Tree Magic

Tree Magic was first published in 2017 and is Harriet Springbett’s debut novel. It’s a fantasy coming of age story about a young teen who learns that she has the power to control trees. It’s a stand-alone story, and seems unlikely to form part of any future series.

Rainbow Linnet does not have a particularly great or interesting home life. Her father died when she was little and now her Mum lives with Bob. Well, if you can really call it living. Bob shares her Mum’s love of music but doesn’t have anything good to say about her spiritualism. Most of the time they just argue and Rainbow does her best to stay out of the way.

It’s while she’s hiding out in her tree house that she first discovers her power – a deep connection with trees and the ability to control and shape them to her will. Sharing this discovery only with Michael – an adult who she trusts – she begins to explore her gift and becomes an expert on the different temperaments of trees. That is, until the incident.

All at once, Rainbow realises that her power can be abused. It’s not something that she can necessarily control and it can hurt people. When she reveals her ability to her mother and Bob, things get even worse. Bob is reluctant to believe what he sees and her mother embraces it, determined to find her a guru who can explain her place in the world. Soon, things start to become too much for Rainbow and her future grows increasingly unclear. Is she better off embracing her potentially destructive power, or denying it and leading a normal life?

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The Kingdom of Oceana

The Kingdom of Oceana was written by Mitchell Charles and first published in 2015. It’s a fantasy novel about a young Hawaiian prince who must protect his island from dark magic. The book reads as though it’s the first part of a series, though at the time of writing no future instalments have been announced.

Prince Ailani has always played second-fiddle to his older brother brother. Nahoa is confident and brash, destined to become the next king of their tropical paradise. Ailani feels as though he will forever be the omo – the remora that clings to his brother’s side. Yet when Nahoa decides that they should explore some ancient ruins, Ailani realises that his brother has gone too far.

Amongst the ruins, Nahoa finds a strange old tiki head, and the moment he touches it he seems to lose himself. Ailani is sure that the thing must be cursed, yet his brother quickly shrugs it off as though it’s nothing. However, something is certainly not right. Ailani soon discovers that the neighbouring Pearl Island is under attack. Whales are disappearing from the sea nearby and swarms of octopi are attacking their oyster beds.

When Ailani travels to the island with his father and brother, he soon discovers that things are far worse than they feared. The king of Pearl Island has gone mad with power and his greed threatens to destroy the balance between the physical and spiritual worlds. With the help of his friends and his island’s wise Kahuna, Ailani sets out to put things right. However, will he succeed before the two islands are overrun with undead creatures from the ocean depths?

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The Dark Days Pact

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

The Dark Days Pact was written by Alison Goodman and first published in 2017. It is a dark fantasy story set in 19th Century England, which focuses on a young woman’s continuing association with a demon-hunting secret society. The novel forms the second part of the Lady Helen series and is preceded by The Dark Days Club (2015).

Following her public disgrace at her Presentation Ball, Lady Helen travels to Brighton to spend the summer with Lady Margaret and her brother, Mr Hammond. While it appears to her friends that she has merely retired to the coast for health reasons, it is really the perfect opportunity to hone her Reclaimer skills. Under the watchful eye of Lord Carlston, her combat training intensifies and she learns how to disguise herself as a man.

However, Lady Helen can’t help but notice that Lord Carlston’s sickness is growing worse. Following their illicit contact at the Presentation Ball, there seems to be a strange sort of energy between them. While Lord Carlston claims he is fine, Lady Helen suspects that his Reclaimer madness is fast approaching the point of no return. If he does not retire soon, he will be lost in the same mania that claimed Mr Benchley.

Lady Helen is not the only one to have noticed this. It is not long before she and Mr Hammond are approached by Mr Pike with word from the Home Office. As Lord Carlston can no longer be trusted, the two of them are ordered to undertake a top-secret mission to retrieve Mr Benchley’s journal. Although the two are suspicious as to what Mr Pike’s true intentions are, they have no choice but to do as he asks. Mr Pike’s position is authorised by the Prince Regent and so to disobey him would mean committing the crime of high treason…

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Sea

Sea was written in 2017 and is Sarah Driver’s debut novel. It is a middle grade fantasy story, focusing on a young girl’s quest to unite the warring tribes of Sea, Land and Sky. The book forms the first part of The Huntress Trilogy and its sequel – Sky – is expected to be released later this year.

Ever since the death of her Ma, Mouse has grown up aboard The Huntress. Her people are the Tribe of the Sea and her Grandmother still leads them in the old ways. They give praise to the whales as their gods and only take what they need to survive. Mouse is proud to be part of the crew as she knows that it is her destiny to one day take her Grandmother’s place as captain of the ship.

