Ice Crypt

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

Ice Crypt was written by Tiana Warner and first published in 2016. It forms the second part of the Mermaids of Eriana Kwai series, following Ice Massacre (2015) and preceding Ice Kingdom (2017). The story follows the continuing adventures of Meela and Lysi as they try to end the war between their two races, and so I would strongly recommend reading the novels in sequence to fully appreciate them.

Following her return from the Massacre, Meela knows that she needs to do something to end the fighting. She believes King Adaro’s claim about the existence of the Host – a powerful creature that has been hidden beneath Eriana Kwai. Although she knows that she can’t allow the mermaid king to harness such power, she wonders if she can find a way to turn it against him to save Lysi.

Meanwhile, Adaro has punished Lysi by sending her away from Eriana Kwai – battling alongside the mermen to quell a rebellion to the south. Although she is reunited with her childhood friend Spio, she yearns to be back with her lover. She knows that Adaro plans to have Meela and her people destroyed but can do nothing to stop it.

However, Meela and Lysi could be brought together again much sooner than anyone could imagine. As the date for the next Massacre is brought forward, Meela and her friends must hurry to find the Host before any more girls can be killed. Meanwhile, Lysi finds herself working alongside a group of rebels who have plans to assassinate Adaro…

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Thunderhead

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

Thunderhead was written by Neal Shusterman and first published in 2018. It follows the continuing story of Citra and Rowan – two youths who live in a world where humans are functionally immortal and the population is controlled by an order who are known as the Scythes. The book forms the second part of the Arc of a Scythe series and follows Scythe (2016). At the time of writing, no further instalments have been announced.

Ever since she passed her trial, Citra has struggled with leaving her past behind. Although she is now a true Scythe, it is hard to think of herself as being Scythe Anastasia rather than the girl that she once was. Her revolutionary gleaning method has also been drawing the attention of her fellows. Her decision of letting her victims choose the terms of their death is unheard of, and the order is divided on whether or not they support this. While Citra is initially unconcerned about their opinions, her view changes when an attempt is made on her life. Someone has noticed how influential Citra is becoming and will stop at nothing to silence her forever.

Meanwhile, Rowan now walks a different path. He has taken Goddard’s ring and now operates from the shadows as Scythe Lucifer. His targets are those Scythes who abuse their power – the ones that kill for sport or deliberately target racial minorities. While the Scythes initially struggle to stop him, matters change when Rowan finds himself captured and at the mercy of a Scythe with a horrifying agenda. His captor is about to put a terrible plan in motion, but first they wish for Rowan to suffer.

It’s clear that the world is in a state of flux and not necessarily for the better. Although the Thunderhead – the AI that controls most of the world – can see the coming storm, it is powerless to directly do anything to stop it. The best it can do is manipulate certain key players into positions where the can make a difference, although in doing so it puts them in grave danger. Meanwhile, Faraday may also have found something that could change the course of history – a legendary city, hidden from both the Thunderhead and Scythes alike. However, travelling there is unspeakably dangerous. One slip up and he will likely find himself permanently dead…

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A Series of Unfortunate Events – Supplementary Material

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

A Series of Unfortunate Events was a massively successful series for middle grade readers. The thirteen instalments were written by Lemony Snicket and published between 1999 and 2006. They follow the tragic and often dangerous adventures of the orphaned Baudelaire siblings as they attempt to discover more about a mysterious organisation known as the VFD and avoid the evil Count Olaf, who is determined to kill them and steal their fortune. But that is not what I intend to talk about in this review.

As I only have one book left to review in the main series, today I’m going to be looking at some of the supplementary material. The Unauthorized Autobiography (2002) and The Beatrice Letters (2006) were published alongside the main series and contain hints, codes and answers that help to further flesh out Snicket’s world.

The Unauthorized Autobiography is a collection of materials that were unearthed following the reported “death” of Lemony Snicket. Its aim is to answer some of the questions that plague those who have been following the mystery of the Baudelaire children, though those questions may not be quite what they thought to ask. The Beatrice Letters collects two sets of correspondence. The first of these are letters written by a young Lemony Snicket to the love of his life, Beatrice Baudelaire. The second are a series of letters written to Snicket long after Beatrice’s death, desperately trying to arrange a meeting with him. The strange thing is that these letters are also signed with Beatrice’s name…

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The Raging Ones

The Raging Ones was written by Krista and Becca Ritchie and first published in 2018. It is a science fiction story, set in a world where everyone’s death day is predetermined. The novel forms the first part of a planned series, though at the time of writing no future instalments have been announced.

On Saltare-3, society is based around how long a person will live. Scientists have determined accurately determine a person’s life span through a simple blood test. Babes – people who will live to be no older than thirteen – are the only ones who are allowed to wile away their short lives at leisure. The long-lived Influentials are also allowed a measure of luxury. Society deems only them worthy of education as they will live long enough to make use of it. All menial jobs are performed by the Fast-Trackers – people destined to die between the age of thirteen and thirty. They will never live long enough to become great, but at least this means they will give something back to society.

