After the Fire

After the Fire was written by Will Hill and first published in 2017. It is a psychological thriller which focuses on a teenager coming to terms with the horrors that she experienced while growing up in the isolated compound of a fanatically religious sect. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to have read any of the author’s other work to fully appreciate it.

Moonbeam was seventeen years old on the day of the fire. She lived to witness the compound being overrun by the Governments and saw her brothers and sisters gunned down before her eyes. It was just like Father John had always taught them. The world outside the fence was filled with the Servants of the Serpent and the Governments existed to wipe out anyone who held the true faith.

Stripped from everything that she has ever known, Moonbeam is taken with the rest of the survivors to a psychiatric hospital and put under the care of Doctor Hernandez. Moonbeam knows that she is not to talk to anyone outside the commune in case their sins infect her but gradually finds herself opening up to the doctor. The truth is, her faith has been shaken ever since the Purge separated her from her mother and, for the first time ever, someone seems to be taking her side.

However, Moonbeam is not sure how much she can divulge. When an FBI agent also begins to attend her sessions, she realises that she needs to be careful. It’s clear that the Governments are trying to piece together exactly what happened on the day of the fire and, if they do, Moonbeam knows that they will uncover the depth of her sins. What will they do to her if they find out that she is responsible for every single death?

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Children of Blood and Bone

Children of Blood and Bone was written by Tomi Adeyemi and first published in 2018. It is a West African-inspired fantasy novel which focuses on three teenagers on a mission to bring magic back to the world. The novel forms the first part of the Legacy of Orïsha series, though at the time of writing no further instalments have been announced.

At one time, the maji were revered. They served as a connection between the powerless kosidán and the pantheon of deities that granted them the gift of magic. Everything changed on the day that magic left the world. King Saran was quick to seize control of the situations. As maji destroyed his family, he took his revenge by wiping out all of the adult maji, leaving only their children – ones who had never known the feel of magic – to live out their lives as second-class citizens.

Zélie was one such child. She once yearned to follow in her mother’s footsteps as a Reaper – a maji with power over the dead. Yet now her mother has been lynched and her father struggles to pay his ever increasing taxes. In a bid to help him, Zélie and her brother Tzain head to market to trade fish. It is there that they encounter Amari – the daughter of the King – who carries with her a strange scroll. Amari has grown tired of her father’s tyranny and stolen the one item that could have the power to bring magic back.

With scroll in hand, the three head off on a mission that will take them to the far reaches of the country. If they are successful, magic will be restored to the world and the maji will finally have a chance to overthrow their oppressors. However, it will not be easy. Lead by Amari’s brother Inan, the King’s army hounds their every step. Inan will stop at nothing to destroy the scroll and anyone carrying it, because he hides a deadly secret of his own…

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Amelia Fang and the Unicorn Lords

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for Amelia Fang and the Barbaric Ball. You can read my review of this novel [here].

Amelia Fang and the Unicorn Lords was written by Laura Ellen Anderson and first published in 2018. It’s a middle grade fantasy novel, set it a world populated by friendly monsters. The novel is the second book of the Amelia Fang series and carries on exactly where Amelia Fang and the Barbaric Ball (2017) left off. Due to this, I would recommend that you read these novels in sequence in order to have a full appreciation of what’s going on.

Now that they know that there is nothing to fear from the Creatures of the Light, Amelia and her friends prepare to travel to their strange lands in search of Fairyweather La Floofle, Prince Tangine’s long-lost mother. However, they know that they must travel in disguise. The Creatures of the Light are just as afraid of them and will certainly run away in fright if they see a vampire, a grim reaper and a rare breed of yeti wandering through the forest.

The Kingdom of the Light is like nothing that they have ever seen before. Creatures sleep at night, wells grant wishes and every meal is full of sugar. After befriending a leprechaun named McSparkle, they learn that Fairyweather isn’t the only missing creature. A number of others have also recently disappeared and the Unicorn Lords are blaming the Creatures of the Dark.

To get to the root of the problem, they travel to dazzling city of Glitteropolis where they uncover a shocking plot to spread fear across the lands. Can they possibly rescue Tangine’s mother without giving their identities away?

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A Series of Unfortunate Events 7-9

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].

A Series of Unfortunate Events is a series of darkly humorous novels which focus on the miserable and dangerous lives of Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire – three orphans who are relentlessly hunted by the greedy Count Olaf who will stop at nothing to get their inherited fortune. The series was written by Lemony Snicket and consists 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). For the purpose of this review, I’ll be looking at books 7 to 9 only.

In The Vile Village, the Baudelaires this time find themselves adopted by the strange village of VFD. They are initially convinced that this must have some connection to the deaths of their parents, but it quickly becomes apparent that it’s just a town of strange, elderly people who stick rigidly to their contradictory rules. However, when the children receive a message from the Quagmire Triplets, it becomes clear that something more is afoot. It’s not long before the villagers capture a man that they believe to be Olaf. The Baudelaires immediately realise that the man – Jacques Snicket – is innocent, but can they prove it before the villagers have him executed?

