Jinxed

Jinxed was written by Thommy Hutson and first published in 2018. It is a horror story which focuses on a teenager and her friends as they are hunted by a masked serial killer. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to read any of the author’s other work to full appreciate it.

The Trask Academy is one of America’s wealthiest and exclusive art schools. Teenagers who attend there are ear-marked to become the celebrities and Broadway stars of the future, and the best of them can expect to be scouted at the school’s annual showcase. Layna is disappointed when she loses out to her friend Sydney, but totally understands why. Sydney is stunning and talented, while Layna is at the school on a scholarship. However, she receives her chance a few days later after a tragic turn of events.

Sydney is found dead, apparently having thrown herself from the window of her dorm. Although the school is keen to write this off as an isolated incident, Layna and her friends can’t quite shake off their doubts. Sydney showed no sign of being unstable and was really looking forward to the showcase. It’s not long before their fears are justified when another of Layna’s friends mysteriously vanishes from the library.

The group soon discovers that they are completely isolated as the school is on a remote island and the phone lines are down. As a killer in a theatre mask stalks the halls, Layna comes to learn that he has some connection to both her and an unperformed play written by a former student. However, as the killer continues to strike those close to her, she realises that she must find out what that connection is and unmask him before the curtain falls on her forever…

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Derailed / Ouroboros

This review is brought to you as part of the Virtual Book Tour for Ouroboros hosted by Xpresso Book Tours. Please note that it may contain spoilers for Moribund. You can read my review of this novel [here].

Ouroboros was written by Genevieve Iseult Eldredge and first published in 2018. It is an urban fantasy story, which focuses on two fae princess on a mission to stop deadly creatures from manifesting on earth. The novel forms the second part of the Circuit Fae series and carries on from shortly after Moribund (2017) left off, so you really need to read the books in sequence to fully appreciate them.

Now that Syl has awakened, she needs to learn how to control her magical powers. The threat of the Moribund still lingers over her home town. Before Agravaine died, he planted an unknown number of eggs around the city. If these aren’t found and destroyed, they quickly start to hatch out into Ouroboros – terrifying Moribund constructs that exist to infect and devour. With Rouen at her side, she spends her nights hunting down the Ouroboros. However, their mission is hindered by an unexpected complication.

As Syl is a Light Fae and Rouen is a Dark Fae, their powers are fatal to one another. To make things worse, Rouen’s touch automatically causes Syl’s powers to blaze out of control as they instinctively lash out to purify the darkness. The only way that Rouen can hope to withstand Syl’s power is by forming a soul-bond with her but that is impossible. To form a soul-bond, she would either need to best her father in a duel and become queen, or drain a Light Fae princess’s blood.

Things grow more complicated still as they are targeted by enemies both old and new. Fiann has returned to school and is as crazy as ever. She still wants to be the queen of the Dark Fae and puts a dangerous plan in motion to ensure that this comes to pass. At the same time, Syl is approached by a Light Fae prince named Aldebaran. He claims that she has been promised to him, and if they don’t become soul-bound soon it will spell the end to the Light Fae. Syl and Rouen though that their troubles would end with Agravaine’s death, but things have just become much more complicated…

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The Change 1-3

The Change is a series of loosely connected horror novellas that were written by Guy Adams and all published in 2017. They take place in a post-apocalyptic world where reality has been warped and impossible monsters now roam the streets. The series currently consists of six instalments: London: Orbital, New York: The Queen of Coney Island, Paris: A City of Fools, London: Dirt, New York: The River That Runs Both Ways and Tokyo: Noriko’s Story. For the purpose of this review, I’ll be looking at the first three novellas only.

Nobody who witnessed The Change lived to tell the tale. Those who saw the strange creatures appear in the sky died instantly, and anyone who watched the footage of the event on YouTube was sent irreparably insane. The only thing that the survivors know is that The Change affected everything. Reality was rocked by the event and the streets became filled with danger. In this new world, anything is possible and even the most innocent looking creature could hunger for human flesh.

