The Never Dawn

The Never Dawn was written by R.E. Palmer and first published in 2016. It’s a dystopian science fiction story that follows a young worker who lives in an underground commune. The book is the first part of a planned trilogy and is followed by Cloud Cuckoo (2016). At the time of writing, the final instalment has yet to be announced.

It has been over a hundred years since Noah’s people were forced to flee from the surface – from the toxic rain, polluted skies and enemies that would see them destroyed. Under Mother’s guidance, they retreated to the Ark and were divided into four classes – workers, farmers, researchers and prefects. Only by working together could they prepare for a time when it would be safe to return.

Noah has lived his life wanting nothing more than to please Mother. He works hard to build more components than anyone else, determined to one day be remembered like his hero, Moses. He never questions what he is making or where it goes next. He merely performs his role in society because it is what is expected of him. After all, Mother knows best.

However, Noah’s attitude begins to change as he starts to notice Rebekah. Thoughts of the beautiful researcher fill his mind and distract him from his duty, yet he can’t understand why. He finds himself even more confused when his team mate Seth is found guilty of being an agent of their enemies and taken away. Noah finds it hard to believe that someone as sweet as Seth could be corrupt. Yet it must be the truth. It couldn’t be that Mother is lying to them, could it?

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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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The Spirit of Stratos: The Shadow Virus

The Spirit of Stratos: The Shadow Virus was written by R.E. Larrison and first published in 2016. It is a science fiction novel that focuses on two teenagers as they face separate challenges on a dangerous alien world. The book reads as though it is the first part of a series, though at the time of writing no further instalments have been announced.

When Alec Quinn learns that an airship has crashed in the depths of the jungle, he knows that it’s the time to prove himself. However, when he approaches his admiral to ask permission to join the search party, he discovers that there may be something more to the accident. The military is desperate to keep the crash a secret and it’s only with the help of a well-regarded priest that Alec gets accepted onto the top-secret mission.

However, Alec may have bitten off more than he can chew. He’s only a cadet but the mission takes him deep into a jungle that’s infested with giant carnivores and arboreal savages. As Alec’s party nears the crash site, things grow stranger still. They find dozens of dead creatures and a settlement full of people who should not exist. Alec may have stumbled across the biggest threat to his nation, but how will be able to rescue the airship crew and escape when danger lurks behind every tree?

Meanwhile, Elka Kole – Alec’s childhood friend – has been kidnapped. She awakes to find herself held prisoner by a family of smugglers who plan to sell her to the infamous thug, Munner Lyn. Alone and far away from her family, Elka must find a way to survive and escape. However, to do this, she must first befriend her captors…

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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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The Conscript

The Conscript was written by Nate Kirtis and first published in 2016. It is a science fiction novel that focuses on a teenage boy who is kidnapped and forcibly recruited into a foreign military school. The book forms the first part of a planned series, though at the time of writing no further instalments have been announced.

World-FIVE is known for being a dangerous planet, but fourteen-year-old Avi Garza has always felt safe at his school in Co’pia. Yet everything changes on the day that mysterious foreign soldiers invade his school. They kill everyone who resists them, including Avi’s two best friends, and take the rest hostage. After days of travelling, Avi and the other survivors are released in Camp Condor, a military school in distant Yermo, and given two options. Either they can join the academy, or be used as target practice.

Unbeknown to his captors, Avi is not what he seems. He hide his true intelligence and the years of combat training that he received as a child. Avi knows that his best chance to have revenge is to play along, and therefore he hides his strengths and befriends the other boys in his bunker. However, his strange actions catch the attention of a camp official who requests for him to become his personal adept. Such a thing is unheard of, as not even the students who have been training for years have achieved such a lofty rank.

Naturally, Avi’s promotion angers both his fellow students and members of the faculty. It’s not long before some of his classmates strike back, taking advantage of Avi’s lack of citizenship in an attempt to murder him. As a foreigner, Avi knows that his chances of surviving are limited unless he can be recognised as full citizen of Yermo. Yet his best chance to earn this is to win the 6Day Games – a Camp wide war game that pits all of the students against each other…

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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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The Spectra Unearthed

The Spectra Unearthed was written by Christie Valentine Powell and first published in 2015. It is a fantasy story which focuses on three magical-using princesses on a mission to save their kingdoms from a cruel invading force. The novel forms the first part of The Spectra: Keita’s Wings series and is followed by The Spectra United (2016).

Keita Sage was never a very good princess. Really, she couldn’t see what all the fuss was about. However, that was before the Stygians attacked. They overwhelmed all six of the kingdoms, murdering the Kings and seizing control in the name of their leader, a man known only as Donovan. Now, Keita is on the run. She knows that she has to find a way to save her brother, trapped behind the fortified walls of the Summit. She just doesn’t know how.

It’s not long until she is captured by Jasper – a former friend of her brother who has thrown in his lot with the enemy. Jasper swears that he only wants to keep her safe but has a strange way of showing it. With the help of a Nome girl – Sienna – Keita manages to escape and reunite herself with two other renegade princesses – Zuri and Carli.

As the four girls travel across the arid desert of the Nomelands, they encounter a group of rebels who are intent on protecting Crossovers – orphaned children who had been abandoned for possessing different magical powers to their parents. Keita can see that this colony has little chance of standing up to Jasper’s might but still knows that she has to do everything in her power to help them. Yet what chance does she have against an army of Stygians, each of whom possess the magical abilities of all of the six factions?

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