly simplistic with a runaway girl on a camel and then the story blossoms into one of wit, adventure, magic and most of all friendship. It’s truly stunning! Not only that, but this is a novel where the cover doesn’t deceive you about the story, it is truly beautiful and captures the essence of the tale.

My connection with the main character was instantaneous; I truly found it hard not to love her. Ananna has to be one of the best female characters I’ve read! She was independent, strong, fiery and her humour really had me giggling away. Since she took on a more dry, sarcastic tone to her humour, I found that I could really appreciate her character.

“Well, I think we should discuss the matter further.” I stood up. “This don’t just effect you, you know. I had plans. And they didn’t involve tiptoing around so some assassin wouldn’t get a headache.”

When you first meet Naji, it seems that he holds much of the power in his hands being some great assassin and having all these abilities that he’d be above Ananna. But when she talks to him, she brings him to her level and thus we watch their friendship evolve and blossom over the novel. There is an undercurrent of romance, but most of this falls on Anaana’s side, since it’s in first person perspective, it’s hard to gauge Naji’s response whilst he remains so elusive. The romance in this story takes a very back seat and even by the end of the novel we still seem to be waiting for more. Since this is part of a series, I expect future development on the romance to take a stronger tone to the future novels. However, it doesn’t take anything away from not having a strong romance and I think this shows the versatility of the young-adult genre.

Naji was a very mysterious and confined character. It seemed like getting any information from him would be like pulling teeth, so Ananna’s humour was very much needed to balance out his surely behaviour. Particularly when he became difficult.

“We’re close,” Naji said.
“Close to what?” I was hoping he’d trip and give me some kind of hint as to where we were headed.
“The canyon.”
“And what’s in the canyon?”
“A river.”
I didn’t even care that he was weaseling out of telling me anything important. “A river?” I said. “Water?”
“Water generally comprises a river, yes.”

Whilst he might have been a little bit abrasive and surely, he was cute and insecure and I really wanted to cuddle him and beat the bitch who was mean to him with a broomstick. The poor lad was besotted with the river witch and I didn’t like her one bit. Although, my view was probably ever so slightly influenced by Ananna’s hatred of her too. 

Naji thought he was a strong “hero” but didn’t overtake the story with swooping in so many times, since Ananna was equally capable of saving him. Therefore I felt Clarke really brought a balancing act to the novel between their characters.

I though the plot was fast, action packed and thrilling. The setting changes were exciting from the dessert on a camel, to the canyon on a river boat or on an island full of dangers. There wasn’t a moment where we were simply drifting in boredom. I appreciated the ever changing setting and pace of the novel from fights to magical cures and emotional trauma.

“Maybe he’s turned into a fern and I was ripping him into shreds in my fear. I dropped the fern and I stepped back, almost stepping into the fire.”

The magical aspect of this novel was strong, and Ananna’s naivety of magic and sometimes the boundaries was really amusing. However I felt like we could have delved more into the magic aspects and the spells and Naji’s assassin’s world. However, Clarke explains the secrecy, but I feel like I really need to know more about this to understand Naji as a character. For me, it would be interesting to view the world through his eyes for the second novel because I feel like then we’d uncover more of the world and the magic that surrounds it.

I may have a desire for knowledge of more about the worlds and the magical spells that Naji performs, but the writing itself was beautiful. Clarke crafts a scene that brings the smells, the streets and the sea to very life and it wraps you up and really drags you into the pages of The Assassin’s Curse.

Clarke has set up a thrilling debut here, with a lot of potential for more in the second novel. I urge you to pick up this fantasy novel when it hits the shelves because pirates, magic and adventure can be found in abundance and the novel is not corny at all.

My Rating:

4 books

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Thank you to NetGalley and Angry Robot for providing me with a copy of this in exchange for my honest review.

* Quotes are taken from and uncorrected proof copy and may change in the final draft.

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Filed under 2012 Publication, 4 Books, Angry-Robot, Cassandra Rose Clarke, E-book, Fantasy, Young Adult

Everneath

Everneath

Everneath by Brodi Ashton

Genre: Fantasy, Young-Adult, Romance

Series: Everneath #1

Publication: February 2nd 2012 by Simon & Schuster UK

Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath, where immortals Feed on the emotions of despairing humans. Now she’s returned—to her old life, her family, her friends—before being banished back to the underworld… this time forever.

She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can’t find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.

Nikki longs to spend these months reconnecting with her boyfriend, Jack, the one person she loves more than anything. But there’s a problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who first enticed her to the Everneath, has followed Nikki to the mortal world. And he’ll do whatever it takes to bring her back- this time as his queen.

As Nikki’s time grows short and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she’s forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole’s…

My Review:

A slow building, intense and emotional story that leaps into action only at the end of the story. Nevertheless the story being slow paced, the story drew you in along the way and really immersed you into the world of Nikki and her struggles. In my opinion, if the book had been as pacey and pulling as the last quarter, it would have been brilliant. I have high hopes that the second novel will take a quicker pace to match where we left off.

