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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The Glass Republic

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for The City’s Son. You can read my review of this novel [here].

The Glass Republic was written by Tom Pollock and first published in 2013. It is an urban fantasy story that focuses on a teenage girl’s adventure into a dystopian mirror world. The novel forms the second part of the The Skyscraper Throne series and carries on from where The City’s Son (2012) left off, so you need to read the books in sequence to fully appreciate what’s going on. The final instalment of the series – Our Lady of the Streets – was published in 2014.

Parva Khan, known as Pen to her friends, has returned to school a changed person. Her torture at the coils of the Wire Mistress has left her physically and mentally scarred and, without Beth for company, she no longer has anyone to hang around with. Her only friend is Parva – the girl in the mirror. Parva was created when Pen’s reflection was caught between two mirrors and has made a life for herself in the world behind the mirror, London-Under-Glass.

However, Parva’s life is shrouded in mystery. She hints to Pen that she has gotten a job somewhere but then disappears without a trace, leaving behind unmistakable signs of a struggle. Pen knows that she has to find some way to get to London-Under-Glass to save her sister but no one has ever travelled through the mirrors before. The only creatures that know how are the Chemical Synod and Pen knows from experience that their price could be more than she can pay.

Meanwhile, Beth is undergoing some strange changes. When her teeth start to turn into church spires, she realises that the transformation that Fil bought for her has not completed itself. However, some of Beth’s allies are concerned about what she is becoming. The similarities between her and Mater Viae are unmistakable, and there are those who do not wish for Our Lady of the Streets to return…

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The Chaos of Now

The Chaos of Now was written by Erin Lange and is due for release in October 2018. It is a work of contemporary fiction that focuses on a group of hackers who are out for revenge against the bullies in their school. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to have read any of the author’s other work to fully appreciate it.

The life of Eli Bennett and every other teenager changed on the day that Jordan Bishop set himself on fire. Although no one was ever blamed for his death, it quickly became common knowledge that he was bullied online. New legislations were passed to allow schools to become cyber snoops and strict punishments were levelled against any student who rebelled against these oppressive laws.

As a young hacker, Eli has more reason to hate the laws the most. He feels that the laws restrict his fundamental freedoms and its not long before he finds some like-minded allies in his school. His friendship with Seth and Mouse starts out as a project – an attempt to enter a nationwide programming contest – but, through this, the Friends of Bishop are born.

The Friends of Bishop gives voice to students, providing a place online where they can anonymously upload videos that shame bullies. It seems like harmless fun at first – the only way that most students will ever get a chance to have revenge against their tormentors – but its not long before things get out of hand. Eli is desperate to pull the plug before things get worse but he quickly realises that his friends have other plans. How far will Seth and Mouse go to have their revenge against the people who drove Jordan to suicide?

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Beetle Boy

Beetle Boy was written by M.G. Leonard and first published in 2016. It is a science-fiction / fantasy novel aimed at middle grade readers which tells the story of a boy’s adventures with a super intelligent rhinoceros beetle. The novel forms the first part of The Battle of the Beetles series and is followed by Beetle Queen (2017) and Battle of the Beetles (2018).

Darkus Cuttle is pretty content with his life until the day that his father vanishes. No one is sure exactly how he came to disappear from inside a locked room in London’s Natural History Museum, but everyone seems to have a theory. Some believe that he was murdered, others believe that he ran away. Darkus refuses to believe any of this. He knows that his father wouldn’t abandon him. The only trouble is that he has no idea what could have happened to him.

Darkus is sent to live with his closest relative, an archaeologist that he knows as Uncle Max, and it is there that he makes a discovery that will change his life. He sees a giant beetle fall out of the trouser leg of his disgusting new neighbour and quickly takes it home as a pet. The beetle – Baxter – turns out to be a species of rhinoceros beetle that is not native to England. Stranger still, it seems to be trying to communicate with him.

With the help of Uncle Max, Baxter and his two new school friends, Virginia and Bertolt, Darkus begins to investigate his father’s disappearance. The clues all point to the famous fashionista Lucretia Cutter – a woman renowned for making creepy clothing out of insects. However, Lucretia also seems to have an odd interest in Darkus’s neighbours. Can Darkus uncover her secret plan, save his father and protect the rare beetles that call his street a home?

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