Sky

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

Sky was written by Sarah Driver and first published in 2017. The novel forms the second part of The Huntress Trilogy and is preceded by Sea (2017). At the time of writing the release date for the final book in the series – Storm – has yet to be announced. As Sky follows on exactly where the previous story left off, I would strongly advise reading the books in order if you want to have any idea of what is going on.

Mouse may have found the Sea-Opal, but now Stag has the map. If he figures out how to read it, the remaining two Storm-Opals will be his and all of Trianukka will be lost under a sea of ice. Mouse knows that is her duty to get the map back from him and continue her quest but she is starting to doubt that it can be done. Even with the help of Sparrow’s magic and Crow’s shape-shifting power, they are still just three children against Stag’s savage army.

As the group try to plan their next move, they find themselves captured by draggle-riders from one of the Sky Tribes. Mouse soon learns that the riders are fighting an endless war against their sworn rivals, the Wilderwitches. As the group flees their mountain stronghold, Mouse slowly begins to understand the importance of her quest. If she can’t unite the clans of Sea, Sky and Land once again, they will eventually destroy each other.

Fuelled by a new resolve, Mouse sets about to retrieve her map and find the next opal. However, it will be far from easy. Although she has made new allies within the Sky Tribes, Stag’s power is growing stronger by the day. Having brutally slaughtered the whales, he now turns his attention on hunting the Sea Wraiths. Will Mouse be able to stop him before he damages her home beyond repair?

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Raptors of Paradise

Raptors of Paradise was first published in 2017 and is Jay Jay Burridge’s debut novel. It is a fantasy adventure set in a world where dinosaurs have never gone extinct. The book forms the first part of The World of Supersaurs series and its sequel, The Stegomancer, is expected to be released in early 2018.

Bea Kingsley is somewhat put out when her grandmother, Bunty, decides that they should suddenly set sail for the distant island of Papua. It’s the summer holidays and she’d much rather be spending it riding on her pet allosaur. Her grandmother claims that it’s because they can’t miss out on the chance to see the rare and beautiful raptors of paradise in their natural environment, but she does not tell Bea the true reason. Bunty has just received a letter dated eleven years previously that reveals that Bea’s parents had also visited the island before their mysterious disappearance.

Under the protection of Bunty’s valet and bodyguard, Theodore Logan, the family begin their trek into the dense jungles of Papua. However, their arrival has angered Hayter – a cruel trader of raptor feathers and self-proclaimed boss of the island. The jungle is full of traps that he has set and anyone who disturbs them soon finds themselves prey for his pet dwarf tyrant, the Beast.

Hayter isn’t the only person stalking Bea and her family. It soon becomes clear that they are being watched by the stealthy and reclusive shadow raptors, as well as the mysterious entity known as the Winged Spirit that protects them. The locals believe that the woods are cursed and that those who enter them are never seen again. However, the truth behind this legend turns out to be much stranger…

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The Hanging Girl

The Hanging Girl was written by Eileen Cook and first published in 2017. It is a mystery novel which follows a teenage girl who becomes entangled in the disappearance of one of her schoolmates. The story stands alone, so you don’t have to have read any of the author’s other work to fully appreciate it.

Skye Thorn is in trouble. Her friend Drew has been busy planning a future which involves the two girls moving to New York to study together. Skye knows that she could never hope to afford the rent, but has been too embarrassed to bring this to Drew’s attention. Trouble is, now graduation day is looming closer and Skye knows that she has left it far too long to tell the truth.

Her desperation pushes her to take drastic measures to raise the money. Skye has always had a talent for reading people, playing this to great advantage while doing tarot readings for her schoolmates. However, she takes this a step further when she becomes involved in shady Pluto and his kidnapping scheme. The plan is simple. Pluto kidnaps Skye’s classmate, Paige, and sends the ransom demand to her wealthy father. Skye uses her insider information to fake psychic visions that lead the police to where Paige is being kept. Unfortunately, things go horribly wrong.

Skye’s mother is quick to cash in on the tragedy, claiming that she has also had psychic visions that cause the police to start to doubt the validity Skye’s. As Skye struggles to retain control of the situation, things take a sudden dark turn and she realises that all of the blame for the kidnapping could be easily pinned on her. Skye needs to gain the upper hand and quickly. The true perpetrators are dangerous, and Skye must use all of her cunning if she is to keep her neck out of the noose…

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Wolves and Roses

This review is brought to you as part of the Virtual Book Tour for Wolves and Roses hosted by Xpresso Book Tours.

