The Scratchling Trinity

The Scratchling Trinity was written by Boyd Brent and first published in 2017. It is a middle grade fantasy novel which focuses on a young boy’s discovery of a time-travelling secret society. Although the novel reads as though it is the first part of a series, at the time of writing no further instalments have been announced.

Max Hastings thinks that his luck has finally come in when he wins a prize – a lifetime membership to the Ancient Order of Wall Scratchings – in a school draw. He heads off to Manor House in London to receive his prize, only to discover that no such organisation exists. Max is quick to realise that the Order actually operates in secret beneath the building from a magical pocket dimension called the Cusp of Time. It is here that he learns that he is really a Scratchling, and is destined to help others like himself.

You see, it has long been known that when a child is in danger, they only need to scratch a message onto a wall and help will find them. This is the job of the Ancient Order of Wall Scratchings – to dispatch a young agent to the required point in time to save a life and change the past. However, they must act fast. A rival organisation called the League of Dark Scratchlings is forever working against them and their motives are far less altruistic.

It’s not long before Max is sent on his first mission – to rescue an orphan named Eric Kettle from a boarding school in 1840. With the help of a veteran Scratchling named Ellie Swanson, he must avoid the headmaster’s cruel henchmen and reach Eric before it is too late. If he fails, Eric will starve to death or, worse still, be brainwashed and corrupted by the Dark Scratchlings…

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Footprints in the Snow

Footprints in the Snow was written by Maggie Holman and first published in 2017. It is a festive work of contemporary fiction with light fantasy elements, focusing on a young boy’s trip to see his Grandfather at Christmas. The novella stands alone, so you don’t have to have read any of the author’s earlier work to fully appreciate it.

Christmas is only days away and Jamie has been sent to stay with his Grandfather in the Forest of Dean. It is the first time he’s been to stay there without his mother and so he’s understandably quite worried about being so far away from home, however his anxieties soon begin to lift as he settles in and helps his Grandfather to decorate the house.

It’s not long before Jamie starts to get to know the people who live nearby. He becomes particularly friendly with Caro, Finn and Molly – part of a family of Travellers – and learns about their way of life and deep respect for the wildlife of the forest. This lesson is particularly important as there have been sightings of a panther stalking the woods, and Jamie is worried about what will happen if he comes to face to face with the creature.

This becomes increasingly likely when he decides to take a walk in the forest by himself. Although Jamie is confident that he can find his way to the Travellers’ camp, it’s not long before he takes a wrong turn and finds himself lost in the woods. With the temperature dropping and the panther on the prowl, will Jamie manage to find his way home or will he become lunch for the creature?

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The Night Before Krampus

The Night Before Krampus was written by Peter Johnson and first published in 2017. It is a festive horror story which focuses on a small town with a dark past. Although the novel reads as though it could be the first part of a series, at the time of writing no future instalments have been announced.

It is two nights before Christmas and a young boy named Christoph has started to notice that something strange is afoot. His mother has left to visit his grandmother, a woman who she has not seen in years. His teacher has vanished and been replaced with a woman obsessed with European mythology. The local miser has been seen running through the streets in his underwear, claiming that the dead have returned for him. However, the strangest thing of all is the ghostly encounter that he has while hiding in an abandoned house.

The spectral vision reveals to him that three members of his community once committed a terrible crime. While they believed that they had gotten away without punishment, they did not count upon their victim laying a curse across their bloodlines. The festive season has become a time for revenge and the settling of old scores. Christoph and his friends must rely on help from unexpected sources if they wish to survive to see Christmas Day.

For you see, an old wolf is slowly making its way towards the town. The curse has been calling to it for a long time and now is finally the time for it to strike. The ancient creature draws with it a number of others, some good and some bad. Amongst these monsters are a pair of Krampus. These demons have been summoned to serve a specific purpose, however one of them is starting to grow tired of his traditional role…

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Shadowblack

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

Shadowblack was written by Sebastien de Castell and first published in 2017. It is the second part of the Spellslinger series and is preceded by Spellslinger (2017). The third instalment – Charmcaster – is expected to be released in May 2018. As Shadowblack carries on shortly after its prequel left off, I would advise reading them in sequence to have any idea of what is going on.

Kellen is finding it hard to adapt to life as an outlaw. Reichis’s attempted heists just seem to get him beaten up and Ferius hasn’t even tried to teach him the ways of the Argosi. Despite everything that his family did to him, he still finds that he longs to return to his people but even that is impossible. The Jan’Tep have placed a death warrant on his head and it’s unlikely that they will lift it unless he can find a cure for his shadowblack.

Things take an unexpected turn when Kellen meets another Argosi on the road. The newcomer calls herself the Path of Thorns and Roses and has some kind of history with Ferius. She is also in the process of escorting Seneira – a blindfolded girl who is not blind – back to her father at the Academy of Teleidos.

The mission seems simple enough, but unexpected dangers lie in wait in the desert city. The shadowblack is spreading and it’s not just magic users that are in danger. As Kellen and his friends search for the source of the outbreak, he meets Dexan Videris – a spellslinger who claims that he has a way of curing the disease. Kellen could well have found his ticket back into Jan’Tep society, but in making a deal with Dexan he could damage his friendship with Ferius beyond repair. Is the spellslinger telling the truth, or is he somehow connected to the spread of the shadowblack?

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Days of Blood and Starlight

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for Daughter of Smoke and Bone. You can read my review of this novel [here].

