The Girl Who Dared to Think

The Girl Who Dared to Think was written by Bella Forrest and first published in 2017. It is a dystopian science fiction story, set in a futuristic city where people are ranked based on their attitude and productiveness. The novel forms the first part of The Girl Who Dared to Think series and is followed by The Girl Who Dared to Stand (2017), The Girl Who Dared to Descend (2017) and The Girl Who Dared to Rise (2017). A fifth instalment of the series – The Girl Who Dared to Lead – is planned for release later this month.

Even though the rest of the world has fallen, the Tower still protects the humans that live within. The city is governed by Scipio – an all-knowing AI – who uses complex algorithms to assign everyone who lives there a number based on their focus and optimism. High numbers are desirable as they show that you are a productive and loyal member of the community. However, problems arise when a person’s number drops too far. Threes are required to undertake drug treatment. Twos are put into isolation. Ones are taken away to the dungeons and are never seen again.

Twenty-year-old Liana Castell is horrified when her number falls to a three. She does not want to be dropped from her community as she has always dreamed of being a Knight, but at the same time she has seen what the drug treatment does to people and does not want to lose her sense of self. Things change when she encounters Grey Farmless – a one who has somehow managed to boost his number to a nine in a matter of seconds.

Liana knows that this is impossible and becomes obsessed with finding Grey’s secret. However, the truth causes her to see that Scipio isn’t quite as infallible as people believe. The computer’s judgements have been becoming more extreme but the loyalists still follow them to the letter. When Liana learns what the true duty of the Knights entails, she knows that she needs to get away. But how can she protect her friends and escape when the city itself is against her?

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The Summer Prince

The Summer Prince was written by Alaya Dawn Johnson and first published in 2013. It is a cyberpunk dystopian novel, set in a futuristic Brazilian city after the world was decimated by nuclear war. The story stands alone, so you do not have to have read any of the author’s other work to fully appreciate it.

In the hostile wasteland of Brazil, the city of Palmares Tres exists as a peaceful safe-haven. The beautiful city has been formed from a mixture of western and eastern cultures, and is ruled by a circle of powerful women known as the Aunties. It also allows the use of body mods – upgrades that range from being cosmetic to allowing their user to live for over two hundred years. However, the culture of Palmares Tres is sustained by a dark act. Whenever a king is crowned, he must be ritually sacrificed at the end of his first year.

June Costa is an eighteen-year-old artist who is eager to prove herself. With the help of her friend Gil, she hopes to create the greatest art that the city has ever seen. She is inspired by the story of one of the candidates for the next Summer King – Enki – a young man from the poorest tier of Palmares Tres who loves to express himself through dance. As Enki is crowned as king, June is thrilled to meet him for the first time. However, her joy is short lived as she discovers that he only has eyes for Gil.

However, June and Enki find a connection through other means. Communicating through their art, they plan to create a display unlike anything the city has ever seen. However, Enki pushes June to her limits as he forces her to see the deep-rooted corruption in the city that the Aunties try to hide. June is torn by what she learns. While Enki will be dead within a year, she must live with her actions for centuries. Can she continue down his path, knowing that it will destroy her only chance for a future?

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The Scratchling Trinity

The Scratchling Trinity was written by Boyd Brent and first published in 2017. It is a middle grade fantasy novel which focuses on a young boy’s discovery of a time-travelling secret society. Although the novel reads as though it is the first part of a series, at the time of writing no further instalments have been announced.

Max Hastings thinks that his luck has finally come in when he wins a prize – a lifetime membership to the Ancient Order of Wall Scratchings – in a school draw. He heads off to Manor House in London to receive his prize, only to discover that no such organisation exists. Max is quick to realise that the Order actually operates in secret beneath the building from a magical pocket dimension called the Cusp of Time. It is here that he learns that he is really a Scratchling, and is destined to help others like himself.

You see, it has long been known that when a child is in danger, they only need to scratch a message onto a wall and help will find them. This is the job of the Ancient Order of Wall Scratchings – to dispatch a young agent to the required point in time to save a life and change the past. However, they must act fast. A rival organisation called the League of Dark Scratchlings is forever working against them and their motives are far less altruistic.

It’s not long before Max is sent on his first mission – to rescue an orphan named Eric Kettle from a boarding school in 1840. With the help of a veteran Scratchling named Ellie Swanson, he must avoid the headmaster’s cruel henchmen and reach Eric before it is too late. If he fails, Eric will starve to death or, worse still, be brainwashed and corrupted by the Dark Scratchlings…

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Footprints in the Snow

Footprints in the Snow was written by Maggie Holman and first published in 2017. It is a festive work of contemporary fiction with light fantasy elements, focusing on a young boy’s trip to see his Grandfather at Christmas. The novella stands alone, so you don’t have to have read any of the author’s earlier work to fully appreciate it.

