Flynn Nightsider and the Edge of Evil

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments in this series. You can read my review of these novels by clicking the links below:

The Firedragon | Firedragon Rising

Flynn Nightsider and the Edge of Evil was written by Mary Fan and first published in 2018. It is a fantasy dystopian novel, set it a world where anyone who is unable to use magic is a second-class citizen. The novel is technically the first instalment of the Flynn Nightsider series, although Fan did previous publish two short prequel novellas – The Firedragon (2014) and Firedragon Rising (2015) – which tell Aurelia’s backstory.

Despite being a powerless Norm, Flynn Nightsider lived a pretty happy life. That is, until the night when his mother was cruelly slain in front of him by a monstrous draugr. Since then, he was taken in by the Academy with the other orphaned Norms. Although they are kept safe from the monsters, Flynn knows that he will never amount to anything. Secondstringers like him will never receive the preferential treatment enjoyed by the Enchanters – the students who are able to use magic.

When Flynn and his best friend Brax learn that their Headmaster may be hiding an illicit secret – one that potentially concerns Flynn’s mother – the two know that they need to flaunt every school rule and break into is office. However, things are quick to go wrong. When they accidentally cause a magical explosion, the boys find themselves “black bagged” and hauled away as traitors. It is obvious to everyone that something strange is going on. While the explosion had seriously injured Brax, Flynn had somehow walked away unharmed.

Although the Triumvirate immediately sentence Flynn to death for his crimes, there are other people who have noticed him and taken an interest. The Rising – a secret rebellion against the tyrannical triumvirate – certainly have use for someone who could well be immune to an Enchanter’s spells. However, they are not the only ones. The Defiants – a group of Enchanters lead by the powerful Tydeus Storm – would also stop at nothing to get their hands on him. And the Defiants are known for their mastery of dark magic, so whatever plans they have for him cannot be good…

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Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments in this series. You can read my review of these novels by clicking the links below:

Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone | Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets | Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban | Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire | Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

The fact that I’m returning to Hogwarts can only mean one thing. That’s right readers, today marks my 450th review on this blog! Thank you so much for your continuing support and recommendations. I wonder what gems we will find amongst the next 50…

Anyhow, with that out of the way, let’s continue. As always, please note that this post will undoubtably contain huge spoilers, as I do kind of expect that a lot of you are at least acquainted with the movie that is based on this book. However, in case you’re not familiar with this series, Harry Potter has been a worldwide phenomenon for over 20 years. It was written by J.K. Rowling and the main series consists of seven novels – Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone (1997), Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (1998), Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (1999), Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2000), Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2003), Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (2005) and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2007). This has since been supplemented by a play, a spin-off movie series and number of short-stories and reference books that further expand the world.

Unlike the previous summer, Harry has found that he has not been left to wallow in his misery. In the aftermath of the battle at the Ministry of Magic, it is not long before Dumbledore comes to Privet Drive to ask for his assistance. It soon becomes apparent that he is necessary to convince an elderly teacher by the name of Horace Slughorn to return to Hogwarts, though Harry isn’t entirely certain why this is important at all in the greater scheme of things. Every day, Voldemort’s Death Eaters seem to be becoming bolder and people who defy them are meeting unpleasant ends.

On the way back to Hogwarts, Harry becomes suspicious that Draco Malfoy may have an inside knowledge of what the Dark Lord is planning. However, no one else seems to share his concerns. They only see Malfoy as an arrogant teenage boy and just can’t accept that he would have anything to offer Voldemort. Yet Harry knows that Malfoy is hiding something and vows to keep a closer eye on his rival than ever before.