In The Hostile Hospital, the Baudelaires find themselves accused of the death of Count Olaf and are forced to flee. They arrive at a half-built hospital and discover that the building’s Hall of Records may contain a file about their parents. However, when Olaf and his crew manage to capture Violet, the children find themselves in greater danger than ever before. Olaf plans to murder Violet during a public medical procedure. How will Klaus and Sunny manage to get her to safety, when the entire hospital is watching?

In The Carnivorous Carnival, the Baudelaires hide in Olaf’s car and find themselves at a sideshow in the desert. Disguising themselves as freaks, they accept jobs in the carnival while they look for a way to escape from Olaf and his henchpeople. However, they soon learn that Madam Lulu, the carnival fortune teller, has been feeding Olaf information about their whereabouts. If the woman really is psychic, it can’t be long before she realises who the new freaks really are. The children know they need to find a way to escape, but not before they find out exact what Madam Lulu can tell them about the VFD…  More

Everless

Everless was first published in 2018 and is Sara Holland’s debut novel. It is a fantasy story about a girl trying to find out about her past in a world where time really is money. The book forms the first part of a planned series, though at the time of writing no future instalments have been announced.

For over five hundred years, time in the land of Sempera has been bound to blood. Coins are made from blood iron, and the process of extracting it comes at the cost of a person’s remaining life span. The result is that the rich can live for centuries, but the poor are forced to bleed themselves to death to afford their rent.

Realising that her father will soon run out of time, Jules Ember accepts a job as a maid at Everless – the sprawling estate of the Gerling family. The Gerling heir, Roan, is due to be wed to Ina Gold – the adopted daughter of the Queen – and so extra staff are needed to prepare for the big event. Yet for Jules, Everless is filled with danger. As a child, she witnessed Roan’s brother Liam commit an unforgivable crime and, if he recognises her, Jules knows that he will stop at nothing to ensure her silence.

However, Jules learns that there is also a great secret hidden within the city’s walls. The Lords and Ladies who live there can be cruel and unpredictable, but the Queen herself may be the worst of them all. Jules does not know if the rumours about her unnatural longevity are true, but slowly comes to realise that she might not be the only one in danger. The Queen’s previous heirs have all died in mysterious circumstances. Will Ina live long enough to take her place on the throne?

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Chainbreaker

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

Chainbreaker was written by Tara Sim and first published in 2018. It is the second novel of the Timekeeper series and follows on shortly after Timekeeper (2016) left off, with Danny having embraced his calling as Enfield’s resident mechanic. A third instalment – Firestarter – is planned for release at the end of this year.

Danny Hart is the happiest that he has been in years. His father has been rescued and his relationship with his mother has been restored. Better still, he now lives in Enfield and so is able to spend every day in the clock tower with Colton. The danger of the previous few months seems to finally be far behind them. That is, until a clock tower in India is bombed.

Although the tower is completely destroyed, miraculously time continues to flow in the surrounding area. The guild leader expresses a desire for Danny and Daphne to travel to India to investigate, but Danny is at first reluctant to do so. He has heard that rioting in India makes it dangerous for an Englishman to travel there and he is concerned what Colton would do if anything were to happen to him.

Yet, as a second tower is destroyed, Danny realises that he has no choice if he wishes to learn what is happening and protect the clock spirits from harm. As Danny begins to investigate the ruins, he soon learns that the terrorist attacks are simply a reaction to British rule. Meanwhile, back in England, Colton has begun to dream of a mysterious youth named Castor. As his visions grow more vivid, he begins to uncover more about the history of the clock towers and the dark secrets that they hold…

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Animorphs 46-49

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:

Animorphs: 1-5 | 6-10 | 11-15 | 16-19 | 20-22 | 23-27 | 28-32 | 33-37 | 38-41 | 42-45

Megamorphs: The Andalite’s Gift | In the Time of Dinosaurs | Elfangor’s Secret | Back to Before

Animorphs Chronicles: The Andalite Chronicles | The Hork-Bajir Chronicles | Visser

It’s been ages since I posted one of these and for that, I can only apologise. However, I think that its about time that I take another look at K.A. Applegate’s classic science fiction series. Please note that this post is a retrospective and so will contain spoilers for the novels in question. For the purpose of this review, I’m going to be talking about books forty-six through forty-nine: The Deception, The Resistance, The Return and The Diversion.

Everything has changed for the Animorphs since the rescue of Marco’s mother. With the original Visser One dead, Visser Three has been rapidly promoted to take her place. Now, the Earth is in greater danger than ever before. Visser Three does not favour stealth and has always wanted to take the planet in open warfare. Now that he is in charge, there is no one who can stop him from pursuing this goal.

For the first time, the Animorphs are forced to decide whether or not they want to reveal their secret to the world. They have managed to slow the invasion so far but the six of them know that they will not stand a chance against the full force of the Yeerk army. However, revealing themselves will only put their loved ones in greater danger. If the Yeerks know who they are – and that they are human – they will surely target their families first.

However, as the Animorphs contemplate this difficult choice, they are hit by a number of other challenges. Rachel struggles with her dark side as the Crayak pits her against an old enemy, Jake contemplates what it means to be a leader as he protects the Hork-Bajir valley from discovery and Tobias finally learns the truth about what happened to his mother. Relationships between the Animorphs start to fray as they are forced to confront the very real prospect that they could lose the war…

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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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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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