Franny Bluecastle knows that her time has come. There is no point fearing your death day when you’ve known about it your whole life. However, when she wakes up from a drug induced stupor the following day, she finds herself trapped in a nightmare. She has somehow managed to skip her death and now has no way of knowing when it will catch up with her.

She is soon discovered by two other people like her – serious Court Icecastle and laid-back Mykal Kickfall. She also learns that the three of them share a strange bond that allows them to sense the same physical sensations, even when they are far apart. Court realises that if anyone finds out that they have missed their death days, serious questions will be asked. Their only salvation is to win a place on the first manned space mission in centuries. But how can they hope to be selected when every other viable Influential is desperate for the same chance…

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Mortal Engines

Mortal Engines was written by Philip Reeve and first published in 2001. It is a dystopian science fiction novel, set in the far future when cities have become mobile. The novel forms the first part of the Mortal Engines Quartet and is followed by Predators Gold (2003), Infernal Devices (2005) and A Darkling Plain (2006). More recently, Reeve has also published a prequel series – titled the Fever Crumb series – and a film adaptation of Mortal Engines is due for release later this year.

Following the Sixty Minute War, the world fell into chaos. Faced with earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, most cities were transformed into hulking traction engines in order to protect the people who lived within. Now, they follow the credo of Municipal Darwinism. The successful cities are the ones that hunt and devour others, harvesting them for precious resources and slaves. The weaker cities are quick to fall.

As prey becomes scarce, London is forced to venture out into the dangerous hunting plains. Tom Natsworthy is as excited as anyone when she manages to capture the small mining town of Salthook. It even gives him the opportunity to meet his hero Thaddeus Valentine – head of the Guild of Historians. However, his luck soon turns when Valentine is attacked by one of the citizens of Salthook. Although Tom manages to save Valentine’s life, he learns that he is responsible for the brutal scarring of his would-be assassin’s face. And unfortunately this is a secret that Valentine would prefer to remain hidden.

Although Tom survives, he finds himself ejected from London in the company of the assassin – Hester Shaw – a bitter young woman who thinks of nothing more than her revenge. As the two search for a way back into the city, they learn a horrifying secret. The Lord Mayor of London has gotten his hands on an ancient weapon and soon plans to unleash it on the world…

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A Series of Unfortunate Events 10-12

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

Once again, I regret to inform you that I have been forced to delve into the misfortunes and murders that follow in the wake of the Baudelaire siblings…

A Series of Unfortunate Events was written by Lemony Snicket and focuses on the adventures of Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire – three orphans who are struggling to uncover the secret behind their parents’ death whilst avoiding the cunning and ruthless Count Olaf. The series consists of thirteen main novels – The Bad Beginning (1999), The Reptile Room (1999), The Wide Window (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). Snicket has also published a few spin-off stories and the series has been recently adapted into a fantastic Netflix series. For the purpose of this review, I’ll be looking at books 10 to 12 only.

Although the Baudelaire siblings have outwitted Count Olaf time and time again, it seems that this time he has gotten the better of them. Violet and Klaus have found themselves trapped inside a caravan as it winds down a precarious mountain path, helpless to watch as the villain drives away with their little sister. However, help comes to the Baudelaires from an unexpected source. They are soon contacted by someone long presumed dead; someone who is able to finally explain the nature of the VFD.

Yet it is not long before tragedy and misery find the orphans once again. Although they are reunited with Sunny, they find themselves swept away down a raging stream. It is here that they meet another member of the VFD and begin a frantic hunt for the elusive sugar bowl. However, their investigations turn up something far more terrifying. In the depths of the Gorgonian Grotto, a deadly fungus grows. The Medusoid Mycelium is able to kill a person within an hour and Olaf will stop at nothing to get it.

Finally, the Baudelaires find themselves at the Hotel Denouement – last safe-house of the VFD. Disguised as concierges, they spy on the guests in the hope of finding out the identity of the mysterious “JS”. It’s not long before the orphans begin to recognise many faces from their previous adventures and realise that the VFD has been following them for a long time. Unfortunately, this means that they have to come to terms with how badly adults have failed them in the past. With no one left to turn to, the Baudelaires are forced to make allies in unexpected places, and start a few fires of their own…

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Night of Cake and Puppets

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:

Daughter of Smoke and Bone | Days of Blood and Starlight

Night of Cake and Puppets was written by Laini Taylor and first published in 2013. It is a spin-off novella that takes place in the world of the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series, telling the story of how Zuzana and Mik started dating. The story largely stands alone but is designed to be read after Daughter of Smoke and Bone (2011) and Days of Blood and Starlight (2012). The final instalment of the series, Dreams of Gods and Monsters, was published in 2014.

Zuzana has always believed in magic. With a friend like Karou, it would be impossible not to. Yet Karou has now gone and left Zuzana with a parting gift of five scuppies. Zuzana knows that the minor wishes aren’t good for much but she hopes that they will be enough for what she has planned. She has been looking for a way to get to know a certain handsome violinist, and a little magic could be all it takes.