As the school year begins, Harry starts to have secret lessons with Dumbledore in which he learns more about Voldemort’s childhood. During these lessons, Dumbledore reveals the truth about Slughorn to Harry. Dumbledore believes that the professor once told a terrible secret to Voldemort and he needs Harry to discover exactly what that was. However, as Harry starts to get closer to Slughorn in his potions lessons, he stumbles across another mystery. An old potions book hidden in the classroom that has been annotated by a student who seems to know more about the subject than his teacher and has a definite malicious streak. A student that goes by the name of the Half Blood Prince…

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Amelia Fang and the Memory Thief

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments in this series. You can read my review of these novels by clicking the links below:

Amelia Fang and the Barbaric Ball | Amelia Fang and the Unicorn Lords

Amelia Fang and the Memory Thief was written by Laura Ellen Anderson and first published in 2018. It is a middle-grade fantasy story about the adventures of a young vampire girl, her ghoulish friends, and her pet pumpkin, in a world populated by a mixture of monsters and cute fantasy creatures. The novel forms the third part of the Amelia Fang series and is preceded by Amelia Fang and the Barbaric Ball (2017) and Amelia Fang and the Unicorn Lords (2018). I would recommend reading these stories in sequence if you want to fully appreciate them.

Now that Amelia and her friends have proven that the Creatures of the Light are no threat, Nocturnia has become a very different place to live. Faery exchange students are welcome in school and their classes have been adapted to include a number of new subjects – including Glitterology and Angel Kitten singing. Yet most exciting of all is the new cooking class. Their teacher is the famous faery chef, Mr Sublime, and in his first lesson he sets a contest to win tickets to the Pumpkin Paradise Park to whoever can bake and sell the most Sublime Cookies.

As she dreams of becoming a pumpkinologist, Amelia is desperate to win the tickets. While Tangine is happy to help her out due to his new-found love of cooking, the others seem less than convinced. Florence and Grimaldi are much more interested in playing Goblin Tag and this leads to friction as their lack of focus starts to ruin Amelia’s chance of winning the prize. Amelia also finds herself disappointing her mother. The Countess Frivolita wants Amelia to follow in her footsteps, yet Amelia doesn’t know how to make her mother see that she’s more interested in pumpkins than fancy balls and organ lessons.

However, in the midst of everything, something strange begins to happen. When Florence claims that she forgot about meeting with Amelia, Amelia first assumed that she was lying. Yet, when other people around the town start to become forgetful, she realises that something is seriously wrong. Can she and Tangine find out what is causing the memory loss before their friends and family completely forgot who they are?

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Firedragon Rising

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

Firedragon Rising was written by Mary Fan and first published in 2015. It is a fantasy novella that is set in a world where the magical elite rule over powerless “Norms” with an iron fist. The novella follows on from where The Firedragon (2014) left off and the two stories combined form a prequel to Flynn Nightsider and the Edge of Evil, which was published earlier this year.

It has been three months since Aurelia Sun survived the International Challenge, becoming the first Norm to ever defeat a Fangbeast in combat. Yet she is the only person who knows this. The Triumvirate have done everything in their power to hide her victory, claiming that she was saved from death by a Sentinel. Now she knows for sure that they cannot be trusted. Problem is, they know that she knows.

Following an act of defiance towards Headmaster Everett, Aurelia realises that she has to escape. Helped by both Williams and Connor, she arms herself and steals a motorcycle from the school. Her goal is to reach a safe-house used by the Rising which is hidden deep within the Wasteland. Yet getting there will be difficult, even for her. The Wasteland is filled with supernatural monsters and the Sentinels are hot on her tail. If she is captured, it will likely mean the end for her and all that she holds dear.

However, Aurelia is the Firedragon and is confident that she can defeat anything that stands in her way. Her years of Defender training have taught her everything that she needs to know to go toe to toe with horrible monsters. But it has not prepared her for all the horrors that lie outside of the city. What will she do when she finds herself faced by Dark Enchanters and spirits that are immune to all physical attacks?

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A Good Night for Shooting Zombies

A Good Night For Shooting Zombies was written by Jaco Jacobs and published in 2013 under the title Oor ‘n motorfiets, ‘n zombiefliek en lang getalle wat deur elf gedeel kan word. As of October 2018, it has been made available in English for the very first time, been shortlisted for the Found in Translation Award and made into a successful film in Afrikaans. The novel tells the story of two boys who make friends over filming a zombie movie. It is a stand alone novel, so you don’t have to read any of the author’s other work to fully appreciate it.

The last few years have been pretty miserable for Martin. His father was killed in a tragic car accident and his family refuse to talk about it. In his free time, Martin looks after his father’s chickens which has earned him the nickname “Clucky”. That is, until one of his chickens is killed by his neighbour’s dog and his life changes forever.