However, things start to change when a stranger called Stag comes aboard the ship, bringing with him the blood-stained cloak of Mouse’s Da. Life must continue on the Huntress and so Stag joins them to take her father’s place as navigator. However, when Mouse finds a hidden message in her father’s belongings, she begins to suspect that he may not be dead at all. Her father is hunting for the Storm Opals – three legendary treasures with the power to end the war between the Tribes. Yet, if that is true, why would Stag lie about his death?

Her question is answered when a fierce mutiny wrenches control of The Huntress from her Grandmother. The new captain is quick to assert control and his first act is to sell Mouse’s brother, Sparrow, into slavery. With her destiny torn from her, Mouse sets off on a daring mission to retrieve the missing Storm Opals. Yet how can she hope to succeed when her enemies are everywhere?

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Archie Greene and the Raven’s Spell

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

Archie Greene and the Raven’s Spell was written by D.D. Everest and first published in 2017. It is a fantasy novel about a young boy who is determined to save the magical world from corruption. The novel forms the final instalment of a trilogy and is preceded by Archie Greene and the Magician’s Secret (2015) and Archie Greene and the Alchemist’s Curse (2016).

When the Greaders manage to steal a book from the Royal Society of Magic, Archie and his friends know that something bad will soon follow. Their worst fears are realised when it is revealed that the book is the most dangerous of all Terrible Tomes – The Book of Night. Sealed within the book is the Dark Flame of Pandemonium and three powerful darchemists known as the Pale Writers. If they are released, they will slowly corrupt all the good magic in the world until nothing is left but darkness.

The only thing that stands a chance of stopping them is the Opus Magnus – the original magic spell – but this text has been lost for centuries. The only person believed to know its whereabouts is Fabian Grey and he has been missing since the Great Fire of London. Yet Archie has reason to believe that he is alive. When notes signed “FG” begin to appear in the alchemy lab, Archie realises that perhaps Grey has always been closer than he thought.

Yet Archie may not have long to figure things out. There could well be a traitor working at Mothballs. Animals have been disappearing from the mythical menagerie and the Flame of Pharos has been growing weaker. If Archie can’t figure out who is responsible soon, the Museum could be sabotaged from the inside and all magic will fall into the hands of the Greaders…

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Heart of Power: The Siren’s Awakening

Heart of Power: The Siren’s Awakening was written by S.L. Giger and first published in 2016. It is a paranormal romance novel which focuses on a teenage girl who is magically transformed into a siren. The book is the first part of a planned series, though at the time of writing no future instalments have been announced.

Serena’s life changes forever during a school trip to Malaysia. When she sneaks off to explore a remote waterfall with her crush, the two suffer an accident that no one could hope to survive. Yet, miraculously, Serena wakes up in a cave surround by three strange women. Cathy, Melissa and Roisin inform her that her life has been saved, but it has come as a cost. They have transformed her into one of them – a siren – and she will now have to give up her old life.

Reluctantly taking on the new identity of Nathalie, she travels with Melissa to America and poses as her sixteen year old daughter. Melissa deems it important that Nathalie completes high school and spends time around other people her age. However, being a siren is wrought with problems. The mysterious Orbiters that govern the sirens decree that no mortal can be made aware of their existence. This is very difficult for a young siren, who must hide the fact that she doesn’t eat, bleed or age.

Things grow more complicated still as Nathalie finds herself attracted to Alex, a local college student who believes that Nathalie is a lot older than she actually is. As the two grow closer, Nathalie begins to imagine a future with him. Yet, as Alex slowly grows suspicious of her strange behaviour, Nathalie finds herself torn between keeping her secret and keeping him…

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Legion

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

Legion was written by Julie Kagawa and first published in 2017. It is the fourth instalment of The Talon Saga, raising the stakes as Talon finally reveals their terrible plan for world domination. As this novel follows on directly where Talon (2014), Rogue (2015) and Soldier (2016) left off, I’d recommend reading the novels in sequence if you want to have any idea of what’s going on.

The Patriarch has been defeated and the Order has fallen into disarray, but it came at a terrible cost. Garret won the duel but still fell to his treacherous commander’s blade. As he bled to death in the middle of nowhere, his salvation came from an unexpected person. Riley offers his blood for transfusion, saving Garret’s life. However, the implications for him doing this are unknown. Garret is a human and Riley is a dragon. There is no way of knowing if he will survive, or what will become of him if he does.

However, Ember and the Rogues do not have time to find out. When a small town is wiped out in a sudden accident, they know that Talon must have something to do with it. What they discover chills them to the core. Talon have completed their army of Vessels – soulless clones bred purely for war – and Dante will be the one to dispatch them to destroy the last vestiges of the Order.