In England, a young man awakes on the motorway to find that he has no memory of what had come before. His only clue is a journal written by a man named Howard. Assuming that this belongs to him, Howard began to travel towards London in the hope of finding out who he is. On the way, he meets a teenager named Hubcap and his biker friends at the Kingdom of Welcome Break. However, they soon find themselves hunted by a terrible monster made of flesh and metal.

In New York, Grace desperately tries to find passage to Riker’s Island in search of her missing brother. With the assistance of an insane priest who believes himself to be God, she seeks out the Queen of Coney Island – the only person with the power to grant her request. However, the Queen does not offer her services for free. In return, she wants to Grace to perform a simple task for her. However, in this strange new world, even the simplest of things can have deadly consequences.

In Paris, Loïc is forced to leave his subterranean home when his friend Adrien is kidnapped by the Impressionists – odd creatures made out of paint. He follows them to their lair in the Louvre where he discovers that they are subjecting people to a fate worse than death. As he tries to get Adrien to safety, he learns that the surface world is more dangerous than he could imagine. It’s not long until he finds himself fighting for his life at the foot of a sentient guillotine and desperately trying to escape from the revived Grand Guignol…

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Perfect Blue: Complete Metamorphosis

Perfect Blue: Complete Metamorphosis was written by Yoshikazu Takeuchi and first published in Japanese in 1991 as Pāfekuto Burū: Kanzen Hentai. It is a horror story that focuses on a young pop idol being stalked by a psychotic fan. The book was finally translated into English in 2018 and served as the inspiration for Satoshi Kon’s classic animated movie, Perfect Blue. The novel is followed by a spin-off anthology titled Perfect Blue: Awaken from a Dream which is due to be released in English later this year.

Mima Kirigoe has never been the most popular of pop idols in Japan, but she has still gained a small following of loyal fans. While she has never had much trouble with these, one has recently been causing her distress. Though largely harmless, he has been repeatedly calling her home and promising to “protect” her, and has recently been seen trying to gain access to her studio.

His persistence worries Mima a little, but she has bigger problems. Eri Ochiai – a new pop idol with a risqué image – has decided that Mima is her rival and has dedicated her life to ruining Mima’s career. Mima’s manager has decided that it’s time that she had a change of image to combat this and has suggested that she produce a photo book that presents her as being older and sexier. Mima really isn’t sure about this as she has built her career as being a traditional teen idol, yet as Eri ups her game she sees no choice but to take part.

However, this new sexy image for Mima drives her stalker over the edge. In a bid to save Mima by preserving her innocence, he sets out on a mission to kidnap his beloved idol. Is there any way that Mima can hope to survive when she does not even know what her stalker looks like?

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Pinnacle

Pinnacle was first published in 2018 and is Lynn Veevers’s debut novel. It is a paranormal romance that focuses on a magically gifted teenager who is targeted by a terrible monster. The book forms the first part of The Core series, though at the time of writing no future instalments have been announced.

Following the brutal murder of both of her parents, Kaya is forced to relocate to Oklahoma to live with her Aunt Di. However, it does not take her long to turn her life around. She falls in love with the handsome Kenneth and, following their first kiss, discovers that she possesses powerful magical abilities. As her parents belonged to different tribes, she manages to spark a wide variety of powers that range from telekinesis to animal transformation.

When she reveals her powers to Kenneth, he is equally thrilled. It turns out that Kenneth belongs to a family of Natural Lycans – people who can transform into a specific totem animal. As Lycans mate for life, Kenneth is starting to feel as though Kaya is his one and only. Naturally, Kaya finds this thrilling. She can’t believe that her first love has turned out to be her soulmate and she devotes herself into learning all that she can about his pack.