Wolves and Roses was written by Christina Bauer and first published in 2017. It is a paranormal romance story that focuses on a teenage girl who lives in a world where faeries, wizards and shape-shifters are common-place. The novel is the first part of a planned series and its sequel, Shifters and Glyphs, is expected to be released next autumn.

As a member of the Magicorum, Bryar Rose’s life should play out according to a faerie tale template. For her, this is the tale of Sleeping Beauty, however this does not seem to fit her at all. Although she is forced to take medicine to stave off her magical narcolepsy, she doesn’t like woodland creatures and can’t stand the “handsome prince”, Philpot, that her faerie aunts have chosen for her. Instead of normal faerie tale dreams, she instead has vision of Egypt and a mysterious golden jackal. Could it be something to do with her obsession with finding rare papyri, or could it be something more?

Soon, Bryar meets Alec and Knox – a wizard and a shifter – who share her interest in Ancient Egypt. They have been working together to locate the pages of a long-forgotten text and Bryar’s research could hold the missing information that they have been searching for. Unfortunately, Bryar has attracted some unwanted attention. An ancient society have also set their sights on her and have sinister plans for her future.

As Bryar grows closer to Knox, she starts to discover things about herself that she could never have imagined. Her aunts have been hiding the secret of her origins from her ever since she was a baby, and the truth has the power to completely change her life. If Bryar does not discover who she is by the time she turns eighteen, she could lose everything that she holds dear. However, the fateful birthday is mere days away…

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Three Words Promised

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

Three Words Promised was written by Ingrid Seymour and first published in 2017. The novel forms the third and final part of the Djinn Empire series and follows on directly where One Wish Away (2017) and Two Hearts Asunder (2017) left off, with Marielle and her friends preparing to face an evil and powerful djinn.

Marielle and Faris were determined to be together, yet their actions could very well have led to the end of the world. They have given Akeelah everything that she needs to make an army of half-djinn – powerful monsters under her control which are more than capable of hurting people. Now there is nothing to stop her from unleashing them on the world, finally realising her desire to end all human life.

Although part of Marielle still just wants to run and hide, she knows that she is partially responsible for what has happened and therefore she has a responsibility to stop Akeelah. However, she does not know where to begin. The binding spell seems to be their only hope but Faris is not powerful enough to summon a demon by himself. They need to find another powerful magic user, but in a world torn by fear and violence, they have no idea where to start looking.

It’s not long before Akeelah puts her final plan in motion and Marielle realises that their time has run out. If they don’t stop Akeelah right away, there is not going to be a world left to save. With her friends and family all in grave danger, Marielle has no choice but to finally face the evil djinn. But in order to stop Akeelah, she may have to make the ultimate sacrifice…

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The Shadow Cabinet

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

The Shadow Cabinet was written by Maureen Johnson and first published in 2015. It is the third instalment of the Shades of London series and follows The Name of the Star (2011) and The Madness Underneath (2013). This book carries on exactly where previous instalments have left off, so you really do need to have read them all in order to have any idea about what’s going on.

Rory Deveaux only came to London to study, but could never have imagined how much it would change her life. Over the last few months, she has nearly died, faced the Ripper and gained the ability to dispel ghosts with a touch. However, nothing could have prepared her for Stephen’s sudden death. Although Rory used her power to try and ensure that he would return as a spirit, now she faces a problem. She has no idea where Stephen’s ghost will manifest or what kind of condition it will be in when it does.

Meanwhile, Thorpe has pooled all of the resources that the organisation has into finding Jane. Charlotte is still missing and with every moment that they delay, their chances of finding her alive grow more remote. However, Rory is also technically a missing person and this presents extra complications. If Thorpe wishes to keep using her power, he has to keep her hidden her away from her searching friends and parents, which in turn limits her ability to hunt for Stephen.

Stuck in the safe-house with nothing to do but look through Stephen’s belongings, Rory starts to uncover a deeper mystery. Stephen has been researching a secret society known as the Shadow Cabinet – one that has devoted itself to protecting a group of standing stones that maintain the barrier between the worlds of the living and dead. Slowly, Rory begins to see a connection between the existence of this order and Jane’s crazy cult. Could Jane’s plan to defeat death have something to do with the stones?