Unknown to Zuzana, the violinist has also noticed to her. There is something about the fierce puppet maker that appeals to Mik, but he does not know how to approach her. Zuzana can be intimidating and he does not want to make a bad first impression. However, he certainly does not expect her to make the first move. When he finds a treasure map hidden in his violin case, he knows that he has to follow its cryptic clues. The prize at its centre is the thing that he wants most of all.

As Zuzana leads Mik on a quest through the streets of Prague, the two quickly learn that they were made for each other. While the scuppies make the treasure hunt unforgettable, the true magic comes later as Zuzana and Mik are finally able to enjoy their night of cake and puppets.

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Fiendish

Fiendish was written by Brenna Yovanoff and first published in 2014. It is a work of magical realism with horror elements, set in a small American town with a history of surreal and sinister occurrences. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to read any of the author’s other work to fully appreciate it.

It started when seven-year-old Clementine discovered a weird tomato in the garden, but she remembers little after that. She was hidden in the cellar with her eyes sewn shut and left to sleep, existing in a dreamlike state as roots began to grow around her. It was ten years until she was found by Eric Fisher and freed from her prison, and Clementine found herself in a world that hardly remembered her.

In the town of New South Bend, you are either normal or crooked. The crooked live on the outskirts and are the families with old blood, in tune with the humors of dirt, creek, fire, air and fools light, and forever connected to the mysterious energies that bubble up from the Hollow. The crooked live in constant fear of these energies growing out of control. This happened once ten years before, triggering the Reckoning and resulting in the normal folks forming a lynch mob to put them back in their place.

Following Clementine’s rescue, strange things begin to happen again. The hollow grows restless, monstrous catfish appear in the creek and fiends – lesser gods of old – are seen wandering the woods. Clementine and her new friends know that they are the only ones who can bring the old magic under control but they need to do so quickly. People are starting to notice and it won’t be long before the frightened townsfolk turn on them once again…

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The Extinction Trials: Exile

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for The Extinction Trials. You can read my review of this novel [here].

The Extinction Trials: Exile was written by S.M. Wilson and first published in 2018. It forms the second part of The Extinction Trials series, following the continuing adventures of Stormchaser and Lincoln as they are forced to return to the dinosaur-infested wilderness of Piloria. The story carries on shortly after The Extinction Trials (2018) left off, so you really need to read the novels in sequence to fully appreciate them.

Stormchaser managed to survive her mission to Piloria and win vital medical care for Lincoln, Kronar and Rune’s families. She knows that she should be happy about that, but something still eats at her. Although the dinosaurs were terrifying, she feels guilty for the role that she played in developing a virus to wipe them out. Much to her surprise, she also finds that she misses Piloria. Returning to the drab and overpopulated Ambulus City is stifling and she yearns for the leafy forests of the dinosaur continent.

Lincoln also has reasons for wanting to return to Piloria. He brought a small pot of Blaine’s ointment back with him which seems to hold the key to curing the blistering plague and saving his sister. Unfortunately, the plants needed to create it do not grow in Earthasia. If only there was some way that he could get back to Piloria to get the samples that he needs to mass produce it.

The chance comes sooner than he could have imagined. The virus has been engineered in record time and the Stipulators decide that the best people to plant it are the survivors of the first trial. Stormchaser, Lincoln and Leif are forced to put their differences aside as they once again face off against the world’s deadliest predators. However, this time they are not alone. The Council have learned that Reban Don is Storm’s father and have exiled him to Piloria. If Storm fails, she knows that the Stipulators will not let her return and she will be forced to live out her days with the man who once tried to kill her…

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The Sword of Kuromori

The Sword of Kuromori was first published in 2014 and is Jason Rohan’s debut novel. It is a fantasy story set in Japan, focusing on a teenager who discovers that he is destined to save America from a great disaster. The novel forms the first part of the Sword of Kuromori series and is followed by The Shield of Kuromori (2015) and The Stone of Kuromori (2017).

Kenny Blackwood is on his way to stay with his father in Japan for the holidays, but hasn’t even set foot on Japanese soil when strange things begin to happen. When he blows on a wooden whistle – an odd gift from his eccentric grandfather – a strange creature appears on the plane that only he seems to be able to see. Things get weirder when he is immediately stopped at customs and arrested, but subsequently rescued by a motorbike riding ninja.

Unbeknownst to Kenny, he has become tangled in events that his grandfather set in motion years before. At a time when American soldiers had stolen many priceless antiquities from the Japanese people, his grandfather, known as Kuromori, was responsible for hiding one of the most valuable of all – a magical sword created by the Goddess Amaterasu. Now, the sword is the only thing that can stop a terrible monster from laying waste to America. The only problem is, no one knows where Kuromori hid it.

With the help of Kiyomi – a girl who has devoted her life to training in both the martial and mystical arts – Kenny sets off on an adventure across Japan, fighting monstrous yōkai and learning how to use powers that he never knew he had. He soon learns that he has inherited his grandfather’s title and all the baggage that comes with it. Unfortunately, this includes a prophecy that indicates that one of his loved ones could soon die…

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