Everneath is very much mingling the mythology of Hades and Persephone and Orpheus and Eurydice. I loved the aspects of mythology and the retelling of these tales because everything that surrounds mythology and history intrigues me and really makes me wonder about the existence of gods.  For we may have the aspects of mythology, but Ashton really makes it her own with the new fantasy elements of Everneath and Everlivings and the idea of the emotions being used to support the life of immortality and the passing of emotions between people. It was truly an emotive and moving idea because whilst Nikki was losing her emotions to Cole in Everneath, she then had to have to rebuild herself and her personality once she got back to the real world, it’s a beautiful journey.

“Without his embrace, my body felt empty and hollow, as though we were one person, divided. Except it wasn’t an even division. He had taken away everything that made me … me. And I would only be me again when I was next to him. I wasn’t sure my body would survive on its own anymore I was no longer whole.”

For the story may be slow, but Nikki certainly touches the emotions and raises questions like no other female character. She’s had a really tough time, with the struggle in Everneath and then assimilating herself with the real world again after 100 years in Everneath really impacts on her and it’s interesting to watch her adjustment. However, I would have thought after 100 years some of her functions and ability to work in school would have been much more diminished because when you don’t practice a trait, surely you lose it? After all, in Everneath she didn’t really exist as a person. I suppose it wasn’t a realistic thought, but it’s something that I did ponder.

Her dependency on Cole was interesting because it was very much mentality and battle and this was the foundation for their relationship, whilst Jack was the support and the image that kept her strong and solid. I was never truly sure how real either of the boys were and the connection Nikki had, which I believe will be strengthened with the series movement.

The concept of the story is brilliant and I really thought we were going to get something dark and delicious and it wasn’t quite what I expected. I’d hoped with talks of hell and a recreation of Hades and Persephone we’d get a more brooding and sinister look than we got. And, I felt like Cole as the villain never really lived up and did anything that oozed a good bad boy or villain. I really wanted him to either do something to save Nikki or come out as being more bad, but he just seemed to saunter around. He really had the edge to be something and the cheeky tone, but he never really caught onto his full potential for me. I hope Ashton develops him more for the sequel.

“Look, Nik, I know you don’t like public scrutiny lately. If you stand off to the side all mopey and such, without a date, you’ll stick out like a nun at a strip club.“ He leaned in. “Trust me, I’ve seen one. A nun at a strip club, that is. Everyone was staring at her.”

This boy is just all around failed potential for me and I want a really hard core bad boy from Cole in the second novel that actually shows us his feelings for Nikkin more and whether they are truthful. However, I did appreciate his character the way he was and his rather sad, puppy demure caught onto me, and I was rather Team Cole.

One might moan that there is the dreaded “love triangle” in this novel, but for me, neither boy proved of much substance until the end. I was actually Team Cole for the duration of the novel right up until the last quarter where Jack started to take a more dominant role as a potential love interest and I connected with him and his story. For me, Ashton isn’t making it clear enough which boy we should be rooting for and that’s the only thing I hate about love triangles. I prefer strong, determined characters who the author clearly shows us who we need to root for. Other than that, I think the story holds promise for the second novel in the series.

The chapter titles at first annoyed me and I found myself becoming slightly exasperated at the count down of and flash backs.

“Last Year

September. Six months before the feed.

Six month before I went under.

However, I think the titles worked more effectively by the end of the novel when time was running out and the pace was picking up. The titles added to the increasing pace effect and I liked them more by the end than I did at the start.

Everneath’s ending is certainly one that demands a sequel and I was desperate to know if there was going to be one. Unfortunately I’ll have to wait until next year, but I’m thrilled to know Ashton is gracing us with another book to this series! The premise of the sequel Everbound sounds brilliant too!

The characters in my opinion have a long way to progress and I hope that the direction Ashton seems to be taking the series in, will only strengthen Nikki and make her a more independent and smart young woman, whilst Jack and Cole will grow into their own element with strengths and determination to woo Nikki as love interests. Overall, I think Everneath has set up a fantastic premise and given Ashton a lot of potential to work with for future additions to this series.

My Rating:

4 books

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Filed under 2012 Publication, 4 Books, Brodi Ashton, Fantasy, Paperback, Romance, Simon and Schuster, Young Adult

The Rook

The Rook

The Rook by Daniel O’Malley

Genre: Fantasy, Mystery, Adult

Publication: January 11th 2012 by Little, Brown and Company

The body you are wearing used to be mine.
So begins the letter Myfanwy Thomas is holding when she awakes in a London park surrounded by bodies all wearing latex gloves. With no recollection of who she is, Myfanwy must follow the instructions her former self left behind to discover her identity and track down the agents who want to destroy her.
She soon learns that she is a Rook, a high-ranking member of a secret organization called the Chequy that battles the many supernatural forces at work in Britain. She also discovers that she possesses a rare, potentially deadly supernatural ability of her own.
In her quest to uncover which member of the Chequy betrayed her and why, Myfanwy encounters a person with four bodies, an aristocratic woman who can enter her dreams, a secret training facility where children are transformed into deadly fighters, and a conspiracy more vast than she ever could have imagined.