Days of Blood and Starlight was written in by Laini Taylor and first published in 2012. It is the second book in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series and is preceded by Daughter of Smoke and Bone (2011) and followed by Dreams of Gods and Monsters (2014) and the spin-off novella, Night of Cake and Puppets (2013). As the story picks up shortly after its prequel left off, you really need to read the books in sequence to have any idea of what is going on.

When Karou broke the wishbone with Akiva, everything changed. The memories of her life as Madrigal came flooding back to her, bringing with them the shame of her treason. Learning what Akiva did to Brimstone was the final straw, sending her fleeing to Eretz to see what became of the Loramendi for herself. In its ashes, she finds Thiago – the man who once executed her – and accepts her fate as the new resurrectionist of the chimaera army.

Akiva returns to his people broken and world-weary. When his search for Karou uncovers a thurible bearing her name, he convinces himself that she must have perished. As the seraphim, under the lead of their ruthless general, Jael, begin to turn their wrath on unarmed chimaera farmers, Akiva begins to do all that he can to keep Karou’s memory alive by sabotaging their attempts by night.

However, Akiva and Madrigal’s dream of peace seems further away than ever. As the seraphim target the weak and unarmed, Thiago retaliates by tasking Karou with building more powerful bodies for his men – over-muscled and able to match the seraphim in flight. It seems as though both sides will fight until they wipe each other out, until an old friend delivers a message to Karou, offering a different way to end the conflict…  More

The Last Namsara

The Last Namsara was first published in 2017 and is Kristen Ciccarelli’s debut novel. It is a high fantasy story which focuses on a princess who must slay an ancient dragon to earn her freedom. The story forms the first part of the Iskari series, and its sequel is expected to be released in Autumn 2018.

Asha is the Iskari – hated and feared by the people of Firgaard due to a terrible accident that half-destroyed the city and left her brutally scarred. An accident that was entirely her fault. As penance, she now hunts the dragons that infest the surrounding lands. Although people may never truly trust her, they can’t deny the fact that she is the most skilled dragon slayer in the land. However, no one knows that she lures the creatures by speaking forbidden stories.

However, Asha’s time as a dragon slayer is coming to an end. In just seven days, she is to wed Jarek – a vicious and controlling military commander. Once Jarek is her husband, Asha knows that she will be forced to obey him or face his rage. Everything seems hopeless until her father – the Dragon King – offers her a chance to break off the engagement. If Asha can kill the oldest of the dragons – Kovu – her father agrees to grant her the freedom that she craves.

However, the hunt will be the most dangerous of her life. Kovu is ancient and powerful, and nothing but the deadliest of stories will lure him. However, as political tensions within the city begin to threaten her hunt, Asha finds her fate entwined with that of one of Jarek’s slaves. Will Asha succeed in her quest, or will she meet the same tragic fate as the heroines in her stories?

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Countryside: The Book of the Wise

Countryside: The Book of the Wise was written by J.T. Cope IV and first published in 2014. It is a middle grade novel about a young boy who discovers that he has ties to a magical world. The book forms the first part of the Countryside series and is followed by Countryside: The Tears of Adina (2015). At the time of writing, no further instalments have been announced.

Luke Rayburn has lived his whole life in suburban Texas, but since he turned eleven he has started seeing odd things. He has been followed by strange, dark figures that no one else can see and he’s pretty sure that he managed to save a tree spirit from some bullies. However, things become stranger after his father leaves for a year of military service. His family is forced to move to his Grandparent’s home in the town of Countryside, and he learns the secret that his parents have been hiding from him.

Countryside is a magical holding, only accessible to those who have some aptitude in controlling the Flame, and the Rayburn family are the wealthiest people who live there. Their home is a castle and they are in charge of the guards who maintain the holding’s wards and protect against the Darkmen and Soulless that would destroy their way of life.

As Luke enrols in the local school and makes new friends, he starts to learn about an ancient prophecy. The Darkmen seem to be searching for the legendary Book of the Wise – an artefact with the power to allow someone to take over the world – and it seems as though they think it has something to do with the Rayburn family. The book has been lost for centuries, but Luke knows that he must find it before it can fall into the wrong hands. If he does not, Countryside – and the world – could be in great danger.

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Hero at the Fall

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

Hero at the Fall was written by Alwyn Hamilton and is due for release in February 2018. The book forms the final part of the Rebel of the Sands Trilogy and is preceded by Rebel of the Sands (2016) and Traitor to the Throne (2017). As this novel carries on directly where previous instalments leave off, I’d recommend reading them in sequence if you want to fully appreciate what is going on.

The rebellion is in pieces. So many of their number died during the Auranzeb celebrations and the Sultan still unknowingly holds the Rebel Prince as a prisoner. To make matters worse, he has used the slain djinn’s fire to conjure a dome around Izman, trapping the surviving rebels inside. Amani knows that they need to escape the city and find their missing friends. Every moment they remain puts them at risk of being found by the merciless Abdals.

If they can leave the city, Amani knows that they still have a chance of winning the war. Stories about the Rebel Prince and his closest allies are already beginning to spread. As the Sultan has allied himself with the magic-hating Gallan army, people who respect the magic of desert are already starting to rally against him. If Amani can only get to Iliaz, she is sure that she can still convince Prince Bilal to lend her his army, even if it means giving him the Demdji bride that he craves.

However, even with an army at their back, the biggest problem is still the Abdals. In order to defeat the clay soldiers and destroy the barrier, Amani knows that she must find a way to disable the Sultan’s machine. However, the machine is not designed to be easily turned off. If she is to destroy it, who knows what will happen to the supernatural fire that burns within. To save Miraji from the Sultan, Amani may be forced to sacrifice herself… More

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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