Christmas is only days away and Jamie has been sent to stay with his Grandfather in the Forest of Dean. It is the first time he’s been to stay there without his mother and so he’s understandably quite worried about being so far away from home, however his anxieties soon begin to lift as he settles in and helps his Grandfather to decorate the house.

It’s not long before Jamie starts to get to know the people who live nearby. He becomes particularly friendly with Caro, Finn and Molly – part of a family of Travellers – and learns about their way of life and deep respect for the wildlife of the forest. This lesson is particularly important as there have been sightings of a panther stalking the woods, and Jamie is worried about what will happen if he comes to face to face with the creature.

This becomes increasingly likely when he decides to take a walk in the forest by himself. Although Jamie is confident that he can find his way to the Travellers’ camp, it’s not long before he takes a wrong turn and finds himself lost in the woods. With the temperature dropping and the panther on the prowl, will Jamie manage to find his way home or will he become lunch for the creature?

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The Night Before Krampus

The Night Before Krampus was written by Peter Johnson and first published in 2017. It is a festive horror story which focuses on a small town with a dark past. Although the novel reads as though it could be the first part of a series, at the time of writing no future instalments have been announced.

It is two nights before Christmas and a young boy named Christoph has started to notice that something strange is afoot. His mother has left to visit his grandmother, a woman who she has not seen in years. His teacher has vanished and been replaced with a woman obsessed with European mythology. The local miser has been seen running through the streets in his underwear, claiming that the dead have returned for him. However, the strangest thing of all is the ghostly encounter that he has while hiding in an abandoned house.

The spectral vision reveals to him that three members of his community once committed a terrible crime. While they believed that they had gotten away without punishment, they did not count upon their victim laying a curse across their bloodlines. The festive season has become a time for revenge and the settling of old scores. Christoph and his friends must rely on help from unexpected sources if they wish to survive to see Christmas Day.

For you see, an old wolf is slowly making its way towards the town. The curse has been calling to it for a long time and now is finally the time for it to strike. The ancient creature draws with it a number of others, some good and some bad. Amongst these monsters are a pair of Krampus. These demons have been summoned to serve a specific purpose, however one of them is starting to grow tired of his traditional role…

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The Death Cure

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments of this series. You can read my reviews of these novels [here] and [here].

The Death Cure was written by James Dashner and first published in 2011. It forms the final part of The Maze Runner Trilogy and is preceded by The Maze Runner (2009) and The Scorch Trials (2010). Dashner has also released two prequel novels set in the same universe: The Kill Order (2012) and The Fever Code (2016). As The Death Cure carries on precisely where The Scorch Trials left off, I would strongly advise reading these books in sequence to fully appreciate them.

WICKED promised a cure, yet Thomas has been betrayed again. Abandoned in solitary confinement, he is left to fear that he will succumb to the Flare. When the Rat Man finally comes for him, it is with an unexpected proposition. The scientist claims that WICKED is very close to discovering the cure, but for the final round of tests they will need to restore the memories of all of the survivors.

As Thomas is reunited with the surviving Gladers, he realises that he can’t stand to be used again. With the help of Minho, Newt, Brenda and Jorge, he escapes the facility and flees to the safe haven of Denver. It is there that they discover the Right Arm – a small band of rebels who share their hatred of WICKED. Finally, Thomas realises that they have a chance at toppling their enemies and ensuring that the trials are stopped forever.

However, it will not be easy. The Flare is spreading fast and not all of Thomas’s friends are immune. It’s not long before the Rat Man seeks Thomas out and reveals that he has been selected as the Final Candidate. If he complies with WICKED, the rest of the world could be saved from the terrible disease. Thomas needs to make a choice, and quickly. He could well be the key to saving the world, but is the Right Arm all that it seems and can WICKED be trusted?

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Shadow Girl

Shadow Girl was written by Liana Liu and first published in 2017. It is a work of contemporary fiction which focuses on a teenage girl’s experiences while tutoring the eight-year-old daughter of a wealthy businessman. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to read any of the author’s other work to fully appreciate it.

Mei has always striven to be a good girl. Since her father walked out on them and her brother turned to drink and petty theft, she has taken it upon herself to do everything that she can to make her mother’s life easier. Since she has always had a way with children, Mei spends her free time tutoring youths to help pay the bills.

When Vanessa Morison, wealthy wife of a famous business man, hires her to be the summer tutor for her daughter, Mei is initially reluctant. The job will mean leaving home for two months to live with the Morisons on their vast island estate. However, Vanessa is offering to pay her a fortune and Mei really can’t pass up the opportunity to earn so much money.