Ember knows that they must stop them, even if it means forging an alliance with their enemy. However, the Vessels aren’t the only threat. When she is taken captive by Dante, she meets the Elder Wyrm for the first time and learns of her true plan. Ember has a vital role to play in the Elder Wyrm’s schemes – one that will mean a fate worse than death for her…

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Archie Greene and the Alchemist’s Curse

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for Archie Greene and the Magician’s Secret. You can read my review of this novel [here].

Archie Greene and the Alchemist’s Curse was written by D.D. Everest and first published in 2016. It forms the second part of a trilogy and is preceded by Archie Greene and the Magician’s Secret (2015). The final instalment of the series – Archie Greene and the Raven’s Spell – is due for release at the start of next month. The series is aimed at middle grade readers and focuses on the continuing adventures of an apprentice caretaker of magical books.

Archie Greene loves studying book mending under the watchful eye of Old Zeb, but is thrilled that he will soon receive his second firemark and learn what school of book magic he will be learning next. Better still, it is almost his cousin Thistle’s birthday, and so he will also be taking the fire test and joining them at Mothballs – the Museum of Magical Miscellany.

However, when Thistle arrives to take his test, the Flame of Pharos begins to act strangely. Instead of one of the usual three firemarks, both boys receive a golden one in the shape of a snake eating its own tail. Three other students – Bramble, Rupert and Arabella – also find themselves similarly inflicted. It is the alchemist’s mark – a symbol that has not been seen since the time of the Great Fire of London – and it means that the five are capable of writing their own magic!

With the alchemist’s mark, the five children realise that they could finally begin repairing the fading magical books and ushering in a new age of magic. However, their marks carry a sinister history and ties to dark magicians of old. When Archie also discovers that there is a fork in his destiny, he begins to grow worried. His entire future hinges on one unknown moment when he will have to choose between using his power for good or evil. Yet how can he avoid a terrible fate if he does not know what form this moment will take?

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The Waterfall Traveler

The Waterfall Traveler was first published in 2017 and is S.J. Lem’s debut novel. It is a fantasy story about a teenage girl who teams up with a group of young men to protect her village from monsters. The story forms the first part of a planned series, though at the time of writing no further instalments have been announced.

Due to her adopted father’s illness, Ri has long been treated as an outsider in her isolated island home. The sickness has slowly robbed Samuel of his mind and left him as a shell of his former self. His confused state makes him susceptible to confusion, which is why Ri does not initially believe his claims about the man who came through the waterfall.

Later, while out hunting, Ri comes across a sinister man in the woods and is attacked and badly wounded by an unseen creature. She’s rescued by another stranger who does indeed take her to safety through the waterfall. Yet this leaves Ri with a problem. Waterfall travel is regulated by the phases of the moon and so it will be a full month before she can return to Samuel.

Ri is frantic, yet there seems to be nothing that she can do. She is forced to bide her time by helping her saviour – Bryce – and his con-artist friend Carter to deliver medicines to sick people in the valley below. Yet the city she has found herself in is far from her home and is torn between monster attacks and the iron rule of a tyrant. All Ri wants is to go back to Samuel, but first she must survive the dangers of this strange new society…

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The Subtle Knife

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

The Subtle Knife was written by Philip Pullman and first published in 1997. It forms the second part of the epic His Dark Materials trilogy, preceded by Northern Lights (published in America as The Golden Compass – 1995) and followed by The Amber Spyglass (2000). The novel picks up shortly after Northern Lights left off and so you really need to read the novels in sequence to fully appreciate them.

Will Parry has always believed that his mother’s paranoia was some sort of sickness, yet everything changes when two sinister men show up at his house and begin to pester her for information on his missing father. Their harassment only serves to make his mother worse and, when the men eventually break into his home, Will accidentally kills one of them in a struggle.

Knowing that he will soon be hunted by the police, or worse, Will escapes into the night with a briefcase full of his father’s letters. On the outskirts of Oxford, he accidentally discovers a window to another world – the oddly deserted city of Cittàgazze – and it is here that he first meets Lyra Silvertongue and her dæmon, Pantalaimon, and learns about their escape from their world.

As Lyra and Will get to know each other and explore the Cittàgazze, they come to learn of the existence of a device that can be used to cut holes between worlds. However, little do they know that their discovery is linked to a greater war. Far away, unknown to them, Lyra’s allies search for her. They know that Lord Asriel is building an army and has plans to defeat the Magisterium by slaying the Authority that they worship. Although the angels failed in this task decades ago, the witches fear that this time he will succeed and their prophecies tell that Lyra will somehow be instrumental in his victory…

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