The dog turns out to belong to a teenage boy named Vusi, who his seriously ill with cancer. Although he is initially furious with Vusi, Martin finds it difficult to stay angry as he starts to bond with the boy over his love of zombie films. Vusi dreams of making a film of his own but worries this will never be a reality. His parents are highly protective of him and reluctant to even let him go outside.

With Martin’s help, Vusi finds away that he can slip away and, with the help of local tomboy Chris, they start to piece together their film in secret. However, when they uncover the hideout for a gang of thieves, they suddenly find themselves in more trouble than they ever could have imagined. Will it be possible to finish the film without attracting the attention of some very dangerous men?

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Diamonds and Deceit

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

Diamonds and Deceit was written by Leila Rasheed and first published in 2014. It is a historical romance set in the early 20th Century that focuses on the lives of the people who live and work on the wealthy Somerton Estate. The novel forms the second part of the At Somerton series – following Secrets and Sapphires (2013) and preceding Emeralds and Ashes (2015). Because of this, I would strongly recommend reading the novels in sequence to fully appreciate them.

A few months have passed since Lady Rose was formally adopted as one of Lord Westlake’s daughters and she is struggling to fit in. The other young Ladies refuse to accept her as one of them, disgusted by her poor upbringing. However, the serving staff behave strangely around her too, projecting a sense that they believe it improper for one of their station to ever believe that they belong in high society. As her season begins and she becomes attracted to a known ladies man, the Duke of Huntleigh, she knows that her feelings will never be reciprocated. What will Huntleigh think when he learns who she truly is?

Her sister, Ada, is also having a miserable time of things. There is a lot of pressure for her to accept Lord Fintan’s offer of engagement in order to save her family from poverty, however how can she do so in good conscience? Even though Ravi has returned to India, she still loves him dearly. It seems unfair to both of them to enter a loveless marriage. However, her choice may soon be taken from her. Charlotte is determined to have her revenge against her stepsister and has more than enough information at her fingertips to publicly shame both Ada and Lord Fintan.

Yet these are not the only dramas unfolding at the Somerton Estate. Sebastian is determined to prove that his love – Oliver – is innocent of murder. Michael must choose between going to Eton and finding a way to start a life with Priya, the Indian nursemaid. Georgina must find a way to stop the staff from leaving in protest of the authoritarian new housekeeper. If any of these scandals are discovered, they could spell the end of the Westlake family. Is there any way that they can hope to keep things together until Ada’s wedding can save the estate?

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The X-Files: Goblins

Now that I’m all finished with Animorphs, I think it’s time to take a look at another series that really struck a chord with me as a teenager. In celebration of its 25th anniversary, I think it’s appropriate to dedicate a few posts to The X-Files. As with the Animorphs reviews, these are retrospective posts and so may contain spoilers for the books in question.

The X-Files was a massively popular television series and so a lot of novels that tied into it were produced over its run. Although these were usually just novelisations of popular episodes, six original stories were published between 1994 and 1998. These books were penned by three different authors and were technically aimed at adult readers, but were generally light enough to be enjoyed by older teens as well. For the purpose of this review, I will be looking at Goblins by Charles Grant.

A quiet town near Fort Dix is rocked by a pair of brutal murders. Two military personnel are found dead in public places, their throats viciously slit. However, an eye witness account paints a strange picture of the crimes. The killer has the power to blend into their surroundings, invisible to its victims before it strikes.

A case of an invisible man isn’t generally enough to entice Special Agent Fox Mulder, but he has no choice but to investigate when a senator calls in a favour from his current director, Arlen Douglas. However, it will not just be his partner, Dana Scully, assisting him this time. Douglas insists that they be accompanied by two rookie agents – Hank Webber and Licia Andrews – who desperately need some time in the field.

Although Mulder is initially sceptical that the case is an X-File, he soon encounters a local woman who believes that goblins stalk the woods and realises that there is something strange going on. The local military hide a terrible secret – one with deadly applications. However, as Mulder and Scully get closer to the truth, they also risk becoming the killer’s next targets…

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Beetle Queen

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

Beetle Queen (also published under the title Revenge of the Beetle Queen) was written by M.G. Leonard and first published in 2017. It forms the second part of The Battle of the Beetles Trilogy, following Beetle Boy (2016) and preceding Battle of the Beetles (2018). The story picks up a couple of months after the events of the first book and follows the continuing adventures of Darkus Cuttle and his hyper-intelligent rhinoceros beetle, Baxter. Because of this, I would strongly recommend reading the books in sequences to fully appreciate them.

