Gaslight

Gaslight was written by Eloise Williams and first published in 2017. It is historical fiction, set in 19th Century Cardiff, which focuses on a fourteen-year-old girl in search of her lost mother. The story stands alone, so you don’t have to have read any of the author’s other work to fully appreciate it.

Nansi remembers that her mother was beautiful and kind and on the run from someone. Unfortunately, she doesn’t remember anything more than that. She can’t remember how she came to be floating in the River Ely. It was lucky that Sid found her when he did. If he hadn’t been there to rescue her and give her somewhere safe to live, who knows what would have happened to her.

She knows that she should be grateful to Sid, yet sometimes it’s difficult. People call him Pernicious Sid with good reason, as he forces her to steal things to help pay his substantial debts and punishes her brutally if she fails. Still, at least he has given Nansi her own room beneath his theatre and promises that he will save money for her until she can afford a private detective to help search for her mother.

Yet everything changes on the day that Constance and Violet join the theatre. The fact that Sid overlooks Violet’s cruelty causes Nansi to finally see how he really is, and Constance brings a vital clue concerning her mother’s whereabouts. Soon, Nansi finds herself on the run from Sid and his men. Her only hope is to find her mother before he can catch her. If she doesn’t, who knows what fate Sid will have in store for her…

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This Summer on Arkham Reviews

Hello Everyone!

We’re into that part of the year when the terrible day-star is at its hottest and I start to contemplate moving to that place where it’s dark for six months of the year. Yes, I’m not much of a sun worshipper, but I appreciate that I’m in the minority. The one good thing about sun bathing is that it gives you plenty of time to get stuck into a new book. So, in case you’re looking for recommendations, here’s an idea of what’s coming up next on Arkham Reviews!

I’m currently working my way through Gaslight by Eloise Williams and, hopefully by the time I’ve finished it, my copy of The Savage Dawn – the final part of Melissa Grey’s The Girl at Midnight Trilogy – will have arrived. Unless I get similarly distracted, here’s a sneak peak of the other things on my mountainous to read pile:

The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman

Wanted by Jo Ho

Spontaneous by Aaron Starmer

Curse of Stars by Donna Compositor

Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh

The Wheel Mages by Aimee Davis

Contagion by Teri Terry

The Spectra United by Christie Valentine Powell

Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray

Tempus Abbey by Sammy Woodford

The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson

Three Words Promised by Ingrid Seymour

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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Archie Greene and the Raven’s Spell

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].

Archie Greene and the Raven’s Spell was written by D.D. Everest and first published in 2017. It is a fantasy novel about a young boy who is determined to save the magical world from corruption. The novel forms the final instalment of a trilogy and is preceded by Archie Greene and the Magician’s Secret (2015) and Archie Greene and the Alchemist’s Curse (2016).

When the Greaders manage to steal a book from the Royal Society of Magic, Archie and his friends know that something bad will soon follow. Their worst fears are realised when it is revealed that the book is the most dangerous of all Terrible Tomes – The Book of Night. Sealed within the book is the Dark Flame of Pandemonium and three powerful darchemists known as the Pale Writers. If they are released, they will slowly corrupt all the good magic in the world until nothing is left but darkness.

The only thing that stands a chance of stopping them is the Opus Magnus – the original magic spell – but this text has been lost for centuries. The only person believed to know its whereabouts is Fabian Grey and he has been missing since the Great Fire of London. Yet Archie has reason to believe that he is alive. When notes signed “FG” begin to appear in the alchemy lab, Archie realises that perhaps Grey has always been closer than he thought.

Yet Archie may not have long to figure things out. There could well be a traitor working at Mothballs. Animals have been disappearing from the mythical menagerie and the Flame of Pharos has been growing weaker. If Archie can’t figure out who is responsible soon, the Museum could be sabotaged from the inside and all magic will fall into the hands of the Greaders…

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Megamorphs #4: Back to Before

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

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

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

This review has been a long time coming, but I think it’s about time that I took a look at the final Megamorphs book. In case you haven’t read any of the previous instalments of my retrospective, this series is a spin-off of K.A. Applegate’s epic Animorphs series. There are four of these books in total and they stand out from the main series as they tend to be a little longer and contain more narrators. For today’s review, I’m going to be talking about Back to Before which was first published in 2000. In terms of chronology, it should be noted that this novel is designed to be read after The Other (the 40th book in the main series).

Jake just wants the war to be over. After a particularly brutal battle, he reaches his limit and finally considers throwing in the towel. It’s in his moment that the Drode appears before him. It brings a deal from the Crayak. His master has the power to erase all the horrors that Jake has experienced, to make it so the Animorphs never met Elfangor and got their powers. All he has to do is say please.

When Jake awakes, it is like nothing ever happened. He just gets on with his normal teenage life with no clue that things could have been very different. But then the changes start happening. Cassie begins to have dreams of a strange blue creature trapped beneath the sea and Tobias, with no one else to protect him, begins to take an interest in The Sharing.

When Marco comes face to face with his supposedly dead mother and gets fired at by thugs wielding ray guns, the teens suddenly realise that nothing is quite right. But, as bug fighters fill the skies and the full invasion begins, what can a group of ordinary kids hope to do to stop it?

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