My Review:

This book kicks off with a bang! When your first line starts with this, you know it’s got to be good!

“Dear You,

The body you are wearing used to be mine. The scar on the inner left thigh is there because I fell out of a tree and impaled my leg at the age of nine.”

My thought pattern was along the lines of “HOLY SHIT” when I first started this book. It sounds dramatic, it is dramatic! However, my big but comes here, it took me an awfully long time to get into the story. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed every moment of reading, but it felt like a long time before I really got drawn into the real grit of the story.

I’m going to start with Myfanwy because I loved her so much. For me she seemed a little bit of a pushover from her letters of “Dear You”. However, the new Myfanwy is anything but and I absolutely adored her hands down. She was kick-butt, smart, sassy and she was guaranteed to make me laugh. My favourite quote from her has to be, without a doubt this one.

“And where is he going to lick me?

“In the examination room,” said Ingrid.

“What? no, what I mean is, whereabouts on my body will they be licking me?” demanded Myfanwy.”

How much more could I ask from her? Whilst being a really strong leading female protagonist, she managed to inflict great humour into everything for me! I think the dynamic of her relationship with Ingrid and in addition to her amnesia she made a really quirky character who could pull of moments of stupidity because of her lack of knowledge. It was pretty brilliant!

I have to say following Myfawny learning and adapting to her role within the Chequy and growing and developing as a person in all fields was utterly endearing. Not only had she changed from the person we are first led to know is Myfawny, but she matures across “The Rook” into an actual person and not just the work-a-holic.

In addition to our fantastic main character, we had some really well thought secondary characters that had a full history and we really got to engage with. My favourite being Bishop Alrich and Ingrid. Not only does O’Malley take the time to really write up the background to the story, but he sets the scene, describes it and really immerses you into everything. I could really visualise every moment of the story. His descriptions were top-notch and they didn’t take a moment away from the thrills and heart-pumping moments, they only added to the speed of the novel and it’s intensity.

“The gangly youth was covered in flesh-colored scales that glittered in the light. Long scars sliced up his face from the corners of his mouth. The little girl had massive talons coming out of her fingers.”

So whilst this book is labelled as “Fantasy” I wouldn’t put it with the whole medieval sword-fighting she-bang, it’s very much a modern world technological front. Even though I love the medieval side of fantasy more, I equally adored this one because we got a really different style. The members of the Chequy are registered as different pieces of a check board, which is a fantastic idea. We have Rooks, Bishops, Pawns and then the Lord and Lady since they would step onto King and Queen territory otherwise which was not quite favoured. O’Mally certainly builds a highly descriptive, absorbing world around these titles and world. It’s obvious he spent a great deal of time planning the regimented ranks and the admission criteria.  Thus being why the title is “The Rook”  which Myfawny is. This all sets out for a very rigid, strict and secret government department that functions to take in those with the supernatural abilities that really range to all kinds of things, vampires, four bodies to one mind, humans turning into metal. O’Malley creates so many unique powers and possibilities that evolve within the Chequy and thrive under their control whilst the Chequy also works to cover up all secrete outbreaks of the ‘supernatural’ across the country. It sometimes makes you wonder if we really do have a secret division in our country like this.

Not only that, but I labelled this mystery. It is very much leading you on a tale of twists and complex turns where you have no clue to what is about to happen. There is certainly a lot to be discovered and very little given away. I think it’s always refreshing to read a truly unpredictable novel and the whole reasoning of why’s and where’s is certainly enough to keep you on your toes if you aren’t cringing away from the gore, or lapping it up like me. I do suggest if you are easily queasy or faint-heartened to gore this might not be the best book for you since when a limb gets torn off or a liquid monster is throwing gooey gunk all around it’s not the most settling of things. However it does make for a read with no holding back and a race neck speed finish.

I found the method of telling the story and narrative to be equally engaging. We switched from letters written by the “old” Myfawny in first person detailing her life, into a third person narrative from the “new” Myfawny. This really enables her to feel like a new toddler stumbling with it’s first steps and she has to fit into a lifestyle that isn’t hers. It adds to the outsider effect and really draws you in. Adding to the letters we have the purple binder that Myfawny has detailed ever aspect of her life in that surrounds the Chequy. I really liked O’Malley’s thought into this and the great details he went into. Not only that, but we saw some wit and humour touched into that too.

“With this reformation of the Estate and its methods, there were some kinks that needed to be worked out, and, in my opinion, Norman Goblet stands out as one of the kinkiest.”

I never would have picked up O’Malley’s “The Rook” without it being selected as group read and I’m very glad I did because whilst it took me a while to get into, once I actually settled down to read, I found it nearly impossible to stop reading. “The Rook” is a unique fantasy novel, with a brilliant premise, a strong protagonist and lots of wit, humour and excitement tossed in amongst the mix of supernatural. I advise you all to flock and by “The Rook” now because it surely will not disappoint! Especially since it’s actually one of those novels where you find everything answered and tidly swept away.

My Rating:

4 books

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Filed under 2012 Publication, 4 Books, Adult, Daniel O'Malley, E-book, Fantasy, Little, Brown and Company, Mystery