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Spellslinger

Spellslinger was written by Sebastien de Castell and first published in 2017. It is a fantasy novel that focuses on a young member of a magical family who must come to terms with the fact that his powers are fading. The story forms the first part of the Spellslinger series and is followed by Shadowblack (2017).

Kellen is days away from his sixteenth birthday and has just bested one of his classmates in a mage duel – the first of four trials that he must face to earn his mage name and a place in Jan’Tep society. There is only one problem. He cheated. Kellen has been aware for a long time that his magic is fading and that is not good. Only the magical can join the upper echelons of society. The powerless are destined to become Sha’Tep and spend their lives in servitude.

As Kellen begins to consider taking drastic measures to trigger his powers, he also meets an Argosi wander named Ferius Parfax and his destiny begins to shift. Ferius represents a world he has never known – one outside of the city walls where the societies that don’t rely on magic dwell – and, through the way that the Jan’Tep treat Ferius, Kellen begins to see that there is something desperately wrong with his society.

But as Kellen learns more about the history of the Jan’Tep, he begins to uncover a darkness that his people have been trying to bury for centuries. Just what lengths did his ancestors have to go to in order to destroy the demons that once stalked their lands? And what will the council do when a teenage boy discovers the truth?

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Ultimate Sacrifice

This review is brought to you as part of the Virtual Book Tour for Ultimate Sacrifice, hosted by Xpresso Book Tours.

Ultimate Sacrifice was written by S.E. Green and first published in 2017. It is a mystery novel with horror elements, focusing on a family whose lives are turned upside down when there is a grisly murder on their property. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to have read any of the author’s previous work to fully appreciate it.

Vickie fears the worst when she sees her twin brother Travis stumble out of the woods, covered in blood. However, she could never have imagined the horrible scene that he discovered. Their neighbour’s four-year-old daughter has been brutally murdered in what looks unmistakably like a Satanic ritual. To make things even worse, the murder took place only a short distance from her home and the killer could very well still be lurking in the forest.

As the police and media descend on her home, Vickie starts to realise that they are the number one suspects. Yet, how can that possibly be? Her family are all valued members of the community. Her parents are happily married and they all attend church every Sunday. Yet it’s not long before a mysterious stranger posts a blog that contains all sorts of sordid imagines of her parents, uncle and brothers. Suddenly, Vickie’s family don’t seem very squeaky clean after all and seem to come under even closer scrutiny.

Not content to let her family’s reputation be dragged through the mud, Vickie begins to investigate for herself and starts to uncover some sordid facts about the history between her parents and the victim’s mother. It seems that nobody is quite who Vickie believed them to be, but would that give them motive to kill a helpless child?

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Tempus Abbey

Tempus Abbey was written by Sammy Woodford and first published in 2016. It is a fantasy story that focuses on two teenagers who find themselves caught in the middle of a conflict between technology and religion. The book forms the first part of the Fray and Ira series, but at the time of writing no future instalments have been announced.

Ira knows something is wrong when his father starts to lose his usually perfect timekeeping ability. He soon learns that there has been an accident at his place of work and it has badly affected his father’s memory. This is quick to catch the attention of both the faeries and important people within their home town of Kinda’s Leap. Everyone seems to either want to make his father disappear or use him to prove that the infamous machinist Akkeri is up to no go good. Ira knows that he and his father need to flee the town, but where could they possibly go?

Although the two make their escape, they soon run into trouble as they try to cross the harsh wilderness that surrounds Kinda’s Leap. They are discovered by Fray, the young ward of the abbot of Tempus Abbey, who takes them back to her home for urgent medical attention. However, their arrival sparks a lot of trouble. Although the Abbot offers them sanctuary, Akkeri’s men are not popular in the territory of the Confraternity and there are many who believe that they are spies.

However, Fray quickly learns that Ira’s father hides a secret. She discovers that he carries with him a strange key and, following a chance encounter with a talking rabbit called Albert, she learns that it may have belonged to a former sister at the Abbey. But why would an object belonging to a member of the Confraternity be in the hands of a senile Akkeri man? Fray and Ira set out to discover the reason, but it will be more dangerous than the two could ever imagine…

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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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