Darkus managed to rescue his father from the clutches of the evil Lucretia Cutter, but he knows that the monstrous fashionista is planning something big. The paper reports that she is designing dresses that will be worn by every actress who has been nominated at the Film Awards in LA. Darkus does not know what Cutter will do when all of those cameras are turned on her, but it can’t possibly be good.

However, his snooping is hampered by his father. Bartholomew Cuttle knows how dangerous Cutter can be. She very nearly killed Darkus the last time they met and he doesn’t want to risk losing him. Bartholomew is keen to whisk his son away to live in the countryside but Darkus can’t allow that. He could never run away and leave his new human and beetle friends in danger.

When a close friend is badly injured by Lucretia Cutter and his father vanishes once again, Darkus knows that he has to act. With the help of Uncle Max, Virginia, Bertolt and their best beetle friends, they set off on an epic adventure that takes them from frozen Greenland to the bright lights of Hollywood. They know that they need to act fast. Lucrecia Cutter needs to be stopped before she can move her evil plan into its next stage…

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A Series of Unfortunate Events 13

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 | Extras

A Series of Unfortunate Events was a series of novels written by Lemony Snicket and published between 1999 and 2006. The main series consisted 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). The series also has a couple of supplementary novels that further flesh out the world and has been adapted into both a film and Netflix series. For the purpose of this review, I will be looking at the final instalment only.

Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire managed to escape the burning of the Hotel Denoument but had to do some pretty villainous things in order to do so. Now, they have found themselves stranded at sea aboard the Carmelita. To make matters worse, they are also sharing the boat with their hated enemy, Count Olaf. Although he seems less threatening without his henchpeople, he still has the diving helmet full of the medusoid mycelium at his disposal and so can easily kill everyone aboard the ship.

Following a huge storm, the Baudelaires and Olaf find themselves marooned on a coast shelf, regarded to be the place where everything washes up eventually. They soon meet the nearby islanders and discover that they also once underwent a schism. A large number left the island but those that remain now live under the rule of Ishmael – a man who seems to have the power to control their actions and beliefs through not-so-subtle suggestion.

When a familiar face also washes up on the island, the Baudelaires slowly start to learn that chance has brought them to a place that has connections to their past. Although they thought they had left the VFD far behind them, their parents had once visited the island and may have been instrumental in the schism. However, the Baudelaires do not have long to explore this connection. Olaf is determined to seize control away from Ishmael and would not be averse to using the medusoid mycelium to do it…  More

A Monster Calls

A Monster Calls was written by Patrick Ness and first published in 2011. It is a dark fantasy story that tells the tale of a young teenager who is forced to come to terms with his mother’s terminal illness. The novel stands alone, so you do not have to read any of the author’s other work to fully appreciate it.

Connor O’Malley is not having the best time of things. His mother has been sick for a long time and her treatments do not seem to be making her better as quickly as he hoped. This causes a lot of tension for him at school. The other kids mostly seem to ignore him, as though they’re scared about how fragile he is. Teachers aren’t much better as they seem to think that he needs babying. No matter what he does, he does not seem to get in trouble. The only person who does see him is the school bully – Harry – who now finds him to be an easy target.

Things are worse still for Connor at home. Although he thinks he does a good job of caring for his mother, no one else seems to agree. His grandmother is quick to move in to take charge, bossing Connor around and treating him like a little kid. His father, on the other hand, is barely there. He has a new life in America now and does nothing but pay fleeting visits in which he tells Connor to be brave.

It is 12:07 at night when the monster first comes to Connor. The creature forms itself out of an old yew tree and seems surprised that Connor is not more afraid of him, yet it is not the scariest monster that he has ever seen. Yet this monster has come with a purpose. It will return to visit him and tell three stories from previous times it has walked the earth. When all of these stories are told, it expects Connor to tell him one thing in return – his truth. And that is the most frightening thing of all.

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