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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Heart of Power: The Siren’s Awakening

Heart of Power: The Siren’s Awakening was written by S.L. Giger and first published in 2016. It is a paranormal romance novel which focuses on a teenage girl who is magically transformed into a siren. The book is the first part of a planned series, though at the time of writing no future instalments have been announced.

Serena’s life changes forever during a school trip to Malaysia. When she sneaks off to explore a remote waterfall with her crush, the two suffer an accident that no one could hope to survive. Yet, miraculously, Serena wakes up in a cave surround by three strange women. Cathy, Melissa and Roisin inform her that her life has been saved, but it has come as a cost. They have transformed her into one of them – a siren – and she will now have to give up her old life.

Reluctantly taking on the new identity of Nathalie, she travels with Melissa to America and poses as her sixteen year old daughter. Melissa deems it important that Nathalie completes high school and spends time around other people her age. However, being a siren is wrought with problems. The mysterious Orbiters that govern the sirens decree that no mortal can be made aware of their existence. This is very difficult for a young siren, who must hide the fact that she doesn’t eat, bleed or age.

Things grow more complicated still as Nathalie finds herself attracted to Alex, a local college student who believes that Nathalie is a lot older than she actually is. As the two grow closer, Nathalie begins to imagine a future with him. Yet, as Alex slowly grows suspicious of her strange behaviour, Nathalie finds herself torn between keeping her secret and keeping him…

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Legion

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

Legion was written by Julie Kagawa and first published in 2017. It is the fourth instalment of The Talon Saga, raising the stakes as Talon finally reveals their terrible plan for world domination. As this novel follows on directly where Talon (2014), Rogue (2015) and Soldier (2016) left off, I’d recommend reading the novels in sequence if you want to have any idea of what’s going on.

The Patriarch has been defeated and the Order has fallen into disarray, but it came at a terrible cost. Garret won the duel but still fell to his treacherous commander’s blade. As he bled to death in the middle of nowhere, his salvation came from an unexpected person. Riley offers his blood for transfusion, saving Garret’s life. However, the implications for him doing this are unknown. Garret is a human and Riley is a dragon. There is no way of knowing if he will survive, or what will become of him if he does.

However, Ember and the Rogues do not have time to find out. When a small town is wiped out in a sudden accident, they know that Talon must have something to do with it. What they discover chills them to the core. Talon have completed their army of Vessels – soulless clones bred purely for war – and Dante will be the one to dispatch them to destroy the last vestiges of the Order.

Ember knows that they must stop them, even if it means forging an alliance with their enemy. However, the Vessels aren’t the only threat. When she is taken captive by Dante, she meets the Elder Wyrm for the first time and learns of her true plan. Ember has a vital role to play in the Elder Wyrm’s schemes – one that will mean a fate worse than death for her…

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Archie Greene and the Alchemist’s Curse

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for Archie Greene and the Magician’s Secret. You can read my review of this novel [here].

Archie Greene and the Alchemist’s Curse was written by D.D. Everest and first published in 2016. It forms the second part of a trilogy and is preceded by Archie Greene and the Magician’s Secret (2015). The final instalment of the series – Archie Greene and the Raven’s Spell – is due for release at the start of next month. The series is aimed at middle grade readers and focuses on the continuing adventures of an apprentice caretaker of magical books.

Archie Greene loves studying book mending under the watchful eye of Old Zeb, but is thrilled that he will soon receive his second firemark and learn what school of book magic he will be learning next. Better still, it is almost his cousin Thistle’s birthday, and so he will also be taking the fire test and joining them at Mothballs – the Museum of Magical Miscellany.

However, when Thistle arrives to take his test, the Flame of Pharos begins to act strangely. Instead of one of the usual three firemarks, both boys receive a golden one in the shape of a snake eating its own tail. Three other students – Bramble, Rupert and Arabella – also find themselves similarly inflicted. It is the alchemist’s mark – a symbol that has not been seen since the time of the Great Fire of London – and it means that the five are capable of writing their own magic!

With the alchemist’s mark, the five children realise that they could finally begin repairing the fading magical books and ushering in a new age of magic. However, their marks carry a sinister history and ties to dark magicians of old. When Archie also discovers that there is a fork in his destiny, he begins to grow worried. His entire future hinges on one unknown moment when he will have to choose between using his power for good or evil. Yet how can he avoid a terrible fate if he does not know what form this moment will take?

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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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The Madness Underneath / The Boy in the Smoke

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

The Madness Underneath was written by Maureen Johnson and first published in 2013. It forms the second part of the Shades of London series and is preceded by The Name of the Star (2011) and followed by The Boy in the Smoke (2014) and The Shadow Cabinet (2015). The story picks up exactly where its prequel leaves off, with Rory coming to terms with her new power.

Ripper hype is slowly starting to die down. As far as the general public are concerned, the murderer is dead and his brutal killing spree is finally over. Rory is one of a small group of people who know the truth. The Ripper is gone, but he was not killed. He was never alive to begin with. Yet his defeat almost cost her life and now her overprotective parents have spirited her away from the city, determined that she will never return to her friends at Wexford.

For Rory, leaving London is far more distressing than her healing wounds. She misses her school friends horribly, and Stephen and his band of ghost hunters even more. To make matters worse, her battle with the Ripper has left her with a deadly power – the ability to dispel ghosts with a touch – and she has no one left that she can talk to about it. Luckily, it’s not long before her ability is discovered and the English government arrange for her to return to London.

Rory believed that this would make things easier, but it doesn’t. Stephen doesn’t seem to want her to be part of his team and her secrecy is damaging her relationship with Jerome. As things begin to spiral out of her control, Rory finally decides to seek the help of Jane, a local therapist. However, there is something very strange about Jane. The stories that she tells slowly begin to resonate with Rory’s own experiences. Could it be possible that Jane can see ghosts as well?

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The Three Worlds

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

The Three Worlds was written by Nara Duffie and first published in 2016. It is a fantasy novel which focuses on three girls on a mission to stop a war between monsters and humans. The book forms the second part of The Monster Realm series and is preceded by The Monster Realm (2015).

Although Lillian, Katy and Maisy barely escaped Lanodeka with their lives, all three of them soon find themselves wishing that they never left. Lillian feels guilty for leaving Bluebell behind, wishing that she’d done more to convince her sister to return for them, and all of the girls worry about if their monster friends can possibly survive the coming war.

Yet they soon find themselves returning to Lanodeka as Lillian is kidnapped by an elf known as the Captain, who delivers her to an ominous black tower. It is from here that Bluebell – now going by the name Lysandra – is planning on retaking the human world for the monsters. Yet Lillian soon learns that her sister is not the true mastermind behind the army. Lysandra answers to Arachne – a powerful monster who is half human and half spider.

Arachne needs both medallions and the Creation Stone to open a portal to Earth big enough for her army to march through, and so Lillian is glad that her medallion is still safely with her friends. However, problems arise as Katy and Maisy use its power to return to Lanodeka in search of Lillian. As Arachne learns of its location, she sends the Captain and other monsters to reclaim it, sparking a fierce war. It’s up to Lillian and her friends to stop her before she can reclaim the medallion and unleash her monsters on the human realm…

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