Bone Gap

bone-gap

Bone Gap was written by Laura Ruby and is due for release in the UK later this month. It’s a modern faerie tale, set in a town where everything is not quite as it first appears. The novel won the 2016 Michael L. Printz Award and is a stand-alone story. I’d like to thank Faber & Faber for providing me with an advance copy for review.

There is something strange about Bone Gap. The small farming town has always been full of gaps, as though the bones of the world a just a little looser there. Some of those gaps are so big that a person can fall into them and disappear. Perhaps that’s why no one takes Finn seriously when he claims that Roza has been kidnapped. The fact that Finn O’Sullivan can’t even describe the man who supposedly took her doesn’t help matters. Roza was young and beautiful. No one really expected her to stay on the farm with Finn and his older brother Sean for long.

Besides, everyone knows that Finn isn’t normal. People call him Moonface or Sidetrack due to the trouble he has concentrating. It seems typical that he’d make up the kidnapping. After all, his mother also just slipped away and abandoned him. Only Petey, the beekeeper’s daughter, takes him seriously. Yet Petey has troubles of her own. She knows that she’s ugly and is concerned that Finn only likes her because she seems easy to get.

Roza, on the other hand, faces discrimination of another kind. She finds herself in a strange world, guarded by a savage hound and kept prisoner by a man who cares only for her beauty – one who patiently waits for the day that Roza loves him back. Escape seems impossible, but she knows that she must find a way. Roza dreams of returning to her native Poland and can’t allow a manipulative stranger to keep that from her…

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Smoke

smoke

Smoke was written by Dan Vyleta and first published in 2016. In is a historical fantasy novel, set in a 19th Century England where everyone’s sin is visible. Although the novel certainly leaves enough open to allow a sequel, none has been announced at the time of writing and you don’t have to have read any of the author’s earlier work to fully appreciate it.

Every wicked thought or deed causes a person to smoke, producing the thick substance from their pores and throat. Its thickness, smell and colour is determined by how vile the thought that produces it is. The aristocracy and peasants are separated by this very fact. It is known that the poor smoke constantly, unable to contain their sin. The rich, on the other hand, have learned how to live a life of purity. They control their vices and it is poor show for them to smoke at all.

Thomas and Charlie attend an elite boarding school where the sons of Lords learn how to become proper gentlemen. The problem is, Thomas knows that he is stained. His father was a murderer and he knows that he will one day inherit the same sin. Even though he has come of age, his smoke is still dark and uncontrollable, revealing the darkness of his soul. Charlie is the only one who likes him, sure that Thomas isn’t hopeless as he believes.

When the two of them are sent to stay with Thomas’s distant relative – Lady Naylor – for Christmas, they slowly begin to uncover a conspiracy rooted in the depths of society. The rich are no better than the poor, they have just found ways of managing their smoke through specialist sweets and cigarettes. When it becomes clear that they may pose a threat to her plans for country’s future, Lady Naylor arranges an accident to prevent the boys from leaving her land. However, when things go wrong, the boys wind up on the run with Lady Naylor’s daughter Livia in tow and a deranged serial killer following close behind…

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More Than This

More Than This

This book is another difficult one to review and so apologies if this post is a little shorter than normal. More Than This was written by Patrick Ness and first published in 2013. It’s a philosophical science fiction story about a teenage boy who awakes to find himself in an abandoned town. The novel stands alone and so you don’t have to have read any of Ness’s other novels to fully appreciate it.

Seth remembers drowning: the icy chill of the water and the sensation of his bones breaking as he smashes against the rocks. Yet he somehow doesn’t die. He wakes up in an abandoned English town which he soon recognises as the place where his family lived before moving to America. As he explores the barren streets, he’s forced to relive the worst memories of his childhood. Most specifically, the time a terrible incident befell his brother. One that was entirely Seth’s fault.

Seth also starts to remember the incidents that led up to his death: his romance with another boy, the unexpected outing of his sexuality, and how these events alienated him from his closest friends. He starts to wonder if the town is actually Hell, existing to make him relive the lowest points of his life over and over for all time.

However, he soon starts to realise that may not be the case at all. He is not the only person roaming the wasteland. There are other teenagers who have woken up to find themselves in that lonely world and they are being relentlessly pursued by a mysterious being called the Driver. Together, they try to piece together their broken memories to find out if the town is real, if they are dead, or if something else is happening to them…

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Superunknown: Of Fairytales and Grunge

Superunknown

And now for something completely different.

Superunknown: Of Fairytales and Grunge was written by G.C. Huxley and first published in 2014. It is an existentialist, absurdist novella which focuses on a teenage girl searching for meaning in her life. The story stands alone, so you don’t have to read any of Huxley’s other work to fully appreciate it.

Em has recently moved to the sleepy town of Lyra’s Watch and feels like an outsider. No one really makes any effort to make her feel welcome and she just feels as though she’s going through the motions. As one of her friends introduces her to grunge music, she begins to worry that her life will wind up being as meaningless as the song lyrics suggest.

However, it’s not long before Em meets Eido. Initially, she hates him. His arrogance and seeming perfection just rub her up the wrong way. However, she finds herself to drawn to him as she realises that he’s not what he seems. Eido just seems to know things; things that cause the adults that he speaks with to behave very strangely. Em starts to wonder if he has the answers that she seeks.

Things become stranger still as Em is approached by a mysterious old man who claims to be a time traveller. The man claims that he has come in search of Eido who is revered as a messiah in his own time period. Eido is the one person who understands the Idea, the core principal behind time travel. However, all traces of Eido vanished before the end of the 20th Century and the time traveller has come to find out why…

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