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 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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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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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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Animorphs 38-41

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

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

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

Wow, it’s been a couple of months since my last retrospective. I think it’s about time that we take another look at K.A. Applegate’s Animorphs series. As with previous posts, please note that there will be spoilers in this review. In case you’ve never heard of it before, Animorphs was a science fiction series that ran from 1996 to 2001. It consisted of fifty-four novels, as well as eight specials and two choose-your-own-adventure stories. For the purpose of this review, I’m going to be looking at books thirty-eight to forty-one – The Arrival, The Hidden, The Other and The Familiar.

The Animorphs have now been defending Earth for a long time and know that they can’t keep it up forever. There are only six of them and, if the Andalite fleet don’t arrive to help them soon, they know that they will be inevitably overpowered by the Yeerks. However, their hopes rise when they learn that a small team of Andalites have arrived on Earth. They claim that their mission is to assassinate Visser Three but Ax begins to doubt this when cracks in their story start to show.

Yet these four soldiers may not be the only Andalites on Earth. It’s not long before the Animorphs encounter another. Gafinilan is a war hero who claims to be caring for his friend Mertil, who was injured in a crash. Yet, when Jake and Ax go to meet with him, they detect no trace of his supposed friend. Could it be that Gafinilan is lying and, if so, what could he possibly want with them?

Yet not all of the Animorphs missions revolve around the Andalites. When the Yeerks develop a machine that can track the Escafil device, Cassie is forced to keep it moving to prevent it from falling into enemy hands. Jake also has a weird experience when he wakes up one morning to find that he has aged ten years. Trapped in a dystopian future where the Yeerks have won, he must find a way to locate his friends and make it back to his own time…

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One Of Us Is Lying

One Of Us Is Lying was written by Karen M McManus and first published in 2017. It is a mystery novel set in an American high school, where four students find themselves suspected of murdering one of their classmates. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to read any of McManus’s other work to fully appreciate it.

Bronwyn is a diligent student with high hopes of getting into Yale. Cooper is a brilliant pitcher who is already been scouted for several baseball scholarships. Addison is the beautiful homecoming queen with a perfect boyfriend. Nate is a known drug dealer, one slip-up away from being sent to juvie. Simon is the notorious editor of the school’s gossip app.

All five students find themselves in detention when banned mobile phones are planted in their bags before a spot check. While the students believe themselves to be victims of a practical joke, things take a sinister turn as Simon suddenly goes into anaphylactic shock and dies in the room. While it looks to be a tragic accident, it turns out that Simon’s water had been spiked with peanut oil – something that he was deathly allergic to.

As no one else could have entered the room, it seems clear that one of the four others must have poisoned him. Suspicion grows as it is discovered that Simon had dirt on each of them and was planning on making it public. As Simon is renowned for always being right, it’s clear that none of the suspects are as clean as they first seemed. Every one of them hides a secret, yet would any of them be prepared to kill to protect it?

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© Kim Dyer and Arkham Reviews, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kim Dyer and Arkham Reviews with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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