Shadow of the Fox

Shadow of the Fox was written by Julie Kagawa and first published in 2018. It is a fantasy novel based around Japanese mythology, which focuses on a half-yōkai and assassin who team up to find a legendary artefact. The novel forms the first part of a planned trilogy and its sequel, provisionally titled Soul of the Sword, is expected to be released next year.

Yumeko knows nothing about the world that lies outside of the Silent Winds temple. As a half-kitsune (fox spirit), she knows that she is lucky to have found a home with the monks. Although she suffers from an insatiable urge to use her magic to play tricks on people, the monks at least tolerate her behaviour. In the outside world, most people would never trust someone with yōkai blood.

Yet, when her adoptive family is slain by demons, Yumeko has no choice but to leave her home. The head monk entrusts her with the greatest secret of the temple – a fragment of an ancient scroll. Legends say that if a person obtains all three pieces, they will be able to summon a powerful dragon and ask it for one wish. Knowing that this is what the demons seek, Yumeko sets off on a dangerous mission to locate the rest of the scroll. But she is not alone.

Tatsumi is the Kage demonslayer – a shinobi who is fated wield the cursed sword Kamigoroshi. The head of his clan also has her eyes on the scroll and has ordered him to retrieve the fragment from the Silent Winds temple at any cost. However, Yumeko is quick to use this to her advantage. Pretending that she does not know where the scroll is, she tells Tatsumi that she can take him to the place where it is kept. Tatsumi has no choice to join her on her journey as her bodyguard, but Yumeko knows that she is playing with fire. What will happen if Tatsumi discovers that she is one of the monsters that he has been trained to hunt? Or, worse still, what will he do if he finds out that the scroll fragment is in her possession…

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A Good Night for Shooting Zombies

A Good Night For Shooting Zombies was written by Jaco Jacobs and published in 2013 under the title Oor ‘n motorfiets, ‘n zombiefliek en lang getalle wat deur elf gedeel kan word. As of October 2018, it has been made available in English for the very first time, been shortlisted for the Found in Translation Award and made into a successful film in Afrikaans. The novel tells the story of two boys who make friends over filming a zombie movie. It is a stand alone novel, so you don’t have to read any of the author’s other work to fully appreciate it.

The last few years have been pretty miserable for Martin. His father was killed in a tragic car accident and his family refuse to talk about it. In his free time, Martin looks after his father’s chickens which has earned him the nickname “Clucky”. That is, until one of his chickens is killed by his neighbour’s dog and his life changes forever.

The dog turns out to belong to a teenage boy named Vusi, who his seriously ill with cancer. Although he is initially furious with Vusi, Martin finds it difficult to stay angry as he starts to bond with the boy over his love of zombie films. Vusi dreams of making a film of his own but worries this will never be a reality. His parents are highly protective of him and reluctant to even let him go outside.

With Martin’s help, Vusi finds away that he can slip away and, with the help of local tomboy Chris, they start to piece together their film in secret. However, when they uncover the hideout for a gang of thieves, they suddenly find themselves in more trouble than they ever could have imagined. Will it be possible to finish the film without attracting the attention of some very dangerous men?

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The Story Collector: A New York Public Library Book

The Story Collector: A New York Public Library Book was written by Kristin O’Donnell Tubb and first published in 2018. It is a middle-grade mystery novel that tell the story of Viviani Fedeler, a young girl who really did live in the New York Public Library in the 1920s. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to read any of the author’s other work to fully appreciate it.

Viviani knows that she is really lucky. She and her older brothers, John Jr and Edouard, know the New York Public Library better than anyone else. As her father is the building’s superintendent, the whole family lives on the premises. Viviani loves the library more than anything, sharing all of her secrets with its magnificent lion statues and spending her free time playing baseball in the Periodical Reading Room (much to the horror of the head librarian).

Viviani also loves collecting stories and is known for wowing her classmates with her tall tales. However, things become tough for her at school when a new girl starts. Merit has immigrated from Egypt and has fascinating stories of her own. Unfortunately, Merit is only interested in hard facts and is quick to dismiss Viviani as being a liar, humiliating her in front of her friends.

It is clear to Viviani that Merit needs to be taught the value of stories and plans an elaborate prank to teach her a lesson. However, things quickly take a bad turn. When a valuable stamp collection is targeted by a thief, Viviani soon finds herself with more problems than she can handle. Is there a way that she can forge a friendship with Merit and capture the culprit at the same time?

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Our Lady of the Streets

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments of this series. You can read my reviews of these novels by clicking the links below:

The City’s Son | The Glass Republic

Our Lady of the Streets was written by Tom Pollock and first published in 2014. It forms the final instalment of The Skyscraper Throne Trilogy and is preceded by The City’s Son (2012) and The Glass Republic (2013). As the novel picks up on the cliff-hanger ending of the previous instalment, I would definitely recommend reading the novels in sequence if you want to have any idea of what is going on.