However, Mei might have bitten off more than she can chew. The Morisons are not the easiest people to live with – especially Vanessa’s stepson, Henry. Eight-year-old Ella is also not what Mei was expecting. The girl is shy and withdrawn, and it’s not long before Mei learns why. Ella is visited every night by the disturbed ghost of Eleanor Arrow – a previous inhabitant of the mansion. It’s not long before Mei also begins to see the spirit. Could it be that Eleanor is real, or is she just a symptom of a bigger problem on the island…

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Shadowblack

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

Shadowblack was written by Sebastien de Castell and first published in 2017. It is the second part of the Spellslinger series and is preceded by Spellslinger (2017). The third instalment – Charmcaster – is expected to be released in May 2018. As Shadowblack carries on shortly after its prequel left off, I would advise reading them in sequence to have any idea of what is going on.

Kellen is finding it hard to adapt to life as an outlaw. Reichis’s attempted heists just seem to get him beaten up and Ferius hasn’t even tried to teach him the ways of the Argosi. Despite everything that his family did to him, he still finds that he longs to return to his people but even that is impossible. The Jan’Tep have placed a death warrant on his head and it’s unlikely that they will lift it unless he can find a cure for his shadowblack.

Things take an unexpected turn when Kellen meets another Argosi on the road. The newcomer calls herself the Path of Thorns and Roses and has some kind of history with Ferius. She is also in the process of escorting Seneira – a blindfolded girl who is not blind – back to her father at the Academy of Teleidos.

The mission seems simple enough, but unexpected dangers lie in wait in the desert city. The shadowblack is spreading and it’s not just magic users that are in danger. As Kellen and his friends search for the source of the outbreak, he meets Dexan Videris – a spellslinger who claims that he has a way of curing the disease. Kellen could well have found his ticket back into Jan’Tep society, but in making a deal with Dexan he could damage his friendship with Ferius beyond repair. Is the spellslinger telling the truth, or is he somehow connected to the spread of the shadowblack?

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dEaDINBURGH: Vantage

dEaDINBURGH: Vantage was written by Mark Wilson and first published in 2014. It is a horror story, focusing on two teens as they try to survive in a zombie infested Scottish city. The novel forms the first part of the Din Eidyn Corpus series and is followed by dEaDINBURGH: Alliances (2015), dEaDINBURGH: Origins (2015) and dEaDINBURGH: Hunted (2016).

For hundreds of years the plague mutated beneath Mary King’s Close, slowly reanimating the long dead victims and giving them a hunger for human flesh. When they first began to rise from their graves, people initially thought it was a hoax. It wasn’t until the disease began to spread and the power went out that they realised how much trouble they were in. Soon after, the government walled Edinburgh off from the rest of the world. At first, the survivors believed that a rescue would come. However, as the years ticked by, they soon realised that they had been abandoned.

Joey MacLeod was born within the zombie-infested city and has never known a different life. He has been raised by the Brotherhood – a sect of monks who worship the zombies – and fears the day that they will force him to take his vows, giving up life on the surface forever. Alys Shephard’s life could not be more different. She has grown up as part of an all-female commune and been trained since childhood to protect herself from both zombies and men. Alys feels nothing but contempt for the Brotherhood, until the fateful day that Joey saves her life.

An unlikely friendship is forged between the two, but it is put to the test when a sinister man named Bracha targets the people closest to them. Learning that Bracha is searching for a cure for the disease, the two of them set off across Edinburgh to find it and have their revenge. However, to locate Bracha they will need to cross into territory belonging to the Exalted – a cult who believe that the living should be fed to the dead…

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Days of Blood and Starlight

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for Daughter of Smoke and Bone. You can read my review of this novel [here].

Days of Blood and Starlight was written in by Laini Taylor and first published in 2012. It is the second book in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series and is preceded by Daughter of Smoke and Bone (2011) and followed by Dreams of Gods and Monsters (2014) and the spin-off novella, Night of Cake and Puppets (2013). As the story picks up shortly after its prequel left off, you really need to read the books in sequence to have any idea of what is going on.

When Karou broke the wishbone with Akiva, everything changed. The memories of her life as Madrigal came flooding back to her, bringing with them the shame of her treason. Learning what Akiva did to Brimstone was the final straw, sending her fleeing to Eretz to see what became of the Loramendi for herself. In its ashes, she finds Thiago – the man who once executed her – and accepts her fate as the new resurrectionist of the chimaera army.

Akiva returns to his people broken and world-weary. When his search for Karou uncovers a thurible bearing her name, he convinces himself that she must have perished. As the seraphim, under the lead of their ruthless general, Jael, begin to turn their wrath on unarmed chimaera farmers, Akiva begins to do all that he can to keep Karou’s memory alive by sabotaging their attempts by night.

However, Akiva and Madrigal’s dream of peace seems further away than ever. As the seraphim target the weak and unarmed, Thiago retaliates by tasking Karou with building more powerful bodies for his men – over-muscled and able to match the seraphim in flight. It seems as though both sides will fight until they wipe each other out, until an old friend delivers a message to Karou, offering a different way to end the conflict…  More

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