However, Kaya does not realise that she is in grave danger. As her powers grow, her magical core becomes more powerful. This unbridled energy acts as a beacon, attracting Afflicted Lycans – monsters who have been transformed forcibly into Lycans – who wish to feed off her. As the Afflicted Lycans possess an ability that nullifies magic powers, Kaya must rely on the protection of Kenneth and his family as they track down the alpha of the Afflicted pack and destroy her. Only then will Kaya be safe. More

La Belle Sauvage

La Belle Sauvage was written by Phillip Pullman and first published in 2017. It forms the first part of a planned trilogy titled The Book of Dust, but at the time of writing the release date for the next instalment has not been announced. The series serves as a companion to Pullman’s massively successful His Dark Materials series, though this instalment is set ten years prior to the events of Northern Lights.

Eleven-year-old Malcolm Polstead dreams of being a scholar, but has settled on the fact that he is likely to become an innkeeper like his father. Still, he is fairly content with his life. Not only does he help out his family in his free time, but he also uses his canoe – La Belle Sauvage – to run errands for the nuns who live on the opposite side of the river.

One day, he discovers that the nuns have been charged with caring for the baby. Lyra Belacqua was born as the result of a scandalous relationship between two esteemed figures, however Malcolm soon learns that there is another reason why the girl must be protected. The Magisterium are unnaturally interested in her and will stop at nothing to snatch her away.

It’s not long before Malcolm and his dæmon, Asta, meet Hannah Relf – an alethiometrist – and through her becomes involved with a secret organisation called Oakley Street. Although Relf is reluctant to involve such a young boy, Malcolm proves to be adept at finding information about the goings on close to his home that no one else can. However, the Magisterium are dangerous and powerful. Soon, Malcolm finds that he is the only one who can protect Lyra from both the Church’s agents and a terrifying stranger with a monstrous dæmon…

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Lumberjanes: Unicorn Power!

Lumberjanes: Unicorn Power! was written by Mariko Tamaki and first published in 2017. It’s a middle grade fantasy story based around the excellent comic series of the same name. The book forms the first part of a planned series, though at the time of writing no further instalments have been announced.

Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types is the most epic summer camp that you can imagine. Its purpose is to teach the young Lumberjanes that go there every important survival skill they will ever need – from sailing to fondue making. But the most vital lesson that it teaches the girls who stay there is the importance of friendship, which is something that the six members of Roanoke house understand all too well.

While trying to earn their Living the Plant Life badge, April, Jo, Mal, Molly and Ripley make an exciting discovery. There are unicorns in the forest, and they smell like armpits and anchovies. When the girls follow a unicorn back to its herd, they make a second discovery: an immense mountain made of purple crystal that does not show up on any map.

The discovery gives April an opportunity that she can’t ignore. As an avid badge collector, she would love to earn the Extraordinary Explorers medal, and climbing an uncharted peak seems to be the perfect way to do it. Yet, in her excitement, she blinds herself to the dangers. It’s not long before the Lumberjanes find themselves trapped and injured, with no one knowing where they are. Has April’s ambition spelled the end of the Lumberjanes, or will the girls be able to work together to find a way back to camp?

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Lair of Dreams

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

Lair of Dreams was written by Libba Bray and first published in 2015. It is a fantasy story, set in New York during the 1920s, as a mysterious and possibly supernatural plague causes fear to spread throughout the city. The story does not really stand alone as it picks up shortly after its prequel, The Diviners (2012) left off. A third instalment of the series, titled Before the Devil Breaks You, is due for release next month.

Now that Evie has revealed her power to the world, she has found herself an overnight sensation. Labelled as the Sweetheart Seer, she soon gains a weekly radio show and her life becomes an endless cycle of mysticism and revelry. However, her glamorous new lifestyle has caused her to push her old friends away. Evie’s friends think that she’s changed but they do not understand why it is that she drinks. It’s to blot out her memories of her terrible battle against the spirit of Naughty John.

Meanwhile, a new threat has struck the city. People in Chinatown have begun to be stricken by a deadly disease that causes them to fall in a deep – and eventually fatal – sleep. As the sickness begins to spread, people fear that the Chinese may be the cause and violence against the immigrants starts to rise. In her nocturnal journeys, a young dream-walker named Ling encounters Henry and reluctantly helps him in his search for his lost love. The two of them do not realise that their quest will bring them face to face with the terrible cause of the affliction.