Everything went to Hell on the day that Mater Viae’s double dragged herself from London-Under-Glass. As she reclaimed her throne on top of Canary Wharf, the very streets began to sicken. Pavements seared, incinerating anyone unlucky enough to stand on them, and London was sealed off from the outside world. Those unlucky enough to be trapped there are easy prey for the cruel goddess’s masonry men.

Tied to the city, Beth soon realises that she is dying. Every time that she feeds, she absorbs more of Mater Viae’s corruption. Now, her body burns with fever and she struggles to perform even the simplest of tasks. She knows that if she can’t find a way to defeat Mater Viae soon, she will certainly die. However, she only has a fraction of the army that she had when she defeated Lord Reach and the enemy this time is so much more powerful.

Pen knows that she needs to do everything that she can to save her friend, even if it means facing the demons of her past. However, when she finally learns the true horror of Mater Viae’s plan, she realises that even this will not be enough. In order to stand a chance to defeat the Goddess of London, they will need the help of their oldest and most powerful of enemies. And such forces cannot be easily controlled…

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Beetle Queen

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for Beetle Boy. You can read my review of this novel [here].

Beetle Queen (also published under the title Revenge of the Beetle Queen) was written by M.G. Leonard and first published in 2017. It forms the second part of The Battle of the Beetles Trilogy, following Beetle Boy (2016) and preceding Battle of the Beetles (2018). The story picks up a couple of months after the events of the first book and follows the continuing adventures of Darkus Cuttle and his hyper-intelligent rhinoceros beetle, Baxter. Because of this, I would strongly recommend reading the books in sequences to fully appreciate them.

Darkus managed to rescue his father from the clutches of the evil Lucretia Cutter, but he knows that the monstrous fashionista is planning something big. The paper reports that she is designing dresses that will be worn by every actress who has been nominated at the Film Awards in LA. Darkus does not know what Cutter will do when all of those cameras are turned on her, but it can’t possibly be good.

However, his snooping is hampered by his father. Bartholomew Cuttle knows how dangerous Cutter can be. She very nearly killed Darkus the last time they met and he doesn’t want to risk losing him. Bartholomew is keen to whisk his son away to live in the countryside but Darkus can’t allow that. He could never run away and leave his new human and beetle friends in danger.

When a close friend is badly injured by Lucretia Cutter and his father vanishes once again, Darkus knows that he has to act. With the help of Uncle Max, Virginia, Bertolt and their best beetle friends, they set off on an epic adventure that takes them from frozen Greenland to the bright lights of Hollywood. They know that they need to act fast. Lucrecia Cutter needs to be stopped before she can move her evil plan into its next stage…

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A Series of Unfortunate Events 13

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments of this series. You can read my reviews of these novels by clicking the links below:

1-3 | 4-6 | 7-9 | 10-12 | Extras

A Series of Unfortunate Events was a series of novels written by Lemony Snicket and published between 1999 and 2006. The main series consisted of thirteen novels: The Bad Beginning (1999), The Reptile Room (1999), The Wide Window (2000), The Miserable Mill (2000), The Austere Academy (2000), The Ersatz Elevator (2001), The Vile Village (2001), The Hostile Hospital (2001), The Carnivorous Carnival (2002), The Slippery Slope (2003), The Grim Grotto (2004), The Penultimate Peril (2005) and The End (2006). The series also has a couple of supplementary novels that further flesh out the world and has been adapted into both a film and Netflix series. For the purpose of this review, I will be looking at the final instalment only.

Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire managed to escape the burning of the Hotel Denoument but had to do some pretty villainous things in order to do so. Now, they have found themselves stranded at sea aboard the Carmelita. To make matters worse, they are also sharing the boat with their hated enemy, Count Olaf. Although he seems less threatening without his henchpeople, he still has the diving helmet full of the medusoid mycelium at his disposal and so can easily kill everyone aboard the ship.

Following a huge storm, the Baudelaires and Olaf find themselves marooned on a coast shelf, regarded to be the place where everything washes up eventually. They soon meet the nearby islanders and discover that they also once underwent a schism. A large number left the island but those that remain now live under the rule of Ishmael – a man who seems to have the power to control their actions and beliefs through not-so-subtle suggestion.

When a familiar face also washes up on the island, the Baudelaires slowly start to learn that chance has brought them to a place that has connections to their past. Although they thought they had left the VFD far behind them, their parents had once visited the island and may have been instrumental in the schism. However, the Baudelaires do not have long to explore this connection. Olaf is determined to seize control away from Ishmael and would not be averse to using the medusoid mycelium to do it…  More

A Monster Calls

A Monster Calls was written by Patrick Ness and first published in 2011. It is a dark fantasy story that tells the tale of a young teenager who is forced to come to terms with his mother’s terminal illness. The novel stands alone, so you do not have to read any of the author’s other work to fully appreciate it.

Connor O’Malley is not having the best time of things. His mother has been sick for a long time and her treatments do not seem to be making her better as quickly as he hoped. This causes a lot of tension for him at school. The other kids mostly seem to ignore him, as though they’re scared about how fragile he is. Teachers aren’t much better as they seem to think that he needs babying. No matter what he does, he does not seem to get in trouble. The only person who does see him is the school bully – Harry – who now finds him to be an easy target.

Things are worse still for Connor at home. Although he thinks he does a good job of caring for his mother, no one else seems to agree. His grandmother is quick to move in to take charge, bossing Connor around and treating him like a little kid. His father, on the other hand, is barely there. He has a new life in America now and does nothing but pay fleeting visits in which he tells Connor to be brave.

It is 12:07 at night when the monster first comes to Connor. The creature forms itself out of an old yew tree and seems surprised that Connor is not more afraid of him, yet it is not the scariest monster that he has ever seen. Yet this monster has come with a purpose. It will return to visit him and tell three stories from previous times it has walked the earth. When all of these stories are told, it expects Connor to tell him one thing in return – his truth. And that is the most frightening thing of all.

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Satellite

Satellite was written by Nick Lake and first published in 2017. It is a science-fiction novel that focuses on a teenager who was born on a space station as he prepares for his first journey to Earth. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to read any of the author’s earlier work to fully appreciate it.

Leo finds it odd that people refer to Earth as being his home. He and his friends – Libra and Orion – have never known anything but the confines of Moon 2. They were born on the space station and have been unable to travel down to Earth as their frail bodies could not withstand the gravitational pull of the planet. However, now that his sixteenth birthday is approaching, everything changes.

Tests have shown that Leo and his friends are now potentially strong enough to survive on Earth. Leo is thrilled by the news. Although he loves his life in space, he’s keen to experience everything that he’s missed out on. He knows that getting used to gravity won’t be easy, but he longs to meet his Grandfather for the first time and help out on his ranch.

However, Leo is not prepared for what lies before him. Earth is not the utopia that he has imagined and he quickly realises that the Company who control Moon 2 have been hiding many things from him. When Leo came down to Earth, he thought he would be free. He soon realises that nothing could be further from the truth…

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The Book Knights

The Book Knights was written by J.G. McKenney and first published in 2017. It is a fantasy novel that draws its inspiration from Arthurian legends, set in a dystopian city where reading is illegal. The novel reads as though it is part of a series, though at the time of writing no future instalments have been announced.

Arti Penderhagen’s life is turned upside down when her parents are arrested for the crime of reading and her home is burned to the ground. As she flees for safety, she is taken in by a young pick-pocket called Gal Hadd and offers to teach the orphan how to read in exchange for advice on how to survive on the streets.

Yet Gal’s tips may not be enough to protect Arti. Morgan Le Fay, the CEO of the city, has reason to believe that Arti has the power to thwart her plans to take absolute to control over everything. She sends her chief of police – Mordred – to scour the city for any trace of Arti, and to capture her by any means necessary.

Yet Arti soon finds allies in strange places. When she encounters an elderly librarian named Merl and reads a passage in a book that no one else can see, she learns that she is the one destined to use the magical pen Excalibri to write a better future for the world. However, to do so she needs to get her hands on the legendary Grail Tome, an ancient book in the possession of Morgan Le Fay…

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The Gift of Dark Hollow

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for Podkin One-Ear. You can read my review of this novel [here].

The Gift of Dark Hollow was written by Kieran Larwood and beautifully illustrated by David Wyatt. It was first published in 2017 and is the second instalment of The Five Realms series, following Podkin One-Ear (2016). Although the novel does a pretty decent job of bringing new readers up to speed, I would probably still recommend reading the books in sequence in order to fully appreciate them.

The Bard has finally decided that it is time to continue with his journey but this time he leaves with a young rabbit named Rue. Rue desires to become a Bard but the elderly rabbit knows that he cannot teach him. It would be cruel to put him at risk from the unspoken dangers that stalk him. Instead, he decides to take Rue to the Festival of Clarion in order to find him a master, and on the way he continues to tell the tale of Podkin One-Ear.

Despite being the great hero who defeated Scramashank – the monstrous chieftain of the Gorm – Podkin finds that the other rabbits of Dark Hollow refuse to take him seriously. Crom now spends all of his time in council with the other adult rabbits, while Paz has been learning the healing arts under the watchful eye of Bridgid. He feels more useless than ever, and perhaps that’s what leads him to explore the unused tunnels at the heart of the warren.

It is here that Podkin uncovers the long-lost Gift of Dark Hollow and learns the ability to Moonstride – teleport between shadows. In testing this new power, he learns the location of another Gift; one that might have the power to destroy Gorm. Taking with him a small band of his closest allies, Podkin sets out on a quest to retrieve this Gift. However, his mission will take him into the heart of a warren that has been overrun by the Gorm…

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