However, the sickness isn’t the only strange thing to strike close to Evie’s home. Sam has found a new lead regarding Project Buffalo and discovered that his mother’s research may have had something to do with a nationwide hunt for Diviners. Yet what could the Shadow Men want with people with powers like his own, and how does it all connect back to the increasing sightings of a man in a stovepipe hat?

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Moribund

Moribund was written by Genevieve Iseult Eldredge and first published in 2017. It is an urban fantasy story about two fae princesses battling to stop a monstrous plague from being unleashed on the world. The novel forms the first part of the Circuit Fae series and its sequel is planned for release in March of next year.

Following a terrible train accident, Syl Skye has found herself as somewhat of a social recluse. Her former friend and rescuer Fiann has become a local hero and media darling, while Syl is merely known as the girl who survived. However, her memories of that night are vague at best and she can’t get the faint memory of another girl – one with dazzling eyes – from her mind.

Syl does not realise that the derailing was no accident. Former dark fae princess, Rouen, has been stripped of her title and forced to become a sluagh huntress – dead to her people and forced to obey the every command of her master, Agravaine. In order to purify their dying home world, Rouen has been forced to hunt down and kill all of the sleeper princesses of the fair fae. Unfortunately for Syl, she is the last.

However, the two girls quickly find that they are irresistibly drawn to one another. Rouen cannot defy Agravaine’s direct commands but she knows that she has to find a way to teach Syl to control her powers. However, Agravaine has a terrible power of his own – a plague known as the Moribund that merges circuitry and dark magic to control its host. When Agravaine unleashes the Moribund on the school, Syl and Rouen know that they must find a way to stop him. If they don’t, it could mean the end of everyone that Syl cares about…

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Lyra’s Oxford / Once Upon a Time in the North / The Collectors

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

As there’s only a month to go before Philip Pullman releases his new and exciting novel, I thought that I should probably finish off my series of reviews of His Dark Materials. In previous posts, I’ve already taken a look at the main trilogy – Northern Nights (published in America as The Golden Compass – 1995), The Subtle Knife (1997) and The Amber Spyglass (2000) – but today I’m going to be looking at the three companion stories that complement these.

All three shorts were published in separate short volumes – Lyra’s Oxford (2003), Once Upon a Time in the North (2008) and The Collectors (2014). They are each set in a different time period, with Once Upon a Time in the North and The Collectors being prequels to the main series, and Lyra’s Oxford set some years after the events of The Amber Spyglass. The collections also contain a number of other titbits, ranging from maps to newspaper clippings, some of which are reported to tie into Pullman’s upcoming The Book of Dust trilogy.

Lyra’s Oxford contains a short story called Lyra and the Birds, in which Lyra and Pantalaimon manage to protect a witch’s dæmon from a mob of angry starlings. The dæmon has come to Oxford in search of an alchemist who can save his partner’s life, however Lyra soon grows suspicious of his story. The alchemist is reported to be an unstable individual and there is clearly something that the dæmon is hiding from her. Just what is the dangerous secret that he is protecting?

Once Upon a Time in the North focuses on the adventures of a young Lee Scoresby and his dæmon, Hester. Scoresby has recently won a hot air balloon in a game of cards and is using it to explore the world. In this early adventure, he finds himself caught in a tense political situation that involves a politician who wants to wage war against the armoured bears, and a murderous gunslinger who bears a grudge against Scoresby.

The Collectors paints the creepy tale of a man who has come into possession of a pair of works of art – a painting of a young woman and a bronze statue of monkey. It is rumoured that if the two are separated, they will eventually find their way back to each other. However, the strangest thing is that when the collector shows the painting to his friend, he recognises the young woman as a former lover. Yet how can that be when the portrait is over eighty years old? The answer is stranger than he ever could have imagined…

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